Posts Tagged ‘Man City’


Man City tracking Edinson Cavani – but likely to face stiff competition

By Stefano on February 6th, 2013

Man City will be looking for a striker to replace Mario Balotelli in the summer transfer window and it seems that their number one target is Napoli’s extraordinary Edinson Cavani, a man who has scored 27 goals in 26 appearances this season.

Blues coach Angelo Gregucci recently told a Naples radio station – which was also reported by the Manchester Evening News - that Cavani was a target for the Blues but he acknowledged that they would face a tough battle to sign him.

Gregucci told the station:

“City will definitely have competition for Cavani, who is dominating the Italian league with his goals and sacrifices for the team and whose contract has a £55m buy-out clause.

“Edinson is scoring a huge number of goals this season, and it will be difficult for City to take him. The ten biggest clubs in Europe all have Cavani in their sights.”

The Blues secured at least £20 million for Balotelli, but will may need in the region of £50 million to land Cavani. Many top European sides including both Arsenal and Chelsea are said to be keeping an eye on the player.

In the past City have also been linked to Atletico Madrid’s free-scoring Radamel Falcao, a player who is also interesting Chelsea.


Arsenal would be second in the Premiership – if only the second half of games counted

By Stefano on February 4th, 2013

Really great stat from the people at TalkSport who have put together the table showing who would be where if only the second half of games counted.

It turns out that Arsenal would be second in the league behind Man City on goals scored. Man United, in spite of their many late goals this season, would be five points adrift and Chelsea would be down in eighth place.

Well Arsenal fans have been painfully aware of how poor they have been in the first half of recent games and how much better they have played as the game has gone on.

In some games at The Emirates at least it appears that the team only start trying after they have quaffed their half time cuppa (or it more likely sports energy drink these days).

The trend was once again show on Saturday against Stoke when the club had an indifferent first half but created a great deal more in the latter part of the game culminating in that Podolski free kick goal.

It also adds a bit more firepower to those who still proclaim that ‘Arsene Knows’ in that his substitutions have had a very significant in pact in a number of games this season.

As for other surprises in the table – Liverpool in at fifth are higher than you’d expect. No prizes for guessing the bottom two – Newcastle and Aston Villa neither of whom seem to be able to hold on to a lead. Well not until the Geordies got their latest French imports in anyhow.

The table is here.


Should Rodgers drop Carragher for Liverpool’s game against Man City?

By Stefano on February 1st, 2013

After receiving the man-of-the-match award for his fine performance against Arsenal, Jamie Carragher was asked if he was enjoying his current run in the side. “What, two games?” came the typically cheeky Scouse reply. He’s hardly cemented his position as a first-team regular.

But Carragher certainly performed well at the Emirates, dealing with Arsenal’s long balls towards Olivier Giroud in open play, and barking instructions at the rest of the defence, encouraging them to push up as

Arsenal passed the ball around the defence, forcing opposition attackers away from goal. That suggests Carragher is content to play a high defensive line despite his declining pace, although Theo Walcott got in behind a couple of times, which will have worried Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers must now decide whether to start Carragher away at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, or recall Martin Skrtel. He had an interesting game in the reverse fixture against City; having opened the scoring with a towering header, his suicidal backpass in the final minutes was intercepted by Carlos Tevez, denying Rodgers his first Liverpool win.

Despite Carragher’s impressive showing, it’s difficult to see how he’d be able to cope with Sergio Aguero’s incredible acceleration, particularly with Tevez stretching the defence in the opposite direction. Skrtel hasn’t been at his best this season, having been Liverpool’s star man in 2011-12: and although the Slovakian is better in the air than on the ground, a combination of he and Daniel Agger seems logical against the threat of Aguero.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.


Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea target Edinson Cavani talks about his future

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

The Napoli striker is very high on many manger’s wants lists at the moment with Arsene Wenger and Roberto Mancini especially being known as keen admirers.

And the player has given some encouragement to the clubs who might want to prise him from Napoli in the summer.

Talking to La Gazzetta dello Sport today Cavani spoke explicitly about the 63million Euros (or £53 million) buy out clause that has almost certainly prevented him from moving in the winter window. Cavani suggests that he would consider a move but it sounds like it would only be to Europe’s ultra rich footballing elite – think City, PSG and Chelsea.

Cavani said

“If a club has a clear project and they want to focus on me, they can’t be frightened in front of this figure. For now, I’m not thinking about [my future]. Then it will be up to the club to take into consideration what should be done.”

The huge buy out clause figure was also mentioned recently by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis who told Corriere dello Sport.

