Friday, 28 September 2012

Which league dominates the UEFA Champions League?



Themba Sweet analyses who has been dominating the Champions League.


Last season I noticed an increasing feeling on social media platforms and amongst the tv pundits, that La Liga is the best performing league playing in the UEFA Champions League. Now in the past few years with Barcelona dominating, it can be understood. Yet if you took a look at Real Madrid’s past few years in the UCL, you’d notice that they were rather disappointing. I decided to go back into the record books and see which league really does dominate the Champions League.

As a kid growing up in the early 90’s, Serie A was the dominant force in Europe. It was clear to see in this competition too, with a Serie A club involved in every final for 7 straight years: 1992-1998.

Although the Champions League was rebranded in 1992, it didn’t resemble the current tournament until the 1997-98 season. This was the first season where teams could enter the UCL without the need to win their league.  In my research I aim to see which league is consistently in the final KO rounds of the UCL and if 1 league has more than 1 team, they get more than 1 point. So to keep everything as fair as possible, here were my guidelines for this test:

  • I’ve taken the date range from 1997/98 – 2011/12
  • I consider teams in the QF stage and onwards only (final KO rounds)
  • 1 point per team
  • I’ve only taken into account the top leagues:
    • EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Primeira Liga, Eredevisie

Quarter-final stage

So let’s see who really does dominate the Champions League as we know it. The consensus seems to be La Liga, but let’s see who’s dominated the past 15 years of the QF stage:Over the past 15 seasons, the English Premier League has been an ever-present in the quarter-final stage. Aside from that, they’ve made a total of 32 appearances at this stage. This is more important since it is a reflection of the strength of the league. An example is the 2007/08 & 2008/09 seasons which both had 4 EPL teams reach the QF stage. That’s 8 appearances in the QF over 2 years for the EPL. No other league has had 4 teams from their league in the QF at this stage, yet the EPL managed it in 2 consecutive seasons. La Liga trails in this regard with 27 appearances over 15 seasons.

Semi-final stage
It has to be said that the QF stage of the Champions League has been dominated by the EPL teams for nearly 2 decades, but if we think about the Semi-Finals over the past few years, one team springs to mind – Barcelona. An ever-present for half a decade in the semi’s, and possibly the main reason many believe La Liga to be stronger in Europe. It’s quite true though. The last time Barca failed to reach the SF stage was 6 seasons back. They are clearly the best team in Europe based on UEFA coefficients. But what about the rest of La Liga?



Even though the past 6 seasons saw 11 appearances by EPL teams in the semi’s against the 9 from La Liga, the Spanish league pips the Premier League since the EPL made most of their SF appearances in the past few years. 

One of the most striking facts one can take from this table is the gulf between the EPL/La Liga teams when compared against the rest of the European Leagues. None of the other leagues have made 10 appearances at this stage, yet the EPL & La Liga might make their 19th & 20th appearance this season if more than 1 team reaches the SF. It speaks volumes as to why many foreign players are choosing the EPL & La Liga over Bundesliga & especially Serie A. There seems to be more chance of glory in those 2 leagues.
Having said that, there has been a Bundesliga team in the semi’s for the past 3 seasons. Italy’s last appearance in the semi’s – 2009/10. In fact, out of the past 15 seasons, a Serie A team has only been present in 7 of those 15 tournaments at this stage. And what of the Eredivisie? 1 appearance in the semi’s in 15 seasons? It’s little wonder that the youth of Ajax choose to move to the giants of Europe.
Of all of these numbers & figures, the 3 year stretch by the EPL between 2006 & 2009, has to be the most impressive. 3 EPL teams reached the semi’s 3 years in a row. 9 appearances in 3 seasons.
La Liga takes the prize for the best semi-finalists, edging out the EPL for now at least.

Finals
It’s very easy to count who has won the most titles over 15 years, but dominance doesn’t always result in titles. Chelsea vs Barcelona/Bayern last season. The dominant team didn’t win. Simply reaching the finals is a massive achievement. Things can go wrong within the game, but reaching the final is no accident. Having said that, which league has had the most appearances in the Final since 1997/98?


