Tag Archives: toure

Arsene Wenger reveals Arsenal will never discover next Lionel Messi

Fans expect me to discover the next Messi… not just promising young players, reveals Wenger as he sets his sights on Holtby

Wenger reveals he snubbed Ba for Giroud last summer

Gunners boss says Michu was never on the club's radar

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:30 GMT, 3 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:04 GMT, 4 January 2013

As time ticks on in the January transfer window, Arsene Wenger offered a fascinating insight into modern-day recruitment methods on Thursday.

Stressing that the job was tougher than when he arrived at Arsenal in September 1996, he admitted that the pressure is always on ‘to find the next Lionel Messi’.

Wenger’s exceptional record in the transfer market, especially in his early years as Arsenal’s manager, is up there with the very best. Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Edu, Lauren and Kolo Toure were among his finest acquisitions.

One-off: Don't expect a Lionel Messi clone at Arsenal any time soon

One-off: Don't expect a Lionel Messi clone at Arsenal any time soon

Mastermind: Wenger's scouting network uncovered the likes of Patrick Vieira

Mastermind: Wenger's scouting network uncovered the likes of Patrick Vieira

When they were winning trophies he was the supreme talent-spotter, well ahead of the rest in England.

Wenger said: ‘People want to see the next Lionel Messi – they don’t want to see a promising guy. The name of the player gives people hope, but when they haven’t heard of them people are already sceptical.

‘It’s much more difficult for us now. The competition is higher. We are trying to diversify a bit more because we are limited in England. A new market that is very interesting is Japan – it’s very competitive.

‘The country where we were really competitive in the past was France, but they produce less top players than they did, say, 15 years ago.

‘The emerging countries look to be Germany and Spain – they have taken over from France and they have many good, young players.’

One of them, Lewis Holtby, plays in Germany for Schalke 04 and Wenger admitted on Thursday that he is interested in signing him.

On the radar: German international midfielder Lewis Holtby

On the radar: German international midfielder Lewis Holtby

Holtby, 22, has made it clear that he will not be signing a new contract at the Veltins-Arena and will be leaving at the end of the season on a free transfer. Wenger added: ‘We have looked at him, yes,’ but that is as far as he would be drawn on the Germany midfielder.

He also admitted that Chelsea’s latest recruit, Demba Ba, was a target last summer, but he opted instead for Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud.

Wenger said: ‘It was Giroud or Demba Ba in the summer — they are very similar players. I was a bit cautious about the noises on Ba’s knee injury, but someone told me the problem he has is manageable and can be prevented.’

Wenger has other targets in January, but Arsenal are being out-manoeuvred by Manchester United in the chase for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

In terms of trophy-winning potential, Arsenal cannot compete with United and they are aware that Zaha is right at the top of Sir Alex Ferguson’s wishlist.

Second favourites: Arsenal are behind United in the running for Zaha

Second favourites: Arsenal are behind United in the running for Zaha

With Theo Walcott expected to sign a new contract with Arsenal in the coming weeks, it may be that Wenger’s interest in the Championship’s best young player fades.

Instead he will turn to the Continent again, reminding his scouts that the demand at Arsenal is to sign only the best talent.

Wenger conceded on Thursday that although he was aware of Michu before he signed for Swansea in the summer, he didn’t realise quite what a threat he would prove in the Premier League.

Over the Ba; Wenger declined the chance to sign the Newcastle striker last summer and instead chose Olivier Giroud

Over the Ba; Wenger declined the chance to sign the Newcastle striker last summer and instead chose Olivier Giroud

On Sunday the Gunners will come across him again when they travel to the Liberty Stadium for their FA Cup third-round tie against Swansea.

Wenger added: ‘Honestly, Michu was not on our radar. You needed to have really deep knowledge of the market in Spain to do that. Michael Laudrup did because he has the connections.

‘We keep our scouts alert, but when you are a big club like Arsenal your scouts are a little bit more cautious about players.

‘Naturally they are less likely to look at players with smaller clubs. But what Michu is doing is not accidental. He is a really good player.’

Norwich 3 Manchester City 4 – match report

Norwich 3 Man City 4: Dzeko and Aguero ensure 10-man champions edge thriller

|

UPDATED:

17:38 GMT, 29 December 2012

Manchester City overcame the controversial sending-off of midfielder Samir Nasri to beat Norwich 4-3 in a thrilling Barclays Premier League clash at Carrow Road.

The champions, beaten at Sunderland on Boxing Day, were off to a flying start when they went 2-0 up inside four minutes after Edin Dzeko's quick brace.

