Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from Play the Advantage

Play the Advantage would like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year. We hope you enjoy the new year with your families an friends and we look forwards to bringing you the latest in football in the new year.

All the Best

Play the Advantage

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Super Mario Balotelli proves his worth in Manchester

Young Italian superstar Mario Balotelli has scored three goals in City's 4-0 win against Aston Villa. Balotelli is yet to prove his 22 million dollar worth in Manchester, after his public outbursts, controversial transfer comments and arguments with team mates in training. Although with Carlos Tevez out injured the Italian got his chance to shine, and did that he did. Aston Villa provided no match for the Eastlanders who help their title contentions with their solid performance. Although an uninspired Villa performance saw them slip further down the table in what has been a far from satisfactory season.

Mancini suggested that Balotelli was happy at City, which crushed his recent comments about his playing future and Ac Milan. Mancini went on to say that the fans are behind Balotelli and that he is a key part of the squad going forward. Balotelli was named man of the match against Villa and will hope to gain another starting position in City's game next week.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

English Premier League Round 19 - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Review

Chelsea continue their downward spiral in the Premier League, after a disasterous performance against a stunning Arsenal team. The Gunners scored three goals including two in the space of two minutes to put the games beyond doubt.

The round 19 clash was the most anticipated of the round. Arsenal were looking to prevent history from being made, as they were on a three game losing streak at home. A fourth loss would see the Gunners equal an embarrassing twenty year record. Chelsea on the other hand had poor form of their own to contend with. Pre the Christmas break Ancelotti's men performed attrociously, seeing them drop down the table and out of contact with new leaders, Manchester United.

the first half saw an even affair. Drogba had the early opportunity to put his team ahead. The Ivorian had scored a staggering 14 goals in 11 matches against Arsenal, and his early showing looked to see him continue his rampart scoring run. Arsenal attacked through Nasri and Van Persie - Who got the nod upfront instead of Chamakh. Their persistance soon proved effective as Arsenal took the lead late in the first half. Alex Song knocked in the ball past Cech after a goalmouth scramble. Arsenal went into the break one up on Chelsea.

Things were about to get a whole lot worse for Chelsea, who came into the match as favourties. Arsenal came out blazing, intending not to hold back, quickly their fast paced attacks turned into goals. First through Fabregas with his clinical finish, then through Theo Walcott who outpaced the Chelsea defence on the counter attack to slot the ball - once again - beyond the reach of Cech.

A demoralised Chelsea looked to slip up yet again, but after some inspirational words from captain Lampard immediately struck back through an Ivanovic header, after a driven free kick. Arsenal went on to dominate play and see out the match 3-1, to put themselves back into the title race, behind United and now infront of City.

Final Score:      Arsenal 3                -            Chelsea 1
                             Song 44                                  Ivanovic 57
                             Fabregas 51
                             Walcott 53

Man of the Match - Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leonardo handed the reigns at Inter

The worst kept secret in European football has been announced, as Inter look to recover from a disasterous start to the 2010/2011 installment of the Italian Serie A.

Former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez was shown the door last week as Massimo Moratti (Inter Club President) confirmed that he had lost the trust of the players and the board alike. Benitez who had complained on numerous occasions that the transfer funds made avaliable to him at the start of the season were insufficient to cater for a big name signing, had threatened to quit mid way through the first half of the season.

New coach Leonardo, formerly coach of Ac Milan across town, has already stated his claims, saying that he will aim to make a number of big name signings during his time and especially during the approaching January transfer window.

After finishing third in the Serie A last year with Milan Leonardo will look to steer Inter to another title, although his former team Milan will do everything to stop him from continuing Inter's run of successive titles.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Transfers, Transfers, Transfers - Tevez, Dzeko and Cassano look to be on the move

The January transfer window is fast approaching and many big names look to be on the move, we have a look at some of the big names and some of their possible destinations.

Carlos Tevez: The Argentinian has expressed his want to play elsewhere, but City will not let up. Big name clubs from around the World have expressed their desire to have "Carlitos" play in their colours. Real Madrid lead the charge as they face injury woes up front as well as the possibility of letting their French striker Benzema leave after a recent spell of poor form, in truth Karim has failed to impress in Madrid.

