Tag Archives: James Milner

Manchester City v Manchester United Preview

City-Utd

The first Manchester derby of the season is here as Manchester City and Manchester United resume their rivalry on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium which could provide vital momentum in the title race.

Roberto Mancini’s City emerged victorious in both the Premier League encounters last season, winning 6-1 at Old Trafford and 1-0 at home before winning the title in the most dramatic style on the final day of the season.

The reigning champions have made a decent start to the defence of their crown and remain unbeaten after 15 games, but it is United who have a three-point advantage at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s meeting. There have been indications that it is already a two-horse race for the Premier League title, with others rivals – Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – struggling for consistency.

City’s participation in the Champions League and even Europe came to an end with a 1-0 loss to the Bundesliga champions – Borussia Dortmund in the midweek, while they were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton last weekend after a less than impressive performance. United, on the other, were also beaten 1-0 (at home) by CFR Cluj but had already won the group so Sir Alex Ferguson was able to rotate his squad. The 19-time league champions overcame Reading 4-3 last weekend and have been in superb form going forward all season, but it was yet another match in which they fell behind and this time not once but twice.

Ferguson will surely be demanding greater concentration against a team that has the best defensive record in the league and haven’t lost a single game at home since December 2010. The Scot says it would be one of United’s best-ever results if they can win on Sunday.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City

City’s influential playmaker David Silva will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the Manchester derby at home. The Spanish international missed the Champions League loss to Dortmund with a hamstring injury but remains in contention and is batting to take part on Sunday. Aleksandar Kolarov has been ruled out with a groin problem and Micah Richards (knee) is still sidelined. Gael Clichy (ankle) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) both should be available for selection, while James Milner (hamstring) is likely to miss out.

Manchester United

Tom Cleverley is doubtful for Manchester United after limping out in the first half of the game against Cluj and will have a scan on his calf injury. Sir Alex Ferguson has also revealed that Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic (both) are struggling to be fit in time for the derby and may completely be ready for the Sunderland game. Antonio Valencia (thigh), Nani and Anderson (both hamstring) have been ruled out of the important clash, while the likes of Robin van Persie and Patrice Evra are set to return to the starting XI after being rested in midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 164
Manchester City Wins – 46
Draw – 50
Manchester United Wins – 68

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

30-Apr-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
08-Jan-12 – FA Cup – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
07-Aug-12 – Community Shield – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
16-Apr-11 – FA Cup – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Manchester City – LDWDD
The Citizens have been unbeaten in the league so far this season and are just three points behind leaders Manchester United in the standings. But they have won just once and drawn thrice in their last five games in all competitions, with the only win coming at Wigan. A win on Sunday will take them above United in the league table on goal difference.

04-Dec-12 – Champions League – Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Manchester City
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-1 Everton
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Wigan Athletic 0-2 Manchester City
25-Nov-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City
21-Nov-12 – Champions League – Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid

Manchester United – LWWWL
The Red Devils come into this match on the back of three consecutive wins in the Premier League and are sitting three points clear of their opponents at the top of the table. But they haven’t hit top gear and their defensive frailties have already been exposed. A win on Sunday will be massive one and will take them six points clear of City at the top.

05-Dec-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 0-1 CFR Cluj
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Reading 3-4 Manchester United
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
24-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
20-Nov-12 – Champions League – Galatasaray 1-0 Manchester United

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
The Belgium international scored the only goal in last season’s 1-0 win over United at the Etihad stadium – which won them the title – and was also as solid as rock at the back. The club captain is an inspirational presence for Roberto Mancini, and his match-up against Robin van Persie will see arguably two of the best players in their respective positions battling in a mouth-watering clash. How he copes with the Dutchman and what he can offer going forward will be the key to the outcome of the game, but one thing is for sure – if Kompany is on form, City are a very hard team to beat.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
All eyes have been on Robin van Persie this season, and – even Javier Hernandez has gone past Wayne Rooney in the goal-scoring charts, but numbers alone do not tell the full influence of the 27-year-old on his side. With the Dutch forward being the target man of the strike force, Rooney will certainly drop deeper when United lose possession, and will try to create chances from further back in the final third. His work rate and distribution are very important in clashes like these, and with two strikes in his last league game at Reading, the England forward may be in line for a hot goal-scoring streak.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany (C), Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry; David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri; Sergio Aguero.

