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A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

Bradford City Shock Arsenal – Why Defeat Is A Huge Disaster For The Gunners?

Bradford-Arsenal

Bradford City pulled off one of the greatest League Cup shocks with a penalty shoot-out victory over Arsenal in front of an ecstatic home crowd.

The League Two side prevailed 3-2 on spot-kicks, to the delight of a capacity Coral Windows Stadium. Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen missed the crucial penalty on a difficult night for the Premier League side. Garry Thompson volleyed the hosts ahead, before Vermaelen headed home a Santi Cazorla cross at the back post with with only two minutes remaining of normal time. Defeat is a huge disaster for manager Arsene Wenger and his club, who last won a major title in 2005.

Why Defeat Is A Huge Disaster For The Gunners?

Arsenal had ridiculous amount of possession (63% to be exact) but the big problem for them is that the lack of ruthlessness. They had so much possession, so many shots, so many entries into the final third to put that final ball and I think that’s the difference between the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea compared to Arsenal. At the same time, the Gunners are going through an interesting phase in the season where they are finding it difficult to score goals. They have scored many in the Capital One Cup games this season but prior to last night’s match they had scored just four in the last five games. They have found it difficult to score goals in the last few weeks and that was once again visible last night.

Talking about the current Arsenal team, there is a lot of individuality, brilliant technicians but when you look for the heart of the team, it comes from the youngsters like Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and doesn’t come from the experience players. The team overall is a bit soft and do they have strength in character? I don’t think so there is enough and that’s why they are just out of the top teams.

Wenger came out and said that the defeat is not an embarrassment, but to be honest its a big disaster. If you see, they have Swansea away in the FA Cup, that’s going to be a very tough game and can go either way. In the Premier League, they are already 15 points behind leaders Manchester United and its highly unlikely they will win it. In the Champions League, again there are a number quality teams in it and will be very difficult for them to go all the way to the final. And so, the Capital One Cup was their best chance of getting a silverware and if they go another season without a silverware that’s going to be a big blow for the club. Many players have already left the club and many more will leave at the end of the season.

The Best Arsenal And Tottenham Combined XI

Ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering North-London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium, we here at IntoTheTopCorner have decided to make the best combined XI using both the team’s players.

In goal, Spurs’ second choice keeper Hugo Lloris takes the place in between the sticks ahead of Brad Friedel, Wojciech Szczesny and Vito Mannone. The defence is formed of Tottenham’s Kyle Walker, along with Gunners central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen, and Jan Vertonghen at left back – where he has played admirably in the absence of Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

The midfield is dominated by Arsenal with Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere in the middle with task of driving forward and putting in some killer passes. Finally, the forward line is a brilliant combination of pace, width and finishing. Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale would stretch the play and trouble the full-backs with their speed, while Jermain Defoe – who gets the nod ahead of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Emmanuel Adebayor – will lead the line.

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

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 5

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

Asmir Begovic (Stoke)

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

Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)

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

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

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

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

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

Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

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

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

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

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

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

Kevin Nolan (West Ham)

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

Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

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

Rickie Lambert (Southampton)

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

Hugo Rodallega (Fulham)

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

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 3

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting third weekend in the Premier League. Arsenal and Tottenham have provided atleast two players, while there is one ech from West Brom, Swansea, Norwich, Sunderland, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Brad Friedel (Tottenham Hotspur)
The American again proved to everyone that age is just a number. He made a number of important saves, especially from Johnson late on to stop Norwich from taking all three points, but the highlight was his reflex save from Snodgrass in the first half. However, he couldn’t do much about the close-range strike for the goal. He is surely going give new signing Hugo Lloris a tough competition for the number one spot in the team.

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

The former Ajax skipper put in another impressive display for his new club. The Belgium international was solid at the back and made the most number of clearances this weekend. He was a constant threat to deal with for the Canaries during set-pieces and also at the same time made his presence felt while defending.

Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
The strong Belgium international led his side from the front. He was rock solid at the back and played an important role in starting the attacks from the back line. His smart interception towards the end, from Mannone’s block prevent Liverpool getting back in the game.

Gareth McAuley (West Brom Albion)
Like the other two defenders in this team, McAuley was also rock solid at the back for the Baggies. He did an excellent job in dealing with aerial threat of Fellaini. He scored the second goal of the game from a corner to seal all three points for his side.

Nathan Dyer (Swansea City)
The Englishman has been very impressive this season, and was again the Swans’ most effective man going forward. His pace and drive was very important for the hosts and he troubled Jack Colback throughout the game. He created the first goal for Wayne Routledge with a delightful chip and also had three shots on target during the game.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
The Gunners’ most impressive player so far this season was again at his best at Anfield. His Spanish class was evident almost every time had had the ball. He always found space, especially to recieve Podolski’s pass before setting him up to score and then he repeated the same trick from the other side of the combination, his movement and powerful finish were just superb.

Abou Diaby (Arsenal)
The Frenchman was one of the stars of the weekend. He displayed some fearsome strength in holding the ball, passed it with accuracy and provided his side with the momentum to build attacks. If he can stay fit for the whole season, then he has shown that he is more than perfect replacement for Alex Song.

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich)
The former Leeds United man was the star of the match. Caused the Spurs defence a lot of problems from the right and came very close of scoring in the first half, only see to see Friedel make an amazing reflex save. He capped an impressive display with a much deserved goal which earned his team an important point at White Hart Lane.

Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)
The former Wolves forward made an impressive debut for the Black Cats by scoring twice at the Liberty stadium. He was not much involved in the build-up play but showed his great finishing instincts with two good goals. He finished off the first sweetly after Williams’ mistake and then showed determination to bundle home under pressure from Chico.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)
The Argentine was again on top form as he helped his side defeat QPR at the Etihad Stadium during the weekend. His cross from the left provided the assist for Edin Dzeko’s goal and then capped a very impressive display with a goal after he turned in Dzeko’s shot in injury time. He completely deserved the goal and has now scored in all of City three Premier League games this season.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
The Dutch international turned from villain to hero in the space of 20 minutes. He equalised for the Red Devils in the first half but his overly-confident penalty in the second half was saved buy Kelvin Davis and it looked like he had blown the chance away for United to get back in the game. However, he scored twice in the last five minutes and earned himself a match winning hat-trick.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Arsenal

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

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

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

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

Kits

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

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

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

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

Prediction: 4th.