Roma veteran Franscesco Totti celebrated his 40th year old birthday this week.
Just after the celebration, Totti inspired Roma to a 4-0 victory over Astra in the Europa League. Totti was exceptional in the game, providing three assists.
The Giallorossi have started the campaign on a shaky note. They crashed out of the UEFA Champions League play offs after they played a 1-1 draw with Viktoria Plzen. Roma have also lost the last two of three Serie A games. Totti was in the staring squad despite crossing over the age of 40. Daniele De Rossi and Eemrson Palmieri were not available as they were suspended with Mario Rui. Antonio Rudiger’s injury ensured he missed the match. Former Arsenal and Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen was out injured as well.
Roma have been concerned with Vermaelen’s injury concerns. The 30-year old Belgian has been diagnosed with athletic pubalgia. Since returning from international team duty in September, he has missed five major games for Roma. There is no time frame for his recovery yet as there are various types, coach Luciano Spaletti said. The club doctors blamed their counterparts in the Belgium national team who forced him to play by giving him pain-killing injections. Reports say he is not able to even run, and it seems as if the injuries might force him to retire early.
Totti’s free kick helped Kevin Strootman get the first goal. He also provided assists to Mohammed Salah. Juan Manuel Iturbe but they failed to convert them. Totti was involved in goals from Federico Fazio. After the break, Diego Perotti forced Fabricio to cause an own goal in the 47th minute. Salah rounded up the 4-0 score line when he scored in the 55th minute. The manager said he was happy with the team’s performance after the game.
Former Arsenal and current Barcelona player Thomas Vermaelen spoke highly of his start so far at season-long loan deal to Italy to play for AS Roma.
He spoke at a press conference saying he thinks the atmosphere in the dressing room is good and the players gave him a warm welcome. He admitted that he knew some of the faces and that helped him in settling in.
“Training is going well, I am very impressed with the quality this team has and the game we played. So far it’s going very well. I spoke to [coach Luciano Spalletti] a few times. I think it’s very important to get to know him and how he wants the team to play. He wants to build from the back, play with the ball on the floor, which I’m used to, and as the months progress I’ll get to know him better and better,” Vermaelen added.
The Belgian started his career back in his native playing for Beerschot then he went professional with Ajax. He was loaned out eventually to RKC Waalwijk then he returned and impressed. He moved to England to feature for Arsenal in 2009, getting starting shirt until his departure to join the Spanish giants in 2014. He couldn’t break into the first team, and injury disrupted his plans forcing his loan to AS Roma this summer.
Vermaelen appeared to be settling well into the new team as he hopes to revive his dying career. He appears to be comfortable with the style of play as it is similar to what he played at the Emirates for years and at Camp Nou for Barcelona. The 30-year old has no choice than to prove himself and hope he is retained when the loan expires as Barca got new defenders this summer.
Belgium may be considered as one of the dark horses for the Euro 2016, but only if they have the best players like Eden Hazard and Tomas Vermaelen fit and ready to play.
Both these players have been suffering from several injury problems during the 2015-16 campaign. Even though Hazard has shown signs of returning to his best in the last few weeks for Chelsea, his presence still remains doubtful owing to the multiple injury concerns. Thomas Vermaelen, meanwhile, has been a very injury prone player in the last two years so much so that Barcelona are now reportedly considering the sale of the player.
Vermaelen, though, has been included in the Belgium squad for the tournament. Due to the impressive talent within the squad, Belgium are rated as one of the dark horses for winning the title. However, their opening match is against former world champions Italy and it could be a stern test for the team. A big worry for Belgian manager Marc Wilmots is the availability of Hazard and Vermaelen for the opening game. While Chelsea winger Hazard had to go out of training with a little limp, Vermaelen has been considered as a major doubt for the game throughout the week.
Wilmots, though, claimed that he remains confident that both players will be able to feature against Italy."Thomas has done well in training over the last days and is completely ready for the battle. He has no more problems.I don't think it is serious [Hazard injury], just a knock," said the Belgian manager. Belgium are in the group that contains Italy, Sweden, and Republic of Ireland. This is widely seen as the group of death since all teams can potentially reach the next stage of the competition. Ireland and Sweden take on each other in their opening matches.
Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen says that he is not reading too much into the transfer rumours linking him with a return to the Premier league since his only concentration now is the Euro 2016 with the Belgian national team.
The Belgian international moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2014 for a considerable transfer fee of around £ 15 million. However, he has been one of the biggest disappointments for the Catalan club in the recent memory after managing only 11 appearances so far. His time at the club has been curtailed by numerous injuries, but Vermaelen has managed to be successful on a personal front.
Despite having featured very little for the club in the last two seasons, he has already won the La Liga title twice, Copa del Rey twice, Champions League once, Super Cup once, and the FIFA Club World Cup once. Thus, the trophies that he has amassed in the last two years might point out to a great career, but it has largely been as a result of the club being successful while carrying Vermaelen. It is understood that Barcelona are looking forward to part company with their injury prone defender. Signing a stable option will strengthen the squad significantly. Vermaelen has been linked with a move to Liverpool.
"It's not that I want to leave Barcelona but the last few weeks and months have been a bit disappointing because I haven't been getting a lot of playing time.It's not that I'm thinking about leaving at the moment. I'm just focused on my national team.The last couple of weeks and months were a bit disappointing for them but before that they had a great season.I thought they had a big chance to win it this year and hopefully next year they can go on and win it,” said Vermaelen.
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.