Tag Archives: creative

Theo Walcott thrives at centre of attention – Sami Mokbel

Theo thrives as centre of attention after Arsenal dismantle Reading at Madejski

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UPDATED:

00:26 GMT, 18 December 2012

So, this was Theo Walcott's moment. His moment to prove to Arsene Wenger – and maybe even himself – that he can be the bona fide central striker he so desperately wants to be.

Having recovered from the calf injury that kept him out of Arsenal's previous three matches, Walcott was handed an instant return to the starting line-up.

His inclusion came as no surprise because Wenger had to make changes after last Tuesday's shameful Capital One Cup loss to League Two Bradford.

Thriving: Theo Walcott proved Arsene Wenger made a good call to start him up front

Thriving: Theo Walcott proved Arsene Wenger made a good call to start him up front

But where would he play With Olivier
Giroud on the bench, the role of the Gunners' lone striker was up for
grabs and Wenger gave Walcott his chance.

But for a curling free-kick he fired
comfortably wide, the 23-year-old started slowly as he struggled to get
to grips with his new role.

He cut a frustrated figure as his team-mates failed to provide the England international with suitable service.

It was not looking like the audition
Walcott had hoped for as he failed to beat Adam Federici when one on
one with the Australian keeper in the 20th minute.

Shake on it Walcott got off to a slow start against Reading but scored his side's fifth goal

Shake on it Walcott got off to a slow start against Reading but scored his side's fifth goal

Good form: Theo Walcott put on a fine display up front for the Gunners

Good form: Theo Walcott put on a fine display up front for the Gunners

All smiles: Walcott shares a moment with his manager

All smiles: Walcott shares a moment with his manager

Taking Santi Cazorla's pass, he
failed to show the deadly conviction needed from a top-level striker. To
be fair, his build-up play was neat and economical – his cross that led
to Cazorla's second of the night showed tremendous creative vision.

But his deficiencies in front of goal
were shown again early in the second half when he failed to convert
with just Federici to beat before firing a long-range effort just wide.

Thankfully his efforts in front of goal were finally rewarded in the final 10 minutes as he stroked home to seal victory.

There's no doubt Walcott offers a
threat as a striker, but he will know that goals will be handy to get
him a 100,000-per-week contract.

Mohamed Diame has hamstring injury which could last 12 weeks

West Ham's key man Diame set for 12 weeks out after hamstring injury

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UPDATED:

19:24 GMT, 9 December 2012

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is fearful he could be without midfielder Mohamed Diame for up to 12 weeks after he suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-2 defeat to Liverpool.

Diame has been a key player for West Ham this season but was forced off after 73 minutes.

He had been central to the action before his injury and after his withdrawal Liverpool scored twice to take the three points.

Blow: Mohamed Diame will be a big miss for West Ham in the next three months

Blow: Mohamed Diame will be a big miss for West Ham in the next three months

The Senegal international was stretchered from the pitch after pulling up near the touchline and Allardyce did not give a positive early prognosis.

'Not good, it does not take a medical expert to know it is a serious hamstring tear when he falls and stopped the way he did,' he said.

'I would expect, in medical terms, for it to be a grade 3 (injury) and that could be anything up to eight, 10 or 12 weeks.'

With the likes of Alou Diarra, Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison, Yossi Benayoun and Andy Carroll already out injured Diame's absence is a big loss to Allardyce.

'For us he is about the start and build-up of most of the creative side of our game – he runs at them (defenders) with pace and ability that puts them on the back foot,' he said.

'That is what we have lost and what we will be missing for a number of weeks so we are going to have to be a bit more dogged and resilient with the players we have got available, rather than have the more creative side we have had from Mo.'

Diame's performances for the Hammers
have seen him linked with a number of clubs, especially given that he
has a release clause in his contract, but Allardyce reckons he would
rather deal with bids for his player in the transfer window than have
him sidelined.

'I would sooner have that aggravation
in January where people trying to get him than lose him for the period
of time, eight-12 weeks,' he said.

Stretchered off: Diame is taken from the field for treatment

Stretchered off: Diame is taken from the field for treatment

'In my experience, I have had a
number of hamstring injuries myself in my time, when you go down like
that you know you have really got (a bad) one.

'We will wait until it has settled
down and then scan it, we will find out exactly how big the damage is
and move on from there.'

Matt Le Tissier: Dennis Bergkamp to Wayne Rooney – top 10 Premier League flair players

Matt Le Tissier: From Bergkamp to Rooney, my all-time top 10 Premier League flair stars

PUBLISHED:

11:46 GMT, 7 December 2012

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UPDATED:

11:46 GMT, 7 December 2012

Matt Le Tissier

Matt Le Tissier is one of the Premier League greats. A master dribbler and scorer of outrageous goals, the former Southampton forward gained a reputation as one of the most skilful and creative players in the league.

But who would Le Tissier choose in his all-time top 10 of Premier League flair players

Dennis Bergkamp

His first touch and his vision were superb and he could also score a decent 25-yarder from time to time. He lit up the Premier League with some of his goals.

I was on the receiving end of his first two strikes for Arsenal at Highbury and his first two came against Southampton. They were both pretty special and he never really looked back after that.

He had a bit of a dodgy start but all he had to was play against us and we set him on his way. One of them was a 25-yarder that hit the inside of the post and I had the privilege to stand behind it and watch and the other was a finish from just inside the box.

With his first touch he just used to put the ball where he wanted to and he always gave himself so much time and space.

Off the mark: Bergkamp celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal against Southampton

Off the mark: Bergkamp celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal against Southampton

Gianfranco Zola

The little maestro has to be up there. He was the consummate pro. He had such a low centre of gravity so defenders had trouble with him twisting and turning and he took a mean free kick. He was a credit to the profession to be honest and a really top bloke.

He definitely scored a few against us over the years. He scored a lot of great free kicks and his flick at the near post from a corner stands out.

I had a few goes at that flick on the training ground but I don't think I ever tried it in a match. I don't think I got in that position where I was that close to the goal too often to be honest.

Thumbs up: Zola went on to become one of Chelsea's best players

Thumbs up: Zola went on to become one of Chelsea's best players

Eric Cantona

Cantona has to be on the list. He was arrogant, but you can get away with it when you're putting in the performances and he almost transformed Manchester United into a championship winning team on his own to be honest.

