How did the signings fare? (Part two)

Part two of how did the signings fare including Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov – Excellent first season in London from the Bulgarian striker who turned out to be a bargain at just £4million. The gangly striker managed to notch up 15 goals in 33 games, all of those coming in the Premiership, making him Fulham’s top scorer for the 2012-13 season.

Mladen Petric – Started off as an excellent signing with a two goals and an assist in his first game in a 5 – 0 thrashing of Norwich but his form dipped immensely as he only mustered five goals in 20 appearances all season. Released by Fulham at the end of the season.

Hugo Rodallega – Another bad season in front of goal for the Colombian who could only manage three goals in 28 games. If Fulham can sign someone to help Berbatov I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rodallega leave too.

Kieran Richardson – Only made 17 appearances over the whole season, grabbing two goals. Unfortunately had his season scuppered by injuries.

Ashkan Dejagah – Made 24 appearances in all competitions grabbing no goals but troubled a few defences along the way. Had his season cut short by injury at the beginning of April.

Giorgos Karagounis – Added steel and experience to the Fulham midfield. Made 28 appearances, scoring two goals. Plenty of his trademark dogged, hard-working displays. Released at the end of his one-year contract.

Sascha Riether – Signed on a one-year loan deal initially which was made permanent after a successful first season in English football. Made 38 appearances in all competitions, even grabbing a goal from right back. Voted Fulham Player’s Player of the Year ahead of Berbatov and Karagounis.

Emmanuel Frimpong – Signed on loan from London rivals Arsenal and made six appearances. Gave Fulham an extra and more youthful option in defensive midfield.

Urby Emanuelson – Signed on loan from AC Milan. Made 13 appearances and scored one goal. The quality which must have been needed to make 51 appearances in two years previous for AC Milan didn’t really tell for the Dutchman, making many appearances from the bench.

Stanislav Manolev – Signed on loan and only made five appearances at right back/right midfield.

Eyong Enoh – Signed by former manager Martin Jol on loan from Ajax, made nine appearances.

Liverpool

Fabio Borini – Signed for £10million from Roma and unfortunately missed out on three months of the season with a broken foot which he suffered in October. Only made 20 appearances, scoring just two goals and hasn’t really won over the Anfield faithful.

Joe Allen – Signed for £15million from Swansea, following manager Brendan Rodgers. Made 37 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, grabbing two goals. Not seen as the midfielder that Liverpool fans really craved to help Steven Gerrard. Season cut short in March after he required surgery on a shoulder injury.

Oussama Assaidi – Was hailed as an exciting acquisition by Brendan Rodgers but only made four appearances, failing to break into the Liverpool first team.

Dan Sturridge – Signed to give Luis Suarez a helping hand in the frontline and delivered superbly with 11 goals in 16 games after his £12million move from Chelsea in January.

Coutinho – An excellent signing by Rodgers at just £8.5million from Inter Milan. Already struck up a wonderful partnership with star man Suarez. Scored three and assisted seven in 13 games and is an exciting prospect for Liverpool fans.

Nuri Sahin – Signed on loan from Real Madrid with heavy expectation. Scored three and assisted three in 12 games but left Merseyside after being unhappy at Liverpool.

Manchester City

Jack Rodwell – Signed for £12million from Everton, had a disappointing, injury-laden first season with City after he was stricken with injuries from October to February. Only made 15 appearances, scoring two goals – both goals actually coming in his best performance in a City shirt, a 3 – 2 defeat to Norwich on the final day.

Richard Wright – Made no appearances, so, just… why?

Scott Sinclair – For me, made a mistake in leaving former club Swansea. Only made 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring no goals. Should look to leave Manchester City if he wants to further his career at his still relatively young age.

Maicon – Limited to 11 appearances in all competitions owing to the fine form of Pablo Zabaleta, another questionable signing for me by City.

Matija Nastasic – Signed in a player-plus-money deal involving Stefan Savic who went the other way and quickly performed better than the hopeless Montenegrin. Pushed Joleon Lescott out of the team and became a fan favourite. Made 25 appearances in all competitions.

