Archive for December, 2012

Real Madrid Must Not Cater to Cristiano Ronaldo

cristiano ronaldo eyes shut

 

Cistiano Ronaldo is arguably the best soccer player in the world, but that doesn’t mean that Real Madrid must bend over backwards for their star striker.

It seems absurd to let an iconic player like Ronaldo walk, but Los Blancos may not have a choice. According to James’ report, “the Ballon d’Or finalist has been offered a contract extension until 2018, increasing his salary by 50 per cent to a whopping £15m a year.”

Giving him more money than that would be absurd, regardless of how talented he is. One player cannot be bigger than the future of the club, no matter how legendary he may be. The report mentions Ronaldo’s “increasing dissatisfaction in Madrid.” At a certain point, the club must just say fine. If he’s that unhappy, let him be happy elsewhere.

A part of Ronaldo will always chase money and fame. He loves the glamorous side of being a superstar, and he’s always going to pursue that. If he’s not given proper attention at all times, he becomes unsettled.

Even though that doesn’t have an impact on his production, it has an impact on the rest of his team. His side can become all about serving him, and he can command so much money that it becomes financially impossible to fill other needs.

It almost seems like Ronaldo is just pouting at this point. His otherworldly talents command attention, but attitude can get old under any circumstance.

Maybe he truly wants to move on to another side, or he could just be milking every dollar out of the current situation.

Real Madrid already catered to him with one enormous contract. It’s important for the franchise to avoid giving him another.

Can Chelsea Afford to Let His Goals Leave on a Free Transfer?

 

Frank Lampard was Chelsea’s match-winner in the Premier League clash against Everton to close out 2012—but the Blues midfielder still has no guarantees on his future from the club.

Having spent over a decade at Stamford Bridge as a reliable goalscoring threat from midfield, it seems surprising that Chelsea are willing to let Lampard go on a free transfer, even with him now being 34 years of age.

Chelsea went a goal down to Everton early on in their final game of 2012, and it took a brace from Lampard—who played the entire 90 minutes for only the fourth time this season—to turn the game around and win it for them.

The former West Ham United midfielder has not been in the team as often over the past 18 months as he was previously, but remains a great option for Chelsea to have in their squad.

Given that against Everton, for example, the likes of Eden Hazard failed to be at their scintillating best and that few of the other attacking players looked like scoring a goal on the day, is the regular strike-rate of Lampard something that Chelsea can afford to give up so easily?

Both of Lampard’s goals at Goodison Park displayed one of his most natural strengths, that which few other players possess in the same role—that of finding space in the penalty area to increase his chances of getting a clean strike at goal.

He can’t perhaps cover the same amount of ground twice a week that he could five years ago, but Lampard remains a predatory midfielder who can make telling runs from deep into the box.

Chelsea might not require him as a starter every match this or next season, with the likes of Ramires and David Luiz providing an intriguing possible partnership, but Lampard brings a very different dimension to the attacking side of midfield.

It is almost certain that there will be games that the Blues need a late goal to rescue points; at that point, if the trickery and creative threat of the likes of Juan Mata and Oscar hasn’t worked, then Lampard provides an altogether more reliable and direct method of eking out a goal—get himself into good areas, and shoot quickly.

He’s only 10 goals away from being Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer; loss of mobility and pace or not, Lampard could add another six next season, which could make the difference of half-a-dozen points.

And when you’re dealing in the differences between making the top four and not, or winning the title or not, surely the cost of another year on Lampard’s contract would be more than recouped?

Club Would Be Wise to Keep Theo Walcott Through January

Theo Walcott shooting

 

Theo Walcott has proven himself lately for Arsenal, and the club would be wise to keep him on board once the transfer window opens on January 1.

It’s not like Walcott hasn’t shown his talent before, but his hat trick on Saturday versus Newcastle really opened people’s eyes. He dazzled fans with his performance, even picking up two assists in the process.

There’s never been any doubt that Walcott is a capable player, but he’s failed to put it all together most of the time. However, he’s already matched the goal total that he put up in the English Premier League last season, showing Wenger and Co. that he may finally have a few things figured out.

Giving him away at this point just wouldn’t make sense. He’s going to command a fair amount of cash from the right club because of his offensive talents, but those skills will benefit the Gunners’ attack as well.

theo walcott and Giroud

 

Arsenal’s offense hasn’t necessarily been terrible this season, but it’s not ready to lose its leading scorer. With 39 goals in 19 games, Wenger needs all the firepower he can get. Otherwise he will be relying on Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud to put the ball in the net.
Walcott’s stock is starting to soar. He can benefit Arsenal now, and the Gunners could command more money for him later on. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for Wenger at this point.

Arsenal will have trouble challenging the EPL’s top contenders this season, but losing Walcott would make that nearly impossible. He’s taken his game to new heights, and his confidence has never been higher than it is right now.

The Gunners must cash in on that by keeping him in their colors for the time being.

Everton vs Chelsea Preview

Juan Mata smiling

 

 

 

Darron Gibson is available for selection for Everton having had the red card he received against West Ham rescinded but Marouane Fellaini remains suspended.

Johnny Heitinga came off the bench in the Boxing Day clash with Wigan but may not return to the starting line-up, while Seamus Coleman is battling to be fit with a hamstring problem and Tony Hibbert (calf) and Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) are still out.

Chelsea, meanwhile, could make a couple of changes from the team which started the 1-0 win over Norwich. Eden Hazard dropped to the bench for the game but should start against the Toffees, with Oscar most likely to miss out as a result.

Ramires may come in for John Obi Mikel, with Frank Lampard another option, but Rafa Benitez will probably leave the back five unchanged, meaning David Luiz should continue in a holding midfield role.

