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Arsene Wenger once again came in defence of the club record signing Mesut Ozil after his poor performances at the start of the season. The German international has not been on the scoresheet for several months for Arsenal, while it has also not provided his trademark assist since March. The 24-year-old looked especially poor in the recent 2-2 draw with Manchester City with many of the opinion that Arsenal were almost playing with 10 men due to the conspicuous absence of Ozil.
Wenger, who has had to defend Ozil in the past, has said that people should not look at the German from one point of view. After having spent £ 42.5 million on one player, Arsenal fans can expect more from the former Real Madrid star. However, he has been looking woefully short of confidence and it has prevented him from making the right decision on more than one occasion. In the second half of last season, tiredness was attributed towards the performance. This time around, the reason for the poor performances is not clear.
Wenger says that the critics should start looking at the overall contribution that Ozil makes in a game rather than just the highlighting issues like goals and assists. Ozil will be making a return to German football when Arsenal take on Borussia Dortmund in the first group match of the Champions League. “People always have this kind of attitude about him. He worked hard against City and he played quite well. You see a good Ozil when you watch the game again. Then you realise his timing, his quality of the pass and something you can be frustrated during the game but you must not overreact. When you watch the game in a cool manner, you see what a good player he is,” said Wenger.
The A-League merry-go-round continues apace with Craig Goodwin returning to Adelaide United, four years after being told he was not good enough for the club’s youth team, while the former Socceroos midfielder Erik Paartalu is being linked with the Newcastle Jets.
Goodwin has endured a couple of disappointing seasons with the Jets although Newcastle coach Phil Stubbins insists he is disappointed to be losing the services of the 22-year-old left winger. Read the rest of this entry »
The tactics, the suspense and most importantly, the drama. Sound familiar? Well for soccer fans and casino enthusiasts, it should do, as there are a lot of similarities between the two interests. Even the playing fields – soccer is played out on the finest imported turf a club can buy while casinos are built on elegant fabrics, table cloths and magnificent machinery – are a clear indication of how both interests aim to put on the finest show in town for their spectators and players, but are they truly that similar?
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MLS All-Stars once again proved on Wednesday that the league is on the up after managing a stunning 2-1 upset over Bayern Munich. The German champions came to the United States as part of their pre-season preparations. Just a day after their arrival into the country, they were presented with a friendly against the MLS All-Stars in a game that featured the likes of Landon Donovan. New summer signing Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring after just eight minutes. However, an impressive comeback in the second half from the MLS All-Stars meant that Guardiola had to leave the stadium with a lot of anger and disappointment.
Bradley Wright Phillips secured the equaliser in the 51st minute, while MLS All-Stars managed to get in front through a strike from Landon Donovan in the 70th minute. The LA Galaxy star has now scored against his former club. Donovan spent one year at the Allianz arena playing with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm in 2009. After the match, New York Red Bulls marquee name Tim Cahill said that the players did not want to take this match lightly. It was clear from the start that Bayern Munich were in for a tough match after they were subjected to several intense tackles.
“For the players, we didn’t take this lightly. You take games like this lightly and you can be on the end of a hiding. I feel that for us as players, we play on the highest level around the world, a lot of us played in World Cups and, if you want to take that momentum forward after such an amazing World Cup for America and [other] players like that, you have to take these games so seriously, and that’s the great thing,” said Cahill. Bayern Munich’s next match will be against Borussia Dortmund.
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Melbourne Victory have managed to secure the signing of Carl Valeri on a three-year contract, after the veteran decided to bring an end to his career in Italy. The Australian has always revealed that his ambition is to play in the Italian Serie A and he could only come close to achieving this dream. After 11 years in Italian football with several clubs, Valeri came close to playing in the Italian top division after being promoted with Sassuolo. However, just as they were promoted to the top division in the 2012-13 season, Valeri suffered a serious injury.
There are unable to guarantee him regular first-team football upon his return, which led to the midfielder joining Ternana later that January. He decided to drop down the division in order to get regular first-team football. Now, at 29, he has given up on the dream and has returned to Australian football with Melbourne Victory. As a teenager, he had joined Inter Milan but could not make it at the Serie A giant. Valeri has revealed that he has always admired the Australian A-League from the distance and he is looking forward to some great years in this league.
Despite having been born in Australia, Carl Valeri started his career with Inter Milan in 2002. He has represented the national team on 50 occasions since his debut in 2007.
“I’ve certainly watched and admired the A-League from afar. The league just keeps getting better and better each season and I’m really looking forward to being back home and playing in a competition that has such great potential. You just to have to look at all the quality young players over in Brazil with the Socceroos to see how far the game has come in this country,” Valeri said. Last season, the club finished in a disappointing fourth-place.
Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan is part of the Australian team that will be taking part in the World Cup 2014. This will be the 28-year-old’s third World Cup finals. This is an incredible achievement considering that he has had to play in different positions across the pitch. It is once again expected to be the case in Brazil, as there have been suggestions that Milligan could be used in both defence and midfield. Australian manager Ange Postecoglou will have a tough job on his hands together team out of the group stages. They are in the group containing Spain, Netherlands, and Chile.
All three teams are seen as having a great opportunity to reach the knockout stages, while Australia have been struggling in the warmup friendlies as well. The appointment of Ange Postecoglou just before the tournament does not appear to have improved the form going into the competition. Despite this, there is a lot of positivity from the likes of Milligan. He has revealed that he has worked extremely hard in order to make himself feel comfortable in the midfield. Milligan was expected to be part of the back four when the squad was announced, but injuries could force the manager to utilise the Melbourne Victory player in a midfield position.
”Whatever’s asked of me I’ll do, but if you do want my opinion, it’s not really something I’m interested in. It’s probably been the hardest thing for me to overcome when I was younger, being able to play those various positions, and it cost me at club level and international level. ‘I’ve worked extremely hard to become a midfielder and if I’m up for selection, I’m up for selection as a midfielder. It’s very tough. The boys that started and came on against South Africa did quite well, especially considering the conditions we had,” said the 28-year-old.
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Australian international Mark Milligan is a man in demand after he has been linked with several clubs overseas. However, there have been suggestions that he could end up staying at Melbourne Victory, who have offered the player a new contract. Contract negotiations have been going on with the club and Milligan has maintained that he does not want to move to a new club overseas. Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has said that Milligan will be made as one of the marquee names in the club should he signed a new contract. Archie Thompson is the domestic marquee player, but he will be replaced by Milligan should the captain sign the contract.
When congratulated about this new position, the 28-year-old failed to accept it and said that nothing has been confirmed yet. Milligan was speaking on the occasion of the farewell World Cup dinner for the Australian national team, who will be preparing to face the likes of Spain and Netherlands in the World Cup group stages. Making him the marquee name will allow Melbourne Victory to keep him at the club. This new position will entitle the player to receive a substantial increase in wages. Milligan, though, have revealed that he is not concerned about this new status and is only focused on playing his game.
“I don’t think it’s confirmed yet because there’s been nothing agreed as yet. Obviously there’s been discussions but that’s as far as it’s gone at the moment. (But) it doesn’t just have to do with the marquee status, it has to do with my time in Melbourne so far and where I want it to go as well. As I’ve said many times, my family’s happy there, it’s definitely something we’re sitting down and we’re considering at the moment,” said the 28-year-old during the dinner.
Melbourne Victory will be looking to sign a marquee name in the next few weeks of the transfer window after managing to get Archie Thompson under the salary cap after agreeing a new deal with him. The 35-year-old has signed for one more year, while the 28-year-old Adrian Leijer has signed for two more years.
Newcastle Jets have been showing a lot of interest in Thompson over the last few months. The forward is the leading goal scorer in the Australian A-League with 78 to his name. His experience would have been great for the club that finished outside the play-off places last season. Read the rest of this entry »
Melbourne Victory were unable to rectify their poor form after they suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Yokohama F. Marinos in the Asian Champions League. Melbourne Victory came into the match on the back of a poor run of form, which had seen them go without a win in the last two matches. The run has been extended to 3 matches after this narrow defeat, which has increased the pressure from manager Kevin Muscat. He was left struggling with explanations for the team’s poor performance.
As a result of this victory, they have slipped into the third place of the group stages. They definitely need to win the next two matches in order to have any chance of qualification to the latter stages of the competition. For now, they will be switching their attention back to the Australian A-League. An away trip to Newcastle Jets is the most important priority for Muscat now. Things looked extremely promising for Melbourne at the start of the match, as they took the lead after just seven minutes. However, a great player from Yokohama meant that they were trailing 3-1 with only a few minutes remaining.
The injury time goal from Jeggo helped give the scoreline a flattering look to the Asian team. Muscat said that there is an air of positivity despite this poor result.
“Personally I’m very disappointed in myself. For that second goal I should have made an easy catch which is disappointing. I’m not making excuses, it was a poor error from me, but I was proud of the boys in front of me, I thought they did really well to be fair. The first two goals were cheap goals to give away and playing against a team like that those things can’t happen, but overall I thought, with the young boys in there, we held our own,” said goalkeeper Thomas.