This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.
This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.
Thierry Henry was of those few strikers who seemed to have an innate ability to score beautiful goals – and a lot of them.
Screamers from distance, brilliant curling finishes into the top corner or cheeky flicks and volleys, Henry could score them all.
Whether it was at Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona or even New York Red Bulls, the French forward always found a way to find the back of the net.
Of course, it was at Highbury and the Emirates Stadium where Henry was most prolific, though, scoring a club record 228 goals during his two spells at the club.
It must be impossible to remember each and every one of those strikes but with so many stunners, surely there are some that jump to mind above the others.
In the latest Arsenal Weekly podcast, the Gunners legend was asked to name his favourite goal for the club and he hasn’t let us down by picking an absolute pearler.
The ex-French international revealed that he still gets goosebumps when watching that magnificent solo goal vs Liverpool in 2004.
In case you have somehow managed to forget Henry’s favourite, you can relive it by watching the video below.
The way he leaves Didi Hamann for dead and embarrasses now Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher, before producing his trademark finish into the far corner is quite majestic.
But it was the way Highbury erupted which makes it so memorable in Henry’s eyes.
“There was one goal that was more than a goal. Not in terms of the game or the beauty of the goal or whatever that people usually talk about,” Henry said, as per ESPN.
“It’s the goal I scored against Liverpool when I scored the third one to make it 3-2. It’s the only time in my life that I felt a stadium breathing again.
“At the time, I remember scoring it and I felt it,” he said. “And we were talking about it in the dressing room. And whenever I see that goal I can still feel what happened that day in the stadium.”
In the first half last night, in the fixture against Leeds United, Lucas Piazon suffered a broken leg.
The Brazilian, on a season-long loan deal from our neighbours Chelsea, picked up the injury in a challenge with the Leeds United defender, Conor Shaughnessy.
For Piazon, who made 33 appearances whilst on loan at Craven Cottage last season, it means a long lay-off and here at Vital Fulham we`d like to send the 23-year-old our best wishes.
However, the tackle that caused the injury angered Slavisa Jokanovic who, at his press conference after the match, remarked,
‘We have probably lost Lucas Piazon because we believe it is a bad injury.
‘It’s not a question about complaining – it can be bad luck or a tackle outside of the normal – but I’m really disappointed with what I heard from one of the referees who explained: ‘This is English football and this is completely legal’.
‘I am a 48-year-old man and I’ve never heard an ugly answer like I heard in this stadium.’
The remark caused one journalist to ask for further clarification, prompting Slavisa to add,
‘I don’t see so well. I’m a little bit disappointed that I hear around me something so ugly.’
For Piazon, it is the second serious injury he has picked up whilst playing for Fulham, having broken his jaw in a fixture against Cardiff last season.
As we mentioned earlier we`d like to send our best wishes to the Brazilian and hope to see him back in our colours sometime soon.
When Cristiano Ronaldo reacted to being sent off by pushing the referee against Barcelona on Sunday, he must have known he was in deep trouble.
The Portuguese has been given a five-match ban for his behaviour which will see him miss the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Oh, and he was also fined €3,000 – not that he will care.
Ronaldo will miss four La Liga games during his time on the sidelines, which Zinedine Zidane will hope doesn’t have a negative impact.
Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, the Real Madrid manager said everyone at the club is “annoyed and upset” with the decision to ban Ronaldo for so long.
“I am annoyed. We are all annoyed and upset,” he said. “I’m not going to get involved with the referees but, after what happened, to think that he’ll not play for five games, makes you think that something isn’t right.
“It’s too long for him. I hope that when the [committee] meet, they look at it thoroughly.
“Everyone can have their opinion but Cristiano Ronaldo is upset because he wants to play and when he doesn’t play he’s not happy.
“I hope they’ve not got something against Ronaldo and people do their job with integrity. We’re upset that we are not going to have him with us for a long time. We’ll wait to see what happens.”
Real have appealed Ronaldo’s five-match ban, which the Spanish Football Federation will discuss when they meet on Wednesday morning.
In the mean time, Los Blancos will be gearing up for Wednesday night’s second leg against Barcelona at the Bernabeu.
The players trained as normal today and, despite not being able to play against Barca, Ronaldo showed he is very much focussed on the season ahead by scoring an absolute screamer.
