5 amazing stats that show how incredible 2013 has been for Ronaldo

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The Real Madrid player has had a phenomenal year, and has been tipped by many to win the Ballon d’Or…

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in the upper echelons of world football for a number of years now. He never has a bad patch of form and consistently manages to keep on impressing. In the last four years Lionel Messi has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, but this year most are tipping Ronaldo to usurp Messi.

To show just how amazing Ronaldo’s year has been, below are five statistics that will amaze you. Cristiano continues to break records and along with Messi we are lucky to be able to see such talented footballers in our generation.

Ronaldo has scored 67 goals in 2013

A fantastic achievement for the Portuguese international. He still has time to add to that tally with another five games between now and the end of the year. Last year he managed a paltry 63 goals, coming from 71 appearances. His 67 goals so far this year have come from just 55 matches. Ronaldo has scored more goals than Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea this year. He has also scored more than Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi combined (64).

Ronaldo equalled the record goals tally for Portugal

His superb hat-trick against Sweden in last weeks play-off match not only secured his country’s place at next year’s World Cup, but it also brought him level with the country’s record goalscorer Pauleta. They are both now on 47 goals, and it won’t take long for Ronaldo to pass this mark.

In this current season alone (2013-2014) he has scored 32 goals

These 32 goals have come from just 22 games. That would be a superb tally for any team, never mind a player. That is nearly an average of 1.5 goals per game. At the same point last season he had scored 21 goals. Somehow he has stepped it up another gear.

He has scored 8 goals in just 4 Champions League games this season

An average of two goals a game from his side’s four group games so far. 8 is currently the record amount of goals scored in the six group games, a record shared by Hernan Crespo, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and Fillippo Inzaghi. He needs just one goal from the last two games to break the record.

Cristiano has scored 8 hat-tricks this year

Ronaldo has so far managed six hat-tricks for Madrid in 2013, and two for Portugal. He had previously never managed a hat-trick for his country. He has now scored 23 hat-tricks for Real Madrid. When at Manchester United, he only managed the one hat-trick.

Madrid teammate and world record signing, Gareth Bale said that he deserves the Ballon d’Or award far more than anyone else. “He deserves that award (the Ballon d’Or). The goals and the performances he has put in, especially when you think of the pressure he is under, for Portugal the other day, it shows what a true, true world-class player he is”.

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AC Milan join the hunt for Manchester United and Liverpool target

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AC Milan have entered the race for Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke…

Atletico Madrid have had a superb start to the La Liga season, as shown with their 7-0 thrashing of Getafe at the weekend. They are currently in second place with 37 points from their 14 games, having only been defeated once.

SEE ALSO: Did Roy Hodgson hamper Liverpool’s derby chances?

Instrumental displays from midfielder Koke in the impressive Atletico Madrid team have led to attention from elsewhere.

Talksport have reported that Italian giants AC Milan have now joined Liverpool and Manchester United in the race to sign Koke. However Atletico Madrid are far from interested in selling their player, and any prospective buyers will most probably have to meet his buyout clause. The fee for that is £29.5m, perhaps a fee that none of the sides will be currently willing to pay.

Having said that, Manchester United did put in a few bids this summer of a similar value for midfielders. As was well-documented, they failed in their attempts to bring in a midfielder from Spain. They tried to sign Ander Herrera, Cesc Fabregas, and Sami Khedira. Marouane Fellaini eventually joined but has yet to settle in it seems.

Liverpool are enjoying a good start to the season, and so far Jordan Henderson has played every minute for them in the league. He has looked a much more confident player this season. There is also Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva in the centre of midfield, so they are not in desperate need of strengthening that area. Certainly not enough to spend nearly £30m.

Koke has youth on his side aged just 21, and already has seven caps for Spain. Known for his accurate passing, and through balls, he would be a great acquisition for most clubs. Liverpool may see him as a potential successor to Gerrard.

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One team in desperate need of improvement are AC Milan. They are really struggling in Serie A this season, with just 14 points from their 13 league games. They have already lost five matches, and are just four points away from the relegation zone. All this is despite the talent available to them.

They will certainly look for reinforcements in January to try and revitalise their season. Although from Koke’s point of view, I can’t see him being interested in leaving his boyhood club who are flying high in La Liga to join an AC Milan side struggling to even qualify for European competition next year.

9 months after being sentenced to jail, ex City player to join League 1 side

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Carlisle United are set to sign former Manchester City defender Courtney Meppen-Walter

Following a successful trial at Carlisle United, former England Under-18’s captain, Courtney Meppen-Walter is set to sign a short-term contract with the club according to BBC Sport.

The defender was a very promising youth player for Manchester City and England before he was sentenced to 16 months in jail in February following a car crash which killed two people. However he was released a few weeks ago, and it didn’t take him long to earn a trial at Carlisle United.

