Club History – Fulham

A Part of History It is impossible to visit Fulham Football Club without thinking about the history oozing from the walls of Craven Cottage. Situated along the banks of the Thames, it is fitting the club has both sparred with the big boys in the top flight and scrapped with those in the lower echelons of the football league. Slow Beginnings The Cottagers date back to 1879, when they were merely an amateur church club. Things stayed this way for 19 years until they became professional, after moving into Craven…

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Premier League action round-up – Week 4 – August 29/30, 2009

On Saturday Chelsea maintained their 100% start by seeing off a spirited Burnley side in the weekend’s early kick-off. It was always going to be difficult for the Lancastrians at Stamford Bridge but Owen Coyle’s team managed to keep the Blues at bay until first half injury-time when Nicolas Anelka was brilliantly set up by Didier Drogba for the Blues’ first goal. Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole added further goals as Carlo Ancelotti’s side cruised to a 3-0 victory. The first Big Four clash took place at Old Trafford on…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Crucial away goal ends Villa’s European campaign

After 75 minutes of football at Villa Park, Martin O’Neill’s men were 2-0 up – 2-1 on aggregate – and were looking good value for their lead. However, a late away goal by Rapid Vienna would have been enough to knock Villa out – and it did. A half capacity Villa Park crowd watched their team take control of the game from the very early stages. Whilst they enjoyed the majority of the possession, the Villa attack failed to create any chances on goal. Nevertheless, a stroke of fortune saw…

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A Different Opinion – Diving intervention – How UEFA and the general public are falling over themselves for the wrong reasons

Ah yes, diving. Also known as cheating. Also known as tearing down all that we good British stand for in sports across the board when it comes to fair play. This Friday regular article is posted online in quite the same manner as Eduardo’s tumble at the Emirates in midweek – better late than never. The incident witnessed at the Arsenal-Celtic game sadly brought up the age-old debate of diving once again. But as a football-loving nation, are we correct to always come down on the side of ‘fair-play’ and…

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Is cheating simply a fact of the modern game?

Eduardo cheated. There are no two ways about it. But why should he, and indeed this incident, be made an example of? Celtic’s (justified) fury could be one reason. They are probably still riling from Alberto Gilardino’s theatrics in 2007 – although even Tom Daley would not have expected to get away with that. A Champions League qualifier in which the home side were looking safe with a 2-0 aggregate lead is hardly a high-profile occasion to warrant such a reaction from UEFA. On the other hand, it was equally…

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The famous dive

Picture this if you will. Johannesburg next summer, and England are facing Argentina in the World Cup final (I warned that you’d have to imagine). In stoppage time, Lionel Messi scuttles into the box, vaults over Rio Ferdinand’s wheelchair and, under pressure from John Terry, trips over his own bootlaces to win a penalty. Messi picks himself up and slots home the spot-kick, winning Argentina their third Jules Rimet trophy and sending our nation into mourning. But it doesn’t end there. England accuses Messi of diving to win the penalty.…

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Fancy a change? Try the Bundesliga for size

The Premier League is one of, if not the, most exciting football leagues in the world. However the English game has been dominated by the so-called ‘top four’ in recent times, with fellow teams unable to break the stranglehold. Indeed, since 1992 only once has the title not been won by a member of this elite group. The inexorable predictability of the championship race has been criticised by several sources – The Times’ Marco Pantanella named the Premier League second in a list of ‘50 Worst Things About Modern Football’,…

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Fit & Proper – Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool

As contrasts go it could barely have been more blatant. In the early evening of February 23, 2008, Liverpool’s supporters were celebrating a 3-2 home win over Middlesbrough with a pint or two at the Sandon pub, just a corner-kick away from the Kop end. It was here in a smoky back room on one fateful night in 1892 that landlord and ex-lord mayor John Houlding decided to cancel his membership to the local football club, Everton, and form one of his own that bore the name of the city.…

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Carling Cup Round-Up – Wigan given footballing lesson by Blackpool

The 2nd round of the Carling Cup got underway, with the entrance of the Premier League teams. It was an incident packed week with controversy abounding and one that will long be remembered for some disturbing scenes at Upton Park. West Ham beat Millwall after extra time 3-1 but the game was marred by violence in the stands that spilled over onto the pitch after Junior Stanislas equalised for the Hammers just before the end of ninety minutes. The weeks big footballing story was provided by Blackpool, who thrashed Wigan…