Ryan Bertrand (groin), John Terry and Oriol Romeu (both knee) are all out.

  • Everton have netted in their last 16 league matches, the longest run of all top-flight teams this season.
  • However, Moyes’ side also hold the record for the most consecutive games without a clean sheet, conceding in their last 14 league fixtures.
  • The Toffees have only ever beaten their current total of 33 Premier League points after 19 games once – the 2004-05 season.
  • Along with Manchester City, the Merseyside team have lost the least amount of games (2) this term.
  • And, along with Stoke, they are the only side to remain unbeaten at home this term.
  • Chelsea have had 44 shots in their last two league matches.
  • The west Londoners have scored 13 goals in the last three league games.
  • Juan Mata [pictured right] has finished or assisted 14 goals from 16 league appearances this campaign.
  • Blues interim boss Rafa Benitez has not lost in the last six times he has come across the Toffees, winning five and drawing one.
  • Chelsea have only beaten Everton once in their last eight league meetings, drawing four and losing three.

QPR vs Liverpool Preview

Liverpool Team on the ball

 

Harry Redknapp remains without long-term absentees Andy Johnson (knee) and Bobby Zamora (thigh) for the visit of the Merseysiders.

Jose Bosingwa (back), Julio Cesar (back) and club captain Park Ji-Sung (knee) are also doubts for Sunday’s clash.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have no new injury worries. Luis Saurez is expected to recover from a slight knock sustained against Stoke, leaving Fabio Borini (foot) and Martin Kelly (knee) as Brendan Rodgers’ only unavailable players.

  • Rock-bottom QPR boast three Champions League winners in their squad: Park Ji-Sung, Jose Bosingwa and Julio Cesar.
  • At this point in the Premier League’s inaugural season in 1992-93, the Loftus Road side were seventh in the league with 32 points.
  • QPR currently have the fewest points at this stage of the season since Derby County in 2007.
  • Similarly, Liverpool‘s current points total of 25 is the lowest the club have ever had after 19 games since the three points for a win rule was introduced.
  • Luis Suarez  has scored 39% of his club’s league goals this campaign.
  • This term, Steven Gerrard has already played 141 per cent of the league minutes he managed throughout the entirety of last season.
  • The two sides last met in March this year in the memorable 3-2 win for QPR at Loftus Road, with the hosts coming from 2-0 down with only 13 minutes left on the clock.
  • Last season saw the two sides’ first meeting since 1996.

Manchester United vs West Brom Preview

Rooney and Van Persie hugging

 

Wayne Rooney (knee) is definitely out of the game for the hosts, while Danny Welbeck could still be sidelined as he missed the Newcastle game with an illness.

Captain Nemanja Vidic complained of soreness in his knee after the 1-1 draw with Swansea, and could be rested again.

Shinji Kagawa (knee) is nearing full fitness but this game may prove to be too soon for him, while Anderson, Rafael and Nani (all hamstring) are scheduled to return but may have to settle for places on the bench if they are fit.

Phil Jones and Ashley Young are still recovering from knocks, but could yet make the match-day squad.

Goran Popov (hamstring) has no return date and could miss the match for the visitors against the Premier League leaders.

Steven Reid (calf/shin) and Claudio Yacob (hamstring) could make a return against United, but Steve Clarke may opt not to rush them back into the first team at Old Trafford.

  • Manchester United have won 10 of their last 12 games against West Brom in the Premier League, with the other two results draws at Old Trafford.
  • United have conceded as many goals at home this season – 13 – as Southampton, who are 17th in the league.
  • After netting his fourth of the campaign against Newcastle, no other defender has more goals in the league than Patrice Evra .
  • Robin van Persie has 61 goals in 74 Premier League games since January 2011.
  • Chicharito has scored in two of his last three games against West Brom.
  • West Brom have kept clean sheets in just two of their last 47 Premier League games.
  • Four of Romelu Lukaku’s goals this season have come in the final 20 minutes of matches.
  • The Baggies could go third with a win over United on Saturday, and would be 10 points behind them in the race for the title.
  • West Brom last won at Old Trafford in 1978, taking the points in a 5-3 victory.

Sunderland vs Tottenham Preview

Defoe celebrating with teamates

 

Danny Rose is ineligible to play for Sunderland against his parent club, so will return to first-team action in the New Year.

Wes Brown (knee) and Lee Cattermole (knee) remain major injury concerns, with both expected to miss a number of games with knee injuries.

John O’Shea missed the Black Cats’ victory over Manchester City with illness, but should be available against Spurs.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s return to full fitness continues, but he may not start this game as his recovery begins to gather momentum.

Mousa Dembele was replaced during Spurs’ win over Aston Villa with a knock and is doubtful for this game.

Clint Dempsey missed Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Stoke and the clash against Villa with a groin problem, and continues to be a doubt.

  • Sunderland have still not won a penalty in the Premier League this season.
  • The Black Cats’ victory over Manchester City on Boxing Day was their second consecutive win over the champions at the Stadium of Light by one goal.
  • Steven Fletcher has opened the scoring in six matches in the Premier League this season, more than any other player.
  • Last season, Tottenham went undefeated in the two fixtures between these sides – drawing 0-0 away and winning 1-0 at home thanks to a strike from Roman Pavyluchenko.
  • Spurs midfielder Sandro  has made 74 interceptions in the Premier League this season, more than any other player.
  • Following his hat-trick against Aston Villa, Gareth Bale has already equalled his best ever goals total in the league of nine, which he set last season.
  • Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe has scored or assisted 12 goals in his 18 Premier League starts this season.