The EPL slightly edges La Liga, having made 9 appearances in the finals over 15 years. The graph roughly states that there’s currently over a 50% chance that a team from the EPL will reach the finals. However, if you look at their run before 2004, you’ll notice the stark contrast. Simply 1 final before 2004 – the famous 1999 victory from Manchester United. It clearly shows how far the EPL has come over the past decade. Over the past 8 seasons, there have been 8 appearances in the finals by an EPL team. That is ridiculously good. In comparison, the past 8 seasons have seen 3 finals from La Liga teams (all 3 appearances from Barcelona). La Liga had more of a presence in the finals in the years building up to the 2002 Galacticos victory.

Winners
La Liga has taken more UCL titles than any other league in Europe. Currently sitting on a 75% chance of victory if a La Liga team reaches the final. All 6 of the La Liga titles have been won by either Real Madrid or Barcelona, whereas 3 of the 4 EPL titles have been won by different teams. A shock to the Bundesliga (recently rewarded with 4 UCL spots) is their success rate over the past 15 seasons. 1 title (Bayern Munich). Even more worrying for the rest of Europe is that there have been no winners over the past 8 years other than Serie A, La Liga & EPL. A total domination of titles shared amongst 3 leagues.


Bear in mind that all of these stats are taken from the 1997/98 season – 2011/12. The reason is that 1997/98 was the first season to invite other teams apart from the league winners. This means we can grade the league and not just 1 team from the league (as pre-1997/98 tournaments were structured). Since UEFA have invited more than just 1 EPL team into the UCL, I would venture to say that they have dominated. Using the tables above, we can take the following info:

 This is a table based on presence – basically, who was there in the final stages over a period of 15 years. There has been more of a presence in the final stages by EPL teams rather than La Liga. The difference is that the La Liga teams go on to win the trophy when reaching the final. Well 6 out of 8 times, that is. At the end of the season, the winners are always remembered & rightfully so. Hopefully this article shows that the EPL, in recent years, has been the league to go consistently further than others in this competition. It also shows the vast gap between EPL & La Liga teams when compared to the rest of Europe.
Cheers.




Author: Themba Sweet
Twitter: @thembasweet
Site: http://footiecall.blogspot.com/

You can find more of Themba's work here

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Everton emerge from the Red Shadow

In his debut article for The Football Front, Lizo Johnson explains why Everton could finish higher than Liverpool for the second season in a row.  

As I write this Everton sit 3rd in the premier league, and their great Merseyside rivals Liverpool currently lie in 18th. Historically Liverpool has always been the number one club on Merseyside. The most successful club in English history. Everton have always lived in the shadow of their close neighbours and rivals. They have always seen as the underdogs in the derbies and never really given a chance. But this year it could be different. I’ve seen Everton’s last two games and both times I have been thoroughly impressed. Players playing under David Moyes have always had high work rates and high levels of self belief, but Everton’s team this year has something else. 

Goals.

During his 10 year tenor as Everton boss his team have been famed for their 1-0 wins, built on strong defences. Set pieces whipped in towards the aerial assassin Tim Cahill were the order of the day. That’s not to say Everton don’t still have that strong defence, with Hibbert Jagielka Distin and Baines remaining constant for several years now, but these days Everton step out onto the field every week without any thought of a draw in mind.

We saw the beginnings of it last season with the excellent signing of Nikica Jelavic. At £5.5m he has turned out to be an absolute steal, smashing in 9 goals in 10 games towards the back end of last season. They drew 4-4 at Old Trafford, a truly spectacular and deserved score line. In previous years Everton had gone to teams above them in the league in the hope of a draw, sitting back and relying on counter attacks and set pieces. Not in 2012, they went for it and played some fabulous football, and came back from 4-2 down with 7 minutes to go to claim a point. 

Just last week we saw evidence of Everton’s new found attacking prowess. In their last 2 games Everton have smashed in 5 goals from a variety of sources. Against Newcastle the combination play was exceptional, especially down the left between Pienaar and Baines, two players that know each other’s games inside out. They cut through Newcastle at will and were extremely unlucky to only collect a point having dominated the game and had two goals unfairly ruled out. The early kickoff against Swansea was seen to be a real test for Everton. Last season very few teams went to the Liberty and took the points. Everton pressed high got the early goal and took it from there. Swansea’s usually dominant passing was nowhere to be seen with Everton even taking the lion’s share of the possession statistics with 56%. When Mikel Arteta left Everton it was a devastating blow. Many thought that Everton’s midfield would struggle to recover. But like many teams once the main man had left Everton just grew tighter as a group, and their midfield were imperious on Saturday.
 
