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Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Queens Park Rangers

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

Manager: Mark Hughes.
Captain: TBD.
Stadium: Loftus Road (18,360).
Last season: 17th.
Leading scorer (PL): Heidar Helguson (8).
Odds: Title 1500-1. Relegation 9-1.

In: Jose Bosingwa (Free, Chelsea), Samba Diakite (£3.5m, Nancy), Fabio (Loan, Manchester United) Robert Green (Free, West Ham), Junior Hoilett (Free, Blackburn), Andrew Johnson (Free, Fulham), Stephane Mbia (Loan, Marseille), Ryan Nelsen (Free, Tottenham), Park Ji-Sing (£2.5m, Q.R.R).

Out: Patrick Agyemang (Released), Joey Barton (Loan, Marseille), Gary Borrowdale (Released), Akos Buzsaky (Released), Lee Cook (Released), Danny Gabbidon (Released), Fitz Hall (Released), Heidar Helguson (Undisc., Cardiff), Paddy Kenny (£440k, Leeds), Bruno Perone (Released), Elvijs Putnis (Released), Peter Ramage (Free, Crystal Palace), Dan Shittu (Free, Millwall), Rowan Vine (Free, St Johnstone).

Kits

Key Man – Park Ji-Sung
The former Korean international is undoubtedly QPR’s marquee signing of the summer and the former Manchester United man, who won four Premier League titles and one Champions League title during his time at Old Trafford, is expected to bring in some vital experience, quality and leadership to take up a key role in Mark Hughes’ side.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – Swansea (H)
25-Aug – Norwich (A)
01-Sep – Man City (A)
15-Sep – Chelsea (H)
22-Sep – Tottenham (A)
01-Oct – West Ham (H)

Probable Formation (4-4-2): Green; Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Fabio; Hoilett, Taarabt, Diakite, Park; Cisse, Zamora.

Verdict: After last season’s rollercoaster ride surving the drop, QPR’s owners have spent enough in the summer to make sure they won’t be involved in another relegation battle this season. Park Ji-Sung is by far the best signing of all – his time at Manchester United has taught him a lot, and his work-rate is probably the best in the Premier League. Former Blackburn winger Junior Hoilett is another shrewd purchase by the former Blackburn manager – Mark Hughes, along with the experienced trio of England international keeper Robert Green, New Zealand skipper Ryan Nelsen and former Everton forward Andrew Johnson. Hughes has strengthened the squad with some smart signings and I have a feeling that QPR could surprise a few people this season and exceed expectations.

Prediction: 9th.

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Premier League New Signings Best XI

With just over two weeks to go for the new 2012/13 Premier League season to begin, we continue to look forward to it and build up for the new season. Today, we have decided to make a best XI of the new signings done by the Premier League clubs this summer.  

The team is formed by using the 4-2-3-1 formation. It also has a manager (who has been recently appointed) and seven substitutes. Have a look at the them and feel free to comment below.

GK – ROBERT GREEN (WEST HAM TO QPR – FREE)

The experienced England keeper may be still haunted by the goal he conceded against USA in the 2010 World Cup, but he is a safe and reliable man to have inbetween the sticks. Hughes snapped him up for free after his contract with the Hammers came to an end this June.

RB – NATHANIEL CLYNE (CRYSTAL PLACE TO SOUTHAMPTON – £2M)

The young, highly-rated but talented right-back joined the Saints for a compensation fee after his contract with the Eagles expiered in the summer. The 21-year-old, who was once a target of Manchester United, will add a lot pace to Southampton’s defence and will be a constant threat on the right-side.

CB – JAN VERTONGHEN (AJAX TO TOTTENHAM – £11M)

The Belgium international was chased by a hosts of top clubs across Europe, but in the end Tottenham won the race to sign him. With Ledley King having announced his retirement in the past month, Vertonghen will be a perfect addition to the squad and his presence will be felt at the back.

CB – RON VLAAR (FEYENOORD TO ASTON VILLA – £3.5M)

The Dutch international has spent the best part of his eight year career at Feyenoord and the hard tackling defender – who had a decent Euro 2012 campaign compared to his team – will be a great addition to Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa side – who have been poor at the back in the past couple of seasons.

