Products Which Improve a Footballer’s Performance

naniGone are the days where goalies didn’t wear gloves, boots would last for seasons at a time and balls were as hard as rocks. These days, football is all about performance, and there are a huge amount of products out there in order to help footballers fulfil their potential and play to the best of their abilities. So what are the best? Which will actually help you out on the pitch and which are a load of rubbish?

Posture braces are something which have become really popular in recent years, they’re great for training and are designed to support the back and full posture of your body while you run or train, many footballers opt against wearing them in matches but do put them on for training and warm ups to give their body a helping hand.

Vapor rubs. A bit more old fashioned, but they still do the trick, vapor rubs are designed to help with breathing and do a lot for your respiratory system which definitely helps performance in any sport. Some people use these more in cold weather as this may be when your chest struggles.

Boots. Football boots aren’t what they used to be, the days of a couple of pairs are gone, and with varied types of studs, levels of support and more then there is a huge amount out there that can change the way you play the game. Football boots recommended for a centre back may be very different from those of a more intricate, attacking player like a winger or a playmaker, Andrea Pirlo and John Terry probably wear very different boots made by nike, adidas and other top companies, and finding which ones suit your game can have a huge impact.

Knee and Ankle Braces. Knee and ankle injuries are probably the most common out there, especially in football, it is so easy to turn an ankle, but fortunately there are some top ankle braces out there which assist in stopping your ankles from rolling or inverting, which can lead to really nasty injuries. They’re also great if you’re recovering from a long term injury and can give you the confidence to play at the top level.

Thermals. Your body temperature is not just about comfort and can affect muscle performance and more, having the right thermal under layers can be really helpful with this.

Rugby World Cup Preview

rugbyThe Rugby World Cup will take this year, and be hosted by 2003 winners and 2007 finalists England. The home field advantage has given England better odds than perhaps they would have had if they where playing away from home.

Currently only defending World Cup champions New Zeland and fellow Southern Hemisphere giants South Africa sit above them in the odds. This seems odd considering how England have been largely overpowered by teams such as Wales and Ireland in recent Six Nations competitions. However the prospect of Playing England in England is a fearsome one, and their brand of rugby grows more expansive every time their young squad takes to the field.

New Zeland are of course practically untouchable and play with such power pace and invention that few will look beyond them. The depth of talent is immense and their experienced campaigners are true world beaters.

South Africa have similar strengths to New Zeland and a pack of forwards that can dominate any team in the world when they are on form. A scrum that is not to be messed with, and fantastic line out retention means they can clearly play to a game plan and earn the space for that  pacey back line to go and express themselves.

Dark horses such a Wales and Ireland should not be counted out, and their recent showings in six nations campaigns must go in their favour. Wales had a large chunk of the squad that made up the dominant Lions victory in Australia a few years ago, and if they can get their star names fit nobody will want to play them, looking to go one further than they did last time out when they lost in the final to the all blacks.

Australia should also be considered slightly ahead of the welsh, of the odds are to be followed and seem to be getting their national rugby game back on track, with some big name players finding form, and getting a great team ethic together. Their strength and creative nous at half back is key for the Wallabies

France are in a bit of a mess but have the quality to win on their day. You would not take any game against them lightly, but seem short of putting together the sort of team and individual performances that can challenge the big boys, especially away from home.

Rugby World Cup 2015 Odds

New Zeland-5/4
England-7/2
South Africa-5/1
Ireland-15/2
Australia-10/1
Wales-16/1
France-20/1

Players Who Could Improve the Premier League: Part Two

baccaCarrying on from part one of our article about improving the depth of quality in our top league, we have more names that are being linked with some of the Premier Leagues top clubs. These players coming over from foreign leagues could help to improve on a poor showing in the top European competitions by English clubs last season.

Gonzalo Higuian

The prolific Argentinian has worked wonders for Napoli since leaving Real Madrid, and has been linked with a move to their city rivals. However with them looking good for Jackson Mrtinez, a move to the Premier League could be top of his list of options. Arsenal and Manchester Utd both hold a long standing interest and could do with a boost to their own fire power, both to improve in Europe, and domestically.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

The experienced German has been talked about as somebody who could link up with former boss Van Gaal at Manchester Utd. The Dutchman needs an experienced central midfield option to develop what he already has, and offer support to Michael Carrick’s weary legs. He is a genuine world superstar and has won everything at both international and club level. Taking another stalwart from a foreign leagues top team would be another huge statement, and strengthen the Premier League hugely.

Carlos Bacca

Bacca has been a sensational player for Sevilla, spearheading back to back Europa League triumphs. He is now reportedly keen on a move to the Premiership and could be lining up for Liverpool or Manchester Utd next season. It would be another coup for the Premiership taking one of Spain’s hottest properties, and a man proven on the continental stage.

De Bruyne

The young Belgian was a bit of a no show at Chelsea, and was not really given a fair crack at the whip. He was moved on for decent money but has lead a revolution at Wolfsburg and seen them emerge as a genuine challenge to Bayern Munich. The German side are now desperate to keep hold of him as Manchester City circle looking to tempt him back. He would have plenty to prove in England and would no doubt add a new edge to Manchester City and their quest to make a bigger impact in the Champions League.

History of the Stanley Cup

StanleyCupIf you’re an Ice Hockey fan, then the Stanley Cup is the ultimate, the holy grail of the sport. Winning it or being part of the team that wins it, will ensure that your team goes down in history, and so do you. How did it all come to be though? Where did the sports greatest prize come from? Here we give you a brief history of the games biggest honour, and the Stanley  Cups most recent winners.

The Stanley cup is awarded to the play off winner of the national hockey league (NHL) and was first contested way back in 1893. Its origins begin with an English national called Lord Stanley. After queen Victoria appointed him governor of Canada in 1888, the Lord and his family became to get very interested in Ice Hockey. His sons went on to form early teams, and he can largely be credited with the evolution of the game around Canada. He suggested a challenge cup should be played for and bought a silver punch bowl (later identified as a rose bowl) that in today’s market would be worth about £1000. He engraved it with “from Stanley of Preston” and on the other side “Domain Hockey Challenge Cup”.

The Montreal Amateur Athletic club where the cups first winners, and added the first silver ring to the cup, so it could be engraved with their name. This was one of the initial rules that a ring could be added at the winners expense.  To begin with the cup was contested as a challenge cup between members of certain leagues. Eventually the other leagues folded leaving just the NHL behind, growing to the league we know and love today.

As the ring added to the original cup began to fill up, teams added their name to the interior if of the bowl, and teams started commemorating their wins in many different places within the famous trophy. Some teams missed adding their names, and did not follow the rules set out by Lord Stanley, but this all changed in 1924. This is when the Canadiens added a new band, and the engraving fo the team name and year won have been a tradition ever since to the present day.

As the rings where added over the year, the size and practicality of the cup became questionable and it was nicknamed “the stove pipe cup” for its likeness to a stove exhaust. This lead to a redesign of the cup in 1948 as a cigar shaped cup which was 2 pieces. The original bowl became very brittle and was replaced in the late 60’s. Since then many bands have been added, filled up and removed so as to be preserved in the national hockey hall of fame. The two piece trophy has the detachable bowl and collar, with 5 rings on the bottom. Each ring can contain the team details of 13 winning teams and all their personnel. Creating the trophy we all know and love today, and perhaps the most iconic sporting trophy in the world. The history has many more twists and turns, and anecdotes to do with controversial matches and funny stories. One thing is sure the Stanley cup does hockey proud. It is the perfect trophy to do justice to our games rich and unique history.

Recent Stanley Cup Winners

2015-Chicago Blackhawks
2014-LA Kings
2013-Chicago Blackhawks
2012-La Kings
2011-Boston Bruins
2010-Chicago Blackhawks

For a full list of Stanley Cup Winners, head here

The Evolution of Football Formations

footballpitchAs football evolves and different tactics come in and out of fashion within the game, so does the formations that are deployed on the pitch. Be it a traditional 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or something more expansive, that in vogue formation of the time can be seen the world over.

