Everton: Can the Toffees break into the Top 4 this season?

Everton logo

With the closing of the summer transfer window and the league being temporarily disrupted by the break for international World Cup Qualifiers and friendly matches, everybody can pause for a breath after what was a manic first month of the new Premier League season.

As the dust settles on yet another window of inflated transfer fees and last minute panic buys – £19million for Joe Allen, £14million for Fabio Borini, £15million for Jack Rodwell and £19million for Moussa Dembele – Everton manager David Moyes can cast an eye over his squad and be extremely satisfied with his summers transfer business.

Club legend Tim Cahill moved on to America, where he will join up Thierry Henry having signed for MLS side New York Red Bulls.

This was a great move for all concerned considering Cahill’s on pitch influence has been limited over the past 18 months – he keeps his standing as a modern day club legend, Everton received a nominal fee from NY Red Bulls and the prospect of the fairytale return on loan during the MLS close season is something which will appeal to most Everton fans, who will hope Cahill’s return will have the same galvanising effect as Thierry Henry’s return to Arsenal had last season.

After years of service, Tim Cahill has left for the MLS. Will he return on loan in January?

Having also removed some of the squad’s deadwood from the wage bill, with the likes of James McFadden, Joseph Yobo and Marcus Hahnemann leaving the club, Moyes spent some of the £15million the club received from the sale of Jack Rodwell to Manchester City to bolster his resources extremely wisely.

Stephen Pienaar resigned from Tottenham, Belgium international Kevin Mirallas arrived from Olympiakos for a fee in the region of £7.5 million, Stephen Naismith arrived on a controversial free transfer from Glasgow Rangers and defensive cover in the form of Costa Rica international Bryan Oviedo was a snip at £1.5 million from FC Copenhagen, meaning Everton now have cover in all the areas they would have struggled with if the inevitable injuries to key players arrive.

David Moyes, pictured here with new signing Kevin Mirallas, has built a strong squad with Everton and is looking to move the club on to the next level.

In recent years, Everton have struggled to compete for the full duration of a Premier League season, mainly due to the small size of David Moyes’ squad, with injuries taking their toll on Moyes’ stretched squad, but they have somehow managed to regroup and finish very strongly after poor starts in the league.

This season, the Everton manager is striving to avoid the pitfalls of yet another slow start and with the signings Moyes has made, Everton could well be this season’s surprise package, with a top 4 finish well within their capabilities.

Fellaini rises above Michael Carrick to score the winner against Man Utd. If Everton can sustain this sort of form for the season, the Champions League anthem will be ringing around Goodison Park next season.

Everton have made a good start to the season having convincingly defeated Manchester United 1-0 in their opening match at Goodison Park, which they then followed up with an easy 3-1 victory at Villa Park against an Aston Villa side who are still trying to find their feet after the arrival of new manager Paul Lambert.

They were unlucky to lose their third league game to a West Brom side who are rejuvenated after Steve Clarke took over the reigns after Roy Hodgson’s departure for the English national team post.

The early signs are promising for the Toffees and for the first time in years, Everton look to have a squad that can take the next step in the league and possibly go one better than 2009 – where they lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea – and win the club’s first silverware since the 1995 FA cup win.

The job Davis Moyes has done over the years has been remarkable considering the size of his squad and the financial constraints he’s had to work with. Everton have been a solid top 8 side for the past 6 years, and back in 2004-05 he even managed to steer them to 4th place in the Premier League and into the Champions League qualifying rounds – where they lost out to Spanish side, Villareal. It’s time for Moyes to lead Everton into European club football’s premier competition.

Players like Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini have built up a great understanding in recent years and are improving with each season, with Fellaini’s early season form already causing speculation that he will be on the move in the not to distant future – something the player himself moved to deny on Sunday.

Adding the goal scoring instincts of Nikica Jelavić to the attacking approach Everton use and the potential is there for the Croatian striker to be the first Everton striker since Gary Lineker, in the 1985-86 season, to score more than 20 league goals in a season.

