Tracey Brooks

  1. Napoli's dynamic, exciting midfielder, Piotr Zielinski

    10th February 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    In Napoli's colossal 7-1 destruction of Bologna, their dynamic, all-action midfielder, Piotr Zielinski, once again showed why he's such a weapon for Maurizio Sarri's men.

    This game served as another glowing reference that his presence really gives the Partonepei another dimension going forward. Although Allan, who's his main rival for a spot in Napoli's midfield alongside the sensational Marek Hamsik and the intelligent Amadou Diawara, is a fine player in his own right, he's more of an industrious, less offensively gifted operator.

    From the outset against Bologna, Zielinski's energy, thoughtful movement and strong technical qualities ensured the Rossoblu had a tough evening containing Napoli's right sided central midfielder.

    Firstly, his exquisite range of passing deserves special mention, for, aside from seeing him link up tidily with his colleagues, this aspect of his game saw him supply two absolutely outstanding

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  2. How Antonio Conte has brought the best out of David Luiz

    8th February 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    When Chelsea forked out £30 million to re-sign David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain on transfer deadline day in August last year, many observers wrote the move off as the ultimate panic buy.

    But with Chelsea top of the league and the Brazilian defender thriving at the heart of manager Antonio Conte's back three, few still hold that view. The wild-haired defender, once a figure of ridicule, is now being hailed as one of the very best centre-backs in the Premier League.

    And Luiz's transformation from a defensive liability into a crucial cog for the runaway title race leaders is all thanks to Conte's tactical mastery.

    At the beginning of the campaign the Chelsea boss was intent on setting up his side in a 4-2-4 shape similar to that which he employed at Siena and during his early days in charge of Juventus.

    But deteriorating results soon proved that that particular

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  3. Three Contenders to be the Next Barcelona Coach

    11th January 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    After seeing their side slip to third in the table following a 1-1 draw with Villarreal at the weekend, many Barcelona fans are beginning to wonder if manager Luis Enrique is the right man to carry the team forward.

    It may seem harsh to question a coach who won the treble in his first season in charge of the Catalan giants, before following that success up with a league and cup double last season. But, after a summer of heavy investment in the playing squad, Luis Enrique has too often been found wanting tactically - relying on the brilliance of Lionel Messi to drag his side out of the mire - while his team selections have often been confounding.

    So with the possible exit of the former Roma and Celta Vigo boss at the end of the current campaign, rumours are already beginning to circulate over who will be brought in as his successor; here are the three leading candidates.

    Jorge Sampaoli


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  4. A Turn Around in Fortune for Yaya Toure at Manchester City

    6th January 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    Considering Yaya Toure was exiled from Pep Guardiola's plans at the beginning of the season, in large part due to his agent's outspoken, often bizarre comments, it's quite the turnaround to see him cutting a key figure in the tactical genius' plans now.

    The calamitous situation all began when Toure's agent, Dimitri Seluk, claimed that Guardiola had a vendetta against his client for not regularly selecting him, before then adding that the Spaniard was "humiliating a great player".

    All it took was an apology from Seluk and Toure, who had also been excluded from Manchester City's Champions League squad for the group stage, in November, however, and this gave him the gateway he needed to return to the fold. "I wish to apologise -- on behalf of myself and those who represent me -- to the management team and all those working at the club for the misunderstandings from the past," Toure's statement read.

    "Those statements do

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  5. The Importance of Juan Mata

    4th January 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    As he whipped the ball into the corner of the West Ham United goal following a superb cutback from Marcus Rashford, for the second time in as many days, Juan Mata had come off the bench to set Manchester United on their way to another three Premier League points on Monday evening.


    Against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford two days earlier, the Red Devils were growing frustrated at being on the wrong end of some questionable refereeing decisions by Lee Mason, while the visitors took a shock second half lead.


    Anthony Martial drew United level with five minutes to play, before Mata picked out Paul Pogba inside the penalty area for the Frenchman to head in a late winner. The Spaniard's introduction after 64 minutes added a degree of incision that had been missing from their performance up until that point, and the same was true at the London

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  6. Emre Can Back In Form For Liverpool

    4th November 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Having just scored his first goal for Liverpool in eight months, it was little wonder Emre Can was in such a positive mood when speaking after his team's 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace.