Javi Garcia – Alongside Nastasic, pick of a relatively poor bunch for me. Signed for £17million and added more steel and solidity into Man City’s midfield. Made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals.

Manchester United

Robin Van Persie – Made former club Arsenal see what they were missing out on as he continued his fine form. Scored 30 goals in 48 games and fired Man United to a 20th league title. Also won the Man United Matt Busby Player of the Year award.

Shinji Kagawa – An excellent signing from Man United who bought a really exciting and creative player. Made 26 appearances, scoring six goals. Unfortunately missed out on two months of the season with a knee injury.

Nick Powell – One for the future for United. Made six appearances and scored one goal; goal came on his debut though when he came on as a substitute, netting just 11 minutes later.

Alexander Buttner – Exciting left back prospect which is unfortunate given Man United’s interest and bid in Leighton Baines. Made 13 appearances, scoring two goals. Should be loaned out if United do sign Baines, considering Fabio Da Silva is also set to return after QPR his loan spell at QPR.

Angelo Henriquez – Signed and immediately loaned out to Wigan.

Wilfried Zaha – Signed in January and loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season, helping them to gain promotion to the Premiership.

Newcastle United

Romain Amalfitano – Only made two appearances in European competition.

Gael Bigirimana – Young, tough-tackling centre midfielder. Made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring one goal and generally impressed with his work-rate.

Curtis Good – Bought for a reported £500,000 from Melbourne Heart and loaned out to Bradford for whom he made three appearances for.

Vurnon Anita – Made 37 appearances in his first season, scoring one goal. Good signing as a squad player but doesn’t really possess the class to help lift Newcastle back to their previous heights.

Mathieu Debuchy – Signed after much speculation on the Frenchman’s future. Made 14 appearances and the French international impressed in his first half season in English football. Defensively sound and a handy outlet going forward.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – Made 20 appearances for Newcastle after signing from Montpellier in January. Showed excellent versatility as he was able to play anywhere across the backline well.

Yoan Gouffran – Signed from Bordeaux and added some excitement to the Newcastle frontline with his pace and trickery. Made 15 appearances, scoring three goals after his January arrival.

Massadio Haidara – Made four appearances after signing from Nancy. He was the player who was stretchered off after a high tackle from Wigan’s Callum McManaman. Filled in well for the injured Ryan Taylor and Davide Santon when required.

Moussa Sissoko – Good January signing from Toulouse. Scored three and set up five in 18 appearances. Playing style very similar to that of Yaya Toure with thunderous runs and good range of passing.

 

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PFA Winner, Team of the Year and recent games!

So over the weekend the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year was announced with Gareth Bale winning both. Am I the only one who thinks this is some kind of joke? Fair enough on Young Player of the Year, the only person really in touch with Bale was Benteke and I couldn’t see him winning it due to the club he’s playing for being in a kind of relegation scrap. Did you know only two players in the top European leagues have scored more goals than Benteke in 2013? Those two players are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

For Player of the Year I thought it would easily be between Robin Van Persie and Luis Suarez, and with Van Persie recently winning the league title and leaping to top of the goalscoring charts I expected him to win his second gong in successive seasons. But no, the PFA had other ideas.

I also heard whispers that Luis Suarez was booed at the PFA awards, now I know he bit Ivanovic but come on people, a bit of class and dignity please?

Moving swiftly on to PFA Team of the Year:

Goalkeeper: David De Gea – purely there on his form since Christmas of 10 clean sheets in 16 games. Before that, a bit shakey and definitely not the best keeper in the league.

Right back: Pablo Zabaleta – Consistent and reliable at the back for City, probably the only player in their team to perform consistently well all season. Special mention to Ivanovic who has also played well at right back this year, until shuffling into the centre.

Centre backs: Jan Vertonghen – If Swansea hadn’t signed Michu, Vertonghen would have been my signing of the season, adding stability and steel to the Spurs backline and forming an excellent partnership with Michael Dawson.

