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England squad announced for upcoming friendlies
England squad announced for upcoming friendlies

England squad announced for upcoming friendlies

London, March 17 (IANS) Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater on Thursday received his first call to join the England football team for Euro 2016 warm-up friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands.

England manager Roy Hodgson named a 24-man squad for the upcoming friendlies. Uncapped Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose was also selected.

“What he’s done has been evident to everybody. He’s had a fantastic season, but even last year we were aware of him,” Hodgson said on Thursday in reference to the 26-year-old Drinkwater.

Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson and Fraser Forster return to the squad after injury, while captain Wayne Rooney missed out.

England travel to face Germany in Berlin on March 26. Hodgson’s men then return to England, where they face the Netherlands at the Wembley Stadium on March 29.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City).

Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

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Rooney opens up about his injury, eyes Everton clash at Old Trafford

Manchester United just cannot seem to catch a break this season and they were dealt a huge blow earlier this week when it was revealed that star player and club captain Wayne Rooney suffered an injury set back yet again.

Rooney has missed Manchester United’s last eight games with a knee ligament injury he suffered against Sunderland.

And reports in the media suggested that the 30-year old will not be available for the EURO16 in France later this year and will miss Thursday Europe League return against Liverpool at Old Trafford and the Manchester derby at City on Sunday.

He will also sit out England’s friendlies after that against Germany and Holland but could come back for the Reds against Everton on April 3 at home.

In the striker’s absence manager Louis van Gaal’s side have had a roller coaster ride with shocking defeats against Midtjylland in Denmark in the Europa League, West Brom in the Premier League and at Anfield last week in the last 16 of Europe.

But they’ve also won games against the Danes, Shrewsbury Arsenal and West Brom and drew Sunday’s FA Cup quarter final against West Ham.

Rooney who attended the unveiling of United’s partnership with Gulf Oil International revealed that he could be back in time for United’s Premier League clash with former club Everton on April 3 and hopes that will be enough time to prepare for a long summer.

“It is going as planned. It is going how we first thought. It is going well so hopefully it won’t be too long now,” he said.

He added that his absence from the game is frustrating but recognized that his manager decision to make him take a break from his rehab in case of a return of the problem was the right one.

“It has been eight games now I have missed and I didn’t realise it was that many. It has been frustrating.”

“I went away and that could only do me good in the up and coming weeks,” he added.

In 2014 the striker missed the final three matches of the Reds campaign with a toe problem and his sharpness suffered on England duty.

But he believes he’ll get enough matches in the tank before England open their European Championship bid against Russia on June 11.

“I am hoping if I am back when I am expected to be back, depending on the two cups we are still in, then there could be 10 games left for United plus the England friendly games so I don’t think that would be a worry,” Rooney added.

 

 

 

 

 

Talking points from the quarter finals of the FA Cup
Talking points from the quarter finals of the FA Cup

Talking points from the quarter finals of the FA Cup

The domestic circuit of English football provides plenty of chances for teams in all divisions to prove themselves every season.

Apart from the domestic leagues, football in England has the League Cup and the FA Cup to keep the teams in the country busy throughout the season. This season, the FA Cup has provided loads of thrills and spills even before the quarter-final stage.

But the quarter-final made for a great viewing as 7 of the 8 clubs in the competition were from the top flight of English football. Here are the talking points from the quarter-final of the FA Cup this season:

  1. Palace’s chance to shine?

Crystal Palace, who had a great start to the season, have slowly faded away and have failed to win games since the turn of the year. However, they were right on the money against a Reading side who hardly gave them a scare. Cabaye and Campbell both scored in the final minutes of the game and punished the home side as they were down to 10 men thanks to Cooper’s red card. This victory will take Palace in the semi-final and the manager Alan Pardew will be hoping to take a similar result from that game at Wembley.

  1. Chelsea’s season is over:

The FA Cup proved to be the only chance for the Blues to get some positives from this season but they were beaten comprehensively by the Goodison Park outfit in the quarter-final. Romelu Lukaku, who is in the form of his life netted a brace to send Chelsea crashing out of the competition ending any real chance of salvation this season for the Stamford Bridge outfit. Both Diego Costa and Gareth Barry were red carded but the Toffees held on to their two-goal lead to set up an intriguing all Premier League semi-final clash at Wembley.

