UEFA Champions League Draw : Analysis

The UEFA Champions League group stage draw was made on 27th August 09 at Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. Teams from as many as 18 nations will feature in this year's Champions League campaign. Bundesliga winners Wolfsburg, FC Rubin Kazan, FC Rubin Kazan, AZ Alkmaar, R. Standard de Liege, AFC Unirea Urziceni, Debreceni VSC, APOEL FC and FC Zurich will all be making their debuts in this elite competition. 32 teams have been segregated into 8 groups of 4 in the following manner -

Bayern Munich (GER)
Juventus (ITA)
Bordeaux (FRA)
Maccabi Haifa (ISR)

Bayern Munich (plus Arjen Robben) and Juventus are clear favourites to advance to the knock-outs. Although Bordeaux will have a say in this group after having kick started their Ligue 1 season with 4 impressive wins. Maccabi Haifa remain the only minnows in this group.

Manchester United (ENG)
CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Besiktas JK (TUR)
VFL Wolfburg (GER)

No price for guessing who will claim the number 1 spot in this group. The race for second spot is evenly contested with Bundesliga holders Wolfburg, Turkish Champions Besiktas and Russian League runners-up CSKA Moscow all locking horns.

AC Milan (ITA)
Real Madrid (ESP)
Olympique de Marseille (FRA)
FC Zurich (SUI)

AC Milan vs Real Madrid. Need I say more??? Kaka will again be at the San Siro this season with only difference that he'll be in whites instead of red and black. 21st October is the day when these two footballing giants will go head to head. You just cant afford to miss this mouth-watering clash. Also in this group are French side Marseille and Swiss newbies FC Zurich. Group fillers may we assume?

Chelsea (ENG)
FC Porto (POR)
Athletico Madrid (ESP)

With Champions Leagues being the topmost priority on their list, Chelsea will be going all out to win this one. They have started their campaign in magnificient fashion under the influence of Carlo Ancelotti. Stopping them will be a herculean task for their opponents Athletico, Porto and APOEL. Although Atletico do boast of a certain Sergio Aguero (who was followed by Chelsea all summer) who can unlock any defence in this world. All in all Chelsea will be the clear favourites to reach knock-out stages with Athletico and Porto dueling for the second spot.

FC Liverpool (ENG)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
AFC Fiorentina (ITA)
Debreceni VSC (HUN)

Shaky start to the season has cast few doubts over the title credentials of Liverpool. But the Reds have known to transform into a completely new side on European nights. Somewhere in October Alberto Aquilani is expected to make his debut for Liverpool which will give the English side a cutting edge over its oppenents. Although Olympique Lyon (minus Karim Benzema) and Fiorentina do pose a substantial threat. The group also features Hungarian Champions Debreceni in its debut UCL season. On the whole, a very interesting group.

FC Barcelona (ESP)
FC Internazionale Milano (ITA)
FC Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
FC Rubin Kazan (RUS)

The Catalunya side will be looking to repeat the treble as they gear up for a new season. With Lionel Messi adjudged UEFA CLUB FORWARD OF THE YEAR and Xavi as UEFA CLUB MIDFIELDER OF THE YEAR its hard to find any reason why Barcelona wont reach the knock-outs. Standing in their way are Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan and Dynamo Kiev (who recently completed the signing of Andriy Shevchenko) and Russian league winners Rubin Kazan. Mourinho has made quality signings in Wesley Sneijder, Lucio and Samuel Eto'o. His side looks superbly balanced and highly motivated following the success in Milan derby (4-0). They can undoubtedly give Barcelona a run for their money.

Sevilla FC (ESP)
Rangers FC (SCO)
VfB Stuttgart (GER)
AFC Unirea Urziceni (ROU)

A group of dark horses. No big names in this group which will only make it more open and competitive. All four teams stand somewhat evenly poised to advance further. Although Stuttgart have bolstered their midfield significantly by signing ex-Gunner Alex Hleb.

Arsenal FC (ENG)
AZ Alkmaar (NED)
Olympiacos FC (GRE)
R. Standard de Liege (BEL)

I would be surprised if Arsenal don't clinch no.1 spot in this group. With a staggering start to the season its the least you can expect out of this young side. This group also features AZ Alkmaar, Olympiacos and Standard Liege who are the sole representatives of their respective national leagues.



Defending champions INDIA kept their hopes alive in the ONGC Nehru cup, after overcoming Sri Lanka 3-1 in a crucial tie that promised a place in the next stage ,at the Ambedkar stadium in NEW DELHI.
The action didn't took long to start; First chance : Sunil Chettri heading past the goalkeeper at the far post, only to his disappointment that the goal being disallowed due to offside. Next chance : a Steven Dias shot which was saved by goalie's fingertips. INDIA clearly had an upper hand and it took only 25 minutes of patience to break the dead-lock. Skipper Bhaichung put his side ahead through a header at the far post from a superb ball-in from Right wing by Steven Dias.
Trailing 1-0 at half-time, the Lankans bounced back to equalise in the 61st minute when Ruwanthilake headed home from a corner by Raumy Mohideen.
INDIA's second goal was scored by stopper Gaurmangi Singh who slotted in from a few yards away after Pradeep forced a save from the goalie courtesy of an excellent free-kick from WHO OTHER THAN BUT STEVEN DIAS HIMSELF.
Justice was made finally, when STEVEN DIAS who played major roles in both of INDIA's goals , himself managed to score with a stinging bullet shot with his right foot, late in the game to put the match beyond doubt. He was substituted two minutes before time, only to walk-off the field in style owing to a standing ovation from the stadium packed crowd of 12,000 fans.
A much more refined performance by the midfield led to a flurry of attacks through-out the game. It was a delight to watch how a rudderless Indian midfield woke up from slumber to lead an attack which had the Lankan team in all sorts of trouble.
India is placed second in the group with 6 pts from 3 games and a 2 goal difference, only behind group leaders SYRIA who are at 9 pts from same number of games.
The season is barely three weeks old , And here we are Manchester United Vs Arsenal one of the most promising fixture that ensures you a lot of firework is two days away . When we talk about United and Arsenal Rivalry , its more than just football . Its about Patrick Vieira , Its about Roy keane , Its about Rudd Van Nisterooy and The Penalty he missed , That famous victory to break their run , Its about That Unbeaten Run and the list is never ending . And after so many years I think that the rivalry will be rejuvenated .