LB – FABIO (MANCHESTER UNITED TO QPR – LOAN)

The young United left-back has been primed for big things in the future, but his opportunities and Old Trafford have been very limited. The pacey Brazilian, who is good with either foot is expected to be R’s first choice left-back at Loftus Road and will be hoping to impress his employees with a good season under Mark Hughes.

CM – OSCAR (INTERNACIONAL TO CHELSEA – £28M)

The young Brazilian has been one of the top performers for his country at the Olympics this year and his big money move to Chelsea has excited a lot of fans. The playmaker, who has great vision, passing and an eye for spectacular goals, is tipped for big things at Stamford Bridge.

CM -GYLFI SIGURDSSON (HOFFENHEIM TO TOTTENHAM – £8.8M)

The Iceland international had a very successful loan spell with Swansea last term and that attracted a lot of suitors for the 22-year-old midfielder. The former Reading star snubbed offers from Liverpool and Swansea to join Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham and is expected to play a major role at White Hart Lane this season.

LW – LUKAS PODOLSKI (FC KOLN TO ARSENAL – £11.4M)

It’s not often that you see Arsene Wenger buying experienced and proven talents over youngsters, but this signing of the German international, who has more than 100 caps to his name, could be a masterstroke and could well help the Gunners win their first ever major silverware in more than seven years.

CAM – SHINJI KAGAWA (DORMUND TO MANCHESTER UNITED – £13.2M)

Kagawa has seen a steap rise in his career from Japanese League football to Premier League football in the last three years or so. The Japanese international was named the Bundesliga player of the season last term after helping Dortmund do the domestic double and his transfer to United has delighted the United fans. The playmaker is expected to play a key role in helping United regain their Premier League title this season.

RW – EDEN HAZARD (LILLE TO CHELSEA – £32.5M)

The highly-rated playmaker was the most sought-after property in Europe at the start of the summer. Manchester City and Manchester United were both interested in him, but in the end Chelsea landed the Belgium international after winning the Champions League. Roman Abramovich has again splashed a lot of money on a youngster who is expected to become one of the best player in the world.

ST – OLIVIER GIROUD (MONTPELLIER to ARSENAL – £10.5M)

The France international had a great last season as helped Montpellier win their first ever league title in their history. Arsenal ssigned the striker early in the summer beating off competition from several clubs across Europe. With skipper Robin van Persie expected to leave in the near future, Giroud will have a huge role to play this season.

Manager – ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS (UNEMPLOYED TO TOTTENHAM)

The Portuguese had a distatourous time at Stamford Bridge which lasted for just over nine months, after he had helped Porto to do the treble in the previous season by winning the League, domestic cup and the Europa League. Villas-Boas was given another chance to prove himself in the Premier League after he was appointed as the new boss at White Hart Lane to succeed Harry Redknapp. The 34-year-old will be hoping make the most of his second chance and help Tottenham secure Champions League football for the next season.

Subs – Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton to West Ham for Free), Steven Whittaker (Rangers to Norwich for Free), James Collins (Aston Villa to West Ham for £2.8m), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen to Chelsea for £8.6m), Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United to QPR for £2.7m), Junior Hoilett (Blackburn to QPR for Free), Fabio Borini (Roma to Liverpool for £11.7m).

Who Is Jack Butland? Introducing England’s 3rd Choice Keeper For The Euros

At the start of the season, Jack Butland wouldn’t have ever dreamt of being on the plane to Poland-Ukraine as a part of England 23-man squad for the Euros. But nine months later, an unfortunate injury to Norwick keeper John Ruddy means the 19-year-old Birmingham keeper has been called into Roy Hodgson’s team, taking the youngster straight into the big time.

Who is Jack Butland?

The question is a very good one. We havent seen Butland playing in the Premier League  or the Championship or even in the League One this season. Even the fans of Birmingham City – who are his employers – have only seen him if they have seen their reserves or the under-18s in action. But ask the people of Cheltenham and they will have nothing but praises for the young keeper who has appeared 24 times for them during his two loan periods at the club this season.

