Tag Archives: Phil Jones

Manchester United v Arsenal Preview

Manchester United’s blockbuster summer signing Robin van Persie takes centre stage on Saturday as the former Arsenal skipper comes up against his old employers for the first time in an United shirt.

The Dutch international, who scored 132 times during his seven years with the Gunners before departing in a £24million deal this summer, has already made an impact at Old Trafford. Van Persie already has seven goals to his name from just seven Premier League starts to show why Sir Alex Ferguson was so happy to land his signature despite competition from Manchester City and Juventus. The striker’s priceless ability to win games on his own will be sorely missed by the fans who once idolised him, and even though Arsene Wenger has called for respect from the travelling fans, the hostility is likely to come out from the away section.

Arsenal also need to banish the memories of last season’s Premier League visit to Old Trafford in August, when they suffered an 8-2 humiliation in what ranks as one of Wenger’s darkest days in his otherwise successful career.

The London club are six points behind United and while it will be to immature to write them off their title ambitions in November, a nine-point gap would be a significant deficit to bridge. On the other hand, victory for Ferguson’s men would take them at the top of the table for the first time this season as Chelsea are not in action until later in day when they travel to Swansea.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United

The Red Devils have no fresh injury issues following their two dramatic matches against Chelsea over the past week. Defender Chris Smalling continues to make good progress in training, but the game at Old Trafford will come too soon. Fellow centre-back Phil Jones (knee) is also not ready, while Nemanja Vidic and midfielder Shinji Kagawa (both knee) remain sidelined. Sir Alex Ferguson made a host of changes for the Capital One Cup clash and will bring back his big players for the big Premier League encounter.

Arsenal

The Gunners will go back to a more recognized team after changing their entire starting XI for the surprising Capitol One Cup success at Reading. Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna are in contention, but Theo Walcott may be back on the bench after playing whole 120 minutes at the Madjeski. Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) faces a fitness test, but winger Gervinho (ankle) will be out for around three weeks, while defender Kieran Gibbs (thigh), first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and Czech winger Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) all continue their rehab.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 193
Manchester United Wins – 84
Draw – 42
Arsenal Wins – 67

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

22-Jan-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
28-Aug-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal
01-May-11 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United
12-Mar-11 – FA Cup – Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal
13-Apr-10 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

FORM GUIDE

Manchester United – LWWWW
United come into this match on the back of a very important win at Stamford Bridge in the league and are currently just one point behind leaders Chelsea in second place.

31-Oct-12 – Captial One Cup – Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United
28-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United

Arsenal – WWLLW
The Gunners lie in sixth place in the Premier League, six points behind their opponents having won four, drawn three and lost two of their nine games.

30-Oct-12 – Capital One Cup – Reading 5-7 Arsenal
27-Oct-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
24-Oct-12 – Champions League – Arsenal 0-2 Schalke 04
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Norwich City 1-0 Arsenal
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
All eyes will be on the former Arsenal man on Saturday. The 29-year-old has added an extra dimension to United’s attack this season, and is the club’s top goal scorer with nine goals in all competitions. The Netherlands international will be keen to show his former club what they lost. However, he will show some respect to the club he represented for seven years but most Arsenal fans won’t feel the same.

Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
The 23-year-old has been in headlines this week, for reasons on and off the pitch. Contract talks are stalling because the England international isn’t happy with his lack of playing time, but after scoring a hat-trick against Reading in midweek he is making it very hard for Arsene Wenger to leave him out. Walcott on song is a great attacking player and added to the likes Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere, they could easily stun the Red Devils.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra (C); Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley; Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young; Robin van Persie.

De Gea is most likely to take back his place in between the sticks from Anders Lindegaard after the Danish international let in five goals against Chelsea in the mid-week. Ferdinand and Evans will return to central defence after the youngsters – Scott Wootton and Michael Keane – failed to stand up to the challenge at Stamford Bridge. Alexander Buttner, who was substituted at half time, will also make way for Evra. Carrick and Cleverley are expected to return in the midfield along with Valencia and Young on the wings. Rooney and Van Persie were rested for midweek clash and the star strike duo will take field against an under-performing Arsenal defence.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Vito Mannone; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen (C), Andre Santos; Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta; Theo Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski; Olivier Giroud.