Last Meeting :- Manchester United 0- 0 Arsenal .
Well this match is remembered more because of United lifting the P'ship than anything else .

Current Form :- Manchester United
After that upset from Burnley united Bounced back in Fashion , 5-0 is some score . Rooney in red hot fashion , Vidic as good as ever , Valencia is finally gelling ( though he can never be as good as Ronaldo was we ) , Owen has scored so has Berba . What more can you ask if you are a manager ?

Current Form :- Arsenal
Most of the people had already written them off , But When Arsenal thrashed Toffees and then Portsmouth The Critics were nowhere to be seen . They are playing at their best and only the Best performance from any other team can stop their little party .

Outcome :-
As it has been the case for many years , Predicting United Vs Arsenal Score is the most difficult task to do , and I am not going to write anyone off . Arsenal without or without Fabregas will play their brand of football and will push for a win. I'll go for a draw - an entertaining one
Manchester United 2 - 2 Arsenal

Best Of the Rest :
Also this weekend big clashes across Europe with the Milan Derby the most notable. Bayern take on Defending Champions Wolfsburg at the Allianz whereas Roma face Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico. And if your an Indian fan - the last round robin match against Syria is this weekend. With other results going their way, India find themselves in the final with Syria on Monday - hence India face two matches against Syria in a short span of three days. Elsewhere the Spanish league kicks off this weekend with high spending Real taking on Deportivo in the 1st match. So gear up for a fantastic weekend of football coming your way...

29 Aug
India vs Syria
Real Madrid vs Deportivo La Coruna
Bayern Munich vs Vfl Wolfsburg
AC Milan vs Inter Milan
Roma vs Juventus
Manchester United vs Arsenal

American Lies

Still 9 days to go in the transfer market and all the Liverpool fans have been left with nothing but frustration and question marks on their club's stale predicament in the transfer market. This was supposed to be THE Season. A Final Push for the title and that needs backing - especially from the owners. Failure - is the only word that springs to mind ever since the American owners - George Gillet & Tom Hicks have taken over the club from the Moores family. It wasn't long ago when Benitez signed a new 5-year deal with Liverpool and was subsequently promised a significant transfer budget for the following season.

From the outside it might look as if Liverpool have spent a great deal considering the following two deals:
Glen Johnson : £17.5m
Alberto Aquilani : £17m*

However people fail to realise how Benitez has used his options:
1. Portsmouth still had to pay significant amount of the Crouch deal in installments.
2. Liverpool have only paid around £3.5m upfront for Aquilani, the complete deal being in 4 part installments till June 2011.

*For those who still feel the deal was worth £20m and that I'm bluffing, here's the details of the deal from AS Roma's official website: http://www.asroma.it/UserFiles/988.pdf
AND if you have some problems with your Italian lingo here's the translated version: http://liverpoolfc.co.za/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/1126051643/m/472106714

Squad players who have left Liverpool are
Paul Anderson £250k
Sebastian Leto £3m
Sami Hyypia free agent
Alvaro Arbeloa £3.5m
Jermaine Pennant free agent
Jack Hobbs £400k
Adam Hammil £1m

Add to this the biggest factor of all - Xabi Alonso to Madrid for £30m.

It draws only one definite conclusion - the American owners haven't even supplied a penny in this transfer market for LFC. Benitez has worked efficiently with whatever he has (or nothing that is! ). And according to the current deals Benitez has actually made a profit by his sales and yet is unable to use the amount he raised. Reports claimed that Liverpool had actually agreed to a deal with David Silva for about £17m but the Americans refused to sanction the deal. Some claim that the Americans are using the money to fill in the debt they've mounted on the club. Benitez refused to answer any question regarding his transfer budget in yesterday's press conference. If the Americans have indeed supplied cash then we may see one more vital signing in the following week.

One More Signing...

Amidst reports that Benitez has only £1.5m left in his kitty, Liverpool have their latest acquisition in Sotirios Kyrgiakos - worth £2m. I for one wouldn't be shocked to see another signing for the Reds. It does seem that Benitez does have more money then the press seems to have been unfazed by...


The winners of last year's SERIE A are pretty confident of knocking down mighty AC Milan and Juventus to retain their Italian league. But its Champions League on what they have set their eyes. The last time Inter won the trophy was back in 1964-65 and were runners-up the next year and since then they are lacking only this major trophy.
Mourinho provided them with an almost immediate breakthrough by winning them the ITALIAN LEAGUE. Faced with a huge challenge after leaving Chelsea and had to battle it out to prove his credentials ,but all has settled now. Inter have got former Barcelona hitman Eto'o and midfielder Hleb as a compensation for their most successful player over the past few years - Zlatan . With Viera and Cambiasso solid in the centre mid and Hleb should be in his creative best on the left with veteran Zanneti on right.
What INTER really lack is a creative midfielder which explains Mourinho's quest for Deco and Sampdoria's Cassano. INTER have also added the services of Motta and Diego Milito from FC Genoa which have extended Inter's attacking force with Eto'o, Trezeguet, Ballotelo. The defence is well constructed with the arrival of Lucio from Bayern Munchen who will play alongside Cordoba in the centre and Maicon on the right. Maxwell's departure is met with grief but Lucio would perfectly fill in the void left by him.

Mourinho's quote on the ENTRY and EXIT of two legends:






A New United

So, the season about to start today, and the major transfers almost done now, there's plenty of excitement surrounding the BPL start.

There have been 'n' number of questions aimed at United after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Can United cope without Ronaldo? Who will score the goals now? Has the creative power of United gone? Can the gen-next of United step up to fill in the boots? Is Sir Alex right in keeping faith in his current squad? etc. etc. They'll never stop and so won't Manchester United!

