While, Luis Enrique has no qualms in accepting that a big percentage of the responsibility, for Atletico Madrid smashing Barcelona out of continental Football, comes down to him, he believes getting nervous and panicky at this moment in time will not solve the problem.
Enrique was outsmarted by Atletico boss Vicente Calderon, who in spite of being behind by a goal at the start of return leg, was more circumspect in his formation and played the waiting game which, Enrique admitted later on, was a surprise to him and his players.
As per Enrique, people will have their own explanations of what has been the problem with Barcelona. There will be loads and loads of opinions coming from everywhere, but, a manager has to address the root of the problem and work on that and he can’t do that without analyzing everything. So, for him to pass a comment immediately, that a particular aspect is responsible for the setback and we could have won if we had not done this and that, is hard, but, what is sure is that there is simply not enough no. of balls put into the net by the team, for whatever reason and that’s something which stops you from winning games.
Also, Enrique stressed repeatedly that there is no point losing the head either from the perspective of the players or the coaching staff because Champions League was not the only tournament Barcelona was contending for. It might have been the most important one yes, but, not the only one. A couple of other tournaments are also there to be won. So, calmness is vital.
Barcelona had actually almost closed the Liga race some time back. They were miles ahead and looked uncatchable. But, two loses successively of late has now opened that tournament as well, bringing Atletico into play.
Theo Walcott’s poor form might have cost him his spot in the starting position of not only the English national football team but also for Arsenal as he has been dropped for both of his teams and it’s a sign of just how much the 27 year old player has been struggling in recent times
Even though Walcott has not managed to score goals on a consistent basis for Arsenal and he has also been finding it hard to just land a starting spot in the team of Arsene Wenger, Roy Hodgson still decided to call up Walcott for a chance to play with England for their upcoming international friendly games.
England recently played against Germany in a friendly match that resulted with the English side claiming a 3-2 triumph and Theo Walcott was seen on the sidelines as he did not get any actual playing time.
Walcott has been getting significantly less playing time with Arsenal as well as his latest matches with the Premier League club have seen him being dropped to the bench and now Walcott is serving more as a substitute player.
The recent drop of form from Theo Walcott has become even clearer by the fact that his Arsenal teammates are going through a much more better time. Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi have all been playing fairly impressively and their uprising has overshadowed Walcott which is why his drop in form has been so obvious.
Alex Iwobi is a 19 year old Nigerian player who has already proved his worth and has secured a spot ahead of Theo Walcott. Iwobi deserves this as the youngster has been superb in almost all of his performances but this also shows the delicate position that Walcott is located in as he can easily be dropped to the sidelines and not only with Arsenal but also with the English national football team.
A few weeks ago John Terry announced his plan of leaving Stamford Bridge at the end of the current season as the experienced defender will not be retiring in Chelsea even though fans of the Premier League club are hoping to see that happened, it simply won’t happen as the English defender said: ‘’It's not going to be a fairytale ending’’
Chelsea is now searching around for players who can fill in the gap that is going be left by the departure of John Terry and reports are linking Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen with a possible transfer to Stamford Bridge.
Vermaelen completed his move to Barcelona back on August of 2014 but his transfer to the Spanish club has been an uninspired one as Vermaelen has had to deal with a string of injuries. The 30 year old defender went through surgery as a way to help solve his physical conditions and now he is fully recovered and ready to play but he has found it extremely difficult trying to get in the starting lineup of Luis Enrique.
The Belgium defender rarely gets playing time as Vermaelen has had to settle with being a unused substitute for most of the season.
Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba and Marc Bartra are all of the players that Thomas Vermaelen has to compete with and attempt to land a starting role ahead of them but it hasn’t been working out for the Belgium player who might have to make a move away from Camp Nou in order to bring his career back to life.
It’s not likely that things will change for Vermaelen anytime soon as he has a lot of competition in Barcelona with players who are performing at a very high level and have earned their starting role position in the team and this is something that the Belgium player has not managed to accomplish.
Taking into consideration the disastrous campaign of Vermaelen, he might be thinking about making his way out of Barcelona and with Chelsea reportedly interested in signing the experienced defender, the Premier League club is a possible destination for Vermaelen.
Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen believes that Arsene Wenger appears to have brought back the winning mentality to the club.
After several years of struggling to put up a title challenge, the club are at the forefront of winning the 2015-16 season’s league title. Victories over Bournemouth and Newcastle helped them to go top of the table after New Year’s Day. When Vermaelen was playing for the gunners, the club did not appear to have enough belief within them. Wenger appears to have transformed the squad by bringing in top players like Mesut Ozil, who have contributed immensely this season.
