Premier League Game Week 3 – Winners/Losers

The 3rd week of English Premier League has come to an end and some teams are now shaping up into their more settled style of play come the end of the Transfer Window. We have picked out 4 teams that both as a real winner and real losers in week 3 of the English Premier League.

Winners:

Manchester City:

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Coming on the back of an impressive win over defending Champions Chelsea, Manchester City had a visit to Goodison Park, which is a difficult venue to visit for any side in the league. However, City seemed at absolute ease throughout the match, where they dominated the first half as well as the 2nd, and finished the game with a comfortable score line of 2-0, which is surely what they deserved at least. City throughout the game looked more threatening and more versatile, whereas Everton looked far more one-dimensional. According to exclusive Sports Matrix stats, City had 17 shots compared to Everton’s 10, and had 8 dangerous shots compared to Everton’s 5. Moreover, City had 9 shots from good chances, which is nearly double to what Everton Produced. City also had better possession to Everton (54 to 46), which once again showed their total supremacy over their rivals. City’s impressive start to their season campaign sends a strong message to their opposition’s as they seem to be the team which means business.

Bournemouth

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Bournemouth is included in a surprise winner’s category, after their more than impressive show against West Ham, where they totally dominated the game from the word go.  This was Bournemouth’s first ever victory in the top flight and that too against a consistent Premier League side. Not only in the goals department, but Bournemouth was quick to offer a lot of pace and enthusiasm.

Sports Matrix suggests that Bournemouth had far more shots from good chances than West Ham (10 compared to 6), which shows why they were leading at the half side and stayed pretty much in control throughout the match except  than those 20 minutes where West Ham United made a remarkable comeback.

That was not it, as Bournemouth made more clearances (37 to 16), won more tackles (54% to 42%) and won more Aerial Duels (56% to 44%), which shows their supremacy over Slaven Bilic side. To say that Bournemouth was the pick of the side over the weekend would surely not be an understatement.

Newcastle United

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If Bournemouth was the most deserving winners of the week 3 in Barclays Premier League, than Newcastle would have to be counted as the luckiest team to find a place in this elite list. Newcastle had one of the toughest fixture as they visit Old Trafford to face an inform United.

United did all they could, but with a bit of luck and lots of effort, Steve McClaren’s side managed to earn a precious point on the road, which seems more like a victory than a draw, considering the fact that according to Sports Matrix exclusive stats, they only managed to had 2 shots on target compared to United’s 18. Newcastle had to grind it out, stayed rough and tough which eventually gave them a point which many believes was a reward a bit too much for their performance.

Leicester City

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Our last winner of the Week 3 in Barclays Premier League is Leicester City, who continued their progress under experience Claudio Ranieri. Leicester City also had a tough fixture against visiting Spurs, who were far superior in their quality compared to the home side. Leicester City remained competitive throughout the match, and looked a far more relaxed unit than they looked for most of the last season.

Ranieri is known to bring that calmness in the dressing room, and Leicester has continue to impress everyone in their 3 games so far this season. To come back against a team who belong to a top half of the Premier League for many seasons in the past says a lot about the team’s character. Leicester City’s performance in the first 3 games of the season is a good enough sign for the “foxes” fans and they can hope that this season their ride will be far smoother to retain their place in the top league in the Country.

Losers:

Manchester United:

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Our top spot in the loser’s category goes to Manchester United. The red devils had a relatively easy fixture against the magpies, where they faced a team who had a terrible outing against the Swan’s the weekend before. United controlled the whole match, from the start till the end, but lacked the finishing touch even after having 18 shots on target.

United can call themselves a little unlucky as controversy still surround a Rooney’s disallowed goal, but they only had themselves to blame after not being able to convert ample amounts of chances. For Van Gaal to deliver trophies this season, United will need to find someone who can score them goals, after just being able to score 2 goals in 3 outings this season.

