Archive for category Football Features

Liverpool vs Southampton: What System Should Brendan Rodgers Employ Following Coutinho’s Injury?

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With Coutinho now sidelined for up to six weeks with a fairly random shoulder injury, Liverpool have lost their main creative spark and Brendan Rodgers now has a huge dilemma regarding who to put into the team whilst attempting to maintain the great momentum the Reds have built up since January.

The Ulsterman has a good number of options to consider with the Reds brimming with young, attacking starlets such as Moses, Sterling, Ibe, Henderson and Alberto, as well as the more experienced Iago Aspas. Let us also not forget the imminent return of the infamous Luis Suarez, too.

As well as the cover afforded by the growing squad, Rodgers has also brought in players with fantastic versatility and this means the Reds could line up in one of any number of formations from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 to 5-3-2. These two factors make Liverpool’s clash with Southampton this weekend all the more interesting. A number of questions need answering and whether or not Liverpool remain top of the league come Saturday night rests solely on Rodgers’s shoulders.

Here are some of the potential options available to BR come Saturday’s 3 o’clock kick off, with capital letters in the line ups denoting a change in personnel or starting position:

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Newcastle vs Hull – 5 Key Battles

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This Saturday sees Newcastle take on Hull in hope of carrying on their strong run of form in recent weeks. Following an opening day defeat to Manchester City, the Toon have been on the up and are unbeaten in league and cup matches since then.

Hull have had an ok start to life back in the Premier League and have four points from a difficult looking set of opening fixtures. With the expected defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City, it has not been a bad start with a home win over Norwich and a good point achieved against fellow newcomers Cardiff.

The issue for both these sides seems to be goals with Hull managing just two in the league so far and Newcastle three. This sets us up for an intriguing counter on Saturday where both sides will be hoping to pick up another valuable win.

With this in mind I will look at the key battles in this match that with victory could see the game decided:

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Republic Of Ireland’s 5 Most Memorable Moments

England 0 1 Ireland

Time is running out for the Republic of Ireland in Group C of the Europe World Cup qualifiers. After defeat to Sweden in their last game, qualification for Brazil is looking more unlikely than ever, and patience with Giovanni Trapattoni seems to be wearing thin. The “Boys in Green,” now need three wins from three to qualify for the World Cup while also relying on Sweden to drop points against Kazakhstan.

With things looking bleak for the current crop of players, perhaps it’s the best time to look back at some of the better moments in their history, ahead of their crunch game with Austria in Vienna.

5. Beating England 1-0 at Euro 1988

12th June 1988. Stuttgart, Germany

The European Championships in 1988 marked the first time that the Republic of Ireland had appeared at a major international tournament. Ireland finished top of a qualifying group that also featured Bulgaria, Belgium, Luxembourg and fellow home nation hopefuls Scotland. Only the top team from each group would automatically qualify for the European finals, and Ireland secured their place finishing only one point ahead of closest runner-ups, Bulgaria.

Ireland headed to the 8 nation tournament in West Germany, determined to make a name for themselves on their biggest stage yet. As if their first big tournament wasn’t special enough, the group stage draw left Ireland with an opening game against the old enemy, England. Expected to be second best to an England team playing at their best since 1966, the underdogs upset the odds by scoring within just six minutes. A Ray Houghton header found its way over the top of Peter Shilton and put Ireland ahead in front of over fifty thousand people in Stuttgart.

The second half was almost all England as Pat Bonner’s goal was constantly attacked by the strong opposing force of Lineker, Beardsley and Barnes. Indeed, England created enough chances to win the match comfortably, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. As the clock ticked down, Ireland continued to ride their luck, with more England chances heading their way in injury time. Bonner pushed a John Barnes header against the post and out for a corner in England’s final chance of the 90-plus minutes.

After holding on for 84 minutes since Houghton’s goal and a fantastic performance from Pat Bonner, the final whistle blew making Ireland 1-0 winners. The Irish fans stuck around inside the stadium for an hour after the match celebrating their huge win, while Bobby Robson publically blamed his players for the loss. The partying began for Euro 1988, and a further draw against the Soviet Union gave the Irish more to sing about. Unfortunately a loss in their last game against Holland allowed the Dutch to leapfrog into second in the group and eliminate Ireland from the competition. Despite crashing out in the first round Ireland had announced themselves on the international stage, and finished above England, who failed to pick up a point, losing all three games in the tournament.

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Spurs Transfers: 5 Deadline Day Signings Andre Villas-Boas Could Make

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It’s finally happened. The move we all expected has come to fruition and, in a deal that will surprise nobody, Real Madrid have at last landed Gareth Bale for a world-transfer-record fee.

Losing their top goalscorer for last season was always going to come as a blow to Spurs and their fans but, just as Manchester United had to in 2009 following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, the Londoners have to move on.

And that they have done, as manager Andre Villas-Boas pushed his summer spending past the 100 million barrier last week by landing seven new stars.

Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, tienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela have all made the move to White Hart Lane so far, as the Lilywhites prepare for life without Bale.

A life which started yesterday afternoon with a 1-0 defeat to north London rivals Arsenal, yet still one that shows plenty of signs of recovery over the next few years.

Soldado was the fifth-highest goal-scorer in La Liga last season. Christian Eriksen is considered one of the brightest young prospects in European football.

There is plenty to smile about even if things do feel a bit glum for Spurs supporters this afternoon, having watched Bale paraded in front of the Spanish press earlier.