One thing Arteta definitely never had in front of him was a clinical finisher. This season Everton have that player. The aforementioned Nikica Jelavic is there to tuck away the chances created by the likes of Pienaar and Baines. Now, Leighton Baines. As much as he’s highly rated across the country, I still feel that people do not fully understand the ability of the man. For me, he is among the best left backs in the world. The only reason he is not internationally respected is that he is not at a club that gets enough coverage across the world. That is not to say I think he needs to move, because he is so settled at Everton, but he could walk into any team in the premier league bar Chelsea. Its’ up to him. To illustrate prove my point, so far this season he has been the most creative player in the premier league, creating 24 chances this season and averaging a chance created every 18.75 minutes. He has created more chances for his side from left back than players like Santi Cazorla (20) and David Silva (14) have from much further up the field. This is why I feel that his importance to Everton cannot be overstated.


To give a recent example of the attacking capabilities of Pienaar and Baines, against Newcastle they had the highest number of penalty area entries of anyone in both sides (5 and 6 respectively). The two even combined for the first goal, with Pienaar playing through Baines who fired home. In the second half Everton had two goals wrongly disallowed, with one player I have yet to mention instrumental in them both. Marouane Fellaini. When Everton paid £16m him, many a head was turned. Not only because he was a young, unproven player, but also because up until that point Everton had always been very shrewd with their transfer business. They only paid what they believed players to be were worth. And there were very few people at the time who believed he would be worth £16m. Four years later, and what then seemed a strange signing has proved a master stroke. The big Belgian has impressed everyone since the moment he stepped into Goodison. He arrived. It’s another classic David Moyes player really. Hard working and fully committed on the pitch, but off the pitch you never hear a sniff of late nights on the town or training ground bust ups. No. He keeps his head down and keeps working. Or at least he did until last week. Fellaini apparently told a Belgian newspaper that he was ready to leave Everton at the next opportunity. This broke the code. David Moyes and Fellaini himself have been quick to quash the exit rumours, but we will see how it develops. One thing’s for sure though, if he continues this season in the same vein that he’s started it in, this will be his best season yet. 

Fellaini embodies David Moyes’ Everton machine. Hard working, relatively unknown player signed for what proved to be brilliant business. That is a sentence that could be attributed to the vast majority of Everton’s signings in the last 6 years. So I was surprised when I heard that Everton had signed Kevin Mirallas, a player who has earned the nickname ‘the Belgian Ronaldo’. It didn’t fit, he appeared to be a flashy goal-scoring player who, with the nickname he has, I presumed would rarely return from the oppositions half. I presumed wrong. Whilst his goal-record is undoubtedly impressive, another thing I’ve noticed about Mirallas is that he doesn’t forget his defensive duties. It’s true that very occasionally you see him attempting a few moves for the next YouTube compilation but that won’t concern David Moyes. What is most important for Everton is that he seems right at home in his new surroundings. Three games, three excellent performances and the future look bright for him at Everton. 

Everton’s next three premier league games are at home to Southampton and away to Wigan and QPR, and on current form you cannot see them dropping many points in those. And after that it’s the big one, Liverpool. Everton are no longer a side to be overlooked. They can and it looks like they probably will beat their neighbours in that fixture. And I think they will beat them again in the overall table come next May. Yet despite all this, I still see two major hurdles for Everton. Firstly, injuries. They have an outstanding first eleven but when you look past that it gets less impressive. If Everton’s main men get injured it could spell disaster. The likes of Baines Fellaini and Jelavic simply must stay fit if Everton are to have a successful season. The only other hurdle I can see for Everton is consistency, something they’ve always had a problem with. But get some momentum going, and ride some luck with injuries, then Everton can be as good as they want to be. It’s a long season and a good start means nothing if you cannot sustain it (I’m sure Wolves fans will testify to this), but we will see. 

This article was written by Lizo Johnson. You can follow on Twitter: @LizoJohnson

Monday, 17 September 2012

Football Tweets of the week 17/09

Here are our 10 funniest football tweets of this week! (In no order too!)