First choice keeper Wojciech Szcesny is close to recovery but the Pole is not fit to make a start against the Red Devils, leaving Mannone as the only option for Wenger. Kieran Gibbs is also out with injury, giving Brazilian full-back Andre Santos more first team action this season. After his hat-trick in the mid-week against Reading, Theo Walcott may get the nod on the right wing in place of Aaron Ramsey, while both Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh are expected to be back on the bench after their impressive performances in the Capital One Cup. Giroud did score against Reading but his league record has been very poor but Wenger will most likely rely on the Frenchman yet again.

OPTA FACTS

  • 1 – Wayne Rooney scored his first Premier League goal, his first in the Premier League for Manchester United and his 100th Premier League goal against Arsenal.
  • 1 – Only one of Arsenal’s 14 league goals this season have come before the half-hour mark.
  • 5 – Manchester United have scored and conceded at least two goals in the same Premier League game five times this season.
  • 7 – Manchester United have won seven and lost none of their last eight against Arsenal at Old Trafford in all competitions.
  • 9 – Manchester United have won nine of their last 10 meetings with the Gunners in all competitions.
  • 10 – Arsenal have scored just 10 goals in 20 Premier League visits to Old Trafford, with last season (8-2 defeat) being the only time they have netted two in one game.
  • 21 – Robin van Persie has hit the woodwork 21 times since August 2009, nine more times than any other Premier League player in the same period.

REFEREE

Name – Mike Dean
Based – Wirral
Age – 44
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 15
Red Cards – 0

MATCH ODDS

Manchester United 8/11, Draw 13/5, Arsenal 4/1

PREDICTION

It’s been an incredibly entertaining goal-filled week in which both sides conceded five goals in the Capital One Cup. This fixture last season delivered an equally ridiculous scoreline when Manchester United ran out 8-2 winners. Arsenal’s failure to score in league games this season and having to see Robin van Persie play against them will surely make matters worse for the North London side. The game is expected to be another entertaining one for the neutrals, but Sir Alex’s side should have too much for the Gunners in this one.

Predicted Score: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

Chelsea v Manchester United Preview

First meets second in the Premier League on Super Sunday as Chelsea host Manchester United in arguably the biggest game of the season so far and one that could have long term consequences on the title race. 

Chelsea currently have a four-point lead in the table and so will remain at the top no matter what happens in London on Sunday. But Sir Alex Ferguson will want his side to deliver some psychological damage on Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea, who lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in their midweek defence of the Champions League.

United, who came from two goals down to pick up a 3-2 win over Braga in Europe thanks to the heroics of Javier Hernandez, also visit Stamford Bridge with some reason to be confident. Last season’s Premier League runners-up have won four and drawn one of the last five matches against Chelsea in all competitions. But the Red Devils have also won just one of the last 12 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions, while Chelsea have won 10 and lost just one of their last 13 Premier League home games.

TEAM NEWS

Chelsea

The Blues will be without the services of their experience duo – John Terry and Frank Lampard. The Chelsea skipper continues to serve his four-match ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, who is the brother of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand. While, Lampard sustained a calf injury against Shakhtar Donetsk in the midweek and has been ruled for ‘ a few weeks’. Marko Marin has been training for the past couple of weeks and is expected to be in the squad for Sunday. There are no other absentees meaning Di Matteo is expected to name the same XI that won 4-2 at Tottenham last weekend.

Manchester United

Manchester United will be without their Japanese playermaker Shinji Kagawa for three to four weeks due to the knee injury he picked up in his side’s comeback win over Braga. Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are back training for a week and therefore could make the bench at Stamford Bridge, while United hope Phil Jones will start full training in November. Sir Alex Ferguson has no other fitness concerns, except for the long-term absentee Nemanja Vidic (knee), in his squad and will have to decide what to do with his striker problems after Javier Hernandez’s man-of-the-match performance in the midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 163
Chelsea Wins – 44
Draw – 48
Manchester United Wins – 71

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

05-Feb-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United
18-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea
08-May-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
12-Apr-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
06-Apr-12 – Champions League – Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Chelsea – LWWWW
The Blues are in superb form this season and are early the favourites to win the title, as they are four points clear at the top of the table winning seven of their eight Premier League matches this season.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Chelsea
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Chelsea
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 4-1 Norwich City
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – FC Norsdjaelland 0-4 Chelsea
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