Two out and out strikers seem to be a thing of the past, as teams look for more players to drop deep and play between the lines of attack and midfield. 2 or 3 men playing off a main striker, while 2 midfielders hold for them is very well represented in the modern game. This 4-2-3-1 effort can be seen in many leagues and has a lovely balance that can adapt to many styles. Yes that’s right you can play different styles within the same formation. They are stretched and tinkered with so as to fit the personnel at your disposal.

If you have quick nippy forward players, you can play quick incisive football, that looks to feed balls in behind for the quick strikers. Alternatively you can use a strong powerful target  man up front on his own. He would hold up more direct passing and use the three men in behind him to make surging runs beyond that he can play in.

You may have a creative number 10 who likes to drop deep and become more part of the midfield 2 than the attacking midfield 3. It all lends itself to lots of possibilities, and the versatility of this particular formation is what we think has made it so popular. Seeing as all of this inescapable while playing within the same 4-2-3-1 formation.

It also does not take a lot of changing to switch the formation. You could easily drop your attacking wingers deeper, or your creative number 10. Giving you a more solid looking 4-5-1, or 4-4-1-1. Equally if needed you can push all those forward players on giving you a 4-2-1-3 if you are trying to chase the game, and grab more goals.

Formations are only as good as the personal you put in the,. The numbers on a page mean nothing if they are not utilised in the correct way, and your players have the correct attributes to make the most of your style.

As having three at the back moves more into prominence, we will see teams needing defenders that are quick, that can pass, and wing backs that offer great ball retention mixed with defensive awareness.

Dissecting the way a team plays can be great fun, and also crucial for opposition managers if they want to win games. Be sure to look out for how a team lines up and plays next time your watching.

Are Liverpool Repeating Old Mistakes?

hendersonMuch was expected from Liverpool last season, after running so close to winning their first ever Premier League title. They spent big money, even if they lost talismanic striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona. However it failed to materialise. Non of their summer signings caused much of a stir, with the exception maybe of Emre Can, who was played out of position on order to fit in. So what will this season hold?

Many people claimed they added too much too soon, and Liverpool have set of like a train this season also. Potentially looking like losing their best player from the previous season in Raheem Stirling, they are already using any potential transfer money to strengthen. Bringing in Firmino, Ings, Milner and soon Clyne. Is this looking similar to old problems? Losing a top player and panic buying an entire new squad.

Hopefully for Liverpool fans this will not be the case. They have invested in more proven Premier League players, as opposed to foreign imports so this is a bonus. Also the players who flopped last season have had time to gel, and will be looking to really kick on and get even more playing time. This Could be the most crucial with the likes of Lallana, Lovren and Markovic needing to step up and prove they can be big players at Anfield.

An out and out striker is a must, with questions over Daniel Sturidge’s fitness still being asked. Super Mario has failed and will leave, and Ings is young and still rough around the edges. A big For Sevilla hit man Carlos Bacca is imminent, and Liverpool will look to secure him and get him settled quickly.

Jordan Henderson will have Steven Gerrard’s huge boots to fill, and will look to be aided by fellow national team member James Milner. Creating a Midfield with lots of energy and drive. They can supply the ever improving Coutinho, so he is free to create and be the free spirit that sees him perform at his best.

Careful strengthening and proper gelling of a squad should see Brendan Rogers succeed in what will be a do or die season, with Jurgen Klopp sniffing around if he should stumble. He needs to rely on established players and hit the ground running. Consistent tactical and team selection will help, and is a must if his new players are to fully understand what is required of them.

Players Who Could Improve The Premier League
 – Part One

ramos

The Premier League often boasts about being the best league in the world. It is definitely the most competitive, but after a luke warm showing in all the European competitions this season, can it really claim to be the best. We take a look at a few big name players that come come across and improve some of our biggest teams, helping the halt the charge of the Spanish and German dominance sweeping Europe’s big competitions.

