Sunday, March 3, 2013

European Soccer Upate

Theo Walcott

So we're politically correct, an update of European Football.

As for this weekend's Premiership football, well the fixtures of note will be Liverpool v Aston Villa, Arsenal v Everton, and Bolton v Manchester United. I also think Charlton can cause an upset against Newcastle, and if West Ham mess up against Blackburn at home, changes could be underway.

Liverpool are struggling horribly, and with the quality (Alonso and Gerrard) they have, their struggle at the moment is inexplicable. Last season Arsenal struggled, but they had just lost Vieira and Edu, and only signed Hleb, and it took them a while to find their feet. But this season Liverpool have signed Kuyt, Bellamy, Pennant, Mark Gonzalez, Palletta, Agger and Fabio Aurelio, and not lose anyone of note, so their poor form really is a kick in the teeth to the management. I expect they'll find their way and manage to steer themselves into the top 4 much like Arsenal did last season, but really with them being the favourite to challenge Chelsea, their season is essentially already a disappointment.

As for Bolton v Manchester United, the Red Devils have always struggled against Bolton. They've lost twice at home to them, and drawn away on a few occasions, including when Solskjaer equalised in the last minute a few seasons ago. United's midfield, their traditional strength, have been poor this season, but Scholes and Carrick are slowly finding their form. However form books generally tend to go out the window as far as Bolton are concerned, because their no nonsense, kick-and-shove, long-ball approach often means that it's a battle more than a football match. It will be tough to score against Bolton, and if Anelka is up for it he could easily pinch a goal. Fat Sam and Sir Alex are good friends, and these games are generally good-natured encounters as a result.

Arsenal v Everton will be a tough game. Everton have finally showed some sort of consistency this season, and are very tough to breakdown, and quite physical. For Arsenal, this is a game in which Adebayor would be important to give them an option against Everton's direct approach, but he is injured for 3 weeks after going off early on in the Carling Cup. Forgotten man Jeremie Aliadiere should win a spot on the bench. Arsenal have been in good for home, and will be looking to continue it at home so they can turn Ashburton Grove into a real fortress. However, Everton games of late have shown quite polarized results - either they are on the end of a drubbing, or they pull of a 1-0 or 2-1 victory, but that is also due to their inconsistency which seems to have been eliminated this season. Theo Walcott is expect to make a start on the wings with the other attacking options of Ljungberg, Adebayor and Baptista still being injured. Everton are affected by the loss of David Weir for 3 weeks, but they have enough quality in Yobo and Lescott to make up for it. Fabregas will really have to take charge of what will be a very busy midfield, but with Rosicky and Hleb buzzing around him, expect a good midfield contest.

In Italy, the Milan derby will take on extra significance today. It's AC Milan v Inter Milan, and Inter really must win the Scudetto this year. AC Milan have been shamed, and very "lucky" to avoid relegation and larger points deduction, and Inter who've suffered so much over the years from dodgy refereeing decisions and not being one of the "big clubs" must really deliver a clear message with a convincing victory. Adriano's personal life is not helping anything, but with Crespo, Cruz, Ibrahimovic and company up front, they have arguably more quality than Gilardino, Inzaghi and Ricardo Oliveira.

The following day, Fiorentina take on Palermo at home in what should be an entertaining encounter. Luca Toni will come up against the club where he did so well, and both teams play positive football. Palermo will want to show their title credentials, and Fiorentina are still fighting to regain some credibility after their involvement in the match-fixing scandals. The Palermo chief rightly said that Serie A results were much more interesting now, and that it probably has a lot to do with Luciano Moggi no longer being able to handpick the referees, and Juventus rotting in Serie B.

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