He scored against us at The Dell with a lovely chip over Tim Flowers from the corner of the box and stood there in that arrogant pose that he did. I remember almost hating and then going, “You know what That was a great bit of skill.”

French fancy: Cantona helped transform Manchester United into a championship winning team

French fancy: Cantona helped transform Manchester United into a championship winning team

Thierry Henry

The way Wenger transformed him from a wide man to the most feared centre forward in the Premier League was quite remarkable. I think he scored his first goal against Southampton too – there seems to be a theme here. But he was an awesome talent in his pomp.

You'd watch him and he'd just glide across the top of the pitch. It was like his feet hardly touched the grass. Even without trying he would just drift past players as if they were cart horses.

The flick up and volley against United was a special goal. I liked a flick too but I don't think I ever tried it with my back to goal.

Off and running: Henry scored his first goal for Arsenal against Southampton in 1999

Off and running: Henry scored his first goal for Arsenal against Southampton in 1999

Michael Owen

As a young boy Owen had plenty of flair. Obviously it's not quite worked out for him later in his career but he was awesome at Liverpool.

His natural confidence and exuberance as an 18-year-old, who then went on to score that goal in the World Cup, to do that as a teenager was pretty special.

It's a shame that injuries curtailed him because we'd have been talking about Michael Owen in a very different light if he'd stayed injury free throughout his career. I was a bit jealous of his pace – it often crossed my mind how much I'd have been worth if I was quick.

Curtailed by injury: Owen was blessed with flair - although it hasn't quite worked out for him

Curtailed by injury: Owen was blessed with flair – although it hasn't quite worked out for him

Le Tiss on the spot

When Sportsmail picked Ray
Stewart as the greatest penalty taker of all yesterday, it sparked a
fierce debate. So why not ask a man who knew a thing or two about taking
(and scoring) them…

Matthew Le Tissier

'I remember Ray Stewart taking penalties when I
was a kid. He used to rip the back of the net off. I'd be quite happy to
put my life in Ray Stewart's hands with a penalty to be honest. I had
confidence in my own but did have one blip. But I don't remember Ray
missing too many. He would smash his straight down the middle and go for
power. I went for accuracy and the side foot. Two very different
techniques but it just goes to show there's no one perfect way to take a
penalty.'

Paolo Di Canio

The mad Italian is another one who has to be on this list and even now he's still entertaining us as a manager with his interviews and his antics. If you're talking about flair players you can't leave him out.

His scissor kick volley was a special bit of skill and you almost applaud him for having the confidence to try it in the first place. There are so many players who would have attempted to do that and they'd have had no idea where the ball would end up – back in their own half, over the stand, anywhere. It was just a brilliant piece of skill.

He was controversial but you have to have an incredible amount of confidence to be one of these flair players. You have to have something in you that doesn't mind failing if it doesn't come off. All the best players will fail but still try it the next week.

Cristiano Ronaldo

You have to include him. He was very special in what he did at
Manchester United, the goal scoring feats and everything, and he's
continued that at Real Madrid.

It took him a little while to settle and I didn't get to play against
him but you could see with the skills that he had, if he could be
coached into knowing when to release the ball and become a tad more
unselfish he was always going to be a very good player.

Italian job: Di Canio's scissor kick volley against Wimbledon is one of the greatest goals in the Premier League

Italian job: Di Canio's scissor kick volley against Wimbledon is one of the greatest goals in the Premier League

With his pace and skill he just needed help to know not to overdo it and Sir Alex did that with him. With his free kicks he's experimented and used the new balls to his advantage. He's taken that ball and found a new way of striking it that's going to give goalkeepers problems and he's invented that on his own, so fair play to him, there's not many players who can say that.

Star man: Ronaldo was a special player for Manchester United

Star man: Ronaldo was a special player for Manchester United

David Ginola

You can't leave David out. In his pomp at Newcastle he was awesome. Even at Spurs he had some good times but when he was in Keegan's team he was superb. He was a genius at what he did.

John Beresford is my friend who played left back behind him and he never really got much help but it was entertaining to watch. David was one of the best dribblers ever, he had the pace but he was strong and well built so didn't have to just pass players, he could use his strength to get past them as well. And he had a decent shot with both feet, which not too many people have got.

Star: Ginola was a class act for Newcastle

Star: Ginola was a class act for Newcastle

David Silva

Though he's not been on form recently, last season he was outstanding. He looks so comfortable on the ball and is very difficult to mark. He's got a wand of a left foot on him and he's one of those players who can see a pass through the eye of a needle – he sees passes that a lot of people on the pitch don't.

He's been brought up in that Spanish passing culture and you can see it with other Spaniards like Santi Cazorla at Arsenal so it's nice to be getting those kind of players coming into the Premier League, it's very pleasing on the eye.

Silva service: The Manchester City star has lit up the Premier League

Silva service: The Manchester City star has lit up the Premier League

Wayne Rooney

You have to say Rooney is one of the best. He goes through dips in form like everybody else but he burst onto the scene as a young lad and had a big price tag to live up to when he went to Manchester United. But he's certainly given them value for money with the goals that he's scored for them.

When he came on for his Everton debut and scored against Arsenal, to do what he did against not only Arsenal but England's No 1 goalkeeper, you probably thought this boy's got something that might go a long way and he hasn't disappointed.

Roo beauty: The Manchester United striker hasn't disappointed after bursting on to the scene as a 16-year-old

Roo beauty: The Manchester United striker hasn't disappointed after bursting on to the scene as a 16-year-old

Matt Le Tissier was speaking at the opening of Decathlon’s new store in Southampton. As the world’s biggest sports retailer, Decathlon is a gateway to sport and is committed to putting sporting activity back at the heart of the nation’s local communities by making it accessible to all. To find out more about how your family can try a new sport go to www.decathlon.co.uk

Matt Le Tissier

Darren Bent wanted by Aston Villa

Jol admits interest in Bent as striker edges closer to Aston Villa exit

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 November 2012

Out of favour: Bent (right)

Out of favour: Bent (right)

Fulham boss Martin Jol has hinted he may rival new Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp in a January move for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent.