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Club Focus – Fulham – Makeshift Cottagers shuffle into Europa League

August 27, 2009. Mark it in your diary as the day Roy Hodgson rotated his squad. It was a day that was full of milestones – Fulham’s longest round-trip for a single match, the first time a football team has started a match with only one of three central midfielders able to pass, and the only time Astroturf has been used in a game involving an English side since, well, answers on a postcard please. Four of the usual first XI did not start – rested for Sunday’s trip to…

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Champions League draw reaction

The much awaited Champions League draw has come to an end at the French Principality of Monaco and this year it has thrown up some mouthwatering clashes. Thirty-two of Europe’s elite teams will battle it out from September 15 to for a shot at Europe’s biggest prize in the final at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu on May 22, 2010. Full Draw GROUP ABayern Munich (GER)Juventus (ITA)Bordeaux (FRA)Maccabi Haifa (ISR) GROUP BManchester United (ENG)CSKA Moscow (RUS)Besiktas (TUR)Wolfsburg (GER) GROUP CAC Milan (ITA)Real Madrid (ESP)Marseille (FRA)Zurich (SUI) GROUP DChelsea (ENG)Porto (POR)Atletico Madrid…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Anderson and Vidic pledge their allegiance.

After a more positive result on the pitch following Manchester United’s 5-0 thumping of Wigan it has again been talk off the pitch which may serve to unsettle the United squad. Both Anderson and Nemanja Vidic have this week reiterated their desire to remain with the Old Trafford outfit quashing rumours that they could leave for pastures new. Vidic, a reported target of Barcelona and other top European sides, confirmed his commitment to the club and stated that, contrary to reports, his wife is happy in Manchester issuing the following…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – Blues to cruise over Burnley pot-hole

Burnley have made an incredible start to their first Premier League season in 33 years, already heaving Manchester United and Everton into off-track ditches. However Carlo Ancelotti seems to have made intrinsic notes after the Blues’ opening game against Hull. He appears to have cracked the Da Vinci code through a so-far almost faultless approach. Having struggled to break through a well organised and disciplined Hull City 4-5-1, Ancelotti has introduced a Christmas tree formation in order to combat this. The 4-3-2-1 places emphasis on the midfield two, and gives…

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Club Focus – Newcastle United – Takeover still talk of the Toon

Newcastle United just came out on top in a seven-goal thriller against Huddersfield Town in their mid-week Carling Cup tie. The sides produced arguably the best game of the second round as the Magpies rallied after trailing 3-1 to their League One opponents. Not for the first time this season Newcastle responded from a difficult situation and managed to turn around a game that last season would no doubt have been beyond them. How high the Carling Cup is on their list of priorities is debatable, but wins are always…

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A Different Week – Defoe is Jermain man

Filling the boots of regular A Different Week contributor Mike Hayes will be a tough task, but perhaps not quite as tough as the one facing poor Alberto Aquilani. The Italian watched once more from the sidelines, this time as his new club succumbed to a 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa. In approximately five weeks’ time, when the Italian midfielder is slated to make his debut having recovered from the latest in a series of career-hampering injuries, Aquilani will be asked to be ‘Xabi Alonso plus’. That means being…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – It gets no easier

It’s not just Liverpool’s ego that has been battered and bruised by their poor start to this Premier League season. Fernando Torres’ poster-boy looks have been marked by a shiner of a black eye, Martin Skrtel is still punch-drunk from fracturing his jaw and Jamie Carragher’s cut forehead has forced him to sport garish headgear that is more John McEnroe than Terry Butcher. While the quality has been sorely lacking at times at the beginning of this campaign, the agony of defeat has been matched by the pain on the…

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Champions League draw – as it happened

GROUP ABayern Munich (GER)Juventus (ITA)Bordeaux (FRA)Maccabi Haifa (ISR) GROUP BManchester United (ENG)CSKA Moscow (RUS)Besiktas (TUR)Wolfsburg (GER) GROUP CAC Milan (ITA)Real Madrid (ESP)Marseille (FRA)Zurich (SUI) GROUP DChelsea (ENG)Porto (POR)Atletico Madrid (ESP)APOEL (CYP) GROUP ELiverpool (ENG)Lyon (FRA)Fiorentina (ITA)Debrecen (HUN) GROUP FBarcelona (ESP)Inter Milan (ITA)Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)Rubin (RUS) GROUP GSevilla (ESP)Rangers (SCO)Stuttgart (GER)Unirea Urziceni (ROM) GROUP HArsenal (ENG)AZ Alkmaar (HOL)Olympiacos (GRE)Standard Liege (BEL) And there it is, the full draw. United got the most difficult team from Pot 4, German Champions Wolfsburg, but a very comfortable group nonetheless. In fact, most of Britain’s…