Tevez has also been linked with an unlikely move to Inter who are looking to re-invent their squad under Leonardo. Although Tevez has stated that he was not interested in such a move. Considering the Argentine threatened to retire, it would n't be a surprise if he ended up playing in his home country or in the various South American leagues.

Edin Dzeko: Wolfsburg have held onto the Bosnian hitman for a number of seasons now, rejecting a number of high profile bids. The striker has been prolific yet again in the Bundesliga scoring nine goals thus far. Although with Liverpool recently entering the racfe to sign the Bosnian Wolfsburg may be tempted to sell. a 40 million dollar price tag has certainly turned away many clubs, but Juventus and Bayern Munich still stay in the hunt. Premier League interest from Manchester United is also a factor and the Red Devils may swoop and take the striker to Old Trafford.

Antonio Cassano: Rumours already exist about Cassano and where his playing future lies. The Italian international left from Sampdoria and became a free agent when he had a falling out with the club. Milan's apparant signing of the Striker came with Massimo Moratti of Inter saying that Inter too have made an offer for the frontman. One thing is for certain Cassano will continue to apply his trade in Italy. Juventus is also a possible destination for Cassano. A reuniting with former manager and club sporting director would definitely be welcome by a player who can easily loose his temper and upset team chemistry.

Three big names look set to move on this January window. We will also look at the three best signings at the halfway point of the season soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

English Premier League Round 19 - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Preview

After a short break the Premier League returns and with it some blockbuster matches. Arsenal an Chelsea, high fliers on the table both looking to catch the elusive Manchester United.

Arsenal come into the match with a very poor home form, currently the gunners have lost three consecutive games at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger has been criticized of recent as his team has not put up a fight against the big guns of the Premier League including their recent losses against Tottenham and Manchester United. The return of Fabregas in recent weeks has brought back some leadership upfront helping the Gunners get back to their scoring ways.

Chelsea will want to return to their winning form found at the start of the season. The blues have been out of form and will hope that the return of their captain to the starting team will boost morale. Both teams have had little to no match time over the past few weeks - mainly due to the weather.

Arsenal Team News: The Gunners still have a list of injuries including Vermaleen, Gibbs and Almunia. Arsenal will be boosted by the likely return of Diaby and the return of Fabregas from their respective injuries. Fabianski's return from injury will see him once again take over the reigns in goal, over youngster Sczcesny who had a brilliant match against United, making a number of stunning saves.

Chelsea Team News: The fact that Drogba and Lampard will both start this match together will be a massive boost to Chelsea, who have offered little upfront in the recent weeks. Both players were instrumental in sparking Chelsea's rampant run at the start of the season. Alex, Zhirkov and Benayoun are out through long term injury. Bonsingwa will be given till kickoff to prove his fitness after sustaining an injury after the Tottenham match.

The game is the most anticipated match of the week and it should live up to it's expectations of a tight affair. Chelsea will play aggresively with the return of Lampard and Drogba, but Arsenal will be more desperate to ensure they do not break their record of four losses in a row at home.

Match Prediction: Arsenal 2 - Chelsea 1

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Play the Advantage

To all our readers across the globe we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, we hope you all enjoy the time with your families and friends.

All the Best

Play the Advantage

Protest at Ajax. Against Modern Football

Ajax-AZ 1-0 (Dutch Cup). 23-12-2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Player of the Week - Edinson Cavani (Napoli)

It hasn’t been to long since Napoli F.C’s new signing, Edinson Cavani, arrived at the club. He has had a tremendous impact at Napoli and keeps raising the club’s hopes of a number one finish in the Serie A over Italian giants Juventus, AC Milan and Internazionale.

Edinson Cavani has been the catalyst of Napoli’s turn around to the new season. It has been nearly twenty years since Napoli had finished in the top three and now it is looking good for the sky blues which now sits in second - one win away from catching Milan.

Cavani carries ten goals to his name in his first season at Napoli alongside Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) both leading the Serie A top goalscorers list. Cavani won Napoli's last game against Lecce with a superb effort in the 90th minute which saw him score one of the best goals in the Serie A 2010/2011 to date.

His performances in the 2010 World Cup were also very strong, scoring on several occasions for the Uruguayan national team. It was made more difficult for him to perform as he was up agains World Class players and teams.

This was further justified as he said;

“they closed down the spaces well and made it hard for us to play our game. This was a deserved victory as we kept plugging away right to the death and never gave in.”

