Paul Merson, never missing out on his first love and his current and healthy addiction

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Paul Merson is a man with real commitment to football and in his latest book and well written story about a man and his problems, you get the knowledge of what addiction can be also in the wrong direction.

He has been around at Sky Sports since the start of this century being a pundit who shines as an indivudal and often his comments makes a debate or a laugh as you get a balance in the studio with other pundits being in another mood or fase.

We all knew his ability on the field and how good he was for Arsenal during his days playing alongside great players of his era doing twelve seasons with The Gunners before starting his travel to other clubs.

Merson played a vital part in the teams of George Graham winning the league in 1989 and 1991, and later also doing well in the time of the early years of Arsene Wenger.

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The man himself is a riddle and opening up about gambling, drinking and using other substances might be an old story and well known, but again always good with a reminder as many do struggle with different aspects of mental health issues.

Paul Merson, as we know him from the football field, he was a grand player, a special talent and as so many others of his generation we do see a different approach today, but as we all know, we do love to see those players that stands out for different reasons and are not main stream.

After leaving Arsenal, Merson moved to Middlesbrough and as he describes it himself, probably not the best of places, with a certain Paul Gascoigne also at this football club at the time. The stories of the two might have stopped others as they both have suffered from the life they lived and struggled with.

After a short stay up north, Merson moved to Aston Villa were he had a number of good years and just before played for England in the 1998 World Cup, probably forgotten by most that he scored in the penalty shoot outs as other were missing their target.

During his four years at Aston Villa, described by himself to be his best years in the game, he has fond memories of his last final at Wembley playing in that millennium year of the FA Cup final. Despite losing 1-0 to Chelsea, still very special as it was his only final for The Villa.

After his time with Aston Villa he made a move down south to help Portsmouth winning promotion to the top flight and at the age of 35 taking charge of Walsall becoming their player manager. His time with The Saddlers never really became any success though avoiding relegation from League One might have been a bigger achievment than valued, and he can proudly say that he was never relegated as a EFL manager and there after moving away from the trade of football management with a short period at Non-League club Tamworth.

He has also over the years played in a number of games of charity and such, always seen with a smile on his face as he still show his skills even at the age of above fifty.

Many of us watching Sky Sports do still remember his good days in football and hopefully he will continue to talk of the game as he continues to make his reports and comments on Premier League.

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When Sheriff came to Madrid, a Real awakening, who are the surprise of Europe

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FC Sheriff Tiraspol is the full name of the club few would give any chance or hope to get through the steps to get into the final stages of Champions Leauge action this season, but even with that seen as a massive struggle a result like the one accomplished against Real Madrid will for always be seen as history.

The two goalscorers in the game for FC Sheriff were Jasurbek Yakhshiboev and Sebastien Thill, not really household names among football writers and pundits. Yakhshiboev is on loan from Legia Warsaw, playing internationally for Uzbekistan, and with little or no special grand history in the game. The 24 year old forward scored his goal after 25 minutes. Thill is also on loan, coming from Luxembourg club Progres Niederkorn. Both players are making their mark in international football as well as on the European stage.

To be able to qualify for Champions League action is something few manage with FC Sheriff a grand holder of many Championship seasons behind them in their own domestic league, and to have vital experience from winning football games is a key to further progress in Europe.

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They are also playing out of a system that is well known and used as a grand formula for possible fantastic results as their 4-2-3-1 approach can be difficult to handle with a domination and good marking in the central midfield area.

Another key is of course the players that need a certain experience as well. Goalkeeper on the day was also a player brought in on loan from AEK Athens. Giorgos Athanasiadis (28) has also played for Panathinaikos and do have that key European experience.

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Their captain is Frank Castaneda. A Columbian forward with a past at Slovakian club Senica. He has an impressive tally of goals with 31 goals in 43 appearances in the domestic league. Another player arriving from Senica is Edmund Addo, born in Ghana and also among the best performers v. Real Madrid.

Greece international Dimitris Kolovos is another player to watch as he arrived first on loan from Panathinaikos and later being seeing his full move completed. Kolovos has so far scored 12 goals in 25 games for FC Sheriff.

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Moldovan players are few in the squad and in the game in Madrid four were on the bench without getting on. Maxim and Serafim Cojocari, Celeadnic and Pascenco were all sitting the game out.

The talent of flank man Adama Traore is also there and he made his contribution in Madrid, being vital with an assist to Thill for his goal and also being a treath at other times in the game.

With this win FC Sheriff are current leaders of the group also defeating Shakhtar Donetsk in their first game at home, winning 2-0. To get into the group stages they also won their battles against quality opponents such as Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb.