City XI

City manager Roberto Mancini is likely to recall Yaya Toure back to the squad after resting him for the Champions League game against Dortmund, while David Silva may well recover from his hamstring injury in time for the big game. Joe Hart continues in goal as Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic will play ahead of him in centre of the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov (groin) has been ruled out, which means Gael Clichy could be rushed back after recovering from his ankle injury, but should he not be ready Joleon Lescott could slot in or Pablo Zabaleta could switch sides win Maicon coming in on the right side. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure are expected to shield the defence as Silva, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri could play in a more advance role. Sergio Aguero is likely to lead the line for the hosts, with both Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko coming off the bench at some point during the game.

Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Ashley Young.

United XI

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to continue with David De Gea in goal after the keeper made his return to first team action against CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra are all expected to be back in defence after being rested during the midweek defeat at home. With Valencia and Nani both out, United are expected to play with the same formation (4-3-3) that won at Reading. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes will make the three-man midfield with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young further up the pitch, playing on either side of Robin van Persie. Shinji Kagawa is expected to make the bench, while the inform Javier Hernandez will be an option should the visitors need a goal at some stage of the game.

OPTA FACTS

  • 3 – Man Utd have won 1-0 against City three times in their last six Premier League games at the Etihad.
  • 5 – There have been just five goals scored in the last six league meetings between City and United at the Etihad Stadium and no more than one in any of those games.
  • 10 – Robin van Persie is joint-top scorer in the league, with 10 goals alongside Demba Ba, Michu and Luis Suarez – Man City’s top scorer is Carlos Tevez with seven.
  • 36 – City (15) and United (21) have come from behind to win a combined 36 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season.
  • 21 – Man City and Man Utd have been awarded more penalties than any other side in the Premier League since the start of 2010-11.

REFEREE

Name – Martin Atkinson
Based – Yorkshire
Age – 41
Games – 18
Yellow Cards – 71
Red Cards – 1

MATCH ODDS

Manchester City 13/10, Draw 12/5, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

As both teams have pulled away from the rest at the top of the table, it could turn out to be a very close affair decided by a moment of brilliance or a mistake. City will be looking to attack at home and take full advantage of United’s weaknesses at the back, while the Red Devils will hope to avoid conceding the first goal again but have also shown the determination and character to win games from losing positions. With the winner taking the top spot in the league table, both teams will look to get the 3 points. United have the firepower, but City have a very solid defence, making the hosts slight favourites. Expect United to get something out of this one, maybe a high scoring draw.

Predicted Score: Manchester City 2-2 Manchester United

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 7

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting seventh weekend in the Premier League. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have provided two players each, while there is one each from Manchester City, Reading, Southampton, West Brom and Wigan.

Alex McCarthy (Reading)

The young stopper has made the number one jersey his own in the absence of the injured Adam Federici and he continued to shine during the Royal’s 2-2 draw at Swansea. McCarthy made eight superb saves to deny Swans from taking the lead, but couldn’t prevent the Royals throwing away a two-goal lead.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

The Serbian is having one of his best seasons at Stamford Bridge and again on Saturday he was at his very best. He crossed in for Fernando Torres to score Chelsea’s second of the game and then he himself volleyed in towards the end of the game – Chelsea’s fourth – which wrapped up the game for the leaders. The right-back has now scored the same number of league goals as Fernando Torres.

Jose Fonte (Southampton)

Fonte rescued the Saints from defeat at home against Fulham with a last-minute goal which sealed a 2-2 draw at the St Mary’s. The Portuguese had earlier made his mark on the match by scoring Southampton’s opening goal after just four minutes, when he forced home Adam Lallana’s corner.