The League 1 side’s manager Graham Kavanagh has been impressed with him in training, and has offered him terms for a one-month contract. Kavanagh had this to say, “He has tremendous potential as a footballer and it’s now a case of us dragging that out of him.

Meppen-Walter will certainly be the target of abuse from opposition supporters, and it could bring unwanted publicity to the Cumbrian side. He is not the first to return to football after a prison sentence though. Lee Hughes was jailed in 2004 following a fatal car crash from which he fled the scene of. He has since returned to play for Oldham Athletic, Notts County and now Port Vale. He is still the target of abuse from football fans, but it hasn’t stopped him garnering out a successful career.

Marlon King has also been in and out of prison numerous times in his football career for various offences. He like Hughes, has also managed to have a relatively successful career in the football league. Meppen-Walter will know that he will have to be able to withstand chanting, and abuse aimed at him from opposition’s fans. But he will obviously of course be grateful that he has been given a second chance.

Some Carlisle fans will probably be against the clubs decision of signing an ex-prisoner. Only time will tell if his performances can change their opinions.

Tottenham’s target just a top four finish now?

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Tottenham Hotspur were blown away by Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

Tottenham Hotspur’s title hopes have all but been extinguished after the devastating 6-0 defeat to Manchester City. After significant investment at the start of the season, hopes were high that along with a top four finish, perhaps they could challenge for the Premier League title.

Before today’s game with Manchester City, there wasn’t a massive amount of criticism aimed at the club’s league showing so far. Obviously goalscoring was proving to be a problem for them, but at least it was counter balanced with a solid defence who had only conceded six goals prior to today. Only one goal conceded away from home as well.

The fact that Spurs are only still four points away from second place shows that the league is very tight, and there is little between the top eight or so sides. But now their defence has been ripped apart by one of their rivals, it has erased the main positive from their season so far. It was always going to be a tough match at the Etihad Stadium, but to lose it in such disastrous fashion could have a detrimental impact on their season.

The £100m plus investment at the start of the season seemed to strengthen all the areas that required attention. Yet perhaps their star performer this season is someone who has been on their books a long time. Andros Townsend has looked phenomenal for both club and country this year, and it was a surprise not to see him in the starting lineup on Sunday. Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, costing over £50 million between them, again failed to deliver what is expected from them.

Soldado has been particularly disappointing for Spurs. He was supposed to be the key player to turn them into a definite top four side, and potential title challengers. However, his goal return has been disappointing. It has led to Defoe and Adebayor receiving limited playing time. Both on their day are more than capable of putting a few goals past any side.

Whilst it is still early days in the season, and there isn’t much between the top sides in terms of points, Sunday’s game showed the disparity between Tottenham and Manchester City. It showed that Spurs have a long way to go before they can deliver the performances expected from a side worthy of challenging for the title. Perhaps a top four finish should be their focus in a season which has seen a great deal of change at the club.

Manchester City – Premier League champions?

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Manchester City thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 6-0 on Sunday afternoon.

City showed in their dominant win over Spurs that they are still very strong contenders for the Premier League title despite their indifferent start to the season.

Going into this match, Manuel Pellegrini’s side had already lost four league games. Those defeats came against Cardiff City, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Sunderland. Apart from the Chelsea defeat the other three would reflect a side who didn’t look like a team capable of repeating the feats of 2012.

Four defeats at this stage of the season, had allowed Arsenal to stride 11 points ahead of City. Still early days, and plenty of games to play, but not how they had envisaged their start to the season. Therefore the game against Tottenham was a must win match. They did not disappoint, but they rarely do at the Etihad Stadium.

Man City’s home form is phenomenal. They have now won all six of their matches scoring 26 goals and conceding just two in the progress. No other team in the top flight has a 100% home record. Obviously they need to replicate this in the away games. Pellegrini seems to have struggled with his tactics away from home.

Tottenham Hotspur are no pushovers, far from that. They have put in a number of assured and solid performances this year. Scoring goals has been a problem for them, but prior to today’s game they had only conceded six in the league. That has now doubled. Man City ripped apart a very strong Tottenham defence.

City were at their best today, and when two of their players played as they did today, they will always be capable of these performances. Yaya Toure led by example. Another fantastic display from the midfielder, at the centre of many of his side’s attacks. When he stormed through the centre of the park, he would often find Sergio Aguero who was deadly today. The partnership between himself and Alvaro Negredo looks close to rivalling Suarez and Sturridge and Rooney and Van Persie.

The game was won today, without club captain Vincent Kompany, without David Silva, and with England’s number one on the bench. Many have said City have the strongest squad this year. It is hard to argue against that. What we have witnessed today is what the strongest squad is capable of. All they have to do now, is play like that on a more consistent basis.