In the video below, posted by the 32-year-old on Instagram, Ronaldo produced a few step-overs, beat Nacho and Toni Kroos, and then found the far-right corner with a thunderous strike. Check it out.
Ronaldo doesn’t post training videos very often, so it would appear even he was impressed with his goal, which he captioned: “🤔🤔🤔.”
Fans on Instagram likened his goal to the one he scored against Barcelona two days ago, where he cut inside past Gerard Pique and fired past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Ronaldo may be down, but he’s certainly not out.
Welsh winger Tom Lawrence has moved to Championship side Derby County from Leicester City for an undisclosed fee, the Premier League club have announced.
The 23-year-old, who joined Leicester from Manchester United in 2014, made four appearances for Leicester and spent time on loan at Rotherham United, Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff City and Ipswich Town. He has six caps for Wales.
No fee was disclosed but local media reported that Derby paid an initial £5 million for Lawrence, who scored 11 goals for Ipswich last season. The total value of the deal could rise to 7 million pounds, the reports said.
Leicester, who lost their Premier League opener 4-3 to Arsenal, host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
Brighton have broken their transfer record for the third time this summer after signing Colombian international Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge.
The Premier League newcomers announced the reported £13.5m deal for the 25 year old winger last week and have now confirmed they have been awarded a work permit.
Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim says striker Kylian Mbappe was left on the bench last weekend “to protect him” rather than as a punishment.
The 18-year-old reportedly wants away from the French champions, with Paris Saint-Germain his favoured destination but Real Madrid also reportedly ready to pay £160m.
Mbappe started Monaco’s first two competitive matches of the season but sat on the bench for the duration of the club’s 4-1 Ligue 1 victory at Dijon on Sunday.
Jardim said after that match that dropping Mbappe was a “decision by the club” but the Portuguese coach told media on Wednesday that it was not taken to punish the French international.
“We never punish our players. That is not the right word. ‘Protected’ is a better word. When so many things are happening around an 18-year-old kid, it is our responsibility to protect him,” said Jardim.
“That means me, Vadim [Vasilyev, the vice-president] and the sporting director [Antonio Cordon]. It is always to protect the squad, the player and the club.
“Kylian is not at 100 percent. He is not in great form. But that is to be expected of a kid who is just 18… Even you [journalists], if tomorrow another newspaper offers you a contract where you will earn 15 times more, you won’t be so good when it comes to tapping the keys on your computer keyboard.”
Mbappe, whose Monaco contract runs until June 2019, could again be left out when his side travel to Metz on league duty on Friday evening.
“The philosophy at AS Monaco is to play those who are at 100 percent and totally available to the squad,” said the coach, whose side have won their opening two Ligue 1 matches.
Borussia Dortmund winger Andre Schuerrle will miss the start of the Bundesliga season later this week after being ruled out for around a month with a thigh muscle injury, the German club said on Wednesday.
The 2014 World Cup winner has just returned from another injury layoff and played an hour after starting in Dortmund’s German Cup first round match against Rielasingen-Arlen on Saturday.
“He will have to take a break for about four weeks,” the club said in a statement.
It was not clear when the player was injured but he is also likely to be ruled out of selection for Germany’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic in Prague on September 1 and Norway in Stuttgart on September 4.
Dortmund, who finished third in the Bundesliga last season, have qualified for the Champions League group stage and open their domestic league campaign at VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.
But Belotti’s fee could be even higher after his latest contract included an £86m release clause for foreign clubs.
Belgium international Michy Batshuayi continues to look out of place spearheading the attack.
And Belotti could be just the man to help Conte bounce back from his transfer blues, with the Italian tactician unhappy with the club’s lack of spending.
In the 89th minute of the Spanish Super Cup final first-leg last Sunday night, Barcelona trailed 2-1. They pushed for an equaliser when their forward Luis Suarez coughed up possession outside Real Madrid’s box.
Real Madrid swept up field. The ball arrived at Marco Asensio’s feet on the left-hand wing about 40 yards from goal. Without breaking stride, he nudged the ball forward and then with his second touch he bombed the ball into the top-left hand corner of the net. Barcelona’s keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had been back peddling furiously, could only wave it into the net before landing on his backside.