Norwich reduced the deficit through Anthony Pilkington's deflected free-kick, before Nasri was shown a red card by referee Mike Jones on 44 minutes for putting his head into the face of Sebastien Bassong.

Star of the show: Edin Dzeko scored within two minutes for Manchester City

Star of the show: Edin Dzeko scored within two minutes for Manchester City

MATCH FACTS

Norwich: Bunn, R Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Johnson, Snodgrass, Pilkington, Hoolahan (Jackson 74), Tettey (Howson 57), Morison (Kane 45)

Subs not used: Rudd, Barnett, R Bennett, E Bennett

Goal: Pilkington 15, Martin 63, 75

Booked: Bassong, Pilkington

Man City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Clichy, Nastasic, Nasri, Barry, Silva (Milner 56), Y Toure, Dzeko (Lescott 81), Aguero (Garcia 90)

Subs not used: Pantilimon, K Toure, Sinclair, Tevez

Goals: Dzeko 2, 4 Aguero 50, Bunn (og) 67

Booked: Clichy

Sent off: Nasri 44

Referee: Mike Jones

Attendance: 26,827

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE, FIXTURES AND RESULTS

Sergio Aguero's neat flick made it
3-1 at the start of the second half, before Russell Martin's header
reduced the deficit again.

Dzeko put City back in command at 4-2
after his shot cannoned off the post and in off goalkeeper Mark Bunn,
only for Martin's scrambled effort to set up a grandstand finish.

However, Norwich – who had beaten
both Arsenal and Manchester United at Carrow Road during a 10-match
unbeaten run – could not conjure an equaliser as they suffered a third
successive league defeat.

City were ahead inside two minutes. A
long ball down the left was worked back inside by Aguero and David
Silva for an unmarked Dzeko to sweep home from six yards.

The champions swiftly doubled their lead.

Play was allowed to continue after a crunching tackle from Vincent Kompany on Bradley Johnson.
Aguero was away again, darting into the right side of the Norwich
penalty area before drawing the goalkeeper and then cutting the ball
back to present Dzeko with another tap-in.

The Canaries had been thrashed 6-1
here by City last season, and another such defeat looked on the cards as
the Blues continued to press.

Already Dzeko scored his second early in the match

Already Dzeko scored his second early in the match

Game on: Anthony Pilkington scored a free-kick as the sides went in at 2-1

Game on: Anthony Pilkington scored a free-kick as the sides went in at 2-1

There was some brief respite on 13 minutes when Kompany tripped Robert Snodgrass just outside the Manchester City penalty area.

The Scotland international shaped to
take the free-kick himself, but instead ran over the ball, as Pilkington
drove in a low shot which deflected off Gael Clichy and past Joe Hart.

Bunn then needed to be alert to tip
over a spooned clearance from former City full-back Javier Garrido which
was dropping into the Norwich net following another lighting break from
the visitors.
City remained a threat, as Yaya Toure flashed a 20-yard drive just wide following more patient build-up from the champions.

Class: Sergio Aguero lifts the ball over Mark Bunn to make it 3-1

Class: Sergio Aguero lifts the ball over Mark Bunn to make it 3-1

Back in the goals: Aguero wheeled away after his expertly taken goal

Back in the goals: Aguero wheeled away after his expertly taken goal

Get in: Russell Martin heads home Norwich's second

Get in: Russell Martin heads home Norwich's second

Things got ugly again just before the break when Bassong upended Nasri on the far touchline.

The duo squared up face-to-face, with
Nasri pushing his head into the Norwich defender – which on
consultation with the assistant referee resulted in a red card for the
France midfielder, and a caution for Bassong.

The decision perplexed City boss
Mancini, and left him with some changes to mull over at half-time the
rain started to lash down.

Spicy: Samir Nasri was red-carded for putting his head against Sebastien Bassong's

Spicy: Samir Nasri was red-carded for putting his head against Sebastien Bassong's

Oh dear: Nasri was dismissed just before half-time

Oh dear: Nasri was dismissed just before half-time

Norwich made a substitution just
before the interval, with striker Steve Morison hobbling off because of
what appeared to be a thigh problem and on-loan Harry Kane replacing him
for a first appearance since breaking his metatarsal in September.

City were soon back on the offensive following the restart and restored their two-goal cushion on 50 minutes.

Toure delivered a perfectly-weighted
angled ball which Bassong could not cut out and dropped into the path of
Aguero. The Argentina forward produced an exquisite chip to beat the
advancing keeper and put City back in control.

