Whatever that means. Anyway, now Under Armour is putting out their jerseys, and they look fine, though not dramatically different than they usually do – I do think that the home jersey (the white one) looks like a nice “golfing on a hot day” polo, but I don’t suppose that’s a bad thing for people that like golf.
To those that aren’t interested in new kit releases, don’t worry, only a month til the season starts.
Editor’s note: Today we’re debuting a story from Andy Topping from the UK site Orange Sport. Welcome Andy, and let him know what you think of his picks.
By Andy Topping | Special to Only Love Soccer
It’s sad but true, with the end of the Premier League season we must now face the fact that there will be no weekend football fixtures to look forward to – certainly not at club level – for a few months.
Of course, there will be the Olympic team’s efforts and Euro 2012 to keep our hunger at bay, but for many the buying and selling action that takes place over the summer will be more than enough to keep them happy. But which of those solid centrebacks, reliable right-backs and linchpin left-backs will be at a different club come August? And which will be tempted to stay?
Coloccini has been excellent for Newcastle United this year in helping them to prove they are a force to be reckoned with and to surprise a few big teams and pundits too. At the age of 30 he has a few years left in him yet, but it seems unlikely he’ll be the subject of a big money swoop over the next few months. This will be of great comfort to the Toon faithful, who have seen Fabricio emerge as a captain who has been key to some of their most impressive wins.
There has been an incredible level of excitement around the Etihad Stadium throughout the season, even when Manchester City went through a dip in form. One thing that has been constant though is Vincent Kompany. Not only has this central defender been a captain capable of holding down the defensive line and commanding his troops to victory, but he has also entered City folklore by scoring the only goal in their recent win over local rivals United. Kompany seems to love the club and is an undeniable fans’ favourite, so it seems unlikely he’ll want to give all that up.
He’s sometimes in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons, but the truth is this England left-back is a solid part of Chelsea’s defensive strategy in a role that is notoriously difficult to fill. On the national stage, this will likely make him the only real choice and while Roman Abramovich will inevitably look at his itinerary over the next three months, he’d be a fool to think of offloading this talented player.
At the age of just 21 with his whole career ahead of him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Walker splashed across the back pages in the latest round of transfer rumours this summer. Having made a name for himself as the 2011/12 PFA Young Player of the Year, Walker has come back from a season in the shadows last year to being one of Harry Redknapp’s most reliable players. Walker will be central to the team’s plans next year too, but with so much money being around in the Premier League, there’s every chance he could be tempted away.
So what do you think? Could any of the above be easily replaced? Would you like to poach them for your own side?
By Jeremiah Paschke-WoodSimon Dawkins
Team: San Jose Earthquakes (On loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
More: On loan to the Earthquakes from Tottenham until November … has played for Spurs since 2004 … made 11 appearances for English League One side Leyton Orient in 2008-09 … Has 4 four goals in 11 appearances so far for San Jose.
1. As a Tottenham Hotspur player, is there any other club you hate more than Arsenal?
No, just Arsenal.
2. How does playing in the MLS differ from playing in England?
There is not much difference really, except the travelling can get hard at times.
3. Is there any possibility you could extend your stay in the United States?
Anything is a possibility, but I will see what happens when I return to England in November.
4. Aside from Spurs and the Earthquakes, do you have any other favorite club teams?
Barcelona, because they are the best team to ever play the game.
5. What players have you modeled your game after or took inspiration from?
I have not really modeled my game after anyone as I am trying to create my own style, but I have taken great inspiration from Ronaldinho – how he enjoys playing with a smile on his face and is always happy.
6. How do you rate the Earthquakes’ chances of making the playoffs and competing for the MLS Cup?
The chances are very high as long as we can keep getting the results and playing well, we have a great chance.
7. Which do you prefer, London in December or San Jose in May?
London in December is my birthday so it is kind of difficult … Too difficult to answer.
8. If you were allowed a specific song to be played when you were subbed into a match, what would it be?
“I’m going in” by Lil’ Wayne
9. How would you describe your style of play?
Stylish and at times flamboyant.
