Tag Archives: Sebastian Larsson

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Sunderland

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

Manager: Martin O’Neill.
Captain: Lee Cattermole.
Stadium: Stadium of Light (48,707).
Last season: 13th.
Leading scorer (PL): Nicklas Bendtner (8).
Odds: Title 500-1. Relegation 9-1.

In: Carlos Cuellar (Free, Sunderland), Louis Saha (Free, Tottenham).

Out: Marcos Angeleri (Undisc., Estudiantes), Liam Bagnall (Released), James Brace (Released), Trevor Carson (Free, Bury), Jordan Cook (Free, Charlton), Bred Elliot (Released), Craig Gordon (Released), Asamoah Gyan (£6.6m, Al-Ain FC) Lewis King (Released), Jordan Lavender (Released), Mark Liddle (Free, Accrington) George McCartney (Free, West Ham), Cristian Riveros (£254k, Kayserispor), Oumare Tounkara (Released), Michael Turner (£1.6m, Norwich).

Kits

Key Man – Stephane Sessegnon
The Benin international was Sunderland’s player of the year last season, assisting nine and scoring seven goals, but he contributed more than just the goals. With his pace and dribbling skills, Sessegnon is the man charged with making things happen at the Stadium of Light and the fans will be hoping that he replicates his form of last season this term.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – Arsenal (A)
25-Aug – Reading (H)
01-Sep – Swansea (A)
15-Sep – Liverpool (H)
22-Sep – West Ham (A)
29-Sep – Wigan (H)

Probable Formation (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; O’Shea, Cuellar, Brown, Bardsley; Larsson, Cattermole, Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon; Saha.

Verdict: Martin O’Neill produced the positive impact on his appointment last season, and the Black Cats will continue to improve in all areas. Stephane Sessegnon one of the best season of his life and its a mystery why no bigger club has taken him away from Sunderland. The Black Cats haven’t made any big signings, so far, this summer and that’s a big worry. The striker position needs to be filled as Fraizer Campbell, Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham are not at all first-choice strikers and should be backups to a top striker. The signing of Louis Saha is a good one but his fitness is an issue and I can’t see the Black Cats finishing in the top 8 unless they sign Steven Fletcher or any other goal-scorer, who can guaruntee them 15 goals per season.

Prediction: 10th.

Top 5 Goals Of UEFA EURO 2012

The European Championships in Poland/Ukraine have come to an end with Spain creating history by successfully defending their crown by defeating Italy 4-0 in the final. A total of 76 goals have been scored by the 16 teams that took part in the competition and here’s our pick of the top five goals.

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden 2-0 France)

Sweden were already out of the tournament and were just playing for some lost pride against France in the final game in Group D. Sebastian Larsson crossed from the right for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who twisted superbly to dispatch a flying volley past Hugo Lloris from the edge of the area.

2. Sami Khedira (Germany 4-2 Greece)

The Real Madrid midfielder timed his run perfectly to meet Jerome Boateng’s cross on the volley and smash the ball past Michalis Sifakis to restore Germany’s advantage, after Georgios Samaras had shockingly equalised for Greece.

3. Mario Balotelli (Germany 1-2 Italy)

Ricardo Montolivo looked for Balotelli following a Germany corner, his ball over the top evading Philipp Lahm. The Manchester City striker sped away from his pursuers to rifle a shot into the top corner for finish every bit as emphatic as his first of the match.

4. Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland 1-1 Russia)

Poland broke quickly down the right and Jakub Blaszczykowski cut inside Yuri Zhirkov, level with the edge of the area, and unleased a fiercely struck shot with his left boot which found the top left-hand corner.

5. Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia 4-1 Czech Republic)

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker took just nine minutes to make his mark on UEFA EURO 2012 after coming off the substitutes’ bench. He cut in from the left-hand side of the penalty are and rifled an efford into the top left-hand corner to seal an impressive victory for his side over the Czech Republic.

Predicting England v Ukraine And Sweden v France

Defending champions Spain and 2006 FIFA World Cup winners Italy joined the likes of Germany, Portugal, Greece and Czech Republic in the last eight of the tournament after winning their respective matches last night. Spain defeated Croatia 1-0 to send the Croatians out, while Italy registered a 2-0 win over already knocked out Republic of Ireland.

Today it’s time for the final two games of the group stage as co-host Ukraine, England, France and Sweden are all in action. Ukraine face England in a do-or-die clash in Donetsk, while Sweden play for pride as they take on France in Kiev. Here are the predictions for the two games..