To their credit, the home side
continued to look to get back into the match, as a low shot from
substitute Jonny Howson's was touched wide by Hart.

From the resulting short-corner, it
was 3-2 when Bassong's header back across the six-yard box from
Snodgrass' clever centre was guided into the top right corner by Martin
on 63 minutes.

However, City quickly restored their advantage as the broke away down the right.

Dzeko sprung the offside trap to
burst into the Norwich penalty area to beat Bunn at the near post, the
ball bouncing off the woodwork, then the keeper's back and into the net.

Unlucky: Dzeko was deprived of a hat-trick when his shot ricocheted in off Bunn

Unlucky: Dzeko was deprived of a hat-trick when his shot ricocheted in off Bunn

Squeaky bum time: Martin scored Norwich's third to make things interesting again

Squeaky bum time: Martin scored Norwich's third to make things interesting again

Whack: Vincent Kompany slides in on Bradley Johnson

Whack: Vincent Kompany slides in on Bradley Johnson

Flying high: Edin Dzeko competes for the ball in the second half

Flying high: Edin Dzeko competes for the ball in the second half

A quite amazing match sparked into
life once more with 15 minutes left when another Norwich corner caused
panic in the City six-yard box as Hart could only half punch clear
before Martin swept the ball in again from point-blank range.

Mancini looked to shore things up when he replaced Dzeko with defender Joleon Lescott.

Bunn redeemed himself with a brilliant one-handed save from Aguero at point-blank range.
Despite five minutes of stoppage time, there was to be no more drama as
City closed out what could prove to be a crucial victory.

Taskmaster: Roberto Mancini issues some instructions from the touchline

Taskmaster: Roberto Mancini issues some instructions from the touchline

Goalscorers: Aguero and Martin (right) were both among the goals

Goalscorers: Aguero and Martin (right) were both among the goals

Roberto Mancini said he left Mario Balotelli out of the City squad because he needs to work harder

'He was only at home because he needs to work': Balotelli has a future at City, says Mancini

|

UPDATED:

17:33 GMT, 15 December 2012

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said the absence of Mario Balotelli in today's win over Newcastle United was not a signal his career at the club was over but because he needed to train.

Asked if the Italian striker still had a future at City, Mancini said: “Yes. Why not

'He was at home only because he needs to work.'

Dropped: Roberto Mancini (right) has said that Mario Balotelli was not in the squad today because he needs to train harder, not because his City career is over

Dropped: Roberto Mancini (right) has said that Mario Balotelli was not in the squad today because he needs to train harder, not because his City career is over

Mancini hauled Balotelli off after just five minutes of the second half in last week's 3-2 derby defeat against Manchester United.

Balotelli stormed down the tunnel and did not even make the substitutes bench at St James' Park, where City eased past Newcastle with goals from Sergio Aguero, Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure.

Goal: Yaya Toure was on target in the 3-1 win over Newcastle this afternoon

Goal: Yaya Toure was on target in the 3-1 win over Newcastle this afternoon

Mancini thought his side were the better team against United despite losing and was again happy with his team's performance today.

'It's important because when you come from a defeat – any defeat, but particularly against United – it's important to start to win quickly, and we started here, where I don't think a lot of teams can win,' he said.

However, asked what message the victory sent out to Sir Alex Ferguson and his players, Mancini added: 'The message is only for Christmas on 25th December.

'The season is long. He [Ferguson] knows football better than me.

'He knows that this championship is not finished when there are only three games to the end.

'Now that we have 24, 23 games to the end, it is open.'

City took the lead with just 10 minutes gone when, after a bright start by Newcastle, Yaya Toure split their defence with a pinpoint pass for Samir Nasri to square for Sergio Aguero to tap into an empty net.

They extended their lead six minutes before the break when Javi Garcia's header from a David Silva corner eluded Davide Santon on the line.

However, the Magpies responded after the break with Demba Ba's 51st-minute header dragging them back into the game, and strike-partner Papiss Cisse fired inches over on the turn two minutes later with the Magpies going for broke.

But victory was sealed with 12 minutes remaining as Toure slid home Pablo Zabaleta's cross to ended Newcastle's hopes.

Mancini was disappointed with a series of first-half chances which went begging, but satisfied with the end result.

Target: Sergio Aguero (middle) set Manchester City on their way after just 10 minutes

Sergio Aguero (middle) set Manchester City on their way after 10 minutes…

He added: 'I don't understand why we missed all those chances in the first half because when you come to play here, it's difficult because Newcastle are a really good team and they played very well.