The Community Shield last Sunday provided a glimpse of United without Ronaldo and Tevez. It also gave an opportunity for Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia to showcase what they're capable of. And I didn't see the mind-blowing football that maybe Ronaldo would have provided if he was still here. But everyone saw one thing. That United are not going to give away their crown so easily. That United are ready to fight until the finish.

Ferguson has not made any big-name signing after the 80m pounds transfer of Ronaldo and he insists that he has full faith in his squad. But many pundits are speculating that will this faith backfire? One thing's for sure. Due to Sir Alex, the coach's faith in his players, the players are sure to receive some boost. They will not think that they need a leader like Ronaldo anymore. Sir Alex's faith means he'll receive an improved performance from every single United player this season.

This situation is similar to that of the summer of 2006 when Chelsea had won back-to-back EPL titles under Mourinho and were looking hell-bent on adding a third. Ruud Van Nistelrooy's goals had dried up and the lone summer signing, Michael Carrick, was talented but unproven. What happened then? The Blues' run was halted, the existing players upped their level of performance and the 1st of the 3 EPL titles to follow was in the bag!

Claiming a fourth title in a row and making a record would be tough, as is always. But with Ronaldo gone, it promises to be much tougher. Also with Chelsea having Ancellotti at the helm, Liverpool not much changed and looking strong, Arsenal's young guns maturing and with Manchester City spending big, there are surely more hurdles for United this season.

The matches start today. The whole world will be watching. But the most intriguing spectre will be at Old Trafford, as the rest of the Premier League holds a magnifying glass to the new United.

Finally, after a summer filled with only questions for United, we will definitely get some answers.

English Premier League Preview

The Premier League starts today finally! After months of speculation about transfers, contenders and non-footballing issues, here it is. We look forward to the season in this preview.


Steven Fletcher

MAJOR INS: Steven Fletcher (Hibs, £3m), Tyrone Mears (Derby, £500,000), Richard Eckersley (Man Utd), Brian Easton (Hamilton, £350,000), David Edgar (Newcastle), Fernando Guerrero (Indep, loan)

MAJOR OUTS: Alan Mahon (Tranmere)

Last Season: 5th (Championship)

Verdict:Relegation Candidates

Burnley have a very good manager in Owen Coyle but even with that it seems unlikely they'll survive. Their squad isnt strong enough. This squad is very similar to that of Derby in 07-08. Though they have more resistance than Derby. Key Man to watch is Steven Fletcher who came from Hibernian.

Birmingham City

Christian Benitez

MAJOR INS: Scott Dann (undisclosed), Christian Benitez (£8.5m), Roger Johnson (£5m), Barry Ferguson (£1.2m), Joe Hart (loan), Giovanny Espinoza (loan), Lee Bowyer (free), Gregory Vignal (undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS: Stephen Kelly (Fulham, free)

Last Season:2nd (Championship)

Verdict: Relegation Battle

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish seems to have visited a lot of reserve team matches last season. The fact that he has signed several English Premier league reserve players proves that. Their record signing Cristian Benitez from Ecuador is an unproven signing and Birmingham will be hoping he comes good.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

MAJOR INS: Ronald Zubar (Marseille, undisclosed), Greg Halford (Sunderland, undisclosed), Nenad Milijas (Red Star, £2.7m), Marcus Hahnemann (Reading, free), Andrew Surman (Southampton, £1.2m), Kevin Doyle (Reading, £6.5m), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea, loan)


Last Season:1st (Championship)

Verdict: Relegation Battle

Wolves Boss returns to the top flight with another old-face Wolves. Mick McCarthy has strengthened his squad with signings such as Zubar, Halford, Hahnemann and Mancienne. Wolves are a very strong team in attack with Sylvain Ebanks-Blake their leadins striker and new signing Kevin Doyle with him. Their defensive part looks fragile though and this could be their weakness.

Hull City

MAJOR INS: Steven Mouyokolo (Boulogne, £1.8m), Seyi Olofinjana (Stoke, £3m), Jozy Altidore (Villarreal, loan), Stephen Hunt (Reading, undisclosed), Kamel Ghilas (Celta Vigo, undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS: Sam Ricketts (Bolton, undisclosed)

Last Season: 17th

Verdict: Relegation Candidates

Hull boss Phil Brown seems to lack in motivational skills. Hull won just one of their last 22 games last season which proves just that. It has been a very frustrating summer for Hull with most of their top transfer targets looking elsewhere. They include Owen among them. Though their is speculation that Real Madrid starlet Alvaro Negredo could be headed to Hull, this comes from their desperation to sign a quality forward. Plus the speculation of key man Turner going to Liverpool does not help. A dark season ahead for Hull.


Darren Bent

MAJOR INS: Lorik Cana (Marseille, £5m), Fraizer Campbell (Man Utd, £3.5m), Paulo da Silva (Toluca, free), Darren Bent (Spurs, £10m),Lee Cattermole(Wigan, £6m)

MAJOR OUTS: Dean Whitehead (Stoke, £3m), Michael Chopra (Cardiff, £4m), Greg Halford (Wolves, undisclosed)

Last Season: 16th

Verdict: Top Half

Sunderland have signed ex-Wigan boss Steve Bruce and backed by a reasonable transfer budget, Sunderland should get a top-half finish and stay clear of relegation. They have signed Albania captain Lorik Cana which is a coup though there may be some problems due to disciplinary record. Bent comes to Sunderland after a rather frustrating spell at Spurs.

Blackburn Rovers

MAJOR INS: Lars Jacobsen (Everton), Elrio van Heerden (Club Brugge), Gael Givet (Marseille, £3.5m), Franco di Santo (Chelsea, loan), Nikola Kalinic (Hajduk Split)

MAJOR OUTS: Matt Derbyshire (Olympiakos, £3m), Roque Santa Cruz (Man City, £17.5m)

Last Season:15th


Sam Allardyce is back to his his usual habits in transfers. He scours the world for a cheap and good signing. They sold Santa Cruz to City finally but this has decreased their firepower and they have only Kalinic as a new quality forward. However their defence is strong with Samba at the helm and this should propel them to a safe mid-table position.


