The TEN Unluckiest Players not to have played for England more

In the wake of England’s game with Moldova, we unfurl our England flags once more and strap on our international game heads. Everyone always remembers the England greats, the likes of Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Peter Shilton and David Beckham. Everyone also seems to remember the one-cap wonders as well, the likes of Michael Ricketts, Francis Jeffers and Steve Guppy who should never have been allowed anywhere near an England shirt. However, since caps are handed out like confetti these days, many player appear for the Three Lions without ever really registering on anyone’s radar, in fact you’d be surprised to hear many of the names that have turned out for this country.

Some simply weren’t good enough to play for England, while others struggled with injuries. Certain individuals may have been the victim of a certain manager’s selection policy or perhaps found themselves behind a truly world class player in the race for the starting XI, costing them more appearances. Either way, there are numerous players who deserved to pull on the white shirt on more occasions and we run through the Top 10 Unluckiest England players who should have been capped more often:

To see the list, click on the picture of Matt Le Tissier:

The Seven Greatest Premier League Comebacks Ever

Featuring some content from Unibet (check out their site here), we bring you some of the Premier League’s greatest comebacks after Robin Van Persie’s hat-trick on Sunday was the latest as Manchester United fought back to win 3-2 at Southampton. But in the last two decades there have been countless comebacks in the greatest league in the world, with some with late, late goals. Here is United’s fight back and six others…

7. Southampton 2 Manchester United 3 – 2/9/2012

The newly promoted side were ahead twice, but thanks to an RVP hat-trick the Red Devils took the points. The Dutchman even managed to miss a penalty en route.

6. Manchester City 2 Fulham 3 – 26/4/2008

A pivotal game for The Cottagers, who would have been staring relegation in the face had they lost. And, after going 2-0 down early on it looked like their Premier League status was indeed doomed. But a double from Diomansy Kamara and a goal from Danny Murphy meant they lived to fight another day and eventually stayed up.

5. Arsenal 4 Tottenham 4 – 29/10/2009

Tottenham feature heavily in this list, and here they are with a late fight back to salvage a point at arch rivals Arsenal. The Gunners were 3-1 up and cruising, but a late Spurs rally saw Aaron Lennon equalise in the final minute.

4. Tottenham 4 Aston Villa 4 – 1/10/2007

Spurs again here, celebrating their 125th anniversary with a fight back at home to Aston Villa. The Villans were 4-1 up, but the home side, roared on by the White Hart Lane crowd, battled back with Youness Kaboul notching a leveller in the 90th minute.

3. Chelsea 2 Arsenal 3 – 3/10/1999

Did you know Kanu is STILL playing football! The 83-year-old is currently looking for a club, but back in 1999 he was at the height of his powers and scored this wonderful hat-trick at Chelsea. The Blues had been 2-0 up with half an hour to go, but the Nigerian had other ideas and capped it with a brilliant curled winner.

2. Tottenham 3 Manchester United 5 – 25/9/2001

Tottenham yet again feature here, but Spurs fans won’t thank us for bringing this one up. Their side were 3-0 up at home to the Red Devils at half-time but Ferguson’s side fought back and scored five in the second half to well and truly turn this game around.

1. Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 – 5/2/2011

Simply the greatest Premier League comeback ever: Newcastle were 4-0 down to the Gunners at half-time, and had barely touched the ball before the interval. But Pardew’s troops came out all guns blazing in the second half, stunning Arsenal with a barrage of brilliance which culminated in a late, late, Cheick Tiote volley that sealed a dramatic point.

10 Things the Premiership taught us this week

1. Brendan Rodgers has a big, big job on his hands reviving Liverpool’s fortunes. A poor start to the season and a poor transfer window to boot. All is not well at Anfield.

2. Sunday afternoon saw the explosion of Arsenal fans across the country, no, not because they went and won 2-0 at Anfield, but because of events at the St Mary’s Stadium. A Van Persie hat-trick, completed in stoppage time is a painful reminder of what they’ve lost.

3. Credit to Steve Clarke who’s just led West Brom to their best ever Premier League start after beating Everton 2-0. Line him up as the next England manager!

4. Andy Carroll will fit into West Ham’s system perfectly, mark my words. Two assists on his debut before injury ruined his big day, but he’s perfectly suited to Sam Allardyce’s tactics. Not pretty, but certainly effective.