The wonderstrike has effectively killed the tie. Barca—ravaged mentally by Neymar Jr.’s absconding to PSG—will have to overturn a two-goal deficit (and the cushion of three away goals) in the second leg at the Bernabeu. The irony is that, but for the vagaries of the transfer market, Asensio could well have been scoring at the other end of the Camp Nou for Barcelona. At a pivotal juncture in Asensio’s development, it was nailed on that he would join Barca.
Asensio’s story began on Mallorca when he was born on the island in January 1996, which is one of the Balearic Islands that sit off the coast of Catalonia in the Mediterranean. His Dutch mother christened him Marco after the famous Netherlands and Milan player, Marco van Basten. It was an inspired decision.
Asensio was only nine years old when he came to the attention of the football agent, Horacio Gaggioli, the man who was responsible for brokering Lionel Messi’s complicated move from Argentina to FC Barcelona during the winter of 2000-2001. Gaggioli, who lives in Barcelona, crossed over to the island to see Asensio play. He was smitten.
“I liked him a lot,” says Gaggioli, who has worked as Asensio’s agent since being introduced to him. “He was grandisimo, a great footballer. He was spectacular in every sense. He had things you could see would make him an important player, just like Messi.”
What impressed Gaggioli as much as Asensio’s athleticism was the young boy’s personality—people warm to him. “He’s a person that attracts other people to him,” says Gaggioli. “It’s a characteristic. There are only a few people who have this trait, and he has it.”
As Asensio rose through the ranks of Mallorca’s youth academy, graduating to the first team at only 17 years of age, his raw footballing talent created a buzz in football circles around Spain.
Phil Kitromilides, who works as a presenter for Real Madrid TV, remembers in particular watching Asensio run the length of the pitch in a match with Mallorca to set up a scoring chance. “It was so eye-catching that it made you excited,” he says. “It got you thinking, OK, this kid could be very, very good.”
At the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Asensio was earning €1,000 a month with Mallorca, and living at home with his brother, Igor, who was a police cadet, and their father, who worked in a supermarket, as per Marca. Asensio’s fortunes changed dramatically that winter. Asensio was coveted by Europe’s top football clubs. “All of them,” says Gaggioli.
Barca moved in to sign him. They bid €2.5 million for him (with an extra €2 million if he played in the first division). Mallorca insisted on €4.5 million up front. “Barca said, ‘No, we’re not able.’ They lost the opportunity,” says Gaggioli. “When they changed their mind after three months, it was too late.” Real Madrid had stepped into the breach.
According to Asensio in a Real Madrid TV documentary (h/t Marca), the tennis star Rafa Nadal, who is a rabid Real Madrid fan and a native of Mallorca, phoned the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, urging him to sign Asensio. Perez phoned Asensio, purring down the phoneline: “Relax, Marco, you’re going to be a Real Madrid player,” as per the TV documentary.
Perez was pushing an open door. Asensio has been a Real Madrid fan all his life. As a kid, he slept with a Real Madrid teddy bear. “His idol as a child was always Zinedine Zidane,” says Gaggioli. “He used to have a huge picture of him on his wall.”
Perez dispatched his private plane to pick up Asensio and his father in Mallorca. They were whisked to Madrid, given a tour of the Bernabeu and the club’s training facility, Valdebebas. A deal was inked. Real Madrid agreed to pay Mallorca €3.9 million, and allowed Mallorca to keep him until the end of the season. “The offer from Real Madrid for Asensio was 20 times better than Barcelona’s in every aspect, football-wise and financially,” says Gaggioli.
The Madrid press revelled in the coup. Marca’s front-page headline on 25 November 2014 announcing the signature read: “Goal against Barca”. “Barcelona were not quick enough,” says Aitor Lagunas, editor of the literary football magazine Panenka. “It was one of their biggest mistakes in recent years. There was such little difference in the payment. It was obvious that Marco Asensio was a different kind of player. It was another success for Real Madrid and another failure for Barcelona.”
Asensio was presented as a Real Madrid player on this day two years ago. In an emotional speech, he gave thanks to his father, brother, Gaggioli, and to his mother, who died from cancer in 2011: “My mother, who I know that from heaven is always supporting me,” he said, breaking into tears.
