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Posts for Tag: English Premier League

The Return of the League!!

A lot has happened during the Summer Break in Football. Euro 2012 and Olympics ensured that players stayed in shape before the start of the League Season. Euro 2012 was particularly tiring for some and it wasn't a surprise to see many players excusing themselves from International Duties during the Olympics to get some rest. The Olympics came to a close on 12th August, just a week before the start of the leagues.

The Break is also renowned for the Transfer Season when Clubs go scouting to bring in players they deem fit to play for them. This Season a lot has conspired.

The English Premier Legue campaign kickstarts tomorrow and Manchester City will now defend the title.

So how have things shaped up prior to the start of the league???

 

 

ARSENAL :

Arsenal entered the market fairly early and acquired the services of Lucas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla ( just a couple of days back ).

Arsene Wenger is a wise investor and the arrival of the trio has definitely strengthened the squad. However Arsenal have suffered a huge setback as their Ex-Captain Robin Van Persie felt it was time to leave the club and joined Arch-Rivals Manchester United.

The Departure of the Captain is a blow for any club but Arsene is famous for rallying his troops and producing results. The likes of Jack Wilshire, Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker, Koscielny, Squillaci, Walcott, Arteta combined with the ability of the newcomers make them a force to be reckoned with.

Arsenal cannot be discounted....

 

CHELSEA :

Chelsea offered a 2 year contract to the Interim Manager Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian had fulfilled Abromovich's dream of winning the Champions League. 

Chelsea have done good business in the Transfer Window. Roman Abromovich opened up funds to bring in Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and Oscar ( Brazilian ). They also signed Thorgan Hazard ( Eden's younger brother ) from Lens.

The Quartet are very young and have done exceptionally well for their former clubs, Oscar though is an unkown entity for most clubs. His performance at the Olympics would definitely boost his confidence.

Chelsea have had to contend with the departure of their Prolific Goal-Scorer Didier Drogba. Saloman Kalou and Jose Bosingwa left the club after rejecting Contract Renewals. Romelu Lukaku has been sent for a season-long loan to West Brom.

Chelsea seem to be lacking Firepower at the front. Fernando Torres would need too find his form upfront. However a Talented Midfield ( The BEST Midfield for me ) would definitely help Torres share the burden of Goal - Scoring.

Roberto Di Matteo needs to play his cards right. Chelsea are definite contenders for the title.

 

LIVERPOOL :

Liverpool have been quite inactive in the Transfer Market. The Arrivals of Youngsters such as Borini, Allen and Assaidi leaves much to be desired.

Liverpool will suffer greatly from the departures of Aurelio, Rodriquez, Aquilani, Bellamy & Kuyt. Maxi Rodriquez and More Imporantly Kuyt are big losses for Liverpool.

The onus will be on Gerrard to deliver in the midfield and its quite a big ask. Suarez did well last season and a mis-firing Carroll seems to be finding his feet.

Brendan Rodgers has limited options. Its going to be a difficult season again for Fans as Liverpool clearly lack strength in depth.

Liverpool will struggle. A top 4 finish seems hard. However they can sign someone with a fortnight of Transfer Period left.

 

MANCHESTER CITY :

The Current Champions have a lot of funds to tinker with. They have a team that can challenge the best of Europe. Can they deliver a repeat of last season? Possible.

City have been silent in the market. Their team is strong enough. The only arrival has been that of Jack Rodwell from Everton.

Departures have been insignificant

Mancini is an excellent manager and knows how to handle his team well. A Fantastic Strength in Depth makes team selection a headache but eases the pressure on regular starters.

The Strongest team on paper.... Can Definitely repeat their performance..

 

MANCHESTER UNITED :

Manchester United fans suffered heartbreak last season. They lost the title to arch-rivals City on Goal Difference!

Sir Alex Ferguson - The most decorated manager for any football club knew that reinforcements were necessary to wrestle back the title to the Red of Manchester.

The First Arrival was of Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund. That was quickly followed by the Arrival of a promising young talent called Nick Powell. The Biggest signing of the season though was the Arsenal Ex - Captain Robin Van Persie.

