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Posts Tagged ‘ Tony Pulis ’

Top 5 Most Under Rated Footballers In The Premier League

World football is full of many talents but some never reach their through potential while others merely live in the shadow of four time world player of the year Lionel Messi and his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

mcThe Premier League has long been regarded as one of the best if not the best league in the world, although recent events such as the world team of the year possessing eleven Spanish based players would tell you La Liga has a huge stake to that claim.

Nontheless despite the snub the Premier League is brimming with talent and here we chart the progress of the top five most underrated players currently plying their trade on English soil.

1) Michael Carrick

Six years ago the vast sum of £18 million brought Michael Carrick from Spurs to Manchester United, a team that were seen to be in a period of great decline. Carrick was handed the number 16 shirt and immediately tasked with replacing former United captain Roy Keane.

His early days weren’t as prosperous as he would have liked but nonetheless his talent was there for all to see as United went on to beat Chelsea to the Champions League title on that faithful night in Moscow.

There have however been incidents where the former West Ham ace was hounded as a scapegoat for United’s defects, none more so than the forgettable 2009 Champions League Final when Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners.

He has however moved on from then and Carrick is now having his finest season to date and is United’s second most influential player behind the potent goal threat that is Robin Van Persie.

The Newcastle born star is not known for his goalscoring ability but his ability to control a game and his precision passing have been at times comparable to the great Andrea Pirlo.

The Englishman, now 31, is the genuine complete article. A model midfielder. His influence on United’s game is more pronounced than ever before. He pulls the strings in attack – dictates the tempo, rhythm and style of their play. His short passing is equally as good as his long. His strength in defence has even resulted in featuring as a make-shift centre back when injuries and suspensions depleted United’s ranks.

It’s a damning indictment of English football that a player Sir Alex Ferguson proclaims is as good as Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard has started only 16 England games in 12 years.

Is Carrick the most underrated player in world football? Arguably so.

2) Steven Pienaar

Everton have a world class left side, with Steven Pienaar combining brilliantly with Leighton Baines this season. The Toffees have been buoyed by the South Africans return from a spell at Spurs and he’s hitting form at the right time.

Pienaar has always flourished under the radar and while not been held in the same regard as other world class wingers his ability is second to none on his day. Passing, crossing and an eye for goal are all key components of his play and he has prospered since returning home to Goodison Park last summer.

3) Mohammed Diame

Diame joined West Ham last summer, opting to move to Upton Park despite many big name suitors including Liverpool. The former Wigan Athletic star is one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League and it’s no wonder that there is increased speculation about another move been on the agenda in this transfer window.

The combative midfielder covers more ground than most players and his tackling and drive have been key components in helping to re-establish Sam Allardyce’s side in the top flight. Indeed his tackling and dribbling abilities far outweigh those of Man City star Yaya Toure and the Hammers will be hoping to keep hold of their prized asset.

4) Leon Britton

30 year old Britton is the only British player whose passing and ball control abilities can ever be comparable to Barcelona magician Xavi. Last January it was revealed that Britton had the highest pass completion rate of any footballer in the world at that point of the 2011/12 season with a 93.3% rate, 0.3% better than his illustrious opponent.

His control, vision and knack for picking out the inch perfect pass make watching Swansea City a treat for any pure football fan. Although this is not to say that the Swans are by any means a one man team.

swans

5) Ryan Shawcross

Fresh from signing the longest contract in the history of Stoke City, Shawcross is playing the best football of his life, throwing his body on line to block shots. He leads a very stubborn back four with his brute force and physical presence.

His command and reading of the game make him a big asset to any team and Tony Pulis has done well to secure the services of Shawcross, who had been catching the eye of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

At 25 he represents the future of the English national team and 2013 will be a big year for the Stoke skipper to cement his place in Roy Hodgson’s plans.

 

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Irish Stars Abroad

Welcome to our first edition of Irish stars abroad. In our weekly column we will review anything and everything that happened on a match day involving any player who has links to Ireland.

It was quite an extraordinary weekend across World football, with a record of 41 goals been scored in 8 Saturday Premier League matches alone. Four Irish stars got on the scoresheet as part of that record, with some big shocks taken place and some delightful footwork from a rising star making every Irish fan smile.

Kevin Doyle scored the winning goal as Wolves became the first side to beat Manchester United in the Premier League this season. Nani had given United a third minute lead and it did look like the result was just a formality from there, with the leagues top team looking most likely to put the bottom team to the sword. However a George Elokobi goal some minutes later and Doyle`s header moments before half time ensured that Mick McCarthy`s men were back in the game. United failed to create anything in the second half and the former Ireland manager got a famous win over Sir Alex Ferguson.  

