WAG of the Week: Irina Shayk


Irina is one of Europe’s leading models today. Image: Splash News

Age: 26

What she does: Model, TV presenter

Other half: Cristiano Ronaldo, 27 (Real Madrid CF and Portugal)

Born Irena Shaykhlislamova, the Russian model is one of the more popular working models around today, having fronted campaigns for Guess, Victoria’s Secret, Lacoste and Armani Exchange. She has appeared on several magazine covers such as Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Esquire and Elle. Irina gained widespread recognition in 2011 when she made the the cover of the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

She is most well-known for her relationship with football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and have been dating since 2010, after meeting through their Armani Exchange campaigns.

Transfer Deadline Day 2012: Full List of Transfers


As the dust settles following the end of the annual shopping season for Premier League clubs, I reveal the players they’ve disposed of and the ones they are stuck with, at least until January 2013:

Charlie Adam               [Liverpool – Stoke] £5m

Efe Ambrose                [Ashdod – Celtic] Undisclosed

Joey Barton                 [QPR – Marseille] Loan

Yossi Benayoun          [Chelsea – West Ham] Loan

Nicklas Bendtner        [Arsenal – Juventus] Loan

Dimitar Berbatov       [Manchester United – Fulham] Undisclosed

George Brislen-Hall   [Arsenal – Inverness] Free

Carlos Bocanegra       [Rangers – Racing Santander] Loan

Jay Bothroyd               [QPR – Sheffield Wednesday] Loan

Jordan Bowery            [Chesterfield – Aston Villa] £500,000

Dedryck Boyata           [Manchester City – Twente] Loan

Nigel de Jong                [Manchester City – AC Milan] Undisclosed

Clint Dempsey              [Fulham – Tottenham] £6m

Giovani Dos Santos    [Tottenham – Real Mallorca] Undisclosed

Nathan Eccleston        [Liverpool – Blackpool] Undisclosed

Michael Essien              [Chelsea – Real Madrid] Loan

George Francomb        [Norwich – AFC Wimbledon] Loan

Javi Garcia                      [Benfica – Manchester City] £16m

Adam Hammill              [Wolves – Huddersfield] Loan

Pablo Hernandez          [Valencia – Swansea] £5.55m

Gael Kakuta                     [Chelsea – Vitesse Arnhem] Loan

Harry Kane                      [Tottenham – Norwich City] Loan

Dave Kitson                     [Portsmouth – Sheffield United] Free

Hugo Lloris                      [Lyon – Tottenham] £11.8m

Sam Magri                        [Portsmouth – QPR] Free

Maicon                              [Inter Milan – Manchester City] Undisclosed

Nicky Maynard              [West Ham – Cardiff] £2.5m

Stephane Mbia               [Marseille – QPR] Undisclosed

Matija Nastasic              [Fiorentina – Manchester City] £10m

Steven Nzonzi                [Blackburn – Stoke] 3.5m

Andrea Orlandi             [Swansea – Brighton] Undisclosed

Bryan Oviedo                 [FC Copenhagen – Everton] £5m

Park Chu-Young           [Arsenal – Celta Vigo] Loan

Goran Popov                  [Dynamo Kiev – West Brom] Loan

Gaston Ramirez            [Bologna – Southampton] Undisclosed

Kieran Richardson      [Sunderland – Fulham] £2m

Phillip Roberts              [Arsenal – Inverness] Loan

Danny Rose                    [Tottenham – Sunderland] Loan

Roque Santa Cruz         [Manchester City – Malaga] Loan

Stefan Savic                    [Manchester City – Fiorentina] Exchange

Billy Sharp                      [Southampton – Nottingham Forest] Loan

Scott Sinclair                 [Swansea – Manchester City] £6.2m

Jay Spearing                  [Liverpool – Bolton] Loan

Rafael van der Vaart  [Tottenham – Hamburg] £10m

Richard Wright             [Unattached – Manchester City]

Ashley Westwood        [Crewe – Aston Villa] Undisclosed

For the complete list of Premier League transfers through the duration of the transfer window, click here. (courtesy of BBC Sport)

Which buys are potential bargains and which are looking to be money gone down the drain? Only time will tell as the season goes on, but what are your thoughts so far?

Happy Birthday Thierry!


My favourite football player of all time, the legendary Thierry Henry, celebrates his 35th birthday today! He still looks great, doesn’t he?

Looking dapper in a suit and cool and casual in red. Images: kickette.com

As a tribute I’m taking a short walk down memory lane and revisiting Thierry’s career so far. Enjoy!