The back-to-back FA Cup titles also appear to have done their job in motivating the players and also providing them with belief that they can challenge the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. Vermaelen did not win any major honour during his time at Arsenal, but he has already received a number of trophies since the move to Barcelona. He has not featured much for the Catalan club. Vermaelen says that he has been following the gunners ever since he left the club. The Belgian international has been linked with a move to Italian football with Roma and Lazio interested in him.
Arsenal last won the league title during the 2003-04 season. “He has a winning mentality, he wants to win, and of course he has the character to win the title.I’ve been watching them and they look very strong. They are missing some important players but if you play so many games that can happen.It’s difficult to predict in England who is going to be the champions but if you look at the results Arsenal are always up there and I hope the injured players come back. Definitely, he has done it before. I hope they can do it,” said Vermaelen.
Former Arsenal star Paul Merson is of the opinion that Dennis Bergkamp – and not Thierry Henry – is the best Arsenal player of all-time.
The Dutchman joined the gunners 20 years ago at the start of the campaign. Even though his first few years were not exactly the best, he formed an impeccable partnership with Henry in the Arsenal forward line up towards the latter part of the 20th century. Arsenal went on to dominate domestic football by being the ultimate challenge for Manchester United. During a spell with Arsenal, Bergkamp won titles like the Premier league and the FA Cup.
Even though he was not able to lift the ultimate crown in club football – the Champions League, his time at Arsenal is seen with fond memories by the supporters. Many of the new supporters regard Thierry Henry as the greatest ever player for Arsenal largely because of his records. However, Merson believes that Bergkamp provided more joy than Henry with this exquisite skills and control. One of the goals scored by Bergkamp against Newcastle United is still regarded as one of the best goals and history of the game. His goals against Leicester City are also regarded as one of the best.
“He’s the best I’ve ever played with by a long, long way. I can’t talk high enough of the bloke – he was absolutely phenomenal.I think he’s the greatest Arsenal player of all time. He and Thierry Henry are completely different players. You talk to Thierry or Ian Wright and they can’t speak highly enough of the man. As a centre forward you’re only as good as the player you're playing with. If you look at Fernando Torres, his best year was at Liverpool when he was playing with Steven Gerrard,” said Merson, who played with Bergkamp for a couple of seasons.
George Graham has claimed that Mauricio Pochettino needs a big campaign at Tottenham Hotspur in order to keep his job going into next season.
The former Southampton boss had a relatively mixed campaign last time around after falling out of the top four once again. Pochettino was widely expected to revive and bring back Champions League football to White Hart Lane. However, it will be Thursday night football once more often they could only qualify for the Europa league. Despite this, Pochettino has been kept in the job and he has also been backed substantially in the transfer market.
The club has brought in Toby Alderweireld for just over £ 10 million from Atletico Madrid. After having proved himself with his defensive capabilities that Southampton last season, the addition ofAlderweireld already improves a weak Spurs defence even without the player kicking a ball. Former Arsenal boss Graham believes that Pochettino is one of the most exciting and young managers in English football right now, but he may not be given the time that he needs at Spurs. Now is the time of quickfire results and Pochettino has to deliver them immediately if he is to keep his job according to Graham.
“Even though they’ve got one of the most exciting young managers – The expectations at Tottenham are very high and he’s got to have a very good season.Levy is hungry for a top four finish, which equates to a place in the Champions League.With a new stadium on the horizon, it’s a platform which will create extra financial strength for Spurs which is important for them as they look to continue developing and growing as a team. Pochettino needs to aim high and aim for the top four if he wants to preserve his job long term,” said Graham.
Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen finally made his much awaited Barcelona debut – almost a year after joining the club – in the 2-2 draw with Deportivo la Coruna.
The versatile defender moved to the Camp Nou in a £ 15 million deal. However, he has suffered several injuries during the course of the year.Most of those injuries were hamstring in nature and they even required surgery. Vermaelen, though, will feel a happy man with regard to one aspect – trophies. After having managed only one title with Arsenal in almost 5 years, Vermaelen has already won two trophies without kicking the ball for Barcelona.
After making his much awaited debut at the Camp Nou, the defender has pleaded for patience from the supporters. Vermaelen was seen as an important signing for the club given that he would be in a position to replace Carlos Puyol. The former club captain used to be a rock in the centre of the defence. Barcelona have been able to get by in Vermaelen’s due to the presence ofJeremy Mathieu, who has already established himself in the hearts of the Barcelona faithful after scoring in the El Clasico. The draw with Deportivo la Coruna did not affect Barcelona since they had already won the league title.
