Bundesliga action round-up – Week 3 – August 21/22/23, 2009

Week 3 in the Bundesliga certainly did not disappoint and the only place to begin is at the Stadion am Bruchweg where newly promoted Mainz humbled Bayern Munich. Under new manager Louis Van Gaal, Bayern have yet to record a league victory making this their worst start to the season since 1966. Mainz were a goal up after 25 minutes through Andreas Ivanschitz and Aristide Bance put his side two up by half time. Early in the second period an own goal from Mainz’s Nikolce Noveski gave the Bavarians some…

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Ligue 1 action round-up – Week 3 – August 22/23, 2009

Saturday saw former champions Lyon lay down the gauntlet to Bordeaux with an impressive 3-0 victory at Auxerre, who have yet to score a goal so far this season and remain without a single point. Lyon’s goals came from former Newcastle defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, Jean Makoun and Miralem Pjanic. Nancy saw their good start to the season take a hit after succumbing to Le Mans 2-1. They were 2-0 down after strikes from Thorstein Helstad and Anthony Le Tallec, and a late reply from Damian Macaluso proved futile. Monaco bounced…

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The Championship – Week 4 review / Week 5 preview

Week four – Another game, another goal for Michael Chopra. The Cardiff forward has scored in every match this season and took his tally to seven with the Bluebird’s second goal against Bristol City. Robins defender Jamie McCombe had gifted the league leaders the lead, deflecting a cross in to his own net, before Chopra struck in first half stoppage time. Alex Rae added a third goal midway through the second half to seal Cardiff’s third win in four games. Like their opponents, Bristol City had started the match with…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Martin O’Neill’s men answer their critics

If there was a time for the Villans to answer their critics, it was last night. After only two matches in the season, O’Neill rightly thought it was “staggering” that people have already been writing off Villa’s chances. Facing Liverpool at Anfield was never going to be an easy fixture, and the odds were heavily against the away side getting anything out of the game. However, and quite remarkably, Aston Villa were able to easily brush aside a poor Reds side. Villa’s goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, was the hero in Monday…

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Club History – Chelsea

The history of Chelsea FC can be traced all the way back to the construction of their current ground Stamford Bridge, it was officially opened in 1877 but it was originally used as an arena for athletic meetings by the London Athletic Club. However, in 1904 Henry Augustus ‘Gus’ Mears and his brother Joseph purchased the ground with the intension of using it for football. Gus Mears planned to redevelop the ground and establish a football club at Stamford Bridge. The stadium was originally offered to Fulham FC but they…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – Blues maintain 100% record

Chelsea maintained their one hundred percent start to the new season under Carlo Ancelotti with a 2-0 win away to their West London rivals, Fulham. Ancelotti rested both Deco and Salomon Kalou despite impressive mid-week displays against Sunderland with recalls in line for Jon Obi Mikel, Nicolas Anelka, Ricardo Carvalho and Florent Malouda; signs of Ancelotti’s willingness to switch the personnel. It could be argued Ancelotti is capitalising on the fortunate early fixtures Chelsea have been gifted, using them to provide each squad member with a role in the formation.…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Three games, two defeats and one big problem

December 16, 2007 was the last time that Liverpool had lost a home Premier League game. Bankers around the world were still spending money with blissful ignorance, “What a Wonderful World”, a duet by Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua was top of the charts, and the Reds lined up against Manchester United having lost just once in the league all season. One scrambled Carlos Tevez effort later, and it was two. The watching Tom Hicks – in an all too rare moment – showed an understanding of the game of…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Enter the Champions

Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United team know too well there is only one way to recover from a setback on the pitch and the questions being asked off it. They not only won, but won big. However, they still have obvious holes that need plugging in the team. There are many positives to be drawn from the result at Wigan. Wayne Rooney reaching the 100 goal mark for United, Michael Owen get off the mark and the performance of Dimitar Berabatov was also a plus points. Much of…

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Club Focus – Fulham – Lethargic Cottagers slump to derby defeat