As a not-so-fresh-faced teenager at Monaco. Image: figobay.wordpress.com

At Juventus in 1999 and a couple of years away from superstardom. Image: world-soccerstar.blogspot.com

His first stint at Arsenal was the most successful in his career, including winning a double in 2002. Image: The Mirror

At Barcelona he finally won the coveted UEFA Champions League in 2009. Image: zimbio.com

Henry became France’s all-time top goal scorer with 51 goals in 123 appearances. Image: Sky Sports

Henry has been with the New York Red Bulls since 2010. Image: newyorkredbulls.com

 

Scoring against Leeds United in his two-month long return to Arsenal in 2012. Image: football-talk.co.uk

 

Another Star Player, Another Club Captain Sold. SMH.


So early yesterday evening both Arsenal and Manchester United confirmed on their official websites that they have agreed a deal for Robin Van Persie in the region of £24m subject to a medical. It came as no real surprise. Football fans knew a move was inevitable when the striker stated in July that he would not renew his contract with the club. Man United was among three clubs that were actively seeking his services.

I made no previous comments at the risk of sounding subjective. Most people who know me know I am a huge fan of football, and of Arsenal to be precise, supporting the club since 2001. But now that this deal has come to light, I feel very much obligated to air my own views, however insignificant they may be.

For me, the entire situation can be looked at in two ways. Firstly, I am disappointed in Robin Van Persie. I believe he has to an extent betrayed Arsenal, ignored the fact that the club stood by him through not just the other six injury-laden seasons, but through one of the toughest times in his life when he had been accused, and eventually cleared, of sexually assaulting a Dutch beauty queen in 2005, a scandal that would have effectively destroyed his contract at any other club. Each season Van Persie would go off on international duty and return in pieces every time, but Arsene Wenger dispatched the medical team without blinking and continued to voice his belief in the Dutchman and his talent. Van Persie may be leaving with the aim of winning trophies but he seems to have forgotten, or maybe just ignored the fact that he was a part of each of the squads that failed to deliver any silverware for the club in the past seven seasons. He’s forgotten that the 2011-2012 season was his very first injury-free season in an Arsenal shirt. Despite all of this, Robin took to his website to virtually lambast the manager, the Board of Directors (particularly Ivan Gazidis) and the direction in which the club is going (I didn’t know that was part of the captain’s job description :-|). Whether the statement was made in the heat of the moment or not following a torrid Euro 2012 campaign, I will never know, nor should I really care, but it has led to his imminent departure, leaving 132 goals behind at the Emirates.

Secondly, and more importantly, I am disappointed in Arsenal Football Club. They have been without a trophy for the past seven years and have allowed themselves to drop down the title challenge pecking order with the arrivals, seemingly from nowhere, of moneybags Chelsea and current champions Man City. But they still let their star players leave without adequate replacements. Last season it took an 8-2 massacre (a score-line that will haunt me for the rest of my life) by this same Man United for the Board to finally delve into the transfer market. As if already aware of Van Persie’s desire to leave, they went shopping earlier this time and grabbed two strikers in Ligue 1’s Olivier Giroud and the experienced Lukas Podolski, as well as Santi Carzola. I would have personally preferred if we’d bought Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo, but you can’t always get what you want. Either way, we’ll see how they work out as the season begins in two days’ time.

My twitter timeline last night following the news was on fire; Arsenal fans lamenting and ranting, United fans making fun of the Arsenal fans lamenting and ranting. I watched it all partly in amusement, partly disillusioned, wondering when Arsenal Football Club became the butt of the jokes, the punchlines; wondering why this once-great club has found it so necessary to sell their immediate best players to survive. Yes, the recession that has plagued the global economy for the past four years has also affected the football industry, but you don’t see the likes of Man United (not since Cristiano at least), Chelsea or even Barcelona letting go of their best players at any price (Sir Alex groveled at Wayne Rooney’s feet a couple of years ago to positive results). Arsenal has been at it every year since 2005, which was, ironically, the last time they won anything. And not just selling to anyone, but to clubs that are direct obstacles to any chance of winning a trophy, clubs that are already stronger financially and personnel-wise than Arsenal; clubs that have since stopped regarding Arsenal Football Club as a rival. I cannot stress it enough that the profits made by selling these players mean very little to the fans. Finishing in the top four is not in any way silverware or equivalent to silverware. It never has been and it never will be. Even after qualifying for the Champions League they get thrown out in the last 16 or quarter-final stage. Of what use is that? This new approach by the Arsenal Board is unacceptable and maybe even dangerous, and why they have failed to realize that is beyond me.