Yes, surprised? Cheltenham Town who play in the nPower League Two is Butland’s only club – so far – for whom he has played first team football. At six feet four inches, Butland is a commanding presence in the box and an athletic, agile shot stopper, and he has made full use of his stature to keep eleven clean sheets this season and has conceded just 26 goals. He has been one of the reasons for Cheltenham’s success this season which has seen them qualify for the League 2 playoff final against Crewe at the Wembley on Sunday.

Butland joined the Birmingham Academy in 2007 but hasn’t yet played a single game for the Blues. The best he could get was a place on the bench during the recent Championship playoffs. Despite having yet to make single appearances for the first team, the young keeper has already ‘Young Player of the Season’ award at St Andrews in May 2010 for his performances with the Reserves and England U-17s.

He has been involved with England setup since 2008 when he made his debut for the Under-16s against Northern Ireland and kept a clean sheet as the Young Lions won 6-0. Since then Butland has represented the Three Lions at every age group and was the key member of the U-17 squad that won the European Championship in Liechtenstein in May 2010. He was later called up for the Under-20s for the 2010 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia. He kept three clean sheets during the tournament and conceded just one goal against Nigeria, which in the end led to England’s downfall as they later failed to score.

His performances did not go unnoticed and he was later called up for the England Under-21s by boss Stuart Pearce. Butland made his debut in the 6-0 win over over Azerbaijan Under-21s in a Euro 2013 qualifier, and has since gone on to make a total of six appearances before being called-up as a replacement for John Ruddy in the senior team yesterday.

Who has been the man behind Butland’s success?

Butland comes with a huge promise and could be one of the stars in the future but much of that credit must be given to Birmingham City’s and current England goalkeeping coach David Watson. Watson, who has 178 appearances as a keeper for Barnsley, has been the key to not only Butland’s success but also has enhanced the careers of former England keeper Ben Foster and the current number one Joe Hart during their times at St. Andrews. And in Butland, it looks like he has moulded another potential shot-stopper for the Three Lions in the future.

What are his chances of playing at the Euro 2012?

To be quite honest the chances of him playing for England at Euros are zero. Joe Hart is England’s number one choice keeper and Robert Green will be his backup in case Hart suffers an injury, hope it doesn’t happen. So, Butland will only get a chance to play if both Hart and Green are suspended or injured and that looks highly unlikely. But expect to see a lot of him in the future, maybe during the friendlies after the Euros or during the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup or 2016 Euros.

Jack Butland Career Stats

Videos on Jack Butland

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.

Hodgson Names Euro Squad – Ox, Carroll, Terry & Ruddy In; Ferdinand & Richards Miss Out

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a shock inclusion by Roy Hodgson in the England’s 23-man squad for Euro 2012 which also includes former captain John Terry, uncapped Norwich keeper John Ruddy and Liverpool duo Andy Carroll & Stewart Downing but Rio Ferdinand misses out.

The Arsenal teenager who has made just six Premier League starts this season in his first full campaign at Arsenal has won his first ever senior England call-up ahead. The 18-year-old told Arsenal’s official website:

“I’m obviously delighted, to be picked for your country at any stage is a massive honour and to be at a huge tournament likes the Euros is such a bonus. I think I play with no fear, I run at players regardless of who they are and try to make a difference. I have a youthful enthusiasm and I am so excited about this that I will try and take any opportunity with both hands. I will just try and make things happen, although I know there are other players who can do that. It will just be nice to get the opportunity and I will see what I can do.”

John Terry who has a pending court case after the Euros is also in the squad ahead of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand – whose omission was highly anticipated last night. Reports suggested Ferdinand was left out because of his personal issues with the Chelsea skipper but Hodgson denied it by saying ‘it was purely a footballing decision’:

 “It was purely a footballing decisionRio is a man that I both respect as a player and as a person. I don’t know him well personally, but I have seen enough of him over the years to realise what a fine footballer he is and what a good person he is. But I had to make a footballing decision and to decide on the basis of what I have seen in recent months, and it was influenced to some extent by the fact that Rio hasn’t played so much since the World Cup and has only played once for England in the last year. So it’s purely a footballing decision and it was a hard phone call to make because you hate to disappoint people, but I hope Rio can accept my decision and understand that it was based purely on football and nothing else. I have spoken to both of them, I had to do that. I left the decision to talk to both of them until after the final game of the season because there may not have been a need to talk to either of them because there might have been an injury or whatever. But in the last couple of days I have spoken to both of them and explained to them why I came to this decision.”