Tottenham Hotspur:

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Spurs found themselves sitting at the 2nd spot in our elite list of Loser’s in week 3 in Barclays Premier League. Pochettino’s men will not find many easier games on the road than the one they had against Leicester, where they again seemed to lack the potency to find a breakthrough till the 81st minute, only to concede an equalizer a minute later.

Harry Kane doesn’t seem to be in the same form as he was last season, whereas there are rumors regarding Eriksen and Lamela’s future, which is increasing Pochettino’s problems as he is now on the hunt to sign at least 2 strikers to ease of the burden on Kane. As of now, Spurs lack that quality to be considered as a real favorite to finish in the top 4 this season, which might prove costly for the manager as the Owner Mike Ashley might lose his cool finally.

West Ham United:

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Third in the list comes West Ham United, who faced the biggest upset on the weekend, where they lost to new comers Bournemouth. Slaven Bilic side looked unprepared and undisciplined, and were slow to get off the hook, and that’s why they went 2-0 down inside the first 30 minutes.

Though Bilic side made a strong comeback in the 2nd half, but it was short-lived as they first went behind again in the 66th minute and were later down to 10 men in the 79th minute, which sum up their performance. Bournemouth in all departments showed better game play and were the deserved winner. For a team who consistently feature in the Premier League year after year, Bilic side needs to toughen up or else they might have a fight in their hand to avoid relegation this season.

Aston Villa:

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Last in the list of loser’s for week 3 in the Premier League is Tim Sherwood’s Aston Vila. Aston Villa have already lost their 2 key players who were pivotal to their survival last campaign in Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph. Villa had a tricky visit over the weekend to Selhurst Park, and Alan Pardew’s men made sure that they will have a hard time throughout the match.

Tim Sherwood’s team was completely dominated, and never really looked like a team who is capable of getting anything out of the game. With the squad depth and quality seems to be compromised after the sale of 2 quality players, this campaign will going to be the real test of Sherwood’s managerial capability, as he will look to keep Villa in the Premier League for another year at least.

The article originally appeared on Playingfor90.com.

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10 star players who could leave the EPL this summer

As the summer transfer window begins to hot up, the future of several high profile players plying their trade in the Bundesliga is up in the air.

We take a look at ten players who could be making possible moves away from the EPL, including Mario Balotelli, Lukas Podolski and Roberto Soldado.

Raheem Sterling

Jul 30, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Liverpool FC forward Raheem Sterling (31) controls the ball against Manchester City FC during the second half of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The highly rated Liverpool and English winger refused to sign contract extension with Liverpool last season, and had expressed his desire to leave the club to play in the Champions League. With Manchester City’s striker Sergio Aguero insist that he is happy at Etihad, Madrid will move their focus to Sterling as to whom they openly showed their admiration at different times and will try to snap him to increase their attacking options.

Fabio Borini

Another Liverpool player, Fabio Borini seems to be on his way out of the Anfield, after his agent admits that Borini feels like a “Caged Tiger”. Borini, who was the star man for Sunderland as they avoided relegation in 2013/14 season,  had a disappointing season with the reds, where he just managed to start 12 games for the reds throughout the whole season, in which he scored 1 goal and provided 1 assists.

David Ospina

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Arsenal is finally looking to bring in a World Class Goal Keeper in Peter Cech from rivals Chelsea. Cech’s future has been in question since the return of Thibaut Courtois from Athletico Madrid loan spell. Cech only managed to start 7 times for Chelsea last season, which he openly accepted was frustrating for him throughout the campaign. His arrival will pave way for David Ospina, as he looked all set to sign for Turkish side Fernerbahce.

Glen Johnson

Liverpool and English right back Glen Johnson is going to be a free agent in the coming days after his contract will finish at the end of this month. Johnson, who had more than 150 league appearances for the Red’s in 6 seasons at the club will be a prize asset for any team who is willing to strengthen their defense this season for a minimal cost.

