With the new season underway, I decided to choose a few players who I thought would perform well this season for their clubs and in the Premier League.

I decided to try and pick players who had just made moves or had had long injuries and are due to return:

Michael Owen. The England striker is a lethal finisher and his move from Newcastle to Manchester United could re-ignite his career. With the sort of service he’ll receive at United he’s sure to score some goals and could prove vital to their title challenge as they are without Tevez and Ronaldo. Owen’s record at Newcastle shows his ability even though he spent 4 injury plagued seasons there, he still managed 30 goals in 65 starts. His goal scoring record speaks for itself and I think this is something which continue into his Manchester United career and possibly earn him that all important ticket to 2010 World Cup.

 

Lee Cattermole. A key performer for the England Under 21 side that reached the European Championship final this summer and a young player who has attracted a lot of interest before his £6 million move to Sunderland. Rumours of interest from Liverpool circulated but the former Wigan decided to re-join manager Steve Bruce at Sunderland, who has now signed him twice. This season is an important one for Cattermole and one in which I expect him to shine in an ever improving Sunderland side.

 

Eduardo. The Arsenal striker is fit for the start of the season and scored on the opening day at Everton yesterday. Following his horror injury last season Eduardo’s career was put on hold with fears that he might not play again, but his comeback towards the end of last season provided Arsenal with the lack of firepower they had been missing before he had a couple of niggling injuries. He managed 12 goals last season and I think this season, providing he can stay fit, he will provide Arsenal with the goals needed to cover for Adebayor’s departure.

 

Michael Kightly & Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. These two I have picked together as I think they are dependent on each other’s success. Kightly has consistently been Wolves’ provider over the last couple of seasons, providing most of their assists. Ebanks-Blake has been the Championship’s highest goalscorer for the last two seasons since he moved from Plymouth to Wolves and I think the combination of these two could be vital for Wolves’ survival. Ebanks-Blake has a point to prove after being told he wouldn’t make the cut at Manchester United so this is a big season for him. Kightly needs to try and stay fit and continue his impressive form and rise through the leagues since Wolves picked him up from Grays Athletic.

 

Fabian Delph. Highly rated and highly sought after means that there is a lot of pressure on the young midfielders shoulders who needs to fill Gareth Barry’s old Aston Villa shoes. It’ll be an interesting season for this young starlet and I think it could be a good one if he can adjust to the Premier League quickly and start to link up with Aston Villa’s other young stars Milner and Young. Only time will tell on this one.

Everybody wrote them off, everybody mocked them, everybody slammed their lack of ambition, everybody branded them a selling club. How do Arsenal respond? With a 6-1 thrashing of one of the Premier League’s better sides Everton.

Now, I’m not an Arsenal fan, in fact my team doesn’t play in the Premier League but watching Arsenal’s performance yesterday was fantastic. The young gunners proved to everybody that trusting Wenger was the best decision the board, the fans and the players could do. Arshavin, Eduardo, Vermaelen, Denilson, Bendtner and most importantly Fabregas all proved their worth yesterday with Fabregas perhaps signalling his commitment and intent to Arsenal’s cause this season.

Lke the Arsenal squad, the season is young,  it is early days, but a very impressive opening day for Arsenal may have done enough to silence some of their critics and on a day were Adebayor and Toure impressed for their new club Manchester City, the Arsenal boys proved that their squad is capable without them.

Whether or not they can produce this type of performance throughout the season and more importantly against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and ermm Manchester City remains to be seen but on this performance faith has been a little more than restored in Arsene Wenger and his magic hat.

This Sunday marks my return to Sunday League football and my debut into men’s football. The last time I played eleven a-side was around two years ago when I played one season for Ice Sports at Under 18 level and then due to work commitments and the fact Ice Sports didn’t carry on I never made the transition into the men’s age group (basically over 18’s with a few 16 year olds with more talent than the other 21 players on the pitch!)

Anyway, this Sunday I am going to be playing my first pre season friendly for Winchester O’neills and to say i’m eager is a an understatement. If the weather carries on as it is I’ll get to wear my new Adidas Predators in a competitive game and so far they have served me well in one training session and a kick around with some mates. If the sun comes out I have my Total 90’s to turn out in on firm ground which also haven’t caused me any problems in a couple of sessions. The only good thing to come out of this wet summer is that I’ve been able to test out my Predator’s which would usually have to wait until winter so it’s wet enough!!

I’m unsure what to expect, a very physical game I would imagine so hopefully all the gym work will pay off and I’ll be able to compete more in the physical side of the game. I’ve enjoyed the training sessions and we have a decent side with some players with real quality so hopefully we’ll get the result…

 

The Predator…

 

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I recently spent two weeks on work experience at my local newspaper, The Southern Daily Echo. I was worked on the sports desk and found it merely wet my appetite to become a sports journalist.

I was giving quite a few tasks to work on, mainly to do with local cricket and found some success in this as in the two weeks i had 10/11 articles published which was fantastic. The buzz you get from seeing your first byline I’ve heard so much about finally arrived. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being a journalist for two weeks (making it even harder to go back to the  world of part time work with Starbucks!) The responsibilities I had to hand in copy for the cricket reviews on a Monday were fantastic, and in return I had four articles published the next day. I am going to continue doing the cricket reviews for the Echo for the remaining weeks of the season, working from home, and I’m looking forward to building my portfolio further.

So the buzz has finally arrived and I am looking forward to, hopefully, many more!