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 their hosts for Sunday in the Premier League table.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – CFR Cluj 1-2 Manchester United
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Juan Mata (Chelsea)
The little Spaniard has been in great form this season and is surely one of the early contenders for the Player of the Year award. It was thought that the big money captures of Oscar and Eden Hazard might stop him from playing in his number 10 role for the club, but it has not. Instead he has got even better and has already scored three and created five goals in eight league matches so far. The United defence will have to be at their very best and disallow him the space he loves to get into, if they are to get a result on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
The England international is at his very best since his return from the thigh injury he picked up against Fulham at the start of the season. Many people suggested that the arrival of Robin van Persie will see Rooney being frozen out at United, but it has not been so. The duo have flourished as a strike partnership and the Englishman, who has scored three times in his last two visits to Stamford Bridge, has scored twice and assisted four times in the last three league games. There is no doubt the versatile striker will be United’s main man on Sunday and if the Blues can keep him quiet for the whole game then they have a great chance of getting all three points from the game.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech (C); Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres.

John Terry misses the match because of his four-match suspension meaning Gary Cahill, who was benched for the midweek Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk comes back in the side to partner David Luiz in the heart of the defence. Frank Lampard, who picked up a knock in midweek, is expected to make way for Eden Hazard. Ramires will partner Mikel in the midfield, while Hazard will regain his spot in the side alongside Oscar and Juan Mata. Underperforming Fernando Torres is likely to start as the lone striker up front ahead of Daniel Sturridge.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick; Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney; Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez.

With Anders Lindegaard still recovering from the thump injury he picked up in training, David De Gea will start in between the sticks for the Red Devils. Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are expected to return to the side after being rested in the midweek. Michael Carrick, who looked very unconventional in defence against Braga, will be moved up the field to play in his natural position on Sunday alongside Antonio Valencia and Paul Scholes in midfield and Wayne Rooney at the top of the diamond. Javier Hernandez, who scored the late equaliser in 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, could be picked ahead of Danny Welbeck to partner Robin van Persie in attack.

OPTA FACTS

  • 0 – Chelsea have a superb home record against United, as they have never lost to the Red Devils in their last 10 meetings at Stamford Bridge.
  • 1 – Chelsea have gone into the break behind only once in the eight league matches this season.
  • 2 – David Luiz has scored in both of his appearances for Chelsea against United at Stamford Bridge.
  • 4 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have only been in front at half-time four times in 12 matches this season, and have gone on to win all four.
  • 4 – Javier Hernandez has scored in four of the seven clashes with Chelsea.
  • 5 – Wayne Rooney has scored five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions against Chelsea.
  • 5 – Robin van Persie has scored five times at Stamford Bridge; the best record of any visiting player.
  • 6 – Fernando Torres has scored six goals in 14 appearances for Chelsea this season, and is just one shy of total from last season.
  • 18 – In their last 30 meeting in all competitions, both the sides have got on the scoresheet on 18 occasions.

REFEREE

Name – Mark Clattenburg
Based – Durham
Age – 37
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 24
Red Cards – 2

MATCH ODDS

Chelsea 7/5, Draw 9/4, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the table and a win on Sunday will see them going seven points ahead of United. The Red Devils, on the other hand, will put their best foot forward to pull Chelsea back. Goals are written all over this game, in the corresponding fixture last season Chelsea squandered a three-goal lead and were pegged back to 3-3. But both the sides have changed considerably since their last league meeting. Robin van Persie, who is the league’s top goal scorer with six goals, is expected to lead United’s onslaught alongside Wayne Rooney. However, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are in top form and given the weaknesses in both the defences, we are in store for a treat.

Predicted Score: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United

Vidic Out For Eight Weeks – Key Fixtures He Will Miss And Possible Replacements

Manchester United have confirmed their captain Nemanja Vidic will miss eight weeks of football following knee surgery. The injury was discovered after the defender was forced to miss his team’s victory over Liverpool.

A statement on the club’s official site read:

“Nemanja Vidic has had a meniscus operation on his right knee and will be out for around eight weeks.

“Sir Alex, as a precautionary measure, rested Vidic at the weekend, after he complained of tightness in his knee, however, further medical investigation revealed the underlying problem.

“The central defender was operated on this week and will be sidelined for about eight weeks.”