Bent is expected to leave Villa after falling out of favour with manager Paul Lambert and QPR are the initial favourites to sign him.

Jol, who signed Bent for Tottenham in 2007, was asked if he would be keen to re-sign the striker and said: ‘You never know, but we have three good strikers in Berbatov, Petric and Kacaniklic. We could maybe have one more creative player but you never know.’

Meanwhile, Fulham, West Ham, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton are all monitoring goalkeeper Paul Robinson’s situation at Blackburn Rovers. Albion have concerns over Ben Foster’s groin trouble.

Edgar Davids gives his unique views of Roberto Mancini, Fabio Capello, his new job at Barnet and fashion

EXCLUSIVE: Edgar Davids gives his unique views of Mancini (lacks people skills), Capello (tactical genius), his new job at Barnet (I'm not being paid a penny) and fashion (it's important, man)

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 17 November 2012

Edgar Davids has an opinion and, as is usually the case, he is not overwhelmed by a desire to keep it to himself. This time, it's about his interviewer's choice of clothing.

'It's safe,' he says. 'But there is no adventure. You wear a suit, but you are not trying to tell me something about who you are. It lacks flair. That's not for me. You should try something, man.'

Quite a spectacle: Edgar Davids at Barnet's training ground

Quite a spectacle: Edgar Davids at Barnet's training ground

The assault is not entirely unexpected. Davids, once the 'Pitbull' midfielder of some of European football's greatest sides, has been talking about fashion for more than five minutes.

'It's my passion,' he says. He is the creative director of Monta, a company specialising in street soccer apparel, and was previously engaged to Olcay Gulsen, a renowned designer.

Davids on… Wilfried Zaha

When I was at Palace, he was a big talent but
nothing more. He was also developing bad habits technically and no-one was stopping him. His end product was very poor at times, but now he is really showing his talent. He has worked hard at his game.

One rumour suggests that he turned away a journalist because he was unimpressed by an outfit.

'That did not happen,' Davids says. 'If I refused to speak, it wouldn't have been because of his clothes. However, if I thought he wasn't looking sharp, I probably would have told him. Fashion is important, man.'

And yet here he is, the winner of six league titles, 12 domestic cups, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League, talking about his new life as the 39-year-old player-manager of League Two Barnet, a club in the basement of British football and rarely considered to be chic.

'I don't get paid a dime to be here,' he says.

On the ball: Davids at the club's training ground

On the ball: Davids shows off his skills

Own style: Davids passes on some advice to one of the young players

Own style: Davids passes on some advice to one of the young players

It's the summer of 2012, and a Greek neighbour has called. 'Fancy a Sunday league game' he asks. Davids has been living in north London since his days at Tottenham, but has only really played Street Soccer events since leaving Crystal Palace after a three-month stint in 2010.

Davids on… ‘the greats’

I played with the best. Zinedine Zidane made me look differently at star players. Some guys with that talent don’t work so hard or want different treatment. Not him. Man, those skills. One player people don’t ask me about but should is Ledley King. Left and right foot perfect, fast, almost never made a foul. Technically, he is so gifted. So relaxed on the ball. But those knees.

'I coached a team in Brixton – Brixton United – for a while,' he says. 'We won two cups. They are a good team, but I only coached. No playing.'

The phone call from his neighbour doesn't appeal so much.

'I said, “No, man”, but I woke up in the morning and thought, “You know what Let's kick a ball around”. 'In the first half, I was like, “OK, let's keep it simple, move it around”. But then in the second half, I said the famous words that I got in trouble for on television last week.

'I just thought, “Hey, I'm f*****g Edgar Davids. I didn't want people to go away and say, “I played against Edgar Davids, it was OK”. I wanted them to say, “I played against f*****g Edgar Davids and he was nutmegging me”.

'Man, second half, I did like six nutmegs and got one assist. We won.'

The game prompts a second phone call, this time from Tony Kleanthous, the Greek-Cypriot chairman of Barnet who has heard on the grapevine that Davids dusted off his boots.

Edgar Davids of Barnet photographed exclusively at the club's training ground

Standing out: Davids is enjoying the challenge

Dressing down: Davids offers some style tips to our man Riath Al-Samarrai

Dressing down: Davids offers some style tips to our man Riath Al-Samarrai

Construction work continues on the club's new ground

Big job: Work continues on the new stadium in the background

Edgar Davids at the club's training ground

Front man: Davids leads by example in training

'A friend of mine gave him my number and then I get this call,' Davids says. 'He asked if I wanted to come over for a look.

'I saw the amazing training ground and listened to his plans for the future. It worked for me.'

Davids on… Barcelona

What a team. Would I have been good enough for today’s team Absolutely. You know what it is with Barcelona They play in the half of the opponent so the space is very small and the passes are very hard. To excel, it requires those skills and I have proven I possess those skills. I can do the same as Sergio Busquets or Javier Mascherano.

An agreement was reached and Davids was last month named as joint manager with Mark Robson. The club were bottom of the Football League.

'I've never had a big dream to be a manager, but I'm a curious guy and I want to see if I like it. I've been doing my coaching badges, just the (UEFA) “A” Licence to go, and this was a good chance to play a few games and learn about management.

'You know, I've worked for some pretty good managers so I have a few ideas.'

SIXTY. That's the number of major league titles and cups won by the managers Davids worked under for Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Holland. Between them, they have won the Champions League/European Cup seven times and a World Cup.

'Some were good, others not so good,' Davids says. 'I try to take the good bits from them and leave the bad, but also trying to keep my own identity. I don't want to be anyone's mimic.'

Action man: Davids against Accrington Stanley on Friday night

Action man: Davids against Accrington Stanley on Friday night

Boost: Barnet's Mark /11/16/article-2234184-1611B6C3000005DC-445_634x525.jpg

Still a pitbull: Davids is sent off against Accrington

The list of influences includes Louis
van Gaal, Marcello Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Fabio
Capello, Roberto Mancini and Guus Hiddink. Hiddink sent Davids home from
Euro 96 after a radio interview in which he said the national team
manager 'should stop putting his head in some players' a***s'.