Asensio is the most prized of the current generation of coming Spanish stars, Saul Niguez and the slightly older Alvaro Morata and Isco among them. Early in his career, Asensio’s father, a proud Basque man, tried to entice Athletic Bilbao to sign his son, but the club refused, as it would have breached their strict rules on signing Basque-only players.
On the back of the debate, Lagunas ran a poll during the summer in which he asked his followers on Twitter who were supporters of Athletic Bilbao if they would favour changing their club’s recruitment policy to accommodate the sons and nephews of Basques on their team. A majority voted in favour of changing the rule.
“They were saying cases like Marco Asensio shouldn’t happen again,” says Lagunas. “The Twitter vote expressed how big an impact Marco Asensio is making at every level in Spain. If a really conservative fan group like Athletic Bilbao is considering changing their philosophy after more than a century mainly because of Asensio, it shows you he is a special player.”
Asensio’s directness is exhilarating. It’s something that Kitromilides stresses, drawing a comparison between Asensio and his Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale; although Bale is more about “physicality”, he adds, where as Asensio has a “silkiness” to his breakaways.
“When you describe a player as being ‘vertical’ in English,” says Kitromilides, “it doesn’t convey quite the same meaning that it does in Spanish. Asensio is vertical. He’s dynamic. He’s one of the best counter-attacking players in the world. Not only is he quick but he’s very good at dribbling very quickly with the ball as well. He seems to have an understanding of when to give a pass on the counter-attack. We saw it last season, when he scored goals by charging into space against defenders.”
Asensio also has an inner strength. He spent the 2015-2016 season on loan at Espanyol, amassing 10 assists in La Liga, as per www.whoscored.com, making him the youngest footballer in Europe’s five big leagues to reach double figures in that category, as per ESPN. The consistently good performances while playing for a struggling Espanyol side—which finished five points from the drop—came on the back of a “player of the tournament” display for Spain’s triumphant team at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
It meant expectations ran high. He has remained unfazed, however. At a press conference during his loan season with Espanyol, he was quizzed about the effect of pressure on him. “I think pressure is something that doesn’t exist,” he said matter-of-factly, as per his Real Madrid TV documentary.
His ability to score debut goals in competitions would bear out this sentiment. His uncanny knack of scoring them for Real Madrid—in the Uefa Super Cup, the Champions League (as well as his first Champions League final against Juventus), the Copa del Rey, La Liga, and last Sunday in the Spanish Super Cup.
Last season was a breakout year for Asensio. This season, which culminates with a World Cup in Russia, promises even more. On the domestic front, when B/R puts it to Kitromilides that Asensio might keep Bale out of the Real Madrid side, he says the question is framed incorrectly.
“He’ll keep many players out of the team not just Bale,” says Kitromilides. “The way the Real Madrid style and squad has evolved, if Asensio comes in, he can come in for Ronaldo, Bale or Karim Benzema. They would adapt the formation of how they play. I don’t think it’s necessarily him keeping out Gareth Bale specifically. It will be him being in the team so someone else isn’t in it.”
Liverpool are on the verge of finalising a deal for highly-rated Nice star Jean Michael Seri, according to reports in France.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have turned to Seri after failing to land RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita, whom they had two bids – the second for £66million – rejected by the Bundesliga club.
Seri, who has been heavily linked with Arsenal and Tottenham this summer, is by no means a step down however after the midfielder enjoyed a brilliant season with Nice in Ligue 1.
The midfielder has two years left to run on his contract, which contains a £36.4m (€40m) release clause.
However, French media reports claim Nice will not prevent Seri from moving to a big club and have struck a €22.5m (£20million) fee with the Reds.
They claim a deal is close to being agreed and the player will become the club’s second major arrival after Mohamed Salah this month.
The Guardian reported earlier this week that Seri, who has also been scouted by Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona was watched by Liverpool scouts on Friday during their clash with Troyes.
They will have seen Seri – described as an all action creative midfielder – make eight chances for his teammates during that 2-1 defeat.
Any deal for Seri will be a real coup for Jurgen Klopp’s men, but the signing will not necessarily mean the end of their interest in Keita, whose £49million exit clause will come into effect next summer.
Seri is an Ivory Coast international and joined Nice from Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira for a minimal fee back in 2015. He has played 72 times for the club, scoring 10 goals.