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Monday, 20 October 2014

Liverpool transfer news: Victor Valdes won't be signing, says Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers says he won't be making any Spanish signings in the near future, ruling out move for Victor Valdes.
Victor Valdes has been a free agent since leaving Barcelona in the summer Photo: GETTY 
“I’ll probably improve when I work in the country one day. For most people, when they travel to a country their language becomes better. I speak to the Spanish players that we have in Spanish. I’m only 41 which is very young and there are lots of things I want to achieve here at Liverpool. It’s an incredible club and I hope to be managing here for another 20-odd years. One day hopefully it can take me to Spain and I can experience a wonderful country, culture and as I said, some wonderful football club.”

On the daunting prospect of facing the European champions, Rodgers said: “They are as strong a team now as they have been for many years. They have everything; big experience, big players, speed, technique, they have a fantastic team and a great manager in Ancelotti, a good man who works with players and who is a good person.

“They have amazing talents all over the field. The have the technique to play in small spaces and when the space opens up there is no one better on the counter-attack because in Ronaldo and Bale they have two players that could be in the Olympic 100 metres final.

“Ronaldo is an amazing player, his evolution over the last few years into becoming a goal scorer has been incredible, but the team as a whole is incredible. You have Modric, Kroos, wonderful technicians who can play short and long. I’m also a big admirer of Sergio Ramos since his young days at Sevilla. I like him a lot.”

The Telegraph

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Why Arsenal will specialise in failure until Arsene Wenger is replaced

Jose Mourinho suggested that had any other manager pushed another manager in the middle of the match, as Arsene Wenger had done to the Chelsea man in their recent game, he’d have been treated more harshly.
It’s probably true - but the reason is more damning than some kind of pro-Arsenal bias
Arsene Wenger
It’s more likely to come from the fact that Wenger, and by extension Arsenal, are no longer really seen as a threat.
In the past, Wenger’s Arsenal side would have been happy to exchange more than glances on the pitch, and now you know there’s going to be little more than a shove.
Arsenal are a spent force, forever playing catch up, but at a pace far slower than those ahead of them are moving.
Before the match against Hull City, when the side were gearing up for yet another disappointment due to yet another injury crisis, Wenger said he would move for a defender in the January transfer.
For reference, we are now in October, and Arsenal started with Nacho Monreal in central defence.
Monreal is an adequate back-up full-back for a Champions League team, and yet under Wenger he is regularly considered as a worthwhile option in the middle for the next three months.
As the transfer window closed, Arsenal weighed up making some kind of move for William Carvalho, the Sporting Lisbon defensive midfielder, but with Wenger abroad refereeing a charity match, the side were only able (or perhaps truly willing) to sign Danny Welbeck, unable to break into United’s first team as a striker.
This came after Wenger elected not to sign Cesc Fabregas, who has proven himself to be perhaps the best midfielder in the Premier League at the moment, firing Diego Costa and therefore Chelsea to the top of the table.
Carvalho and Fabregas: neither arrived, and instead the risible show of Jack Wilshere andMathieu Flamini took over duties against Hull.
In the previous summer, Flamini was training with Arsenal, a favour to him from Wenger despite him leaving on a free transfer to AC Milan in the past.
He impressed Wenger with his training ground performances and managed to secure a contract on that basis. In the first season he was a usefully cynical presence, but an increasingly invisible physical one.
For all the training ground numbers, he was a player that could be played around and ignored by the best. This season, against teams like Hull, he can be easily outmuscled.
So it proved when Mohamed Diame burst through Arsenal’s midfield, and then grappled with Flamini’s shirt and neck to get ahead of him.
It was an obvious foul, but in previous years Flamini, or the more physically resilient Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira or Daniele De Rossi would not have stood for such interference.
They’d have fought back, at the very least, but in this instance Flamini simply gave up. Diame was provided with the chance to equalise not just because of the referee’s lenience, but because of Flamini’s slackness.
It wasn’t a rare example, it is now part of Flamini’s game.
Flamini and Mertesacker
Alongside him, Jack Wilshere showed why Paul Scholes regards him with borderline contempt.
He looks nice on the ball, flattering to deceive, but too often his important passes are underhit. With Hull sitting deep, that failing became increasingly apparent. It is not that Wilshere cannot pass well, is that he just does not do it enough, just as Arsenal cannot play well as a team often enough.
With more than 20 minutes remaining, Wilshere showed the other side of his play, injuring himself with a rash tackle on Gaston Ramirez. For all his tough guy posturing, he remains most likely to breakdown. In the past, Arsenal would intimidate and follow through (figuratively and literally). No longer.
Danny Welbeck’s late intervention should be celebrated by his old fans at Manchester United, and his current ones for England and Arsenal. He has proven that he can be a regular goalscorer.
The problem, again, is that it is not enough now. He rescued a point where he should, given the confidence he has in his own ability, be winning them. He missed an early chance to put his side ahead when his team were on top, demonstrating Arsenal’s lack of clinical edge.
It was reported today that Arsenal recently invested a couple of million pounds in a data analysis company, aiming to extract the most value from current and future players.
That’s all well and good, but there’s a very obvious statistic that needs addressing more than anything else.

