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Goal wizard

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 09:14 PM PST

Mancini rates prolific striker Tevez as best in Premier League

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 13:02:00

Football

ON A WARPATH: "The Apache" Tevez has 14 goals to his credit

LONDON: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes his captain and striker Carlos Tevez is the best player in the Premier League who is capable of scoring top and delightful goals.

The Argentine, nicknamed "The Apache", took his tally to 14 goals in 20 league matches with a brace in the thrilling 4-3 home win over Wolves on Sunday.

"At this moment, Tevez is the best player in the Premier League at scoring special goals," said Mancini.

"His first against Wolves was fantastic. Only a top player can score a goal like that, Tevez, me, ha ha," he joked.

"Seriously, it was the kind of goal Diego Maradona used to score."

The good news for City fans is that Tevez claimed his "differences" with Mancini were now over.

"The issue is already in the past. I had my differences with the boss but we spoke as two men and everything is solved. I am very happy here," said Tevez.

"I was happy to help and I did my best. We had to change it but I was still happy to play that way."

Midfielder Nigel de Jong also hailed Tevez's "special" talent and insisted the striker has had a similar impact on the Eastlands club as Cristiano Ronaldo did during his time at Manchester United.

"He is a special kind of player — you don't see that very often these days, a guy who can decide a game by popping up from nothing, even when you don't start the game that well," he told the club's website.

"You had that with Ronaldo at United, with the same quality, and we have it with Tevez.

"But he can't do it alone. He is a tremendous player but he knows that he needs his colleagues on the pitch. That makes us dangerous to every opponent — if it isn't Tevez it will be someone else who steps up, maybe Edin Dzeko or David Silva."

The Holland international admitted he is enjoying the competitive world of the Premier League and said the unpredictability of England's top flight makes it unique.

"I think it makes English football unique. The Premier League has developed in the last two years to be not just about the first five teams."

Big victories for Newcastle and West Brom at Arsenal, and Blackpool at Liverpool are just some of the shocks so far this season and City have also been humbled after their 2-1 defeat against Wolves at Molineux in October.

"You can see the 'smaller' teams, with all due respect, are real contenders these days. Wolves and all the other teams at the bottom of the league can give you real difficulties," said de Jong.

"That makes the league really exciting. We have seen this season everyone dropping points, which means the league could go all the way.

"We were just happy with the win against Wolves because it wasn't an easy game."

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Rising Kelly

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 09:19 PM PST

Young rightback doing wonders for struggling Liverpool

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 12:51:00

Football

WE'RE NOT GIVING UP, MATEY! Liverpool's Lucas Leiva (left) and Kelly (right) battle for the ball with Everton's Victor Anichebe during their Premier League match at Anfield recently

LONDON: Martin Kelly's emergence as a genuine contender at rightback for Liverpool should offer encouragement to other fringe players, says manager Kenny Dalglish.

The 20-year-old, who came through the ranks of the club's Academy primarily as a central defender, started all three matches Dalglish has been in charge since taking over from Roy Hodgson.

And not only that, he has been their best player on each of those occasions, so much so that England rightback Glen Johnson is now being accommodated on the left.

When Dalglish was appointed to take temporary charge until the end of the season he was keen to stress everyone started with a clean slate, but what is evident is that the Scot is basing a lot of opinions on what he witnesses with his own eyes and not on reputation.

It is why Kelly has been a constant under him and Jay Spearing was selected in central midfield for last Sunday's 215th Merseyside derby against Everton despite only just returning from two months out with a broken ankle.

It was also explained why Jonjo Shelvey was his only substitute against Everton and 19-year-old Spaniard Dani Pacheco was named on the bench alongside the more experienced trio of Joe Cole, Ryan Babel and Fabio Aurelio, who all watched from the dugout at Anfield.

"I thought Kelly played really well. He played really well in the first two games and I thought he was excellent against Everton," said Dalglish.

"That is fantastic for us to see young boys starting to develop. If you get one like that, it is not for us to take the credit, it is the people before us and it has been fantastic for Martin to come and play.

"If he keeps playing like that, Johnson may have a problem — but I'm sure he's happy to play leftback."

Kelly was selected regularly for the Europa League games by Hodgson but had made just two Premier League appearances this season before Dalglish's arrival.

He is naturally delighted by his recent promotion but is wise enough even at his relatively young age to know he cannot afford to become complacent.

"I'm made up with my own form. Hopefully, I'll keep training well and get a chance to play," said Kelly.

"It's the first time I've played three games in a week and it is pretty tough on you mentally as well as physically but it is all a learning curve.

"In the Premier League, Europa League and Champions League you need to play three times a week so it's really good to do that," said the England Under-21 player.

Kelly felt that despite being in the job for only a week and having just three proper training sessions, Dalglish had made his influence felt.

"The team are coming together a lot more. We are all enjoying training and there have been some feisty challenges — it's good to have that in training.

"I think we are all working together as a team. Dalglish has put points in place how he wants us to play."

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