Speaking about the Chelsea skipper who has guided his team to FA Cup glory and a Champions League final this season, Hodgson said he picked Terry purely on his form in the second half of the season and has no worries about the pending court case:

 “If we take the court case first of all, that’s obviously very unfortunate for him but at the moment we must emphasise that he is an innocent man until such time as proven guilty. As a result, my decision with John Terry was again based purely on footballing matters. I was given a free hand as to the squad I picked and I realised that when I selected him there would be people who raised their eyebrows, but that is the decision I have made and that’s the decision I shall live with. I believe that John Terry, especially in the latter part of the season, has played very well. I know you are going to come back and say he shouldn’t have done what he did in Barcelona, but I am looking over a longer period than that and I think he has played well. I think he has played an important part in Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory and an important part in them reaching the Champions League final. Therefore, I selected him because I think he is the man for the job. I’m hoping and believing that he will help us win matches.”

Micah Richards failed to win a ticket to Poland-Ukraine despite his excellent form for Manchester City in their title winning season, while Phil Jones was selected as a backup right-back for Glen Johnson as Kyle Walker and Chris Smalling were ruled out due to long term injuries.  Hodgson said about the keeper’s marriage & the absence of Richards:

“I was considering Kyle Walker before he dropped out. In Phil Jones I have a player who is capable of playing right-back and centre-back. It was going to be one of Phil Jones or Micah Richards and I chose Jones.”

John Ruddy who is another uncapped player in the England squad along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, will provide goalkeeping back-up to Joe Hart and Robert Green after staking his claim for a place in the squad with a series of assured performances between the posts for Norwich. Hodgson said:

“We don’t have so many English goalkeepers to choose from but I think John has had an excellent season and Norwich have had an excellent season. They have really taken the Premier League by storm and he has been a very important part of that team, so when I was looking for somebody to back up Joe Hart, who is the obvious No.1, and Robert Green, who is the obvious No.2, I turned to John Ruddy.”

The inclusion of the Liverpool striker Andy Carroll ahead of the likes of Peter Crouch, inform Grant Holt and Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge raised a lot of eyebrows, but Hodgson said he has no worries about Carroll:

“He is a different type of player to the others in the squad. He is able to hold the ball up and has that aerial ability which is very useful. He also has the ability to make those runs behind defenders and use his strength and power. I spoke to Kenny at great length about him because I don’t know him particularly well as a person. One can easily be tricked by perceptions of players and what you hear or read about them, but Kenny was absolutely convinced about the players’ ability and his personality and his seriousness as a professional. When I heard that it meant I had no further reservations.”

The rest of the England squad has no surprises as regular internationals like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Barry, Ashley Young, Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, and James Milner are in the side for their country’s first Euro appearance since the Euro 2004.

Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck was also included in the squad following his outstanding form for the Red Devils in his first full season at Old Trafford, while Everton’s left-back Leighton Baines is in the squad as a backup for Ashley Cole.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was appointed by Hodgson as the England skipper for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland-Ukraine. The former Fulham manager who worked with Gerrard during his short managerial time at Anfield said:

“In my opinion, he is the man who merits this award or distinction. I know him, of course, as a player. I know him as a person. I know how committed he is to the England cause. He was delighted last night when I told him of my decision. I will be counting on him to help me as much as he possibly can to build the type of team unity and the type of environment that I think is going to be very necessary for us to thrive in an important tournament.”

Roy Hodgson’s England will play a couple of friendlies against Norway and Belgium before they travel to Ukraine finals of Euros 2012 and face France, Ukraine and Sweden in Group D.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich)

Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton)

Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Man United), James Milner (Man City)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Danny Welbeck (Man United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)

Standby: Jack Butland (Birmingham), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Man City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea).