Tag Archives: Laurent Koscielny

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 5

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting fifth weekend in the Premier League. Southampton and Arsenal have provided two players each, while there is one each from Stoke, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool, West Ham, Everton and Fulham.

Asmir Begovic (Stoke)

The Bosnian keeper was in fine form at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, commanding his area excellently and making a save whenever he was asked to. Chelsea’s poor finishing meant he didn’t had to make many, but could do nothing about Ashley Cole’s late winner.

Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)

The young right-back has grown with every game he has played in the Premier League so far and against Aston Villa, he was superb. He made some intelligent runs down the flanks, when he switched to left-back in the second half. He created chances for his team-mates and also showed good composure to score his first goal for his new club.

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

He was only selected in the side because Thomas Vermaelen was out with a virus and the Frenchman performed at his best against the reigning Premier League champions. He was perhaps lucky not to concede a penalty in the second half but his 82nd minute not only earned the Gunners a deserved point but also kept them unbeaten this season.

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

This man has become a regular in the Team of the Week now. The Belgium international showed his versatility in the win over QPR on Sunday, starting out in the centre of the defence before switching to left-back after half time. He was spot on with his tackles throughout the match and led the counter-attack for the second goal. He looked solid and also made a goal-saving tackle late in the game to deny Junior Holiett.

Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

Surely the best left-back in England if not the world. Cole was the difference on Saturday as Chelsea scraped past Stoke at home. He hasn’t scored a goal for a while, but displayed coolness as he flicked the ball over the advancing Begovic as a seasoned striker.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

The Spain international has settled to life in the Premier League following his move from Malaga and once again produced a master-class against champions Manchester City. He was at the heart of all of Arsenal’s best play and troubled the City defence with his intelligent movement and passing. His shot on goal led to the corner from which Koscielny equalised.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

The England international skipper was once again brilliant against Manchester United for the 10-man Liverpool with a display which was full of aggression, determination and emotion. He rose to the occasion and gave his team the lead on such an important day for the club was perfect scenario but to see him on the losing end was a bit sad.

Kevin Nolan (West Ham)

He was the man who led West Ham back to the Premier League and it looks like he is man who will keep them up this season. He looked the player most likely to score for the hosts against Sunderland. He came close with two overhead kicks and troubled the opposition’s back four throughout the game. In the dying minutes he scored a sweet volley and completely deserved the goal.

Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

The Belgium international has been very impressive for the Toffees this season and was once again at his best at Swansea. He scored Everton’s third, set up their first and played a role in the second. His presence was always a threat to the Swansea defence as he broke up play and often got involved in his side’s attacks.

Rickie Lambert (Southampton)

At the start of the season, many people doubted his ability to succeed in the top flight and I am sure they must be regretting it now. He took his goal scoring tally to four in five league games after scoring a brace against Aston Villa. He fired home the equaliser from the edge of the box before scoring from the spot in injury time to complete the four goal rout.

Hugo Rodallega (Fulham)

It’s very hard to play against your old team at their home ground and score a goal against them. Rodallega was not only the star performer for Fulham in their first away win of the season at Wigan, but like a true sportsman he didn’t celebrate both the goals (scored one and created one) and showed some respect to his former employees.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Arsenal

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

Manager: Arsene Wenger.
Captain: Thomas Vermaelen/
Stadium: Emirates Stadium (60,361).
Last season: 3rd.
Leading scorer (PL): Robin van Persie (30).
Odds: Title 6-1. Relegation 500-1.

In: Santi Cazorla (£16.7m, Malaga), Oliver Giroud (£10.5m, Montpellier), Lukas Podolski (£11.4m, Koln).

Out: Benik Afobe (Loan, Bolton), Manuel Almunia (Free, Watford), Pedro Botelho (Free, Atletico-PR), George Brislen-Hall (Released), James Campbell (Released), Joel Campbell (Loan, Betis), Denilson (Loan, Sao Paulo), Gavin Hoyte (Free, Dag & Red), Sean McDermott (Released), Jeffrey Monakana (Released), Rhys Murphy (Free, SC Telstar), Carlos Vela (£3.3m, Real Sociedad).