Cavani has caught the eye of bigger clubs in Europe including the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea. The striker certainly has made his mark on the Serie A this year and will look to finish strongly with Napoli in the league.

Check out Cavani's stunning winner against Lecce:


Written by Pedro Cuccovillo - A Facebook follower

Spanish La Liga, has it become too uncompetitive?

During the Christmas break we take time to evaluate how each of the several leagues across Europe and the world have faired both competitively and financially. The first league we take a look at is Spain's premier league the La Liga. The La Liga is rated by FIFA as the second most successful league in the world after the English Premier League. However, in recent times the league has come under much pressure to offer something new both in terms of marketing and football.

One of the biggest problems in the La Liga is that the league has seemingly divided itself - overtime - into four different tiers.
One tier is played between Barcelona and Real Madrid to win the title.
Just under them is the second tier which consists of Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal, fighting for places in the champions league and the Europa league.
The third tier varies, but usually consists of teams like Atletico Bilbao, Espanyol, Getafe and Deportivo la Coruna, who are quite happy to stay out of trouble, but still play to achieve that elusive Europa League spot.
The fourth tier, of course is that between the teams trying to avoid relegation. Although the quality of the teams do not match those in the "first tier" the competition between these teams is quite exhilarating especially towards the end of the season.

These "tiers" or leagues are divided greatly by the level of football acustomed to each of the clubs. One big example of this was the recent match between Real Madrid and Levante - a team just sitting above relegation-  in the Spanish Cup , the 8-0 victory to Madrid including two hattricks to both Benzema and Ronaldo shows the difference in footballing ability between the two clubs. 
The fact that Madrid and Barcelona are always increasing the gap between all the tiers below them - mainly for money. Shows that the La Liga is bound to become more uncompetitive unless the influence of lesser known clubs becomes greater. Through both transfers and media publicity. Although everything is possible with newly promoted club Hercules putting up stiff challenges against Barcelona (1-0 Victory) and Real Madrid.

By Isidoro Munoz Mendoza our Spanish Correspondant
(Born in the Bernabeu) - Facebook follower

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Write for Play the Advantage - Email Us!

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Play The Advantage Team

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Player of the First Half of the Season - Nominees

This season a few suprise names have thrust themselves onto the world stage. Each of the Five major leagues around the world (England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France) have been influenced by the skill and consistency of one or another player. It's time to vote for your player of the half season. The nominees are (three from each league):

English Premier League:

Samir Nasri (Arsenal) - The Arsenal attacking midfielder has been prolific infront of goal. This season he has knotched up 17 goals this season in all competitions. The Frenchman has certainly proved his worth at the Emirates.

Gareth Bale (Tottenham) - Tottenham have certainly established themselves towards the top of the league, winger Gareth Bale has been instrumental in leading his team to victory on a number of occasions, his pace and shooting ability has made him one of the most feared wingers in Europe.

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) - United sit pretty at the top of the table with two matches in hand. They remain one of the hardest teams in the EPL to beat with no losses in the league this year. Their defence has been second to none and rock solid centre back Vidic has been instrumental in securing cleansheets and sometimes scoring goals.

Spanish Premiera Division

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - What more can be said about the Portugese hitman. CR9 has been key in many of Real's victories, scoring his way to the top of the goal scorers list in La Liga. Ronaldo will be looking to lead Mourinho's men to a title.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - The Barcelona man has been in phenomenal form of recent orchestrating their 5-0 win against Madrid as well as scoring a total of 17 goals in the league equalling Ronaldo's total at the top. Barcelona sit in first place in La Liga.

Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal) - The Italian striker goes largely unnoticed amongst the big strikers at Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Rossi has been prolific for Villarreal scoring 9 goals domestically and five in the Europa League. With Villarreal pushing for a Champions League spot Rossi will have to continue to show his good form.

Italian Serie A

Milos Krasic (Juventus) - With Juventus looking for a revival in 2010 they spent up big in the transfer season, bringing Serbian winger Milos Krasic to Juventus. The Serbian delivered scoring a number of goals and providing a number of assists to put Juventus into second place just behind Ac Milan. His hattrick against.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Ac Milan) - The big money load deal was labelled as a "waste" at the start of the year. However Ibra's season has been far from that, guiding Milan to the top of the League, whilst also scoring nine goals in the process.

