Moyes’ December training jab stuck with Danny Welbeck

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Back in mid-December, when Manchester United was mired in the tumultuous and ultimately fateful run of David Moyes, the skipper spoke up about one of his brightest young players.

“We had a word with [Danny Welbeck] about a month ago and we said that he needs to be the last off the training field,” Moyes said during a press conference.

“Wayne [Rooney]’s out there practicing his finishing each day…I said: ‘Danny, you need to be out there every day finishing, even if it’s 15 minutes at the end’.”

Well, the 23-year old forward has finally responded, telling reporters it hurt to hear his manager tell the public these things.

“I was pretty surprised [at what he said] to be honest,” Welbeck said. “Before he made that statement I was doing extra training. Maybe he just didn’t see it. I’ve grown up at Manchester United and been professional all through my career and I always do extra work. It’s born and bred in me to do extra work after training and maybe he wasn’t seeing that extra stuff. I was doing extras in the gym and on the pitch.”

Not only was Welbeck unhappy with what his manager said publicly, he also clearly wasn’t happy with his decisions privately as well.  The young striker told reporters he wishes to play centrally, the spot currently manned by the soon-to-be captain Robin van Persie.

“It does get frustrating. You want to be playing in a certain position and you’re not getting the opportunity to do that,” Welbeck said. “It’s the same for everyone – when they are being played out of position they don’t really like it. I’d like to play central. I’ve been playing on the left for a while and it’s got to the time where I want to stake a place up front.”

Welbeck took the opportunity to point to his time at England, noting he has a better scoring ratio with country than club, and suggested it could be a formational thing.  He said playing the 4-4-1-1 that Moyes employs doesn’t suit him as much, because he gets stuck out wide on a 4-man midfield, having to cover defensively with fewer central midfielders to back him up.

However, with England under Roy Hodgson, Welbeck thrives int he 4-3-3 setup, with three central midfielders to cover and spending more time and legs on attacking. “Maybe I’m kind of let off the leash a bit more for England than United,” Welbeck noted.

It’s unknown how the youngster will be used under Louis van Gaal, but one thing is for sure, if van Persie stays healthy, there’s no way Welbeck supplants his new manager’s favorite player.  Therefore, it may be in his best interests to seek new pastures if he wishes to play centrally.

When asked if he wants to leave Old Trafford or considered it last season, Welbeck said curiously, “I’d rather not answer that question.”

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

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After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

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Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.