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Still early days in their home league with three games in hand they are currently third, but still very much in reach with the leaders, Milsami.

FC Sheriff do depend on foreign import but that is also a fact at most clubs in Europe at the moment getting results with grand and special scouting, so we have probably not seen the last of FC Sheriff and their surprising lift in top flight football.

Their manager is Ukranian Yuriy Vernydub, who arrived at the club from Belarus football and previously been in charge of Ukrainian top club Zorya Luhansk for eight years. He is a well known football personality in the east of Europe.


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OGS and his great hope for Man Utd, up’s and down’s, Ronaldo with that special important edge

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So far no one can ask anymore from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as his critics did start to fly after their recent defeats in Premier League and Europe, but a certain Cristiano Ronaldo makes the difference and his presence will of course be a key to a new and hopefully successful season at Old Trafford.

Few or no one with a football knowledge knows that bringing trophies to the table is difficult as Villareal did defeat Man Utd in the Europa League, Chelsea winning Champions League and Leicester bringing home the FA Cup, that edge is so vital and it will win you trophies.

OGS has no experience from winning major trophies as a manager, but during his years with Molde he managed to bring success to a club that had no previous past of a tradition of winning trophies season in and season out, so that would be something to take into the consideration before you judge him on his three latest performances, before yesterdays vital CL win v. Villareal.

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The problem for OGS has been to fix that final goal that seals the deal and at his club at the moment you have very few players with that experience, and with the current players at the club covering the central defensive midfield positions you do not have what it takes to winning those special games.

You cannot blame OGS for being let down in games v. Young Boys and also against West Ham, with certain players doing errors you cannot really pin point as a manager failure. Bruno Fernandes missing his penalty in overtime has nothing to do with OGS.

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Manchester United are currently fourth in the Premier League, one point behind Liverpool, and to our notice seeing their best start to a season since OGS appeared. He do need to strengthen his team even more and with a certain N’Golo Kantè said to be available, or making a massive approach to sign the England midfield duo Rice and Phillips he would be close to a great number of titles.

Players such as Matic, McTominay, Fred do seem to fail at the last hurdle and not be as good as they should in those vital parts of games and looking at the central midfield positions at their main rivals they do seem to be a bit weak.

Cristiano Ronaldo showed yesterday that he still has the edge to bring home trophies as he has done over so many of his previous seasons and hopefully other players will grow with that key player in place.

Manchester United have been in transition all the way sine Sir Alex stepped down with a squad a bit out of balance and a number of players getting to an age that made them all ready to be replaced. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes leaving the dressing room at Old Trafford will always bring a big gap not really able to fill and to see Rio Ferdinand and Namanja Vidic close to retirement ment two other massive leaders being on the way out as well.

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David Moyes is at the moment doing a fantastic job at West Ham getting time to build and Louis Van Gaal is back as manager of Holland and Jose Mourinho at the moment with AS Roma in Italy are the three previous men to be handling the Manchester United transition, so far a bit in the air, but still not catastrophy and every aspect of a winning formula close to completion.

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OGS needs to bring home a trophy this season, but will still last if not, if he manages yet again find himself in one of the four top spots in Premier League, not really anyone who can say anything if that happens.

To see Alex Telles among the goalscorers and really taking his chance when getting to play is good, that is really what this is all about that you grab every opportunity with producing good games when called up on.

The project under OGS is something that will continue and he is so very close, but still would love to see him get the teams lowest point to a higher level. He has been let down too many times by players who don’t really perform as well as they should getting the chances they get, but we will see if OGS will manage to see those key errors to solve as his team can manage to get a result even on some other bad days.


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Cesc Fabregas and his special journey from a global star to Ligue 1 life with Monaco

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Cesc Fabregas was in the same Barcelona youth team as Lionel Messi, seen as massive talent of dimentions when at La Masia, and instead of being patient and wait a bit for his chance he jumped at a more direct route with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, knowing exactly what he purchased and brought into his team.

Fabregas made his early debut for Arsenal in the 03/04 season, and from then on making his special route to become one of the best midfielders in the World. Many believe that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best from this era, but looking at the stats and trophy hunts of Cesc Fabregas makes you wonder why he was never seen in the same headlines as the two other maestros of the game.

Over his years in the top flight of English football, the Spanish national team and his return to Barcelona the following happened. He is a World Cup winner and a European Champion with Spain. Premier League winner twice with Chelsea, a runner-up in the Champions League with Arsenal and also of course winner of the FA Cup, EFL Cup and La Liga during his years at the very highest level.

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger was not able to stop the move to Barcelona and after 212 PL appearances in eight years with The Gunners a dream move to Camp Nou happened. After three years he made a return to English football with Chelsea, being a key player in those great Premier League wins and playing at Stamford Bridge from 2014 to 2019.

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Cesc Fabregas had reached his top but anyway moving to Monaco made a new change in his career and with a clear feeling that he would like a new challenge in a new league, but still in Europe and not vanishing for a lucrative contract in China.

Since joining Monaco he has been an important player after helping the club out of difficulties and last season ending third and qualified for CL action. Not able to get into the group stages of Champions League they had to settle for Europa League.

The start this season has seen little of Cesc Fabregas. Monaco are eight at the moment in Ligue 1 and top of their Europa League group. Cesc Fabregas did not play every game last season, only on the field 21 times. This season we have seen Fabregas involved twice coming on as a sub in the games v. Lorient and Lens.

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Not many players are still involved in top flight action making their debuts almost twenty years ago, but Cesc Fabregas (34) will possibly be around for a number of more years.

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His tally of performances, massive title wins and of course being capped 110 times since making his debut in 2005. He has not made any offical statement of a retirement from international football, but has not played for Spain since 2016.

A man easily forgotten among the ever greatest players, but in his time and setting he was actually one of them highest on the steps of football stardom.

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A football capitol travel, Spartak, CSKA, Dynamo, Torpedo and Lokomotiv Moscow

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Looking at the clubs of Moscow there are many, but we will in this article set our eyes of the five with most history and still among the best. Football is the most popular sports in Russia, and their best players stays at home, though we have had a few players seen abroad, but they have not settled as well as expected with a few seen in English football.

The first player to remember is the goalkeeper Dmitri Kharine, who starred for Chelsea for a number of seasons, being at Stamford Bridge from 1992 to 1999, and with a previous career at three different Moscow clubs, Dynamo, Torpedo and CSKA. He won the FA Cup, EFL Cup and UEFA Cup with Chelsea and ranked among the top ten goalkeepers at the club all time.

Another player from Russia that set a bit mark on his presence in England was Andrey Arshavin who also spent a number of seasons based in London with Arsenal. Played for The Gunners over a period of four years from 2009 to 2013. Adding up 105 league appearances as well as 23 goals.

The third player of Russia to influence Premier League action was Tottenham forward Roman Pavlyuchenko, who appeared for Spurs from 2008 to 2012, but never really managed to win a secure first team place in the first team, playing only 78 league games in which he scored 20 goals. He did represent Spartak and Lokomotiv among a long list of football clubs.

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As we look at the five clubs mentioned in the header, we will start with Spartak, a club seen as the working mans football club, and the most popular of clubs in the capitol. They are top tier club but has struggled a bit with only won big trophy win since the 90’s. They have won the league title 22 times, with their last league winning trophy coming in the 2016-17. Spartak play in red and white colours, and are located in the north west of the capitol district, playing their home games at Otkritie Stadium.

The next club on our list is CSKA. A top tier club and also one of the major clubs in Russia. Winning their last league trophy in 2015-16. Their home ground is the VEB Arena, located a bit closer to the city of Moscow, but also north west. They are playing in a claret and blue striped shirt, blue shorts. One of their greatest players of all time is the Brazilian Vagner Love. He was a key player from 2004 to 2011. Made a short return for a second period in 2013. Vagner Love played a total of 172 league games, scoring 85 goals, winning the league with CSKA three times, 2005, 2006 and 2012/13. The total amount of league titles for CSKA are 13. They are also the first Russian club to win a European title, taking home the UEFA Cup in 2005. CSKA used to be the official football team of the Sovjet army.

Dynamo Moscow is the blue and white alternative. They are also based north west, playing their home games at VTB Arena. Dynamo were during the Sovjet period seen with close connections to the KGB and a club related to those people following and giving their support. This was also the club of the famous and mythical goalkeeper Lev Yashin. He represented the club during all his years in football, playing 326 league games in twenty seasons, from 1950 to 1970. Dynamo Moscow has been crowned champions of the Russian league 11 times, but not been up there at the top of the ladder since 1976.

Lokomotiv Moscow is the fourth representative of the capitol in the top tier. The are seen in dark green shirts with red shorts. The have from time to time managed good results in Europe, reaching semi-finals and group stages in those competitions. Their league trophy hunt is more modest with only three titles, but the last one coming not longer ago than the 2017/18 season.

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Lokomotiv play they home games at RZD Arena, located in the north east area of the city. The stadium have capacity of 27 084 and the name seen in close agreement with a sponsorship of the Russian Railway, and with them closely attached and nicknamed Loko or Parovozy, you have a long relation between the two as their historical tracks goes back to the start of the club being basically a club for men employed in transport and the Russian / Sovjet railway.