Kits

Key Man – Santi Cazorla
With Jack Wilshere out till mid-October and Robin van Persie’s future at the club uncertain, the latest addition to the squad from Malaga will be the key man for the Gunners this season. The versatile midfielder, who can play anywhere behind the striker, will be primary playmaker for the upcoming season and will try and create or score as many goals as possible.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – Sunderland (H)
25-Aug – Stoke (A)
01-Sep – Liverpool (A)
15-Sep – Southampton (H)
22-Sep – Man City (A)
29-Sep – Chelsea (H).

Probable Formation (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Song, Arteta; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud/RVP.

Verdit: The RVP situation could be unsettling for the club and a Wilshere return is still unlikely in the foreseeable future. However Wenger has added three major signings to his squad that could make the Gunners serious title contenders. I don’t see them to be serious title challengers come May, but a sure top for finish.

Prediction: 4th.

Spain v France Preview

World champions Spain continue the defence of their UEFA EURO 2012 crown tonight when they take on France in a mouth-watering quarter-final clash at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.

Vicente del Bosque’s La Roja have not been defeated in a competitive match since being shocked by Switzerland in the group stages on their way to winning the 2010 World Cup. Meanwhile, Laurent Blanc’s Les Bleus have lost just once, against Sweden in their last match of Euro 2012’s group stages, in 24 games. It therefore promises to be a closely-fought encounter in Donetsk and the winner will go through to face Portugal in the semi-finals.

Both France, 1998 world champions and 2000 kings of Europe, and Spain are two of the highest praised nations over the past 14 years of international football. But there is also an old score to settle, with Spain still stinging from being mugged by a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup.

TEAM NEWS

Spain

Spain, who lost Carles Puyol and David Villa before Euro 2012 to injury, have no major new fitness concerns. Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Torres, Xabi Alonso – who will win his 100th cap if he plays – and Javi Martinez are all a booking away from a suspension.

France

France pair Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery sat out Wednesday’s training session due to “minor problems”. It remains to be seen whether Yohan Cabaye will return after the Newcastle United star missed the Sweden defeat with a thigh problem.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 30
Spain Wins – 13
Draws – 6
France Wins – 11

FORM GUIDE

Spain – WWDWW
18-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Croatia 0-1 Spain
14-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 4-0 Ireland
10-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 1-1 Italy
03-Jun-12 – Friendly – Spain 1-0 China
30-May-12 – Friendly – Spain 4-1 South Korea

France – LWDWW
19-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Sweden 2-0 France
15-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Ukraine 0-2 France
11-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – France 1-1 England
05-Jun-12 – Friendly – France 4-0 Estonia
31-May-12 – Friendly – France 2-0 Serbia

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Xavi (Spain)
The pass master of the Spanish side, the Barcelona playmaker has yet to truly come alive at the UEFA EURO 2012 after being largely stiffled by defensive opponents. But against a France side that likes to play football, Xavi could be the key and finally be able to weave his magic and bring his team back to form.

Andres Iniesta (Spain)
The Barcelona playmaker has been in fine form in the competition, and has been the main driving force behind a Spanish side without David Villa. Deployed on the left side of a 3-man attack, the 28-year-old frequently beats defenders and provides cutting passes, making him a fearful threat for defenders. Mathieu Debuchy, who is still learning his trade at the international level, could well be troubled by Iniesta.

Hugo Lloris (France)
The French skipper has had very little to do in terms of saves made in the tournament so far but thats going to change against Spain today. The Spanish will come and keep the ball and test the keeper at numerous occasions. The Lyon stopper will have to be at his very best to deny the defending champions from scoring an early goal.

Franck Ribery (France)
With Karim Benzema not able to find the back of the net with his national side, it could be down to the Bayern Munich winger to help the French beat Spain and claim a semi-final spot against Portugal, having claimed 10 goals during his international career and 16 this season for the German giants in all competitions last season.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Spain (4-3-3): Iker Casillas (C); Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergi Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso; David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta.