“I have already said before that Cavani is not for sale. We will have to wait and see whether someone is willing to pay his buy-out clause, and if the player wants to join that club.”

The player also said that he would be talking Napoli at the end of the season. The club are currently second in Serie A three points behind the leaders Juventus.

“Yes, but a lot will depend on the offer that the [Napoli] president will make me at the end of the season. I am happy here. Napoli have given me a lot and I am trying to repay them. We’ll talk about it.”


Arsenal update: All quiet, but for one last push for David Villa or Edin Džeko?

By Stefano on January 31st, 2013

After a game in which Arsenal created a huge number of chances only to see many of them squandered by their current striker you might have thought that Arsene Wenger would be combing Europe for reinforcements. Well Wenger said after the game last night

“We will try to be active. It won’t be easy but at the moment I have nothing to give to you unfortunately.”

This does however tantalisingly suggest that the Arsenal fax might get a bit of a whizz today and that it is pointing in the direction of Barcelona.

Whether it is hearsay, or maybe that they have ruin with the story so long, a couple of sources are suggesting that Arsenal will have one last crack at persuading the Catalans to part with David Villa.

It is a move that Vila is keen on and that would suit Arsenal too, but the fact that there are only a few hours left would suggest a lot of work would have to be done very quickly to push it through. And that would have to start with a change of heart from Barca’s management team.

The Metro suggests that Wenger will add left back to cover for Kieran Gibbs who will be out for three weeks with a thigh injury.

Meanwhile the talk of The Emirates last night was that Edin Džeko was once again a target. Even though Balotelli is gone Mancini appears to be looking to offload the Bosnian and several German clubs are interested in the player.

Wenger, however likes a last minute trolley dash – remember how many players Arsenal signed at the window’s end in August 2011? – so who knows what will happen today.


Arsenal update: one last try to sign David Villa, but now Man City want him too

By Stefano on January 30th, 2013

In what is perhaps the most predictable news of the day The Daily Mail is running with the story that after crisis talks with Ivan Gazidis Arsene Wenger is going to have one last try to sign David Villa in the window.

The Mail says

Arsenal remain in pursuit of Barcelona striker Villa, despite Wenger insisting yesterday that a potential deal for the Spaniard was dead in the water.

The Gunners will make a final offer to Barca chiefs in the next 24 hours in a bid to bring him to the Emirates, with Villa understood to be keen to join the Gunners.

The trouble for Wenger is that he might have to think about upping his bid a little to stave off a possible challenge for the player from the newly minted Man City. With the best part of £20 million jingling in his pocket Roberto Mancini needs another striker to replace Mario Balotelli and according to the Mirror David Villa more than fits the bill.

The Mirror says

The Mirror has learned that City have already made an inquiry about Villa, with a view to rushing through a deal before Thursday night’s transfer deadline.

City boss Roberto Mancini wants to bring his quota of senior strikers back to four after finally getting rid of Balotelli and sees Villa as the ideal recruit.

Ex-Barca officials Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, now City’s chief executive and sporting director respectively, could use their contacts at their former club to help seal a deal.

Although Barca do not want to sell Villa, Eastlands bosses are hoping an offer of £15m could tempt them to part with the 31-year-old, who has a poor injury record.

If City are serious their deep financial reserves and their relationships with Barcelona would seem to put them in pole position. In Arsenal’s favour Villa is alleged to favour a move to London and they are also owed a significant amount of cash by Barca for the Song and Fabregas deals.

How galling would that be for Arsenal fans? Lose a load of players to City and then they grab your top transfer target.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again – this one is going to to the wire.


Milan Director and PA report that Mario Balotelli to AC Milan deal is done

By Stefano on January 29th, 2013

There’s no word yet from Manchester City but The Press Association are reporting that deal has been agreed for striker Mario Balotelli to join AC Milan.

PA says that Milan are going to pay around £20 million for the player to rte-join his boyhood team

Milan director Umberto Gandini has also confirmed the deal too. He tweeted “Transfer agreement for Balotelli signed with Manchester City. Medicals tomorrow in Milan, then personal terms until 2017 signing.”

The Italian newspaper, La Gazetta dello Sport, has added that the 22-year-old striker is being offered a deal worth 4m euros (£3.4m) a year plus bonuses until 2017. That may work out as a drop in wages as the player was on over £4 million a year at City.

What makes this doubly interesting is how City respond. Might long term target Napoli’s Edinson Cavani be on his way to Manchester?