'When you have six, seven, eight chances to score, you need to score more goals because if not, it can happen like in the second half when after they scored their goal, it changed everything.'

...and Javi Garcia added a second just before half-time

…and Javi Garcia added a second just before half-time

Opposite number Alan Pardew was left to reflect upon a sixth league defeat in seven games, but was able to take a series of positives from a spirited display.

Prolific: Demba Ba (pictured) scored his 11th of the campaign to cbring Newcastle back into it, but Yaya Toure (above) added a late goal to seal the victory back for Newcastle but Yaya Toure (above) added a late goal to seal the victory

Prolific: Demba Ba (pictured) scored his 11th of the campaign to cbring Newcastle back into it, but Yaya Toure (above) added a late goal to seal the victory

He said: 'I look at us and I have been in runs with other teams and I have played in some teams as well where you don't feel you can score, and that's a real worry, when you don't think you have got a goal in the team.

'But you have to say over the last three or four games, you can't say that about us. We look like we have got goals.

'We are just missing a bit of concentration, a little bit of resilience.

'At 2-1, we were really, really in a game there with a team who you couldn't say had played poorly. They were right at it today, Manchester City, so there are a lot of positives for us.

'Unfortunately, it's zero points and that's putting us under pressure now going into QPR, which we know here is a big game now.'

Meanwhile, City striker Mario Balotelli was conspicuous by his absence on Tyneside having been left behind following his less than impressive display against United.

Mancini said: 'He is not in good form at this moment and it was better for him that he continued to train and to train well. When he is in form, he will play.

'His form is not good – it's not good to play.''

Carlos Tevez should have been an automatic pick for Roberto Mancini -Martin Keown

Mancini made a mistake by choosing Balotelli over matchwinner Tevez

|

UPDATED:

00:27 GMT, 10 December 2012

Tremendous Tevez

I don’t understand why Carlos Tevez is not an automatic pick — he’s City’s matchwinner. His introduction gave us a proper football match and he played like a man possessed. Unlike Mario Balotelli, he chased down everything and gave the United defenders a torrid time.

Tevez would drop off and run wide and they didn’t know whether to stay or go with him. For Yaya Toure’s goal, he showed strength and composure to keep the ball and pick out his team-mate when surrounded by reds.

Not a moment too soon: Carlos Tevez replaced Mario Balotelli in the second half at the Etihad Stadium

Not a moment too soon: Carlos Tevez replaced Mario Balotelli in the second half at the Etihad Stadium

Winner brilliant, but so avoidable

There were two errors with the wall. Tevez walked off the end to close down Wayne Rooney on the edge of the box, but he should have stayed and reacted if necessary.

And Samir Nasri is not the bravest. What was he doing in the wall We often put people there who can’t do much defensively — such as pick up attackers or block. But he hid. If he stands up tall it hits him and bounces clear.

Winner: Joe Hart was beaten by Robin van Persie's late free kick which won the Manchester derby

Winner: Joe Hart was beaten by Robin van Persie's late free kick which won the Manchester derby

Incredible football

Rio Ferdinand looked majestic most of the match, but if I’m being really picky he could have committed more to blocking Tevez’s shot in the lead-up to Toure’s goal.

But that just showed how difficult it was for defenders yesterday. There was so much attacking quality all over the place, producing football of the highest order.

It was incredible to watch.

Rock solid: Rio Ferdinand had an excellent afternoon before being struck by a coin while celebrating the winner

Rock solid: Rio Ferdinand had an excellent afternoon before being struck by a coin while celebrating the winner

United wide men wing it

City dominated possession in the first half and it was largely down to the fluidity of their wingers. Nasri and David Silva like to come infield and that meant they could keep hold of the ball. But United’s wingers stuck out wide and that made them more clinical when they got it.

Space on the left allowed Ashley Young to set up the opener and Antonio Valencia on the right was key to the second. They were ruthless. The structure of the team created the goals but they had the ability in that framework.

Graham Poll: Alex Ferguson might have felt he was playing against 12 men after Martin Atkinson performance

Graham Poll's official line: Ferguson might have felt he was playing against 12 men

|

UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 9 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson said he felt as though he was playing against 12 men when Martin Atkinson refereed an FA Cup defeat against Portsmouth in March 2008. He could well have felt the same yesterday at the Etihad.