'We
made up and got on fine after that,' Davids says. 'I don't talk about
best managers,' he adds, but does so anyway. 'Van Gaal as a trainer was
one of the best – it was incredible how well he prepared for games.
Lippi was very, very good. He knew his team, he knew how to meld
together a group and make it a team.

Davids on… London

I just love living here. It is so multicultural. I love
that diversity. In Amsterdam, we have it a lot, and it’s like that here. Any dish you want you can have — Japanese, Indian, Chinese. You can go from Asian to black to Jewish in the same neighbourhood. It is a reflection of society nowadays. It’s why I love Brixton — a melting pot.

'Capello taught me so much about systems, about 4-4-2, how to pressure and squeeze a team.

'Rijkaard is not a good trainer but he is a really good manager of
people. You can see Mancini lacks people management, big time.' He adds:
'I don't want to talk negative about somebody. I do not want to talk
about Mancini as there were not so many positive things.'

At Barnet's training ground, Davids'
management style is developing. He is 'a little frustrated' by the
standard but says that is 'the challenge that makes me come down here
for nothing'. The players call him 'Mr' or 'Sir' and he does likewise in
return. 'I told them it is out of the question to call me Edgar. I
don't want to be called boss because I told them they are their own
boss,' he says.

Results have improved quite dramatically. Friday's night's 1-1 draw with Accrington Stanley meant they had picked up 11 points from the seven League Two fixtures played since Davids' arrival (they took three points from the previous 11). And the 'Pitbull' still has a bite – he was sent off in the 85th minute after receiving a second booking for a foul on James Beattie, the former Everton striker.

Graham Stack, the keeper, talks of the squad being driven upwards by a 'fear factor' from playing with 'one of the best in the world'.

Davids is content with his life. 'The feeling of stepping out to play for Barnet for the first time was the same as a Champions League match. It is just joy, an innocent joy. I love to play football and will continue as long as I feel that.

'Maybe I will love management – we will see. This is fun. But you never know. Maybe one day I will own a club. That is a possibility, too. Or maybe I will leave and go into fashion.'

With that, the interview ends and Davids gets up to leave. 'Your coat,' he says. 'Double-breasted. That's very, very safe, man.'

Spurs set to miss out on Joao Moutinho

Spurs could lose out to moneybags PSG in 22m race for playmaker Moutinho

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UPDATED:

07:49 GMT, 24 October 2012

Playmaker: Porto's Joao Moutinho

Playmaker: Porto's Joao Moutinho

Tottenham are set to miss out on top
target Joao Moutinho after the Porto playmaker had a change of heart
over a potential January move to White Hart Lane.

Moneybags Paris Saint-Germain now lead
the race for the 26-year midfielder despite interest from Russian
champions Zenit Saint Petersburg.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas had wanted to sign Moutinho during the summer.

But a 22m deal collapsed on deadline day amid wrangling over the player's wages and administrative errors.

Villas-Boas hoped to make a renewed effort to sign the Portugal international in the
next transfer window but the former Sporting Lisbon ace is now eager to
play for a club in the Champions League.

Moutinho could earn in excess of 150,000-a-week at Paris Saint-Germain or Zenit.

The French club have made contact with Moutinho's representatives over a
January deal, although a transfer could be put on hold until next
summer depending on Porto's progress in the Champions League.

Portugal's Joao Moutinho (front R) battles for the ball with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis

Portugal's Joao Moutinho (front R) battles for the ball with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis

Moutinho's agent, Pini Zahavi, has also tried to broker a deal with Barcelona but the Spanish giants are blessed with a wealth of creative talent and will not consider a bid.

Mousa Dembele has been used by Spurs as a playmaker this season but Villas-Boas wants another midfielder to bolster his options, with Shakhtar Donetsk star Willian still on the club's radar.

Juan Mata says Chelsea need to fight over upcoming weeks

It's a Mata of staying positive in Blues test of ambition over upcoming weeks

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 21 October 2012

Eden Hazard started with a bang and Oscar scored one of the most beautiful goals Stamford Bridge has seen, but it is Juan Mata who has re-emerged as Chelsea’s true creative force.

Mata has looked fresh in body and mind since his two-week break at the start of last month and took his goal tally to six in five games in the 4-2 win at Tottenham on Saturday.

Of the players who started for Chelsea at White Hart Lane he was the only one who did not go away on international duty, having been dropped by Spain.

Top team: Juan Mata (right) with Eden Hazard

Top team: Juan Mata (right) with Eden Hazard

His omission was interpreted as a warning from manager Vicente del Bosque that anyone asking to be ‘rested’, as Mata did last month, was taking a risk. It is a point of principle more easily made with the embarrassment of riches at Del Bosque’s disposal, but not one likely to bother Roberto Di Matteo.

Mata took a few more days off, trained with the youth team and dazzled at Spurs, the first in a series of fixtures which seem set to define Chelsea’s season and with it the development of Di Matteo’s exciting team.

‘The next two months will decide if this is a genuine title challenge,’ said Mata. ‘It’s always like that in November and December. There are a lot of games and you have to keep fighting for the title in those two months. For me it’s the most important part of the season.’

Di Matteo’s team are clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League and well placed in Europe but the autumn is when promising campaigns often start to sour at Stamford Bridge.

Shakhtar Donetsk will provide a stern test in Ukraine on Tuesday, followed by two dates with Manchester United, in the Premier League and the Capital One Cup. Manchester City visit Chelsea next month. The fixture crush will examine a squad which still appears thin in places — and December includes a trip to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup.

Delightful: Mata's form in recent weeks has been a joy to behold

Delightful: Mata's form in recent weeks has been a joy to behold

EURO WATCH

Strikes from Brazilian midfielder Ilsinho and defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy earned Shakhtar Donetsk, who play host to Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday night, a 2-1 comeback win against Illichivets. That made it 12 wins from 12 as Shakhtar extended their lead at the top of the Ukrainian league to 12 points.

Chelsea have flair and fluency. They are not watertight in defence but rose to the challenge of going behind at Tottenham by proving that their will to win, the chief characteristic of their years of success since Roman Abramovich took over, has not been entirely lost amid the desire to thrill.

It is a careful balance for Di Matteo but helped by the talent of the potent attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar and Mata who operate in support of Fernando Torres.