Steve Finnan

MAJOR INS: Steve Finnan (Espanyol, free), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn, free), Frederic Piquionne (Lyon, loan), Antti Niemi (Fulham, free), Anthony Vanden Borre (Genoa, loan)

MAJOR OUTS: Peter Crouch (Spurs, undisclosed), Glen Johnson (Liverpool, £17.5m), Sean Davis (Bolton, free)

Last Season:14th

Verdict: Unknown!

The future of Portsmouth can only be predicted by Nostradamus. Their takeover looms darkly and has not been completed though it was agreed in June. If the takeover goes through Pompey will survive. If the takeover fails, Pompey fail atleast financially.Failure of a takeover would result in Pompey being the first premier league club to go into administration.

Bolton Wanderers

MAJOR INS: Sean Davis (Portsmouth, free), Paul Robinson (West Brom, loan), Sam Ricketts (Hull, undisclosed), Zat Knight (Villa, undisclosed), Lee Chung-Yong (FC Seoul, undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS: Tope Obadeyi (Swindon, loan)

Last Season: 13th

Verdict: Top Half

Similar to Blackburn. Allardyce's old club should get a safe mid table position. They have signed Zat Knight to steel up their defence. Gary Cahill looks to stay on having agreed a new contract. Though Gary Megson is not liked by the Bolton faithful, he'll end up keeping the safe. Mid-Table. Period.

Stoke City

MAJOR INS: Dean Whitehead (Sunderland, £3m)

MAJOR OUTS: Seyi Olofinjana (Hull, £3m)

Last Season: 12th

Verdict: Bottom Half

Stoke City surprised everyone last season by their performances and most importantly Rory Delap. Turns out Rory Delap used to train as a quarter-back rather than a right-back! On a serious note, Stoke will find it hard to repeat last season's performance with just Dean Whitehead coming in. Limited finances add to their worries and we should see Stoke just scrape through the relegation battle.

Wigan Athletic

MAJOR INS: Jordi Gomez (Espanyol, £1.7m), Hendry Thomas (Olimpia), Jason Scotland (Swansea, £2m), James McCarthy (Hamilton, £1.2m), Scott Sinclair (Chelsea, loan), Antonio Amaya (Rayo Vallecano)

MAJOR OUTS: Antonio Valencia (Man Utd, £16m),Lee Cattermole(Sunderland, £6m)

Last Season:11th

Verdict:Bottom Half

Steve Bruce left Wigan for Sunderland with Roberto Martinez being brought in as his replacement. Martinez is inexperienced in the top-flight and this could hinder Wigan. The sales of Valencia, Cattermole and Palacios(January) do not help either.Wigan have been unable to prise their top transfer targets either due to lack of funds or players' unwillingness to come to Wigan.Mid-Table finish for Wigan.

Manchester City

Gareth Barry with Hughes

Tevez with Hughes

MAJOR INS: Gareth Barry (Villa, £12m), Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn, £17.5m), Carlos Tevez (MSI, £25m), Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal, £25m), Kolo Toure (Arsenal, £14m)

MAJOR OUTS: Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Ched Evans (Sheff Utd, £3m), Elano (Galatasaray, £6m), Kasper Schmeichel (Notts County, undisclosed)

Last Season:10th

Verdict:Europa League

Manchester City have spent big this season. They have spent upward of £90 million till now. They have strengthened all their departments and they still are looking to sign another centre-back most probably Joleon Lescott of Everton. Man City have come under a lot of flak from Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson. However this is just another part of Ferguson's "mind-games" and he is jealous of his rivals. City have a very strong squad and they should be a big threat to the top four.

West Ham United

MAJOR INS: Luis Jimenez (Inter Milan, loan), Peter Kurucz (Ujpest FC), Fabio Daprela (Grasshopper Club Zurich, undisclosed), Radoslav Kovac (Spartak Moscow, undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS: Freddie Sears (Crystal Palace, loan), Lee Bowyer (Birmingham, free)

Last Season:9th


Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has made an impressive start to his managerial career. Him and right-hand Steve Clarke should be able to guide West Ham to a top half finish. They have signed many youngsters and they should think they are in safe hands. West Ham also signed Croatian veteran Radoslav Kovac after he impressed on loan last season. Finances aren't strong at Upton Park but this should not bother them.

Tottenham Hotspur

Peter Crouch

MAJOR INS: Peter Crouch (Portsmouth, undisclosed), Kyle Walker & Kyle Naughton (Sheff Utd, undisclosed), Sebastien Bassong (Newcastle, £8m)

MAJOR OUTS: Didier Zokora (Sevilla, £8m), Chris Gunter (Nott'm Forest, £1.75m), Darren Bent (Sunderland, £10m)

Last Season:8th

Verdict:Europa League

Harry Redknapp has done a brilliant job since taking over at Tottenham. He guided them to an 8th place from a relegation place last season. They have added youngsters Walker and Naughton to their array of right-backs. Peter Crouch also makes a return to the club that he started his career at. This means that, as usual, Tottenham have more strikers in their squad than available places. Tottenham should finish in the Europa League places. They also remain a threat in the Cups.


MAJOR INS: Bjorn Helge Riise (Lillestrom, undisclosed), Stephen Kelly (Birmingham, free), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Golden Arrows)


Last Season:7th

Verdict:Top Half

Fulham exceeded all expectations last season by finishing in 7th place. Repeating that feat should not be too difficult considering they have the same squad more or less. However other teams have got stronger and this should provide a challenge to Roy Hodgson. Their success should depend upon their capability to keep Brede Hangeland at the club. Hangeland is not only sound in defence but also a threat aerially. Top Half seems likely for Fulham.