For a decade, Wenger has been specialising in failure. It is time someone else got a chance.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Hummels to Arsenal FC? Guardiola keen on Man Utd job? Khedira to Chelsea FC?

Pep Guardiola (credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
- Pep Guardiola would like to manage Manchester United at some point during his career, according to a new book about the Bayern Munich coach.

In the book Pep Confidental, written by journalist Marti Perarnau, a close friend to Guardiola, the coach recalls watching United beat Schalke in the Champions League.

"[Guardiola] was impressed [by Bayern's training facilities, Sabener Strasse] and told [assistant] Manuel Estiarte privately: 'I like this. I could see myself coaching here one day', Perarnau wrote.

"Pep had said something very similar a few months before, at Manchester United. The day after beating Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, Guardiola and Estiarte travelled to Manchester to watch their next opponents in action.

"It was May 4, 2011, and the pair sat together in the stands of Old Trafford watching Sir Alex Ferguson's team beat Schalke 4-1.

"Once again Pep had turned to his friend and said: 'I like this atmosphere. I could see myself coaching here one day.'"

- Arsenal are preparing to launch a £32million bid for Borussia Dortmund star and Manchester United target Mats Hummels, according to the Daily Express.

- Chelsea are hopeful of signing Sami Khedira on a free transfer at the end of the season with talks set to begin over a lucrative move to Stamford Bridge, according to Metro.

- Lukas Podolski has hinted at a January move away from Arsenal, saying that his status at Emirates Stadium "has to change".

"I have assessed my position in the team, and it has to change now," he told reporters.

"Let's see what happens in the winter. The fact is that I'm not happy with it, that's clear."

- Sunderland have made a bold request to take Barcelona starlet Alen Halilovic on loan, according to the Daily Mail.

- Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will beg Lille to cut short Divock Origi's loan spell so that the striker can return to Anfield in January, according to the Daily Express.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Suarez: I'm 100% ready for Barca debut in Clasico

The striker has been on the Camp Nou sidelines since his summer transfer to Spain, due to a four-month biting ban, but he says he is fit to appear at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Suarez: I'm 100% ready for Barca debut in Clasico
Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez has declared himself "100 per cent ready" to make his Barcelona debut against Real Madrid in October 25's Clasico.

The Uruguayan has been on the sidelines since his €86 million move from Liverpool to Camp Nou due to his four-month competitive football ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

But he is allowed to make his official debut for Luis Enrique's men in the showdown between the Spanish giants later this month, which comes after a Liga clash with Eibar and Champions League tie against Ajax.

Suarez, who played in friendlies for Uruguay in the current international break, stressed his lack of match action has not affected his fitness and that he is ready to make a difference for Barca.

"To make my Barcelona debut at the Santiago Bernabeu would be very special," the 27-year-old told reporters at the presentation of the 2013-14 Golden Shoe award he shares with Cristiano Ronaldo for scoring more goals (31) in league football than any other top level player in European football.

"Before these games with Uruguay I was not able to play, but now I feel really good physically - better than I had expected. I'm 100 per cent ready.

"Adapting to Barca is not a problem, I just want to get out on the pitch and have fun. I'm at a club I always wanted to be at, I'll try to do the same in front of goal that I did for Liverpool, to do what the coach asks and score important goals."

Suarez added that it feels great to be honoured with the Golden Shoe alongside the likes of Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo, whom is now a major rival since he left Anfield for Camp Nou.

"On a personal level it is always welcome to get awards like this but you do not get anywhere without all of one's team's effort every day," the striker added.

"I am proud to share prizes with important players [like Ronaldo] on a global scale."