This news comes in as a bitter disappointment for Sir Alex Ferguson, who will once again be without his top defender and captain for another two months, after the Serbian missed the final five months of the last season with a ruptured cruciate ligament in the same knee. The Manchester United boss is already without defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, while like always for the past couple of season Rio Ferdinand’s fitness remains a concern.

Key Fixtures Vidic Will Miss

United welcome Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham to Old Trafford next in the Premier League this weekend, followed by a difficult trip to Newcastle. The Serbian is also scheduled to miss games against Chelsea (A) and Arsenal (H), but could make his comeback against the Premier League champions and the noisy neighbours Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the season at the Etihad Stadium.

In the Champions League, the fans can expect the United skipper to sit out against Cluj in their final group game at Old Trafford. While he is certain to miss the away trips to Galatasaray and Cluj, as well as both the games against Braga.

Here is the list of fixtures, he is schedules to miss..

26-09 – League Cup – Newcastle (H)
29-09 – Premier League – Tottenham (H)
02-10 – Champions League – Cluj (A)
07-10 – Premier League – Newcastle (A)
20-10 – Premier League – Stoke (H)
23-10 – Champions League – Braga (H)
28-10 – Premier League – Chelsea (A)
31-10 – League Cup – Fourth Round
03-11 – Premier League – Arsenal (H)
07-11 – Champions League – Braga (A)
10-11 – Premier League – Aston Villa (A)
17-11 – Premier League – Norwich (H)
20-11 – Champions League – Galatasaray (A)
24-11 – Premier League – QPR (H)

Who Will Replace Him?

Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans will have a huge role to play now – like they did in the second half of the last season. Michael Carrick can also play in the centre-back position like he did at the start of the season against Everton and Fulham, but his performances were not up to the mark and didn’t look comfortable at all. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both are out since the start of the season and are expected to return after the international break in October. They both may be available for the home game against Stoke City. Ferguson has plenty of options available in the Under-21s squad – Scott Wootton, Michael Keane, Federic Veseli – but all of them lack the experience of playing in the Premier League and playing them against the big teams would be a huge gamble.

Options remain limited for the United boss and if Ferdinand or Evans were to sustain a long term injury in the near future, the Red Devils will be severely short of replacements in the heart of the defence. With key clashes just around the corner, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping their captain a quick recovery.

John Terry Quits England, But Is The FA To Blame For It?

John Terry has sensationally announced his retirement from intenational football less than 24 hours before the Football Association hearing into the Anton Ferdinand saga is expected to begin.

The Chelsea defender, 31, was cleared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game. But Terry, who won 78 caps, still faces a Football Association disciplinary hearing over the matter on today (Monday). The Chelsea captain said he could not play for England because of the FA’s decision to pursue charges against him and his position with the England national team was now “untenable”.

In a statement, John Terry said:

“I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.

“Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I want to wish Roy and the team every success for the future.

“I now look forward to playing for Chelsea and challenging for domestic and European honours, and I want to thank the fans and the club for their continued support.

“I would like to thank the England managers who have selected me for my 78 caps. I have had great pleasure in sharing that honour with all the players that I’ve played with. I would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support and encouragement during my international career.”

England face a couple of World Cup qualifiers next month. First they welcome San Marino to Wembley and then, four days later, face Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland in Warsaw.

Is The England FA to Blame for it?

John Terry claiming his position in the England team “untenable” or the lack of the support from the governing body is complete ‘nonsense’. The Chelsea skipper is the author of his own downfall and there is no one else to blame for it.

Whether it was the Wayne Bridge saga, the dispute with Anton Ferdinand and subsequent fallout with Rio Ferdinand or the impression he gave that the England armband belonged to him, Terry had become a poisonous asset during the international week. Keeping aside his performances on the pitch, he brought with himself too much additional baggage whenever he boarded the England bus.

The FA charge he faces this week has become almost incidental in the public’s eyes. Even if Terry’s name is cleared, the storm clouds won’t automatically go away. His unpopularity will remain. He represents much of the arrogance and ego that alienates many people from modern football.

If he was chasing for any sympathy by yesterday’s swipe at the FA, then it’s unlikely to happen. He calling his position in the England team “untenable” isn’t true at all. He was continued to be picked by England managers during his troubled times. First Fabio Capello and then Roy Hodgson. The current England boss backed him strongly during his squad selection for the Euros, a tactic that looks even more doubtful now that Terry has walked away.