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Match preview – Manchester United vs. Arsenal – The battle continues

The emergence in recent years of Chelsea as serious title contenders has diluted the intensity and hostility of this fixture but make no mistake about it, if you ask Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, this is, ‘the big one’. Perhaps because these are the two most successful English teams of the past decade or more specifically since the formation of the Premiership, between them accounting for 14 out of the 17 titles won, with United claiming a phenomenal 11 of those trophies. Perhaps it is because of both teams…

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Match Preview – Bolton vs. Liverpool – Both sides in desperate need of three points

This weekends Premier League match is of vital importance for both teams, Bolton need the points for different reasons than Liverpool but their urgency will be just as intense. Bolton are the only team in the league yet to score a goal, so their problems stem from the fact they have not given themselves any chance of winning the games they have been in. The simple football truth remains the same you must score to win. It is safe to say they are due a goal soon but on the…

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Champions League action round-up – Arsenal canter into today’s draw

With the game poised at 2-0 from the first leg, both sides knew that the first goal in this encounter would be all important. If Celtic were to pull one back it may provide them with the momentum to go on to get the equaliser, but if Arsenal were to get the goal then it would all but kill the tie. In reality there was only ever going to be one winner. Celtic remained unchanged from the side which beat St Johnstone 5-2 at the weekend meaning there was a…

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Is Nicolas Anelka a diamond geezer?

Chelsea seem to have overcome teething problems against Hull and are now moving up through the gears as the west London club’s players come to terms with Carlo Ancelotti’s diamond formation. The Italian has forced his AC Milan tactics on Chelsea and, despite some initial problems, it now seems to be working nicely. The potentially tricky away game at Fulham turned out to be a thoroughly efficient performance with the Cottagers never really threatening. The midfield controlled the ball excellently, with John Obi Mikel particularly impressive – a far cry…

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Newcastle Utd vs. Huddersfield Town – Old boy Clark returns to St. James Park

As is the wont of knock out tournaments, the Carling Cup threw up a ‘football fate’ moment, by drawing Newcastle United against Huddersfield town in the third round. Town are managed by Lee Clark, product of the famous Wallsend Boys’ Club that also produced Peter Beardsley, Steve Bruce and Michael Carrick. He managed 265 appearances for United in two spells at the St James’ Park club. But it was another Tyneside legend – Paul Gascoigne – who Clark was compared to for the early part of his career, as Magpies…

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English football shamed by pre-planned riots at Upton Park

As soon as the League Cup second round draw was made on August 12 there was one tie that caught the eye in particular, but unfortunately not for footballing reasons. West Ham vs. Millwall meant two bitter rivals were to go head-to-head at Upton Park, and the potential for trouble would give reason for most police officers to lose sleep. Regrettably, that potential was unleashed with force before, during, and after the game last night, with scenes of violence which will bring shame to English football. Hundreds of fans were…

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England’s past coaches – Bobby Robson (1982-1990)

After Ron Greenwood left the England job in 1982, there was only one man the fans wanted as manager; a man who had taken an unfashionable side to the top of the First Division and to European glory. Unfortunately for them, the FA weren’t interested in Brian Clough, they had chosen their man and it was Bobby Robson. Looking back, both managers’ records seem equally impressive. Robson had turned newly-promoted Ipswich into a top First Division side (in his final 9 seasons in charge they never finished outside of the…

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Will there now be a mass Manchester United midfield exodus?

The quality of Manchester United’s win over Wigan has certainly stopped the critics for a while and shown that even without without Cristiano Ronaldo they are still able to score goals, and plenty of them. Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen all played well and took many of the plaudits against the Latics, with Nani and Antonio Valencia both getting plenty of attention on their wing play (the verdict that they are not quite as good as Ronaldo is far from surprising). One area that was not mentioned greatly,…

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