Category Archives: Premier League

EDITOR’S INSIGHT – 19th June 2014.

Image   Story by Robin Popley One week in to Brazil 2014 and it has already proven to be as good as the hype that preceded it. By my mathematics, there is an average of 3 goals per game which means we are well on track for almost 200 goals by the end of the tournament and by the way some teams are attacking, that prediction may well be met. Holland have been scoring as freely as Niagara Falls flows and Spain’s defence has been as absent as a Dingle’s school attendance: which is probably why they have been eliminated after only one week of their title defence. Continue reading EDITOR’S INSIGHT – 19th June 2014.

Player Profiles: Jaap Stam

If you look at the 1990s there are not many footballers more intimidating than Dutchman Jaap Stam. Standing at 6 foot 3 and with a piercing stare you really didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. Stam strikes me as the sort of man, who would genuinely intimidate an opponent and when you couple that level of intimidation with talent you’ve got a very very good player.

Fact File

Name: Jakob Stam

Date of Birth: 17th July 1972

Nationality: Dutch

International Caps/Goals: 67/3

It is hard to imagine Jaap Stam as a young man, but everybody was young once and Stam began his life in the city of Kampen, born in 1972. He began playing for his local side as a teenager and in 1992 made the step up to the professional game with FC Zwolle in the Dutch 2nd division. His talent was immediately evident and after just a season with Zwolle the Dutchman moved up to the Dutch Premiership when he joined Cambuur Leeuwarden. In many ways Stam’s progression through Dutch football smacks of a classic journeyman player. Following 2 seasons with Leeuwarden he moved to Willem II another mid-table club in Holland. Then aged 26, after less than a season at Willem II, he got his break. Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven came knocking.

Stam moved to Eindhoven and became an integral part of a side who enjoyed a large amount of success including the league title, Dutch FA Cup and the Community Shield in each of Stam’s 3 seasons at the club. This success attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. The Old Trafford club made Stam the most expensive Dutchman and defender in the history of the game spending £10.6 million to bring him to Manchester. It didn’t take long for Stam to make an impact, as he became a daunting opponent for every Premier League team to face. With Stam in the centre of defence Manchester United won 3 consecutive league titles along with the historic treble in the 1998-99 season. His impact at Old Trafford cannot be understated but after the 2000-01 season the release of Stam’s autobiography Head to Head caused a rift with Sir Alex Ferguson who was angered by some of his comments, and sold Stam to Lazio; something that Ferguson has since admitted he regrets as he had wrongly assumed that Stam was a little past it.

Far from being past it at 29, Stam played for another 5 years at a high level. Lazio won the Coppa Italia in Stam’s final season at the club and he was then part of the AC Milan side who beat his former club in the 2004 Supercoppa Italia. Stam was again a Champions League finalist in 2005, this time as an AC Milan player, although this time he was on the losing side as Liverpool took the title. The big Dutchman finished his career back in Holland with Ajax, winning the Dutch FA cup in his final season.

One of the more successful centre backs in world football, a steely defender who could time a tackle with the best of them, Jaap Stam is undoubtedly worthy of a place in the Player Profile squad.

Premier League: Weekly Round Up 28/10

Story by Ryan Howden

Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United

Manchester United moved within one point of the top spot after beating 9-man Chelsea. A David Luiz own goal and a good finish from Robin Van Persie gave United an early two-goal lead but Chelsea fought back through Juan Mata’s superb free-kick and Ramires’ towering header each side of the break.

Ten the game went mad with Chelsea having two men sent off in the space of five minutes, Ivanovic for tripping Ashley Young, before in a controversial decision Fernando Torres received a second yellow for allegedly diving. Hernandez finished the game with a shot from the six-yard box in what later was confirmed to be an offside position.

As the players left the pitch referee Mark Clattenburg was greeted with a ring of jeers from the home fans.

Everton 2-2 Liverpool

The Merseyside derby is always an exciting occasion and this one did not fail to disappoint as Luis Suarez dominated the game. The Uruguayan saw his shot deflect off Leighton Baines for Liverpools opener before putting his own name on the scoresheet with a header on 20 minutes.

