England’s future stars – Daniel Welbeck

Full name – Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah WelbeckDate of birth – November 26, 1990 Nationality – EnglishPlaying position – Striker/WingerCurrent Club – Manchester United Long before Daniel Welbeck made his senior debut for Manchester United he had already made a name for himself at Old Trafford with some impressive performances for the youth academy and reserve teams. His seven goals in 11 starts for the reserves in the 2007/08 season left many fans calling for manager Sir Alex Ferguson to grant the youngster a first team debut. Ferguson – an…

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Bundesliga action round-up – Week 7 – September 25/26/27, 2009

Hamburg’s title bid suddenly demands to be taken a little more seriously after a narrow victory at home to Bayern Munich. Hamburg Coach, Bruno Labbadia, had fielded a greatly weakened side in a cup defeat to third division outfit Osnabruck in midweek, but on Saturday night this appeared to pay off, as 35-year-old Ze Roberto put in a Man of the Match performance, setting up Mladen Petric with the game’s only goal late in the match. This was a heavy blow to Munich – third-placed going into the game after…

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Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool – Too reliant on Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres?

Following Liverpool’s demolition of Hull City this weekend, many questions are still being asked, somewhat unfairly, about the makeup of Rafael Benitez’s side. Top of the list of issues (on the pitch at least) is whether the Reds are too reliant on their two key players – Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. This is a question that has been on the agenda ever since they were so successfully teamed together in the 2007/08 Premier League season. Following the hammering of an, albeit extremely dismal Hull side, praise should be forthcoming…

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Club Focus – Manchester City – The real deal

Mark Hughes’ men continued their best start to a season in 48 years with an impressive 3-1 win over West Ham at the City of Manchester Stadium last night. Despite being only six games into their league campaign, it can reasonably be said with a fair degree of certainty, that Manchester City will end the season in a better position than the 12th they managed in season 1961/62. Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola – following this author – is the latest to be convinced of City’s credentials this season. In fact,…

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Club Focus – Newcastle United – Emphatic win a fitting tribute to Sir Bobby

Newcastle United gave Sir Bobby Robson a fitting send-off as they produced a classy performance to beat Ipswich Town 4-0. On a day when fans of Sir Bobby’s two favourite English sides gathered to pay their final respects to the great man it was his boyhood club who were by far superior. A hat-trick from Kevin Nolan and a freekick by Ryan Taylor made sure that Newcastle returned from Suffolk on top of the Championship once more. Results could not gave gone much better at the weekend with Middlesbrough, West…

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Club Focus – Fulham – 10 points for effort, but no points where it matters

As Louis Saha, in the day’s early kick-off, put away what can only be described as a half-chance to sink Portsmouth, Fulham fans were hoping their ex-striker would show the current options just how to finish in the day’s late match. As it happened, Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson were not only feeding on scraps, but gilt-edged chances presented on golden platters. The pair did not need the kind of striking prowess their predecessor displayed at Fratton Park to bury the chances they had. It was not for lack of…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Florence, and the goal machine

E. M. Forster’s classic 1908 novel ‘A Room with a View’ tells of typical English reserve and formality set against the stunning backdrop of Florence, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a fitting setting for a tale of love, loss and desperation. The story – in which a young Englishwoman struggles with her feelings for ‘the wrong sort’ of man – is a cautionary tale, one that instructs you to take your chances and to not let opportunities pass you by. Right now Florence will be…

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Club Focus – Arsenal – Gunners future looking rosy both on and off the pitch

Arsene Wenger’s youngsters made it through to the last 16 of the Carling Cup once again as they worked hard for their victory on Wednesday night and another youngster produced a magnificent display on Saturday as Wenger’s policy of developing his youth players instead of bringing in expensive big name signings gained more credibility. Vito Mannone silenced all critics of his ‘wobbly’ start to his Arsenal career with an exceptional performance between the sticks at Craven Cottage, as the young Italian made a string of impressive saves which meant the…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Disappointment for O’Neill as unbeaten run ends at Ewood.

It is frustrating for fans and players alike when a penalty decision goes against you and costs you the match but unfortunately, this was the case in Villa’s recent Premier League encounter with Blackburn Rovers. The game was looking to end in a 1-1 draw until Richard Dunne appeared to intentionally block Franco di Santo’s overhead kick with his hand. With one minute of normal time to go, David Dunn was never going to miss and Villa were sent to their first defeat in seven games. In truth, Dunne did…

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Club Focus – Tottenham – Four-star Robbie serves up timely reminder

Jurgen Klinsmann. Dimitar Berbatov. Robbie Keane. They share many things in common, most of them related to wearing the Lilywhite shirt of Tottenham Hotspur but now A new item can now be added to the list. They are the only Spurs players to have scored four goals in a Premier League match, and among only 20 players to achieve the feat for any club. Of course, football started long before the inception of the Premier League, or Premiership as it was referred to as before 2007, but for the purposes…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Giggs leads by example

Manchester United’s trip to Stoke on Saturday had all the makings of an extremely tough afternoon with the Potters boasting a home league record last season which the Champions themselves would be very proud of. Chelsea has already come away from the Britannia this season with three points meaning that it was imperative for United to do the same. Sir Alex kept faith with Ben Foster and the young keeper repaid him by keeping a clean sheet and commanding his area excellently against a team who rely so heavily on…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – An off day but how many more are to follow?