‘The three behind the striker always try to play with movement, swapping positions and trying to assist,’ said Mata. ‘We have to work at it in training but we are players who play like this naturally.

‘As I understand football, I always want to play with the ball. If you can win and also play really well, it is the perfect way. We have to keep going and try to translate this momentum into the whole season.’

Battle: Mata tussles with Clint Dempsey for the ball

Battle: Mata tussles with Clint Dempsey for the ball

For it to work, the trio of flair must also be committed to defend. ‘They do have responsibilities to cover,’ insisted Di Matteo. ‘They have a degree of freedom, but they do have responsibilities.

‘We had different players last season and we had to play differently to get the best out of our team.

‘I liked my team last year and I enjoy watching them this season. What has changed is our attitude. We go away and play with the same attitude we have at home. We take the initiative. The players have bought into this change and who knows where it will take us’

The cloud of the John Terry case has started to clear, not that it ever seemed to hurt the team. Terry, banned against Spurs, is expected to return as captain in Donetsk with the support of his team-mates, judging by Mata’s opinion.

Mata said: ‘I am really happy to train and play with him. He’s a really good guy. It will help us now it is finished. He is a very important player. As team-mates you have to be together and we are.’

After eight

After eight

Arsenal v Chelsea LIVE Premier League action as it happens

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Arsenal v Chelsea – as it happens from the Emirates

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UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 29 September 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Arsenal host London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates to kick off the weekend's action. Both sides have impressed at the start of the season with creative players Santi Cazorla and Eden Hazard getting the juices flowing in particular. Who will come out on top today Kick-off is at 12.45pm.

Send me your thoughts at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @rbsfeatures.

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Arsenal: Mannone; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby (Oxlade Chamberlain 17) Arteta, Ramsey (Walcott 66); Cazorla, Gervinho, Podolski (Giroud 66).

Subs: Martinez, Djourou, Santos, Mertesacker

Goal: Gervinho 42

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Oscar (Moses 72), Mata; Torres.

Subs: Turnbull, Cahill, Bertrand, Azpilicueta, Romeu, Lampard

Goal: Torres 20, Mata 52

Attendance: 60,101

Ref: Atkinson

72mins: Another good save by Cech as he palms a shot which deflected off Luiz wide of goal. On comes Victor Moses for Oscar, who looks tired after a good display.

69mins: Good tackle by Ivanovic as Arsenal try and counter. The game is very tense but Chelsea are trying to slow it down and keep hold of the ball, helped by Mikel always making himself available to receive it.

67mins: Chelsea play down the right but that's a lazy cross from Torres when he could have done more with it.

66mins: Luiz cuts out Gibbs cross at the near post and is relieved to see it go wide of Cech's goal. Walcott and Giroud replace Ramsey and Podolski. Ramsey had a poor second-half.

65mins: Giroud and Walcott are ready to come on. Both scored against Coventry in the Capital One Cup.

64mins: Chelsea break at speed but good positioning from Arsenal's defence slows it down and Oscar's shot is blocked.

Taken out: Torres was brought down by Vermaelen and Mata scored the resultant free-kick

Taken out: Torres was brought down by Vermaelen and Mata scored the resultant free-kick

63mins: As on Wednesday, Mata has been sublime. He looked jaded at the start of the season and was overshadowed by Hazard. But since he was rested for a week he's been at the top of his game.Great to watch.

62mins: Torres ends a Chelsea counter-attack by falling over his own feet on the halfway line. Oops.

61mins: Slack pass by Ramsey brings Arsenal attack to an end… but Arteta wins it back and Jenkinson goes down on the edge of the box and gets a free kick. Cole protests and I think he has a point.

60mins: Hazard delivers a free-kick from the left after Oscar was brought down by Koscielny, but it's headed away. He's no Mata.

58mins: Incredible save by Cech! Podolski's header from six yards flicked away by the keeper.

57mins: That was the perfect free-kick from Mata, so difficult to defend. The goal came against the run of play, can Arsenal recover

55mins: That was another brilliant cross from Mata. Mannone had no chance because of the whip on the ball. But if Koscielny hadn't touched it, might the keeper have reached it Maybe. It was the smallest nick, but it was enough.

Goal! Mata! Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Vermaelen was booked for bringing down Torres on the break. Juan Mata took the free kick – from a similar position to where he crossed the one for Torres' goal, and it curled into the far corner, via a slight deflection from Koscielny.

Flashback: Gervinho's strike flew past Cech

Flashback: Gervinho's strike flew past Cech

49mins: Podolski drives into the box after a good ball from Gibbs. Cole cuts out the cross but Cazorla skews the ball wide after a poor connection on the shot.

47mins: Luiz is booked for diving in the Arsenal box. Certainly wasn't a foul. The Brazil defender says to the ref that he wasn't asking for a penalty so how could it be a dive But I think Atkinson is right. The only reason for him to go down there was to try and win a spot-kick.

46mins: Podolski ghosts into the Chelsea box but Luiz cuts out the danger. The Blues have earned a cheap corner though as Torres was dispossessed.

*Second-half begins*

Having another look at the goals and both of them should have been defended better. Koscielny was easily outmuscled by Torres for the first – and why was Luiz unmarked

And Luiz and Terry were carved wide open when Gervinho scored. Both backed off him, leaving him in acres of space and under no pressure.

It's been a good match so far and the second half has the potential to be better still.

Decisions: How will Arsene Wenger and Roberto Di Matteo (below) change things in the second half

Decisions: How will Arsene Wenger and Roberto Di Matteo (below) change things in the second half

Di Matteo

*Half-Time*

45+2mins: Torres cuts inside but finds the side netting.

45mins: Just as I say that, Oscar breaks away and fires a shot wide. He wants a corner and the replay shows it clipped Vermaelen. But the referee does not oblige.

44mins: Arsenal have come alive, Chelsea are on the rocks. Three mins of added time, the Blues need to steady the ship as soon as possible.

Goal! Gervinho! Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea

Superb goal by the Ivorian! He collected a low Oxlade-Chamberlain cross from the right around the penalty spot, teed himself up as the Chelsea defence seemed to shrink, then blasted the ball high past the helpless Cech.