Jonny Evans (Manchester United) 

The United defence has been criticized a lot this season, but on Sunday they were at their best and kept a clean sheet against Newcastle at St James’ Park. Evans was particularly the star of back four, as he didnt only keep Papiss Cisse (later Shola Ameobi) and Demba Ba quiet for the whole game but also opened the scoring for the Red Devils early in the game with a powerful header from a Robin van Persie corner.

Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City) 

The Serbian full-back was City’s main man as they registered a comfortable 3-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday. Kolarov put his team in the lead after just four minutes with a brilliant free-kick. Later on, in the second half he crossed in for Sergio Aguero to score City’s second and then played a role in James Milner’s goal – City’s third – late in the game.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s summer signing again showed his true class as he pulled the strings in midfield in the Gunners’ 3-1 win over West Ham. The Spaniard troubled the hosts with his passing and capped a commanding display by adding the Gunners’ third goal, curling home a wonderful strike from 25 yards.

Juan Mata (Chelsea)

The Spaniard joins his Chelsea teammate Ivanovic in this team. Mata put in another intelligent display and was undoubtedly the top performer for the Blues in the 4-1 win over Norwich at home. He didn’t get on the score-sheet but he played a role in three out of the four goals they scored and was at the heart of every Chelsea attack.

James Morrison (West Brom)

Morrison is a surprise inclusion in this week’s Team of the Week but the Baggies midfielder played a key role in helping his team win against QPR on Saturday.  He showed some great determination in scoring West Brom’s opener after just five minutes and didn’t fade at all as the game progressed.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

The England and Manchester United striker played at the top of United’s new midfield diamond and was at his best. He didn’t find back of the net but put in a tireless shift and was often the link between the attack and the midfield. He put in one of his best performances of the season and reminded everyone how a good a player he is even if he isn’t scoring goals.

Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic)

Scoring twice against a disciplined Everton side is not at all an easy thing to do and the Ivorian did that on Saturday. He tormented the Toffees back four for 90 minutes and was denied his first Premier League hat-trick only by some great defending. One of the bargain buys of the season.

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

The France international striker makes his debut in our Team of the Week after a fine display at Upton Park, which included a goal – his first in the league – and an assist. He equalised for the Gunners in the first half with an instinctive finish at the near post and then set up Theo Walcott to score Arsenal’s second of the game.

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

Sweden v England Preview

After earning a draw against France in their first game of the tournament, England face Sweden in a crucial encounter in Kiev today, as both the teams chase their first win in Group D. 

Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions earned a creditable 1-1 draw in their opener against France, but the Swedes slipped to a 2-1 defeat by co-hosts Ukraine. Hodgson is expecting a tough examination of his side in the Olympic Stadium but will not be looking to radically revamp his side. “There won’t be wholesale changes, that’s for certain because we don’t have any injury problems and the players who did well against France are all hoping to get picked to play again,” he said.

Sweden coach Erik Hamren is expecting more from his side following their opening defeat at the Olympic Stadium. He said: “We’re not reaching the level we want to and that’s my responsibility as a coach. We didn’t show the courage we were supposed to. Only five or six players did. We all need all the players doing that. We were cowards in the first half and should have done more. I’m not happy with the team, I was expecting more.”

TEAM NEWS

Sweden

For Sweden, striker Johan Elmander recovered from a fractured metatarsal to feature as a second-half substitute in the defeat to Ukraine and coach Hamren could be tempted to start the former Bolton star as he searches for a win. West Brom defender Jonas Olsson is expected to be recalled at centre-back, with Andreas Granqvist switched to right-back.