Rio Ferdinand – Not so sure on this one, maybe because of his late season form too and a title-winning year for the veteran centre back.

Left back: Leighton Baines – Another brilliant season from the Toffees’ left back.

Right midfield: Eden Hazard – Slotted into the Premiership well, high number of goals and assists coming with his high price tag. Excellent partnership with Juan Mata and Oscar in Chelsea midfield.

Centre midfield: Juan Mata – The most effective player in the Premiership

Michael Carrick – The fulcrum through which Manchester United based their attacks

Left midfield: Gareth Bale – PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, scintillating season for Tottenham

Strikers: Robin Van Persie – Top scorer in the league and Premiership trophy winner, giving Man United another dimension up front.

Luis Suarez – Carrying an average Liverpool team all season, having his best scoring season for Liverpool so far.

Now onto the weekends action.

I’m pretty sure that Reading and QPR both assumed each other would survive the drop this season. Oh, they didn’t? Well neither team played like they were battling relegation on Sunday and it showed as they both played out one of the most boring 0 – 0 draws I’ve ever witnessed and were subsequently relegated. Rumour has it that Arsenal’s chief scout was in town to watch Loic Remy play as well.. Good audition ay Loic?

And onto the big one of many Arsenal fan’s season, the game against Manchester United. Although many Man United fans don’t see Arsenal as a threat anymore you can guarantee they still look forward to games against the Gunners due to the long standing rilvary from years gone by.

And here’s a question for my fellow Gooners: what would you rather have happened, Van Persie win the league at the Emirates, or have to do a guard of honour for him? I would rather what actually happened so we wouldn’t have had an even bigger blow to our team’s spirit. Now that the guard of honour happened maybe it will signal big change at Arsenal and spur on the club, or I might be getting ahead of myself.

Anyways, we are no closer to finding out who will join the Manchester clubs in next seasons Champions League as both North London clubs drew and Chelsea beat Swansea, but with Tottenham and Chelsea’s run of games, Arsenal could have a sniff, with the Blues and Spurs coming head-to-head next week it could come down to that as to who finishes where in terms of the Champions League race.

Here’s a nice picture for you all, my personal guard of honour to Manchester United and Van Persie:

Guard of Honour

Well done Robin

 

PFA Player of the Year nominations

The Player of the Year nominations have come from the PFA and I have one problem. Why is Hazard in there and not Michu? Don’t even get me started on the Young Player of the Year nominations. A post on the Young Player nominations will be coming soon but let’s get started on this first round:

  • Robin Van Persie – Manchester United

Now, I don’t do this without a lot of hatred and quite frankly, jealousy. Van Persie left Arsenal in the summer with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, not just jumping ship to Arsenal’s rivals but with a £24million price tag on his head. But RvP was able to take the challenge in his stride and he picked up where he left off from last season, getting his second PFA nomination in the process.

He won this award last year and gave a good shout of winning it again, despite going on a recent purple patch in front of goal he was still able to be a key component in grinding out results for United in their march towards a 20th league title.

Van Persie has scored 27 goals in 43 appearances so far this season, and when United guaranteed him a £1.5 million contract bonus if they won a title in the next four years, I think he may have seen it as a bit of an added incentive maybe? But Van Persie has led United from the front and looks to have been the catalyst in their latest title charge, imagine how different the title race had been if he had opted to join City instead of the red half of Manchester.

BEST MOMENT: Scoring the hat-trick against Aston Villa which ensured Man United’s 20th league title. As if it had been in doubt lately.

  • Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

Another one I’m jealous of, but for different reasons, I’m jealous that Arsenal don’t have him on the left wing causing havoc. Bale has proved to be Spurs main man seeing as when he’s not playing they seem to be a different team, he just seems to make them flow.