 

Was it the best signing?

Robin Van Persie joins a list of abled strikers for UnitedThe Top Scorer last season, Van Persie's Partnership with Wayne Rooney would attract a lot of attention. 

Considering the need of United, although the Dutch Acquisition seems good business, the 24 Million Pounds could have been invested elsewhere. The Primary Need for United was the arrival of a Central Playmaker and a good Left-back.

Fabio left the Club on loan, so Patrice Evra has to bear the burden of the Left - Back Position. 

 

So United have options galore upfront but are light in the Mid-Field. A cause of concern but Sir Alex Ferguson knows how to handle such situations. ( 1999 Treble Season was similar )

 

As a UNITED SUPPORTER, MANCHESTER UNITED ARE FAVOURITES TO WIN THE TITLE....

 

The Likes of Tottenham and Newcastle United would definitely add more Spice to the Title Race.

 

However there is definitely a Shift in Power.

A NEW BIG FOUR has emerged... Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea & Arsenal. 

Liverpool Fans would not like this... Liverpool don't seem to be a Title-Winning Team anymore ( Unless they spend heavy ). 

 

TITLE CONTENDERS - MANCHESTER UNITED, MANCHESTER CITY & CHELSEA.

Arsenal at best would spoil someone's party. They need better players..

 

Let the Games Begin!!

 

The REDS vs The BLUES

The Football season has ended. This year though has given way to a new level of rivalry. The Title Race in England has always been between Manchester and London. Chelsea, Arsenal have won the title for London but Manchester has always had one representative - MANCHESTER UNITED.

Manchester United became the most successful club in England when it surpassed Liverpool's 18 Titles last year; a number that everyone thought would be diffcult to reach considering the level of competition in the League.

As United finally enjoyed victory over Liverpool, a club in the same city was building a team to match or at least Challenge United's supremacy both in Manchester & England.

They have always played second fiddle and after seeing United be so successful over the years it was high time that City do something about the League.

United have been heavy spenders in the past with SIR ALEX FERGUSON not holding back funds to bring in reinforcements to wrestle back the title to United.

BUT THIS WAS DIFFERENT....

As I said in one of my earliest posts this season was a very close one and predicting a winner would be very tough.

CIty went in overdrive after getting a cash-laden owner. He channelised his assets and signed some of the best players on the planet. Some were paid higher salaries and other players who were overvalued and overrated made it to the club thanks to fat salaries that came from the owner's pocket... All this to try to silence the Red Army of Manchester.

The Entire season both clubs were dead-locked in battle while the rest had to contend with a fight for the third place. City humiliated United at Old Trafford 6-1, United got a revenge of sorts by knocking City out of the FA Cup at the Etihad Stadium.

City were 8 points clear at the top and then it all went bad for them. The cluttering of too many stars in a dressing room can be dangerous. The Clash of egos even spilled out onto the pitch.

United had a merry time and went about their usual job of winning fixtures. United were 8 points clear and at the business end of the League, the Reds were famous for finishing competition.

However, the league would experience another twist.. United performed poorly at relegation - threatened Wigan and lost. The gap down to 5. They maintained their lead with a win over Aston Villa but then came the match when they lost the initiative.

Everton played United at Old Trafford and United relinquised a comfortable 2 goal lead in the dying minutes of the game to draw. The scoreline a staggering 4-4. The Lead was down to 3 points and Clearly the game between United and City a week later would be the title decider.

City had been prolific in their scoring and had a better Goal Difference. United fielded a squad with the clear intentions of playing for a draw. The Plan worked perfect until the 45th minute when City Captain Kompany scored from a corner.

United lost the game and with two games to go the title charge was practically over. City struggled to win but eeked out a result at Newcastle. United overcame Swansea comfortably.

Final week & arguably the most tense ending ever to a league season. United went to Sunderland and hung onto win 1-0. The result clearly meant that City needed to lose or draw for United to hold on and win their 20th league title. City playing at same time seemed to be winning 1-0 until a defensive lapse helped QPR score. Joey Barton's moment of madness reduced QPR to 10 men but they rallied around to take the lead. Into Stoppage time ( 5 mins ) and City equalised in the 92nd. The Death Blow came in the 94th....