Fulham had gone into this game under strength after losing Andrew Johnson to a malicious challenge mid week. It seemed they were feeling sorry for themselves as they played with a lack of determination to get a result against their local rivals. Fulham successfully answered the long-standing Chelsea question of whether Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka can play together, but, in doing so, asked one themselves: can this squad cope with key injuries? Too early to tell, but for now, the answer is no. The statistic of one win in…

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Club Focus – Arsenal – Electric Arsenal improve on success with a formidable win

Arsenal continued with their great start to the season by comfortably seeing off Portsmouth in their first game of the season at the Emirates stadium. French international Abou Diaby scored a brace as the Gunners ran out 4-1 winners against a struggling Pompey. Croatian Eduardo started a Premiership match for the first time since that unlucky St.Andrews afternoon on February 23, 2008 and the tricky Brazilian-born forward was instrumental in setting up Diaby’s and Arsenal’s first goal in the eighteenth minute. This is certainly a great news for the Emirates…

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World Cup Years – Italy 1990

The next World Cup Year is 1990, as A Different League looks at Bobby Robson’s final England assignment. The 1990 World Cup in Italy remains the closest that England has come to World Cup glory since the heroics of 1966. Against the odds England managed to reach the semi-finals of the tournament only to be cruelly defeated by West Germany on penalties. Although the competition did not live long in the public’s memory, England’s semi-final clash conjured images that have helped to define English football. Moments such as Gazza’s tears…

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Club Focus – Newcastle United – Geordie resurgence gains momentum.

Newcastle continued to play their part in the resurgence of north east football as they cruised to a 2-0 victory away to Crystal Palace in the Coca-Cola Championship. After the trauma of last season – which saw two of the north east’s Premier League teams relegated and Sunderland narrowly avoid the drop – there are now signs of improvement. Sunderland are impressing early in the Premier League campaign with Newcastle and Middlesbrough unbeaten in the Championship. It would not be too surprising to see those two going head to head…

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Premier League Lessons – Thierry Henry

A Different League’s Premier League Lessons series continues with Arsenal’s free-scoring, flying Frenchman, Thierry Henry. Of the 22 players in France’s 1998 World Cup winning squad, an incredible 16 went on to, or already did, play in England. They ranged from the ridiculous – Stephane Guivarc’h and Bernard Diomede played a combined six Premier League games for Newcastle and Liverpool respectively – to the sublime – Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit were already patrolling the Arsenal midfield, while Marcel Desailly went on to be a rock at the heart of…

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Premier League analysis – Week 3 – Burnley looking strong while United backlash hits Wigan

A sumptuous Wade Elliot strike against Sheffield United in the playoff final back in May was enough to send Burnley to the dizzy heights of the Premier League. The tricky and agile winger was on hand again on Sunday afternoon to gift Burnley their second 1-0 victory of the season against Everton and cap an excellent start to the season for Owen Coyle’s men. Burnley have brought a sense of no fear and a refreshing freedom to their play since their promotion earlier in the year, looking to play good…

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Premier League Round-Up – Week 3 – August 22/23, 2009

After mid-week European action, the Premier League returned on Saturday with six of the ten ties scheduled at the same kick-off time, 15:00 GMT. Defending champions Manchester United brought their Premier League campaign back on track after a shock mid-week loss to newly promoted Burnley. The visit to Wigan looked tricky and it certainly played in the minds of the Champions as Roberto Martinez’s boys held their fort for fifty six minutes until Wayne Rooney struck. The England striker notched up his 100th goal for Manchester United when he headed…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Usual slow starters living up to their reputation but is there cause for concern?

Prior to Wednesday’s match at Turf Moor much had been said regarding the rocky nature of United’s back four with injuries to key centre-halves Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans. Following the match it is not simply the defence which is cause of concern for the Red Devil’s supporters. Evans recovered from an ankle injury to partner Wes Brown in the centre of defence with John O’Shea preferred to Fabio da Silva at right back, presumably to provide more of a solid structure than an attacking option. Patrice Evra…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Improving Villa lack creativity upfront

Worried Villa fans will want to know the cause of their club’s recent bad run of form after losing their last two games in a row. O’Neill’s men were hoping to put their disappointing loss at Wigan behind then by making a strong start to their Europa League campaign. However, the combination of an early goal and a lack of creativity in the final third of the pitch amounted to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of the play-off round. When Villa crashed out of the UEFA Cup last…

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Match preview – Liverpool vs. Aston Villa – Can Villa counter the Anfield onslaught?