Darron Gibson has slotted into the Everton midfield gracefully and is showing the form Irish manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, predicted he would if he moved to a club where he would play regular football.

With a consistent, reliable goalkeeper in American Tim Howard and a solid back line containing the likes of England international Phil Jagielka and Johnny Heitinga, this Everton side has the players, and the manager, to achieve the unexpected.

With this summer’s transfer business only strengthening an already competitive squad, all the ingredients are there for Everton to break through the glass ceiling and into the Top 4.

The Champions League is calling; the question is…..Can Everton be the ones to answer the call?

 

Written by Dave Butler

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Fulham: Karagounis shows no substitute for experience

Fulham's Giorgos Karagounis

Giorgos Karagounis has dropped in lucky to an extent that he will be spending a year in the Premier League at the ripe old age of 35 after being thrown on the scrapheap by Panathinaikos at the end of his contract with the Greek club.

After being indispensable to the Greek national team for the last decade, Karagounis tallied 120 caps at Euro 2012; even the Ethniki had seemingly given up on their captain, leaving him out for the opening games of qualifying for World Cup 2014.

But however, with Martin Jol searching for midfield reinforcements following the late transfer window departures of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, Karagounis has been summoned to south west London to bolster an area now lacking in the name of experience.

Jol is a keen advocate of youth and his scouting system at Craven Cottage has unearthed the promising talents of Patjim Kasami, Kerim Frei and Alexander Kacaniklic to secure the midfield into the next generation, but with the short term being in drastic need following the departure of Danny Murphy to Blackburn earlier on in the summer, compounded with the last-gasp loss of the two talents to Spurs, Jol has shrewdly called for Karagounis.

He is admittedly not the most obvious solution, at 35 and in the latter autumn of his career, one would doubt the Greek’s adaptability to the hustle and bustle of the physically demanding Premier League, but after a summer of decent business at Fulham, in which Jol has added Mladen Petric, Dimitar Berbatov and Hugo Rodellega to an already well-rounded squad, it is unlikely the Dutch manager would find himself with resources strained to the extent that Karagounis would be playing every game.

Mahamadou Diarra has started the season as Fulham’s central midfield force, but with his own advancing years at the other side of 30, the Greek is likely to be used in tandem with the Malian as Jol seeks to ease the burden.

Murphy’s eventual exit for Blackburn came after Jol failed in repeated attempts to secure the ex-Liverpool man, a superb servant throughout his career, to a new deal, so it is clear that the manager saw enough room in his squad for an experienced midfield member despite the age.

Karagounis definitely fits the bill with a record of 16 years in the professional game, spanning across two spells with Panathinaikos, Inter Milan and Benfiica, as well as that famous underdog triumph at Euro 2004 in which he played such a prevalent role in the engine room of the Greek midfield.

That he has captained Greece to their last two major tournaments, most recently their venture to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, suggests his influence is not yet fully on the decline and Jol has seen fit to take advantage of the wealth of experience he brings to the party.

Just like the combative, all action display Karagounis embodies in midfield which isn’t at all affected by his diminutive 5ft 9 inch frame, the Greek midfielder has refused to even let the basic commodity of time diminish his star as he remains relevant to top level European football in spite of Panathinaikos’ lack of faith.

Martin Jol will still install his faith in the youthful side of the squad at his disposal, but Karagounis, with his undying fight and unyielding honesty in the midfield, will be as vital tool as any to Jol’s transitional squad.

 

Written by Adam Gray

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Everton: Marouane Fellaini- Is he set to leave the Toffees?

Marouane Fellaini

Born to Moroccan parents in Etterbeek, a small town near Brussels, the afro-ed box-to-box midfielder has flourished into one of the top midfielders currently playing in the Premier League.

Fellaini is similar to Man City’s Yaya Touré in the way he can play in multiple positions and can dominate the midfield with his height and power as well as being able to burst through defences like a wall of water against four ficus trees.

We are told by some pundit after every game that Fellaini has played well in that he has a “good touch for a big man”. He doesn’t. He has a good touch for a footballer. And he can reach the top of this sport.

Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad today, Fellaini said the following:

“I have started my fifth season at Everton and this will be one of my last seasons. I have seen everything. In January, or at the end of the season, I will look for another club or league.”

Looks pretty clear he’s set to leave Goodison Park. And it’s understandable if he is to fulfil his clear potential.

Where will he be off to? Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have been keen admirers of the Belgian for years. He rejected Manchester United when signed for Everton in 2008, and they will surely be interested after his last two performances against them. He would be a perfect fit in a rather threadbare Manchester United midfield that is not getting any younger.

To be honest, he’d fit in at any major club. It’s a no-brainer to bring a player like Fellaini in simply because ability in multiple positions from defensive midfield to centre forward. The price-tag will most likely be around £25 million.

Fellaini will be remembered along with Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku as the most talented players of this new Belgian ‘golden generation’ (I hate that term). The most talented since Enzo Scifo.

He must move to a club that will be challenging for trophies, which he cannot win at Everton, if he is to be recognized as one of the true greats of Belgian football.

 

Written by Youcef El Barhdadi

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Chelsea: Florent Malouda set to leave the Blues

Florent Malouda

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Chelsea were preparing to sell Florent Malouda, as the French winger tweeted a picture of the under-21 building at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground with the words “this is where I’ll train for my last season with the Blues”.

Now even though Malouda’s Chelsea career looks set to end in a far from ceremonious way, will he ultimately be remembered by Blues’ fans as a successful player? He began his career, like most Chelsea players do, with fairly high expectations.

The French winger cost the blues around £13 million from Lyon in 2007, but despite a goal on his debut in the Community Shield against Manchester United, Malouda struggled to make much of an impact at Stamford Bridge. The 2008/09 season was a bit better for Malouda as he scored 9 goals in 47 games, an increase from the previous season when he scored just 4 in 38 games.

However, Malouda’s best season was the one where Chelsea secured their 4th ever league title, the 2009/10 season. Malouda was electrifying at times as he played a key role in a formidable Chelsea attack which consisted of the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard all hitting some of their best form.

In the end, the campaign which also led to the side winning the FA Cup, the season was a great one for both Chelsea and Malouda. Malouda’s performances in the 2010/11 were much like Chelsea’s season in general: inconsistent. Malouda showed signs of the excellent form of his 2009/10 campaign but couldn’t maintain it.

By the end of the season, Malouda was more of a substitute than a regular starter for the Blues. In many ways, the 2011/12 was Malouda’s worst yet at the Bridge as his place was taken over by Juan Mata and many expected him to leave in the summer.

However, as we all know, he didn’t and now Chelsea have a predicament on their hands. Lyon, Malouda’s former club, are reportedly interested in the man who is still a France international.

In my opinion, Chelsea’s coercion of the player has been unnecessary and even disrespectful.

After all, Chelsea aren’t in the situation Manchester City were after Carlos Tevez refused to play for them against Bayern Munich last season, to our knowledge, Malouda does still want to play for Chelsea.

Also, I believe Malouda’s experience and versatility can still benefit the club, even more so now due to the departure of Raul Meireles.

In my opinion, Chelsea should have kept Malouda until January and then sell him. Making him play with the reserves doesn’t benefit anyone, particularly not Malouda who now surely feels like some sort of outcast.

 

Written by Joshua Sodergren

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Angelo Henriquez signs for Man United: Is he a good signing for the Red Devils?

Angelo Henriquez with Sir Alex Ferguson and his Man United jersey

For many years now, Sir Alex Ferguson has been buying promising youth projects and developing them into world class football players. The signing of young Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez therefore should be met with genuine excitement.

Henriquez has an impressive scoring record for his previous club Universidad de Chile, scoring 11 goals in 17 appearances although the Chilean league is some way off the standard that he will face in the Premier League. Henriquez has also performed well for Chile at a number of levels, U15, U17, U20 and U23, scoring a combined 21 goals in 18 appearances.