I think fans complaining about Robin ruining his Arsenal legacy are being a little dramatic to be honest. To most football players these days, what they do is nothing more than a 9 to 5 job, a means of taking care of themselves and securing their families’ futures. Robin’s family is young and he himself is on the very wrong side of 20. Are you telling me you wouldn’t jump at the chance to switch to a higher salary, better benefits and higher recognition at that age? I’m not ashamed to admit that I would, and you would too. Yes you would. Denying it is futile. At the same time, the manner in which he decided to leave the club; the statement, the patronizing manner in which he addressed the fans as “you guys” in said statement; the club he ultimately decided to join (it’s been rumored that his preferred choice was Juventus, but does that matter anymore?) will definitely leave a sour taste in the fans’ mouths. Understandably, there will be bitterness, hatred and vilification for a long time from the Arsenal fans. No doubt they will be on Van Persie’s back at Old Trafford on November 3rd and at the Emirates on April 27th 2013. But let’s face it, guys: in today’s football, loyalty is just a tedious, cock-blocking seven-letter word. The mercenary way is the way forward.

Whoever wants to leave the club can go (yes, this is a sub at Alex Song). When it comes down to it, no club should let itself be dictated by one single player, no matter how talented or important they are to the squad. But as a big fan of this club I am leaving the ball in Arsenal’s court, urging the team and the manager to finally prove all these departing players wrong. They have no choice but to hit the ground running this season, and doing all they can to maintain that momentum and see it through to the end of the season. Personally, the “The last time Arsenal won a trophy” jibes are doing my head in. And yeah, keep the armband away from Thomas Vermaelen. I’m beginning to believe that the captaincy is jinxed.

The only positive note I’ve taken from this year’s annual Arsenal summer transfer saga is that it at least ended early this time. A whopping two weeks ahead too. Thank God.

WAG of the Week: Sylvie Van Der Vaart


At Berlin’s Fashion Week in July. Image: Getty Images

Age: 34

What she does: Model, TV presenter

Spouse: Rafael Van Der Vaart, 29 (Holland and Tottenham Hotspur FC)

The Dutch model and mother-of-one married the Spurs striker in 2005. The Dutch media have described the couple as the “new Beckhams” but both of them denied the claims, preferring to just “live a normal life”. She battled breast cancer in 2009 (Rafael’s club at the time, Real Madrid, had wanted to sell him, but the player decided to stay in Madrid because she was undergoing cancer treatment there) and came out on top. Three years later she looks as fabulous as ever.

Image: Solarpix.com

A hottie for a hubby: Sylvie with husband of seven years, Rafael. Image: Press Association Images

FOUND THE VIDEO!


As promised, I got the video of the Arsenal men dancing with Kaffy at the Malta Guinness Low Sugar Workout in Lagos.

I must say I underestimated Per Mertesacker. Lukas Podolski, on the other hand…

(courtesy: fatfat325 on YouTube)

Mertesacker does the Azonto (I think :S)


Lukas Podolski, Bacary Sagna and Per Mertesacker are in Lagos, Nigeria at the mo. Yesterday they were at Eko Hotel in Victoria Island (sooooo sad I couldn’t go :( ) for the Malta Guinness Low Sugar Workout. As part of said workout, the boys had a little dance session with renowned dance star Kaffy. If the pics are anything to go by, I NEED to see the video. I’ll look for that and post it.

What do you guys think? Send me some comments. Meanwhile I’m dying here! Mertesacker is killing me! LOL!

(all photos courtesy of Arsenal.com)

Tears for Becks at Adidas Fans’ Photoshoot


Lucky Team GB fans at Westfield Stratford City were given a big surprise when David Beckham appeared at their Adidas photobooth. The looks on their faces are absolutely priceless.

(Courtesy: adidas on YouTube)

Thomas Vermaelen: Shaolin Warrior


Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen transforms into a Shaolin warrior in this clip promoting his club’s upcoming tour of Asia.

It turns out that the idea for the ad came from the Asian fans themselves, as seen in this behind-the-scenes footage:

(courtesy: Arsenal FC on YouTube)

A day at the barbershop with Mario


I kick off my triple video bumper with a clip featuring none other than Man City striker Mario Balotelli.

