Posts Tagged ‘manchester city’

In the scouting report section of the site, Liquid Football hopes to bring you the best young talent from around the World. We started off at Barcelona, with Alfie Long’s report on Jean-Marie Dongou. Our next wonderkid is Alen Halilović who plays for Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.

Below is some footage of Dinamo Zagreb’s highly rated attacking midfielder Alen Halilović. Halilović is now 16-years-old. He has represented Croatia at youth level from U 14’s up, and recently became the youngest ever Dinamo Zagreb player making his debut at 16 years and 102 days old. 10 days later he became the youngest goalscorer in the history of the league.

Alen Halilović’s likes to play in the number 10 role but he can also play on the right wing. His slight frame and long blonde hair has seen him likened to fellow Croatian Lua Modric. Dinamo academy director Romea Jozaka said: “I watched Luka at the same age and it seems to me that Alen is a step, maybe two in front of him.” He went on to describe him as “an extraordinary talent. Incredibly powerful with the ball for his age. We know that he’s been mentioned throughout Europe as the best we’ll see in the next few years in his position.”

Both Manchester clubs have reportedly visited Zagreb to keep up to date with his progress, he also spent 4 days training with the Real Madrid youth team when he was 14. This is what a Real Madrid source had to say about him: “Everyone here knows he will be a sensation. When he as the ball he is reminiscent of Lionel Messi.” He is currently continuing his education in Zagreb, but he is destined to move to a top European club soon and if the praise he has received is anything to go by then he is certainly one to watch.

What we know about him…
D.O.B – 18/06/96 (Age 16)
Nationality – Croatian
Height – 5ft 7″
Position – Attacking Midfielder (Playmaker – No. 10) – Likes to cut in from the right hand side onto his left foot.
Preferred Foot – Left
Written by Charlie Cook @charlie_cook09
Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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Everton provide blueprint that others should follow

In an era when having two managers in a single season is normal, it is remarkable that David Moyes has manged to spend 10 years at Everton. The chairman, Bill Kenwright’s faith in Moyes, and his undoubted ability are the key to Everton’s success so far this season and in the past decade. Moyes has never had much money to spend, in fact he has only had a net spend of £14 million pounds while at Everton. Despite that, he has transformed them from a team battling relegation to one currently sitting in 3rd place in the Premier League.

Everton’s lack of funds has led many to suggest that their squad lacks depth. This is the case to some extent, but every season despite losing key players Everton become stronger and this season they have more quality beyond the first team than many give them credit for. Jelavic has proven himself as an impressive goalscorer since arriving from Rangers, and he has been joined in the attacking ranks by his former partner at Rangers Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas who was brilliant against Swansea. It looked like the absence of Jelavic for that game at Swansea on the weekend would be a big loss, but Anichebe was a more than handy replacement. They are also well stocked in defence too, with Distin, Jagielka and Heitinga an imressive trio of centre-backs. Everton have a number of players that are versatile enough to play in a various positions, meaning that injuries have less of an effect. Phil Neville can play anywhere across the defence and in the midfield, Fellaini can play up front or in midfield and Jagielka can even play in goal, as Arsenal fans will remember when he kept a clean sheet against them back in his Sheffield United days. These are just a few examples.

Admittedly Fellaini and Pienaar are vital to this Everton side. The diminutive South African adds that touch of class, cutting in from the left flank, he is their creative spark and Marouane Fellaini the afro-haired Belgian has the ability to bully sides off the park as he did against Manchester United on the opening day. Like many sides, they will need to be lucky with injuries to keep this brilliant form going, but it would be harsh to say their squad lacks depth.

I am not suggesting that Everton will win the League, or necessarily even a finish in the Champion’s League places, but they have already shown that they are quality side and they will continue to grow under David Moyes. Their success is a direct result of Bill Kenwright’s trust in his manager. He has given him the time to improve the squad and implement his plans and it has undoubtedly paid off. He is the 3rd longest-serving manager in the Premier League and has recently become one of only four managers to amass 150 Premier League victories joining Harry Redknapp, Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson. This Everton blueprint is one that other teams in the Premier League would be well served following. It may well be one that their Mersyside neighbours may need to adopt to achieve their former glories.

Short supply of luck in Liverpool

It is clear that Liverpool need a finisher, they are 3rd for number of shots per game yet they are lying in 18th place with only 4 goals. It is also clear that Brendan Rodgers only let Andy Carroll go because he was of the assumption that Clint Dempsey was on his way to Anfield.

