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02/15/2014
 
It was an awful display that Chelsea gave tonight at Etihad Stadium against rivals Manchester City. The Citizens, who after getting defeated by Mourinho's team in the Premier League had a statement to make, were looking for revenge. We could talk about David Silva's impressive passing or Vincent Kompany's defensive showcase, but that would mean Chelsea had nothing to do with the game's final outcome and this would be far from reality.

The truth is that throughout the ninety minutes all of the Chelsea players were completely distracted when the time came to make a pass or make in-zone defensive work. When Mourinho's teams play against the strongest squads of the tournament, the main struggle takes place in midfield, but the duo that played in that position today (Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel) were simply not up to the task. The Etihad Stadium was witness to an authentic pass-to-no-one show from these two, for they made a substantial amount of pass attempts that were directed to literally no one.

It was in these little windows of opportunity when tonight's midfield master Yaya Toure took advantage to recover the ball and do a great deal of damage with vertical passes to Silva, Dzeko and Jovetic. When it came to the fight in midfield, Frank Lampard was immensely missed because of Mikel's and Ramires' poor display. Mourinho thought it best to save the Blues' number 8 after midweek's game in the EPL.

The incomprehensible addition of Obi Mikel to the line-up is not the only downside of Chelsea's bad game at Manchester City. It became clear that when Ramires plays behind Samuel Eto'o and not a faster striker that the Blues find it very difficult to get inside the box. Today would've been a great chance for Brazilian Oscar to play instead of his compatriot; his quick feet and technical abilities would've given Eto'o better chances to score. This lack of speed from the defensive line, plus Kompany's standout performance assured City's goalie, Costel Pantilimon, of an easy day at the Etihad.

Manchester City needed a victory like this just a few days away from their crucial UEFA Champions League game against La Liga leaders FC Barcelona. As far as Jose Mourinho is concerned, maybe the Portuguese manager should think twice before making such incendiary remarks against the rivals he faces for they could backfire in a nasty manner, exhibit A.......
 
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01/29/2014
 
Group F has been considered a walk in the park for Argentina as they will face weaker contenders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Iran. However, for Argentina's players, making it to the World Cup will be no easy ride as there is tough competition just like it is every four years. Two players have switched sides looking for a starting role in their new teams, while others are still hoping to be in Brazil. Meanwhile, the major Bosnian and Nigerian stars are struggling to earn regular playing time with their clubs, which can ultimately affect their national teams.

Argentina

Oscar Ustari: This young goalkeeper moved from Almeria to Premier League side Sunderland hoping to catch the eye of Sabellla. The goalkeeper position has a question mark for Sabella just months from the start of the World Cup.

Nicolas Burdisso: The veteran defender landed a deal with Genoa after watching most of the first half of the Serie A season sitting on Roma's bench. His leadership could be beneficial for Argentina, but Burdisso is in desperate need of playing time to prove he can be an asset to Sabella.

Carlos Tevez: Juve's striker is about the most beloved player in Argentina, even above Lionel Messi. There is something about Tevez that the majority of Argentinians can relate too and most of the country is hoping to see him in the World Cup. The controversial striker hasn't been called up for a long time now, but that can all change with his great form displayed at Juventus this season. This weekend, Tevez showed that he is back to his old self when his team found themselves with a man down after Buffon's red card. Conte moved Tevez to the left wing and the Argentine "ran the mile" in the game helping on attack and supporting his team on defense.

Sergio Agüero: The Argentine opened the score board against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in Premier League activity this Wednesday with another superb right foot finish after a tremendous 28 touch team play effort that ended up inside the net. Sadly for Agüero, he suffered a muscular thigh injury that didn't let him finish the first time of the game against Tottenham. The Citizens won their game 4-1 at White Hart Lane despite Agüero's injury.




 
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01/10/2014
 

Top Nigerian officials on Friday criticized the procedure used to determine the CAF African Player of the Year after John Obi Mikel lost out to Ivorian star Yaya Toure. The national team coaches of the 54 member countries vote for 10 nominated players on a scale of one to 10 points, with the highest score signifying their top pick.


Manchester City midfielder Toure collected 373 points and was voted by 28 national team coaches as their top pick for the past year, making it a hat-trick of wins after success in 2011 and 2012.


Chelsea midfielder Mikel was a distant second on 275 points, with just four national team coaches, including his own for Nigeria, choosing him as their best player.


But Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Aminu Maigari said he was disappointed that Mikel did not win the award, which was announced on Thursday evening in the country's financial hub, Lagos.


"I am disappointed that Mikel did not get this award. We have to review the procedure that is used to determine the winner of this award," he added.


NFF technical committee chairman Chris Green also demanded answers, saying in other top awards, several other interest groups are also involved in determining the winners.


"We would need some explanations as regards how the voting is done, as other awards allow for votes from the media as well as the fans," said a disappointed Green.


Nigeria had been hoping that Mikel would win the prize given that former Arsenal forward Nwankwo Kanu was the last from the country to be named CAF African Footballer of the year


 
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01/08/2014
 

Nigeria's John Obi Mikel is hoping to be crowned Africa's best player at the Confederation of African Football awards this week, he said on Wednesday.


The Chelsea midfielder is vying for the prestigious award with the Ivorian pair of Yaya Toure, of English Premier League rivals Manchester City, and Didier Drogba, from Turkish club Galatasaray.


"It is an honour to be selected and nominated for the award. I am looking forward to winning it for my country," Mikel, who has twice been voted Africa's best young player, told AFP by phone from London.


The 26-year-old helped Nigeria win a third Africa Cup of Nations in February last year and also qualify for a fifth World Cup finals in November. He also won a first-ever UEFA Europa League title for his club side.


Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amuneke and Victor Ikpeba have previously won the CAF player of the year award but former Arsenal ace Nwankwo Kanu was the last Nigeria star to clinch it in 1999.


Mikel said he plans a whistle-stop visit to Nigeria's financial capital, Lagos, for Thursday evening's awards.


"I am coming for the CAF awards. I will be flown in and out of Nigeria by the Chelsea jet. I will arrive on the awards day and return immediately after," Mikel disclosed.


Chelsea, currently third in the English Premier League behind Arsenal and Manchester City, are away to Hull City on Saturday.

 
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