1.) If you play FIFA you can relate to this:- @Liam_Fountain

 2.) Sports Personality of the Year?? Wiggins? Hoy? Murray? I think it's safe to say Joey Barton can put that tuxedo away. - @jackwhitehall

3.) Breaking News: After watching England's performance against Ukraine tonight, Raheem Sterling has opted to play for Jamaica. - @StupidFootball

4.) I've heard FIFA 13 is so realistic that.... erm... this is awkward - @MarioBalotelli

5.) Djibril Cisse's had more hair styles than Joey Barton has had police cautions! - @playupfootball

6.) Michael Owen says he should have left Man Utd a year earlier. And there was me thinking he was good at finishing. - @FootyBull

7.) Evra's reaction to Büttner's goal: - @FootyMemes
8.) I'm guessing the media officer at Livingston FC didn't actually mean to tweet this.. @Dudely1927
 9.) imaginative work from the BBC Headline writers today: - @Adamterry56789


10.) Did Dempsey opt for the #2 shirt to warm to Tottenham fans as an acknowledgement of how many league titles they've won? - @Bosscielny

Be sure to follow all these guys on Twitter, you can follow us at @ReviewFootball

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Question and Answer with Maria Xing


Today, The Football Front interviews an American based football fan, Maria Xing, on her exciting experiences of seeing her favourite stars and clubs play in America.

Hi Maria, thanks for coming on and talking about your experiences this pre season.

Hello, it is an honour to be interviewed by The Football Front! Thanks for having me on here.

So, what teams did you see this summer in America?

I saw quite a few teams this summer actually. Club: Liverpool, Roma, Tottenham, New York Red Bulls, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, Milan, Lyon, Montpellier. International: Mexico, Wales, Argentina, El Salvador, and Brazil.

Which games did you enjoy the most?

As I’m a Liverpool fan, I enjoyed the match against Roma the most. It was great to see the Redmen play despite the end result. The Argentina v. Brazil match was absolutely surreal; I witnessed Messi scoring a hat-trick right in front of my eyes. Real v. Milan was also a great match, ended in a 5-1 rout. 

As most people who follow you on Twitter know, you are a huge Liverpool fan and you had the chance to interview a LFC player and watch the reds train, how amazing was that experience seeing the reds in that zone?

I can’t put it into words. Phenomenal. Mind-blowing. I’d only been to one other match in my lifetime, so seeing them in the flesh again was unbelievable. Attending the training sessions was interesting because I was able to witness first-hand the personalities of the players. I recall watching Fabio Borini and Steven Gerrard sharing a nice bonding session. It made me smile! The interview opportunity I had with Jack Robinson was brilliant as well. I sat down with him, Liverpool’s Director of Communications, and Head of Press. It was so cool to be surrounded by all these people who represent the club I love.

Were there any Liverpool players who you really excited to meet? 

Maria with her hero Steven Gerrard

 If I had to pick one, it’d be Stevie. I’m sure my fellow American Reds would agree. I met him outside the training ground, and the place was absolutely electric when he arrived.  He’s such a nice guy. He made sure to sign everyone’s shirts and take pictures with all his fans before leaving. I told him he was my hero and he thanked me. I was also really excited to meet Lucas, Agger, Sterling, and McLaughlin. Lucas was very impressive last season and has grown on me. He’s got a great sense of humour as well! Agger’s just a hero – I wish I could have seen his “YNWA” tattoo on his knuckles though. Sterling and McLaughlin are two youngsters who I had talked to prior to the tour, so I was excited to finally meet them. It’s funny, really. They even recognized me! 

I was also pretty pumped to meet Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush, who attended one of the training sessions and played a friendly against Harvard staff. 

Besides Liverpool players, did you get the chance to speak or take pictures with any other players?

Yes! My second favourite team is AS Roma and I was lucky enough to attend their meet-and-greet in Boston. I was able to take pictures with the team and get my shirt signed. I also got the chance to speak to the Brazil and Wales national teams, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Lyon. 

What non –Liverpool players did you really enjoy meeting this pre season?