And there could be plenty more to smile about, too. With just over 6 hours left of the transfer window, here, we look at 5 more new signings who could arrive on deadline day.

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Man Utd Transfers: 5 Signings David Moyes Needs To Make Before It’s Too Late

copyright Andrew Orchard

copyright Andrew Orchard

There are eight days left of the transfer window and so far Manchester United’s only signing has been Guillermo Varela.

The 20-year-old Uruguayan joined the champions from Pe arol earlier this summer, but so far, no new additions have followed him into Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, United’s direct title-rivals have enjoyed busy summers with Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City all strengthening their respective squads over recent weeks.

There is an argument that United don’t need to sign anybody else. They did, after all, win last season’s title by 11 points.

But given the fact the serial-title-winning Sir Alex Ferguson is no longer there to guide the Red Devils, and the transitional period that is bound to come with David Moyes’s appointment at the helm, you would have expected United to have brought in at least a couple of new players.

Bids for Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Cesc Fabregas have all failed while other targets such as Robert Lewandowski, Radamel Falcao and Thiago Acantara are no longer available.

Then there’s the question of whether or not Wayne Rooney is going to join Chelsea, which would put United in the market for a new striker.

And with time running out, here, we look at 5 Signings David Moyes Needs To Make Before It’s Too Late.

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Fantasy Premier League Tips: 15 Best Point-Per-Pound Buys

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Ever wonder whether your fantasy footballers are worth the money you “spend” on them? Wondering if Van Persie is worth 14% of your budget, or Gareth Bale worth the 12%? Wonder no longer! We’ve trawled through data from the 2012-13 season to reveal to you the best players, based on their points from last season. Which players delivered more bang for their buck than any other? This is your chance to find out!

Obviously, there’ll be a few absences from our listings; notably the likes of Roberto Soldado, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Jes s Navas, and Wilfred Bony, players who’ve just entered the league from abroad with some pretty impressive pedigree. Nonetheless, no Fantasy Premier League will be without some of the tried and the tested among it’s playing ranks, and we aim to help you sort out the diamonds from the dodo’s.

There are a few notable big names missing from this value list, as a cost-per-point analysis reveals that some of the league’s biggest stars failed to even come close to proving themselves good value for money in the Premier League’s signature Fantasy game. There’s no Suarez on this list, no Gareth Bale, and even another notable absence of a certain Dutchman, although we all knew he was a rip-off in the first place!

We here at the reputable What Culture have our own league for the coming season, which you can join,show-off your football know-how, and perhaps apply some of these tips to become the ultimate virtual manager!

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Premier League: How To Save The English Game

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Football is the most popular sport in the world. It has the ability to evoke the whole spectrum of human emotions, to galvanise whole nations to follow a common cause and to create stories which remain part of folklore for generations. It has been my first sporting love for as long as I can remember and has given me some of my most memorable highs as well as some of my most heartbreaking lows. Yet there is something wrong with football at the moment, something seriously wrong.

The sport I love has been in a steady decline for some time now and I feel that unless there is a radical shake up this decline will become terminal. Today the world of football is largely dictated by money and crippled by greed. There are now perhaps only six teams who could win the Premier League within the next ten years and this is being very generous to the chances of Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Much more likely is that the next ten titles will be divided between the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea. This is of course barring a billionaire buying a club and bankrolling them to success in the way that Manchester City and Chelsea have done (on a serious note if any billionaire is reading this and looking to buy a club than please buy Leeds United).

This is not how I envision the game to be. In the past, though teams dominated for periods, there was a greater distribution of teams finishing in the top positions in the League. This is not the case anymore. What the future holds is a dominance of around four to six clubs with the rest avoiding the drop or settling for mid table mediocrity. True the cup still provides some magic and gives fans the joy of that Wembley date and true the financial fair play restrictions will help somewhat but these are not enough.

What I propose is a playoff system to determine the title, the final Champions League spots as well as relegation. The final draft would have to be ironed out but roughly it could be similar to the current Belgian system. Perhaps the top six go into a play off for the title, with the top two clubs favoured and also guaranteed the Champions League places. The other two places would go to those who did the best out of the remaining four clubs.

The bottom six clubs would also go into a relegation playoff to determine who retained their Premiership status. This would result in far more clubs having something to play for towards the end of the season instead of pointlessly meandering to another mid table finish. It would also give far more clubs access to the Champions League as well as the title – a dream only a few will ever see materialise in the current format.

One of the main criticisms will be that the current system is a true representation of who deserves to be champions: the team who finish top over 38 games are rightfully deemed to be the best team that season. This may seem straightforward but on closer examination it may not entirely be the case. A team may face other teams at certain beneficial times – for example during a transfer window when a top star has left, during a particularly bad injury crisis or when a team has nothing left to play for.

A recent example of this might be in the case of Arsenal who played an already relegated Queens Park Rangers as well as already crowned champions Manchester United en route to finishing fourth. Arsenal took four points from these two games and this proved crucial in their bid for Champions League football. The playoff proposal will instead reward sides which win the big games when they matter. This would be a better test of a team’s character and would create some of the most intense and dramatic matches of the season.

I know that your initial gut reaction will be to outright reject this suggestion as unfair, to deride it as ridiculous and to stick with tradition. People are generally reluctant to challenge the status quo but think about it for a few moments – Which system is really fairer? Is our current system where the title will be contested each year by the Manchester United Brand and the playthings of billionaires really the best we have got?

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