Tag Archives: Fulham

EPL Team of the Week

Week 29

Mingonet

Jagielka      da Costa      Cahill

Duff      Hitzlsperger      Kalou      Jarvis

Kuyt

Defoe     Suarez

GK – Simon Mingonet: The Emirates witnessed one of the best goalkeeping displays we’ve seen all season. And for some it will come as no surprise it was from a member of the opposition. The Sunderland ‘keeper was in inspired form as he repeatedly thwarted Arsenal, particularly Nicholas Bentdner and Samiri Nasiri. His save from Nasiri’s free-kick was world class and Bentdner is probably still wondering how Mingonet stopped his fierce volley that looked destined for the back of the net. Hard to believe he’s just 22.

RB – Phil Jagielka: An impressive performance by the English defender. His match-winning goal was a piece of fine skill to direct Leighton Baines’ in-swinging free-kick in off the crossbar. Not only did he provide the match-winning goal, but he was vital in preventing Newcastle from finding an equalizer in the second half.

CB – Manuel Da Costa: Any defender will tell you that playing Stoke City is anything but a walk in the park. Da Costa did brilliantly to cope with Stoke’s physical prowess and his goal doubled West Ham’s advantage to send them on their way to another important three points.

CB – Gary Cahill: The former Aston Villa defender provided the equalizer moments before the break and his second headed goal of the match with 20 minutes remaining ensured Houllier’s side paid the full price for a penalty miss only minutes earlier.

RM – Damien Duff: It had been almost seven years since the last time Duff scored in consecutive games in the Premier League. Duff’s brace against former club Blackburn finally ended the wait and helped the Cottagers to a 3-2 win. Both goals came off him cutting inside from the right wing onto his left and sending a low and powerful drive past Paul Robinson.

CM – Thomas Hitzlsperger: West Ham supporters will wonder just how much further up the table they could have been had Hitzlsperger not been injured from the start of the season. His midfield play against Stoke was what the Hammers have been missing this season and he linked up effectively with Scott Parker. His fierce bullet put the icing on the cake for the home side and maybe, just maybe, forced Avram Grant to crack a smile.

CM – Salomon Kalou: Days after indicating he might leave Stamford Bridge this summer, Kalou stepped off the bench to help Chelsea beat Blackbool 3-1 on Monday. His introduction completely changed the game for Chelsea, who had allowed Blackpool to gain a foothold in the game. Not only did he earn his side a penalty but he set up Lampard’s second goal of the game to complete an important victory for the Blues. Came close to scoring on several occasions and contained Blackpool’s midfield.

AM – Dirk Kuyt: The Liverpool midfielder’s hat-trick was far from the most stunning of trebles ever seen in the Premier League this season, but it will certainly be one of the most memorable. Two tap-ins sandwiched a simple header and had Liverpool cruising to a big win over rivals Manchester United. It is difficult to decide who contributed to his hat-trick more: Luis Suarez tricky play or United’s defensive errors.

LM – Matt Jarvis: Wolverhampton’s impressive 3-3 draw with Tottenham was arguably their best performance of the season. Much of that had to do with the threat posed by Jarvis. His wing-play was excellent and his delivery of crosses into the box was a danger for Spurs all afternoon. Did well to get to the by-line on several occasions and set up the equalizer with the perfect cross towards Steven Fletcher.

ST – Jermaine Defoe: 323 days had passed since Jermaine Defoe’s previous league goal. Injury has kept him on the sidelines for much of the season but his stunning brace against Wolverhampton was well worth the wait. Both of his goals were powerful and well-placed shots from outside the box, leaving Wayne Hennessey no chance. Defoe was even denied a hat-trick by the post in the second half.

ST – Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan gave United’s defense its most torrid afternoon of the season. Twisting and turning in the box and somehow eluding three United players, Suarez was the architect of Liverpool’s opening goal and his dipping free-kick in the second half was spilled by Van der Sar, allowing Kuyt to secure his hat-trick. Only a few matches into his Liverpool career but he is already proven himself to be in an extremely important signing.

Manager – Kenny Dalglish: Just after his 60th birthday, the Liverpool hero could not have asked for a better birthday present. Took a big risk in fielding such an attacking side but reaped the benefits as he saw his side tear apart Sir Alex Ferguson’s men. The victory will only enhance his reputation with the Liverpool supporters.

Written by: Jeff Harbert

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Michael Bradley: Treading the American Path

American footballers are often forced to take the long route before playing for a big European club. Michael Bradley is no exception. But once many players do reach that point, they are not always as successful as hoped. Michael Bradley, who is currently on loan at Aston Villa, is one American who is an exception.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, Bradley has added his name to a growing list of American players who have moved to small European clubs before climbing the ladder. After making 30 appearances for the New York Metro Stars, now known as the New York Red Bulls, Bradley set off for Europe in hopes of furthering his development. His transfer to Eredivisie side SC Heerenveen in January, 2006 made him the youngest MLS player to ever be sold. The amount of the transfer remains undisclosed.

After making four starts for the Dutch club and helping them earn a spot in the UEFA Cup in his first season, things would only get better for the American midfielder. The following season saw him earn a permanent starting role in central midfield and in his third season with the club Bradley scored sixteen goals, including 21 in all competitions. His goal tally broke Brian McBride’s record of most goals scored by an American in a European first division.

On the penultimate day of the summer transfer window in August 2008, Bradley signed a four-year deal with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach. In two and a half seasons Bradley has made 81 appearances and scored 11 goals. His biggest highlight thus far has been a match-winning free-kick against Hannover 96. Bradley found himself on the move once again in January 2011, this time on the final day of the transfer window. Aston Villa agreed a deal with Monchengladbach to loan the American midfielder for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.

Bradley has made his biggest impact on the pitch for the United States National Team, earning 50 caps and scoring eight goals. His influence during the 2010 World Cup was a key factor in helping the US advance past the group stages. His late run into the penalty area to poke home Jozy Altidore’s knock-down gave the US a 2-2 draw and provided the platform for a dramatic win against Algeria. Bradley won more second balls than most of his teammates and his work rate throughout the tournament was second to none. Age the young age of 23, Bradley has already established himself as a key figure in the US National Team. One of the biggest compliments to Bradley is how much he was missed by the US in its 3-2 loss to Brazil in the final of the 2009 Confederations Cup. Having greatly impressed for the team coached by his father, Bob Bradley, the former Metrostars midfielder was suspended for the final after receiving a late red card in his side’s 2-0 win over Spain in the semi-finals.

Time will tell if Bradley can translate that same influence onto the club scene. One thing is for sure, and that is the fact that Aston Villa is the perfect platform for him to do so. After finishing in the top six of the Premier League for three consecutive seasons, the Midlands club is currently in 12th place and just five points clear of the relegation zone. Gerard Houllier’s side is in need of some help and Bradley has the opportunity to be the answer they are in need of.

After all, it was only five years ago that another American by the name of Clint Dempsey made the move to a relegation threatened Fulham and helped save them from the drop. Fast forward five years and Dempsey is Fulham’s leading scorer and integral part of a team who finished runners up in the UEFA Cup last season. And although a completely different type of player than his compatriot, Bradley is facing a very similar prospect.

Aston Villa’s new number 13 made his first start for the club in Villa’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday. Despite the loss and failing to really cope with City’s mega-rich midfield, Bradley still has plenty of time to demonstrate his influence for Aston Villa and prove that he really is an exception to the Americans who have gone before him and disappointed on some of Europe’s biggest stages.

Written by: Jeff Harbert

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