Monthly Archives: November 2016

  1. Virgil van Dijk One of the Finest Centre-Backs in the Premier League

    30th November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Since joining Southampton from Celtic in the summer of 2015, Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk's reputation has steadily grown to the point where he is now widely regarded as one of the finest centre-backs in the Premier League.

    The 25-year-old Netherlands international is a reported transfer target for Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton, with a predicted price tag of as much as £40 million.

    Former England striker and Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier is well aware of van Dijk's value at St. Mary's. "Virgil van Dijk is one of the best central defenders in the Premier League," he told Sky Sports. "He's an absolute giant for us. He just makes the game look so easy."

    While Le Tissier's punditry colleague Jamie Redknapp is also a fan. "He's got it all,"

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  2. Rags to Riches Kelechi Iheanacho a Solid Performer at Manchester City

    28th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Kelechi Iheanacho's meteoric rise from playing on the streets to joining one of the biggest clubs in the world is undoubtedly an inspiration to many back in his homeland of Nigeria.

    Born in 1996 in Ogogwe, he developed his love for the beautiful game playing in the streets and watching his stars play in local sports centres on TV. Without a television in his house and with money not in abundance, Iheanacho admitted candidly to the Guardian that he found it tough to watch many Premier League games, which led him to instead spend his time honing those impressive skills that he so expertly showcases today.

    "We didn't have a television at home," he said. "Even the people who did have televisions wouldn't have the right channels to show the games. So if you wanted to watch football you had to pay to watch the games at the local sports centre. You would get hundreds of people paying

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  3. Naby Keita Helping to Drive RB Leipzig's Bundesliga Challenge

    25th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    RB Leipzig's ascension to the top of the Bundesliga has been nothing short of remarkable. Although they've unquestionably constructed an impressive young squad that's bursting with talent, even they wouldn't have dreamt that they'd reach the summit of the league just 11 matches in.

    With Bayern Munich losing to Borussia Dortmund on the weekend, Leipzig's scintillating 3-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen was enough to propel them to outright leaders and three points clear of Bayern. Indeed, quite the stuff of dreams by the Red Bull backed newcomers.

    Their success has certainly been no fluke, however, for their superbly well coached and drilled by their fantastic manager, Ralf Hasenhüttl, who's intelligently implemented 4-2-2-2 hexagonal shape in the defensive phase of the game, which is nicely complimented by some well coordinated pressing, has made them hugely challenging to overcome.

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  4. Mourinho and Man Utd are Making Progress, Despite Disappointing Results

    23rd November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Lying sixth in the table with 19 points from 12 games, nine points off league leaders Chelsea and six behind fourth-placed Arsenal, it's hardly been an ideal start to the season for Jose Mourinho's Manchester United.

    The Red Devils are currently five points and one league position worse off than they were at this stage of the previous campaign under the much maligned, and since departed, Louis van Gaal.

    With executive vice chairman Ed Woodward confirming last week that if United are to miss out on Champions League qualification again this term, they stand to lose as much as £20 million from their lucrative Adidas sponsorship deal.

    So the pressure is very much on Mourinho to turns things around.

    But, despite recent results, the Portuguese coach has got the Old Trafford outfit moving in the right direction.

    The former Chelsea boss was evidently disappointed to have

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  5. Mikel Oyarzabal Destined for Greatness with Real Sociedad

    21st November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    After having a tremendous breakout season last term, Real Sociedad's wildly gifted young attacker, Mikel Oyarzabal, has impressively risen to the challenge and continued his remarkable upward trajectory.

    Even before he joined La Real as a 14-year-old from Eibar in 2011, however, the man affectionately nicknamed "Bigfoot" courtesy of his size 12 feet, was hot property across the Basque country. Not only was he wanted by Sociedad, but also their rivals Athletic Bilbao, who even offered him a scholarship in the years prior to him joining La Real, which was turned down due to his parents believing that his progression was going along smoothly at Eibar.

    Indeed, upon reflection, both Eibar and Athletic would be wishing he was theirs after witnessing what a fantastic players he has now become.