10. Beyonce or Katy Perry? (Note: “Neither” is an acceptable answer)
I’m going to say Beyonce.
by Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
Scorers: Aston Villa — Albrighton (82); Tottenham Hotspur — Van Der Vaart (25, 67)
Aston Villa line-up and ratings: Friedel – 6, Warnock — 6, Collins — 6, Cuellar – 5.5, Lichaj — 7, Hogg — 5.5 (Petrov — 6), Delph — 6 (Pires — NR), Downing – 6, Albrighton — 7.5, Agbonlahor – 6, Heskey — 6.5 (Delfouneso — 5)
Tottenham Hotspur line-up and ratings: Gomes — 5, Assou-Ekkoto — 6.5, Kaboul — 8, Dawson — 7.5, Hutton — 6.5, Palacios — 7, Modric — 8 (Corluka — NR), Van Der Vaart — 7.5 (Crouch — NR), Bale — 7, Lennon — 7 (Jenas — NR), Defoe — 3.5
Spurs stayed within striking distance of Champions League places by holding off Aston Villa at Villa Park, despite being down to 10 men for the final hour of the match.
Both teams started brightly. Villa nearly scored inside the first two minutes, James Collins heading on a Stewart Downing free kick before Marc Albrighton had his shot blocked. Shortly thereafter, an Albrighton cross fell to Emile Heskey, who was brought down by Spurs keeper Gomes. It looked like a clear penalty, but one wasn’t given, and Heskey ended up being taken off later after apparently being injured on the play.
Tottenham had the ball in the back of the net first, Younes Kaboul with the volley, but the goal was chalked off for the cross going out of bounds. Then Agbonlahor raced clear of the Spurs defense, but Gomes blocked his shot before saving Agbonlahor’s header off the rebound. Spurs finally took the lead in the 25th minute, when Luca Modric sent a picture perfect pass ahead of Aaron Lennon on the right wing, and Lennon’s cross was tucked home by Rafael Van Der Vaart, giving the Dutchman three goals in two matches against Villa this year. Only two minutes later, Spurs striker Jermain Defoe was shown a red card for what looked like an unintentional elbow to Collins’ face.
This didn’t slow down Spurs however, who controlled possession for the rest of the half to go into the second half with a 1-0 lead. On the bright side for Villa, Spurs had only managed one clean sheet the entire season. Could they hold out in the second half?
And the answer was, well, no. But it didn’t matter, because after Gareth Bale raced clear of Collins, rounded Cuellar and set up Lennon, who then dropped his pass off for Van Der Vaart to strike on goal, it was 2-0. Villa dominated possession in the second half, but their consolation, via an Albrighton cross that evaded everyone and dropped into the net, was symptomatic of a team that never really looked like scoring.
Despite being one man down for virtually the entire match, Spurs were rarely tested, and probably could have won by a larger scoreline. Van Der Vaart continues to prey on weaker opposition, with four goals in two matches against Villa. You have to believe that for Spurs to take the next step, they need a better keeper than Gomes, who seems to make multiple blunders per game. For Villa, the question remains whether they have enough to evade the relegation zone, something that would’ve been inconceivable eight months ago when they were fighting for a Champions League spot. Ashley Young was left out of the team, and Fabian Delph was given a surprise start in midfield. Villa are looking toothless in attack, and as charming as it is to see the youngsters playing big minutes in midfield and elsewhere, aside from Albrighton and right back Eric Lichaj, it’s debatable they’re ready to compete at this level on a week to week basis. Their survival — and Gerard Houllier’s as manager — might depend on who stays and goes in January.
Stat of the day: Villa wingers Marc Albrighton and Stewart Downing completed only five of 28 attempted crosses.
|Aston Villa||Tottenham Hotspur|
|58 %||Possession||42 %|
|10||Shots on target||4|
|14||Shots off target||4|
by Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
Scorers: Newcastle — Carroll (72); Manchester City — Barry (2), Tevez (5), Coloccini (OG — 82)
Newcastle United line-up and ratings: Krul – 5, Enrique — 6, Coloccini— 4, Taylor – 6, Simpson — 5, Barton — 6, Tiote — 6.5, Jonas – 7.5, Nolan — 6.5, Routledge – 6 (Ranger — 6.5), Carroll — 8.5
Manchester City line-up and ratings: Hart — 7.5, Kolarov — 7, Lescott — 5.5, Kompany — 7.5, Boateng — 6, Barry — 6.5, De Jong — 6, Milner — 6, Silva — 6.5 (Johnson — 6.5), Toure — 6 (Viera — NR), Tevez — 9 (Balotelli — NR)
Carlos Tevez scored twice, one a deflection off Fabricio “Can you believe I have started for Argentina?” Coloccini, and set up Gareth Barry for the other as Manchester City jumped out to a 2-0 lead at Newcastle after five minutes and then barely hung on for a 3-1 win.