Aston Villa

Stewart Downing

MAJOR INS: Stewart Downing (Boro, £12m), Fabian Delph (Leeds, undisclosed), Habib Beye (Newcastle, undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS: Gareth Barry (Man City, £12m), Zat Knight (Bolton, undisclosed)

Last Season:6th

Verdict:Top Half

Aston Villa had a good first half of the season last year and an ordinary second half. This resulted in them surrendering their fourth place to Arsenal and then fifth place to injury-hit Everton. They seemed to be too reliant on Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbohnlahor to score goals for them. Influential midfielder Gareth Barry left for Manchester City. Villa signed Stewart Downing from Boro for £12m as replacement. Downing is sidelined with injury until December however. Villa captain Laursen retired due to injury. So, Martin O'Neill faces a challenge to repeat last season's performance. They'll finish in the top-half.


MAJOR INS: Jo (Man City, loan)

MAJOR OUTS: Lars Jacobsen (Blackburn, free)

Last Season:5th

Verdict:Europa League

David Moyes does the impossible year after year. With limited finances Everton still manage to not only survive but perform well too. Last season was also the same story regarding transfers with Everton buying Marouane Fellaini on deadline day. This season with only Jo arriving on loan and not much speculation to more signings, Everton look to have the same squad last year. They have held on to Joleon Lescott from Man City and should be able to keep him come September.


Thomas Vermaelen

MAJOR INS: Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax, £10m)

MAJOR OUTS: Emmanuel Adebayor (Man City, £25m), Kolo Toure (Man City, £14m)

Last Season:4th

Verdict:Top Four

Arsenal face the same story again. Sell key players. Keep the money. After selling Adebayor and Toure to Man City for a combined £40 million, Arsenal haven't signed anyone except for Vermaelen whom the signed in June. Arsenal's youngsters should step up if they have to challenge for the Championship. However Arsenal look certain to win atleast one Cup this season ending a four-year wait.Their attack looks strong with RVP, Arshavin, Eduardo, Walcoot and Bendtner. Fourth Place.


Yuri Zhirkov

MAJOR INS: Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow, £18m), Daniel Sturridge (Man City), Ross Turnbull (Boro, free)

MAJOR OUTS: Ben Sahar (£1m, Espanyol), Michael Mancienne (Wolves, loan)

Last Season:3rd


Chelsea signed Carlo Ancelotti as their fifth manager in 20 months. Ancelotti comes with great tactical experience. Chelsea should compensate not signing a world class superstar by winning the championship for Mr.Abramovich. Ancelotti's preferred Diamond formation has its weaknesses as Man Utd showed last week. But with Bosingwa on they looked unbeatable. Drogba and Terry have both signed new contracts. Lampard is also in great form. This should take them a step closer to the title.


Glen Johnson with Rafa

MAJOR INS: Glen Johnson (Pompey, £17.5m), Alberto Aquilani (Roma, £20m)

MAJOR OUTS: Sebastian Leto (Pan'kos, £1.3m), Jermaine Pennant (Real Zaragoza), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid, £3.5m), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid, £30m)

Last Season:2nd

Verdict:Top Four

Like United, Liverpool also have a weakened squad with the departure of Alonso. However Glen Johnson is a great signing for Liverpool. The England international will provide stability in both attack and defense. Alonso's replacement Aquilani is injured until September and fans will be hoping he finds his feet in the league fast enough to take advantage of the kinder first half fixtures. It seems like Liverpool will have to wait for atleast another year for the title. However, me being a red, I would be delighted to be proven wrong on this.

Manchester United

Obertan, Owen, Valencia

MAJOR INS: Antonio Valencia (Wigan, £18m), Michael Owen (Newcastle, free), Gabriel Obertan (Bordeaux, £3m)

MAJOR OUTS: Carlos Tevez (loan expired), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, £80m), Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland, £3.5m), Danny Simpson (Newcastle, loan)

Last Season:First

Verdict: Top Four

The Cristiano-Real saga finally concluded this summer with the star going to Real and United getting £80m in return. Though this isuue has already been discussed a thousand times, Ronaldo's transfer is surely going to affect United a lot more than their fans think. Ronaldo was always dangerous till the end of the match and when thier opponents would run out of steam, Ronaldo would completely annhilate them. His replacement Valencia is more orthodox and more of a provider than a finisher which Ronaldo both was. Plus Owen is no match for Tevez. Tevez has a high work rate whereas Owen is more of a finisher. A fourth consecutive is improbable.

Arsenal FC:- Squad Analysis

"WE LOVE THE GAME" Yes it is the 2009 Edition of BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE which kicks of today and has everyone excited and this excitement is palpable.
So if your an arsenal fan and have faith in Arsene Wenger then lets analyse the squad,formation and the strengths and weakness for ARSENAL FC as they fight for a top spot this time:-
1. Manuel Almunia:- Spaniard who came to prominence after Jens Lehman screwed up big time with his erratic saves. Due to injury to Lens and loss of form MANUEL stepped up as number 1 priority in ARSENE's list and he has since not disappointed.
  • Great Agility
  • Good sense of the game
  • very nice diving ability
  • Strong Saves
  • As such he's not tall enough like Petr Cech or Van De Sar.
2. Luckaz Fabianski:- This Polish Goalie is highly talented. He needs to be nurtured in a proper way and Arsene for sure knows that. He has shown glimpses of talent but for most of it has been highly erratic when it comes to saving goals.

Defenders(In order of Importance):-
1. William Gallas:-
After the departure of Kolo Toure who was a part of the invinvibles, for a reported 16million pounds, its now up to this 31yr old top class French talisman to get going and prove that he is not only committed to Arsenal FC but also skillful enough to be the best in the business.
  • Very good defending skills overall.
  • No weakness as such and is a complete defender.
2. Gael Clichy:-
Showed his class in the past two seasons filling the shoes of ex-Arsenal Cole.
  • Very high pace
  • Great marking
  • Can run through the whole football field in no time
  • Great crosses

Weakness:- Needs to be fit throughout the season as he is injury prone.

3. Bacaray Sagna:-
Completes the French Trio of Defenders in Arsenal was bought in from Auxerre Fc for a reported £9.5mn and from day one this Right back has been highly influential.