I loved meeting my idol Francesco Totti. He’s just a legend, no other way of putting it. It’s rare to find someone who loves his club as much as he does. Same goes for Thierry Henry, I loved watching him play for Arsenal back in the day. Who else? David Luiz was a top #geezer, Nuri Sahin was incredibly nice (this was before he joined Liverpool), Aaron Ramsey and Bojan were sweethearts - I could go on and on.
Also, it was cool discussing transfer activity with some of the players. After Kenny Dalglish left Liverpool, the manager job remained vacant for a while. I met several Swansea players during that time and asked them what they thought of Brendan Rodgers leaving their club. Ashley Williams said that Rodgers was “brilliant” and didn’t want him to leave, and Jazz Richards agreed with him. I told Andy Carroll not to go to Newcastle, which I guess he listened to as he left for West Ham instead. Nuri took my advice and joined Liverpool, whereas Hugo Lloris didn’t when I told him not to leave Lyon. I guess my scouting work didn’t have a 100% success rate, shame!  

Meeting footballers in the flesh is of course different to what you see and expect on the television, did some players surprise you with their personality and behaviour?

Some did and some didn’t. The footballer who didn’t surprise me at all was Cristiano Ronaldo. I know he donates to charity and occasionally demonstrates acts of kindness, but his personality was unimpressive. There was a fan who asked to take a picture with him and he completely ignored him. The fan proceeded to jump over a barricade and force him into taking a picture; it got pretty ridiculous. There were some Liverpool players who surprised me with how nice they were. For example - I’d witnessed a lot of Aquilani abuse before he had left the club, but he was an absolute gentleman. 

Did you find it surreal or even a bit weird to be amongst the superstars of the game? 

Yes, absolutely. I found it surreal every time I met a different footballer. You’d think that I would’ve gotten used to it, but I didn’t. I’d spent most of my life watching these players on TV and the next thing I know, bam! They’re standing right in front of me. 

As a football fan based, in America, do you think clubs spending their pre season in USA has benefited American soccer and the interest the sport generates?

Definitely. I saw all kinds of people at the matches I went to – long-time fans, fans of other clubs, people who don’t normally watch football, etc. The variety was incredible. It was beautiful to see them unified, all enjoying one match and cheering on one team. 

Do you feel, clubs should do more to appeal and reach to their fans overseas? 

It’s the foreign fans who bring in a lot of the club’s revenue and make them prosper. As a whole - if a club wants to be bigger, then they definitely need to do more to appeal and reach out to people overseas. It’s a win-win situation really. Foreign fans don’t get the same opportunities as local ones do: many can’t afford to travel all the way to Liverpool to watch matches. It’s great that the team goes out on tour and provides them with that chance. 



One word answer section

So in this section, for a bit of fun, you have to answer the question with one word! 

1.)    Man United or Chelsea – Liverpool
2.)    Torres or Suarez – Suarez!
3.)    Champions League qualification or cup win – Champions League qualification
4.)    Falcao or David Villa – Falcao
5.)    Real Madrid or Barcelona – Malaga

 Thanks for taking your time to ask these questions
 
No worries! Again, thanks for interviewing me.

You can check out Maria's blog here:  acciomaria.weebly.com
Make sure you follow Maria on Twitter: @AccioMaria

Monday, 10 September 2012

Video: Brendan Rodgers: Like I say, not what I think

Another one in our series of parody interviews. This time, its Brendan Rodgers!



 You can subscribe to us on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheFootballFront?feature=plcp

Video: What Roberto Mancini *really* said in his post match interview v Liverpool

In The Football Front's first ever video, we look at what Roberto Mancini probably meant in his post match interview after his sides 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

Please subscribe to us on YouTube too. There is more of this to come..



You can subscribe to us on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheFootballFront?feature=plcp

My Football Journey

Hello, I’m Callum Rivett, and this week I’ll be giving you a snippet of my footballing ‘career’. It’s something different for you, and hopefully it’ll give you a chance for you to know me a bit better. If you want to list your favourite moments of your footballing journey, you are more than welcome to do so in the comments below! (And if you’re a scout for any football club, I’m more than welcome to receive an offer…) 

I started playing competitive football when I was 5, playing a year up for Hemsby Hornets, as a right back, purely because there wasn't a team in my age group yet. I played a few years there, then a team formed that was my age group so I went there and continued as a right back. We were constantly near the bottom of Division One (the top league of a three tiered system) but did win the Shield (the Carling Cup of the Norfolk and Suffolk Youth League) once, then got relegated. 

They folded and our manager went in 2008 - and took most of our players, including myself - to Caister Roma who had just been promoted to Division One. In my first year there we finished 2nd in the league. I was still right back, then I went to right midfield and often central midfield. I preferred playing on the wing. The second year was terrible for me: the manager didn't rotate - myself and two others found ourselves on the bench every single week. We finished 5th that year.