"I had a good feeling on the pitch and I really enjoyed playing football again.I am very ambitious and I am sure we will end up achieving more success this season.But I only ask the fans to be patient. I understand the criticism I received, but it has been a very difficult season for me.I am convinced that next year will be much better," said Vermaelen. Injuries were a major reason behind convincing Wenger to sell Vermaelen to Barcelona. The Belgian had played more than 40 games only once in five years at Arsenal.
Thomas Vermalen’s €15 million transfer to Barcelona has been a disappointing one as the Belgium defender has not made a single appearance for the Spanish club since arriving to the Camp Nou in August of 2014.
Everton has emerged as a club that is interested in securing the services of the player but a transfer will not occur unless Barcelona’s Luis Enrique decides to sell Vermaelen before the player even manages to make an appearance.
Vermaelen has experience playing in the Premier League as the 29 year old defender made over 100 appearances for Arsenal and even managed to wear the captain armband for the Premier League club. Making a move to Everton would feel like something natural to Vermaelen and his vast experience at the English League.
A loan deal is an option that would benefit both Barcelona and Everton as Vermaelen can return to fitness and try to get back to his former self with Everton. This allows the player to get back into the pitch and not have the same kind of pressure and obstacles that would arise with Barcelona.
Signing a solid defender is one of the things that Roberto Martinez wants to do and Vermaelen is certainly a good one if he does manage to fully recover and play like he did a few years ago. Everton has conceded 43 goals in 33 Premier League matches and Roberto Martinez would like to cut that down in the next season.
Roberto Martinez confirmed that him and his team are searching for possible additions to the team as the English manager said:
Everton’s Martinez said: "Yeah, always we are looking at players. As a football club you always do that, even if you are restricted by the windows. We have got a lot of people working and identifying the players that we need to help the players that we already have in place.’’
Since moving to Barcelona, Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen has been unable to feature for the Spanish club. It has made him a target amongst the media especially after having cost around £ 15 million in transfer fees.
The defender had been keen to leave Arsenal for the last couple of years, but this move finally arrived in the form of a £ 15 million transfer. He was widely anticipated to be the replacement for Carlos Puyol, who had just retired after decades of service. Further, the uncertainty surrounding Gerard Pique also made the centre back position a highly vulnerable place for Barcelona.
A string of injury problems meant that Vermaelen has been unable to make a debut even after almost 6 months of being Barcelona player. He was widely expected to make his much anticipated debut towards the end of February. However, even this has evaded the Catalan club after it is learnt that the 29-year-old has suffered a new setback in his attempts to make his first start for the team. The plethora of injury problems is likely to be a major worry for Barcelona given that they have made a sizeable investment in the player. Last season, he made 21 appearances for Arsenal with most of them as a substitute.
This is the second major season where injuries have robbed him of making an impact. During the 2010-11 season, Vermaelen featured in only five matches throughout the whole campaign. This was the start of his injury troubles and also the decline of his Arsenal career. After this injury ravaged the campaign, Vermaelen saw his place in the Arsenal team being taken by Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker on a permanent basis. Despite being a captain, Vermaelen never made it to the field for many important matches for the Premier League outfit.
Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge reckons that manage Brendan Rodgers may have missed a great opportunity to take advantage of the recent good form shown by defender Kolo Toure.
The Ivory Coast international made a rare start in the Champions League group stage match against Real Madrid. It was a surprise inclusion given thatToure had played only one minute of Premier League football this season. The 33-year-old is on the fringes of first-team and he is widely expected to leave the club in January. However, his impressive performance against Madrid has called for inclusion into the team especially at a time when Liverpool have been struggling defensively.
The club signed Dejan Lovren from Southampton for £ 20 million, but he has been a major disappointment. Despite having been partnered with Martin Skrtel almost every match, Lovren is yet to show any signs of a partnership developing between the two. This has seen Liverpool make no improvements in the defensive area of the pitch, while they have also regressed in an attacking sense. The club conceded more than 50 league goals last season and they are on course to doing the same.Aldridge says thatToure showed enough against Madrid, especially by playing against Cristiano Ronaldo, that he still has enough quality.
“Brendan is the manager and stands or falls by his decisions, but I have to say I was surprised that Kolo Toure was left out following his performance in Spain.He was by far our best player in the Bernabeu and had a great game.He is playing with confidence and I would have asked him to continue on Saturday.If he is playing with confidence, that will spread to his defensive partners and the goalkeeper – and suddenly the defensive unit immediately starts to look more secure,” said Aldridge after the 2-0 defeat against Chelsea.