This coming Monday sees Liverpool entertain Aston Villa at Anfield in their third Premier League game of the 2009/10 campaign. After a frustrating start against Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool tore apart Stoke City on Wednesday night to record a comfortable 4-0 victory, and manager Rafael Benitez will be looking for more of the same against Villa. In contrast, after losing their opening day fixture against Wigan Athletic and being humbled 1-0 by Rapid Vienna in the first leg of their Europa League play-off, Villa boss Martin O’Neill will be…

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Club Focus – Fulham – Roy Hodgson raids the Post Office queue

The Fulham squad is undeniably lacking depth, and fans have been asking how exactly Roy Hodgson intends to address the issue. With a crafty Chairman keeping his eyes on the wage bill, the manager has taken his time, played the market and come to the conclusion that the best deals are to be found at last season’s relegated Premier League teams. Perhaps Roy needs some friends in the Pension queue, because he has raided Newcastle and West Brom for two thirty-somethings – Damien Duff and Jonathan Greening respectively, albeit the…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Plenty of bets, but no slip

Anyone who has spent time a lot of time on Merseyside will tell you about the rumours, the stories that get passed on from taxi drivers to friends to families to your bookie. The stories get repeated so often, and each time with a greater certainty, that what should be perceived as fiction gets believed as fact. It was around 10 years ago that Zinedine Zidane was seen stocking up on baguettes in a Birkenhead Tesco before his imminent move to ‘a house on the Wirral’ and inevitable superstardom with…

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Club Focus – Arsenal – Fortuitous Gunners revel in Glasgow win

Arsenal’s ‘Battle of Britain’ tie against Celtic has been the talk of the week with the Gunners earning a fortuitous, yet deserved 2-0 Champions League play-off first leg victory over the Bhoys at Parkhead. Facing the Bhoys at Celtic Park in front of such a passionate and fanatical 58,000 strong support was always going to be mighty tough, especially when considering Celtic’s superb recent home record against English sides in he competition of just one defeat in their last eight meetings. Arsene Wenger’s boys arrived north of the border basking…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – Christmas comes early for the Blues

Tuesday’s game at the Stadium of Light witnessed Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan Christmas tree formation in its most blatant form yet. The largely ineffective Nicolas Anelka was dropped to the bench and with him went the second striker role. Instead, in came Salomon Kalou to drop back alongside the front of the diamond midfield and Christmas had well and truly come early for the Blues. Michael Ballack came in for John Obi Mikel, and Deco for Florent Malouda. In a 4-3-2-1 formation, Chelsea’s strengths in midfield came to the fore as…

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Club Focus – Newcastle United – Home-grown strike partnership takes effect

Newcastle United continued their positive start to the new season with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. The midweek victory sees the club stay third in the table, with Shola Ameobi again on target. Although the performance was not quite as impressive as the 3-0 win over Reading there were still plenty of plus points to take from the game. The Magpies enjoyed a dominant first half as their opponents seemed overawed by the occasion. Newcastle had their chances to build on their lead but found the Owls ‘keeper Lee…

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Promising goalkeeper Shane Supple, 22, quits professional football

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Shane Supple has stunned his club by quitting football with immediate effect. The Tractor Boys have agreed to end the 22-year-old’s contract by mutual consent following the young Irishman’s shock decision. Highly-rated Supple came through the Town academy and was part of the 2005 FA Youth Cup-winning side that beat a Southampton team containing Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale. The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has said there were several factors that influenced his decision but, in essence, he had “fallen out of love with the game.”…

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A Different Week – Joleon Lescott and the ugly side of a modern professional player

Everton’s manager David Moyes was forced to drop Joleon Lescott from last night’s Europa League game owing to his poor attitude following the Blues’ reluctance to sell him to Manchester City. This came after rumours that he asked not to play in Saturday’s mauling against Arsenal. With situations like this on the rise, is there any room left for loyalty in the modern game? Moyes took a chance when he signed Lescott in the summer of 2006. Lescott had missed the entirety of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Premier League campaign through injuries…

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