Leon Best proved to Newcastle United fans that there is life after Andy Carroll. Best scored the second goal of Newcastle`s miraculous comeback against Arsenal, moments after having a legitimate goal chalked off. The Magpies found themselves four goals down after 26 minutes but never gave up. A cracking Cheick Tiote striker three minutes from time completed the turnaround. 

James McCarthy bagged a brace as Wigan Athletic recorded a 4-3 home win over Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers.McCarthy showed great technical ability to fire home his second, when it seemed like the crowded defence would snare his opportunity.Keith Andrews was an unused sub for the away side.

Rory Delap played his part as Stoke City bagged to late goals to stun Sunderland.Irish international  Jon Walters came off the bench as two late Robert Huth goals sealed a 3-2 win at the Britannia.Delap`s throws wreaked havoc in the Sunderland defence,allowing John Carew to prod home the opening goal for the Potters. Both Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were unused subs for Tony Pulis` men.

Richard Dunne and Damien Duff were on opposite sides as Aston Villa and Fulham played out a 2-2 draw at Villa Park.

Seamus Coleman was impressive again as Everton grinded out a 5-3 home win over Blackpool. Louis Saha stole the show with four goals, with a fifth been rule out after the Donegal native had played him in. Andy Reid did not feature for the Tangerines despite his impressive mid week showing.  

Shay Given watched from the bench as a Carlos Tevez hat trick guided Man City to a resounding 3-0 win over West Brom. Ex Ireland star Stephen Reid picked up a late booking for the Baggies,while he also gave away the penalty which the Argentine duly converted.

Two Irish strikers who didn`t get on the scoresheet this weekend were  Robbie Keane and Shane Long. Keane`s West Ham went down 1-0 to Birmingham City, while Long`s Reading side suffered a similar fate against Championship leaders QPR. 

In the Championship,Cork Native Damien Delaney opened the scoring for Ipswich Town as they ran out 3-0 winners over relegation threatened Sheffield United. The Blades Irish contingent of Michael Doyle,Stephen Quinn and Mark Yeates could do nothing to aid their cause. Former Ireland stars Mark Kennedy and Colin Healy also featured for the Tractor boys.

Andy Keogh opened the scoring as Bristol City thumped Sean St Ledger`s Preston side 4-0.

Kevin Kilbane hit the fourth goal as Huddersfield Town beat Exeter City 4-1 in League One.

Elsewhere in League One , Clinton Morrison grabbed an equaliser to ensure Gary Megson`s debut as Sheffield Wednesday manager didn`t get off to a losing start. They came back from two goals down to draw against MK Dons.  

In Scotland, Jon Daly opened the scoring as last year`s cup winners Dundee United dumped Hamilton Academical out with a 3-1 victory.

Both Adam Rooney and Richie Foran recorded a brace as Inverness walloped a hapless Morton side 5-1.

No Irish stars featured in the Old Firm Derby. Both Anthony Stokes and Graham Carey were unused subs as Celtic earned a cup replay after a fiery 2-2 draw that saw both sides reduced to ten men.

Rooney Will Wait For Ireland Call

Giovanni Trappatoni`s refusal to select Adam Rooney will not hinder the strikers progress , although he admits his wish is to one day pull on the famous green shirt. 

Former Cherry Orchard protégé Rooney, who now plies his trade with Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Premier League, was overlooked by the Italian for the upcoming Carling Nations Cup opener against Wales.

 However despite this setback, Rooney insists his motives remain unchanged. “I’d love to play for my country, every footballer would” he says. 

“If Mr Trappatoni or one of his scouts have seen me, then I hope it was on a day I played well or got a goal” beamed Rooney who has so far bagged 14 goals this season for his club. 

“It would be brilliant to train and maybe even play with those lads. To wear the green shirt would be so special for me and my family” said Rooney, whose contract at Inverness is up this summer.

The race for his signature is hotting up with Hibernian, Young Boys of Berne and Russian side Kuban Krasnodar among his many suitors. However the Irishman remains fully focused on helping Caley up the table. 

“I was originally due for a loan spell here when Tony Pulis took over at Stoke. However I was invited on a pre season trip with Caley and done enough to convince them to sign me permanently”. 

“After one season of settling in I’ve been scoring goals regularly” said Rooney who moved across the Irish Sea at the tender age of 17, setting up home in the Potteries. 

Rooney’s goals were crucial as Terry Butcher’s men went through 2010 without losing a single game at home. 

Speaking of the run Rooney added “The run lasted for over 13 months before St Johnstone beat us at the start of this year. We went to Parkhead and Ibrox and managed to remain unbeaten, it was pretty impressive but it had to end somewhere along the line”. 

Rooney’s decision to join the Highlanders surprised many people. Here was a player who had bagged a hat trick as an 18 year old in only his second match for Stoke City, but opted for the football backwater that is the Scottish highlands.