Paul Pogba

The one that got away for Manchester Utd is on the radar of just about every major club in the world. This young Frenchman looks destined to become one of the worlds best midfield players, and has as much chance of joining one of the big two in Spain, or staying in Italy as he does of arriving in the English League with Manchester City or Chelsea. He is set too cost huge money, over £50 million and that could cause issues for the English clubs in terms of financial fair play. Still having him in the Premier League would improve it hugely.

Arturo Vidal

Another fantastic member of that Juventus midfield, Vidal would be available at half of the price of Pogba, which is a bargain for a player of his calibre. Not your usual flair player type of South American, the dynamic Chilean is a genuine centre mid. Offering a combative nature and supreme technical skill in equal measure. Linked to Arsenal and Manchester Utd, Chelsea or City would also benefit massively from his purchase. Chelsea especially as it would form a fearsome double act alongside Matic, allowing the mercurial Cesc Fabregas to push further up the pitch.

Mats Hummels

The commanding Dortmund legend, is a supreme centre back and one of the worlds most sort after properties. An on again off again love affair with Manchester Utd looks set to come to a had this summer, and getting him in the Premier League would massively lift the quality of defence at one of our nations biggest clubs. Hummels could be just the ticket.

Sergio Ramos

La Liga is constantly strengthening their best teams, with the purchase of our Premier League superstars. Rinaldo, Bale and now an imminent move for De Gea have all weakened our top competition. So why not hit back and take one of theirs to the Premiership? Manchester Utd are making big moves to make this one happen. If it will be part of the De Gea deal remains uncertain, but this one is gathering pace with every passing day, and would be a huge statement. Ramos is one fo the worlds best defenders and is a huge name all over the globe.

The Premier League’s Young Lions

With the new season on the way, we have decided that its time for us to pick out a few of the young guns that could light up the league this season. After a wealth of young talent breaking through easing nerves about England’s future, the state of the national game has once again been thrown into chaos with the failure of what was thought to be an extremely talented u21 squad. Another big season of development is needed heading into a major International tournament.

Harry Kane

Last years leading light has work to do this season, perhaps even more do than last year. Still being linked with a move away from Spurs many think he will stay, but now he needs to kick on. Everything went Kane’s way last season, and the adversity of a very poor u21 showing could let us know what he is really made of. Every striker experiences a drought, and we need to see how Kane will respond when this does happen. Another 20 plus goal season, and continued international development will really prove to the world that Kane is the real deal for many years to come.

Danny Ings

Ings turned lots of heads playing very well for relegated Burnley. He earned a huge move to Liverpool and his challenge no will be breaking into their team and becoming a regular. It would be a shame to see another English talent waste away on the bench of a big club, and Ings could yet rue this move. He still has time on his side, and can become a great player under the watchful eye of Brendan Rogers. A big Challenge lies ahead.

James Ward Prowse

A big hope for England’s central midfield future, and another great product of the Southampton academy. He has broken into a high quality midfield at St Mary’s and game time is now guaranteed. He needs to use this advantage and make the most of playing in Europe with The Saint so that his development comes on even quicker. He seems perfectly placed to improve and could be a big story in the coming season.

Nathan Redmond

An inconsistent reputation has been well and truly put behind this young English man after becoming a star for the u21 side, and finally finding consistency at the end of last season as he helped get Norwich promoted. He once again returns to the premier league where he will look to build on some promising, yet inconsistent, form the last time he was in the league. He could not do enough to save Norwich from relegation that time round, but will need to show his best if he is to keep the Canaries in the league this season. Keeping hold of him could prove a challenge for Norwich if he starts the season well. One thing is certain, this is Redmond’s big chance to shine.

John Stones

The Future of the English defence has long been heaped on this man’s shoulders. Finally first choice at Everton and on the verge of regular England football, he will need to have a season that demonstrates his growing experience as a top flight defender id he is to permanently break into Roy Hodgson’s plans. He has all the ability and could lead both club and country fantastically from the back. Now is the time to learn alongside the experienced Jagielka  and prove he can be a dominant defender.