 

Wayne Rooney – still crazy after all these years

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Manchester United‘s Wayne Rooney kicked out at Jordon Mutch on Sunday and was lucky to only receive a yellow card

We’ve seen it many times in Rooney’s career. For all his skill, he has as much anger, and immaturity. On Sunday’s match against Cardiff City he battled with Jordon Mutch and then needlessly kicked out at the player. Somehow the referee only thought it justified a yellow card.

If someone could tell me how Wes Brown ‘s challenge Saturday was deemed a red card, and Rooney’s only a yellow today, then I would love to hear it. This isn’t the first time we have seen Rooney do something stupid in a match, and potentially ruin a match for his teammates. Fortunately for him he went on to score Manchester United’s opening goal in the 2-2 draw with Cardiff City. It could have been so much more for the Bluebirds though if Rooney had been sent off.

In 2005, Rooney was sent off for Manchester United against Villarreal when he sarcastically clapped the referee. In a friendly in 2006 he elbowed Pepe playing for Porto at the time. He was given a three match ban by the FA and then he threatened to withdraw the FA’s right to use his image. He was only 20 at these points, so still young and learning you would think.

For country, he memorably got sent off in the World Cup quarter final match against Portugal in 2006. He stamped on Ricardo Carvalho whilst battling for the ball. All but ending England‘s chances of progressing. In the following World Cup after a goalless draw with minnows Algeria, the England team were booed off the pitch. Fans were clearly annoyed to see such a lacklustre performance after travelling to South Africa. Rooney thought there response was a disgrace however. He turned to the camera and said: ‘Nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s loyal supporters’. I think travelling all the way to South Africa to support your team does show some loyalty in fact, Wayne.

Rooney was sent off again for England, this time against Montenegro in a Euro 2012 qualifying match. He again needlessly lashed out at a player, which resulted in a two match ban. This meant he missed the first two games of Euro 2012. Again putting his country’s chances at risk.

At the start of this season Wayne was reportedly unhappy at Manchester United again. He never seems settled, despite the team being focused around him.

On Sunday, Rooney got away with it, but it is clear he has still not learnt his lesson. He is 28 now, in the peak of his career with a lot of experience under his belt. Yet he still seems to have the brain of someone a quarter of his age. His temperament is astonishing, and for someone with a great deal of ability can never be classed amongst the elite of the game, due to his complete lack of professionalism.

Whilst Rooney clearly has the ability to win a game for his side, by himself, he is also more than capable of losing it too. His immature behaviour is a liability to club and country. As an England fan myself I understand that he is perhaps our most gifted footballer. Having said that, I would much prefer to see any other striker outshine him, and gain his place in the England team. At least then, England would stand a much greater chance of getting through the game with eleven men.

Is Jermain Defoe worth £6.5 million?

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Tottenham have reportedly valued Jermain Defoe at £6.5 million, with West Ham linked with bringing him back to Upton Park.

Jermain Defoe has yet to establish himself in Andre Villas Boas’ first team plans. Certainly not in the league anyway, he has mainly been used in the Europa League which he can’t stop scoring in.

With the World Cup coming up at the end of the season, Defoe may himself want to move on to get more minutes under his belt. The Times have reported that Spurs have put a value of £6.5 million on Defoe.

Defoe would have a lot of suitors if he was available. He has been linked with a move to the MLS, but that would be a waste. A move there is unlikely tot do his England chances any good, and he can still do a job at the highest level in this country. That is why I believe a move to Queens Park Rangers would be a strange one as well. Obviously Harry Redknapp is a big fan having managed him already in three separate spells. A drop to the Championship should not be considered by the 31-year-old.

Jermain Defoe still remains one of the best natural finishers in the country. When given a chance, he will more often that not put the ball in the back of the net. He is an exemplary finisher, and one that many clubs in the Premier League currently struggling for goals would be desperate to have. Teams like Sunderland, West Ham, and Stoke, currently lacking a classic goalscorer would love to have Defoe on board.

AVB does like Defoe too, and has praised him in the past, but given he only plays with one striker in the team, £26 million Roberto Soldado is always likely to get the nod ahead of the former Portsmouth striker.

£6.5 million still represents a decent fee for a 31-year-old. AVB wouldn’t want to lose him as he can see that he is still important to the club.

Defoe’s goals could hypothetically keep a team up. He has always hit the ground running when transferred, scoring on his debut on all five occasions. West Ham and other clubs could find themselves in even more precarious positions come January. Defoe is someone who wouldn’t take time to settle in and would not represent a gamble, as he is a natural goalscorer. Therefore £6.5 million would not seem like much at all. I feel that price does represent Defoe’s value at this moment in time.