In this Nike commercial the Italian gets a haircut at the Nike barbershop. There are a couple of interesting hairstyles he tries out…

(courtesy: Nike Football on YouTube)

WAG of the Week: Ludivine Sagna


I start off my first-ever WAG of the Week with the beautiful Ludivine Sagna, wife of Arsenal full-back Bacary and mother of his two tots.

Arsenal’s shirt has never looked so good. Image: Twitter @ludivinesagna

Image: Goal.com

Image: Optic Photos/The Daily Mail

My Euro 2012 Round-Up


Euro 2012 has sadly come to an end, and while we’re forced to wait another month for competitive football to recommence (no, the Olympics does not count), I’m taking a look back at the tournament that I have dubbed as “The Rise of the False Nine”, the unorthodox tactic which the Spanish national team put to effective use en route to their historic victory on July 1st in Kiev, Ukraine.

From the players, the goals and the fans to the goal celebrations, Euro 2012 wasn’t short of memorable highlights, and here are some of mine:

Show-Stealer (On-Field)

WINNER: ANDREA PIRLO (ITA)

The footballing world has always been familiar with the prowess of this 33-year-old veteran, but never has it been more apparent than at Poland and Ukraine. With the absence of fellow midfield stalwarts Gennaro Gattuso and Mauro Camoranesi, the usually understated and often underrated Pirlo became the outfield leader and driving force of the Italian team. He took the midfield for his own, highlighting his sublime performances with an outstanding free-kick against Croatia and that penalty against England. I am yet to meet a football fan that doesn’t think highly of Andrea Pirlo. I probably never will. You just can’t hate on class.

Image: Getty Images

2nd Place: Jordi Alba (ESP)

The former Valencia left-back was undoubtedly the breakout star of the tournament. His frequent bursts down the left flank made him yet another attacking threat to contend with in an already vast array of  attack-minded players, and was rewarded with a goal of his own in the Final. At 23, he is certainly one for the future. What’s even scarier is that he has just recently signed a long-term contract with Barcelona, so expect to see a lot of Alba-assisted Messi goals in the upcoming La Liga season. Be afraid, Europe. Be very afraid.

Image: Martin Rose/Getty Images Europe

Image: Martin Rose/Getty Images Europe

3rd Place: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)

The second-best player in the world had a relatively slow start to the tournament but he recovered just in time to single-handedly dispatch Holland in the groups and Czech Republic in the quarters. However there was nothing he could do about the semi-final penalty shoot-out loss to Spain, as the matter was settled before he even got to the 12-yard box. He also made a few waves in the style stakes (of course), debuting his Clark Kent-esque hairstyle in the group match vs. Holland.

Images: Getty Images

Images: Getty Images

Show-Stealer (Off-the-Field)

WINNER: MARIO BALOTELLI (ITA)

Well, he did steal the show on the pitch with his performance against Germany, but the 21-year-old daddy-to-be made quite a number of headlines off it, varying from being transformed to a cabbage-picking immigrant worker and having to have his mouth covered during a goal celebration to catching the Can’t-Be-Bovvered syndrome during training sessions with the team. The Balotelli Show had resumed its regular programming.

But his excellent goal against Ireland, followed by a fantastic brace against a much-fancied German team catapulted him into contention for the Player of the Tournament award and even the Golden Boot. He may have been on the losing end in the Final but Super Mario is one of the players that emerged from Euro 2012 with an elevated profile.

2nd Place: Samir Nasri (FRA)

Tipped as the Dark Horses of the tournament, the French national team seemed to be on course to fulfill their true potential and put the horrors of South Africa 2010 behind them, but that ghost reared its ugly head again when reports of in-fighting among players and the coach surfaced, and fingers were pointed firmly at the Manchester City player. An expletive-laden row with a journalist following Les Bleus’ defeat to Spain in the quarterfinals and subsequent fines by the French Football Federation overshadowed an impressive individual performance by Nasri.

Image: The Mirror UK

3rd Place: UEFA

Like Nasri, negative headlines embodied the bronze medal for show-stealer. Europe’s governing body of football displayed what was widely perceived as misplaced priorities with the Nicklas Bendtner fine, which was rather steep compared to what UEFA was handing out to countries and football clubs for acts of racism and violence. There was also concern about Ukraine and Poland being given the tournament to host in the first place considering both countries’ notoriety for racist behaviour.

Best Photo: Andres Iniesta (ESP) (v Italy, Matchday 1)

Image: blogs.thescore.com

Image: blogs.thescore.com

Is this pic cool as heck or what? This was probably the reason he got Player of the Tournament.