Terry’s inclusion in the Euro 2012 squad came at the expense of Rio Ferdinand. Nobody fully believed Hodgson’s reason that the Manchester United defender was omitted “for footballing reasons”. It was all to do with the dressing-room dynamic, with the tension between the pair following Terry’s dispute with Ferdinand’s brother Anton. Hodgson took him to Poland and Ukraine, he behaved but his presence was always an issue.

What Next For England?

For all the off field controversey he caused, his 78 caps with England should be remembered for his never ending commitment on the pitch. He is a proud, patriotic individual and this decision to quit from representing his country will have been a painful one. Along with Steven Gerrard, Terry was England’s best play in Poland and Ukraine.

Terry’s absence will be felt in the dressing-room but the national team will survive without him. His Chelsea team-mate, Gary Cahill has shown he can contribute a lot for both club and country. The former Bolton defender is a European champion with Chelsea, Joleon Lescott is a Premier League winner with Manchester City and Phil Jagielka has imporved a lot in the last couple of seasons at Everton. Rio Ferdinand is in the twilight of his career, but deserves a recall.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both will be back soon from their long term injuries and have the potential to be the next best England centre-back pairing. Steven Caulker is maturing and developing promisingly at Tottenham Hotspur and is worth a long-term audition, along with Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, who surely deserves a England callup in the near future.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Manchester United

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

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson.
Captain: Nemanja Vidic.
Stadium: Old Trafford (75,811).
Last season: 2nd.
Leading scorer (PL): Wayne Rooney (27).
Odds: Title 2-1. Relegation 1000-1.

In: Shinji Kagawa (£13.2m, Dortmund), Robin van Persie (£24m, Arsenal), Nick Powell (£6.6m, Crewe).

Out: Ben Amos (Loan, Hull City), Reece Brown (Loan, Coventry), John Cofie (Loan, Sheffield United), Ritchie De Laet (£1.1m, Leicester City), Fabio (Loan, Q.P.R), Matt James (£1.1m, Leicester City), Tomasz Kuszczak (Free, Brighton & Hove), Sean McGinty (Loan, Oxford), Olver Norwood (£440k, Huddersfield), Park Ji-Sing (£2.7m, Q.R.R), Paul Pogba (£800k, Juventus), Michael Owen (Released).

Kits

Key Man – Wayne Rooney
Even with the immitent arrival of Robin van Persie from Arsenal, Wayne Rooney remains the main man at Manchester United. The England international striker ended as the club’s top scorer last season and remains the man that United look for some inspiration. He will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing Euro 2012 and also win the Golden Boot for the first time this season, whilst helping United regain their Premier League crown from their city rivals.

Opening Fixtures
20-Aug – Everton (A)
25-Aug – Fulham (H)
02-Sep – Southampton (A)
15-Sep – Wigan (H)
23-Sep – Liverpool (A)
29-Sep – Tottenham (H)

Probable Formation (4-4-2): De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Kagawa, Young; Rooney, Van Persie.

Verdit: United took the title race to very last minute last season but were eventually made to pay for defeats home and away to their noisy neighbours, plus some other crucial dropped points in the run-in, especially against Everton at home. However, with City set to be distracted by their Champions League ambitions, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men could come good again when it matters. Shinji Kagawa will add extra creativity in an attacking midfield role, and with the latest capture of Robin van Persie their front-line is only rivaled by that of Man City’s. The return of Nemanja Vidic back from injury is certainly a major boost to their chances as his presence at the back was sorely missed last season. The Red Devils will definitely push the reigning Champions City all the way to the end of the season, but in the end, Mancini’s side may be just too strong for the 19 times English champions.

Prediction: 2nd.

Premier League’s Top 10 Most Expensive Teenagers

With both Oscar and Lucas Moura linked with big money moves to Chelsea and Manchester United this summer, we look at the teenagers who joined a Premier League club for big money in the past. Here are Premier League’s top 10 most expensive teenagers.  