Date – 19th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Prediction – This one is a huge clash for both the teams, but its all overshadowed by the return of one man – Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United star is back after serving a two match suspension and is set to start alongside Danny Welbeck in the starting XI. England need just a draw to advance but it could very dangerous if they play just for a point, while the co-hosts must win to advance. Anything other than a win and they are out. The game is expected to be an open affair with both teams going for the win rather than just defending. England are the stronger of the two sides and with Rooney coming back they are way more stronger. England will come out and dominate the game from the start. As expected Rooney – who will be playing in the hole just behind the striker – will be the key for the Three Lions. England will have most of the possession but Ukraine will create a couple of early chances. England will continue to dominate and will soon be rewarded for their domination just after the half hour mark. Danny Welbeck – who scored the backheel winner against Sweden – will give his side the lead and his United teammate Rooney will play a huge role in the goal. The co-hosts Ukraine will come out on the offensive after the interval and will go out all guns blazing for the comeback but that will leave them vulnerable at the back. The game will be more stretched in the second half and England wingers will love that. Ashley Young and Theo Walcott will trouble the Ukrainian full backs with their pace and with less than 20 minutes remaining on the clock, Wayne Rooney will announce his return with a goal to grab all three points for his country. Ukraine will join Poland as the co-hosts to be knocked out in the group stages, while England qualify for the quarter finals as the second best team from Group D and will face defending champions Spain in the last eight.

Predicted Final Score – England 2-0 Ukraine (Welbeck, Rooney)

Date – 19th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – Olympic Stadium, Kiev

Prediction – This is the first and surely the last dead rubber game of this tournament as it has nothing up for grabs. France are in a good position to qualify, while Sweden are already knocked out. France must lose way badly than England not to qualify for the last eight, if the Three Lions lose to Ukraine today. Can’t see that happening at all. With this not being an important game, Laurent Blanc won’t game his winning team and will most probably play all his star players to give them match practice ahead of the potential quarter final clash against Italy. On the other hand, Sweden will play without pressure as they have nothing to lose. This game will be an open game with France dominating the possession. Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery will be the key for Les Bleus as they will dictate the game and create chances for Karim Benzema and Jeremy Menez. Benzema will open the scoring for the French in the first half and then Franck Ribery will score his first goal of the tournament just before the interval. The 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist will take 2-0 lead into half time but after the interval Sweden will get a goal back. It will be their inspirational skipper, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who has been in top form in this competition – with a thumping header from a Seb Larsson cross. Sweden will attack and go for the second goal and test keeper Hugo Lloris but France will hit them on the break and wrap up the game. Samir Nasri will score the third and final goal of the group stages after a brilliant move involving Ribery, Benzema, Menez and the goal scorer himself. The win means France win the group on goal difference and will play Italy in the 4th quarter finals in Kiev itself, while Sweden go back home without a single point.

Predicted Final Score – France 3-1 Sweden (Benzema, Ribery, Nasri ; Ibrahimovic)

Sweden 2-3 England – Player Ratings

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

SWEDEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subs

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

Markus Rosenberg (Sub On 79′) – N/A

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

ENGLAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subs

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

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

Top 25 Premier League Signings Of The Season

As we draw near the end of a thrilling season in the Premier League, almost everything is still up for grabs – relegation, UEFA Champions League qualification, and the title itself.

While we wait for those matters to be decided, let’s debate who the best signings of the season have been. Here are Into The Top Corner looks at the top 25 signings of this season. Tell us whether you agree or not in the comments section.

25. Steve Morrison – Millwall to Norwich for £2.5m

Canaries signed him in pre-season after the striker wanted to leave Millwall for a Premier League side. He has been influential for Norwich this season scoring goal at regular intervals with his last of the 8 league goals coming in the late win over West Brom in January.

24. Peter Crouch – Tottenham to Stoke for £10m

Joined Stoke on deadline day and has been Stoke’s top goal scorer with ten league goals from 30 appearances, including the stunning volley against Manchester City in 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium.

23. Samir Nasri – Arsenal to Manchester City for £24.2m

Started off his City career on a high, assisting four goals in his first two matches but as the season progressed his form dipped and he was dropped to the bench. But he has been in good form off late since his winner against Chelsea in the 2-1 win at the Etihad.

22. David De Gea – Atletico Madrid to Manchester United for £17.6m

After a lot of scouting he was brought in to succeed Edwin van der Sar, but the young Spaniard took some time to settle and during that time he struggled a lot. But the last minute fingertips save from a Juan Mata freekick at Stamford Bridge was probably the turning in his career at Old Trafford. Since then his stock has risen and he has been one of United’s key performers in the 2nd half of the season.

21. James McLean – Derry City to Sunderland for £350k

The young winger has been one of Sunderland’s signings of the season. Since the arrival of Martin O’Neill, the Irishman’s performance has improved a lot and could well be in Irish squad for the Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

20. Brad Friedel – Aston Villa to Tottenham Hotspur for Free

The veteran and the highly experienced keeper has been very reliable and solid between the sticks for Spurs this season erasing memories of the error-prone Heurelho Gomes. The former Liverpool man didn’t cost a penny for the London club.

19. Sebastian Larsson – Birmingham City to Sunderland for Free

The Swede was impressive towards the end of last season for the Blues and he has continued that form in this season for the Black Cats. Was inconsistent at the start of the season but since Martin O’Neill taking charge at the Stadium of Light, he has been very effective.