5. Wigan seem to have a few more Premier League goals in them this year, which must be pleasing for Roberto Martinez. Franco Di Santo has also scored five in his last eight games, impressive stuff for a striker at the DW Stadium.

6. Has AVB made the same mistakes at Spurs as he did with Chelsea? Clear out the deadwood too quickly and the balance of the squad alters dramatically. A draw with Norwich has ensured their worst start to a Premier League season for four years.

7. Steven Fletcher overpriced at £12 million? Not on that evidence. Nice little double to start your Sunderland career and end Swansea’s 100% record. Has Martin O’Neill done it again in the transfer market?

8. Hatem Ben Arfa really is a quality player. His brilliant goal earned the Toon Army a point and although Newcastle and Pardew may be struggling slightly at the moment, with the Frenchman in their ranks, they can always count on a few special moments.

9. Say what you like about Arsenal’s transfer policy, but Arsene Wenger might have pulled off an absolute masterstroke in signing Santi Cazorla. Once again at the heart of everything and marked the game against Liverpool with his first Gunners goal. Class act.

10. City may be unbeaten, but they really don’t look convincing at all. Clean sheets are hard to come by at the moment and Mancini doesn’t look happy with his lot, especially after the transfer window slammed shut. Champions League could be make or break.

The Satirical Premier League Season…August

How the first month of the Premier League should have gone…

August

  •  Having sold Robin Van Persie to Manchester United, Arsenal have announced an official end to their partnership with Manchester City as their official feeder club. City’s demand for first refusal on all the Gunners’ players was rejected after Arsenal were only offered a picture of the Premier League trophy to remind them what it looks like.
  •  Meanwhile, the Gunners had to undergo a hasty rebranding of the club’s identity after Van Persie’s exit. They had planned to rename the team ‘The Robin Van Persie XI’ following his one-man efforts last season. Although Arsene Wenger stopped short of admitting that Arsenal would have only taken to the pitch with Van Persie on the pitch for the new season, he did admit his departure left him with 11 holes to fill in the team.
  •  Despite Manchester City winning the Community Shield against Chelsea by three goals to two, John Terry is spotted wrestling the trophy off skipper Vincent Kompany in full City kit, including shin pads. As Kompany goes to raise the trophy aloft, Terry nips in, grabs it out of his hands and raises it triumphantly to the whole stadium before embarking on a lap of honour with all the City players chasing him.
  •  Wigan manager Roberto Martinez reunites former England front pair Michael Owen and Emile Heskey in his desperation for new signings. The move works well in the first game against Chelsea as Owen grabs a double from two Heskey knock downs, but Big Emile sets a few unwanted Premiership records having been caught offside a record 46 times and hit the corner flag with 7 stray shots.
  • Everton manager David Moyes gets annoyed with the press after his team remain unbeaten during August thanks to Moyes deploying the 4-6-0 formation that Spain used in the Euros. After newspapers congratulated the Scot on copying Vicente Del Bosque’s tactics, Moyes loses his temper, replying that he hasn’t played or even bought a capable striker for the best part of six years now and no one ever gave him any recognition for that.
  •  Chelsea have had to refund their fans who watched their first home game of the season with Reading. Boss Roberto Di Matteo forgot that in the Premier League, the game is decided after 90 minutes and not on penalties. This meant his tactic of placing all 11 men on the line and allowing Reading to have the ball all game didn’t work and the Blues were booed off by a disgruntled Stamford Bridge crowd.
  • Luis Suarez is in trouble with the FA again after running up to the referee and yelling ‘Bellend’ in his face 15 times. Suarez pleaded his innocence when questioned by the authorities, explaining that in Uruguay, ‘bellenda’ was a slang term they used for corner and that he thought Liverpool had won a corner. However, he couldn’t explain the jerking movements he made with his hand in the nether regions of his waist, simply starting to say ‘In my country, it means…’ before stopping and accepting his punishment.

Ten Things the Premier League taught us this week…

We bring you the ten things the Premier League taught us this week as round two gets underway:

1. Arsenal desperately need a goal scorer. Two 0-0 draws in a row isn’t exactly a crisis, but the murmurs of discontent are slowly starting to come to the surface again at the Emirates.

2. Their North London rivals aren’t faring too much better either. AVB needs to draw a line under the Luka Modric saga, invest in his Tottenham side and get their campaign underway.