Mohammad Salah

Chelsea will be willing to offload their winger Mohammad Salah, who had a great latter half of the season at Fiorentina, where he was on loan till the end of the season. Chelsea will be looking to offload him to generate funds for Falcao, who is about to arrive at Stamford Bridge. For Basel star had 13 starts for the blue’s, where he scored 2 goals for them. Rumors are that Inter Milan will go head to head with Ac Milan, as both rivals will try to land him to San Siro this season.

Lukas Podolski

German World Cup Winning striker Lukas Podolski might see his way out of the Emirates stadium as the Gunners look for a clear out to make room for another striker this summer. Podolski had a hard time and failed to become a permanent in the starting XI and was sent on loan to Inter last season, where he scored only a single goal in 17 appearances for them. Turkish Champion’s Galatasaray is interested in the striker and would look to seal the deal in the coming future.

Roberto Soldado

Turkish Champion’s Galatasaray is linked with a Spurs flop Soldado, who couldn’t establish himself at White Hart Lane. Soldado moved from Valencia in 2013 for a hefty price tag of £26 from the Bale generated money, which was a club record fee. Soldado, who only managed to score 7 goals in 51 league appearances for the club, and only managed to score 1 in 24 appearances last season seems to be a certainty to leave the club after the emergence of Harry Kane as the real striking force in the squad.

Gael Kakuta

Chelsea’s Kakuta will be another player who will not be featuring in EPL this season. Kakuta signed for Seville after spending 6 seasons on loan at 6 different clubs that include Fulham, Bolton Wanderers, Dijon, Vitesse, Lazio & Rayo Vallecano from 2010 – 2015. Kakuta made only 6 appearances for the blue’s in his time at the Stamford Bridge, and couldn’t a single goal for the reigning Champions.

John Obi Mikel

Chelsea’s outcast John Obi Mikel is set for exit from the Stamford Bridge, after news emerges that Chelsea is lining up a bid for Belgium and Zenit Midfielder Axel Witsel. Mikel joined Chelsea in 2007 and managed to appear more than 200 times for blue, and scored a single in his career at Stamford Bridge.

Mario Balotelli

Italian International Mario Balotelli seems to be on his way out of Anfield after a horrid first season with the club, where he only managed to score a single goal for his side in 16 appearances throughout the season. Balotelli will be hoping that a move away from Anfield will help him regain his form. Rumors are that the former AC Milan man is moving back to Seria A, as few sides are interested in the services of the Italian Striker.

The article originally appeared on Playingfor90.com.

‘Same Heights Where They Were’ – Real Madrid

Real Madrid season so far is nothing but a story of a horse, who somehow find a way to come first but was not satisfied with it, and then find a way to come lower in the ranks and now is wondering where have I gone wrong?. Los Blancos for all the last season looked like a team who could have won Treble at one point.

They were leading the league table and were already in the semi-final of Champions league 4th season running, and already clinched the Copa del Rey title as well.

It looked all likely that Ancellotti’s men will be able to win an unprecedented treble, but they had to content with two trophies after a list of injuries haunt their season somewhat.

Even then, the much-awaited La Decima was an icing on the cake for Ancellotti’s men last season.

However, this season Madrid’s hierarchy somehow found a way to unsettle the squad and so far have already lost the Spanish super cup, along with first two league games as well.

Having dominated the whole of last season, the real question is what went wrong for the 10-times European Champion?

To begin with, first and foremost, Madrid set their priority completely wrong compared to last season.

Their problem last season was their defensive line, as it is hard to trust Pepe, while Varane had some fitness issue to deal with.

One good center back would have helped Madrid in strengthening their defense & a player like Hummels would be an ideal fit for the team alongside club captain Sergio Ramos, and it would have been one of the best center-back partnership in the world, but Madrid seemingly missed the bus.

The other issue was in the midfield, where Los Blancos had issues last season with Luka Modrid injuries, where they had to rely heavily on ageing Xabi Alonso.

