Manchester City

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Who Had the Best 2012 Sumer Transfer Season?

The transfer window officially closed this past Friday so it is now time to observe which European clubs were best improved.  This is an inexact science and only time will surely tell who which clubs have benefited the most, but the following three clubs look to have emerged on this side of summer in the best shape.

1.  PSG – Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the most famous of the French club’s incoming transfers and is sure to bring world-class ability to the attack at PSG.  Having played at Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan, as well as amassing 80 appearances internationally for Sweden, Ibrahimovic is as good as they come and should help take PSG to the next level.  Also arriving at the club were experienced Brazilian center back Thiago Silva and the exciting Argentinean talent Ezequiel Lavezzi.   Further, they signed a young 19 year-old named Marco Verratti, a creative midfielder who has been compared to Andrea Pirlo.  Expect PSG to dominate France’s Ligue 1 and make some noise in the UEFA Champions League.

2. Manchester City – Although it was a rather quiet summer until just a few days ago, Manchester City showed again why having infinite funds is so much fun for assembling a squad.  They decided to buy up a great deal of young English talent with Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell.  Sinclair, a winger, has been an integral part of the recent success for Swansea City.  Rodwell came through the ranks at Everton as a defensive midfielder and has recently been called up to the England national side.  They also bought Spanish midfielder Javi Garcia from Benfica and young Serbian defender, Matija Nastasic.  Finally, they purchased right back Maicon from Inter Milan, a veteran right back.  Although most of these signings will be seen as projects, the club is already an incredible squad and they have displayed a strong desire to build for the future.  Last year’s Premier League champions were also to hold onto all their stars so they have merely improved.

3.  Manchester United – They basically upgraded two positions that they were already strong in with buying two superstars.  They offloaded struggling Dimitar Berbatov and brought in the EPL’s best striker Robin van Persie.  The Dutchman had a world class hat trick this weekend and probably could have scored 6 if he had converted a penalty and scored a few of the other numerous opportunities that he just missed.  Also, the club bought Shinji Kagawa, a wonderful Japanese midfielder who has been impressive in Germany for Borussia Dortmund.  The great thing for this team is that they didn’t sell anyone of note.  Yes, their midfield is aging and they should have bought some more youth there, but Giggs and Scholes are still quality and their strikers are the best in the world now between Van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Many teams bought and sold players this summer, and although many teams will feel that they improved, those teams were also guilty of selling their best players.  Chelsea, for example is thrilled with new signings Eden Hazard and Oscar, but legendary striker Didier Drogba left the club.   Players like these will be missed and their former clubs will have to make do without them.  Therefore, since Man United, Man City, and PSG retained their best players and merely upgraded by purchasing great talent, I felt that they had the most successful 2012 summer transfer season.

 

Liverpool Ruin Great Chance to Deny Champions

Liverpool played their first home match of the season at Anfield yesterday against the defending EPL champions, Manchester City.  Although they played an inspired match that featured two moments of pure class, they also wasted a glorious opportunity to make a statement this season and look to be of a similar of mold as last season, when silly mistakes cost them numerous points in the table.

Manchester City started the match brightly, as Carlos Tevez was a dangerous figure who made a few decent runs on the Liverpool defense.  But then City sort of fell asleep and the Reds took over the game creating the majority of first half chances.  The crowd got behind the team and you could feel that Liverpool was on the brink of a glorious upset.

Martin Skrtel headed in a wonderful goal off a corner kick and the Anfield faithful leapt with joy.  He made a powerful run inside to meet the ball and simply banged it into the net.  Manchester City looked hopelessly lost but managed to see the half out down 1-0.

Liverpool’s errors came to the light in the second half.  In the 62nd minute, Carlos Tevez played in a cross that really ought to have been cleared, but Martin Kelly couldn’t control the ball and it fell dangerously in front of goal to Yaya Toure who managed to equalize the score.

Yet Liverpool managed to take the lead again moments later from a brilliant Luis Suarez free kick.  The shot bent perfectly around the defenders’ wall and dropped into the bottom corner.  Goalkeeper Joe Hart didn’t have a chance at saving the shot, and again Liverpool benefited from a moment of offensive genius from a set play.

But Manchester City played the game smart and waited like snakes for their opportunity.  David Silva was substituted on for the final 15 minutes and helped inspire the Blues.  His incredible ball control was on fine display as he helped orchestrate attacks late in the game.

But his skill was not to be the determining factor in the match.  No, it was Liverpool’s shaky defense that threw away the win.  All game the defense had been playing dangerous passes back to goalkeeper Pepe Reina, but these had fortunately been just out of reach of the Man City forwards.

Skrtel played another silly pass back to goal in the 80th minute.  This time Tevez pounced upon the drifting ball and was able to circumvent Reina and score the second equalizer.

Tevez had said during an interview showed before the match that he didn’t care what types of goals he scored, as they all only count as one goal.  This was clearly evident on the day.  Liverpool scored two sensational goals compared to Manchester City’s two that were created from defensive errors.  Liverpool had fought hard and should really have claimed all three points, but there was a definite mark of resiliency for Man City who was able to muster up a draw in a match where they were clearly outplayed.  Liverpool will need to correct their defensive mistakes if they are to again become a force in the Premier League.

EPL Season Starts off Just as it Finished Last Year

Anyone hoping for great changes right off the bat in the EPL will have been disappointed to see the first round of matches continue in much of the same fashion that last season ended.

Arsenal got off to a lackluster result with a 0-0 home draw with Sunderland.  In typical fashion, the Gunners held the majority of possession and passed the ball around without creating more than a handful of chances.  Arsenal began last year terribly before improving to a 3rd place finish thanks to the exploits of Robin van Persie and Alex Song, but without those players their replacements couldn’t break the deadlock.

Liverpool fell flat on their faces with a 3-0 loss to West Bromwich.  The team looks resoundingly similar under new manager Brendan Rogers, and although they faced a few questionable decisions in the match, there really is no excuse for such a one sided score-line for what was once such a proud club.  It has been several long seasons of finishing outside the top 4 for Liverpool and this result suggests the trend is set to continue.

Manchester City had a more positive afternoon that featured a comeback victory 3-2 over Southampton, recalling memories of their stunning final day last year when they won the league at the death with a similar comeback of the same score over QPR.  Although they were able to stage the comeback more comfortably with ten minutes remaining in the match, their ability to find late game heroics will make them a force again in the Premier League.

Chelsea found success as new signing Eden Hazard earned an assist and drew a penalty in their 2-0 win against Wigan Athletic.  After their two early goals the team didn’t look very strong though, and striker Fernando Torres was largely ineffective at producing chances.  At least they were able to get a win though which is something they struggled mightily with during last season’s 6th place finish.

Manchester United will play against Everton tonight in a match that Red Devils fans would like to forget from last season.  During that April match, Manchester gave up two late goals in a 4-4 draw that saw them drop two points that would have won them the league.  Based on the other recurring themes from the last two days, I suspect that this match will be another hard fought draw, as Everton has the home advantage.

So it appears as if this season is starting off in a familiar manner, but with 37 games remaining for each team, surely there will be some twists and turns as the EPL season develops.