Edison Cavani (Napoli) - What a year it's been for the young Uruguayan. Coming to Napoli on load the striker has certainly made an impact, reaching a tally of ten for the year to put him equal top scorer in the Italian Serie A. He has also been effective in the Europa League scoring seven times in eight appearances.

German Bundesliga

Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund) - Sahin has been crucial in Dortmunds German campaign thus far. He distributes the football precisely. He wins back possession as well as moves forward in attack always ensuring he is open for a pass. Sahin has been the playmaker behind six goals as well as scoring four himself. He has proved that he will be a key player in the Turkish national team.

Manuel Neuer (Schalke) - The Schalke shot stopper has been the shining light in a Schalke team that has played far beyond their expectations this year. The German number one has certainly caught the eye of bigger clubs this year through his excellent saves.

Theofanis Gekas (Frankfurt) - The Bundesliga top scorer has established himself as a top class striker with 14 goals in the campaign thus far. The greek international has been the reason behind Frankfurt's good performances this season.

Ligue 1

Yohan Gourcuff (Lyon) - The Frenchman's move to Lyon was much publicised for the reason he left from rivals Borduex. Although Gourcuff has replicated the form that made him one of the most feared playmakers in Europe helping Lyon to move within one point of leaders Lille.

Nene (PSG) - The PSG man boasts the title of top scorer in Ligue one. He has been the difference for his team in many of the big matches during the season including bagging the winners against Valenciennes. He also gained an assist in the winning goal to help his team overcome Marseille.

Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux) - The defender made his name in Europe this year. The left back who is still yet to apply his trade for the national team. He is crucial in going forward providing an added threat with every attack.

Comment with your choice of player, the winning player will be revealed soon along with an indepth article on his impact on his team throughout the first half of the year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

English Premier League Round 18 - Manchester City vs Everton - Review

Everton came out of the blocks early as they secured a 2-1 victory against Manchester City, preventing the Eastlanders from going top of the table over the Christmas break. It was Australia's Tim Cahill who put the Toffee's infront in just the fourth minute. He got on the end of a Seamus Coleman cross to score once again with his head. The goal moves him to nine for the season putting him in fourth place on the top scorers list.

Manchester City went on to dominate possession constantly bombarding the Everton defence with long balls from Yaya Toure and runs by David Silva. Although it was Everton once again who would go on to score. This time Chaill turning scorer to provider as he set up Baines with a layoff allowing the defender to beating Joe Hart at the far post.

Tim Howard was having an inspired game as he continued to make some unbelievable saves to ensure City did not strike before half time, including a diving save from a driven Kolarov free kick. Carlos Tevez had been un-troubling upfront failing to find his scoring form, preventing City from getting a goal before the break.

The Second half saw Mancini change tactics, bringing on Adam Johnson, who had been instrumental in their draw with Juventus midweek. Johnson cause trouble down the flanks as he continued to feed balls into the Everton penalty area. Early in the second half City were given hope of restoring parity when Victor Anichebe was shown his second yellow card. From here Manchester City pressed on and were eventually rewarded in the 72nd minute when Johnson once again broke into the box, making way for Yaya Toure shot which heavily defelected off Phil Jagielka, which resulted in a breakthrough for City.

The goal looked to have brought about a new City as each successive attack came close to an equaliser. First through a Baotelli effort the bounced of the post, then through the rebound which saw Tevez almost slide the ball into the net, if it wasn't for another brilliant save by Howard. The more and more city pressed the more impressive Howard's reactions were going on to once again deny Tevez from close range.

Towards the final whistle City's hope of an equaliser took a blow when Kolo Toure was also sent off following a second yellow. Mancini's side will know that the game was a missed opportunity as the comprehensively dominated possession but were denied by a desperate Everton side led by Tim Howard's heroics in goal.

Final Score - Manchester City 1        Everton  2
                      Jagielka(og) 72            Cahill 4
                                                           Baines 19

Man of the Match : Tim Howard (Everton)

Technorati Claim : 

English Premier League Round 18 - Manchester City vs Everton - Preview

The last game of the Premier League before the Christmas break proves to be one of the only games in the league this week as snow has postponed all but two of the games so far. Manchester City are flying high towards the top of the league and a win against Everton will see them move to the top of the Premier League over the Christmas break, although with Manchester and Arsenal sitting just behind both with games in hand.
Everton on the other hand will be trying to move clear of relegation, this year experiencing a less than satisfying season which has put pressure on players and staff alike.