Sir Alex was quick to heap praise on his new signing claiming that his pace and strength will allow him to fit perfectly into the United Squad. Sir Alex said that after a number of highly impressive performances at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, his scouts told him that they had to bring him to the club. It is likely that Henriquez will begin his Manchester United career by plying his trade in the under-21 league and possibly getting a run out in the League Cup.

I don’t see Henriquez immediately challenging any of the already established strikers at Manchester United. Even with Dimitar Berbatov gone, United still have Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck and Hernandez all higher than Henriquez in the pecking order. Sir Alex will no doubt have a plan for Henriquez’ development and it could entail a loan spell for the striker to get him some Premier League experience in the hope that he will return to the club with a knowledge of the English game.

This could very easily put a number of strikers at Manchester United under pressure. Will Keane is a favourite of Sir Alex at Manchester United but his season long injury could mean that Henriquez is able to take the spotlight and place himself firmly in the mind of Fergie when selecting teams.

Macheda would also need to watch his back, the Italian was impressive with late goals against Aston villa to help United win the title in the 2010-2011 season but has been unimpressive ever since.

As for the likes of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, I believe that they are relatively safe for the time being. At only 18, Henriquez has plenty of time to make a name for himself at United and it will take a few seasons before he is playing any regular premier league football.

All in all, I think that this is a good move for both Manchester United and Angelo Henriquez himself. Henriquez will get to avail from world class facilities to train and have some of the finest coaches in football. He will also get to train with the likes of Rooney and Van Persie who have invaluable knowledge and experience that can only benefit the young man. Manchester United benefit by getting their hands on another highly rated prospect.

With the right tutoring and monitoring, Angelo Henriquez could become a real talent and an Old Trafford favourite.

 

Written by Ryan McDowell

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PSG- On a Mission to Conquer France and Europe

Ibra with the PSG jersey

When the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) TOOK OVER the reins at the Capital club, changes were expected.. How quick and rapid the changes would be was the main thing. Represented by President Al-Khelaifi, they haven’t at all disappointed. In actual fact, Europe is in awe at what can be described as power changing hands.

Last season, the Parisiens brought in former Inter and AC Milan manager, Leonardo to become Sports Director at the club where he once plied his trade as a player. The Brazilian has done well thus far, convincing the likes of Javier Pastore, Salvatore Sirigu, Thiago Motta, Momo Sissoko, etc to join the ambitious outfit.

Last season wasn’t exactly a smooth sail. Rene Girard and Montpellier surprisingly won the League against all odds with the likes of Younes Belhanda, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Oliver Giroud catching the eye, with the latter now wearing the famous red shirt of Arsenal. Before then, Antoine Kombouare had been shown the exit door and seasoned coach, Carlo Ancelotti was brought in to captain the ship. Coming 2nd and exiting the Europa League early was something that didn’t go down well with the Qatari billionaires. Instead of ringing the changes in the coaching department, they decided to recruit some of the best footballers on the planet.

It came initially as a speculation that PSG signified interest in Milan’s 2 most important treasures, ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC AND THIAGO SILVA. However, rumours became true when it was reported that Silvio Berlusconi (Milan Owner) had rejected a bid in the region of 60 million euros for the aforementioned pair. Senior figures and players in the Milanese club applauded the decision and it was believed that the case was now a foregone conclusion.

But in a complete turnaround likened to a ‘NEVER SAY NEVER’ scenario, media houses all over the world went haywire with the news that Milan and Berlusconi had indeed gone back on their decision and of course accepted to sell Ibra and T.Silva to PSG subject to medical examinations and personal terms agreements. Thiago Silva reportedly signed his contract at a hotel in Rio d’Janeiro. The deal to take Ibrahimovic and Silva to the Parc de Princes was in the region of 51 million pounds. Football aficionados and pundits alike lambasted Milan for allowing such a painful sale. Milan fans were filled with uncontrollable rage and despair, understandable given the importance and status of the duo within the Rossoneri.