Everton though fought back brilliantly through Leon Osman and Steven Naismith to draw level. Suarez though looked to have won the game for Liverpool late on but he was (later shown to be incorrectly) flagged offside.

Reading 3-3 Fulham

Hal Robson-Kanu’s late equaliser gave Reading a much needed point as they hosted Fulham. Reading opened the scoring with Mikele Leighterwoods thunderous shot, but in the second-half Fulham came back strongly with goals from Bryan Luiz and Chris Baird pulling them ahead.

Garath McCleary drew Reading level on 85 minutes but Dimitar Berbatov’s low shot late on looked to have clinched the points for Fulham, before Robson-Kanu’s point-blank effort instantly drew the hosts level.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert

Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich

Paul Lambert was denied victory against his former club as Norwich visited Villa Park. Christian Benteke gave Aston Villa a first-half lead after his cool finish went past John Ruddy, but at the start of the second-half the home-side found themselves down to 10-men after Joe Bennett picked up a second yellow card.

Norwich dominated the second-half and the breakthrough came on 79 minutes when Michael Turner headed in.

Wigan 2-1 West Ham

Wigan gained their first home victory of the season against a poor West Ham team. Ivan Ramis opened the scoring for Wigan early on with a classy volley before James McArthur added another before the break.

Wigan stayed in control of the match, with West Ham showing little threat in front of goal before James Tomkins late consolation.

Ramis

The Rest of the Weekends Action

A late goal from Papiss Cisse gave Newcastle victory over West Brom, Demba Ba had earlier opened the scoring with a volley before on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku had equalised for Albion. Two first-half goals from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey saw Tottenham move into fourth place as they visited Southampton, Jay Rodriguez pulled one back fro the hosts.

Jack Wilshere

Mikel Arteta scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal hosted QPR. Carlos Tevez scored the winner as Manchester City faced Swansea in a tough encounter that saw both Michel Vorm and Micah Richards carried off. Elsewhere Sunderland and Stoke played out a 0-0 draw.

Premier League: Weekly Round Up 21/10

Story by Steve Berry

After a soggy week of international fixtures which mainly caught the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it was a relief to get the Premier League back under way. And despite the rumblings about wearing t-shirts and moronic Leeds fans, it was football that stole the show. With some fantastic matches, starting off with a sensational derby between Spurs and Chelsea, struggling Norwich stun Arsenal and a fierce Tyne – Wear derby.

Tottenham 2 – 4 Chelsea

 Andre Villas-Boas had to endure a miserable reunion with his old club, with the man who was meant to make his Chelsea campaign, Juan Mata, tearing Tottenham apart. Chelsea took the lead 17 minutes in when Gary Cahill scored a stunning volley past the reinstated Brad Friedel, after William Gallas failed to head the ball clear. The second half started much more brightly for Spurs with ex- Chelsea captain Gallas knocking in at the far post from Jan Vertonghen’s flick back. Jermaine Defoe then gave the home side the lead, scoring his 200th career goal from an Aaron Lennon cross.

Chelsea though, soon regained the lead with two quick goals from the sublime Juan Mata, first slotting in after Gallas again couldn’t clear his lines and then again when Eden Hazard played a beautiful ball in for the Spaniard to finish cooly. Daniel Sturridge then wrapped the game up tapping in a fine cross from that man again, Juan Mata.

Fulham 1 – 0 Aston Villa

 Aston Villa’s miserable start to the new campaign continued with a defeat to a resurgent Fulham at Craven Cottage. It was a fairly drab affair with Villa showing why they’ve only netted six goals in eight games as they looked ineffectual up front despite the return of Darren Bent to the first XI. Chris Baird scored the only goal of the game late on driving in John Arne Riise’s corner with his head.

Raheem Sterling (second left) celebrates his goal for Liverpool

 Liverpool 1 – 0 Reading

 Brendan Rodgers recorded his first win at Anfield as Liverpool boss, beating former side Reading who are still searching for a Premier League win. In truth it was a poor match, and the home fans will be expecting much better from the Rodgers revolution. But it was a welcome three points capped by 17 year old Raheem Sterling’s first for the club with a crisp finish from Luis Suarez’s through ball and an excellent performance from the England youngster.