England

Skipper Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker are set to continue in England’s midfield after recovering from the clash with France, while Glen Johnson remains on antibiotics for a toe infection. But the Three Lions will be without star striker Wayne Rooney, who serves the final game of his two-match suspension following his dismissal in Montenegro last October. Liverpool’s Martin Kelly is likely to be their only other absentee as he struggles to recover from a virus.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 21
Sweden Wins – 6
Draws – 9
England Wins – 6

FORM GUIDE

Sweden – LWWWL
11-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Ukraine 2-1 Sweden
05-Jun-12 – Friendly – Sweden 2-1 Serbia
30-May-12 – Friendly – Sweden 3-2 Iceland
01-Mar-12 – Friendly – Croatia 1-3 Sweden
16-Nov-12 – Friendly – England 1-0 Sweden

England – DWWLW
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
16-Nov-12 – Friendly – England 1-0 Sweden

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
The whole country will be looking up to Ibrahimovic to have a good game after recovering from a slight ankle injury. The AC Milan striker did score against Ukraine on Monday but it wasn’t enough as Andriy Shevchenko scored twice for the co-hosts. Presence of Ibrahimovic will cause headaches to the England back four especially John Terry and Joleon Lescott. His ability to shoot accurately and to come out of strong in physical battles with the defenders will be the major threat for England.

Olof Mellberg (Sweden)
Everyone knows about Sweden’s reliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he was the team’s best man against Ukraine. It’s the AC Milan striker’s team-mates that must improve and the vastly experienced Mellberg is the leader of the pack in defence. The former Aston Villa defender will not have to cope with Wayne Rooney but Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young will be raring to go after receiving very less opportunities against France.

Steven Gerrard (England)
Steven Gerrard was England’s best man on the pitch against France the other day and he delivered the important freekick which was headed in past Hugo Lloris by Joleon Lescott to give England the lead. Hodgson will want his side to take more control of this game against the Swedes after a defensive display against France and Gerrard will be expecting play a more advance role than he did against Les Bleus. He will be England main creator from the center of the mindfield and will hoping to dictate the game himself.

Joe Hart (England)
The Manchester City shot-stopper showed some nerves early on in the game against France but once he settled in he made some superb saves to deny Les Bleus the win. His save of Alou Diarra’s powerful headed from a Samir Nasri freekick in the first half was so far the best save of the tournament. His good form this year for both City and England means that it will need a special effort from the Sweden players and especially Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who is Sweden’s main man in front of goal – to get on the score sheet.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Sweden (4-4-2): Andreas Isaksson; Andreas Granqvist, Jonas Olsson, Olof Mellberg, Martin Olsson; Seb Larsson, Rasmus Elm, Kim Kallstrom, Olo Toivonen; Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C), Johan Elmander.

A couple of changes are expected in the Sweden side that lost to Ukraine four days ago in Kiev. Striker Johan Elmander is back to full fitness and will start alongside Ibrahimovic in attack instead of the ineffective Markus Rosenberg. The midfield will be be the same with Seb Larsson and Olo Toivonen on the wings, while Kim Kallstrom and Rasmus Elm in the center. West Brom’s Jonas Olsson might be called in the starting XI alongside Olof Mellberg in place Mikael Lustig, with Andreas Granqvist moving to the right. Martin Olsson will play on the left of the back four, while Andreas Isaksson will remain in goal as Sweden look to register a much needed win.

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

During the pre-match press conference, Roy Hodgson said he won’t be making wholesale of changes to his side that drew against France. The papers in UK are reporting that Andy Carroll will start today in place of the 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Liverpool hitman will play alongside Danny Welbeck, while Ashley Young – who was not so effective against France – will be moved on to the left side. James Milner will play on the right with Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard in the center of the midfield. The back four will be the same, as all are fit and raring to go. The inform Joe Hart will be in between the sticks for the Three Lions, as they look to move a step closer to qualifying for the quarter-finals.

MATCH ODDS

Sweden 11/4 Draw 23/10 England 21/20

PREDICTION

This is a crucial game for both the teams, as they have to win to move a step closer towards qualification. England played defensively against France to earn a point, while Sweden were stunned by Ukraine. The England players will like to forget the previous game and play some attacking football to win the game. It won’t be easy though, against the Swedes who have a very good record against the Three Lions in competitive matches. Steven Gerrard will be the key for England, as he will look to create opportunities for his teammates. On the other hand, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the man for Sweden, and a constant threat for England to deal with. He may even get a goal today but won’t be enough in the end.

Predicted Score – Sweden 1-2 England