I was distraught.

Kun Aguero had broken the hearts of Millions of United supporters across the world!! The Etihad erupted in triumph. City Supporters simply couldn't believe that they were champions! The fans invaded the pitch & mingled with the players as they shed tears of joy! City were finally champions!!

As for United, the Community Shield was the only Silverware they could achieve this season.

The Curtains now close and a new chapter will begin come August. Till then Congratulations City for being deserved winners!!

We Wait for the opportune time..... GGMU!!

 

A Day with the LEGENDS!!

These two Footballers have been successful at Manchester United. Their Participation in this event is testimony to the fact that the club is thankful for all that they have done for the club. One was there when Manchester United won the treble - The Barclays English Premiership, The FA Cup & the most coveted Champions' League in 1999. The Other has been a part of 2 FA cup winning Squads. Legends in their own right, both represent the club who with their official sponsor DHL are on a whirlwind Trophy Tour that shall traverse more than 45000 miles!

The Purpose of the tour is to show Fans across the World the most celebrated trophy at Manchester United - Their 19th Title!! which makes them the MOST SUCCESSFUL CLUB IN ENGLAND.

I had the privilege of Meeting these 2 Legends - something I never thought would happen even in my dreams!

Today I rubbed Shoulders with DENNIS IRWIN & QUINTON FORTUNE!!

The Venue was the Manchester United Soccer School - the First Facility in India to teach the youth to play football the ' Manchester United Way '. Inaugurated by another great GARY NEVILLE, I must say I was completely floored by the facilites at the School. The Building resembled a mini Old Trafford with plaques of Different Players adorning one wall and the Trophy presentation and Celebrations at Old Trafford on the other. The Coaches room, the Locker room & the Business facilities nothing short of World Class. 

Both the legends were engrossed in a high tempo games showcasing their skills to the delight of the media and fans alike. This was followed by a nice photoshoot with the kids from Magic Bus - who enjoyed their time with the legends asking them questions that varied from the first time they kicked a football to representing their country at the World Cup. The Work Ethic of the players amazed one and all. This was followed by a very popular tradition practised post training at the Carrington Training Ground - THE CROSSBAR CHALLENGE. Honours were shared with both players hitting the crossbar. 

The Trophy was presented in full view of the media as both the players smiled for the shutterbugs with the kids. I had the privilege to ask Dennis Irwin what was the greatest rivalry for him when he played for Manchester United. The answer was LIVERPOOL, and the man didn't flinch one bit. "Liverpool is a club with a great history and great players. Winning the league 18 times was a big thing. Now we've won 19! " His declaration of the 19th title was greeted with a great cheer from the crowd.

The Press Conference was the icing on the cake as I had the honour of asking the greats two questions.

Question : Why did you want to join United? There were other clubs. Any specific reason for switching to this club?

Dennis Irwin : When I was young, there were clubs around, but it was always United that appealed to me. The style of play, the quality of play, the philosophy of the club made me want to be a part of it. But there was a big difference between joining United and staying at United. The Quality of Players at United is top class, so you have to maintain a high level to be able to stay in the team, else you have to leave.

Quinton Fortune : I just knew I had to join United when I started playing football. They are the best club in the world and play the best football in the world. So I just had to be a part of it.

The next question was in light of the memories of 6th February 1958.

Question : How strong an inspiration have the Busby Babes been in the Locker Room ?

Dennis Irwin : Well all of us remember the Busby Babes & we have always been trained to play the way they played. Fast, Attacking Football, Wingers running down the flanks crossing the ball into the box for strikers to score. The same philospohy is imbibed into the youth at the Soccer Schools too. Everything that United does is to honour them!

 

AMAZING!

The Press conference ended with the Head Coach of the Soccer School - Chris O' Brien posing with the greats holding the Trophy.

 

Both Quinton Fortune and Dennis Irwin Obliged me by autographing the Photo Prints I had carried to the event. I got a chance to pose with the Trophy too!!

TRULY A GREAT DAY!!

GLORY GLORY MANCHESTER UNITED!