  • Overall a classy defender with skill,pace,marking,etc all in his kitty.
  • One of the major reasons of his success in Arsenal that he is very fit and not at all injury prone as the rest of the squad.
Weakness:- None as such just one advice "More game time better it is for him".

4. Thomas Vermaelen:-
This Belgian Centre back has impressed Arsenal scouts and was highly rated defender though just barely 6ft he has an overall good defending skills. Is the only signing this summer for Arsenal FC and surprisingly Arsene paid £10mn for this 23yr old Ajax stopper.

5.Mikael Silvestre:- Yet another French centre back!!!!!!!!It seems arsene's love for french players is not over but as they say 'Old is Gold' and so it may be. It may have been a surprising to all Arsenal fans when this 32year old Defender was bought in from arch rivals MAN UTD for and undisclosed fee. Is okay but has loads of EXPERIENCE.

6.Alex Song:-
Oh my gosh!!!!This player never stops to impress me he's a class act at his age.This 21 yr old Cameroonian International can play as centre back,defensive mid and holding mid. Though he is just 6'1" he has great physical presence and can be hugely influential this season.

7. Kierran Gibbs:-
Under 21 England International came to prominence last season due to injuries to Clichy and Silvestre. Everyone says Arsenal has found a GAEL CLICHY in him and i agree.

1. Cesc Fabregas:-
What can any one say about this lad. Just 22 years of age and is the Captain of the Gunners.
He was bought in by Arsenal FC from Bacelona FC at a meagre price of £500,000. But Arsene had a plan in mind for this lad and he came up the ranks due to injury to Gilberto,Pires,Viera,etc in 2003. Since then he has impressed day by day match by match week by week.
  • Highly creative
  • Highly Skillful
  • Great playmaker
  • Good ball control
  • Descent Dribbling
  • Good Reader of the game.
  • Priceless for Arsenal right now.
Weakness:- Personally none but one advice
  • Needs a good physical presence.
2. Andrei Arshavin:-
The transfer saga which followed him during this winter transfer season was like a Hollywood Thriller. Jokes a part was bought for a record fee of £15mn from Zenit Petersburg on the final hour of the transfer window closing.
After he made his debut he has only impressed everyone by his skills. His Awesome Foursome against Liverpool just shows what a natural talent he is and that money is the key to good players staying in the club.
  • Great Speed
  • Greatest dribbling skills
  • Great game sense
  • Leadership ability.
Weakness:- My opinion is that his stamina is a problem i barely see him play 90mins full.

3. Samir Nasri:-
Yet another talented French Mid. At 22 is touted as the "next Zizou" as he has great dribbling skills. He usually plays as right/left winger and is very very very good player.
  • Great pace
  • Great skill
  • As always what Arsenal lack in mid field is PHYSICAL PRESENCE and Nasri at 5'10 is just too short to cause any harm to the likes of ALEX(Chelsea) or even a Agger(Liverpool).

4.Thomas Rosicky:-
The Czech international is a class act but due to resent injuries he's just not able to recover completely. Now Arsene declared him fit for Celetic game and on his day he is fierce.Plays as Central Attacking Mid.

5. Theo Walcott:-
He's like a CHEETAH in the pack of Arsenal team.Very fast and skillfull. Though lacks a certain level of maturity which he surely will gain as he plays more regularly. Just needs to be fit.

6. Abou Diaby:-
Iam sorry to but i personally think he is a waste. Abou at 6'3" is more like a VIERA built except the fact that he is not PATRICK VIERA. Is a Defensive Mid. but can play as a natural ball supplier with good dribbling skills but that's it no other footballing ability he posses.

7. Denilson:-
This young Brazilian lad has all the makings of a FLAMINI but lacks the PHYSICAL PRESENCE on a football field. He is 21 and 5' 10" which makes him among the shortest players around in the team so you can imagine. He's just good at short passes and in the 67 matches he's played for arsenal has managed only 3 goals.

8. Aaron Ramsey:-
The U-21 wales International plays as a Central Mid. and has all the makings of an O'Shea. At just 18yrs he has already featured for Wales National team and can play as a right/left winger , central mid, and left/right back. What else he is young an talented.

9. Jack Wilshire:-
The latest Arsenal kid on the block. Jack at just 17yrs of age has featured in all the Pre Season matches Arsenal played and has scored twice against Rangers and one against Athletico Madrid and has been called up for England U-21 season. watch out for this fella as he is lethal.

10. Emmanuel Eboue:- A Defender/Winger is on the verge of a transfer to Barcelona or Fiorentina.

Forwards:-The Arsenal Forward looks really STRONG this time around.
1. Robin Van Persie:-
Most prolific,clinical and lethal striker Arsenal have. At 26 is one of the best Centre Forward the world has seen and my advice to him is be FIT.

Highly rated Croatian Striker. He scores goals like eating apples from a plate. Suffered a early setback in Feb. 2008 when he was injured due to a slide tackle by MARTIN TAYLOR. He not only broke his fibula minora but also twisted his ankle which caused him to be lay ed off for the year.Now hes fit and raring to go.

3. Carlos Vela:-
This Mexican has a great feat for goals and is quick and can be very lethal when it comes to his left foot. His weak foot ability is really weak.

4. Bendtnar:-
The Dane is the only TALL BULKY player at present. He has great physical presence and a great feat of scoring goals from nowhere. Holds the record for scoring a goal as a substitute when he came of the bench and scored against TOTENHAM FC in just 1.8 secs of his entry. This season is going to be highly influential if he is played regularly and can be come WORLD"S greatest striker.

This team looks on course for a top 4 finish but iam being optimistic that WNEGER would sign Brede Haegland and Maroune Chamakh which would surely be a boost.


Associazione Calcio Milan, commonly referred to as AC Milan and as just Milan in Italy, is one of the most famous Italian professional football club based in Milan, Lombardy. The club was founded in 1899 by English lace-maker Herbert Kilpin, Alfred Edwards, and four other Englishmen and has since then spent most of its history in the top flight of Italian football. But with the recent turnout of events their top flight football career has come under the scanner.