Stunner: Gervinho rifles in the equaliser

Stunner: Gervinho rifles in the equaliser

39mins: Ox plays in Cazorla who's shot is blocked. Clever pass from the England international because the Chelsea defence were expecting a cross.

38mins: Oscar, who has been pinning down Mikel Arteta all game, is booked for a foul on the Spaniard.

36mins: Ivanovic evades a wild challenge and plays in Hazard who gets to the byline and crosses with a beautiful rabona. It doesn't reach its target though and the ball falls to Mikel on the edge of the box.

Now, if you've seen him shoot before, you know what happens next.

If you haven't, take cover.

Tussle: Ashley Cole chases Aaron Ramsey

Tussle: Ashley Cole chases Aaron Ramsey

35mins: Late challenge by Ramsey on Oscar earns the Welsh youngster a yellow card.

34mins: Good few minutes for Arsenal, a few dangerous crosses sent into the box. Maybe these would work better with Giroud on

31mins: Captain Vermaelen launches one from 40 yards out but it ends up in the stand. Poor effort, but he has scored from long distance before.

28mins: Lovely play by Oscar and Mata sets in Torres but he's offside.

27mins: Gervinho with a chance at the far post, but his header from a tight angle comes back into the 6 yard box where Terry chests it back to Cech, cool as you like.

26mins: Would the Torres of old have taken that ball to the edge of the box before bending it in to the far corner Probably.

Celebration: Terry joins Torres

Celebration: Terry joins Torres

22mins: This is really heating up! Cazorla wanted a penalty after Mikel beat him to the ball to head it away – not really sure what he was complaining about.

Then Torres broke away, in on goal, took it to the side of Mannone but Koscielny came back and as Torres tried to pull the trigger his shin clipped Koscielny's and he ended up pulling off an air shot.

Torres wanted a penalty as well, but even though he was caught, I don't think it warranted one because it happened as Torres pulled his foot back to shoot.

21mins: Arsenal cry for a penalty…. Chelsea break away and Torres is in! But he wastes the chance. Unbelievable.

GOAL! Fernando Torres! Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea

Mata whipped in the free kick, Luiz was left free in the middle but it went past him and Torres cleverly stuck a leg out from behind his marker to strike from close range. A poacher's finish.

Breakthrough: Fernando Torres opened the scoring

Breakthrough: Fernando Torres opened the scoring

19mins: Late tackle from Vermaelen on Hazard. Free kick from the right which Mata will take.

17mins: On comes The Ox. Diaby was injured when he hit that shot after 11 mins.

15mins: It looks like Abou Diaby has picked up a knock and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on the sidelines and ready to enter the fray.

13mins: Cazorla escapes a couple of niggly challenges and spreads it to the left, but Arsenal lose the ball.

11mins: Diaby skips past two and powers in a low strike that Petr Cech takes into his chest comfortably.

10mins: Ashley Cole is of course picking up a few boos as well. But it seems Terry is public enemy No 1 at the moment.

Captain, leader: Terry organises the defence

Captain, leader: Terry organises the defence

9mins: Gervinho cuts it back from the right but Cazorla blasts it into the stands from the edge of the box.

8mins: Predictably Arsenal fans jeer JT and Chelsea fans cheer him. 'You know what you are', sing the Gunners. 'John Terry has won the double' reply the Blues.

7mins: A scrappy start to the game. Neither side has really got hold of the ball and strung a few passes together yet.

4mins: Ramsey fires wayward and wide from distance.

2mins: Luiz takes it and though it bounces before Mannone, he holds on to it.

1min: Hazard is chopped down about 30 yards from goal, free-kick to Chelsea. David Luiz and Juan Mata stand over it.

12.45: Kick-off!

12.42: The teams are coming out onto the pitch. All the Arsenal players shake hands with John Terry. They were set an example earlier by Gunnersaurus (below).

12.35: Arsenal's defence this season has been superb. Even though it features Carl Jenkinson! That's harsh of course, because Jenko, as he is affectionately known, has played very well and deserves his place in the team.

12.33: Of course, this is the first time Arsenal have met Chelsea since Didier Drogba left the club. The impact the Ivorian target-man had on matches between the sides is well documented, but just in case you've missed it, he scored 13 goals in 14 games against the Gunners.

Shake on it: Terry with Arsenal mascot Gunnersaurus

Shake on it: Terry with Arsenal mascot Gunnersaurus

12.32: I wonder how Fernando Torres will play today. At times this season he's been excellent – for example, the Newcastle game. But I saw him against Wolves in midweek and though he scored and provided an excellent assist for Juan Mata, his overall display was very weak. He looked out of ideas and missed an absolute sitter.

12.25: Oscar is quite the talent. It looks like he'll be playing in the hole today – although he'll probably trade places with his colleagues in a fluid Blues attack. But he's also able to play a lot deeper in midfield, which might end up being his role in the future. Just because he's little it doesn't mean he doesn't bite.

12.21: I know saying this will jinx it, but I really believe this is going to be a brilliant match. John Obi Mikel will have to be at his best to stifle the magnificent Cazorla. And Abou Diaby likewise to deal with Oscar, Mata and Hazard.

12.19: I think both sides have got enough firepower to find the net. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski are a great combination for Arsenal. Will Gervinho produce today 'Mercurial' is a kind way of describing him.

12.18: Dan from Kenya has emailed me to say that 'Chelsea are one of the best and they are going to prove that when they unload the guns of Wenger to win 2-0.'

12.16: Probably much the same as he always has been, by the Arsenal fans (and any other set of fans other than those in Chelsea shirts).

12.14: John Terry starts for Chelsea in his first game since being found guilty by the FA with regards to the Anton Ferdinand race row. How will he be received

John Terry

John Terry

Shrug it off: John Terry starts for Chelsea despite the guilty verdict from the FA

12.11: Very interesting – Chelsea have picked an attacking side, is Roberto Di Matteo planning on taking on Arsenal at their own game In the past the Blues have relied on power. Today looks more about precision.

Ryan Bertrand has been picked at left-wing in the past in tricky fixtures, but not today. Frank Lampard has been left on the bench too.

Arsenal, meanwhile, bring back Thomas Vermaelen after he missed last week's match with illness. Their bench contains plenty of options, including Olivier Giroud – who scored his first goal for the club in midweek.

Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also game changing options for Arsene Wenger.

12.05: The teams are in:

Arsenal: Mannone; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Diaby Arteta, Ramsey; Cazorla Gervinho, Podolski.

Subs: Martinez, Djourou, Santos, Mertesacker, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Giroud

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Oscar, Mata; Torres.

Subs: Turnbull, Cahill, Bertrand, Azpilicueta, Romeu, Lampard, Moses

12pm: Good afternoon (just about) and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of what promises to be a thrilling encounter. I'll bring you all the team news as soon as I have it.

La London derby: Spaniards Santi Cazorla and Fernando Torres go head-to-head

La London derby: Spaniards Santi Cazorla and Fernando Torres go head-to-head

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tom Cleverley are keys to Roy Hodgson"s England

Redemption boys: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley are keys to Hodgson's new look England

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 8 September 2012

Roy Hodgson, it seems, has the measure of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It should be said there is no malice about the boy: he is enthusiastic, bright and talented. But he is 19. And he does need to learn.

Hodgson clearly likes him a lot — Oxlade-Chamberlain will surely be one of his team’s key creative players assuming England reach Brazil 2014 — but he is not beyond reproaching him when necessary.

lex Oxlade-Chamberlain (R) of England in action against Alexandru Onica (L)

Learning curve: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has made a great start to his England career but has a lot to learn according to England boss Roy Hodgson

It was Oxlade-Chamberlain himself who revealed last week that he received Hodgson’s first proper telling-off during Euro 2012, for showboating in training.

And although Hodgson claims he does not remember the incident, he did lace praise for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s display in the 5-0 win against Moldova on Friday night with another small reminder of his responsibilities.

‘I thought Alex was very good first half,’ said Hodgson. ‘But we made it clear to him we were going to take him off after 60 minutes, so I think he forgot to play in the 15 minutes of the second half. But that will be an interesting lesson for him as well: especially when I tell him.’

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Confession: Oxlade-Chamberlain recently revealed he was the subject of Hodgson's first England telling-off – for showboating in a training session

It should be said Hodgson had the hint of a smile as he delivered his admonishment. And he added: ‘We’re very pleased with him anyway. He did what we wanted and I selected him to do what he actually did in the first half extremely well.’

There will be no need to tell him of his mistake when the squad gather in Watford today. The point has now been made, publicly.

But Hodgson knows Oxlade-Chamberlain is an emotionally mature 19-year-old, as he demonstrated with his self-depreciating line about being told off. He can take it and will learn from it.

And he does need to learn, because he has the potential to be a key player in England’s evolving style.

His former Arsenal team-mate, Robin van Persie, underwent a similar tutorial when he was dropped by Arsene Wenger. When he asked Wenger’s assistants why, he was simply told to watch Robert Pires.

Slowly it dawned on the Dutchman, as it is beginning to on Oxlade- Chamberlain: there are times to play it simple — that is, in your own half — and times to take risks, in the final third of the pitch. And you can never just coast. If you do, there is always someone — on this occasion Theo Walcott — on the bench to take your place.

The build-up to the match in Chisinau was dominated by the return of the old guard who duly delivered, with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard utterly dominant in their slightly deeper midfield roles.

Yet the younger players also caught. the eye. Along with Oxlade-Chamberlain, there was Tom Cleverley, building on his impressive Olympics and England debut against Italy last month in a role somewhere between midfield and attack, looking very much the modern footballer.

Traditional centre forwards are sliding out of fashion these days and Cleverley played as Cesc Fabregas often does for Barcelona, and as Santi Cazorla is for Arsenal.

England's players line up for a team picture before their World Cup 2014 qualifying soccer match against Moldova at the Zimbru stadium in Kishinev

Redemption: The new look England has a good blend of youth and experience with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley seemingly set for massive roles in the team's future

Of course, this was only Moldova and Hodgson now has to assess whether he can do the same against considerably better players on Tuesday when England play Ukraine at Wembley. But clearly he has the footballing intelligence to understand the role.

‘I suppose you could say Tom Cleverley is an attacking midfield player, but he’s an attacking midfield player in the same way Cesc Fabregas is,’ said Hodgson.

‘He’s quite capable of coming back into a central midfield role and quite capable even, of coming back to win a ball when it’s necessary.

Frank Lampard of England celebrates with team-mate Tom Cleverley after scoring the 2-0 goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier match between Moldova and England

Master and the apprentice: Frank Lampard celebrates with team-mate Tom Cleverley after scoring England's second goal in the 5-0 destruction of Moldova

‘He’s just a good midfield player and he took, I suppose, a bit more responsibility for getting closer to Jermain Defoe and allowing Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to get on the ball in deeper positions where they are comfortable.’

‘The Olympics were important because that’s where I sort of discovered him. I knew him when he was at Watford and I’d seen him play a few games as substitute for Manchester United. But he got injured very early in the previous season.

'So I suppose the Olympics was the opportunity for me, really, to cast the rule over him — and it was good that I could do that because it means that when we were selecting squads, he was one of the names I wanted to add to my list.’

England's coach Roy Hodgson, center, shakes hands with player Tom Cleverley

Job well done: Roy Hodgson, seen here congratulating Cleverley, compared the United star to Cesc Fabregas

Hodgson was naturally delighted with their performances — he also singled out James Milner — especially in view of the key players missing going into these World Cup qualifiers: Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Ashley Cole, Ashley Young and Chris Smalling.

But with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley, there is a 4-2-3-1 formation evolving with England that is much more flexible and vibrant than the traditional 4-4-2 with which Hodgson is associated.

With England being out-passed at Euro 2012, when Hodgson had just taken the job, there was a fear that they were reverting to type under his management.

But his message to players has been a different one to public perception: he emphasises the need to keep the ball, he encourages his full-backs to attack aggressively, and he asks his attacking players to show fluidity and movement in their positioning. In short, he is no Luddite, resisting the flow of the modern game; he is pointing England in the right direction.

lex Oxlade-Chamberlain shakes hands with England manager Roy Hodgson after being subbed

Keep you chin up: Hodgson was pleased with Oxlade-Chamberlain's first half performance but said he 'forgot to play' after half-time

Whether these players can complete that journey is a moot point. After all, this was only Moldova.

