‘Premier League’

Analysis: Di María joins Man United in robes of saviour

“The Dutchman has introduced an innovative 3-4-1-2 formation since taking up his role in July, but there is no obvious role for Di María in the system. His attacking instincts would have to be curbed at left wing-back and in any case, United did not lavish £29 million on Shaw in order to leave the England teenager on the bench. Di María can operate in the centre of the pitch, but if Van Gaal is determined to use Juan Mata as a number 10, it would leave him with only one berth in the team for an orthodox central midfielder. With Rooney and Robin van Persie also apparently guaranteed to start, Van Gaal may have to consider changing tack if he is to give all of his attacking stars the best conditions in which to work.”

I wrote a piece for AFP on where Manchester United’s record signing Ángel di María will fit into their starting XI, and you can read it here.

Feature: Five great Premier League team goals

“During a 7-0 end-of-season rout of Everton, Arsenal scored a dazzling goal that showcased the sharply honed creative gifts of Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman began the move by chesting a Lauren throw-in to Edu, who fizzed a pass forward into the feet of Robin van Persie. Van Persie laid the ball off to Bergkamp and he bisected the visiting defence with an exquisite chipped pass that allowed Vieira to steam in and nonchalantly loft the ball over goalkeeper Richard Wright.”

In honour of Chelsea’s sublime second goal in their 3-1 win at Burnley on Monday, I’ve compiled a list of five great Premier League team goals for AFP. You can see the list (with videos) here.

Soccer Central podcast: Premier League review

I spoke to my friends at Sportsnet’s Soccer Central podcast about the opening round of Premier League fixtures, Louis van Gaal’s defensive problems at Manchester United, the battle for number-one status at Chelsea between Thibaut Courtois and Petr Čech, and Tony Pulis’s abrupt departure at Crystal Palace. You can listen here.

Match reports and reaction 2014-15

A collection of my match reports and reaction pieces for AFP from the 2014-15 season:

Reaction: Wenger backs Sánchez to fill Giroud’s shoes (Champions League)
Reaction: Pellegrini gladdened by Jovetić display (Premier League)
Report: Jovetić at the double as Man City sink Liverpool (Premier League)
Reaction: Ancelotti predicts ‘new cycle’ for Madrid (UEFA Super Cup)
Report: Ronaldo still the boss as Madrid win Super Cup (UEFA Super Cup)
Reaction: Wembley win sets tone for Arsenal – Wenger
(Community Shield)
Report: Vibrant Arsenal down Man City in Community Shield (Community Shield)
Reaction: ‘Lethargic’ Arsenal not ready yet – Wenger (Emirates Cup)
Report: Falcao scores comeback goal to sink Arsenal (Emirates Cup)
Reaction: Wenger enthused by Sanogo-Campbell double act (Emirates Cup)
Report: Sanogo upstages Sánchez in Arsenal romp (Emirates Cup)

Feature: Premier League youngsters face loan lottery

“Gaël Kakuta, a precociously skilful attacking midfielder, joined Chelsea from French club Lens at the age of 16 in 2007, sparking a row that momentarily saw the English side banned from signing players. After he made an eye-catching debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers in November 2009, then-coach Carlo Ancelotti was moved to declare: “At that age I have never seen a player with this talent.” However, with established players such as Joe Cole and Florent Malouda cemented in Chelsea’s starting XI, Kakuta found his route to the first team blocked. There followed a succession of underwhelming loan moves — to Fulham, Bolton Wanderers, French club Dijon, Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, and Lazio — and at 23, his career is still awaiting take-off.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP on the uncertain futures faced by young Premier League players who go out on loan, and you can read it here.

Profile: Ryan Giggs, from pin-up to old master

“Following his parents’ divorce, Giggs adopted his mother’s surname and it was with that name on the back of his shirt that he was to become an international sporting icon. Giggs was the first member of United’s feted ‘Class of ’92′ youth team to infiltrate the senior squad, setting an example that David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers would go on to emulate. A wiry, jet-heeled left-winger, Giggs’s weaving runs made him one of the stars of Ferguson’s first great United team and moved team-mate Gary Pallister to comment that he gave his opponents “twisted blood”.”