Newcastle dominated for huge chunks of the match as Man City could do little with the aerial power of Andy Carroll, but in the 82nd minute when Tevez played a 1-2 with Adam Johnson, then saw his shot bounce off Coloccini’s back and wrong-foot Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul, it was game over, for all intents and purposes.
Newcastle got off to the worst start imaginable, Krul hitting a clearance straight to Tevez, who teed up Gareth Barry for the easy goal after only two minutes. Tevez made it 2-0 only three minutes later, taking a cross from James Milner and sliding it past Krul as Coloccini again looked on. From there on out, though, it was essentially all Newcastle.
Just a few minutes after Tevez’s goal, Carroll looped a header that City keeper Joe Hart barely palmed away. Newcastle’s strategy pretty much centered on booming the ball up to Carroll and having him either head the ball on goal or flick it on for Kevin Nolan. For their part, City were content to just stay back organized and let Newcastle hoof the ball forward. Vincent Kompany in particular looked solid, though it always makes a defender look better when his partner is Joleon Lescott, who was utterly unable to deal with Carroll’s strength. Newcastle outshot Man City 12-6 in the first half.
In the second half, Newcastle looked slightly less toothless, but nonetheless, Carroll’s physical dominance paid off when he beat Lescott to a Joey Barton corner and headed it past Hart. Newcastle nearly drew level when Nile Ranger headed the ball on to Nolan, who diverted it narrowly wide, and Tevez made them pay with his late goal.
For Man City, it’s the kind of win that good teams get. They looked dangerously close to conceding an equalizer for, well, the entire match, but defended well against the Newcastle onslaught. Tevez was excellent, and their defense is among the most well-organized in the league, as much as people disparage Roberto Mancini as being too negative. For Newcastle, they were the better team for most of the game, but failed to take the chances that Carroll set up. They can take heart from playing so well in defeat, but Coloccini is a disaster at this level.
|Newcastle United||Manchester City|
|57 %||Possession||43 %|
|5||Shots on target||4|
|19||Shots off target||6|
As if losing to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup, coming under fire from all sides in England for fighting with City fans in the stadium following the match on the eve of the World Cup 2018 vote, Aston Villa fans today woke up (well, in my case, at least) to discover that the club are looking to bolster their striking options by shelling out 12.5 million pounds on Spurs’ Robbie Keane and West Ham’s Frederic Piquionne, above.
Yeah, you heard that right. From Football Transfer Tavern (They’re not the only ones with this story. They are the only ones to refer to the two as ‘hotshots’, though):
reland striker Keane has become surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane. Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe and even Roman Pavlyuchenko have preference over the former Liverpool forward. Despite once costing the Reds £20million, he could leave White Hart Lane for just £8million in January. Frederic Piquionne became familiar with Houllier during his time in France. The Villa boss has been impressed with how the Frenchman has taken to English football. The striker has been decent at West Ham this year and shown the odd flash of brilliance, Hammers fans may be sad to lose him. However, the London club are still strapped for cash and may consider accepting a bid in the region of £4.5million.
Glad to know we’re looking for a player who has been “decent” and shown the “odd flash of brilliance” for the Premier League’s worst club. I’m fairly confident I speak for Villa fans worldwide when I say “What? Is he serious? Surely he can’t be serious.” Luckily, I don’t think Gerard Houllier is serious. And don’t call him Shirley. (RIP, Lesley Nielsen) Sure, a strikeforce of Gabriel Agbonlahor (0 goals in league play), John Carew (0 goals in league play), Emile Heskey (1 goal in league play) and Nathan Delfouneso (1 goal in league play) could use a bit of a boost, but Keane and Piquionne?
Let’s fire up the stat robot for a sec:
Robbie Keane, who has been linked with us before, but usually when he was a goal-scoring, under-30 player, has made 10 appearances in all competitions for Spurs, scoring once. Last season he scored 12 goals in half a season for Celtic, but that’s in the Scottish league, so it is like saying he won a tallest-man competition in Burma. He scored six times in league play for Spurs last year.
Frederic Piquionne has scored 3 times in 14 total appearances for West Ham. Last season in 45 appearances for Portsmouth, he scored 11 times, five in 34 matches in league play.
So that’s it folks. The answer to Aston Villa’s middling start and striking woes is to bring in to under-performing, over-30 players in who have combined for 4 goals in 24 matches. If this really happens, I’m going to start supporting Bolton.