18. Ashley Young – Aston Villa to Manchester United for £15.8m

Has had an inconsistent season mostly affected by injuries but whenever he has played he has given his all. The winger has scored 5 goals this season all worth a watch and Ferguson will feel the Englishman as a player who can offer United a lot more.

17. Pavel Pogrebnyak – Stuttgart to Fulham on Loan

The Russian international who is on loan from Stuttgart has been a hit for the Cottagers since his move in January. Former Spartak Moscow and Zenit striker has scored 6 goals in 8 appearances this season and the London club would be hoping to seal a deal for him which would see him stay permanently.

16. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Southampton to Arsenal for £12m

The youngster has immense potential in him and has already shown what he can do in his rare appearances for the Arsenal first team. Became the youngest Englishman to score in the Champions League and was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of Year Award.

15. Jose Enrique – Newcastle United to Liverpool for £7m

Has been inconsistent Liverpool’s most consistent performer this season. The Spaniard joined at the start of the season and has given a solid performance in his each and every match. Is one of the best left-backs in the Premier League and for just £7m, not bad at all.

14. Yakubu – Everton to Blackburn Rovers for £1.5m

The Nigerian has been Blackburn’s player of the season and top goal-scorer of the season with 16 league goals which included the famous brace against Manchester United at Old Trafford. If it wasn’t for his goals, Blackburn would have been relegated by Christmas.

13. Gylfi Sigurdsson – TSG Hoffenhiem to Swansea City on Loan

He has been Swansea’s star since arriving in January with some excellent displays. Has notched up seven goals and three assist this season and the Swans would surely be looking to secure him on the permanent basis.

12. Yohan Cabaye – Lille to Newcastle United for £4.4m

The talented French midfielder has been Newcastle’s main man in the midfield and has made a huge impact since joining the Magpies in the summer. The France international has scored four goals and assisted nine in his 32 league appearances.

11. Phil Jones – Blackburn Rovers to Manchester United for £17m

The youngster has shown his immense potential and maturity since his move to Old Trafford. Add to that he has also shown his versatility by playing in various positions and has performed well in each of those positions.

10. Emmanuel Adebayor – Manchester City for Tottenham Hotspur on Loan

Adebayor may only be on loan but he is arguably the reason why the North London is challenging for a Champions League spot this season. The Togo international has 16 goals and 11 assists to his name this season.

9. Nikica Jelavic – Rangers to Everton for £5.5m

Has to be one of the best signings ever made by David Moyes during his 10 years at the club. His hard work ethic has endeared him to the Goodison Park faithful his record of ten goals in eleven starts – including the 2 in the 4-4 draw at Old Trafford – isn’t bad at all.

8. Paul Scholes – Out of Retirement to Manchester United

Not exactly a transfer but since his return United have looked a completely different side. The 37-year-old’s experience in the center of the midfield has been very important to United’s success and challenge for the Premier League title post January.

7. Michael Vorm – FC Utrecht to Swansea City for £1.5m

The Dutch keeper has been one of the reasons for Swansea’s defensive record this season and their brilliant display in their debut Premier League season. If his form continues, he well may travel with the Dutch squad to Poland and Ukraine.

6. Mikel Arteta – Everton to Arsenal for £10.5m

Arteta has been one of those panic buys made by Arsene Wenger which has been successful. The stylish midfielder was brought to replace Fabregas and he got better and better as the season progressed and his winner against Manchester City will be long remembered by all Arsenal fans.

5. Juan Mata – Valencia to Chelsea for £24m

Quality crafty Spaniard has to be Chelsea player of the year this season. He has been in dangerous form whole season scoring 12 goals and setting up 22 goals for the Blues in all competitions. Possibly the one and only bright spot of otherwise up and down Blues Premier League season.

4. Scott Parker – West Ham United to Tottenham Hotspur for £5.5m

Parker’s career has been on the rise since the start of last season and it gets better and better. The guts and guile of the England international has given Harry Redknapp’s stylish and attacking minded team some steel in the midfield. At £5.5m his signing represents incredible value.

3. Papiss Cisse – Freiburg to Newcastle United for £10m

The Senegalese international striker has been in red hot form since his January move to the Sports Direct Arena. He has scored a record breaking 13 goals in just 12 games, including two stunners against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He is probably one of the reasons why Newcastle United are fighting for a Champions League place.

2. Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid to Manchester City for £39.6m

Although City spent a huge amount of money to get the Argentine to Manchester, he has still delivered on that fee and more. Diego Maradona’s son-in-law has scored an impressive amount of 22 league goals this season and also has nine assists to his name.

1. Demba Ba – West Ham United to Newcastle United for Free

The signing of the season!! Ba gave the Magpies the perfect start to season and is probably the reason for Newcastle’s brilliant performance this season. The Senegalese international has 16 goals to his name and best part is that he didn’t anything and that’s why he is our signing of the season.