PSG also stormed the city of Naples earlier in the transfer window to nab Argentine star, Ezequiel Lavezzi from under the nose of Film Production mogul and Napoli Owner, Aurelio de Laurentiis. The man had no choice but to let his prized asset ‘El Pocho’ Lavezzi depart the Neapolitan club for Paris for a fee of about 30 million Euros. They were not done with the Serie A yet. Promising Pescara playmaker, Marco Verratti was lured to the Parc for another 12-15 million Euros. Dutch first choice right back and Ajax ace, Gregory Van Der Wiel joined the French club for a reported 6-9 million Euros (by far the cheapest transfer fee).

Ambition is a very important ingredient of success. PSG have made a statement of intent and purpose with the signings they have made in the past 2 years. Imagine a squad comprising of Sirigu, Maxwell, Thiago Silva. Alex,Lugano, Mama Sakho, Matuidi, Bodmer, Ibra, Lavezzi, ‘El Flaco’ Pastore, Menez, Nene, Jallet, Motta, Verratti, Gameiro, Hoarau, Tiene , etc. No matter how much confidence other European heavyweights have, they must be well aware that the Parisiens have come to mount a serious challenge on all titles on offer.

Sports Director, Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo aka ‘Leonardo’ whose 43rd birthday is today, has been spot on regarding the club’s transfers so far. Although Javier Pastore (40 million euro signing from Palermo) did not live up to expectations last season, everyone is well aware of his exceptional talent and he is quite young. There’s still a lot of time for him to light up Ligue 1 and the World.

In Adrien Rabiot, PSG have a young, brilliant and promising teenage prospect who will be given chances to shine by Coach Carlo. The bench also has Claude Makelele who’s one of the best footballers to grace the pitch and will give expert opinion to the likes of Matuidi and Sissoko who already have bags of it.

The summer spending spree of the Parisisn side shows that they intend to gatecrash into places where angels dare to tread. It wouldn’t be a thing of amazement if they win Ligue 1 for years and years on end.

In Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they possess a man who knows how to win. The former Ajax, Juve, Barca, Milan, Inter and Malmo striker is one of the best footballers in the world at the moment and he can go on to become an all time great at the capital club if he repeats the heroics he has shown at previous places of employ. If he scores goals, he’ll be put in the same bracket as Pauleta and Carlos Bianchi (The latter scored 71 goals in 80 matches for la Parisien), two of Ligue 1’s finest ever strikers.

WATCH OUT FOR THE MEGA RICH PARIS CLUB THIS SEASON…..ICI C’EST PARIS!

 

Written by Ohireime Eboreime

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Juventus: Del Piero officially signs for Sydney FC

Del Piero signs for Sydney FC

Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero has officially signed for Sydney FC tonight agreeing to a 2 year contract with the option of a 3rd year. This has come to a shock to some supporters around the world as Sydney FC were up against some of the biggest clubs in Europe with the likes of Liverpool, Celtic and Tottenham all interested.

The talks began last week after club marquee Nicky Carle went to the Middle East on loan so it opened up a spot for Del Piero. Most wrote them off until Sydney FC started being vocal and letting their fans know what’s going on. Confidence started to grow and as Sydney FC confirmed that negotiations will be going further as Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata and player agent Lou Sticca travelled to Italy to continue the negotiations.

Negotiations went on for a couple more days and then a deal was confirmed with Del Piero signing on for the 2012/13 season which begins at the start of October.

Sydney FC are hoping to break even on this deal with a boost in membership sales and also home attendances because of Del Piero’s arrival which will be sure to attract interest from the Italian communities around Sydney and even around the world. This will also be sure to put Sydney FC firm on the world map after already trending worldwide on deadline day last week and is now currently trending worldwide in wake of the move.

Del Piero is regarded as the biggest name to ever play in Australian Football with a World Cup, European Championship and 6 domestic titles to his name. He is also a part of the ‘FIFA 100’ which is a list of the 100 Greatest Living Footballers voted by Pele in 2004. He will not only become the biggest signing in history but also the highest paid in Australian football history which is reportedly around $2 million a season.

Del Piero is expected to join his teammates within the next 2 weeks with the season just over a month away.

 

Written by Tom Moxey

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Zenit splash big on Hulk and Witsel: Are they worth it?