Man City tactics – Milner Better Option Than Nasri on Form

By Stefano on January 18th, 2013

It’s strange to think that Samir Nasri, artistic playmaker, and James Milner, determined workhorse, cost Manchester City roughly the same amount of money, depending on one’s valuation of Stephen Ireland in the Milner swap deal. But although Nasri is the more talented footballer, Milner was excellent against Arsenal last weekend, and deserves to keep his place for the home match against Fulham.

Milner simply offers balance and variety when City attack; whereas Nasri is broadly a similar player to David Silva, Milner’s more direct and determined with his running. His opener at the Emirates came from the type of run Nasri simply wouldn’t make, in behind the defence, and with Milner and Silva on either side, there’s more variety when City have possession, which makes them trickier to defend against.

Nasri’s role at City has never truly been clear; at Arsenal he briefly thrived as a goalscoring midfielder, while Laurent Blanc encouraged him to dribble with the ball, and beat opponents. At City he simply seems another passer, with no unique role in the side.

Milner’s also better defensively, which could be an important factor against Fulham left-back John Arne Riise. The veteran Norweigan has been linked with a move away from Fulham this week, after reports of a bust-up with manager Martin Jol, but it now appears his future will be at Craven Cottage. The alternative is Kieran Richardson, another player who offers an attacking threat. Either way, it is Milner, rather than Nasri, who is more likely to protect Pablo Zabaleta.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.


Five postive things Arsenal can take from the 2-0 defeat by Man City

By Stefano on January 14th, 2013

At face value Sunday was not a good day at the office for Arsene Wenger’s men. A 2-0 home defeat to a team who last won away against them in 1975, to say nothing of lost points in the  race for fourth place.

However, call me an eternal optimist, but there were some positive points that I think Arsenal can take from the game against Man City.

1 Wilshere is back to his best – His performance yesterday was sensational. His movement both on and off the ball was superb and much of his passing exquisite. On countless occasions he took the ball turned and glided past City players, many of whom could do nothing but resort to knocking him over. Sure there was that awful moment when he got caught on his ankle, but he is obviously pretty resilient again. If Wilshere gets injured Arsenal’s season will be over. He is their best player at the moment by a country mile.

2 Flashes of form from Ramsey – The jury is out on Abou Diaby’s  comeback yesterday. His passing was sloppy and he lacked match sharpness. However for Arsenal fans just seeing him get though a game while occasionally showing signs of his genius-  those times when he moves forward and the ball just sticks to his foot – is probably enough for now. The irony is that it was the player who replaced him almost got Arsenal back into the game. Ramsey had his best half hour for the club in ages. His passing was inspired and there were many times when he shielded the ball in difficult situations when there was no one to pass to .The vision which delivered that ball to Walcott where the England player’ shot was cleared off the line was vintage Ramsey. If he can only keep this form up he could prove to be vital to the Gunners as the season progresses.

3 Wojciech Szczęsny looked sharp - Ok, so his distribution wasn’t what it should have been at times, but Arsenal’s Polish goalkeeper must have heard the rumours about possible signings. He could hardly be blamed for either goal and when called on made a series of decent saves. In an indifferent season this was one of his better games.

4 The Emirates really got behind their team – With the side down to 10 men and 2-0 down it could have all gone a bit flat. But at times the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and the players responded to that passion.

5 The Arteta injury will surely force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market - The Spaniard is out for three weeks now. Diaby is not strong enough to play ninety minutes – and if he does who knows what shape he will be in at the end of it? And Arsenal have a big run of season-shaping fixtures. Surely Wenger will strengthen Arsenal’s midfield. Has that Yann M’Villa signed for anyone yet?


Pep Guardiola says he wants a job. But where will he be next season? Bayern? Chelsea?

By Stefano on January 7th, 2013

Ex-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed that his extended sabbatical in New York is going to come to an end soon and that he is looking for a new job.

The 41 year old told the press conference ahead of today’s Ballon d’Or ceremony that he will be managing again.

Guardiola said

“Yes, I would like to come back [to coaching]. I don’t have a team, I don’t know, but I would like to go back to coaching. My decision has been taken to coach, but beyond that there is no decision taken.”

However Guardialo wouldn’t be drawn as to where he might be in a few months time

“It would be a lack of respect to other coaches to speak about any team that is being run by a coach anywhere in the world.”

There will be no shortage of suitors for the well dressed, uber tactician. Chelsea have long been favourites to land the Catalan, and the fact that they only currently have a temporary manager in Rafa Benitez underlines that they may be looking for a new coach come the end the season.

The key question for Guardiola is whether he would be willing to work for a club that has such a high turn over of managers? If not the two Manchester clubs could be options – though this would require Ferguson to retire or Mancini to end the year with no silverware.