Wayne Rooney

 Man United 4 – 2 Stoke

 Wayne Rooney marked 10 years to the day of his introduction to the Barclays Premier League by scoring for both sides in a win that keeps United in second place. Rooney headed in at the wrong end 11 minutes in when he inadvertently knocked the ball in past the hapless David De Gea. Rooney though recovered quickly from his mistake levelling 27 minutes in from a Robin Van Persie cross to score his first league goal of the season. The Dutchman then converted from Antonio Valencia’s ball in, to give the Red Devils the lead just before half time.

The second half started brightly when Danny Welbeck finished with aplomb after Rooney’s through ball caught out the sleepy Stoke defence. Michael Kightly gave the Potters hope following poor defending from Rio Ferdinand, with ex- Wolves man almost running through the 33 year old. Rooney, again though carried on his goal scoring from midweek for England, tucking in at the back past form a corner.

Unfortunately though Rio Ferdinand stole the headlines for all the wrong reasons after his decision not to wear a “Kick it out” t-shirt, which manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he will be punished for.

 Swansea 2 – 1 Wigan

 A four minute goal rush saw Swansea record their third win of the season and put to bed talks of a rift between players and the manager. After a first half in which literally nothing happened, the feeble few Wigan fans must have wondered why they bothered with the trip to Swansea. The second half was just as miserable for the Latics when Pablo Hernandez opened the scoring for Swansea with an excellent turn and shot, following an impressive run from Wayne Routledge who has been thriving this season. The Swans doubled their advantage when Miguel Michu headed in unmarked to score his sixth of the season, two minutes later. Wigan though almost immediately got back into the match after Emerson Boyce scored a fantastic mid air back heel. The Latics were unlucky not to come away with a point when Arouna Kone’s goal moments later was called offside despite replays showing he clearly wasn’t.

Edin Dzeko

 West Brom 1 – 2 Man City

 Edin Dzeko heightened his reputation as a ‘super-sub’ when he came off the bench to break Baggies hearts with two late strikes. James Milner made life difficult for the reigning champions after receiving his marching orders early in the game, taking down Shane Long who was through on goal. Long was a thorn in Man City’s side all afternoon and broke the deadlock for the home side 67 minutes in, finishing smartly form Peter Odemwinige’s splitting through ball. Romelulu Lukaku should have at least doubled West Brom’s lead but missed chance after chance, the most impressive being an inventive over head kick Joe Hart had to be on top from to react to.

The game changed however 79 minutes in with the introduction of Edin Dzeko for Gareth Barry, and the Bosnian showed why he should be starting when he headed in past a flailing Ben Foster. And in the 90th minute Man City countered quickly from a West Brom corner before getting the ball to Dzeko who finished smartly.

 West Ham 4 – 1 Southampton

 West Ham continued their good start to the season with a comfortable thrashing of Southampton. Again the second half brought fans back to life after another quiet first half, with Mark Noble opening the scoring with a fortunate free kick in the 46th minute. Kevin Nolan doubled the lead two minutes later tapping in Yossi Benayoun cross. Saints captain Adam Lallana got his side back in the game with a great swivel and finish to halve West ham’s advantage. But Noble then put the Hammers out of reach converting a penalty after Jose Fonte gave it away for a handball while pressing Andy Carroll. Maiga sealed the match off with a flourish beating most of Southampton’s defenders with a fantastic solo effort.