My AFP profile of Ryan Giggs, who announced his retirement on Monday after an era-defining 23-year career, can be read here.

Report: Man City stroll to Premier League title

“London (AFP) – Manchester City secured a second Premier League title in three seasons by comfortably defeating West Ham United 2-0 at a jubilant Etihad Stadium on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season can be read here.

Analysis: Man City out-punch rivals to Premier League glory
Review: Liverpool slips allow Man City to succeed United

Report: Džeko sends 100-goal City to brink of title

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City are within touching distance of the Premier League title after overwhelming Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday to close to within a point of the championship.”

My AFP match report from a soggy but satisfied Etihad Stadium can be read here.

Reaction: Manchester City will be worthy champions, says Pellegrini

Report: Man United past and future see off Hull

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Teenage debutant James Wilson scored twice as Manchester United rang out the old and ushered in the new in a 3-1 win at home to Hull City on Tuesday.”

My AFP match report on a night of hellos and goodbyes at Old Trafford can be read here.

Reaction: Giggs ‘still undecided’ on Man United future

Report: Palace fightback shreds Liverpool’s title bid

London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Premier League title bid was left in ruins after Crystal Palace mounted a sensational comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park on Monday.”

My AFP match report on an extraordinary night at Selhurst Park can be found here.

Reaction: Rodgers proud despite Liverpool collapse

Report: Norwich leave Chelsea’s title bid in tatters

“London (AFP) – Norwich City all but ended Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge and gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation by recording a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on the day that Chelsea’s title dream died can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea wait on trio amid title disappointment

Report: Gerrard slip lets Chelsea back into race

“Liverpool (AFP) – An untimely slip by Steven Gerrard inadvertently helped Chelsea claim a 2-0 win over Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday that reignited their title ambitions.”

My AFP match report on the day that Liverpool appeared to let the Premier League title slip through their fingers can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea ‘parked two buses’, fumes Rodgers
Reaction: Mourinho revels in Liverpool derailment

Analysis: Man United break with tradition in Moyes sacking

“Whereas United had not lifted the English title for 18 years when [Alex] Ferguson was appointed in November 1986, [David] Moyes’s job was to take command of the juggernaut that his predecessor had built. Ferguson hoped the structures he had put in place would allow Moyes — who failed to win a trophy in his 11 years at Everton — to slot seamlessly into place, thereby enabling United to maintain a tradition of appointing promising, hungry, British managers. It was for these reasons that United opted for Moyes, rather than a brash upstart such as José Mourinho, but the former Everton manager’s subsequent failure laid bare the shortcomings in their recruitment process.”

I wrote a piece for AFP on how the David Moyes affair exposed the fallacy of the club’s attachment to tradition, and you can read it here.

Profile: How Moyes shrivelled beneath the United spotlight
Analysis: Five issues for Moyes’s successor to address
Profile: Studious Giggs set for another reinvention

Report: Liverpool beat Man City in title crunch clash

Liverpool, United Kingdom (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s 78th-minute winner gave Liverpool a crucial 3-2 victory over Premier League title rivals Manchester City on a day of raw emotion at Anfield on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on an emotional and unforgettable afternoon at Anfield can be read here.

Reaction: Tearful Gerrard calls for Liverpool focus

Report: Džeko downs United to give City derby spoils

“Manchester (United Kingdom) — Manchester City snuffed out Manchester United’s recent revival and closed on Premier League leaders Chelsea as Edin Dzeko scored twice in a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday.”

My AFP match report on a night when the mood changed at Old Trafford can be read here.

Reaction: Rebuilding United will take time, warns Moyes
Analysis: Moyes faces backlash after United derby woe

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