    It didn't take long for the versatile Oyarzabal, who's capable of playing across all

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  6. Juan Jesus Deserves a Fair Chance to Prove Himself at AS Roma

    18th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    With AS Roma in need of defensive reinforcements in the summer, due to Antonio Rudiger's nasty knee injury, plus the departures of Lucas Digne, Maicon and Leandro Castan, the club turned to Juan Jesus.

    Joining from Inter Milan on an initial loan fee of €2 million, with an €8 million obligation to buy if certain parameters are met, the deal seemed reasonably logical, despite his time at Inter being rather mixed. After all, Jesus can play, not only at centre-back, but also at left-back. In addition, once the injured Rudiger returned, he'd be an adequate backup and give Roma some important squad depth.

    Upon new signing, Mario Rui, suffering a devastating ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the club would've been additionally grateful they'd signed Jesus, who could now provide vital cover at left-back too. But unfortunately, whether playing in central defense or

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  7. N'Zonzi and Nasri - Premier League Cast-Off's Influencing the La Liga Title Race

    16th November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Sevilla are taking La Liga by storm this season with a vibrant brand of fluid, attacking football. Under the tutelage of new manager Jorge Sampaoli, the Andalusians are finally transferring their Europa League pedigree which has seen them lift Europe's secondary trophy for the last three seasons in a row into domestic action.

    Despite currently sitting fifth, the top of the division is tight and they are genuine title contenders, and were even top of the pile for a short period just a couple of weeks ago.

    At the heart of Sevilla's emergence among the Spanish elite this season are two players who will be familiar to regular Premier League viewers.

    Steven N'Zonzi and Samir Nasri have been solid Premier League performers in the past, but neither marked themselves out as world beaters during their time in England. So, to those who do not follow La Liga closely, it may come as somewhat

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  8. Ilkay Gundogan Back to Fitness For Manchester City

    14th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Ilkay Gundogan headed into Manchester City's match with Middlesbrough last weekend in the midst of a scintillating purple patch of form that had seen him grab consecutive braces against West Bromwich Albion and Barcelona. But while he was happy with the week that was, he wasn't letting himself get too carried away with his achievements, saying: "If you look at just my goals record, you'd have to say this is the best spell of my career.

    "But I think I can improve my performances over the next few weeks I'm still not playing at 100% because it does take time after being out of action for so long."

    The German international knew that he and his teammates would still face a stiff test overcoming Middlesbrough, however, which he duly noted when speaking to Man City's official website.

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  9. Niklas Sule: Young, Defensive Footballer Excelling at Hoffenheim

    11th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    When Hoffenheim's talented central defender, Niklas Sule, was asked why he rejected a move to England in the summer, he offered a refreshingly honest and logical answer, explaining: "To develop myself, I need playing time and a coach who trusts me. I have that in Julian Nagelsmann. He knows me well and knows where and how he can make me better.

    "Here I have my usual environment and am within close proximity to my family in Frankfurt."

    It must be said Sule's decision to prioritise family and his personal footballing development has been the right one, for under the stewardship of young managerial hotshot, Nagelsmann, the 21-year-old has continued to show why he possesses all the qualities to one day reach the top of the game.

    Although he's prone to the odd lapse of concentration, which is fair enough to expect from a player of his age, it's hardly surprising the towering

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  10. Ronaldo Fenomeno' - Football's Greatest Could've Been'

    9th November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    It seems strange to consider a player's potential unrealised when they finished their career with two World Cup winners' medals, 15 Wold Cup goals, a UEFA Cup, a Cup Winners' Cup, two domestic titles and over 350 career goals.

    If it was ever possible for a player who represented Barcelona, Internazionale, Real Madrid and AC Milan to have never reached the heights of their early promise, then it was Ronaldo.

    The buck-toothed Brazilian superstar burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s by scoring goals and shredding defences in a manner that would have made such all-time greats as Pelé and Diego Maradona raise their eyebrows in disbelief.

    Having moved to Europe to join PSV Eindhoven as a teenager in the summer of 1994, Ronaldo appeared to possess a combination of athleticism, speed, finesse and skill that was unlike anything the football world had ever seen. He'd come to take over.

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