Just to take you through the past of Milan, Milan is one of the most successful clubs in Italy, having won a total of 29 trophies, and the most winning team in the world for international competitions won together with Boca Juniors. As far as Italian competitions are concerned, Milan are the second most successful club with 17 league titles; only Juventus have won more . AC Milan have won four world titles, more than any other club in the world. They have won the Intercontinental Cup 3 times , and the FIFA Club World Cup once. Milan have also earned the distinction of being allowed to wear a star on their shirt representing the fact that they have won more than 10 scudetti. Added to this Milan are allowed to wear the UEFA Badge of Honour on their shirt during Champions League matches as they have won more than 5 European Cups.
They certainly remember their glorious past and can take it as a reason to excel. Milan have dominated world football and if they want to relive those golden moments they surely have to make some serious changes.

Milan are too scared to introduce new players and are becoming extremely stale, with their team invariably comprising the old guard. With as many as 9 players above the age of thirty which include the likes of Zambrotta ,Jankulovski,Ceedorf,Pirlo, Ambrossini,Dida, Nesta,Gattuso and Inzaghi. Just for the records Zambrotta is 32 yrs, Jankulovski is 32 , Ceedorf is 33 , Pirlo is 30 , Ambrossini 32 , Dida 36 , Nesta 33 , Gattuso 31, Inzaghi 36. All of the above are veteran players who have served their respective nations with loyalty and excelled during their hay days at Milan. But Milan surely have to purchase some young blood or rather cultivate some homegrown talent in order do give their team a much needed boost.

With the playmaker in the form of KAKA gone to REAL MADRID there is little hope for Milan to produce results. Kaka used to carry out the proceedings in the midfield and was a dream for his manager as he would produce the required results. But with Kaka gone what remains is a multi mllion dollar question CAN MILAN BUY A SUBSTITUTE FOR KAKA? But are Milan ready to spend
a fortune on a player??? They are not active when the transfer window opens and hesitate to introduce new palyers in to the squad.Reportedly AC Milan have launched a bid for the Wolfsburg forward Edin Dzeko who has 56 goals in total between his strike partner Grafite . If rumours are to be believed Wolfsburg have denied the bid and Dzeko has extended his contract.But if Milan dont want any inclusions it all remains on how they use the current squad. The expectations are naturally high as they have already set a standard for themself.

The current turn-out of events is so disappointing for supporters worldwide who love and respect their team that it all boils down to weakness in management, especially the coach. The midfield partnership of Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and lately Massimo Ambrosini has proved to be one of the most solid and respected in Europe, but lack of foresight from the coach has failed to develop any new youngsters.Failure to bring in any young stars of the future has left once-mighty Milan struggling as a team of has-beens, with just one or two notable exceptions. So what happens is Milan are rather forced to play Pato, as opposed to willing to play him and he is showing his class. Surely if other youngsters are given a chance to grow and improve, like Alberto Paloschi and Pato have, they will also fulfill their potential rather than simply rotting on the bench.


Milan the fashion capital of the world boasts various veteran brands like DONATELLA VERSACE, DOLCE AND GABBANA, ARMANI and many others who just fail to loose their charm and have become almost immortal but on the other hand AC MILAN unfortunately cannot continue with the old guard and have to have to try a few permutations and combinations to revive its much lost glory.

We would be glad if AC MILAN were informed of their expiry date!

Farewell Xabi…

And so it ends.
Curtains finally fall on the longest running transfer saga of this season. FC Liverpool becomes £30 million richer but relinquish the services of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid. Yes. Alonso is the latest arrival at the Bernabeu.

As a RED myself, I feel deeply disappointed to lose one of our talismanic midfielders. An outsider would surely be inclined to say that the departure of Alonso is very less damaging as Liverpool’s midfield is heavily dependent on their captain marvelous- Steven Gerrard. True to some extent. But having said that it is instructive to compare the style and significance of Gerrard and Alonso, two players with very polarized approaches to the sport. Gerrard is more of an attacker. A rallying point for desperate rescue missions. Alonso, on the other hand, a player with vision. A silent leader. A player with authority and presence. As a certain reporter rightfully states “Alonso is the key figure in the painful transition of Liverpool from frantic scurrying to confident mastery”. He has this unique ability to bring about a fluidity in the game with controlled possession and pinpoint short passes and long balls. A massive reason behind the success of Liverpool’s last campaign.

It was baffling to see Benitez preferring the mediocrity of Gareth Barry over uniqueness of Alonso. And even when he lost Barry to Manchester City, instead of saying “Who needs him when we have Alonso!!” he chose to label Barry as greedy for cash over success. A perfect opportunity was blown by Benitez to show Alonso how much he meant to the club. At this point of time Alonso was bound to feel exasperated and look for better offers abroad. If he has left Liverpool today its not because he felt seduced by the glamour and glitz of the Galacticos, but because he felt rejected by Benitez.

Alonso has 61 appearances for Spain. A tremendous achievement considering the plethora of talent Spain possesses in midfield. Maybe Benitez was not Spanish enough to appreciate that.

The departure of Xabi has certainly left a big hole in the Liverpool line-up. Its not a question of ‘whether’ but ‘how much’ Liverpool will miss Xabi Alonso next season considering the fact that even Mascherano is feeling unsettled at England. Even his future is a subjected to speculation. Suddenly the Reds are falling short of their holding midfielders.

It is difficult to see how Liverpool could find another player with Alonso’s qualities. Whomsoever Benitez will sign as his replacement has big boots to fill.

Whether Liverpool will still be title contenders next season or go one better and lift the coveted Barclays Premier League trophy, only time will tell…

Whats the deal with Xabi?

Don't look at me like that...I DON'T KNOW!

The Xabi Alonso to Real saga has been the longest this summer . And it has been a sulking one.
Every friend of mine has his own story to tell...yea this saga has been a discussion everywhere..and guess what? Everyone has their own side of the story . Amidst all the rumours speculation confusion & contradiction emblazing the media and the newspaper we can conclude that up till now we've come across a thousand tabloid tales and to only one conclusion...
we know nothing!