I started playing around with Dreamweaver CS4 this week (from a trial I downloaded from Adobe), and I actually quite enjoyed the world of web design even though I found it completely frustrating and time consuming (well this might be because I have been following an online guide step by step and I’d much rather just guess my way and learn by my mistakes, perhaps that’s my male ‘I don’t need any help’ instinct coming through! But then again, it would  probably would’ve taken a lot longer considering it’s quite a complex programme to use!

The programme is good fun though, seeing your webpage grow and build as you go along has a certain level of satisfaction and is something that I will continue to play around with and hopefully improve on in the future! I’m sure I’ll get quicker at it and find it easier to do the basics and then start with more advanced stuff, providing I have enough time to dedicate to it!

Considering we live in such an internet driven world (which is only going to become more internet orientated in the future) it’s a good thing to get involved in this media form and understand it more. I know I used Dreamweaver back in my school years of 2000-2005, albeit briefly, so I hope it’s still part of the curriculum or at least something the younger generations have access to at school as I think it would be a highly useful tool for many young students and an asset to understand how the internet and in particular html code/format works!

So I got back to England last week after a week in the beautiful Sorrento, Italy. This was my first trip to Italy and I wouldn’t hesistate to go back. I stayed in a family run hotel, The Grand Hermitage Hotel, and it was a fantastic little hotel with a nice pool area and as it was quite high up the mountains (being just outside of Sorrento) the views were breathtaking.

Obviously I enjoyed the things Italy is most famous for, the coffee, the food, the wine and mostly the ice cream! I’ve never seen such a variety of flavours (and of course my girlfriend and I made it our duty to try as many as we could.) From watermelon to kinder bueno we weren’t disappointed and took great delight in visiting the gelateria after a usually massive dinner!! So I fully recommend a visit to the gelateria Bougainvillea along Corso Italia if you are ever in Sorrento! As well as this I fully recommend a visit to Taverna Azzurra at Marina Grande as the food there is simply delicious (especially the farfalle al salmone – salmon pasta), a place to definetly visit if you enjoy seafood!

A day trip to the island of Capri is a must if you’re visiting this area of Italy, we went on the Thomas Cook tour and although it seems a bit pricey at 73 euros, I felt the trip justified the price. Our tour guide was an Italian chap called Sandro who gave us an excellent insight into the island and showed us the things to do and not to do!! The chairlifts in Anacapri provided fantastic views and the boat trip around the whole island is something i’d very much recommend. As well as this Capri plays host to many designer shops, a very pricey way to shop (or just look if you’re a poor student like yours truly!!)

The only thing that let this holiday down was the chaos that was created when we arrived at Naples airport for the journey home. The flight to Naples from Gatwick  was well organised, easy, relaxing and even left enough time for a coffee before strolling to board the flight. However, Naples airport was horrendous, we queued outside the airport with other coaches for around 45 minutes before going round to a different section of the airport altogether! So we were behind schedule and hoping that checking our bags in would be a quick affair, how wrong could we be! One of the desks wasn’t working properly so this took a very long time and as you would expect produced a queue of angry Brits and crying children…chaos! We eventually boarded our flight 15 minutes before it was due to leave, not quite the relaxed journey we had the other end, Gatwick is a sanctuary compared to this airport!

Although the return journey was organised chaos I wouldn’t let this put me off visiting the island again as I thoroughly enjoyed my week in Italy and as it was a country I have wanted to visit for quite some time now, I wasn’t disappointed. Unfortunately I seem to have caught the travelling bug and am now desperate to go away again so I shall be spending even more time serving coffee at Starbucks to try and fund this!!

P.s. if you’re looking for books to read on holiday, Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography ‘Scar Tissue’ was a fascinating read about the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s front man’s drug filled life as was Sir Bobby Charlton’s ‘My England Years‘. If you have a passion for both music and football like me then I would suggest either of these which I picked up in Tesco for a total of about £6!

So the time has finally come for Ronaldo to swap Manchester for Madrid, the time has finally come for Real Madrid to start their second galacticos era, the time has finally come for football to get out of control.

Football has always been a passion of mine, whatever the standard, i love to watch. But with Ronaldo’s ludicrously expensive transfer bid from Real Madrid being accepted I am starting to feel that football is a playground for the rich businessmen and no longer for the fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the best players I will ever see, an absolute genius with a ball at his feet and an asset to any team. But is he worth £80 million? Is anybody?

There’s no doubt Manchester United will now go and bring 2, maybe 3, world class players to thrill the Old Trafford faithful next season, but as many cry “Ronaldo cannot be replaced” I think he can. His brilliance is only matched by his petulance. He’s probably played his best football for United, a player that doesn’t want to play for his current club won’t perform to his best ability and as Fergie has shown in the past, when a player thinks he bigger than the club then they’re out. With Ronaldo’s display of disrespect after being subbed in the Manchester derby this year and his desire to leave United even after winning the Champions League in 2009, I think it’s best for both Ronaldo and Manchester United to part ways. United will make nearly £70 million in profit and Ronaldo will get to go to Spain and no doubt play his best football and really battle with Lionel Messi for the tag of world’s best player.

£80 million is a ludicrous amount of money for one player, especially as Real Madrid have now spent a huge £136 million on two players this summer. I’m sure their over-spending will continue, I’m sure Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City etc will spend massive sums of money in the next couple of weeks, I’m not sure football will ever be the same again.