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Friday, 27 March 2015

Perfect game for Kane debut

Kane in action for the England U21's
All the talk in the build up to England’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Lithuania has been whether or not Harry Kane would be given the nod by manager Roy Hodgson to make his first senior international cap. With the news of Sturridge’s injury it now looks increasingly more likely the Spurs man will be thrown straight into the starting line up and he couldn't have asked for a better game to begin his international career.

It is always a big moment when representing your country for the first time, often an overwhelming experience that may impact on a players performance but in this case a home game against Lithuania is almost the perfect stage to begin an International career. Lithuania are no walkovers but in truth they are along way off the quality this English side posses and for a striker like Kane it is a great opportunity to get off the mark for his country as he can expect many chances against a weak defence and in the form he is in you would expect him to take these chances.

The Sturridge injury has made a Kane starting berth all the more likely but even before the injury, based on club form Kane is more deserving of a place in the starting 11 than Sturridge. Sturridge is only finding his feet after a lengthy absence whereas the young Spurs man is just off the back of scoring a Premier League hat-trick and is now level on goals with Diego Costa on 19 as the Premier League’s top scorer. These internationals also offer Kane a chance to overtake Sturridge as the key striker in the long term. Sturridge’s injury-prone nature makes him likely to miss a lot of games so if Kane can hit the ground running he could become Hodgson’s first choice.

Hodgson has preferred to play one man up front in his time as England boss but this game offers the chance to try two up front with Rooney and Kane the obvious choices. Rooney has been deployed as an attacking midfielder frequently for the Three Lions but after his performances up top for United recently he has made a claim to play in his favourite position at International level. Kane could miss out if Hodgson continues with the one man up front and puts Rooney in that position although a game against Lithuania seems a great opportunity to trial a partnership between Kane and Rooney, a partnership that on paper looks formidable.

Roy Hodgson may well decide tonight is not the right time for Kane to begin his international career, regardless the experience of being amongst the squad will benefit the 22-year-old greatly and he can expect to play a big role in Hodgson’s plans in the near future should he keep up his great club form.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Harry Arter ready to make his International mark

Arter has been in great form for Bournemouth this season
Amongst some of the names getting a call up to Martin O’Neill’s side for the first time there was a first ever call up to an Irish squad for 25-year-old Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter, who has been rewarded for his fantastic league form that has helped his side to occupy the top spot in the Championship. An international call-up is a big step for the London born player, who qualifies to play for the Republic of Ireland through his Grandmother, a step up he both deserves and is ready for.

It hasn't been an easy ride for Arter to get to this point, after starting his career at Charlton an ankle injury saw his career there cut short and then opted to rebuild his career starting at non league Woking, a move that ultimately paid off. In 2010 Eddie Howe decided to take a risk and bring the then 20-year-old to his League one Bournemouth side, a move that has been worth the risk for Howe and Bournemouth with Arter now a mainstay in the Cherries midfield as they look to gain promotion to the Premier League.

This season Arter has been fantastic, in his 40 appearances in all competitions Arter has scored 8 and assisted 3 goals from his central midfield role. He is the definition of a box to box midfielder known for his good defensive play but also most recently he has hit the headlines for two cracking finishes in his past two games. He comes into the International squad in a great vein of form after a man of the match performance against promotion rivals Middlesbrough, a game in which he scored one of the aforementioned crackers as Eddie Howe’s side recorded a 3-0 win.

Martin O’Neill has a real dilemma on his hands when considering whether or not to throw Arter straight into the team in such a big game against Poland. It is unlikely that O’Neill would take the gamble and give him his debut in such a vital game but in the long term Arter could well be a long term solution to the Republic of Ireland’s midfield mediocracy. In the qualifying campaign so far the only central midfield player who has registered goal was Wes Hoolahan who was playing in a more attacking role when he scored a goal. Arter has proven in the Championship this season that he can get a goal and could be exactly what this Irish set-up needs.

Another feature of the Republic of Ireland’s current midfield options is they are very defensively minded, James McCarthy, Glen Whelan, Jeff Hendrick and David Meyler are all very much holding midfield players and although Gibson and Quinn do offer something going forward they are yet to register a goal and have not been overly impressive in their games so far this campaign. James McCarthy when fit is the best midfielder in the Irish squad and with his tendency to stay deep, Harry Arter, being the box to box midfielder he is, could well be the perfect partner for the Everton man.

A big problem for the Republic of Ireland in the campaign so far has been retaining the ball, Darron Gibson is the midfield player with the most passes completed for the Republic with 95. Compare that with group rivals Germany, their top midfielder Toni Kroos has completed 410 passes and compared to this weekends opponents Poland, Grzegorz Krychowiak has completed 224 passes both dwarfing Darron Gibson’s figure. The absence of top midfielder James McCarthy due to injury may reflect the poor passing stats but they are still very worrying. Harry Arter happens to be Bournemouth’s top passer with the highest amount of completed passes for his side in the Championship this season. Arter really seems to be the answer to all the Republic of Ireland’s midfield shortcomings.

The chances of Arter getting the nod on Sunday are short but the Bournemouth man can have a big impact for the Republic in the the rest of the qualifying campaign and beyond that.

Stats from:

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Is Sterling worth over 100k a week?

It has been headline news  when it comes to Raheem Sterling and his refusal to sign the contract Liverpool have offered him, believed to be £90,000 a week, instead Sterling wants almost double that, but is the 20 year old worth that kind of money?

There is very few 20 year olds in world football that warrant earning over £100,000 a week and there is some serious doubts as to whether Sterling is one of them. Sterling has been good this season but you wouldnt go as far as saying he has had a great season, in the Premier League he has 6 goals and 7 assists, a good return but nothing special, form that doesn't exactly warrant a huge contract like the one he is seeking.

Recently his form has dipped, with Sturridge getting back to full fitness his role as a striker looks to be over and he is now back to playing as an attacking midfielder or wing back as we saw on Sunday against United when he was particularly poor. Sterling has not scored since mid February when he netted against Southampton. The ongoing contract saga may be affecting his game and with it set to drag on it will only hinder him. His attitude recently has looked wrong and hasn't gone down well with the fans, at times he looks disinterested and it won't be long until the Anfield faithful completely turn on him if he keeps this poor form up.

Rodgers has previously labelled Sterling as the best young player in Europe and that is sure to be a negotiating method to get more money but is that statement true? Technically Sterling is a strong player but at times his end product lets him down and his poor crossing is never good for a winger. In a tight match when you need someone to step up you would rarely look to Sterling to turn the tide. There is no doubting he is a very good player but you almost feel he could turn out to be another Aaron Lennon, and in terms of saying he is the best young player in Europe, he isn't in the same bracket as Paul Pogba or Mario Gotze. You could even argue he's not the best young player in England with Harry Kane making a good claim for that title with his recent form.

Should Sterling continue to play hardball over this contract Liverpool may well have to consider letting him leave, there would be no shortage of clubs ready to take him but at this point in his career and based on his recent performances he just doesn't seem worth the money he feels he deserves.