Monthly Archives: December 2016
- December 30, 2016
30th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
When Anthony Martial finished his hugely positive first season of English Premier League football roughly six months ago, most would've predicted there'd be no chance that he might be leaving Manchester United by January 2017.
But fast forward to now, however, and it would appear a very real possibility that the man who scored a eye catching 17 goals last campaign could be on his way out. Since Jose Mourinho took over in the summer, Martial, who joined the club in a whopping deal worth £58 million back in September 2015, just hasn't managed to gain the complete trust of the typically robust Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss has told the 21-year-old he wants him to work harder and earn his spot, urging the player to be patient with his methods. "Anthony is very, very young. People forget that and last season Manchester United played completely differently. He was basically playing up front," Mourinho explained.
- December 28, 2016
28th December 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
With the Bundesliga in the midst of its winter break, Borussia Dortmund fans will be reflecting upon what has been a rather frustrating start to the 2016-17 campaign.
Despite the loss of key players Mats Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan over the summer, BVB were once again expected to be the closest challengers to Bayern Munich after replacing the outgoing stars with a mixture of prodigious youngsters and experienced top-flight professionals.
Yet, with 16 games played, the Black and Yellows are sixth in the table, a full 12 points adrift of Bayern and trailing behind the likes of RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim. Six draws and three defeats have left Dortmund outside the Champions League qualifying positions as they struggle to find the kind of consistency which saw them collect 78 points in total last term a tally which would have seen them crowned champions in all but four seasons throughout Bundesliga history.
- December 26, 2016
26th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
The fact it's taken Phil Jones over five years to make his 150th appearance for Manchester United, a feat he achieved on the weekend vs West Bromwich Albion, speaks volumes towards what a toll injury has had on his time at Old Trafford.
The man who Sir Alex Ferguson signed and believed would develop into one of the finest footballers England's seen, which hasn't quite eventuated just yet, marked the occasion fittingly by putting in a tremendously accomplished shift, full of upside and essentially bereft of weakness.
Alongside his new partner in crime, Marcos Rojo, a duo that's been integral in United's impressive seven match unbeaten streak, Jones' most pertinent task was to limit the effectiveness of Baggies big man, Salomon Rondon.
Through a combination of matching his adversary strength-wise, in the air and by implementing some intelligent stopping methods, Jones did exactly that. Being able to compete with the big,
- December 23, 2016
23rd December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
After steering Chelsea to their eleventh Premier League win in a row by defeating Crystal Palace 1-0, a victory that equaled the club's best ever streak, Antonio Conte was justifiably delighted with his team's achievement.
"The run is fantastic, and congratulations go to my players. They deserve this. I see them in training every single moment, every day, and their commitment and the way they prepare for the games and fight. I'm not a person who loves statistics but I'd be dishonest if I said I wasn't pleased with this run of 11 wins," he gleamed.
"In this league, if we'd arrived here today without the right concentration and focus, the will to fight and go into battle with our opponents, we'd have lost this game for sure. Instead, we have great quality but the players are putting that quality into the team."
Since adopting his 3-4-3 formation following defeat to Arsenal in September, which served as the catalyst for
- December 21, 2016
21st December 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
Despite still being sixth in the Premier League table, Manchester United appear to have reconciled their high performance levels with the kind of results they feel they have deserved in recent weeks.
Throughout the Red Devils run of disappointing outcomes with draw after draw, and narrow leads thrown away almost weekly Jose Mourinho insisted that his side were playing well and that their results would soon turn around.
And he was right, the win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford earlier this month has been followed up by back-to-back away victories against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion. United's league position has not improved in this time, but they have narrowed the gap to the Champions League qualification places, dragging themselves right back into the running for a top four finish.
- December 19, 2016
19th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Although Mohamed Elneny's has never really completely managed to cement himself as a bonafide starter in Arsenal's ferociously competitive midfield since signing almost 12 months ago, he's still absolutely loving his time with the Gunners.
"I think the past 11 months have been the best of my life and hopefully I will keep getting better and achieve big things with Arsenal," he told the Arsenal magazine.
Competing against the likes of Santi Cazorla, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey for a starting berth poses an inherently difficult challenge to the Egyptian, but it's something he's whole heartedly embraced. "This is an honest competition and all players fight for places in the first team. This applies to me also, especially when you play for a big club like Arsenal," he said.
"I want to do my
- December 16, 2016
16th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
To get a sense of just how highly regarded Barcelona's midfield maestro, Andres Iniesta, is within the club, Neymar's comments provide a fascinating insight into what a special talent he undoubtedly is. "Iniesta can't be compared with anyone, he's different - he has elegance and class," gleamed the Brazilian.
"Iniesta is the best midfielder I've seen play football. To be a great player or to be legend, he doesn't need to win Ballon d'Or."
Whilst Iniesta was out through injury, it's hardly surprising that Barca missed him so badly then, for he's such a once in a generation type of player who adds so much dynamism, creativity and incision to Luis Enrique's team's play.
Since suffering a knee injury against Valencia at the Mestalla on October 22, the fact the Blaugrana won just three out of the eight matches they played without their talismanic captain illustrated his insurmountable importance. After enduring a six week
- December 14, 2016
When Paris Saint Germain and Nice faced off at the Parc des Princes in what was considered an early Ligue 1 title showdown on Sunday, free-scoring Monaco had already rubber-stamped their status as genuine contenders for a first top division championship since 2000 with another emphatic win.
The Principality club travelled to Bordeaux on Saturday and cruised to a 4-0 victory in what is quickly becoming their typical, devastating fashion. Leonardo Jardim's men are the highest scoring side throughout Europe's major leagues with an incredible 53 goals from 17 games -- plundering 3.1 goals per game on average.
After PSG and league leaders Nice played out a 2-2 draw, Monaco's victory meant that they closed within one point of the Cote d'Azur club, positioning themselves perfectly for a sustained push towards the title as the season approaches its halfway stage.
The Rouges et Blancs transformation has been remarkable. Last term, they were one of the more solid sides
- December 12, 2016
12th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
There must have been times during Gianluca Lapadula's journeyman career when he questioned whether he'd ever make it as a top flight professional.
Born in Turin to an Italian father and a Peruvian mother, Lapadula's talent quickly saw him join Juventus' academy in 1996. After developing his chosen craft for eight years with the Old Lady, the club shrewdly decided to release him at 14, citing issues with his academic studies.
Thereafter, his career took an extremely atypical path, with him joining a plethora of clubs on various permanent and loan deals. Following largely unfruitful stints with Treviso, Pro Vercelli and Ivrea, he was snapped up by Parma in 2009, who subsequently sent him out on a staggering seven loans. This was, of course, during that infamous period where Parma signed absurd amounts of players and subsequently sent them out on loan that served as the beginning of their downfall.
Having spent a year
- December 09, 2016
9th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
It really is difficult to find a more consistent player in the Premier League than Cesar Azpilicueta. Over the past couple of seasons especially, whether at left-back, right-back or more recently centre-back, Chelsea's durable utility has hardly put in a subpar shift.
And this season has certainly been no different. Although he's a player whose dedicated, crucial work often goes unnoticed, there's no doubting what an integral component of Antonio Conte's high flying Chelsea he is. Even when the Blues battled with some turbulent results in the early stages of the season, Azpilicueta stood strong and kept up his relentlessly high level.
But ever since Conte switched to his 3-4-3 formation, following the 3-0 thrashing by Arsenal, Chelsea's form has been imperious, and the 27-year-old's been key in this. Deployed on the right side of Chelsea's three man backline, the versatile defender has been nothing short of exceptional here