Axel Witsel and Hulk- Zenit's newest signings

Some things in life are worth waiting for, and if you are a Zenit Saint Petersburg fan, Monday night was certainly worth waiting for. Frustration amongst fans has been consistently growing over the past year after virtually no new purchases for such a long time, Monday night felt like Christmas Day.

Over the past few weeks speculation has been growing, that powerful nd seriously talented Brazilian superstar Hulk who made his name at Portuguese superpower Porto was on his way to Saint Petersburg, but just after Hulk himself declared he was happy in Portugal, the biggest transfer of the whole summer in Europe happened.

For an approximate £32 million pounds, Zenit acquired one of the most sought after players in the world, leaving fans across Europe stunned. And if one major signing wasn’t enough, Zenit fans were given another reason to cheer. Highly rated 23 year old midfielder Axel Witsel of Benfica and reportedly courted by world giants Real Madrid, penned a 5 year contract with the Russian champions. You can probably call it one of the most productive nights in Zenit’s history, but was it all worth it?

Zenit certainly desperately needed new blood. Yes, the team as it was before the new signings has achieved so many things, but in order to achieve new victories, the right steps should be taken to ensure that this is possible. And finally Maxim Mitrofanov and co have delivered, and just in time for the Champions League.

With the deadline to register players for the Champions League being dead on midnight on the night of the 3rd September, and no deals having been secured in the afternoon, some fast and effective work and negotiations had to be thrashed out in the evening and quick.

Axel Witsel had been given permission by his Belgian national team coach to have negotiations, and Zenit representatives had met Hulk in Brazil, and incredibly, everything fell into place.

The Hulk deal was done first and a couple of hours later news filtered through that Witsel had signed too, making it on the most expensive nights ever for the Russian champions but of the most productive. And while now there is a certain euphoria that has followed these signings, that will soon be replaced by serious expectations.

Having reached the last 16 of the Champions League last season, eventually being narrowly knocked out by Benfica, Witsel’s old club, there was a feeling that more was certainly possible. And while it didn’t happen last season, this season, fans are expecting not to just advance from the group, but to go and at least reach the quarter finals, and with Hulk and Witsel onboard, expectations have only soared.

While some may be surprised that such top class players have chosen to continue their careers in Russia, you shouldn’t be. The same goes for the naïve people who believe that they went only for the money. Russian football is growing rapidly, and not just because of big money transfers, it’s also because of what is happening on the pitch.

In last season’s Champions League, two Russian clubs made it to the last 16, the first time that such an achievement had ever been achieved, and with that Russia had the same amount of clubs in the last 16 as England did. And just look at this season already in the Europe League.

Filthy rich Anzhi Makhachkala are making history on the pitch as well as on it, having gone through 6 qualifying games unbeaten, winning every game and in total scoring 15 goals and conceding none, and that included a 5-0 demolition job of AZ Alkmaar in their own backyard. Money helps feed the hunger for success, that’s not even a question, but to achieve what you want to achieve hard work has to be carried out first on the training ground, and then on the pitch, and this is being carried out in both Makhachkala and Saint Petersburg.

And all this is great news for Russian football as a whole. Much more publicity is now being given to Russian football as a result of these mega deals, and it only highlights a pretty well known fact that football in Russia is growing and growing. Anzhi are doing everything they can to become the new face and future of Russian football, and to their credit they have become an overnight sensation.

Ever since signing Roberto Carlos, who has practically worked as an ambassador for the Dagestani side, more and more big name players have been tempted to make the move, the most high profile of which being African superstar Samuel Eto’o, who has proven to be a major hit in Russia.

If Anzhi play as well as they can, they are practically unbeatable, and reigning Russian champions Zenit themselves are having to fight just to keep up with Anzhi, and clubs such as the fading Russian force Spartak Moscow are falling further and further behind. And while this isn’t just happening in Russia, with Manchester City in England and PSG in France also using money as a tool for fast and quick success, football is becoming even more of a money game, to the dismay of many.

Last night’s stunning raid on the Portuguese league by Zenit has angered and also surprised a lot of fans around Europe, yes, but in turn has brought so many new fans and football lovers to the Russian Premier League, with Hulk in particular being great box office value.