However, Ancellotti find perfect player to add to that bunch in Germany’s Toni Kroos, but with his arrival, Madrid hierarchy let Alonso leave, which weakend the midfield once again.

With Xabi leaving immediately, it didn’t give Kroos much needed time to settle in quickly.

Another blunder that Madrid made was signing Jamas Rodriguez at the cost of Los Blancos player of the last season Angel Di Maria.

Rodriguez was undoubtedly the player who took all the lime light in the recently concluded FIFA World Cup, but was he the only man Madrid needed? The answer is clearly no.

The former AS Monaco striker is an amazing kid to have around, but is he the right man to replace the likes of settled Di Maria? The answer is once again no.

He needed time to develop into a player on which Madrid can depend on so that he can develop into a product who can perform under an immense pressure of playing at the Bernabue.

Di Maria, on the other hand, was the spark that took Real Madrid back to the days of glory with a double in the last season. He was the player of the season for the Los Blanco’s beyond any doubt.

Letting him go, as in the case of letting Xabi go after signing Kroos, again took away the chance for Rodriguez to settle into this squad, & might prove a problem in the time to come for Ancellotti.

Real Madrid lost the initiative they had over their rivals last season with flaws in their system of transfer policy which cannot be over looked and they would do really well in overcoming their flaws and reach any way near the same heights where they were last season.

 

How India Vs Australia One Day Series is Damaging for Cricket

For every cricket lover who is passionate about the sport, will want it to be competitive.

As a constant follower of the game, the game itself has been as much of a inspiration for me as any thing else.

When i saw players giving their every thing for a run or a catch or show their commitment, it increases my hunger to achieve my goals.

When I started watching the sport more than two decades ago, there was that sense of calmness which one used to get.

With that, there was also that competitiveness as well, which made it so hard to predict what can happen.

The reason for such excitement was the fact that there was real balance between bat and ball, but sadly this India-Australia 2013 ODI series is seemingly playing the role for unbalancing the game in every aspect.

I assume that most cricket watching audience love to see see fours and sixes being hit, but I doubt that the same viewers will love the idea to see the batsman dominating the game from every aspect, and bowlers are being torn apart.

In four matches so far which have been played in the series, three times scores over 300 have been chased and 2 times scores of 350 plus have been chased in a 50-over match and that too with ease.

Someone who have been watching sports for such along time, it is absolutely mind boggling to say that there was no one incident over all-that time period revealed the importance of bringing back the balance of bat and ball in the game.

 

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It’s sad and hard to see bowlers from both teams playing the role of bowling machine, so that once 50 overs are done, they can sit and watch the same thing happening with the opposition’s bowling attack.

Looking at such flat tracks, it seems like its the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who are whole and sole responsible for it.

Such tracks make cricket similar to a football match with no goalkeepers at either end, and that’s now secret how much fun that would have been.

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Any one who follows cricket day in day out cannot deny the brilliance of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan or Australian captain George Bailey, but there brilliance will be overshadowed by the fact that this run fest strategy implemented by the BCCI, is not helping the game or the teams itself.Image

Liverpool’s Downfall and chances of its revival

When the Spaniard Rafa Banetez left as a Liverpool Manager, nearly every Liverpool supporter believed that he (Banetez) should have left earlier and he left Liverpool in a mess that probably not many expected it to be, specially after he successfully led Liverpool to the Champions League glory.

He had a relatively successful regime at Athletico Madrid, where he helped the club to become what they are today, or at least he provided them the belief that they (Athletico Madrid) can become one of the power houses in Spain, apart from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

He also produced or helped some player to become what they are today. Likes of Fernando Torres is one of the prime example of it.

However, some players like Michel Owen, Herry Kewel, Xabi Alonso, John Arne Risse, Jerzy Dudek, Luis Garcia, Morientes were the big guns to leave Liverpool in the regime of Rafa Banetez, which was one of the biggest setback the club suffered at the time of Benitez in charge.