  1. Martial saves LVG some blushes:

Manchester United seemed like they were going out of the FA Cup when Payet scored from a free-kick late in the game. But young Anthony Martial was there right at the end to give United an equalizer and also take the game to the second leg at Upton Park. The Red Devils looked way off their game and were dominated at their home ground all game. They will, however, be happy to stay in the competition though a trip to the Upton Park can never be easy. This draw will save Louis van Gaal some pressure as losing this would have seen the crowd completely go against him. He still has to get a result from the Liverpool game in the Europe League and the replay of this game if he is to save his team’s season.

  1. Wenger’s time at the Emirates finally up?

Sanchez Flores’ men were sublime in their effort at the Emirates when they beat Arsenal 2-1 to dump the holders of the cup out of the competition. Ighlao was once again amongst the goal scorers as he gave his side the lead before a sublime strike from Guediora sealed the day for the Hornets even as Welbeck pulled one back for the hosts in the dying minutes. This loss has left Arsenal with no real chance of silverware this season, especially with the Premier League title moving farther and farther away from their reach.

The next round of the competition, the semi-finals, will be played on 23rd and 24th of April.

Alexis Sanchez
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Top 5 dribblers in the Premier League

The Barclays Premier League is known for its competitiveness and quality of all the 20 teams involved in the top flight. Almost every club has its own star player, their own impact player than can change the course of the game on its head.

This makes sure that the entertainment value is always high in the English domestic league. But what makes it more interesting is the confidence of the players from all over the country. Here is a list of the top 5 dribblers in the Barclays Premier League so far this season.

  1. Wilfred Zaha (Crystal Palace):

Alan Pardew started this season with a bang winning games in a hurry but recently they have lost some form and find themselves in the second half of the table. But one man has been exceptional this season for the Eagles. Ex-Manchester United man Wilfred Zaha has been unplayable this season. He has attempted 7.4 dribbles per game in his 28 appearances, 3 more than the average Premier League player this season. He has been influential in all the games for the club and is surely showing what United let go when they put him on sale.

  1. Ross Barkley (Everton):

The 22-year old England international is only getting better by the day. He announced himself in the last season with a number of good performances and this season he has added some consistency to him and has been one of the best players for the Toffees this season. He has 7 assists to his name and has completed an average of 3.3 dribbles per game. His form has seen him assume an important role in England’s squad at the EURO16 in France later this year. He will have to be consistent if Everton are to play in Europe next season.

  1. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City):

With 15 goals and 11 assists to his name in 28 appearances, Mahrez has arguably been the best player in the league this season. He has the ability to drift past a player or two with ease and can score with both his feet. He has attempted a total of 5.6 dribbles per game on an average and has completed 3.2 of them on an average per game. He will surely attract a lot of interest from various clubs and at the age of 25, has loads of room to improve. He will have to continue his performances if Ranieri is to lift the Premier League trophy with the Toffees.

  1. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal):

In more than 10 years, the Gunners have a real chance of winning the title this season but the chances are only getting slim by the day. However, the fans will be ecstatic with the performance of fan favorite Alexis Sanchez for the second year running. Sanchez at times seems to be the only player with passion on the field for the Gunners and it is depicted in the fact that he has attempted 5.3 dribbles and completed 2.9 on an average in a game. He looks like he can make things happen in the final third and will have to be at his best if the Emirates franchise is to win any silverware this season.

  1. Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace):

Known for his skill, tricks and his pace, 26-year old French international Yannick Bolasie has once again been an important player for the Eagles this season. He is a smart player who knows how to get past his man and has attempted 5.3 dribbles on an average per game. He has the ability to create chances and can outrun most defenders in the league. He has always been an asset for the Palace side and will remain one for the rest of the season if Pardew’s wants to get his side out of the glut they find themselves at the moment with 5 back to back losses at home. Bolasie has had no impact in the last few games and will have to find his form quickly for his club’s future.

 

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Top 5 attacking duos in the Premier League this season

The Premier League this season has been one of the closest ones in recent times with teams like Leicester City and Wet Ham United fighting for a place in the top four. Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool have all under-performed while Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City are in the midst of a shocking title race this season.