During the week City has experienced much unwanted media attention after Carlos Tevez announced his desire to leave Eastlands. Mancini has called City fans not to boo the captain on the pitch as they still reatain hope of keeping the star strker.
Everton will be hoping that their good record of recent against City will continue. The toffee's have won their lost three visits to Eastlands although injury concerns and poor form will make their job all the more difficult.

Manchester City Team News: Adebayor is in serious doubt with a calf injury, while Nigel de Jong is once again suspended for City. Admist much the controversy of the past week Tevez is likely to get the start upfront, with Yaya Toure, Silva and Milner in behind the Argentinian.

Everton Team News: Everton officials will be sweating on the fitness of Pienaar who has a serious ankle injury, midfielder has been key to many of Everton's wins this year and he will be given until kickoff to prove his fitness, although unlikely. Hetinga is also in doubt but a return of Hibbert may be and option to replace the defender.

The cold weather will most likely see a less physical encounter and many ball controlling errors. City will be desperate to take top spot, which will surely give them a morale boost and maybe help them hold on to their captain. Everton will put up a worthy fight but in the end City should comfortably defeat the Toffees.

Match Prediction: Manchester City 3   -   Everton 1

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in the English blog next week.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spanish Premiera Round 16 - Real Madrid vs Sevilla - Review

Real Madrid has unconvincingly pulled off a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Sevilla. A crucial 77th minute strike from Angel Di Maria, the man Los Blancos signed from Benfica for $25 million, proved to be all that separated the two sides in what can only be described as an ill-tempered encounter that saw two red cards being handed out.

In recent times, this fixture has been characterised by high-scoring games, however this particular meeting proved to present very few goal scoring opportunities for either squad, particularly in the first half. Karim Benzema, a player under pressure to impress his employers, had a fruitless match which resulted in nothing more than a near miss in the first half which truly highlighted his now apparent lack of confidence. Los Blancos’ best chances came from two near identical free kicks from Cristiano Ronaldo, who showed his skill to nearly slot home past Andres Palop.

Sevilla also had their fair share of opportunities in the first half, however like Madrid, they did not seem adventurous or willing to break the deadlock. The visiting team continued to threaten the Madrid defence down the wings and an Escude header from a Capel cross drifted just wide of the Casillas goalpost in the 23th minute. Madrid defender Carvalho was lucky not to be given his marching orders when he pulled down Negredo towards the end of the first half. The resultant free kick was drilled at Casillas by Romaric, but was then ultimately cleared by Pepe. A fruitless first half ended with what appeared to be a dispute between Mourinho and the Sevilla bench.

The best chance of the game so far fell to Sevilla forward Negredo in the 57th minute. Luis Fabiano had planted a through ball past the Madrid defence but the final ball was drilled over the cross bar after being one-on-one with Casillas. The pressure continued to pile on the home team when Carvalho was given a second yellow card after he leant in with an elbow on Negredo.

At this stage, a continuation of Mourinho’s 8 year home match-undefeated streak seemed to be in doubt. Both Benzema and Khedira were substituted for Pedro Leon and Esteban Granero respectively and this seemed to spur the home side on to create more goal scoring opportunities. Los Blancos continued to dominate, however it wasn’t until the 77th minute that Di Maria’s strike from a tight angle gave Madrid the slender lead that they had been chasing down all game. Mourinho’s aggressive strategy of using a three-man defensive formation following Carvalho’s sending-off had finally paid off. Mouhamadou Dabo was also given his marching orders for kicking out at Di Maria during injury time, which reduced the numerical advantage the away side had over Madrid.

While the result may not have been convincing, Mourinho’s Real Madrid had managed to carve out a 1-0 home victory that ensured they would go into the Christmas break trailing Barcelona by only 2 points. It may not have been a classic performance from the match-winning squad, but it was a prime example of Mourinho managing to grab a victory despite an injury-stricken and partially suspended first eleven squad.