OMG Moment: Pirlo’s “Panenka” (v England, Quarterfinal 4)

Image: The Sun (UK)

Most Iconic Moment: Balotelli’s  goal celebration for 2nd goal (v Germany, Semifinal 2).

I knew from the moment he struck this pose that the Photoshoppers would be all over the photos in the blink of an eye. I wasn’t wrong.

Image: Reuters

Goal of the Tournament:

WINNER: ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (SWE) (v France, Matchday 3)

Image: Getty Images

2nd Place:  Mario Balotelli (ITA) (2nd goal v Germany, Semifinal 2)

3rd Place: Danny Welbeck (ENG) (v Sweden, Matchday 2)

The “What Else Is New?” moment: The Three Lions getting knocked out on penalties (v Italy, Quarterfinal 4)

I know a good babalawo, Mr. Hodgson…

Image: The Mirror (UK)

WTF Moment:

WINNER: Arjen Robben (NED) jumps over advertisement boards during substitution

With his country railing 2-1 against Germany and their tournament seemingly over with a game to spare, Arjen Robben did nothing to ease the fans’ despair by jumping over the advertisement boards at the other end of the pitch when substituted. We understand that maybe the road was far, but you could have least walked if you were so tired. Ripping off the shirt petulantly capped off his mini-tantrum with a flourish.

2nd Place:  The Thunderstorm in Ukraine (Matchday 4)

A spectacular thunderstorm stopped the Ukraine v. France match just over four minutes after kick-off. Lightning and intense rain stalled the match for 58 more minutes. It was scarier than I’m making it sound, trust me.

3rd Place: The Horrible Pre-match Countdowns

Was I the only one who thought those countdowns before every kick-off was just a tad tacky? Blech!

Surprise of the Tournament: Fernando Torres (ESP)

Dude played a match-and-a-half all tournament and still won the Golden Boot! Say what?!?! Didier Drogba’s “jazz” has truly been lifted.

Image: Getty Images

Most Controversial Moment:

WINNER: Nicklas Bendtner (DEN)‘s Unlucky Underwear

Denmark and Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner was fined 100,000 Euros (£80,000) and banned by UEFA for one competitive game for celebrating his goal against Portugal by revealing Paddy Power underwear. Players advertising on the field is against UEFA ruling. The real controversy is the paltry fines handed out for acts of violence and racism by fans in comparison. Shame on you, UEFA.

Image: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

2nd Place: Ukraine v England: The Goal That Never Was (Matchday 3)

Ukraine had an equalizing goal ruled out by the referee in their final group game match against England, sparking yet another round of talk about introducing goal-line technology. One question from me, though: was the goal-line referee blind???

3rd Place: Rio Ferdinand’s omission from the Three Lions squad: Before every tournament there’s always some sort of drama surrounding the perennial media circus that is the England national team. This time it was all about Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand being left out. Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard get injured right before the tournament and who does Roy Hodgson recruit? Jordan Henderson and Martin Kelly. According to Hodgson Rio was not chosen for “footballing reasons”. Well, Rio would probably like to know that because of those “footballing reasons”, Jordan Henderson has played more minutes than he has at a Euro tournament. Salt, meet wound.

AND FINALLY…

Mizz4Four2’s Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament (4-4-1-1) (Tough decision, and sorry, no false nine from me)

Goalkeeper: Casillas (ESP)

Defenders: Debuchy (FRA), Pepe (POR), Ramos (ESP), Alba (ESP)

Midfielders: Alonso (ESP), Pirlo (ITA), Khedira (GER), Gerrard (ENG)

Strikers: Ronaldo (POR), Balotelli (ITA)

Bring on the League season now! I’m bored already! :(

New Post: The Greatest Goal Ever?


Did we bear witness to the greatest goal ever scored at last night’s friendly match between Sweden and England?

In my opinion, and as a long-time passenger on the Zlatan Bandwagon, yes.

Swedish/Bosnian hottie Ibracadabra’s fourth goal was the best I’ve ever seen, and it was probably the best individual performance I’ve seen from him in his career.

All four goals were brilliant, really, but the best was definitely saved for last.

Awesome.

Watch the highlights here.

Ibracadabra: A Night To Remember

Pic of the Day: John Obi Mikel ‘sings’ the Blues


Sunday’s match between Chelsea and Manchester United had its fair share of controversies, and I found a photo taken from the game between the two figures at the centre of one of those ongoing controversies. But all I’m trying to figure out is…

What song was Obi Mikel singing?

20121030-160134.jpg

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