Paddy Power us running a book on his next destination and rates Chelsea of Bayern Munich as his most likely role, followed by Man City.

Where do you think he will end up? We ran a poll on the site a few months back – which you can see here.


The other side of the Balotelli bust up – the problem it presents Roberto Mancini

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Mario Balotelli has a habit of doing the most absurd things at precisely the most brilliant time. If he’d planned to get into a training ground scrap with his own manager, picking this week was a wonderful way to provide Roberto Mancini with the possibility to react instantly, with the transfer window offering the possibility for a quick-fire sale.

But that’s not the only fantastic thing about Balotelli’s timing. The other concerns matters on the pitch: Sergio Aguero, who has established himself as Manchester City’s most valuable centre-forward, is out for a fortnight with a hamstring injury. Samir Nasri, meanwhile, is suspended for the next two matches, and although Balotelli is generally considered a striker, he’s started as a wide player more frequently than a forward this season. City’s fixture this weekend is a comfortable-looking home FA Cup tie against Watford, allowing Mancini to rest his regulars after gruelling Christmas period, and give a run-out to some reserves. Balotelli, who hasn’t played a minute since the 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on December 9, currently qualifies as a back-up.

For all Balotelli’s off-pitch dramas and his on-pitch flashes of genius, it’s never been immediately obvious what he offers to City on a regular basis, at least on a tactical level. His attributes are blatant: tremendous pace in behind, an ability to run with the ball, impressive strength and, at times, wonderfully cool finishing ability. Yet how that translates into a well-rounded player perfect for a particular place in City’s side is unclear. Playing as an ‘on the shoulder’ striker probably suits him best, and his key contributions have generally come from that position: his opener in the 6-1 against Manchester United, for example, the ‘Why always me?’ moment.

Yet his chances of playing that role have been, in a slightly convoluted fashion, compromised by Carlos Tevez’s return. Although Tevez has generally been fielded as the deeper of Mancini’s two centre-forwards, it has pushed Sergio Aguero forward. Aguero has played the two separate forward roles a roughly equal number of times since his arrival in English football, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that he’s more effective high up the pitch.

There’s more to his game than simply goalscoring, but his incredible acceleration and ability to create space for a shot when surrounded by opponents makes him one of the most dangerous finishers in the league.

On paper, Balotelli might be more suited to a wide position. David Silva starts in one of the wide roles and inevitably drifts inside into the centre, and Nasri’s tendency to do something similar has been problematic on occasion, making City’s play too congested and allowing the opposition to defend narrow.

Balotelli offers directness and a goalscoring threat from wide, but in addition to his lack of defensive work, he simply never appears determined or motivated when fielded there. He’s a powerful runner with the ball, but his ability to beat a man is less assured.

It’s unlikely yesterday’s incident will have a serious impact upon Mancini’s desire to keep him at the club: this is a manager who once told a press conference that he’d said to Balotelli: “If you played with me 10 years ago, I give to you every day maybe one punch in your head!”

Mancini will continue to give him opportunities through rotation. Aguero’s injury only makes that concept seem more appealing. But it’s difficult to see how, why or when Balotelli will become a key part of City’s starting XI, and therefore it will become increasingly difficult for Mancini to justify retaining such an undisciplined player, regardless of his talent.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.


Is Micah Richards going to be Brendan Rodgers’ next big signing for Liverpool?

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Liverpool have already made one of the key signings of the window in snapping up Daniel Sturridge, but it seems that Brendan Rodgers’ spree isn’t going to end there.

A few papers are reporting that the Liverpool manager is back on the case renegotiating the return of Thomas Ince from Blackpool with a fee of around £5 million.

But Italian source TuttoMercato (reported here by Goal) also says that the Reds are keeping close tabs on Man City defender Micah Richards.

The England defender has only had a few opportunities at Man City this season, after injuring his knee in October, and seems to have fallen off manager Roberto Mancini’s radar. Even when he was fit, like at the end of last season, his chances were limited. Mancini has an embarrassment of riches at the back and some papers are even linking Joleon Lescott with a move away from the club possibly to Aston Villa.

Liverpool already have an England player at right back in Glenn Johnson, but Richards would be a very useful centre back for Rodgers.


Mancini tells BBC that Robin Van Persie could cost City the title

By Stefano on January 1st, 2013

A few weeks ago we ran a story about how had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same they would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.

Now someone else is declaring that the Dutchman is the difference between the sides competing for the title.

Roberto Mancini told the BBC “Robin van Persie is a very important player for United. He has changed their situation. He is the difference between us.”

Mancini went on to add that he got very close to signing the striker. “We were very close. We were sure he was for us but this did not happen and now we can do nothing. We were very close three or four months before he joined United.”