Final Score - Real Madrid 1        Sevilla 0
                      Di Maria 77

Man of the Match : Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)

Article by Alexander "Real Madrid"  Novo (Facebook and Twitter follower)

Spanish Premiera Round 16 - Real Madrid vs Sevilla

It's a match pitting the over achievers in the Premiera this year (Real Madrid) against the dismal underachievers (Sevilla) in round 16 of the Spanish Premiera. It is fair to say that Sevilla has been one of the major disappointments this year, especially domestically. Although they will have some confidence going into the game knowing that they qualified to the second round of the Europa League at the expense of  German league leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Still trying to push their title claims after their loss to Barcelona a few rounds back, Real Madrid will be fielding a squad with many bench players as they have a list of injuries and suspensions which may make the task of beating Sevilla that bit more difficult than will initially be expected.

After Barcelona's 5-1 demolition of Espanyol, Madrid will be under a great deal of pressure to keep up with the league leaders. Whilst Sevilla will look to stay in some kind of contact with the elusive top four clubs in the Premiera.

Real Madrid Team News: A string of injuries affects the Real camp this week. The suspensions don't help either, with both Xabi Alonso and Marcelo suspended, mourinho will have to find replacements defensively. Ramos is also out, while Madrids attack will be at a loss with Higuain out again with Kaka still injured. Although the Brazillian playmaker returned to training this week which is surely a good sign for Madrid fans out there.

Sevilla Team News: Kanoute is out injured, while Pedretti is definitely out for at least two games. Also in doubt it star winge Jesus Navas, who will be key to Sevilla's build up play, he will be given until kick off to prove his fitness. Alexis has been suspended, and it was against Madrid of all teams Sevilla would've needed him as he is their key man when it comes to suring up the defence.

Match Prediction - Real Madrid 3  -  Sevilla 1

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in the Spanish blog next week.

Winter Wonderland blankets Europe

League matches in Italy and England have been postponed due to a wintery Christmas that is amounting in Europe. Games across both countries have been moved to after the Christmas break giving teams an early holiday. The much anticipated Chelsea vs Manchester United was one of those games, as Stamford Bridge was almost impossible to enter due to the snow.This was most likely to the dismay of United who were favourites heading into the clash after their brilliant form over the past few rounds compared to Chelsea's more than disappointing form.

Liverpool's aging Anfield did not contain sufficient pitch heating technology to clear the ground of the snow falling on the field.

Elsewhere postponements to lower league Italian, French and Bundeliga matches took place. Inter vs Fiorentina was also postponed but due to the partaking of Inter in the Club World Club which they comprehensively won 3-0, the result will surely put Rafa Benitez at ease after it looked as if he would be out before Christmas.

Football fans will hope that the League games left unpostponed this weekend will still go ahead, as we try and soak up as much football action as possible before the Christmas break. Stay tuned for the round up of the week's action.

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We're steeped in tradition.

Thanks to Manchester United FC for these great pics.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

English Premier League Round 18 - Chelsea vs Manchester United - Preview

Once again the English Premier League produces a mouthwatering tie for fans around the world. Chelsea and Manchester United two of the best teams in England this year go head to head in round 18. The game will see the return of Frank Lampard to the starting 1, while it looks as if Berbatov will make a return to continue his socring campaign. United do not have history on their side going into the clash, not winning at Stamford Bridge for eight years. Although Chelsea have been in very poor form of late and will be down on morale heading into the clash. The match promises to be an intense game of football.

Chelsea Team News: The biggest team news to come out of Chelsea this year. the return of Frank Lampard to the starting 11 of the squad will surely give a boost to the team and Carlo Ancelotti. The inspirational midfielder will look to lead the attack against Vidic and crew. Alex is still out as well as Benayoun but Drogba will also reutrn to the starting squad. Chelsea will have full firepower heading into the clash.

Manchester United Team News: The return of Paul Scholes was delayed until January. The experienced midfielder was expected to return before the break, but will not be sufficiently fit for the match. Michael Owen will also be out and the former Newcastle man has really struggled to get matchtime under his belt. Fast paced winger Valencia is still out through injury and will be sorely missed in the creativity department upfront.

Chelsea and Manchester United have produced some amazing passages of football. Both teams consist of World Class players capable of prodcuing moments of brilliance.  A return to action for some of Chelsea's big guns, the blues will look to be in better shape than in previous weeks. United will do into the match knowing that a win will see them go six points clear with a game in hand, which will surely be a nice Christmas present for Sir Alex. With form the only thing to separate the two teams it looks as if this one will go right down to the wire.

Match Prediction - Chelsea 1   -   Manchester United 2

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in English blog next week.