In the next preseason I scored a really good goal against a team in the year above: I got the ball inside my own half, flicked it up to our striker in the centre circle, he headed it back to me and I hit it on the half-volley from inside the centre circle and lobbed the keeper. But once again I was constantly on the bench, and was getting annoyed. I frequently scored and assisted from the midfield. That year (2009-10) was my last year at Caister, as they folded.

I joined a Division Two (the leagues had been compressed, so now there was only two divisions) side where all my mates played but finished near the bottom of the league a lot of the time. This was my first ever year upfront, and in my first game against one of the best teams in the league I scored a hat-trick. I went on to score 31 goals in 21 games, which is ok. We finished 9th out of 12.

Then last year we got a load of new, good players who were our mates, and we really improved. I scored 36 goals in 22 games then, we finished 3rd, just outside the promotion places. We got to the semi-finals of the Shield, but got knocked out by a poor refereeing decisions - it was 1-1 away to a Division One side, and in the last few minutes one of their players dived in our box and somehow the ref thought it was a penalty. They scored it, and we lost 2-1.

But we always struggled getting a full team each week despite having fourteen players signed on. The deadline for getting a team for this coming season is today [Saturday 8th], and currently only nine players have signed on, so it's looking doubtful we'll have a team.

On a positive note, I've had two teams say that they'll have me, but one's an adult team and I'm not 16 until the end of January. No news on Ormesby having a team yet though. Doubt it.

Follow Callum on twitter: @CJRivett12. You can find more of Callum's work here.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Premier League Top four XI: 11/12 season



This article is a bit late. No wait, it’s hideously late. But I was bored and I’ve always wanted to make a top four XI, especially considering I did a relegation XI.

But doing a top four XI is tough and controversial. On one hand there is no Chelsea, as they didn’t finish in the top four. But on the other hand the Blues have only gone and won the Champions League, so you ask yourself do I consider the Chelsea players or do I leave them out?

These are the questions that keep me awake at night..

Well, for the sake of the challenge, I have decided to keep Chelsea out of it. Now Chelsea fans, don’t be hurt, I have done this as I wanted it to literally be the Top Four XI.

Here we go,

Goalkeeper

Green =best, Red = worst

For me, the keepers argument is quite simple. It’s gotta be Joe Hart hasn’t it? He is the man, he makes goalkeeping look cool.

But in terms of football, he has been fantastic. Hart is incredibly well rounded, focused and often saves his team’s bacon countless of times.

But what impresses me about Hart is his leadership and organisational skills. He really settles and calms Man City’s backline, the understanding between him and his defenders is fantastic and is visible to anyone who watches City.

Right Back:

Again, this area is relatively straight forward for me. Although he didn’t feature as much as expected last season, I do feel Bacary Sagna is the best right back in the Premier League. A few months ago, I did an analysis on right backs here. And Sagna dominated over a number of leading right backs in the Premier League.

Sagna offers something many full backs crave, and that’s balance, in terms of offensive duties and defensive duties. Sagna’s great positioning and reading of the game allows him to roam forward and defend adequately.

Centre Backs:

Stats via EPL Index
 This is tough, probably because most of the top four have very gifted centre backs.

Looking at the stats, im going for Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott. Now, I know it’s dead boring and is a bit like someone having the chance to pick anything to have for dinner and they go for the old routine of bangers and mash. But these two are pretty good and cover a lot of bases.

Kompany is arguably the best centre back in the Premier League. He dominates his opponents; he wins most of his tackles and reads the game very well. While with Lescott, we have a left sided centre back, who is a tackling specialist. Lescott is dominant in the air too.

Left Back:

This is an interesting one to call. If Chelsea made the top four, Ashley Cole would certainly be up there. But even so, it’s still a hard question. A few months ago, I also did an analysis on some left backs in the Premier League, and Gael Clichy really impressed me. Like his former Arsenal team-mate Sagna, Clichy is well rounded in regards to his offensive and defensive work. But my one issue with Clichy is that he doesn’t play as many games as he really should at Man City. Perhaps that’s due to Mancini..being well, Mancini. It’s quite clear, Roberto loves to shuffle his full backs. But, I love the balance Clichy brings at full back. He defends well, and support attacks pretty effectively too.