There have been a number of individual performances that have caught the imagination of many this season but attacking in pairs is what has given most teams great success. Here are the top 5 attacking partnerships in the Premier League this season:

  1. Jamie Vardy and Riayd Mahrez (Leicester City):

The favorites to lift the Premier League title this season, Leicester City have unearthed two stars this season. Jamie Vardy, who has 19 goals to his name is the leading goal scorer and has broken the record for most goals in consecutive league games in his impressive run this season. He has had a brilliant partner in crime in Riyad Mahrez who himself has scored 15 goals for the club along with 11 assists. Both players have shown great consistency over the season and are easily the impact players in the league this season. If these two can continue their form, the Foxes will make history by lifting the league title this season.

  1. Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil (Arsenal):

Though Arsenal look like they have passed away a chance to win the title this season, they have plenty of positives to take to the next season. The biggest positive for the Gunners is the form of star mid-fielder Mesut Ozil. The German international has 18 assists to his name with 10 games to go this season and is on his way to breaking the all time record at 21. Though he has lost his form off late he was sensational at the start of the season and was well complemented by French national Oliver Giroud. Giroud has 12 goals to his name this season and has played an important role in Arsenal’s race to the title that is slowly fading away.

  1. Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley (Everton):

Roberto Martinez will not be happy with the league position of his team as he has seen them play some superb football this season. Belgian national Romelu Lukaku has just not been able to stop scoring and has racked up 18 goals this season just one less than Jamie Vardy the top scorer. He has had loads of support from his mid-field from the likes of Ross Barkley who himself has 7 assists to his name so far this season. This form has seen the England national take up an important role in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the EURO16 in France.

  1. Roberto Firmino and Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool):

After a sedate start to his career in England, Firmino now has 8 goals and 4 assists in the last 13 games for Liverpool. Since the turn of the year, the Brazilian has been involved in more goals than any other player in the Premier League as he started to justify his hefty price tag. His change in form has a lot to do with national team mate Phillipe Coutinho who has had a stop start season due to injuries. Coutinho, who has been the back bone of this Liverpool team over the last couple of years has yet again been the most creative player for his side recently. Surely if both these players can keep up the form for the rest of this season, Liverpool will finish in a strong position.

  1. Sergio Aguero and David Silva (Manchester City):

Manchester City are in grave danger of losing a Champions League spot if their recent performance continue and the club needs its star players to come to the fore in the business end of the season. Sergio Aguero, like every season is right up the scoring charts with 16 goals this season and has once again been the go to man for the Citizens. Spanish international David Silva has also done his bit before and after the lengthy injury and has picked up 10 assists so far this season. However, they have plenty of work to be done if they are to play in the Champions League upon the arrival of Guardiola for the next season.

What do you think is the best Premier League duo this season?

top 5 free players
top 5 free players
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Top 5 free agents in the summer

The career of a professional footballer in the modern era is dictated by the club he plays for and the contract he signs for them. His value and his fame are all decided by the club and the fans of the club. So it is very rare for clubs to let go their stars as free player and give their rivals a chance to strengthen their squads.

But over the years there have been players who have rejected new contracts with the existing club for their wellbeing. These free transfers can often end up being the difference at the end of the season. These players can also fetch the new club some profits if they are sold before their new contract expires. So let’s take a look at the top 5 free players who will be available in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St Germain)

Interested clubs: Manchester United, Beckham’s new Miami MLS club

Still widely regarded as one of the finest footballers on the planet, despite his ageing years, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Paris next summer after his contract expires. The Swedish superstar continues to display spell-bounding performances and will certainly have no shortage of offers having been heavily linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs last summer and also in January. However, recent reports have suggested that David Beckham may try and lure his old teammate to join him in his new Miami MLS venture, while Manchester United have long been in the race for the lethal striker.

Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille)

Interested club – Everton, Liverpool

Everton have set their sights on the Frenchman as Tim Howard could leave the Goodison Park next summer for MLS, and Joel Robles’s future also looks uncertain, the Toffees have made Mandanda their top summer target. Mandanda is out of contract with the Ligue 1 team at the end of this season and has also hinted that his future is still unknown.

Roman Neustadter (Shalke 04)

Interested clubs – Manchester United, Zenit St. Petersburg

The 27-year-old German midfielder’s current contract with Schalke ends this summer which could well see a scramble for his signature at the end of this season. Although traditionally a midfielder, Neustadter has played regularly at centre back this term and his consistent performances have made this transition an easy one. Linked with Manchester United in the past, this is one scenario that a number of clubs are certain to be watching with interest.