Here’s the theory on Van Persie’s influence on United as initially outlined by the Mail’s Martin Samuels.

United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.

Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).


Villa, Sneijder, Zaha and the 10 most wanted players in the transfer window

By Stefano on December 31st, 2012

So, there is just a few hours to go before paper talk can become reality and the winter transfer window opens. This winter expect some serious cash to be flying with Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool desperate to strengthen their squads to keep them in the frame for Champions League qualification, and Man City and Chelsea mulling over big money strikers.

Apparently ‘Arrry has £20 million to spend too.

So here then are the ten most coveted players in the window. I’d be very surprised if at least half of them weren’t wearing new colours come February.

10 Jack Butland

Picture 1 of 10
Picture 1 of 10

Financial problems mean that Birmingham City might be forced to cash in on their England keeper with Liverpool FC apparently at the front of the queue and Southampton circling. Expect the fee to be around £5 million and if it is Liverpool Reina on his way out.


Good news for Man United – six of the last eight Christmas Premiership leaders won the title

By Stefano on December 24th, 2012

So which Premiership manager has Santa for good news for this year?

It could have been so much better for Fergie. Well if United had sneaked a winner against Swansea and Mike Dean ruled out Gareth Barry’s last minute winner for City against QPR. But the United boss still finds his team four points clear of City at Christmas and five clear of Chelsea (and that’s assuming they win both of their games in hand).

United have been here many items before and if recent years are anything to go by, come May it will be the Red half of Manchester that will be celebrating. If you look at the statistics below six times out of the last eight seasons the club that is top at Christmas has gone on to win the Premiership.

The two exceptions are Liverpool who were overtaken by United in 2008-09 and 2007-08 where Arsenal threw away a winning position and ended up in third. That was famously the season in which Eduardo suffered his crippling injury in a game against Birmingham City in February, an incident that apparently shocked the team so much they never really recovered.

If you delve further back in the Premiership the number of Christmas leaders who went on to win the title declines a little – just seven times out of last twelve seasons.

So can we rule out Chelsea as title contenders then? Well if you look at the season 2008-09 United weren’t even in the top three at Christmas but went on to scoop the title that May. So in theory you can’t rule out any of the four teams currently on 30 points – but they would be a very long shot.

So what do you think will have the most impact on the title race in the coming weeks? I think how quickly Vidic settles again at United and how much he shores up what still looks like a porous defence. Keeping Van Persie injury free would help too and Rooney needs to re-capture some of his old form. I wonder too if the 8-0 thrashing of Villa might energise Chelsea to the point where their incredibly strong squad starts to deliver on their promise.

As for fourth place Arsenal would appear to be favourites. They have a few winnable games on the bounce, will strengthen in January and have been there many times before. If Spurs or Everton find some consistency they could run them close.

Here are the Christmas and final tables for the last ten years.

1. Arsenal 39
2. Chelsea 37
3. Man Utd 35

1. Man Utd 83
2. Arsenal 78
3. Newcastle 69

1. Man Utd 40
2. Arsenal 39
3. Chelsea 39

1. Arsenal 90
2. Chelsea 79
3. Man Utd 75

1. Chelsea 43
2. Arsenal 38
3. Everton 37

1. Chelsea 95
2. Arsenal 83
3. Man Utd 77

1. Chelsea 46
2. Man Utd 37
3. Liverpool 31

1. Chelsea 91
2. Man Utd 83
3. Liverpool 82

1. Man Utd 47
2. Chelsea 45
3. Liverpool 34

1. Man Utd 89
2. Chelsea 83
3. Liverpool 68

1. Arsenal 43
2. Man Utd 42
3. Chelsea 37

1. Man Utd 87
2. Chelsea 85
3. Arsenal 83

1. Liverpool 39
2. Chelsea 38
3. Aston Villa 34

1. Man Utd 90
2. Liverpool 86
3. Chelsea 83

1. Chelsea 41
2. Man Utd 37
3. Arsenal 35

1. Chelsea 86
2. Man Utd 85
3. Arsenal 75


1. Man Utd 34
2. Arsenal 32
3. Man City 32

1. Man Utd 80
2. Chelsea 71
3. Man City 71

1. Man City 44
2. Man Utd 42
3. Spurs 35

1. Man City 89
2. Man Utd 89
3. Arsenal 70

1. Man Utd 43
2. Man City 39
3. Chelsea 32

Pic PA

People dressed as Father Christmas take part in the Great Edinburgh Santa Run, at West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, in aid of the When You Wish Upon A Star charity.

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