Last week, his counterpart Roberto Mancini claimed that United’s Ashley Young was an expert diver but it was Yaya Toure who threw himself to the floor after no contact from an opponent in the 25th minute. While Atkinson was not fooled, it is not good enough to wave play on — the player must be cautioned.

Ferguson’s pre-match psychological effort to pressure the referee revolved around City getting soft penalties; he might have reflected on that when Atkinson denied United a clear penalty when Patrice Evra was felled by Kolo Toure.

Firm hand: Referee Martin Atkinson talks to United's Rio Ferdinand (left) and Danny Welbeck

Firm hand: Referee Martin Atkinson talks to United's Rio Ferdinand (left) and Danny Welbeck

He might still have been fuming at his side being denied a three-goal lead when Young followed up a Robin van Persie shot which rebounded straight to him.

Assistant referee Peter Kirkup incorrectly signalled that Young was in an offside position when Van Persie shot, but replays confirmed that Young was clearly onside.

Atkinson had really tried to keep his yellow card in his pocket, waiting until the 52nd minute to caution Samir Nasri for dissent. Another City player, Carlos Tevez, was also cautioned for dissent and was very lucky not to get another yellow when he gave away the free-kick from which Van Persie scored the winner.

Trouble: Carlos Tevez appears to mimic Atkinson as he's shown a yellow card

Trouble: Carlos Tevez appears to mimic Atkinson as he's shown a yellow card

Booked! Atkinson flashes a yellow card at United's Phil Jones

Booked! Atkinson flashes a yellow card at United's Phil Jones

However, it should have been a straight red card for the Argentine when he kicked an opponent right in front of Atkinson, but again City benefited from his benevolence.

It is said that it is better to be lucky than good. After Manchester United won despite these mistakes, I am sure Atkinson would agree.

Robin van Persie delighted to score winner in first Manchester derby

Van Persie delights in scoring winner on Manchester derby debut

|

UPDATED:

16:38 GMT, 9 December 2012

Robin van Persie hailed his late winner as a special way to win the Manchester derby.

The Dutchman's deflected injury-time free-kick earned United a 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium after City had come back from 2-0 down.

Wayne Rooney's first-half double put the visitors in command, but goals from Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta got City back on terms.

On target: Robin van Persie stole the glory with his late winner

On target: Robin van Persie stole the glory with his late winner

Far corner: Van Persie's strike eludes Joe Hart

Far corner: Van Persie's strike eludes Joe Hart

'We had a really good start, because of Wayne two really good, clinical finishes,' Van Persie said on Sky Sports 1.

'We were in control, but City always come back.

'It's a really special way to end this game, with the three points in a really dramatic way.'

Rooney praised his team-mate, saying: 'We work on that on the training ground and I had no doubt he could score from there.'

The win moved United six points clear of City at the top of the table and ended the hosts' long unbeaten home record.

'To go six points clear, to beat our closest rivals, we're delighted. We're going to celebrate.'

The match ended amid unsavoury scenes with Rio Ferdinand appearing to be hit by a missile thrown from the crowd and suffering a cut to his face.

But Van Persie felt the game was played in a good spirit.

'I think it was a great atmosphere, everyone was supporting their team. I missed the thing with Rio.'

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson claimed his team were worthy winners.

'Today was a special one simply because they haven't lost at home for two years, both of us are contending at the top of the league,” he said.

'It was a fantastic game, you couldn't take you eyes off that.'

United had an Ashley Young goal ruled out for offside shortly before City pulled their first goal back.

Asked if his side deserved the win, Ferguson added: 'Absolutely. I think we played very well.

'I thought we should have finished the game off. It's a funny game football. It should have been 3-0, the goal was perfectly onside, then they go up and score.

'Football can kick you in the teeth that way. Then they scored the second goal and at that moment in time they deserved that. They came back, were fighting like hell, they gambled everything on the three strikers.

'But up to that point I thought we were far better than them.'

Double act: Wayne Rooney struck the first two United goals before his Dutch compatriot bagged the third

Double act: Wayne Rooney struck the first two United goals before his Dutch compatriot bagged the third

Ferguson also praised the overall contribution of Van Persie.

'It (the free-kick) got a little deflection, but it was a tremendous hit,' he said. 'He's kept them on the back foot the whole time.'

Ferguson was pleased with his side's spirit after City did the double over them last season.

He said: 'I think we can be proud of the fact that, opposed to last year when we sat off them too much, gave them far too much respect, there was a great team spirit.

'They were determined to win the match. I think in general everyone would recognise that.'

On the Ferdinand incident, he said: 'It's unfortunate toward the end that the City fan runs on and throws coins at our players. I don't think you need that.