Nicolas N,Koulou (Olympique de Marseille)

Interested Clubs – Tottenham, Chelsea, Everton, West Ham

N’Koulou is out of contract in the summer so Marseille were keen to not lose their star defender for free and had welcomed offers in January and a bid of £5.2million from Tottenham was initially accepted for the centre-back but the proceedings failed in the later stages. Spurs boss still sees the 25-year-old defender as his priority target in the summer window, while according to reports Chelsea, Everton and West Ham are among the others who want to sign N’Koulou.

Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia)

Interested clubs – Inter Milan, Roma, Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool

The Algeria International already has hand full offers from Inter, Roma, Juventus and Manchester United, Liverpool. Despite claiming earlier he would be willing to stay with Valencia, the 26-year-old Algerian later reportedly rejected a new contract with the La Liga side due to interest from abroad. Meanwhile, Valencia are not ready to meet Feghouli’s wage demands and some of the recent transfer rumours suggest the winger has already handed in a transfer request. Feghouli joined Valencia from Grenoble back in 2010 and has since then made over 100 league appearances for Los Che.

 

 

10 talking points from this weekend in the Premier League

Entertaining, the only word that can describe the action in the Premier League this season. With just over a month and a half left in the season, the stakes are higher in every game and there were plenty of games that have had a say on the points table.

From the thrilling North London derby to the Baggies victory against United, there was plenty to talk about from this weekend. Here are 10 talking points from the 29th round of Premier League fixtures:

  1. Arsenal hate playing with 11 men in big games:

The Gunners have picked up a bad habit of losing players in big games. Against United, Chelsea and Barcelona and now against Tottenham, Arsenal were shown a red card reducing them to 10 men. This was the first game they took a point from and will not be gutted with the end result.

  1. Remi Garde’s time at Villa is up:

Villa showed no resilience at the Etihad as they were shoved away with 4 goals by Manchester City. They are definitely going down this season and the manager will have a tough time convincing the board that he can lead the side back into the Premier League this season. Surely his time at Villa Park is all but over.

  1. The Magpies have all to do with the rest of the season:

Newcastle lost to the Cherries this weekend at home in a result that will see them put in the 19th place in the points table. They are close to relegation but are just a point away from safety. They will have to fight hard for the rest of the season to stay in the top flight for the next campaign.

  1. Sigurdsson sends the Swans clear of relegation:

The 1-0 victory over relegation threatened Norwich City took the Irish outfit to 33 points in the 16th position 9 points away from the drop zone. They are surely safe for this season and will need to finish off the season strongly to go into the next one on a high.

  1. Diouf rescues a point for Stoke:

The Potters looked down and out of the game at Stamford Bridge but a late header from Diouf saw both teams share a point from this weekend. Chelsea are now unbeaten in their last 12 league games and find themselves 10th in the points table.

  1. Sunderland happy with a point:

The Black Cats opened the scoring late at the St Marys and looked like taking away all three points before Van Djik equalized for the home side. However, the relegation threatened Sunderland will embrace the points that takes them clear of the drop zone by just a point.

  1. Hammers compile a stunning come-back:

After two goals in the less than an hour, Everton looked like they took the Hammers to the cleaners but Slaven Bilic’s side came back into the game and took away all three points with three goals in the last 12 minutes of the game. Antonio, Sakho and Payet gave the Hammers a memorable win in a thrilling encounter this weekend.

  1. Celebrations begin in Leicester:

A solitary goal from golden-man Riyad Mahrez was enough for the Foxes to see out the Baggies on Sunday as Leicester City opened up a 5 point gap over Tottenham after the end of this weekend. 5 points in this season is a lot to cover and barring any last minute slip-ups, Leicester City are set to lift the title for the first time this season.

  1. Three in three for Liverpool:

Since the 2-2 draw against Sunderland, Liverpool have scored 11 goals and conceded just one winning all the three games that they played the latest being against Palace. A late controversial Christian Benteke gave Liverpool all three points after they were a goal and a man down even before the hour mark. They need to stay consistent till the end of the season to entertain thoughts of European football.

  1. Damaging defeat for Louis van Gaal:

The recent results have seen the Red Devils find some form in an important time of the season but Juan Mata’s suspension gave United little to work with as they were dumped by a solitary goal from Rondon this Sunday. They are now 6th in the table three points away from a top-4 spot.

 

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