    "I'm very happy that I scored a goal because in the last few games I had chances and didn't score. I'm very happy that I scored after such a long time," he mused.

    "We knew before the game it would be a very tough game. It's always difficult to play at Crystal Palace, but we did very well in the first half. The second half was not too good. But you have to win these kinds of games we did it and we're very happy."

    For Can, who suffered an untimely ankle injury in August, his well taken goal was fine reward for all his persistence and patience. Whilst he was out of action, the 22-year-old would've wondered whether he'd ever break back into Jurgen Klopp's side, such was their excellent form that included wins over Leicester

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  7. Rafinha - Stepping Out of His Brother's Shadow to Become a Star at FC Barcelona

    2nd November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Rafinha Alcântara has been outstanding for Barcelona this season. The Brazilian midfielder has recovered from a serious knee injury which kept him out for most of the last campaign to become a key player for the Blaugrana.

    The 23-year-old Brazilian comes from impressive athletic stock. His father, Mazihno, was a World Cup winning midfielder with Brazil in 1994; his mother was a volleyball player of some note; and his older brother, Thiago, came through the Barça academy and now stars for Bayern Munich and the Spanish national team. He is also the cousin of Valencia's Brazil-born Spanish international forward Rodrigo.

    Often compared unfavourably to his older sibling, this season Rafinha is stepping out of his brother's shadow.

    Thiago was regarded as an exciting prospect when coming through the club's famous La Masia youth system, and

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  8. Can Rodrigo Moreno Deliver at Valencia?

    31st October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    While there's no doubting the incredible talent Rodrigo Moreno possesses, it's been frustrating to see him continue to struggle for consistency since joining Valencia in 2014 for a reported €30 million.

    The underlying turbulence at the club, which has seen managerial changes aplenty and a plethora of dubious transfer dealings, obviously hasn't helped him, but you get the feeling it's time the 25-year-old stood up and really began to stamp his mark. In addition, the fact his rights are owned by a consortium that's spearheaded by Valencia's owner, Peter Lim, and that his agent is the infamous Jorge Mendes has brought it with an unwanted stigma too.

    For the man who was born in Brazil and moved to Spain as a teenager, it's been a fascinating journey for him so far. Upon arriving in his new homeland, he joined Celta Vigo's youth ranks, where his talent immediately began to turn heads. After four years with the Galicians, an offer f

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  9. Talented Midfielder Marcos Llorente Shines in La Liga

    19th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Despite impressing his manager, Zinedine Zidane, on Real Madrid's preseason tour of North America, Los Blancos believed sending their talented midfielder, Marcos Llorente, out on loan would be the best option for his development.

    Although Llorente's preference was to remain in Madrid, which made sense, for he would have served as an ideal backup to Casemiro, the club still believed getting a full season of first-team action elsewhere was the right decision to make.

    Coming to the realisation minutes would have been scarce had he stayed, the search began to find him a club that would guarantee him vital playing time for the 2016/2017 campaign. A perfect fit subsequently arrived in the form of newly promoted Deportivo Alaves, and Llorente hasn't looked back, as he's been outstanding since joining El Glorioso.

    The fact former Valencia player, Mauricio Pellegrino, is Alaves' manager, a man Zidane knows well having played

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  10. Idrissa Gueye and Everton: A Match Made in Heaven?

    12th September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Everton's astute signing of Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa for just £7.1 million, having activated his release clause, has undoubtedly been one of the signings of the season so far.

    Although Aston Villa suffered the indignity of relegation, Gueye emerged as one of the Claret and Blue Army's shining lights in their season of darkness, with his reputation well and truly in tact. Joining Everton certainly served as a brilliant reward for all his tireless, battling work for Villa.

    By the numbers, the former Lille man was exceptional last term. He successfully completed 4.1 tackles per game and a vital four interceptions pg, which remarkably placed him second in the league behind only N'Golo Kante in both metrics (as per Whoscored). Moreover, the fact he won over 53% of his aerial duels, completed 1869 passes at an impressive 85.6% completion rate and ran over 10kms a game suitably amplified his tremendous contribution.


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