Confrontation: Hart tries to prevent this City fan reaching Ferdinand

Confrontation: Hart tries to prevent this City fan reaching Ferdinand

'The same thing happened at Chelsea which was masked really by all the other things that happened.

'Two fantastic teams today I think and a fantastic game of football and it could do without that.'

Ferguson claimed it was too early in the season to measure the significance of the victory.

'City will be fresher in the second half of the season, without European football,' he said.

'We've got to contend with European football, the FA Cup and the league.'

Mohamed Diame reminiscent of Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira – Jamie Redknapp

West Ham's Diame reminds me of a cross between Yaya Toure and Vieira

|

UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 2 December 2012

I like the look of Mohamed Diame at West Ham; he’s a cross between Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure.

He overpowered Chelsea’s midfield on Saturday. Can West Ham keep him He came on a free and has an agreed get-out clause. There will be lots of interest now.

Talent: Mohamed Diame plays like a cross between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira

Talent: Mohamed Diame plays like a cross between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira

More from Jamie Redknapp…

Jamie Redknapp: It's great to see Fletcher back in the goals… even if my dad doesn't agree with me!
26/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Extraordinary decision to hire negative Rafa, Chelsea players will look at him and think: 'You're NOT the man'
23/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Leaky Spurs miss Dembele as Arsenal hope derby victory sparks winning run
18/11/12

After Ibra's 'Escape to Victory moment' Jamie Redknapp presents his guide to overhead kicks
15/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: After his wonder goal, I'd love to see Zlatan head to the Premier League…
14/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Carragher shows he is still a top performer – but it is time to think about the next step
11/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: Hotshot Van Persie could be heading for a double
05/11/12

Jamie Redknapp: What are Arsenal thinking about letting Walcott go He could play through the middle but I'd keep him wide
31/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Weak Chelsea

No Frank Lampard and no John Terry and
suddenly Chelsea do not look to have any leaders. What happened to them
in the second half West Ham got at them and Chelsea collapsed. Every
outfield player, apart from Juan Mata, needs to look at himself.

Benteke blitz

I went from Upton Park by Virgin bike
to Loftus Road to catch the second half of Queens Park Rangers’ game
with Aston Villa. It’s the second time in a week I’ve watched Villa’s
Christian Benteke and you can see why Darren Bent does not get on. He’s a
young Drogba. And he’s only 21.

Pass masters

Swansea gave Arsenal a lesson in their
own game. They passed them off the pitch and it was a result that
leaves them above Arsene Wenger’s team in the Premier League. Arsenal
are 10TH! Are we really witnessing the decline and fall of Wenger I
hope not.

Magnificent Michu

What impresses me most about Swansea’s
Michu is that when he gets into a goalscoring position, he seems to
slow everything down. Most players get an adrenalin rush, but Michu
reacts in the opposite way. He is quite brilliant at it, he must have
ice in his veins.

On fire: Swansea and Michu upset Arsenal at the Emirates

On fire: Swansea and Michu upset Arsenal at the Emirates

Electric Defoe

Jermain Defoe is the best British
striker in the League. Gone are the days of him standing and waiting for
a cross to poach. He can now make it happen himself. He has a full
repertoire of goals, a great attitude for the game and deserves his
electrifying form.

In a hurry, Murray

Glenn Murray, 29, has played for
Workington, Barrow, Carlisle, Stockport, Rochdale, Brighton and in the
US. Now he has found his home at Crystal Palace and is having a similar
effect to Rickie Lambert at Southampton. Murray already has 17 goals
this season.

No strikers

Liverpool have to go to West Ham on
Sunday without the suspended Luis Suarez… and without a striker. Their
transfer policy has left them exposed at a time when they are
struggling for goals. I don’t expect them to be so naive in the next
transfer window.

Electric: Jermain Defoe has been impressing Jamie Redknapp

Electric: Jermain Defoe has been impressing Jamie Redknapp

Joleon Lescott wanted by Everton

Everton keen on Lescott reunion as defender falls out of favour at Man City

|

UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 30 November 2012

Out of favour: Lescott

Out of favour: Lescott

David Moyes has admitted he would jump at the chance to re-sign Joleon Lescott if the defender feels he needs to seek a loan move from Manchester City.

The Everton manager sold Lescott to City in August 2009 for 23million. Although the money allowed him to reshape his squad, Moyes, who takes his side to the Etihad Stadium today, never really wanted the England defender to leave.

