Tag Archives: Chelsea

Torres move perfect tonic for Chelsea and Liverpool

So Chelsea finally bagged their main target, a proven European goalscorer, in Spain’s Fernando Torres for a hefty £50 million on the final day of the January transfer window; but, for both the London club and his former employers, Liverpool, it was money well spent.

Torres’ move to the Premier League champions should come as no surprise, what with the former Atletico Madrid man, who left his hometown for Merseyside in search of trophies, yet to win any silverware in a barren four-year spell at Anfield. Add to the equation no Champions League this season (and possibly next as well), a player with Torres’ ability – a European and World Cup winner with Spain – must surely be competing for football’s most coveted prizes.

One former Liverpool teammate of Torres, Luis Garcia, told BBC Five Live in January it was only right Torres and Liverpool should part company: “Torres left Atlético looking for trophies and titles and he has not achieved any of them and maybe it is time to think about it [a move],” adding,” “Liverpool are in a position where they are struggling in the league and maybe with all the changes they have done it is a good moment [to leave].” And, unfortunately, with the sudden downfall at Liverpool these past 12 months, Chelsea’s offer was too good to turn down for their beloved El Nino who took only 84 games to reach 50 goals at Liverpool, the quickest in the club’s history.

The closest Liverpool came to winning their first Premiership trophy was in 2009 when, despite being favourites at one stage towards the end of the season, they were piped to it by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United by four points. Since then, the departures of two key figures from that team, Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and Javier Mascherano to Barcelona without being replaced properly, has to many unsurprisingly coincided with Liverpool falling off the forever demanding top four pace, making Torres question where his future should lie.

Chelsea’s gain, however, should not be seen as Liverpool’s loss. Far from it. The London side’s season has not gone according to plan, having looked far beyond their old reliable ways, particularly when they went to the Emirates in December when they were made to look, mainly by Theo Walcott’s pace, well, old. Torres’ arrival will come as a timely boost to boss Carlo Ancelotti and the team’s defence of their title, and will surely add greater potency in front of goal which has been severely lacking, as fans and it appears the club have become frustrated with the bit-part performances of their current strikers Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou. Chelsea currently lie fourth in the league but, with the Spaniard now theirs, the Blues will feel quietly confident of overturning a nine-point margin with leaders Manchester United who they still need to play twice.

Liverpool, on their part, were right in accepting Chelsea chairman Roman Abramovich’s millions simply because Torres needed a new challenge and, right now, so do Liverpool. Failing to finish in the top four last season was a huge blow and has ultimately modified Liverpool’s priority. To get back to where the club feel they belong, they will need new and ambitious blood; the signings of Luis Suarez, the former Ajax star who made the headlines in South Africa for the right and sometimes wrong reasons, and Andy Carroll, a handful of a striker if ever there was one, which were funded by the sale of Torres, will add more hunger and desire to a historic English club that was in danger of going dangerously stale.

The sale of Torres could yet prove the makings of a new and prosperous chapter in Liverpool’s history. Yes, Liverpool still need to add to a squad lacking in numbers and quality, which is why the likes of Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, Stuart Downing and Blackpool’s captain Charlie Adam have all been linked with a summer move to Anfield. With Kenny Dalglish back in charge and doing, it seems, everything right to impress the owners, it is not so fanciful to think that that long awaited Premier League title may come sooner rather than later.

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Review: World Cup warm-ups

  • England win marred by poor performance
  • Ronaldo and co struggle against Cape Verde

So, with less than three weeks remaining until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, last night was an ideal opportunity for those participating to flex their superior muscles.

With Argentina hosting Canada, Portugal playing Cape Verde and England supposedly “entertaining” Mexico, what did we learn from them? In short, nothing we didn’t know before.

England 3 – 1 Mexico Highlights

As soon as Fabio Capello became the new England manager, everyone knew the country would stop attempting to play like Brazil and start to play like winners – boring winners, but winners nevertheless. And yesterday’s match was no different.

The score line doesn’t tell the full story. Basically, England looked either below-par or fatigued – your pick – as Mexico danced their way horizontally and vertically through the hosts without scoring. Sounds a bit like Arsenal really.

Tottenham’s Ledley King scored and…well, that’s about it. Looked clumsy and off the pace at times, which would be a worry, only we have an out-of-form John Terry to come in for him.

James Milner – who the former England manger, now singer, Terry Venables says is worth however much money Man City are willing to pay (too much probably) – was playing like a headless chicken. Initially starting out left, he was soon found further afield, before dropping deep where he continued to make unsuccessful last-ditch challenges on almost every Mexico player.

But as Capello will always tell you, a win is a win.

Portugal 0-0 Cape Verde Highlights

I’m sure Carlos Queiroz thought a game against Cape Verde would allow his Portugese super stars to gain a confidence boost after narrowly escaping World Cup elimination last year.

However, despite having only 35,100 players to pick, the island country still managed to keep Portugal at bay and record an historic goalless draw against a team containing Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United’s Nani and a Chelsea trio of Deco, Richardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferriera.

Argentina 5-0 Canada

The biggest surprise here was that Diego Maradona’s side managed to keep a clean sheet.

We all know that Argentina can destroy any nation going forward. The problem lies in that for all their fantastic ability offensively, there’s plenty of room for improvement defensively.

Last night’s clean sheet will have given the team confidence at the back and something to sustain and build on heading into the World Cup.