Liverpool’s bad luck continued on the weekend. Like the Arsenal and Manchester City games previously, they were the better side for much of the game, but on this occasion their inability to score goals was not the sole reason for their downfall. The key decisions of the game went against them. The referee Mark Halsey, in my opinion was very poor. There were two key decisions that changed the game. The first was the red card for Jonjo Shelvey. It is clear from the photo (above) that if Shelvey deserved a red card then Johnny Evans did too. If anything, Evans’ challenge looks worse, it could easily have gone the other way with Man Utd being reduced to 10 men had Shelvey been the one lying on the floor after the challenge. Even after Shelvey’s dismissal Liverpool looked dangerous, but Mark Halsey came to United’s rescue again awarding a very debatable penalty. Glen Johnson was stupid to put his arm across Valencia’s back, but the contact was minimal and not enough to warrant a penalty.

If the defeat wasn’t bad enough, Martin Kelly suffered an injury that could see his season over, Daniel Agger will be out for at  least a week with a “heavily bruised knee”, and Fabio Borini is out indefinitely. Brendan Rodgers has had a difficult start to his tenure at Liverpool, but he has been unlucky. He is trying to transform this Liverpool side and it will take time. Let’s hope John Henry and Tom Werner take a leaf out of Bill Kenwright’s book and give it to him.

Arsenal 12/13 are better than Arsenal 11/12

It seems that Arsenal have solved all the problems from last season. They looked shaky at the back, they lacked structure in the midfield and they were almost devoid of creativity. These are all overstatements that were toggled by the media and fans throughout the season. The one thing that everyone agreed on though, was that Arsenal had the best striker in the league.

What was clear from the game against Manchester City at the weekend, was that Arsenal are more solid at the back now, Steve Bould has obviously made a big difference. They have only conceded 2 goals in their 5 games as opposed to 14 at this stage last season. Per Mertesacker looks to be the player to have benefited most, his intelligence and ability to read the game was evident with 7 interceptions at the Etihad. Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs have also improved remarakbly, they were a constant threat down the flanks and looked far more composed in defence.

Much was said about Arsenal’s lack of a defensive midfielder to start the season, but Wenger’s choice to replace Alex Song with Mikel Arteta has been a master stroke. Arsenal’s midfield looks to be more structured with Arteta in that role, as he is more disciplined than the wandering Song. He is also more efficient with the ball, he made 100 of his 106 attempted passes against City. Diaby too has been a revelation. On the weekend Yaya Toure only really managed to influence the game when Diaby left the field. Aaron Ramsey also had a good game, he will be hoping that he can finally put his injury hell behind him. Santi Cazorla has perhaps been the most important addition to the Arsenal midfield. He provides the creativity that has been missing since Cesc Fabregas left. Wilshere and Rosicky are back in training too and the talented Oxlade-Chamberlain is currently on the bench so there are more options waiting in the wings.

The problems from last season, seem a long way away. Unfortunately, so does the best striker in the league. The one thing Arsenal didn’t need fixing in 11/12 is now missing in 12/13. Arsenal’s most wasteful player, Gervinho, played up front against Manchester City. It would be hard  not to argue that if a certain RvP had been in his place then Arsenal would have won. The Ivorian’s all round play was good, but his finishing was atrocious. Olivier Giroud has failed to find the target and may need more time to adjust to the Premier League. Podolski seems to have slotted in perfectly forming a brilliant partnership with Cazorla, but Wenger seems reluctant to move him from the left flank. It is clear that Arsenal look a far better team than last season, but if they want to truly challenge for the title then they will have to find someone to “score when he wants”, like van Persie did.

Just one final thought…

Sunderland have drawn their opening four games of the season, but with Steven Fletcher in red hot form and Adam Johnson returning you would definitely fancy them to beat Wigan at the Stadium of Light. Maybe have a save some money for a cheeky bet on Fletcher for first goalscorer too.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see home wins for Arsenal, Everton and Stoke either. May be worth an accumulator.

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Before each set of Premier League fixtures, I have a look at ‘BBC football expert’, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions. Every week I have the same reaction. I reckon I could do better. Season after season I complain about his ‘woeful’ tipping. Now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try to beat Lawro.

Each week I will give a small preview to the game explaining my choice and follow it with mine and Lawro’s predictions.

The points: 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score.