Moyes is looking to bolster his defence and has watched Molde’s Vegard Forren twice this month. But Lescott, who is entering the final 18 months of his contract, has been forced to play a bit-part role for City this season and has not featured since October 27.

Whether City would allow Lescott to leave in January is debatable, as they need cover when Kolo Toure heads for the Africa Cup of Nations. If that changed, however, Moyes would consider an enquiry.

‘If Joleon wanted to come back, and if I thought we needed him, I’d be delighted to have him back,’ said Moyes. ‘I’d have no problem having Joleon back. I’ve not thought about it but if he was available then he’d be someone I would show an interest in.’

Although Lescott left Everton in acrimonious circumstances, Moyes has never hidden his admiration for him as a player and when he tracked him at Wolves during the 2005/06 season, he compiled a dossier of 24 reports – 23 of which came back with top marks from his scouts.

Old acquaintances: Moyes (left) signed Lescott from Wolves

Old acquaintances: Moyes (left) signed Lescott from Wolves

‘When Joleon left, we were in a different place to where we are now,’ said Moyes. ‘I think there’s more solidity and Everton look more likely now to be at the top end than we were then. I could understand why the player wanted to go, there was a big project going on at Manchester City.

‘But it still was a disappointing one for me. I saw Jags (Phil Jagielka) and Joleon as being at that time behind John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as the next England partnership. Maybe I’m not that far off the mark, with where they are now.’

That Moyes has spoken about his admiration for Lescott has added an intriguing subplot to what promises to be one of the games of the day and Everton certainly travel to the Etihad Stadium in positive spirits.

When they last made the journey in September 2011, Moyes said he felt as if he was ‘walking into a gunfight with only a knife’, but City will not underestimate Everton this time, particularly as they have been a bogey team for Roberto Mancini.

Bogey team: City have struggled against Everton in recent years

Bogey team: City have struggled against Everton in recent years

Mancini has finished on the losing side five of the six times he has managed against Moyes and Everton were the last team to beat City at the Etihad Stadium in December 2010 – 36 games ago.

Leon Osman was part of the Everton squad that day and his form this season has mirrored that of his club. His rewards came when Roy Hodgson gave him his England debut against Sweden last month. After taking part in Movember, there is good reason why he wants to win a second cap.

‘I debated whether I should get rid of the moustache,’ said Osman. ‘But it’s a charity thing we’re doing and I’m not vain enough to care about things like that. If it is my only experience with England then so be it.

‘But hopefully I will be able to get more and I’d have the second one without! It’s a clich but if you want more of it, you have to earn it and keep on playing the way you are. We have to keep Everton playing the way we are, but get the results as well.’

Manchester City 2 Tottenham 1: Match report

Manchester City 2 Tottenham 1: Aguero and Dzeko strikes spares Hart's blushes after howler

|

UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 11 November 2012

Edin Dzeko lived up to his super-sub billing by firing Manchester City to victory against Tottenham.

Dzeko struck three minutes from time to complete a defiant second-half comeback from the unbeaten Blues, who closed the gap on Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United to two points.

It was the Bosnian's seventh goal of the season, six of which have come from the bench, after Sergio Aguero had cancelled out Steven Caulker's first-half header. It also extended City's unbeaten home Premier League record to an incredible 35, and their present unbeaten league run to 16, adding weight to manager Roberto Mancini's pre-match dismissal of any sense of crisis at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

MATCH FACTS

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic (Maicon 56), Clichy, Toure, Barry, Silva, Tevez (Dzeko 73), Kolarov, Aguero.

Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, Dzeko, Sinclair, Javi Garcia, Toure, Razak.

Booked: Zabaleta

Goals: Aguero 65, Dzeko 88.

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker (Dawson 78), Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen, Sandro, Huddlestone, Lennon (Naughton 87), Bale, Dempsey, Adebayor (Defoe 80).

Subs: Lloris, Naughton, Defoe, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Carroll.

Booked: Walker, Adebayor.

Goal: Caulker 21.

Attendance:

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE, FIXTURES AND RESULTS

Arriving at the ground, it was hard to escape the feeling of agitation at City, no matter what soothing words are spoken.

In his programme notes, Mancini
accentuated the positives. That long, unbeaten home run, a 10-game total
of 22 points exceeded only once by the Blues during the Premier League
era – last season – and the opportunity to equal the club's unbeaten
record in this particular competition.

“None of this evidence points to us being as badly out of form as some people would have the world believe,” the Italian said.