The world and European champions are expected to lineup in the same 4-3-3 formation that helped them top their group. There won’t be much changes to side that defeated Croatia in the final game, maybe just one with Fabregas coming in for Fernando Torres. The Chelsea striker was disappointing against a tough Croatia side, while Fabregas on the other hand, provided the chipped ball that lead to Jesus Navas’ winner. The 6-man midfield worked well against Italy in the opening group game and will hopefully work well again today.

France (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris (C); Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Adil Rami, Gael Clichy; Yohan Cabaye, Yann M’Vila; Jeremy Menez, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery; Karim Benzema.

Laurent Blanc’s men are expected to play with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has served them very well in past, but with a few changes. Arsenal’s Koscielny is expected to get his first start of the tournament in the heart of the defence alongside Adil Rami, in place of the suspended Philippe Mexes. Yohan Cabaye will also come in the side for Alou Diarra after sitting out of the Sweden defeat. Jeremy Menez is also expected to come in for the ineffective Hatem Ben Arfa, with the later seemed to be happy blasting shot over goal rather than passing to his teammates and creating chances.

MATCH ODDS

Spain 8/11 Draw 5/2 France 4/1

PREDICTION

Spain are the bookies favourites to win this game but it’s not going to be an easy on for the defending champions. Spain have a lot of individual talent in their squad but they haven’t performed their best as a team in the tournament so far and this could be the right time to do so against a not so strong French side, who were easily beaten by Sweden the other day. Spain will play their possession football and mostly in the opposition’s half, while France on the other hand, will look to park the bus in front of the goal and hit the Spaniards on the counter. Defending the whole game looks tough against a Spain side who have a good habit of winning tight games even when they aren’t playing their best.

Predicted Score – Spain 1-0 France

France v England Preview

The Euro 2012 Group D opener at Donetsk on Monday promises to be a cracker of a match as underachieving European giants France and England square off against each other in a renewal of a long standing football rivalry.

Roy Hodgson’s men have endured an injury-hit build-up the tournament with four players withdrawing from the squad since it was announced last month. But the England boss has confirmed there are no further fitness concerns in the camp and the team are raring to go amid an atmosphere of lowered expectations going into this competition. A key reason for that, as well as the high-profile withdrawals and omissions, is the absence of Wayne Rooney for this game as he serves the first of a two-game suspension for his red card in Montenegro last year. And the rest of the team will need to be near their best given that the Three Lions start as underdogs against Laurent Blanc’s side.

France are unbeaten in 21 games under Blanc and will be looking to erase memories of the shambles that occurred under Raymond Domenech at the World Cup two years ago. Les Bleus finished bottom of their group with the team in disgrace after boycotting training in South Africa but French supporters may prefer to look back to the memory of when these sides met in 2004. France won in the sides’ opening game of UEFA EURO 2004 despite being behind when the clock struck ninety minutes. That tournament was England’s last taste of European Championship action until this game. The so-called Golden Generation are all but gone. But Hodgson will be hoping that could yet work in England’s favour.

TEAM NEWS

France

France coach Laurent Blanc is unlikely to risk midfielder Yann M’Vila against England as deputies Alou Diarra and Blaise Matuidi have recovered well from respective knee and hamstring problems. M’Vila has struggled with a thigh injury but otherwise Blanc has had few fresh concerns to deal with since Loic Remy dropped out of the squad with a thigh problem of his own at the end of May. Karim Benzema will start ahead of Olivier Giroud in attack following his dazzling display in Les Bleus’ final pre-tournament friendly against Estonia, while Philippe Mexes is likely to retain his place despite pressure from backup Laurent Koscielny.