3. Eden Hazard is proving those doubters wrong pretty quickly. Looked superb again against Newcastle and seems like he might be the man to get the best out of Fernando Torres as well.

4. Leaving Wayne Rooney on the bench was a big statement of intent from Sir Alex Ferguson. Now he’s injured, the talisman needs to work hard and prove he’s still number one at Old Trafford.

5. For such traditionally bad starters, David Moyes’s men seemed to have discovered a new brand of Weetabix. Sensational from the Toffees and in Marouane Fellaini, they have the star performer of the season so far.

6. Michael Laudrup’s boys are certainly raising a few eyebrows at the top of the Premier League. His brand of football is even more eye-catching than Brendan Rodgers.

7. Arise Raheem Sterling. Liverpool have unleashed their new superstar on the Premier League and to what effect! The hype surrounding the 17-year-old will be enormous now, but Rodgers needs to manage him effectively to help him develop.

8. Manchester City are seemingly incapable of playing out a boring game. The defence is at sixes and sevens and Mancini needs to strengthen his squad before the deadline shuts. Carlos Tevez looks back on his game though.

9. Wigan have made a bright start to the season and for once in their history, two of their strikers scored in the same game! Perhaps Martinez and his men could avoid the perennial ‘must win all our games in the last three months to survive’ routine this time around.

10. Norwich are looking likely candidates for the second syndrome award under Chris Hughton. Short on quality, this year could be a long haul for them.

The Magnificent Seven – Arsenal to Barcelona

We talk about Arsenal being Manchester City’s feeder club having sold them Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor in recent years, but Barcelona are the real vultures that hover over the Emirates. After signing Alex Song for £15 million, the Catalan giants have now purchased seven players off the Gunners since Arsene Wenger’s arrival at the club back in 1996.

That statement suggests two things. One, it’s a testament to Wenger’s transfer policy in bringing in young, unproven players and converting them into superstars during their time with the club before he sells them on at the right price. Two, it suggests that Arsenal have never been big enough to compete with Europe’s best and once a genuine quality player does appear on the scene, the Gunners are unable to fend off interest from bigger clubs. We take a look at the seven players who made the switch to the Nou Camp and see how they fared:

Are Goal Celebrations Getting Out Of Hand?

Footballers’ goal celebrations have evolved rapidly over the years, and it is now far more likely to see a carefully choreographed performance than an impromptu outpouring of emotion from a goalscorer. From Robbie Fowler’s infamous ‘snorting’ of the touchline to Emmanuel Adebayor’s length of the pitch sprint to gloat in front of Arsenal fans, the potential for goal celebrations to cause controversy is something which the footballing authorities are abundantly aware of.

With that in mind, how long is it until messages printed on undershirts are outlawed? The ‘Pray 4 Muamba’ shirts which many players celebrated with in support of the Bolton player were touching but there is nevertheless always scope for inflammatory comments to be displayed.

Manchester City have been at the heart of the recent spate of message-emblazoned shirts, beginning with the tongue-in-cheek ‘Why always me?’ shirt which Mario Balotelli unveiled after scoring in the Manchester derby last season. The start of this season has already seen Carlos Tevez reveal two messages in reference to where he grew up, and Samir Nasri celebrate his winning goal against Southampton by revealing ‘Eid Mubarak’. While these messages are fairly innocuous, some fear that controversy is just around the corner.

There appears to be particular worry over the potential minefield to be navigated if such messages become vehicles for political or religious statements. After all, it is only too easy to envisage a player, especially the likes of Tevez, revealing a message in support of Argentina’s claim to the Falklands and the public outrage it would cause.

I would like to believe, perhaps somewhat naïvely, that between the players and the kit men making these shirts there is the judgment to decide what is acceptable and what is not. However, cynics will always point to the poor judgment exhibited by footballers in general (think of Ashley Cole shooting a youth team player with an air rifle or Balotelli’s various misdemeanours) and state the obvious: that the risk of allowing these displays, albeit a very small risk, outweighs the gains (if any) from allowing them. The only possible gain can be in messages of support like those for Muamba, and in reality the vast majority of the celebrations are simply inane and gratuitous. Moreover, footballing purists would undoubtedly like these celebrations banned simply because, in their view, they have no place in football. Sadly, I have to agree with them on this one.