Ukraine, Tuesday’s opponents, were one of those teams that comprehensively out-passed England during Euro 2012. Nevertheless, Hodgson’s team still managed to beat them 1-0 in Donetsk.

The Zimbru Stadium in Chisinau, with its parochial charm and 10,400 capacity, felt a long way from, say, a potential quarter-final tie in the Maracana in 2014, when Hodgson’s team will truly be tested.

But with players like Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley to the fore, it is at least a step along the road to redemption.

Manchester City feeling blue: Transfer window closing will be key to Roberto Mancini

Why are City feeling so blue Closing of transfer window will be key to Mancini

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 27 August 2012

As the world's richest football club, it seems peculiar that Manchester City will perhaps feel relieved when the transfer window closes on Friday evening.

Only then, though, will Roberto Mancini and his players be able to focus solely on trying to retain their Barclays Premier League title.

The subject of player acquisition dominates Mancini's thoughts at the moment.

Cutting a central figure: Former City captain Carlos Tevez will continue to exert his influence in the absence of other creative players

Cutting a central figure: Former City captain Carlos Tevez will continue to exert his influence in the absence of other creative players

Meanwhile, there are players in his squad who have little idea whether they will still be living in Manchester in a week's time.

It's the same at many clubs, of course. This period of uncertainty is an unfortunate by-product of a window that remains open for a few weeks after the season starts.

Nevertheless, City – laboured in drawing at Liverpool on Sunday – have a look of hesitancy about them at the moment, and issues surrounding transfers are not helping.

Mancini, the club's Italian coach, is fond of a dramatic statement. After his team's unconvincing 2-2 draw at Anfield, he suggested that the coming five days would determine his team's season – and that is certainly an exaggeration.

Phone a friend: Mancini remains hopeful of adding to his squad before the transfer window slams shut on Friday

Phone a friend: Mancini remains hopeful of adding to his squad before the transfer window slams shut on Friday

There is a clear sense, though, that Mancini needs to clear his head after a summer of to-ing and fro-ing over the club's business with football administrator Brian Marwood.

Life at the Etihad Stadium has been a little disjointed over the summer and opening League performances – Sunday's draw was preceded by a 3-2 home win over Southampton – have reflected that.

This week, City will continue in their attempts to sign a central defender. That is Mancini's priority.

A move for Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen was recently considered and then dismissed as impossible. There is still a possibility that Liverpool may re-engage over Danish defender, Daniel Agger.

Case for the defence: Manchester City considered a bid for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Case for the defence: Manchester City considered a bid for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Elsewhere, the winger Scott Sinclair will arrive from Swansea as an understudy for just over 6million, while a firm bid for Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi is likely.

Mancini will hope for progress. He will hope for anything. Or, more pertinently, anybody. His relationship with Marwood is modest at best, even if he has never been remotely close to resigning.

If things do not go well this week, it will be tested again. Mancini did not want to be chasing players in the last week of August. He made that clear in May, yet he is doing just that.

Out of sorts: City star Silva is short of match sharpness

Out of sorts: City star Silva is short of match sharpness

Fantasy football 2012

At Anfield, City had a peculiar look about them in more ways than one. With David Silva short of match sharpness, Sergio Aguero injured and Gael Clichy absent because of complications with the birth of a new baby, Mancini fielded a team that featured four players – Carlos Tevez, Nigel de Jong, Kolo Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov – who he began the summer happy to sell.

This, as much as anything, spoke volumes about the club's difficult period in the market. What was also odd – at least at first glance – was City's formation.

Mancini set his team up to play 3-4-1-2 and left one of last season's heralded central defenders, Joleon Lescott, on the bench.

Bench: Lescott was left out of the City starting line-up which faced Liverpool on Sunday

Bench: Lescott was left out of the City starting line-up which faced Liverpool on Sunday

Playing against just one Liverpool centre forward – Luis Suarez – this looked rather odd but City insisted privately yesterday that this was not a selection born of negativity.

Mancini's rationale was to play with two ball-playing defenders either side of one centre half, Vincent Kompany, and release wing-backs Kolarov and James Milner down the flanks to essentially play as midfielders.

Below par: Balotelli was off colour against Liverpool

Below par: Balotelli was off colour against Liverpool

It was this formation – at least in Mancini's mind – that allowed his team to start with two strikers and another forward, Samir Nasri, just behind them. Whatever the case, we can expect to see this formation again from time to time.

In the long-term, though, Mancini will start out with the four-man defence he used last season to win the title.

Not prone to bouts of panic, Mancini is known to be sanguine about the way his team have started the season. They have had to come from behind in both League games so far, but at least they have managed to do so.

Silva is scheduled to be restored to the team at home to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday and that will certainly help. The Spanish international effectively missed a week of training when he was asked to travel to a friendly in Puerto Rico after the Community Shield, and City are gradually trying to get fitness into his legs before he is asked to play every weekend once more.

Similarly, the capricious Mario Balotelli is some way short of his best after his lay-off in the wake of the Euro 2012 final.

The Italian was poor against Liverpool, meaning that the burden of responsibility once again landed squarely on the shoulders of Tevez.

English football's most famous South American has impressed Mancini's technical staff since his return from a summer break.

Statistics compiled by the club's analysts showed Tevez's workrate to be phenomenal during pre-season, and that has continued now that the competitive football is under way.

There is a certain irony, of course, that as we approach the anniversary of one of the game's most notorious rows – Tevez and Mancini in Munich last September – City are once more looking at their former captain for a little inspiration.

Getting shirty: Tevez celebrated his 100th goal in English football in the 2-2 draw at Anfield

Getting shirty: Tevez celebrated his 100th goal in English football in the 2-2 draw at Anfield

His goal at Anfield was his second of the League season and his 100th in English football. All of a sudden he is talking about an extension to his current contract and, although that is a rather ambitious refrain, it is undoubtedly the case that Mancini will need the 28-year-old to be on his game, as he awaits Aguero's return to fitness, and then some more productive performances from his other offensive players.

Fortunately for City, their September and October Premier League fixtures are not that daunting. QPR, Stoke, Arsenal, Fulham, Sunderland, West Brom and Swansea are the champions' opponents over the coming two months.

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