To be a bit blunt I'd go as far as saying that even the press association and big-name
newspapers and media know nothing!

Not only that but the fact remains that everyone in the land wants to spread speculation and newspapers want their side of the story as breaking news!
Hell with that

Lets just rewind to the start of the summer.

Benitez is adamant he will not sell Xabi Alonso and it would take an unreal offer to prize away the talented midfielder from Anfield.

Fast Foward to 15 days back from today
Benitez is unwilling to sell the Spanish star and an offer of £35m may make Benitez think about selling the Spanish ace.

Moving on to what has happened to the newspapers in the past 5 days...one of contradiction and confusion

“For a club that has spent €160m on just two players, one would have imagined that splashing a further few million on a midfielder “fundamental” to their plans wouldn’t be a problem for ‘deep-pockets’ Florentino Perez,” says The Telegraph, however the “Madrid president is rather more frugal when the value of the player in question rests almost exclusively in football terms,” adds the story. The article claims “Madrid have made an offer of €24m (£20.5m)”, for Alonso. Which is way below “Liverpool’s initial asking price of €40m,” says the story. But manager Rafa Benítez “is now holding out for €30m (£26m) which would most likely rise to €33m with incentives.” However, Perez is unwilling to raise “his offer of €25m.”

Meanwhile the Guardian appears to suggest the move to be less problematic claiming “Xabi Alonso will complete his £28m move to you-know-who on Monday.”However elsewhere, the paper says: “Real Madrid have made an offer of €24m (£20.5m) for Alonso,” and “Benítez is holding out for €30m (£26m) plus incentives which would see the total exceed €33m.” The story also adds: “Pérez, though, has resisted increasing his offer above €25m.”

The Times isn’t so confident. They say: “Liverpool were continuing to play hardball over Xabi Alonso last night as Real Madrid braced themselves for more disappointment despite making an improved £28 million bid for the Spain midfield player.” The story claims Reds boss Rafa Benitez is refusing to budge from his £30m asking price and the 48-hour deadline set for a Real has passed, leaving negotiations at an impasse. “Florentino Pérez, the Real president, is thought to have been irritated at being given an ultimatum by Liverpool,” says the story, as he recently suggested Alonso was overpriced, however “having described the player as “fundamental” to his summer spending plans, it is expected that Pérez will match Benítez’s valuation,” claims the article.

The Independent says: “Sources in Spain suggest that Real president Florentino Perez has actually lowered his original offer of £24million because of Alonso’s demand to move.” However the paper thinks a deal may be done as early as the end of the weekend, by sayng: “Benitez and Alonso now want a quick solution to the situation, ahead of Liverpool’s trip to play Espanyol in their new stadium in Barcelona on Sunday.”

Tonights Echo says: “Liverpool are braced for an improved bid for Xabi Alonso as Real Madrid step up their pursuit of the midfielder.” “Real Madrid must now improve their initial £24million offer” as the Reds are “holding out for a fee of around £30million.”

Sky Sports says: “It is reported that a deal could be struck in the next couple of days for Alonso to join Real for a price in the region of £25million.”

The Express states Benitez will “reluctantly cut the asking price and negotiate in the hope of reaching a compromise at £28m.”

The Mail is running the transfer saga but has added a new twist into the mix with the screaming headline:

“Xabi Alonso twist: Chelsea and Manchester City ready to pounce if Real Madrid stall on meeting Liverpool’s asking price.

"both clubs are just £2.5million apart” in their evaluation of the player as they head into the “final stretch of negotiations over Xabi Alonso’s move to the Bernabeu.”

The article adds that “talks will take place over the weekend with Monday set as the deadline for a deal to be struck,” however Liverpool are “reluctant to go much under £30m,” suggesting “a compromise figure around £28m could be reached.”

However the story warns that if the deal stalls, he could move to Chelsea or Manchester City, who “both enquired about the Spain midfielder in May, but were told he is not for sale.” The article adds: “Stamford Bridge boss Carlo Ancelotti remains keen if the price is right.”

This implausible added plot line would suggest Alonso simply wants to move away from Liverpool at all costs, but may not care where his destination will be.

The Mirror says Benitez has lowered his asking price from £35m to £30m, but Madrid ar not prepared to pay more then £27m. The article adds that: “the star’s agent, Inaki Ibanezis, is in Madrid, ready to begin official talks with Real once he gets the green light.”

The Star says: “Benitez stood firm, maintaining that Real would have to fork up £35m. Real refused to go above £22m. Now a compromise is near at £28m.”

Add into the mix that Tuesday’s Telegraph stated “Madrid are yet to lodge a formal offer.” Presumably if this is true, all these offers, rejections and counter offers have taken place in the past four days.

Most papers appear to agree on one thing however ‘money bags’ Madrid need to offload players before they can spend any more money. Papers are suggesting the Bernabeu club will offload Alvaro Negredo, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Rafael Van der Vaart, Gabriel Heinze and Arjen Robben. A few story’s are speculating some of the above players may be offered to Liverpool in a player plus cash deal.

Even the claim that Alonso handed a transfer request in the first place appears to have sparked claim and counter claim. The Times thickens the plot somewhat by saying:

“Sources at Liverpool said that Alonso submitted a transfer request on Wednesday evening in an effort to hasten a move to Real, but the suggestions were dismissed by Alonso’s representatives, who insisted that the player had taken no such action.”

There! What we all can assess from this shit is that...

Real have offered £20m/£24m/£26m/£27m/£28m/£30m
Real have/haven't offered a player swap in addition to the money
Alonso did/didn't hand over a transfer request
Rafa has/hasn't accepted a bid from Madrid
Real have/haven't made a formal offer as yet! (And the 48-hour deadline has passed!)

Now quickly make up your mind and develop your part of the saga...and make sure you add some spice to it -cause you've got a story to tell...