Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2013 Contents A54
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 15, 2013
Just when the Premier League
thought it had seen the last of
Nicolas Anelka, up he pops at
The former France striker s
whistle-stop tour of English top-
flight clubs has taken him to the
Hawthorns, joining on a free trans-
fer in July after ending his miser-
able stint at Chinese side Shanghai
Shenhua---part of which he spent
on loan at Juventus in the second
half of last season.
Anelka is 34 and in the twilight
of his career, but he has shown
during pre-season that he still
retains the goal-scoring touch he
showed at Arsenal, Liverpool,
Manchester City, Bolton and
His goal against Bologna on Sat-
urday took him to seven in seven
friendlies and he could be one of
the shrewdest purchases of the
Who'll step up
to replace Lukaku?
It s a good job Anelka is in good
form in front of goal because West
Brom has lost its top scorer---and
arguably best player---from last
season, Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgium striker has returned
to Chelsea after a season-long loan
spell with West Brom where he
netted 17 league goals, including
three as a second-half substitute
in the final-weekend 5-5 draw
against Manchester United.
Aside from Anelka, West Brom
manager Steve Clarke has Shane
Long, Markus Rosenberg, Peter
Odemwingie and newly signed
loan recruit Matej Vydra so he isn t
short of options up front. All are
established internationals---not a
bad forward line for a mid-table
The Odemwingie dilemma
The Nigeria striker has been try-
ing to leave West Brom since Jan-
uary, but he looks like starting the
new season at the club--- albeit
with little chance of getting any
first-team action. In one of the
most bizarre incidents of last sea-
son, Odemwingie drove from the
Hawthorns to Queens Park
Rangers on transfer deadline day
in January in a bid to force through
He was filmed parked up near
the gates, denied access to QPR s
ground after West Brom refused
to negotiate. Weeks earlier, he had
already gone on Twitter to voice
his unhappiness. He played a bit-
part role until the end of the season
and has been linked with a move
away this summer, with QPR and
Dubai side Al Nasr showing an
interest. Odemwingie is a proven
goalscorer, though. Should he and
Clarke kiss and make up, he can
still be a real asset.
Clarke comes into his
own as a manager
Steve Clarke has always been
thought of as a managerial No 2,
assisting big names such as Jose
Mourinho at Chelsea, Kenny
Dalglish at Liverpool and Ruud
Gullit at Newcastle.
Many, therefore, wondered how
he would get on after deciding to
go it alone at West Brom---replac-
ing Roy Hodgson following his
appointment as England manager.
Well, so far so good. In his first
season in charge, the team placed
8th---its highest ever finish in the
A gritty Scot in the mold of Alex
Ferguson and David Moyes, Clarke
has respect from his peers and
something about him that suggests
he could go far as a manager in
his own right. It s a big second
season in charge as he looks to
prove last year was no one-off.
Lugano looks to
shore up defence
West Brom had the leakiest
defense among the teams who fin-
ished in the top half of the stand-
ings last season, perhaps explaining
why Clarke signed Uruguay captain
Diego Lugano less than two weeks
before the start of the season.
The lion-hearted center back
remains a regular for his coun-
try---he played and scored in this
summer s Confederations Cup---
but hasn t had the best of times
in his club career since joining
Paris Saint-Germain in 2011.
He featured fleetingly at the
French club, so much so that he
was loaned out to Malaga for the
second half of last season.
His strength, experience and
reading of the game are his best
qualities and he is likely to replace
Gareth McAuley, becoming Swe-
den center back Jonas Olsson s
partner for the new campaign.
West Bromwich Albion's Nicolas Anelka in action during the pre-season
friendly match between West Bromwich and Bologna FC at The
Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, Saturday. AP PHOTO
FOCUS ON ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Anelka pops up
at West Brom
Manager Michael Laudrup broke
Swansea s transfer record to sign Ivory
Coast international Wilfried Bony
from Vitesse Arnhem for 12 million
pounds ($18.5 million) as he prepares
his side for football in the Europa
League this season.
Bony enjoyed a prolific campaign
with Vitesse last season, scoring 36
goals in 36 games. Laudrup will hope
he can form a strike partnership with
Michu to help maintain Swansea s push
for honors in four competitions.
Strength in depth
Laudrup also strengthened the
defence and midfield. Jonjo Shelvey
signed for the Welsh club from Liver-
pool and will look to develop his poten-
tial with more playing time in midfield.
Winger Jonathan de Guzman has
returned on loan for a second season
from Villareal and defensive midfielder
Jose Canas joined from Real Betis, as
did Alejandro Pozuelo.
Laudrup has also brought in Jordi
Amat from Espanyol to provide another
option in the center of defense.
Europa league outsiders?
Swansea is competing in Europe for
the first time in its history but might
be viewed as a team capable of reaching
the latter stages of the Europa League.
There is not much experience of
European football in its ranks but its
high tempo passing style is difficult to
Swansea proved tough opponents
for any side in the Premier League last
season, as evidenced by its 2-0 triumph
While its squad is new to Europe,
its manager is not; Laudrup played for
Barcelona and Juventus, has managed
Spartak Moscow and Real Mallorca and
is widely respected across the conti-
It's a world cup year
Swansea s side is littered with players
who are on the cusp of making their
respective national sides. Should the
side enjoy another successful season,
it may receive an international call-up
in time for the 2014 World Cup.
English midfielder Leon Britton has
a reputation as one of the most accurate
passers in the league and made 44
appearances last season.
Winger Nathan Dyer also impressed,
scoring twice in Swansea s League Cup
final victory but faces competition from
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal
and Ashley Young of Manchester Unit-
ed to make the England squad. Michu
will hope another prolific season means
he breaks into the Spain side.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque
tracked his progress last season, when
he scored 22 goals, but was never called
into the team.
Tough start to the season
The new season will be a time for
optimism for Swansea fans but the
team has a tough start.
It opens its campaign against league
champion Manchester United before
facing Tottenham, Liverpool and Arse-
nal in its next five games.
It will be a busy start to the season
too; Swansea has a Europa League qual-
ifying fixture against Petrolul Ploiesti
to play over two legs in August but
Laudrup will be aware that starting
well against the league s tougher sides
will give his team a lot of confidence.
Swansea's Wilfried Bony celebrates scoring against Malmo during the Europa
League qualifier soccer match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales, Thursday.
Bony to beef things
up at Swansea
Links Archive August 14th 2013 August 16th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page