Defensive midfield:


The Premier League is actually blessed with some very talented defensive midfielders.

Looking at the stats, it’s hard. It’s like choosing a chocolate from a Celebrations tin. There are too many tasty, yet different types of defensive midfielders. But I will go for Mikel Arteta. His passing, composure and ball retention is absolutely key in that role.  Furthermore, his tackling isn’t that bad either. The Spaniard is a resilient leader who really gets his teams to tick and can often dictate the tempo of games. Something which I feel Carrick, Parker and Barry struggle to do.

Midfielders:
Comparison of the deeper lying central midfielders

Yaya Toure has to be in this side, without a doubt. One could easily argue, Toure is the best box to box midfielder in the world. Toure has the characteristics to dominate games and he’s proven time and time again he is the man who can make the difference for Man City. One of the things I admire about Toure is his vision and passing abilities, they compliment physicality and the dominant stature he has. 

Comparison of the play makers in the top four
 Toure’s partner in this midfield is no other than the great Luka Modric. I feel both players would link well together. Modric’s movement and passing range would bring a slickness and fluidity the side. While Toure’s physicality would give the side a bit of drive.

Attacking Left

David Silva – He has got to be in the team hasn’t he? David Silva is like the bread of a sandwich, he is the one who completes the team. He is the one gives the team texture. David Silva’s quick feet, agile style and his creativity make him imperative for this team. The Spaniard is class, he makes creating chances look like a simple task.

David Silva is silent, but deadly.
  
Attacking Right:

Seeing there are so many quality strikers and wingers in the Premier League, it’s hard to pick someone, over another talented player. As you can go with someone like Nani, and think, ‘yeah, he’s a good player.’ Then later you may ponder, what about Bale, his directness, assertiveness and powerful left foot makes him a must have.

But, for the attacking right position, I am going for Robin Van Persie.

Van Persie is awesome. And let’s be under no allusions, he is a complete striker. He has wonderful feet, great variation in his finishing and can create chances for his team mates too. Van Persie proved last season, if he can stay injury free, he can score for absolute fun. He really can. His positioning, composure and decision making is first class.

Centre Forward:

Originally, I wanted to compare Aguero, Rooney and Van Persie to each other, but I liked them so much I wanted them all in the team. It was a bit self indulgent of me, it’s like finishing that whole box of celebrations by myself.


But I have gone for Sergio Aguero up front. This man is sensational. I think his price tag has made people not recognise how crucial he was last season for Man City. People forget, he joined the club aged 22. In his debut season in English football, he scored an impressive 23 league goals. And if you watched him with Man City, he was fully embedded into the side. His understanding and vision of the game was complimented by his City team mates. Aguero himself bagged 8 assists too, a symbol of his cohesion in the team. One aspect of Aguero’s game which impressed me was his physicality. Although he may not be the biggest player, he certainly stood his ground and led the City line very effectively.

So here's how the team would look on paper.

 

(Stats from EPL Index, taken from the 2011/12 season) 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Football Tweets of the week 07/09

Here are our 10 funniest football tweets of this week! (In no order too!)

1.) This may be the funniest picture of all time. - @timabel6

 2.) Mourinho's motivational speech to his players ahead of El Clásico. - @footymemes

 
3.) Juve signing Bendtner is like telling someone all summer you're going to buy a BMW or a Porsche but then wind up buying a Hyundai Genesis. - @FRANCESCalci0

4.) My definition of 'top top quality' = Falcao Arsene's definition of 'top top quality' = Chamakh. - @RedArmy49

5.) The Queens Park Rangers team bus has arrived at the Etihad Stadium... - @Football__Tweet



 6.) The awkward moment when Arsene Wenger's finger looks like his penis. - @Arsenal_RT's 


7.) Fernando Torres has promised Chelsea fans "magic" this season. I thought he did his disappearing trick last season? -@StupidFootball

8.) Genius of a sign in Sunderland- @kentonmags


9.) He scores when he wants, he scores when he wants, Olivier Giroud, he scores when he wants. [*Note: currently, he does not want] - @simonafc

10.) When Busquets plays FIFA and his player get's tackled, he drops the controller and starts rolling around the floor asking for a free-kick.. - @LeoMessiParody

Be sure to follow all these guys on Twitter, you can follow us at @ReviewFootball
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