Norwich v West Ham

I fancy Norwich to get their first win of the season in this one, but it will be tight. Sam Allardyce’s team will play their own scintillating brand of long ball football, but without Andy Carroll and away from home it may not be quite so effective. I was very impressed with Norwich at Spurs a couple of weeks ago, especially Robert Snodgrass who has been brilliant. They are beginning to gel under Chris Hughton, and I think they may just knick this one.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1


Arsenal v Southampton

Arsenal will be heavy favourites after their good win at Anfield and I expect them to back that up with their first home win of the season. It won’t be as easy as many expect though. Sothampton were 5 minutes away from an upset win over Manchester United last round, and were leading 2-1 at Manchester City with not too long to go either. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Giroud open his account for the gunners and Southampton score a goal to end Arsenal’s run of 3 games without conceding.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0


Aston Villa v Swansea

Villa need a win, and they need some goals. Swansea have lost Chico to suspension plus Neil Taylor and new recruit Kyle Bartley to injury, so there is no better time to do it than against an ailing defence. Swansea have undoubtedly been the surprise of the season so far. Many, including myself, expected them to struggle with the loss of Brendan Rodgers, but Michael Laudrup has brought in some fantastic players and they have really kicked on. There is a long way to go, but they are a very exciting team. I think this one could end in a draw.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1


Fulham v West Brom

There hasn’t been an away win in fixtures between these two sides for over 10 years. Fulham started the season with a bang, but have since faltered. The loss of Moussa Dembele is huge. Dimitar Berbatov will be a boost, but the energy and quality that Dembele brought to the midfield cannot be replaced. He was the best player on the pitch when they went to Old Trafford. West Brom have started very brightly under Steve Clarke with wins over the two Mersyside clubs at home and a very good point away to Spurs. I think their success may continue in London, but it will only be a point.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediciton: 2-1


Manchester United v Wigan

I think Wigan could get a bit of a pasting here. United are due a big win. There were concerns over the fitness of Robin van Persie and Kagawa midweek, but they are both fit. I thought they were excellent at home to Fulham a few weeks ago, and could have scored many more than 3 in the first half. The inclusion of Darren Fletcher in the squad will be a massive boost to them too. Wigan have conceded 24 goals in their last 7 games at Old Trafford and I don’t expect that stat to get much better.

My prediction: 4-1

Lawro’s prediction: 3-0


QPR v Chelsea

Leading up to this game their has been more talk about the handhsake than the contest. I predict their to be handshake, or a snub of a handshake or whatever. Who actually cares whether they shake hands. The FA should just scrap them altogether as they have cause more problems than they are worth. Evra v Suarez, John Terry v everyone enough’s enough. Get rid of them. In terms of the game, I think it could be very tight. Chelsea are top of the league, and QPR are second bottom, but I think QPR will get better as the season progresses. Granero is a magnificent signing from Real Madrid and I think they could just grab a cheeky point at Loftus Road.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1


Stoke v Manchester City

Stoke fans will be excited about the signing f Michael Owen, but this game could come a bit early for him. Stoke set themselves up to be very hard to beat and then go from there. The news that Sergio Aguero is close to a return is a big boost for City, other than Carlos Tevez who has been outstanding, they havn’t been all too convincing at the start of this season. Stoke have drawn their last 8 games in all competitions. They have also drawn their last 3 at home to Man City. No surprises that I think this one is going to be a draw too.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1


Sunderland v Liverpool

This is not an easy trip for Liverpool, and it gets worse next week with Manchester United travelling to Anfield. Sunderland are improving under Martin O’Neill. They got a good point away to Arsenal and were close to beating Swansea at Liberty Stadium. Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson, have looked very sharp and this is Sunderland’s first home game of the season so they will be looking to impress their new fans. Liverpool were brilliant against Manchester City, but gifted a sloppy equaliser to Tevez late on. They were very good in the first half against Arsenal too, but had no cutting edge in attack. They need to find goals very soon, as their only goals have come from set plays so far this season. I think Sunderland are starting to look like a very good side and I expect them to take all the points.

My prediciton: 2-1

Lawro’s prediciton: 2-1



Reading v Tottenham

Reading were unlucky not to at least get a point away from home to Chelsea, and they would have won at home to Stoke if it wasn’t for a goalkeeping howler. Tottenham are still looking for their first win under AVB. They are struggling to cope with the loss of Modric and Van der Vaart, but with Moussa Dembele, Adebayor and Clint Dempsey all fit and able to start I think they will be too strong for Reading.

My prediciton: 1-3

Lawro’s predicition: 1-2



Everton v Newcastle

Newcastle started off brightly with a win against Spurs, but were pretty ordinary against Chelsea and Villa. They will need to improve significantly to get anything at Goodison. Everton are another team that were very impressive early on, with wins against Man U and Villa. Fellaini’s comments about this season being his last at Goodison during the week will have been a shock though, he has been outstanding. It will be interesting to see if that will have any effect on the dressing room. He has been somewhat of a talisman for them.  His performance against Man U was probably the best we’ve seen so far this season. With Krul, Tiote and Colocinni out for Newcastle, I think Everton will be comfortable winners.

My prediction: 2-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

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