Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Aguero could be Manchester City's real star

Have Manchester City finally got themselves a real star?

Last night Sergio Aguero (mysteriously wearing "Kun Aguero" on his back) came on as substitute with the score at 1-0 against Swansea City, and he proceeded to score two (the second one a beauty) and make another as the Blues an out 4-0 winners in the end.

Indeed, Aguero helped make the scoreline a bit harsh on Swansea who for much of the first half were the equal of the rich Mancunians, at least in terms of possession. In the end statistics such as the shot count were overwhelmingly in the home side's favour.

Edin Dzeko scored City's opener after the impressive Vorm in Swansea's goal couldn't hold a shot from Yaya Toure, and David Silva (who also had a good night) go the other goal after good work by Aguero.

But the real story of the night was the Argentinian Aguero. He looked keen, quick, robust and undoubtedly had an eye for goal.

Could City finally have the man who could make the difference?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Premier League stutters into action

And so the 2011-12 Premier League season got off to a ... rather stuttering ... start at the weekend.

Saturday afternoon saw only five games start the season, with Liverpool the biggest of the clubs getting underway - and they could only manage a tame 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland. Tottenham v Everton was called off after the riots, so it was left to Bolton Wanderers to make their mark, winning 4-0 at newly-promoted QPR, and proudly heading the Premier League table straight away - and they still do!

Arsenal's trip to Newcastle was shown live on Saturday early evening, but made headlines for all the wrong reasons (Song, Barton, Gervinho) and produced no goals. Joey Barton may protest his innocence, but one has to wonder why he is so often at the centre of controversy. As for Stephen Taylor trying to claim that Gervinho had elbowed someone (when all he did was wave his fingers in Barton's face) - oh dear, oh dear, let's all try and get sensible, shall we? Taylor is one of those English players who's all huff and puff and machismo, with a heap of indignation thrown in. We don't need it.

We hoped that Sunday's two live games featuring Chelsea and Manchester United might enliven proceedings, but Chelsea's rather one-dimensional display against Stoke did nothing, and it was left to the champions to chose touches of inspiration, even if Ashley Young's winning shot was in the end helped into the net by two deflections.

Can we rely on Manchester City or the Welsh Dragons from Swansea to breathe some fire into the nascent season tonight?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tottenham v Everton falls victim to the riots

I see that Tottenham v Everton has been postponed for this Saturday as a result of the recent riots in the area. This has to be the right decision at this uncertain time.

It will be interesting to see what other games get postponed. Games in London and Bristol were postponed in the Carling Cup during the week.

Thus, other games that must be vulnerable are:
Fulham v Aston Villa
Liverpool v Sunderland
QPR v Bolton
Birmingham v Coventry
Crystal Palace v Burnley

West Brom v Manchester United on Sunday, and
Manchester City v Swansea City on Monday.

It looks like being a stuttering start to the season.

Football fans will join the rest of the public in their anger against these idiotic looters.

Monday, 8 August 2011

United see off City - just

Manchester United came from 2-0 to beat arch-rivals Manchester City 3-2 in the Community Shield at Wembley yesterday. As an advert for the forthcoming season, this was pretty good.

Big spenders City would love to take the Premier League title away from United, of course, but spending lots of money is not the simple answer. Manchester United will want to keep their title, but they also want to challenge the likes of Barcelona for the Champions League. After their humiliation at the hands of the Catalans in May, there were one or two notes that they may have learned a thing or two from that game.

The equalise was the result of a series of one-touch passes ending with Nani planting the ball high into Joe Hart's net. Nani also got the winner as the usuall-reliable Kompany floundered on the half-way line.

United will be disappointed that they conceded two goals, but they will shrug that off with their victory.

City will realise that there is still a long way to go to turn money into titles.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Sven cracks a break joke

Leicester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has joined the mid-winter break bandwagon, saying that England will struggle to win a major tournament unless the Premier League adopts a winter break.

With England due to play Holland in a friendly before the season has even started, Sven's comment is really funny.

Get this as well. He said: "It's more difficult for England than other countries to do well in a big tournament."

"You have to have a break. You need to give every Premier League player seven days to fly to wherever they want."

He added: "They can have sunshine, relax and then one week of preparation and then start again."

With all the foreign players in the Premier League, I'm not sure why this is a specific problem for England - probably because none of our players want to play abroad. With all the sun, breaks and lack of games in foreign places, why is that?

Before we think about a mid-winter break (when would that be, by the way?), let's think about a summer break. Many players had not long finished last season before they were whisked away on lucrative tours abroad. Why not spare them that and play half-a-dozen games at places like Bradford, Halifax and Hartlepool so the players don't get too tired?

Do me a favour, Sven.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Championship beckons

And so, with the weather just about as nice as it has been all year, we come to within a couple of days of the new football season for the Championship and Leagues One and Two. The spectators may bask shirtsleeved in Saturday's sunshine (if it holds!), but the players (all tans and new hair cuts) will suffer in the heat.

The Championship promises to be more competitive than ever this season. There are many strong clubs in there and all are desperate to make it to the Premier League.

Relegated clubs Birmingham City, Blackpool and West Ham United will be among the most desperate for promotion, but they will certainly not find it easy. Clubs like Leicester City (big summer spenders), Cardiff City, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest may head the rest, but consider Burnley, Coventry City, Derby County, Hull City, Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough, Reading and Watford! Promoted clubs Brighton and Southampton may even have a shout.

I'm sure the other seven clubs will fell that they should be included too - everyone is optimistc and hopeful before a ball has been kicked.

Whatever happens, expect the unexpected and a firecely fought campaign.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Tough World Cup draws for home nations

The World Cup in 2014 in Brazil seems an awfully long time away. In Europe qualification for next year’s European Championship hasn’t even reached the business end of operations. Yet the draw for the qualifying groups for the 2014 World Cup took place on Saturday.

England found themselves in a pretty tough group, with tricky trips to Eastern Europe in Ukraine and Poland, as well as Moldova, together with Montenegro, who are proving tougher than expected in the Euro qualifiers, and minnows San Marino. If Fabio Capello though his stint as England manager was awkward, then he’ll be delighted that he’s leaving the hot seat before those trips come up!
As well as facing each other, Scotland and Wales have another pair who’ll have their own neighbourhood squabble – Croatia and Serbia – as well as Belgium and Macedonia. Qualification looks unlikely.
Northern Ireland have a couple of teams that they should beat – Azerbaijan and Luxembourg – but with Russia and Portugal heading the seedings, they’ll need something like a miracle to qualify. Israel make up the six.
Spain got the toughest non-top seeds in France, but there’s nothing at the moment that will worry the Spaniards.
Qualification goes directly to the eight group winners, and the eight runners-up are paired (no doubt on a whim by FIFA) in four play-off matches.