To make things worse, Liverpool couldn’t replace the majority of the players with proportionate quality players, and that made the team a lot weaker than what it was.

The only 2 good replacements were of the players like Michel Owen, and Jerzy Dudek, who was replaced by 2 Spaniards in Torres and Reina.

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In all fairness, Benitez became the hero at Liverpool within a first year as the Manager at Anfield, as he helped the Reds to become a European Champion after a wait of more than 2 decades & for the 5th time in the club’s history.

His tactics were proving a success, and there was a positive feeling around Anfield as people started to believe that Liverpool could become a force in the Premier League as well, but that was not the case.

As the time goes on, it became evident that Benitez was not the “Man Manager” that Liverpool as a club needed at that time, and his arrogance along with stubborn nature made some players leave the club before time.

Not only that, he was not a good learner as well as he failed to change his tactics even though they were not producing results on the field. It was evident that either he is not good enough to manage a club of a stature of Liverpool, or he was not good in communication with his players.

It was easy to observe that Rafa, as a manager, was too arrogant to accept his mistake and kept doing the same mistake over and over again. Liverpool’s dismal run in the later stages of Benitez in charge was not only down to Rafa, it was the hierarchy as well, who was to be blamed for keep giving funds to Rafa, even though he kept on spending on below par players.

Liverpool’s hierarchy knew that the club’s financial condition was not good, but that didn’t stop them from supporting Benitez instinct & knowledge in signing players.

Ultimately, when there was too much mess, Rafa had to pay the price, and Liverpool appointed Roy Hodgson.

Many were surprised to see Roy as a manager, not because of his managerial quality, which was something not any one would doubt about, but because of his experience at the big club level.

Even though he made Steven Gerrard, Torres & Reina sign a new contract at Liverpool,  and also signed Joe Cole from Chelsea, yet those were some of the few achievements he made during his tenure at Liverpool.

He was not practically ready for a position in one of the biggest club in the Premier League, and that was shown when he publicly accepted that his squad is not as good as Chelsea or Manchester United (I mean who would do that?).

Even though it was clear on the paper that his squad might not be equal in strength with the big guns in EPL, but it was the lack of self-belief that made him accept that in the media.

He managed to get some good results in the first half of the season, including a draw against Arsenal and a shocking win against Chelsea, but it was not enough to keep Liverpool even in the top half of the league, due to defeat against the teams who were fighting for their survival.

They lost to Blackpool, Wolves and Wigan,  and two out of those three teams were in the relegation zone at that time.

It was not only about results only, but it was the negative body language and the lack of self-belief in the team that was there to see on the playing pitch every time under Hodgson.

Hence the end result saw Hodgsen sacked as Liverpool manager as well, just after the first half of the season.

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Now comes in Kenny Daglish, so called “King Kenny”, back to his home ground and looked all set to lead Liverpool back to their glory.

He is the crowd favorite, and the fans as well as the team looks united behind him, mainly because of his past record at Liverpool as the manager.

He was the manager 2 decades ago in 1990 when Liverpool FC last won the Premier League Title.

His first 3 matches as a Liverpool manager was not really great, but the self-belief was there to see.

Liverpool came from 2-1 down against Everten in the Merseyside Darby and that was one prime example of what King Kenny is capable of.

To conclude it all, the appointment of Kenny Daglish seems to be a step in the right direction.

His managerial qualities along with his past record with the club makes him a huge favorite to succeed at Liverpool.

Though he was away from the game for a long time, but the fans, the hierarchy and the team is looking up to him to be  the “Savior” for Liverpool FC and turn their fortunes around.

He is not a Magician nor he has any Magic stick that he will turn the mess created first by Banetez & then by Hodgson in a few days or a few weeks.

It will come by time, but he have some major changes to do in his Liverpool lineup in order to become a power house in Premier League once again.