There is another view though – that City are now conceding goals that would have been unimaginable 12 months ago.

Two against Ajax in this stadium on
Tuesday leave City knowing even a defeat of the mighty Real Madrid will
probably not save their Champions League skins and midway through the
first half today came another calamity.

A straightforward free-kick delivered
from the touchline by Tom Huddlestone found Caulker, who had been given
too much room to make his run. The header should still have been
stopped. This time, goalkeeper Joe Hart, so often City's saviour, only
managed to shovel it in.

Mancini, seeming to make a conscious effort to curb his trigger-happy temperament, could only watch on in disbelief.

Level terms: Aguero slotted home the equaliser in the 65th minute

Level terms: Aguero slotted home the equaliser in the 65th minute

Level terms: Aguero slotted home the equaliser in the 65th minute

This might not have been so bad if
City had been awarded at least one of the two penalties they were
adamant should have come their way before the break.

William Gallas was the first
offender. And whilst he did block Aguero's flick at close quarters, his
arm was extended in a manner that, in the modern game, tends to result
in an infringement.

On the second occasion, Pablo
Zabaleta was bulldozed over by Huddlestone. That referee Michael Oliver
declined both merely intensified City ire against the official, with
Zabaleta and the returning David Silva among the more demonstrative home
players.

Back after five matches out with a hamstring strain, Silva had started brightly without finding a killer pass.

Howler: Hart allowed Caulker's header to slip through his grasp

Howler: Hart allowed Caulker's header to slip through his grasp

Howler: Hart allowed Caulker's header to slip through his grasp

For the visitors, Emmanuel Adebayor,
starting his first game of the season against his old club, was an
irritation more than anything, luring Zabaleta into a tackle he dived
over to get his one-time colleague a booking.

The introduction of Maicon for his
belated home debut offered an extra twist given it put him up against
Gareth Bale, who famously terrorised the Brazilian during his Inter
Milan days.

It also triggered a return to the much-derided three-man defence.

Yet Mancini's rejig worked.

Salvation: City were made to labour for their equaliser

Salvation: City were made to labour for their equaliser

Salvation: City were made to labour for their equaliser

On a day when little seemed to be
going right for the hosts, they profited from a couple of fortunate
bounces, allowing Yaya Toure to get on the end of Silva's pass, then
Aguero to collect possession inside the Spurs box.

Caulker got a quick lesson in how
swiftly the Argentinian can turn as he found himself heading in
completely the wrong direction as Aguero dispatched his precise shot
into the bottom corner.

From that moment on, there only seemed likely to be one winner.

With Aguero scheming, Andre Villas-Boas was forced into his own reshuffle.

Taking a tumble: Adebayor returned to his former club but failed to get on the scoresheet

Taking a tumble: Adebayor returned to his former club but failed to get on the scoresheet

Silva was denied by Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel's flying feet-first save before the veteran American denied Aguero.

Tottenham were creaking though. And
when Silva found Dzeko in the box three minutes from time, the Bosnian
kept his nerve to complete another memorable comeback.

Yaya Toure: Manchester City need God"s help for Champions League progress

Only God can save City now! Yaya says Mancini's men need divine intervention to seal Champions League progress

|

UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 7 November 2012

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure thinks only God can get his beleaguered team in to the knock out phase of the Champions League.

City need a miracle after failing to be beat Ajax at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.

Bottom of Group D with only two points from four games, City must win their final two matches against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund and hope other results go their way.

Big blow: Manchester City dropped more Champions League points to Ajax

Big blow: Manchester City dropped more Champions League points to Ajax

Toure certainly seems to think the odds are against them and said: 'We have to believe in God and I swear maybe we can still go through.

'It's disappointing and difficult but I think it's not finished. We have a couple of games left and we have to continue to work hard and try to take our chance and believe.

'In football it's not finished. We have Madrid at home and Dortmund away and if we want to go through we have to win these games.

Clinging on: Yaya helped City salvage a point against the Dutch side

Clinging on: Yaya helped City salvage a point against the Dutch side

'When you draw or lose it's always difficult.

'When you see the statistics, you can think we were unlucky.

'But you have to have God with you.

'Things can sometimes go wrong but we have to continue to believe because we have fantastic players.'

City came from two goals down to draw with Ajax in a game they had to win on Tuesday. Denied a winner by an offside flag, they also thought they should have had a penalty.

'The referee decided this game for me because there were two clear penalties, one in the first half and one in the second half,' added Toure.

'But now we have to forget this game and focus on the next one because it will be very important for Manchester City.'