Sport


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.

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.

Following a weekend where all of the top four failed again to win (for the 2nd time this season), they have all been given very tasty champions league draws!

Last weekend, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool & Chelsea all drew, perhaps signalling that times are changing in the premier league and that perhaps it is becoming more of an open league. Is this the year the big four finally becomes the big five? For years now there has been debates about who would join the illustrious ‘top four club’, over recent years Spurs have been mentioned, Blackburn pushed for it, and this year Aston Villa look like a very determined side in a quest to break into the top four.

Today, the champions league was drawn and the big English clubs really are in for a test this year . With Liverpool facing Real Madrid (although their league form is quite poor at the moment, they are boasting a side full of quality as usual), Chelsea will face Juventus, an ageing side that still possesses enough quality to test Chelsea, Arsenal face Roma which is a very nice draw for them and Fergie’s United will face Mourinho’s Inter.

Fergie versus Mourinho, an absolute battle of the titan’s, something which I for one miss since Mourinho’s depature from Chelsea. The mind games, the touchline battles and the fierce contest on the pitch make for a great spectacle, let’s hope Mourinho’s Inter can produce the same contest that we used to get with his old Chelsea side.

This really is a test of the Premier League’s status as the best league in the world, with the top four struggling to pick up 3 points every week, and facing argueably some of the biggest teams in Europe, it should turn out to be an outstanding contest.

Having spent my saturday night, watching bits of X-Factor and Match of the day, it made me question a few things. First of all, It made me question the contestants on X-Factor. Me and my housemates were texting people at the time and all of them were raving about how good the contestants were, they were “AMAZING” and “Star quality”…comments which came from 3 different people, but we just couldn’t see it.

Now maybe its because we’re into a different type of music to what X-factor offers, but when the contestants sang with the real singers, like beyonce, westlife etc they were outclassed. Thats understandable you might think, but if these people are challenging for a record deal to compete with the likes of Beyonce etc what chance do they have?

Leona Lewis last year was a worthy winner, her debut album broke records and was highly rated by most. But apart from that i fail to see what x-factor has produced? If these people were really good enough, would they not get a record deal on the fact that they are good enough, instead of on a television competition? Maybe i’m just naive to the wonders of X-factor so if anyone can point out to me what i’m missing please do….

The other thing I noticed last night on Match of the Day, was “world class footballers” crumbling under the pressure. Dimitar Berbatov, £30 odd million Manchester United paid for him, and what did he show his former employers at White Hart Lane yesterday? Ok, he had flashes to show how good he is, but apart from that he was lacklustre. I’m sure as a premier league manager, when you spend a cool £30 million on a player you expect me to handle pressure?

We’ve seen what Cristiano Ronaldo did when he was booed constantly for getting Rooney sent off when playing England, he turned it on, took it up a notch and proved his class, proven again as he won the Ballon d’Or this year. This leads onto liverpool, £20 odd million on Robbie Keane, left on the bench yesterday against Hull, hasn’t really produced the type of performances many were expecting from the former Spurs hitman.

Now, I’m sure these players will make me eat my words and turn fantastic and win all sorts of praise from the footballing world. But, when you compare these sorts of prices and performances with the price paid for Ashley Young (just over £9 million) and his current performances, it does make you wonder what the managers and scouts see in these players that they think justify a fee of 20, 30 million pounds!

Now all we have to wait for is someone to pay £70,80,90,100 million on Kaka or Messi or Ronaldo…

The 2008/09 Coca-Cola Championship got under way this week, and looks set to be as exciting as ever.

Along with the 25 goals scored, the Championship included its usual excitement, surprises, controversy and shock results, aspects that in my view make the Championship one of the most exciting leagues around.

The biggest shock has to be Doncaster’s 1-0 win over a new look Derby County, leaving Derby without a win in an incredible 10 months and 23 days. Derby have been touted as promotion favourites in the run up to the big kick off, however Championship new boys Doncaster had different ideas on Saturday.

The weekend saw numerous debuts, including a trademark Kevin Phillips goal on his Birmingham debut, it also saw a miracle return for Southampton centre half, Michael Svensson. The new Southampton captain returned at the heart of Southampton’s defence in their 2-1 defeat away to Cardiff City.

The pick of the results has to go to Sheffield Wednesday who crushed Burnley 4-1. This demonstrated the surprise of the Championship, as a team who battled bravely against relegation last year, kicked off their new campaign with a fantastic result.

Another surprise was the results of the 3 newly promoted sides. With the exception of Swansea, both Nottingham Forest and Doncaster picked up points and started their seasons well. It looks as though picking the promotion and relegation favourites might not be as clear cut as it was once thought. This makes the excitement of the league as it is so tightly contested at both ends of the table, something which other leagues sometimes lack (take the Premier League and the Scottish Premier League as two examples.)

With the Championship now under way theres only one thing left to do; sit back, observe and enjoy!

A.F.C Totton’s season took a turn for the good this weekend, as they now sit eleven points clear at the top of second placed VTFC.

VTFC’s 2 games in hand may make it a bit tighter towards the end of the season, however Totton’s 2-0 win over Lymington and a  3-2 win of Christchurch on Tuesday has pushed them ever closer to promotion.

Wimborne and VTFC both lost yesterday afternoon with 1-0 and 2-1 defeats respectively, relieving the pressure on Totton at the top. The defeat for Wimborne leaves them 4th in the table, 15 points behind Totton, however with 3 games in hand.

Promotion seems a real possibility for the Totton faithful, with work being down on Totton’s home ground to make sure it reaches the standards required for promotion to the British Gas Southern League or Ryman Football League, depending on geographical position.

The club has now obtained its E Ground grading which would enable promotion if the club can hold onto their lead in the league.

Totton’s remaining games come against Brockenhurst and VTFC. If Totton were to lose to Brockenhurst and VTFC win their three games against Poole Town, Wimborne, and Hamworthy United, the A.F.C. Totton versus VTFC match at the end of the season could be crucial.

The season is by no means over, however Totton’s promotion dreams are pushing towards reality.

 

 

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