The fifth club with a long tradition located in the capitol are Torpedo, at the moment competing at tier two in the league pyramid, and at this moment fliying high after 13 games staying second. The club was among the best during the Sovjet era both domestic and in Europe, but has since had difficulties to establish a good financial structure with different problems occuring in their Russian years.

The club was in 2006, for the first time, relegated from the top tier, and just been back once, 2014/15, where they again suffered relegation. But with a good start to this season it might be possible yet again to return to the best party.

The three times winner of the Russian league has in recent year gone through a transition changing names with different owners coming in but eventually in the late 90’s they were renamed again Torpedo Moscow and has since been known and seen as the original.

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Of course a number of real legends from the past eras for these five clubs, but today we do also have a few to notice. Quincy Promes a Dutch international attacking midfielder, currently with Spartak, is among the highly rated. Another name that is seen in top of the list is Fyodor Chalov, only 23 years of age, playing for CSKA, with a good reputation, still early days with only three caps for Russia, but the forward will be grand in the years to come.

The Guinea forward Francois Kamano is the star name of Lokomotiv. 25 years of age and signed from Bordeaux a year ago. Exciting player with 7 goals in 34 top flight games so far. Dynamo do have a familier name in Fabian Balbuena who many might remember from his days with West Ham. The 30 year old defender is a pivotal player for his club. The Paraguay international is seen currently ranked among the better players of the Russian league.

Early doors yet in the new season, but at this point Dynamo are 2nd in the league four points behind high flying Zenit. Lokomotiv are currenlty 3rd and CSKA 5th with Spartak a bit behind the top, staying 8th among the total of 16 clubs in the top tier.


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The injection Arsenal needed, Martin Ødegaard a game changer at The Emirates

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Following Martin Ødegaard closely since his early days in his native Drammen and the club Stromsgodset, no one are surprised that he today is a player close to becoming a key man for a club that has produced a grand number of legends.

Players such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry did arrive from other prominent clubs such as Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus. They all build their iconic status while at Highbury and with Arsenal. This was down to Arsene Wenger and his special eye for talent that he could develope and take to the next step, and when they all arrived they had a bit of work to do as their status was far from being a legend.

Mikel Arteta has been under pressure despite bringing home a trophy allready in his short period in charge, winning the 2020 FA Cup. He looks as if he has managed to pinpoint the ereas that needed to be strengthened with Ramsdale, White and Ødegaard all players that now looks to have settled a place in the starting eleven.

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Martin Ødegaard made his dream move to Real Madrid six years ago at the age of 15, and during the years before signing a permanent deal with Arsenal moving around on loan. Herenveen, Vitesse, Real Sociedad and Arsenal all took him on loan as he has impressed on all those arenas.

Arsenal did get a push in the right direction last season with Martin Ødegaards arrival and to see Mikel Arteta siging him on a four year deal for a fee with the total value of €40 million. A key for Martin Ødegaard is to play and be of great importance to his team, he is not a piano carrier but the one that would love to play it all the time.

His eye for a killer pass and also ability to score makes him very special with that born ability to see differet options and solutions other would probably not think about, and he is also a grand role model with perspectives in life that made Ståle Solbakken naming him captain of Norway as they drew 1-1 with Holland and are in the race to reach the 2022 World Cup finals.

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Getting game time and being a player to count at Arsenal will also work wonders for the national team as they are heavily depending on Ødegaard and as captain he will of course be a key in the future and to see him doing so well for Arsenal is a key to progress also in the national team.

Still only 22 year of age and to have allready played 33 full internationals makes him a runner for the record of caps, currently holder is John Arne Riise, with 110.

Arsenal do have a number of very interesting youngsters has allready parted company with a lot of old foxes and the transition looks interesting. Fans of Arsenal are not really used to struggle as they demand progress, trophies and a run for top four positions in the Premier League.

The key for Martin Ødegaard now is to stay injury free, be able to play his own game and be given the trust and belief that he can do this massive job in a role that fits him perfectly.

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Martin Ødegard will most certainly be looking forward to the next battle in Premier League coming up on the 2nd of October against Brighton, hopefully be winning that game and go on to represent Norway in internationalsv. Turkey and Montenegro. Hopefully he can guide his team through those games with at least four points, then it would be a good theory to think of Norway as a contender next year in Qatar.

Mikel Arteta looks as if he has found a base to work from and to see themselves as 3-1 winners against Spurs this weekend must have been a great relief for the team, but also for a manager that has been pushed to the limit by journalists and fans as they all where in heavy doubts, after the Spurs game fortunes might have changed again.


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