Posts Tagged ‘ Paul Lambert ’

Premier League Preview: Jose’s Blues Are The Boys To Beat

mgrs

With the new Premier League season fast approaching, it’s hard to look beyond an old foe of many managers and fans alike from stealing the limelight once the season gets underway.

This summer’s transfer window and indeed all of the summer’s talk has been shaped around three men, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Arsenal’s pursuit of the Uruguayan, Wayne Rooney and his transfer request and Spur’s Gareth Bale who is being courted by Real Madrid.

One team, with the exception of a handful of Rooney rumours, has slipped under the radar as they plan to wrestle back a title that they won back to back in 2005 and 2006, and they have Jose Mourinho back to steer them there. Continue reading

Clark V Carroll The Key Battle In Our Accumulator

ccInternational matches took centre stage on Wednesday night and some notable results were recorded. Both Ireland and England may have registered wins but the two teams will draw very different conclusions from the results. Whereas the two goal win against Poland left Giovanni Trapattoni with a deepening conundrum about his starting eleven for the remainder of the World Cup Qualifiers, the English media would have you believe that Roy Hodgson has little on his managerial agenda other than to sit back, relax and bide his time away until his team are crowned champions in Brazil in 18 months time. These matches could also have implications for our pockets, and regarding our 14/1 accumulator, it is important to be wary of players who could be affected by fatigue or minor niggles picked up during the course of these matches. Continue reading

Emergence Of Clark May Force Dunne Into Retirement

Ireland battle Germany this Friday in a crucial World Cup qualifier, one that has been overshadowed by the withdrawal of star names such as Kevin Doyle and James McClean. While preparations have been far from perfect, one man may well step out of the limelight and stake his claim for a regular starting spot.

That man is Ciaran Clark, the Aston Villa defender who has been called into the squad to replace the injured Sean St Ledger. Clark comes from a famous stable of Irish Villa defenders which includes Paul McGrath and Richard Dunne, with Clark looking to oust the latter as he seeks to make himself a regular for both club and country.

Clark has thrived in the Premier League this season, forming a partnership with new Villa signing Ron Vlaar while Dunne has been forced to watch on from the sidelines. Paul Lambert doesn’t expect Dunne to return to action before Christmas and if he had his way Dunne would be plying his trade at Stoke City now but a deadline day fell through due to the Tallaght native’s injury.

Clark should be fast tracked into the Ireland first team for the Germany game but Giovanni Trapattoni may choose to play Paul McShane alongside Darren O’Dea. Trap’s refusal to omit Clark to date has been somewhat surprising but he may be brave and hand the Villa star a chance, it may well be Clark’s own Moscow moment if he can deny Mario Gomez and co.

Should Clark get his opportunity it may well spell the beginning of the end for Dunne’s Ireland career as the veteran may feel forced into an early retirement thanks to the emergence of his team mate. But if the Trap era has thought us anything it is to not expect what should be the expected. Nonetheless Clark should be worthy of a run out against Faroe Islands next week.

Boys In Green Look To Set Premier League Alight

The Premier League kicks off next weekend and Irish fans will have a keen eye on proceedings as the World Cup qualifiers loom. Following a poor Euro 2012 campaign, Irish fans will be eager to see the Boys In Green performing well for their clubs before Kazakhstan and Germany come calling.

Something that has become a recent trend is the number of Irish stars who are dropping down a level and this trend has certainly been prevalent this summer. Both Keith Andrews and Simon Cox have swapped West Brom for The Championship while Darren O’Dea scored a surprising move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC. Of course with Wolves been relegated that further reduces the number of Irish players plying their trade in the top flight. Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt and Kevin Foley all look set to remain at Molineux and help the club bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Sean St Ledger, Keith Fahey, David Forde and Paddy Kenny will also be prominent features in the Championship this term while the likes of Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady are still plying their trade outside the British Isles.

But what about those Irish players remaining in the Premier League?

Everton will be hoping to qualify for Europe this term and will be buoyed by the fact that they have retained the services of long serving manager David Moyes, who spurned the advances of Spurs after Harry Redknapp was dismissed from White Hart Lane. Moyes has added smartly to his squad given his limited resources with both Stephen Pienaar and Steven Naismith joining The Toffees. Much is expected of the free scoring Nikica Jelavic but this hardworking Everton outfit will be largely reliant on the skill and tenacity of Seamus Coleman combined with the graft and experience of Darren Gibson, who seems rejuvenated having left Manchester United last January. Shane Duffy will be hoping to establish himself in The Toffees defence following some superb displays last term.

Robbie Brady will be hoping to break into the senior international set up quite soon. The Manchester United player has enjoyed a solid pre season and Alex Ferguson sees him as an adequate competitor for Patrice Evra’s full back position. With Evra ageing, Brady’s time looks set to be on the horizon although few would have expected the winger to convert to a full back following his tremendous displays on loan at Hull City last season

James McClean will be hoping to maintain his sensational start to life in the Premier League with Sunderland. Martin O’Neill will have his first full season at the Stadium of Light and despite the lack of transfer activity on Wearside you can expect Sunderland to push for a top ten finish while enjoying a solid cup run. John O’Shea will continue to hold up the rearguard while Keiren Westwood looks resigned to a number two role yet again. David Meyler will be hoping to have an injury free season and catch the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni in the process.