10. GARETH BALE: SOUTHAMPTON –> TOTTENHAM – £7m

The young Welsh full-back burst onto the scene at Southampton as a 16-year-old in 2006, immediately becoming the Saints’ first choice left-back and free-kick specialist. Manchester United and Arsenal were both interested in the teenager but Bale signed for the White Hart Lane club in 2007 for a fee in the region of £5m (rising to £10m based on appearances), but a year later it was settled to £7m. The Welsh international had a bizarre start to his career at White Hart Lane as he struggled with injuries and bad luck. Bale eventually settled in at the club and made a name for himself as a left winger. Bale is one of the most dangerous left wingers around in the game and also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award in 2010-11 for his eye-catching performances in the league and in Europe.

9. CONNOR WICKHAM: IPSWICH –> SUNDERLAND – £7m (RISING TO £12m)

Wickham made a name for himself in the nPower Championship with Ipswich Town by scoring a total of  15 goals in two full seasons. The England under-21 international attracted a lot of interest from many Premier League clubs, but in the end Sunderland made the move and brought him to the Stadium of Light at the start of last season. The 6ft 3in striker, who is tipped to be a future England star, had a bad first season in the Premier League as he managed to find the back of the net just once in thirteen appearances.

8. THEO WALCOTT: SOUTHAMPTON –> ARSENAL – £9m

The pacey winger was roommates with Gareth Bale at Southampton, but Walcott chose the other side of North London as he made the big money to Arsenal in 2006. The then 16-year-old grabbed all the headlines when he was picked by Sven Goran Eriksson in the England squad for the 2006 World Cup after failing to make a single first-team appearance for the Gunners that season. Walcott didn’t feature at all in Germany and was later overlooked by Fabio Capello for the 2010 World Cup. The 23-year-old is now one of the important members of the Arsenal squad and is also an England regular.

7. CRISTIANO RONALDO: SPORTING LISBON –> MANCHESTER UNITED – £12m

Liverpool and Arsenal were both interested in the signing the Portuguese prodigy back in 2003, but eventually Manchester United brought him to Old Trafford after they played against his team in a pre-season friendly. It took sometime for the Portuguese to settle in England and get used to the Premier League, but once he got used to it he became the club’s star performer. The Portuguese international spent six seasons at Old Trafford making 292 appearances and scoring 118 goals. He helped the Red Devils win three Premier League, one FA Cup, two League Cups, one Champions League and one Club World Cup title before joining Real Madrid in 2009 for a whopping £80m. It was the best business ever done by Sir Alex Ferguson during his time with Manchester United.

6. ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: SOUTHAMPTON –> ARSENAL – £12m (RISING TO £15m)

Another talent from Southampton’s youth academy. Oxlade-Chamberlain made himself known to top teams in the Premier League by scoring 10 goals in the first full season at the St. Mary’s. Arsenal snapped him up last summer and he made his debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford. The 18-year-old became the youngest ever Englishman to score in the Champions League when he scored the opening goal against Olympiakos. The England under-21 international won the hearts of the Arsenal fans by some impressive displays in his debut season in the top flight and was also selected in England’s UEFA EURO 2012 squad.

5. ROMELU LUKAKU: ANDERLECHT –> CHELSEA – £13m (RISING TO £18m)

Lukaku was already a regular first team member of his club – Anderlecht and his country –  Belgium before Chelsea signed him up in the summer last year. The then 18-year-old strong centre forward was brought in as a potential replacement for Didier Drogba but he failed to get much playing time last season as he made just eight appearances for the Blues in the Premier League. Lukaku, who has a very good goal-scoring record in Belgium, is expected to go out on loan this season in order to get some first-team action and Fulham are said to be the favourites.

4. PHIL JONES: BLACKBURN –> MANCHESTER UNITED – £16.5m

The then 19-year-old had made just 35 first-team league appearances for Blackburn but that didn’t stop Ferguson activating his release clause and bringing him to Old Trafford. The versatile defender – who played as a right-back, a center-back and as a defensive midfielder – had a great first season with Manchester United, making a total of 41 appearances in all competitions and also found the back of the net twice. The 20-year-old’s impressive displays for the Red Devils earned him an England senior team call-up and was also picked up for the Euros in Poland/Ukraine this summer by Roy Hodgson.