Norwich celebrate

 Norwich 1 – 0 Arsenal

 Norwich pulled off the surprise of the weekend in the late Saturday kick off by punishing a shaky Arsenal to record their first win of the season. Grant Holt scored the only goal of the game, 20 minutes in, capitalising on Vito Mannone’s fumble from Alexander Tettey’s long range drive to score his third goal in three games. And the Canaries could be considered unfortunate to only score the one with Michael Turner missing a sitter with a header from a corner and Grant Holt spurning two one on one opportunities in the second half. Arsenal looked miles off the team who had been so dangerous against West Ham and now find themselves 10 points off leaders Cheslea.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Newcastle

 A late Demba Ba own goal rescued Sunderland a point against 10 man Newcastle in a feisty Tyne- Wear derby. Yohann Cabaye got the visitors under way three minutes in, slotting in after Simon Mingolet pushed away Demba Ba’s shot. Cabaye’s midfield partner Cheick Tiote didn’t have as good an afternoon however. The Ivory Coast international saw red following a high foot on Steven Fletcher, after referee Martin Atkinson had already blown for a Newcastle free kick. Sunderland struggled to create many real chances but managed to salvage the draw in the 86th minute when Ba inadvertently converted John O’Shea’s header.

Everton defender Sylvain Distin

QPR 1 – 1 Everton

Queen’s Park Rangers are still on the search for their first win of the season despite a strong showing at home to Everton. Junior Hoilett opened the scoring early on, making a darting run to finish with a deflected shot. Everton grabbed the equaliser when Julio Cesar pushed in Sylvain Distin’s header. The Toffees managed to hold on until the final whistle despite going down to ten men, after Steven Pienaar received a second yellow for a very soft challenge on Jose Bosingwa.

Player Profiles: Tony Adams

In the form of Paolo Maldini we’ve already got a legendary one club man playing centre back for the Player Profile team so let’s give him a partner. Tony Adams played his entire 19 year career at Arsenal and carved out a role as one of the most dependable players in the team’s history and arguably one of the greatest leaders.

Fact File

Name: Tony Alexander Adams

Date of Birth: 10th October 1966

Nationality: English

International Caps/Goals: 66/5

 

The Romford born defender joined the Arsenal youth ranks in 1980 aged 14 and made his full debut 3 years later. After 2 years as a bit part player Adams became a regular feature in the defence as a back 4 of Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Steve Bould and Adams would provide Arsenal with a bedrock for years to come. The first of the 13 competitions that Arsenal would win during the Adams era was the League Cup in 1987 with a victory over Liverpool. In the same year Sir Bobby  Robson gave the 20 year old his full England debut.

 

In 1988, aged 21, Adams was given the captain’s armband, a role he would not relinquish until his retirement 14 years later, and continued to maintain a high standard of play. He was a key member of an Arsenal side that won the Division One title with virtually the last kick of the season as Michael Thomas had it “Up for grabs now!” against Liverpool in 1989. Arsenal were also the winners of the penultimate Division One title in the 1990-91 season losing only once all season. By this time Adams had also become one of the integral members of the England team.

 

Incredibly, despite playing at such a high level Adams was battling alcohol addiction, he has admitted playing at least 1 game whilst drunk, and became one of the most high profile recovering alcoholics around. It has to be said the culture around Arsenal at the time was very drinking heavy and it is to Arsene Wenger’s credit that he managed to change the culture when he took over in 1996. Adams was a big part of that, Wenger stuck with him as captain and believed that he could kick the addiction and that faith in such an important character is arguably what helped change everything about the club.

 

Adams rewarded Wenger’s faith by leading the club to a league and FA cup double in the 1997-98 season. Adams scored the final goal of the season to provide a perfect end to the season:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un43ZP3aiS0

The goal epitomises Wenger’s style of play, Steve Bould plays the ball forward and it is his centre back partner Adams who gets on the end of it to score. The goal has special significance to me personally as somewhere in that crowd is a little 7 year old version of me going absolutely mental, but I digress.

 

Another league and FA Cup double was secured in the 2001-02 season which made Adams the only player in English football history to captain a team to a league title in 3 different decades. With the way that football is going now I would be very very surprised if that record is ever equalled. Adams retired from playing at the end of that season and began a career as a manager soon after, although it has to be said he has not been particularly successful in that aspect of his career.

 

Voted the 3rd best player in Arsenal’s history Adams has been given the nickname “Mr Arsenal” and was honoured with a statue outside the Emirates stadium along with Thierry Henry and Herbert Chapman. A great player and pairing him with Maldini would undoubtedly make this side tough to beat. If we’re looking for a captain I know who I’d choose.