Hope springs eternal at Villa Park as the new season ushers in the era of Paul Lambert as Aston Villa boss. The club have overhauled their managerial structure and have rid of some players who simply weren’t up to scratch. There is still a strong Irish contingent at Villa Park though and it remains to be seen whether Shay Given and Richard Dunne will pack in international football in order to further their club careers. Ciaran Clark will be hoping for another solid season while under 21 star Samir Carruthers may well break into the first team following his substitute appearances last term. Stephen Ireland will be looking to re-establish himself among the Premiership elite and could be a key player for Lambert who will be aiming for a top eight finish and perhaps a league cup win. Keep an eye out for Enda Stevens, Graham Burke and Derrick Williams, three upcoming Irish stars who may well burst onto the scene this year.

Fulham are another side hoping to crack the top eight this term following a ninth place finish last season under the guidance of Martin Jol. The Dutchman has done well to retain the services of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele thus far as both players have courted interest from many clubs. Damien Duff and Stephen Kelly will be hoping to pick themselves up following Euro 2012. Duff will be looking to recover his form of old while Kelly, who recently signed a new contract, will be hoping to fend off new signing Sascha Riether to make the right back spot his own.

West Brom will do well to build on their tenth place finish from last term. Steve Clarke has taken over at the helm and opted to show Andrews and Cox the door. Steven Reid and Shane Long both remain at The Hawthorns and the latter will face increased competition for a starting berth this term following the arrivals of Markus Rosenberg and Romelu Lukaku.

Jon Walters will be hoping to set the Premier League alight this term following his appearances at Euro 2012. The striker will be hoping he can find the golden touch to fire The Potters to a better finish than last year. Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and Rory Delap all remain at the Britannia and will be key players as Tony Pulis’ side seek to build on a 14th place finish.

Wigan Athletic will be looking to avoid the drop again this season and will be delighted that manager Roberto Martinez has stayed with them. Martinez masterminded their terrific end of season form last year which saw solid wins over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. With limited resources he will do well to repeat that feat. There will be a heavy reliance on James McCarthy, who was a key player last term and was forced to miss Euro 2012 due to his father’s illness. Conor Sammon is the only other Irish player at the DW Stadium but for all his apparent strength goals have been hard to come by for the ex League of Ireland star and he will need a big change if he plans on cracking Trap’s plans.

QPR have enjoyed a great summer with their new found wealth enabling them to buy talented stars such as Park Ji Sung and David Hoilett. It’s been all change at Loftus Road, particularly in the goalkeeper ranks where Paddy Kenny has departed for Leeds United. Brian Murphy remains with QPR as a capable deputy to new number one Robert Green. Mark Hughes side shouldn’t have to worry about having another relegation battle this season.

Norwich City will be hoping second season syndrome doesn’t strike this term. It’s been all change at Carrow Road with ex Ireland international Chris Hughton replacing Lambert in the dugout. Hughton will do well to keep the Canaries up and will be looking to Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington as key players in doing so. Both players excelled last term with Hoolahan the most impressive. The former Shelbourne star has been unlucky this past week as he was forced to withdraw from Ireland’s friendly with Serbia due to injury. Nonetheless, he will be buoyed by the fact that he has finally caught the eye of Trapattoni. Marc Tierney may well earn an Ireland call up in the near future and the full back is one worth watching.

Premier League newcomers Reading will be aiming for top flight survival this term but under the guidance of Irishman Brian McDermott many expect that to be a formality. Promoted last season as champions, this Reading side features a host of Irish players. Following an impressive season last year Ian Harte was widely tipped for a shock return to the Ireland set up for Euro 2012. While that never happened it won’t discourage the ex Leeds United star who will be hoping to show he still possesses the quality to compete in the top flight. Noel Hunt will be hoping to blaze a goal trail which will earn him a return to the Ireland side while Jay Tabb is another Irish star involved with the first team. Pierce Sweeney, recently signed from League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers, may feature this term while ex Shamrock Rovers ace Karl Sheppard has been loaned to Accrington Stanley.

Playoff winners West Ham United have returned to the Premier League and will have solid ambitions which won’t feature a relegation battle. Sam Allardyce has added some fine talent to his squad and has made Irish keeper Stephen Henderson permanent, following a loan spell from Portsmouth last season. Joey O’Brien is the only other Irish player at Upton Park and he will be hoping for a standout season having been called up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming Serbia game. The three times capped star hasn’t pulled on the green jersey in over four years and will be hoping he can re-establish himself within the Irish setup. The 26 year old certainly has time on his side and time will tell if he can live up to the hype that was associated with him during his days with Bolton Wanderers.

With the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching and Trapattoni open to shuffling his pack, the time is ripe for a new star to emerge and stake his claim for a starting place.