He has yet again been Tottenham’s main man but the pressure was cranked on Bale last summer when Spurs sold Rafael Van Der Vaart and Luka Modric who were the club’s other creative outlets. But Bale has shouldered the burden well, even when Spurs didn’t strengthen their striking ranks in the summer or January he has still been the main man at White Hart Lane in their chase for a Champions League spot.

Bale has scored 23 goals in 39 games so far this season, also adding assists to his tally as well making him one of the most effective players in the Premiership. His importance to Tottenham was highlighted in their 3 – 1 home win over Manchester City when on his return from injury he provided and assist for Clint Dempsey as well as getting on the scoresheet himself.

BEST MOMENT: Scoring two goals in Tottenham’s 3 – 2 win over West Ham United, his second was a candidate for goal of the season as he hammered the ball in the top corner from 30 yards.

  • Luis Suarez – Liverpool

Luis Suarez’s class has never been doubted since his move to L,iverpool and that has been highlighted even further this season as he has added a midas touch to his overall incisive play. At one point without his goal’s this season, Liverpool would have been bottom and battling relegation, isn’t it lucky they just so happened to have him around then?

Suarez’s tally of 30 goals in 45 games so far this season has been his greatest goalscoring return since joining Liverpool but I fear that his tally will not grow anymore after his nibbling of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm in Liverpool’s recent 2 – 2 draw with Chelsea at Anfield.

But we can’t let that overshadow what has been an outstanding season for the Uruguayan frontman who has come to the fore as one of the most lethal players in the Premiership this season.

BEST MOMENT: Becoming only the third ever Liverpool player to score 20 league goals in a season after scoring a hat-trick against Wigan in a 4 – 0 victory at the DW Stadium.

  • Juan Mata – Chelsea

Juan Mata has really stepped up this season for Chelsea and has become a part of one of the most fluid attacking midfield trios in the Premiership alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Mata’s contribution to Chelsea has been the biggest in terms of how many goals he has had a direct part in, with 18 goals and 34 assists in 56 games so far this season, making him the most effective player playing for a Premiership team.

Mata’s impact for Chelsea has improved no end since his switch in position since the days of Roberto Di Matteo, his latest role which has been more central has encouraged him to have more freedom on the pitch, allowing him to interchange with his midfield partners to devastating effect.

BEST MOMENT:  Scoring twice and providing an assist in Chelsea’s 4 – 2 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

  • Eden Hazard – Chelsea

Eden Hazard’s Chelsea career started off with a flourish and it looked as if he could have been a signing of the season as Chelsea were touted as early title contenders. Hazard got six assists and two goals in his first three games for Chelsea which signalled that he could have an amazing impact in the Premiership.

Hazard’s impact on the Premiership has wavered somewhat but he still has a good return nonetheless with 13 goals and 18 assists in 57 appearances so far this season, which isn’t a bad return for his first season in English football, although his price-tag came with a certain expectation for Chelsea fans, along with the rest of the Premiership’s fan base.

The Belgian winger’s early season form is probably why everyone’s seen Hazard’s latest form as a bit of a drop but he hasn’t done too badly as it is, lighting up the Premiership with some great interplay as well as some great individual moments.

BEST MOMENT: Grabbing three assists in Chelsea’s early season 4 – 2 win over Reading at Stamford Bridge.

  • Michael Carrick – Manchester United

While Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have been lighting up the Premiership with their new found partnership up front for United, it would have been easy for Michael Carrick to be overlooked in his defensive midfield role.

Carrick has been the fulcrum for which Man United have based their attacking fluidity on and has been just as important for them as their devastating strikeforce. Carrick has also shown his versatility after having to move to centre-back during the early games of the season while Man United went through a defensive crisis of sorts.

Carrick’s nomination is justified as he has kept the Manchester United title challenge ticking over in midfield with an 88% pass completion rate which is one of the highest not just in the Premiership but in the top European leagues.

BEST MOMENT: His actual nomination amongst the flair players and goal scorers which fill the rest of the shortlist show just how good of a season Carrick has had.

Who do you think should get PFA Player of the Year? Cast your vote below!