England

Several questions of strategy, form and fitness still surround England manager Roy Hodgson’s team selection. John Terry returned to training on Thursday following a hamstring complaint and should start alongside Joleon Lescott in central defence, with Phil Jagielka waiting in the wings. At the opposite end of the pitch, both Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck have staked claims to the lone striking role, with Wayne Rooney suspended. Welbeck scored in the Three Lions’ last friendly against Belgium and is expected to get the nod ahead of Carroll. On the right flank, James Milner is almost certain to start, while on the end of the pitch, young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may be given a chance ahead of the likes of Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 28
France Wins – 8
Draws – 4
England Wins – 16

FORM GUIDE

France – WWWWD
06-Jun-12 – Friendly – France 4-0 Estonia
01-Jun-12 – Friendly – France 2-0 Serbia
28-May-12 – Friendly – France 3-2 Iceland
01-Mar-12 – Friendly – Germany 1-2 France
16-Nov-11 – Friendly – France 0-0 Belgium

England – WWLWW
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-11 – Friendly – England 1-0 Sweden
12-Nov-11 – Friendly – England 1-0 Spain

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Franck Ribery (France)
The Bayern Munich winger has been in top form this season for both, club and country. The former Marseille man has been inspirational in helping his German club reach the finals of the Champions League and the German cup. The 29-year-old’s pace, trickery, passing, movement, ability to cut inside from the flanks and finishing will be of huge threats to the England defence.

Karim Benzema (France)
The inform Real Madrid striker will spearhead France’s attack. The former Lyon man has been in top form for Real Madrid this season scoring 32 goals for the Spanish champions in all competitions and will be hoping to replicate the same form for his country. Benzema’s ability to create a goal or make a key pass with very little space will be one of the major threats to the English defence.

Steven Gerrard (England)
Liverpool’s inspirational captain will be looking to inspire and motivate his England teammates when they face the French later today. In the absense of Wayne Rooney for the first two games, Gerrard is the key man and England’s hopes of making it through to the quarters will rest on his shoulders. He would be the main creative source in the midfield and his glorious through-balls and long thunderous strikes could hurt the opposition.

Ashley Young (England)
 The Manchester United winger could be England’s main man against France today, as he will be playing as the support striker just behind Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll – whoever starts. Young has an outstanding record for England, as he averages a goal and a assist in his every three matches.  He ability to make the important runs behind the defenders and put in some dangerous crosses, could really pose a threat to the French defence.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

France (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris (C); Matthieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Patrice Evra; Alou Diarra, Yohan Cabaye; Hatem Ben Arfa, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery; Karim Benzema.

France are expected to start with their tried and test 4-2-3-1 formation which helped them qualify as group winners. The defence looks well set and the experience of Patrice Evra is expected to get the nod ahead of Manchester City’s Gael Clichy. Yann M’Vila has recovered from his ankle injury but is not going to be risked and played in today’s game and instead the Marseille midfielder Alou Diarra is expected to start alongside Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye in the center of midfield. The creative trio of Hatem Ben Arfa, Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery will play just behind the target man up top, the inform Karim Benzema.

England (4-4-1-): Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; James Milner, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard (C), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Ashley Young; Danny Welbeck.

England are expected to play the same 4-4-1-1 formation, which they used for their previous two friendlies against Norway and Belgium. The safe hands of Joe Hart will be in goal and will be guarded by a strong and discipline defence consisting of Johnson, Terry, Lescott and Ashely Cole. The work rate of James Milner is expected to see him get the nod ahead of Theo Walcott on the right side of the midfield, while Parker and skipper Gerrard will play in the center of the four man midfield. The misfiring Stewart Downing is expected by many to play on the left side but for me it would be the youth and pace of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Downing. Ashley Young will be in the number10 role just behind the striker Danny Welbeck.

MATCH ODDS

France 11/8 Draw 21/10 England 21/10

PREDICTION

The match is expected to be similar to the Germany-Portugal game. A cagey affair will both teams making sure they don’t lose their opening game. Both the teams have a lot of attacking talent and also have individual players who could turn the game around single handedly. France would dominate the game a lot, while the Three Lions would be happy to sit back and absorb all the pressure and hit the French on the break or on the counter. The discipline of English defence will help them get atleast a point from this game.

Predicted Score – France 1-1 England