Chelsea, for the first time this season, struggled to penetrate their opponents even after entering familiar territory of falling a goal behind. The west Londoners have rescued all three points after conceding first against Hull, Stoke and Sunderland this season but their efforts were of no avail against the Latics. Chelsea’s 100% record came to a halt by a team understandably happy to have changed their own fortunes after ending their 34-game barren spell against the top four sides. Titus Bramble scored his third goal against the Blues after evading…

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The Championship – Week 9 review / Week 10 preview

Week 9 – The fight for three points played second fiddle to the memory of Sir Bobby Robson at Portman Road on Saturday, with two of his former clubs joining hands to celebrate his life. If Robson would have found it hard to choose between his two favourite teams, there was more than enough to choose between them on the field as Newcastle ran home heavy 4-0 winners over Ipswich. Two goals from Kevin Nolan and a Ryan Taylor free-kick in the space of four minutes put the Magpies into…

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Has the Champions League lost its magic?

So Matchday 2 of the Champions League is upon us. For the eventual winners of the competition, they will know that they are 12 games away from the first Saturday final of the competition, being held in Madrid in May. However, for the likes of the Big Four from England and the top sides from Italy and Spain, there is no doubt that the group stage of the competition is nothing more than a formality and an inconvenience for them as they try to settle into the domestic season. In…

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Sunderland 5-2 Wolves – Clinical strikers continue to paper over cracks

Sunday’s only Premier League encounter saw Sunderland host Wolves and the pair produced a topsy-turvy encounter thanks to an open game with some kamikaze defending. The 5-2 score-line in Sunderland’s favour flattered the Wearsiders, who on losing a two-goal lead gained from two penalties, risked losing the tie. Yet in many ways this match summed up much of their season so far. Having struggled to find consistency, as exhibited by their win, lose, win, lose pattern of results since the season’s beginning, the Black Cats find themselves eighth in the…

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Premier League analysis – Week 7 – Are Chelsea really that invincible?

Not one win in 34 attempts against the ‘Big Four’ for Wigan and 23 games unbeaten for Chelsea? Surely the conceivable thought in everybody’s mind was a landslide Chelsea victory on a mild Saturday afternoon at the DW Stadium. However, the unpredictability of the Premier League is enough to shock anybody. The rich superstars of Chelsea guided by the Italian mastermind versus a Wigan side with a rookie Spanish manager looking to play entertaining football with a squad ripped apart from the vultures of the Premiership is a game to…

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Stoke 0-2 Manchester United – Clock is ticking for Nani to prove his worth

At the start of the season Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson challenged Nani to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo following his departure to Real Madrid. Here, it appeared, was the perfect opportunity for the winger to finally come out of his shell and justify his £17m price-tag. True to his word, Ferguson has already played Nani in seven games this season. But whilst the Scot remains confident that Nani is capable of success at Old Trafford, his performance in Saturday’s match against Stoke highlighted the fact that…

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Uniteds Leeds and Newcastle – Sleeping giants roaring again

A glance at the top of the Championship and League One Tables following the results of the weekend indicate that two of the great clubs of English football could be on the road to recovery after a recent period of turmoil. Quite remarkably, Newcastle United and Leeds United are two of only seven English clubs to have played in the Champions League since the tournament was reformatted for the 1992/93 season. Indeed, as recently as the 2000/01 season Leeds were only 90 minutes from the final, having drawn 0-0 in…

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Wigan 3-1 Chelsea – Diamonds a Blue’s best friend?

Pre-match press conferences are frequently lifeless affairs. Without the fusion of a recent controversy or over-hyped talking point, they often take the form of players and managers flat-batting inquisitive questions posted by optimistic hacks. Friday afternoon at Chelsea’s Cobham training complex was no different. Starry-eyed from the Blues 100% record after just six games, questions were put to Carlo Ancelotti as to whether his side could go the whole campaign undefeated, “There are too many good teams in the Premier League to remain unbeaten all season so now it is…

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Premier League, as it happened: Wigan stun Chelsea while Spurs and Liverpool win in style

A great day of Premier League action. 24 goals in the six 3pm kick-offs today, with Liverpool and Tottenham scoring 11 between them – Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane bagging seven in their teams’ 6-1 and 5-0 wins over Hull and Burnley respectively. Plenty to be worked at on the training ground for the defence coaches, but exciting viewing for everyone else. Manchester United knock Chelsea off the top after beating Stoke 2-0 away, as the Blues lost 3-1 at Wigan. Blackburn beat Aston Villa late on to ease some…

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A Different League’s Saturday review – The Firm (film, 2009)

Kicking off A Different League’s Saturday review section, we take a look at 2009’s version of The Firm, currently in cinemas nationwide. The Firm is the story of Dominic (Calum McNab) – a young lad from east London who is growing frustrated with his lot in life, hanging with the same group of friends, living at home with his mum and dad, going to the same club, smoking pot and breakdancing (this is set in the 1980s after all). However one day, he comes across Bex Bissell (Paul Anderson) –…

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Bundesliga action round-up – Week 6 – September 19/20, 2009

In the game of the week, Felix Magath’s Schalke faced Wolfsburg, the side he had led to the last seasons title. Magath had signed a pre contract agreement with Schalke midway through last season, at a time when the Wolves had looked well out of the title race, yet they had then embarked on an emphatic run, duly winning the big prize. Magath still moved on and insisted before the weekend’s game that he still had no regrets. Perhaps he thought differently at the end, as Wolfsburg came out 2-1…

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The top five Manchester derbies of all time

After last weekend’s spectacular Manchester derby and the various exclamations that it was the best ever, A Different League takes a look at the definitive top five Manchester derbies. Over the years there have been dozens of terrific duels between City and United. For this reason some classics have had to be omitted from this list but the following are five of the most entertaining and memorable of all time. 5 – Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United – September 23, 1989 Many United fans have long forgotten that this match…

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