3. ANDERSON: FC PORTO –> MANCHESTER UNITED – £18m

It seems very unbelievable that the Brazilian costed United more than Ronaldo, but it’s true. Ferguson had to pay a whopping fee of  £18m to bring the young Brazilian, who was dubbed as the ‘next Ronaldinho’, to Old Trafford in 2007 when he was 19. Anderson has had something of a stop-start career at Old Trafford mostly troubled by injuries. The Brazilian international has won three Premier League titles, one League Cup and one Champions League title with the Red Devils during his five years at the club, but has been often linked with a move away from Manchester in the past couple of season. It look’s unlikely that United will be getting their money back if the Brazilian does leave in the near future.

2. MARIO BALOTELLI: INTER –> MANCHESTER CITY – £24m

Even though Balotelli signed for the reigning Premier League champions two days after his 20th birthday, he makes this list as the deal between the two clubs had been agreed when he was still in his teens. The Italian, who costed around £24m, has had a controversial time at the Eastlands both on and off the field. Super Mario has shown the maturity of a boy half his age and has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons’ in the past two years. But, whenever in mood, he has shown the world his true potential with some eye-catching displays for both City and Italy. He also played a vital role in helping Italy finish runners-up at this summer’s European Championship in Poland/Ukraine.

1. WAYNE ROONEY: EVERTON –> MANCHESTER UNITED – £27m

Sir Alex Ferguson signed Wayne Rooney for a staggering £27m in the summer of 2004, after he had starred for England at Euro 2004 in Portugal. Rooney, 18, when he joined United, already had two compete seasons under his belt in the Everton first-team and was one of most sought-after teenagers around. He announced himself to the United supporters with a hat-trick on debut and has become one of the key players for the Red Devils in the recent years. The 26-year-old England international has helped United win four Premier League titles, two League Cups, one Champions League and one Club World Cup in his eight years at Old Trafford.

Rating The England Squad For The Euros

Roy Hodgson has named his 23-man England squad that will carry the hopes of the entire nation at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland & Ukraine this summer. But has he got the right players? After having a look at the complete squad, here is my verdict on the squad.

Goalkeepers

Joe Hart

Its a long time since England have had one of the best keepers in the world. For me he is not only the best in the Premier League but also the best in the world and should be mentioned along with the likes of Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer or even Hugo Lloris. Hart has developed a lot since his loan spell at Birmingham couple of years back and could be England’s number one for many years to come.

Robert Green

He has been good for West Ham this season. I know he is playing in the Championship but he has performed for West Ham under a lot of pressure and expectations. He is going to be 2nd choice to Hart and so I have no worries at all unless Hart gets injured.

John Ruddy

Paul Robinson and Ben Foster have retired while Scott Carson plays in Turkish league and David Stockdale hasn’t perform this season, so John Ruddy was the best option. I am really happy for him. He has been very good for Norwich this season and their position in the league proves it. He has made some amazing saves this season in a matches against the top sides especially against Liverpool at Anfield.

Defenders 

Glen Johnson

England are lucky to have some many good right-backs and Glen Johnson is the best of them. Unlucky that Micah Richards didnt make the plane but Johnson for me is by far the best right-back England have had for some years now. His defending is a bit of a worry but going forward is as good as Dani Alves or Maicon to name a few. He also has the ability to score from outside the box and that’s a plus point.

Phil Jones

The fact that I am a Manchester United fan, I am very happy for him. He played really well for United in the first half of the season but was troubled a lot by injuries in the second half. He is not on the plane because he had a good season by his own standards but because he is very versatile and can play in three different positions – right-back, centre-back and centre-midfield. Some part of me always knew he would be in the squad because of his versatility.

John Terry

I thought both Rio Ferdinand and John Terry would be going to the Euros but when Ferdinand was not going to be selected Terry had to be selected. Lets be honest, Terry is the best English defender at the moment and he has to be in the squad for a major tournament like this. As Hodgson said he has performed for Chelsea even with all those off-field issues and I can’t see why he won’t perform well for England. He is a true leader and a rock in the defense.

Gary Cahill

Cahill-Terry partnership has been one of the best defence partnerships for England in the last one year or so. Cahill has had a good season with both Bolton & Chelsea and I expect him to play a huge role in the Champions league final on Saturday. He will start alongside JT for England and will surely form a formidable partnership in the center of the defence.

Joleon Lescott

He has had a very good season for Manchester City but hasn’t got the credit he deserves. He is a decent player but I don’t see him starting for England ahead of John Terry or Gary Cahill. He is a very good cover for the Chelsea duo though.