But Zenit’s main goal is quite simple- achieve great new things in the upcoming Champions League, and expectations have been raised by a thousand percent, which may act as a catalyst to the players, or on the contrary will weigh them down too much.

With the first group game in Spain against Malaga just over a fortnight away, everything is going to be clear very soon, and the ridiculous sums of money that the Russians splashed out in that epic night is going to be put to the test- a severe one.

 

Written by Shaun Nicolaides

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QPR: How Far Can The R’s Go This Season?

QPR Logo

A significant proportion of the 2012 summer transfer window deadline day was spent with football fans talking about QPR’s new signings. So with so many well respected and recognised talent in their current squad, I think QPR ought to be aiming higher than to merely survive in the premier league this season.

Admittedly, QPR’s start to the 2012-13 season has been far from perfect. A catastrophic 5-0 opening day defeat at the hands of Swansea city left many hoops fans feeling very concerned about the season ahead. The week after wasn’t as bad as a Bobby Zamora goal earned a respectable point away at Norwich.

September began with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City but Mark Hughes would have been proud of the way his players remained positive and managed to equalize whilst the score was at 1-0. Also, many of the west London side’s new signings were unable to play.

So how about these new signings, and where will they fit in? Will they improve QPR’s position in the league? In this article, I will be discussing where the west Londoners go from here.

In goal, many thought Robert Green, who arrived from West Ham earlier in the summer, would be the number one. However, just over a week after Green’s terrible performance against Swansea, QPR confirmed the arrival of Julio Cesar from Internazionale. Sadly for Rob Green, I think it would be ludicrous for Mark Hughes to leave the former Champions League winner Cesar out of the starting eleven.

Surprisingly, the only central defender QPR bought in over the summer was Ryan Nelsen, which was surprising considering the defence was widely considered to be the reason QPR only survived by the skin of their teeth last season. Another player that has been brought in is former Chelsea right back Jose Bosingwa who looks set to be one of QPR’s most regular features this season.

As for midfield, the squad will in my opinion gain a player with sheer class in former Real Madrid man, Esteban Granero. Granero made his hoops debut against Man City and looked decent on the few occasions when QPR were on the attack. Potentially, he and Alejandro Faurlin could form an excellent technical central midfield partnership for the club.

Another new signing who could help feature heavily in the centre of QPR’s midfield is Stephane M’Bia who joined the Hoops on a two year deal from Marseille with QPR’s disgraced former captain Joey Barton joining the French club on loan. M’Bia may also play at centre back though so it’s difficult to predict how much he’ll play in central midfield.

One of the biggest team selection dilemmas manager Mark Hughes will have to face this season will be who will be the hoops first choice striker. Amongst the contenders are Bobby Zamora, Jamie Mackie, Andy Johnson and Djibril Cisse.

Both Zamora and Johnson started against Manchester City but with so many central midfield options and talented wingers which include Shaun Wright-Phillips, Junior Hoilett and new club captain Ji Sung Park, it’s quite possible that Hughes will choose to start only one striker at the majority of QPR’s games this season.

Below is the line-up I’d choose if I was Mark Hughes presuming every squad member was fit (4-5-1):-

Julio Cesar
Jose Bosingwa
Anton Ferdinand
Ryan Nelsen
Fabio da Silva
Ji Sung Park
Esteban Granero
Stephane M’Bia
Alejandro Faurlin
Junior Hoilett
Bobby Zamora

So how far can this team go? Due to their team that includes numerous highly decorated players, I think it would be safe to presume many of QPR’s players will be aiming for a mid table place. However, due to some suicidal defending at times, I think the 2012/13 season maybe one with some considerable difficulty for QPR. So I think a 14th place finish will have to do for the fans of the hoops.

However, once the squad gels, which shouldn’t take long QPR can be expected to hit their stride and should improve each season. It may be a slow process but QPR should look to become a solid Premier League side sooner rather than later.

 

Written by Joshua Sodergren

Follow him on Twitter @chelsealad1365

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