 But flame haired Rooney doesn’t regret his decision to re-locate. “We have a gang of lads here who work hard and play hard together. The city itself is lovely, the people are very friendly and there’s always good fun to be found. I’ve a nice house here and things are going well all around” smiled Rooney.            

The 22 year old certainly seems like one for the future but there is no reason why Trappatoni should exclude a player who has played more and scored more than most of his strikers out of his squad. Irregardless of the standard of the SPL, Rooney deserves a chance to prove his worth on the international stage.

Premier League Preview

This weekend`s fixture list throws up some exciting derby matches as the Premier League resumes following last week“s FA Cup third round matches.   

 

West Ham V Arsenal

 

With the backing of their tremendous fans, the Hammers may well pull off a result in what would appear to be Avram Grant`s last match in charge. However, Arsenal will be eager to avenge their recent results, with a 1-1 FA Cup Draw with Leeds and a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich in the League Cup semi final leaving Gunners fans aggrieved.

 

Verdict: Draw

 

Liverpool V Everton

 

This Merseyside derby always serves us a tense battle and Kenny Dalglish will be eager to get his first win as Liverpool manager over their arch enemies. He will have to do so without the services of the influential Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. Dalglish will be hoping his side can improve on their disastrous midweek performance, where Blackpool came from a goal behind to beat the Anfield side for the second time this season.

Everton manager David Moyes will be hoping like Blackpool, that his side can do the double over Liverpool this season. However Everton may well struggle for goals as top scorer Tim Cahill is away on international duty with Australia. Expect the home side to edge this one with Fernando Torres putting his critics to shame.  

 

Verdict: Liverpool

 

Spurs V Man Utd

 

Man United travel to Spurs on Sunday for what should be an intriguing tie. United will find it tough against Harry Redknapp`s men and their unbeaten record in the Premier League this season faces a real threat.

 

Spurs will definitely frustrate the Red Devils, with a draw the most likely outcome.

 

Verdict: Draw

 

Chelsea V Blackburn

 

Chelsea host Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge as they aim to put together a steady run of results following their desire form as of late. Roque Santa Cruz`s return to Lancashire will boost Steve Kean`s men and they will certainly be up for this match. However with their inconsistent form this season Rovers may just fall short.

 

Verdict: Chelsea   

 

Man City V Wolves

 

Roberto Mancini`s men will be aiming to crank up the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table this weekend but they must not underestimate a Wolves side, who have beaten both Liverpool and Chelsea in recent weeks.

Mick McCarthy`s men will travel to Eastlands in a confident mood but the relegation candidates may well fall fowl to Edin Dzeko, with City`s new 27 million striker the catalyst for a title tilt.

 

Verdict: Man City   

 

Stoke V Bolton

 

Bolton travel to the Britannia Stadium this weekend hoping to maintain their push for  Europe. While the Trotters have produced some outstanding displays this term they may well come unstuck against Tony Pulis` men. A draw is the most likely result.

 

Verdict:Draw  

 

West Brom V Blackpool

 

Ian Holloway`s side will roll into the Midlands this weekend in confident mood after putting Liverpool to the sword in midweek. Blackpool have every reason to be confident ahead of this match as West Brom are on an alarming slide down the table after their early season exploits.

 

Verdict: Blackpool

 

Wigan V Fulham

 

Wigan will be eager to start putting more points on the board as they currently sit second bottom. A win over Mark Hughes` men may well move them out of the relegation zone but they must rely on results elsewhere. Fulham will provide stiff competition for the Latics as they are in a similar position. Should Roberto Martinez`s side win they will jump above the Cottagers but this match has draw written all over it.

 

Verdict:Draw

 

Sunderland V Newcastle United

 

Sunderland host their fierce rivals in the second Tyne Wear derby of the season, with manager Steve Bruce still smarting after the Geordies thrashed the Wearsiders earlier this season.

 

Sunderland may well fall short again with key players missing through injury and suspension. Newcastle are no different with Andy Carroll set to miss out yet they still possess the quality to to the double over their neighbours.

 

Verdict: Newcastle  

 

Birmingham City V Aston Villa

 

These two sides meet at St Andrews with only a point separating them. This season has proved to be a frustrating one for both sides as they languish in the bottom half of the table. For Birmingham, its been a case of lacking goals while for Villa it has just been one long slide under Gerard Houllier. Birmingham look set to appease their goal drought with the signing of Spurs striker Robbie Keane while Villa are in the market for some new players, with Jean Makoun of Lyon undergoing a medical at Villa Park.

The incentive is their for both sides but Alex McLeish`s men may prove too strong for Villa.

 

Verdict: Birmingham City

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