Although Argentina will continue to score at will, defending resolutely is less of a guarantee.

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Unashamed Mourinho plots Barce revenge

A late Gerard Pique goal saw Barcelona beat Inter Milan 1-0 at the Camp Nou, yet it is the Italian side who go through to the Champions League final at the Bernabeu after winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Many are now praising the Inter boss Jose Mourinho as the “master-tactician” (Henry Winter). Yet with Barcelona having 86.4% of possession tonight – a CL record –  it’s hard to agree.

Yes, Inter played the majority of the match with ten men, as the former Barcelona midfielder Motta received his marching orders after appearing to hit Sergio Busquets with a trailing arm in the opening half.

Yet, a defensive philosophy – with time-wasting compulsory – was always a priority for the Italian side. Another staggering stat was that Inter had 67 completed passing, compared to Barcelona’s 555.

What Mourinho did, and what he also attempted at Chelsea when they faced Barcelona in 2007/08, was to unashamedly send a team lacking any offensive intend.

If being a master-tactician involves ordering 11 professional footballers to stand behind the ball at all times, feign injury, forget the simple logistics of taking a throw-in or a free-kick, then there’s no doubt that Mourinho is the master. But then so too is Phil Brown (arguably a poor man’s Mourinho).

Not wanting to play and attempt to beat Barcelona at their own game is generally viewed as clever. Think Burnley going to the Emirates and playing offensive, open football against Arsenal, hopeful of some kind of result. Silly really, wouldn’t you agree.

Mourinho was only going to beat Barcelona on his own terms. But that doesn’t mean Inter are better – or played the superior football – than Barcelona over the two legs. Far from it.

Mourinho’s tactics were only going to be as effective as their deceitful display allowed them to.

Time-wasting, trickery, committment and, to some extent, astute positioning, were all part of Mourinho’s unashamed master-plan. Only Mourinho dares abandon his team’s usual playing style, in favour of victory. A bold move which pays huge dividends, seeing as it’s Inter in the final and not Barcelona.

But let’s not allow tonight’s contest to get lost in translation. Mourinho showed tonight that he has many admirable facets, and a few unruly ones.

A winner? yes; a passionate leader? indeed; an unashamed tactician? 100%.

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Germany’s Kiessling ideal for Premier League

With Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all looking light up front – an unusual suspect may well ease the pain.

Stefan Kiessling may be at the centre of a bidding war come January

Bayer Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling is a time bomb waiting to explode.

Kiessling, 25, is the German league leaders’ top goalscorer. Tall, athletic, calm and blessed with an industrious work ethic, the German international has got the lot. He’s so far managed 9 league goals, with the latest coming against Bayern Munich in his side’s 1-1 draw earlier today.

According to those in Germany, this guy has had it for a while now without ever really producing the desired goods. Back in his hometown of Nuremberg, many footballing wise guys felt Kiessling – a teenager back then – was the hottest prospect in Germany, a player who could go as far as he so pleased.

There’s added pressure this time around for Kiessling, however, as Leverkusen are without another German international, the influential Patrick Helmes, who is out injured until the new year. Early signs are good, as Kiessling continues to thrive under the extra responsibility, regularly providing as well as scoring, which has propelled his club to the top of the Bundesliga.

The target man has more than meets the eye. His goldie locks fail to show his exemplary determination, trickery and strength. It quickly becomes apparent just how good Kiessling can become once you see him in action for a full 90 minutes.

With or without the ball, he continues to willingly run anywhere his legs can take him. His intelligence and self awareness allows those runs to be used to maximum potential. If you watch a game for long enough you’ll soon wonder why Kiessling always seems to gain possession in acres of space.

Finishing isn’t a problem either. Aerially, left foot or right, nothing is too daunting for a player who confesses to enjoying celebrating a goal he’s scored more than anything else.

So, come January, with Drogba and Kalou away for Chelsea, Van Persie just returning from a lengthy absence for Arsenal, and United and Liverpool still looking light in the final third, all four may well be keeping a close eye on the availability of a certain Stefan Kiessling.

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Should the Premier League have a two-tier format?

Tomorrow will see Premier League Clubs gather to – hopefully once and for all (but I very much doubt it) – clear up this whole two-tier idea for England’s top division.

The meeting is to be held on account of Gartside’s proposal of a two-tier Premier League, with the possibility of Celtic and Rangers adjoining the new structure should it go ahead.

Miles Davis once said about change: “If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

Not sure if thats the slogan Phil Gartside, Bolton’s chairman, is running with – more like, “I wanna stop being smashed 5-1 away to Aston Villa, let alone Chelsea. I just want my team to be on a winning streak for once!”

Do we need change? Apart from Celtic and Rangers, who else would benefit?

There is the argument that the top league in England isn’t as competitive as we think.

It’s the same top four each year, it’s either Man United or Chelsea won end up winning it.

But I shall throw a spanner in that argument and say what about Manchester City and their billions, their 4-2 win over Arsenal, their narrow defeat to United at Old Trafford?

What about ‘Arry’s Spurs? 4th in the table, and with the Croatian wizard Luka Modric to return of injury, who’s to say they won’t finish there come May?

And say we break into a two-tier division. No more occasions when Ferguson’s men get taken down a few pegs by Burnley, or Liverpool losing to Fulham, or Wigan revealing Chelsea are human after all.

The meeting will take place between 1100-1400 and will also discuss the Premier League’s current sponsorship deal with Barclays.

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