Ashley Cole

England’s number one left-back for years and it’s no surprise he is in the squad. Has performed consistently for Chelsea in the Premier League season after season and deserves his place in the team.

Leighton Baines

I am glad he is finally going to a major tournament. He missed out on the World Cup in South Africa because of home-sickness but now he is fine. He has let no one down this season and performed brilliant for Everton. A brilliant backup option for Ashley Cole.

Midfielders

Steven Gerrard

Even though he plays for Liverpool, I love watching him play. He has been England’s best player for some years now and I am glad that he has finally been named the captain. He completely deserves it and should have been named way back when John Terry was stripped off the captaincy for the first time. He is a must in the England team because he is the heart of the midfield and an inspiration to all the players on the pitch. If he performs England have a chance.

Scott Parker

If he is 100% fit, he is a huge asset to the team. He has got all the deserved praise he should get in the last 2-3 seasons and I happy for him. He is a kind of a player each team needs, a player who could hold the midfield together and a great tackler of the ball. England are very lucky to have a player like him.

Frank Lampard

At the start of the season I doubted if Lampard would be in the England squad for the Euros but he has proved me wrong with his performances for Chelsea. He is a big-game player and possesses a great ability of scoring goals. England need such midfielders who can go forward and score some important goals when needed. The only thing to be seen is whether he and Gerrard can play together. There are many questions about that to be answered.

Gareth Barry

It amuses me how come he is in the squad ahead of Michael Carrick. Barry was poor against Germany in the World Cup and was completely outclassed by the German midfield but his performances in the last 10 games or so for City have been outstanding and also is an England regular for long time now. Maybe that’s the reason why he is in the squad but for me it would have been Carrick ahead of Barry.

James Milner

If you want a player who will give you 100% in each match then he is the player you are looking for. He hasn’t played a lot for City in the last few weeks and has been used mostly as substitute but he has performed whenever he has been given a chance. He is a reliable player and you know he will always give his best on the field. Add to that he is versatile, can play in center of the midfield or on the wings or even as a right back if needed.

Theo Walcott

He has been way too inconsistent this season for Arsenal. One day he will give you a 9/10 performance and next day he will give you a 5 or maybe a 6/10 performance, but he has a lot of pace in him and on his day he could also end up scoring a hat-trick. For me, he is England’s best right winger at the moment ahead of Aaron Lennon or Adam Johnson.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Whenever he has played he has impressed me. He is quick and possesses a lot of talent in him to be a star of England and Arsenal in the future. I don’t think he will start any of the games because it would really surprise me if he does but I expect him to have some impact on the game by coming on from the bench.

Stewart Downing

I must say I am very very surprised he is on that plane to Poland-Ukraine. He has been a complete waste of money for Liverpool this season. He hasn’t managed to score a goal or even create a goal in his 36 appearances in the Premier League for the Reds. I would have gone for either Adam Johnson or Daniel Sturridge ahead of Stewart Downing, any day.

Ashley Young

He has had a decent first season for Manchester United but has performed well whenever he has player for the Three Lions. His ability to deliver dangerous freekicks and crosses will be important in a tight game and could also create a difference.

Forwards

Wayne Rooney

He will be the first name on any teamsheet. He has to go even if he is suspended for the first two games. He just had a great season with Manchester United and he being suspended for the first two games will keep him fresh for the final group game against Ukraine. If he can continue his club form for his country then England are in with a huge chance.

Danny Welbeck

He has performed brilliantly for Manchester United under a lot of pressure this season and completely deserves a place in the squad. He has very good movement and also at the same time is quick. He has a very good understanding with Wayne Rooney and if Roy Hodgson decides to play with two upfront when Rooney returns, then these two can trouble the opposition defence.

Andy Carroll

If the choice was between Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll then even I would have gone with Carroll. He adds something different than the other three strikers. He has a great ability to hold the ball in the opposition’s half and his physical presence will be felt in the both the boxes. He has shown some glimpses of his form in the last 5-6 matches for Liverpool and he is way aggressive than Peter Crouch.

Jermain Defoe

I am glad that Defoe is also on the plane. He is a true poacher, a natural goalscorer and England don’t have many striker like him in their national pool. The other one which I can remember is Darren Bent but he is out injured. If he gets a chance to score then you can be sure he will score like he did in the last group game of the World Cup.