Ligue 1 Focus – Le Classique postponed due to swine flu

Sunday’s big clash dubbed ‘Le Classique’ between PSG and Marseille was postponed due to several players contracting swine flu. It is the first match at senior level to be cancelled due to the virus. In the light of recent reports in England, following players at Blackburn and Bolton contracting swine flu, it will surely be a worry to other football factions across Europe of the virus spreading amongst players. Three PSG players including Ludovic Giuly and Mamadou Sakho were diagnosed with the virus on Saturday, which was followed by a…

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Bundesliga Focus – Big trouble at Schalke

Despite all the drama on the pitch in the previous week in the Bundesliga, it has been a story off the pitch that has been grabbing all the attention in Germany with the seriousness of Schalke’s financial problems finally coming to light. At the start of October, the Financial Times Deutschland ran a piece claiming that Schalke were suffering from a lack of funds due to four of their five bank accounts being empty. Originally Schalke denied these claims, insisting the accounts were in credit, but have since admitted to…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – Same again please

With thirteen goals in three games, the Blues are on a rampant spell with the midfield and attack collaborating in forceful displays. The midweek performance was warming on Blue eyes, with neat football in a compact midfield. Carlo Ancelotti’s familiarity of the Bolton footballing style was evident, as Chelsea capitalised on tempo alterations throughout the game, often changing gear to a quick pace and consequently the Northerners were often found chasing shadows. Technically gifted players such as Deco, Joe Cole and Flourent Malouda were able to provide an abundance of…

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Club Focus – Tottenham – Will Jenas be Jermaine man in the derby?

Cast your minds back a year to the end of October 2008. A thrilling game was played out at the Emirates Stadium between two fierce local rivals, ending in a draw after eight goals were shared between the two teams. The home team were flying high in the Premier League and the visitors were rock bottom after a nightmare start that had already cost the manager his job. Arsenal sat fourth, a point behind surprise package Hull, whilst Tottenham were bringing up the rear with just five points from nine…

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Club Focus – Fulham – Tough games just keep coming

After three games in six days last week, of which not one ended in defeat, Fulham’s players had a well-earned rest during round four of the Carling Cup. But, after a home Europa League tie with Roma and an unlikely draw at Manchester City, the Whites’ reward for an excellent week’s work is the visit of Liverpool. Although Fulham are far from unaccustomed with beating Saturday’s visitors at Craven Cottage – with three home wins in eight Premier League seasons – there is still no question that every player must…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Guzan central to Villa’s Carling Cup ambitions

The Villans progressed into the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup on Tuesday and if there is one player who should receive the entire plaudits, it is the goalkeeper, Brad Guzan. The American goalkeeper faced a total of five penalties in the game – four of which he saved expertly. And if this was not enough, Guzan was on form throughout the game pulling off a series of fine saves, in particular a one-on-one effort from Kieran Richardson, which prevented Sunderland winning the game deep into extra time. The goalless score…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Gladiator, ready?

The new banner that hung between the corner of the Kop and the Centenary Stand at the Manchester United game last weekend caught the eye of all who were there. ‘A hero will rise’, it proclaimed – the tagline from the hit 2000 film Gladiator. It depicted a Roman soldier complete in full armour and ready for battle, except instead of Russell Crowe, the figure glaring out onto the Anfield pitch with his gameface on was Alberto Aquilani. Reds supporters have faced what seemed like an interminable wait to see…

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A Different Week – Martinez minces his words

Roberto Martinez has made a slow and steady start to life as Wigan manager but he was certainly in the news this week as he apparently made a stinging verbal attack on a number of Premier League managers. The diminutive Spaniard was quoted by Spanish magazine AS as saying: “[The FA] have just sanctioned [Sir Alex] Ferguson for saying that referee was not fit enough and the truth is that they’re almost apologising to him for punishing him. Any other Coach would have been crushed for that. Ferguson has been…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Back to winning ways

Tuesday night’s trip to Barnsley for the Carling Cup tie provided Manchester United with the ideal opportunity to get back to winning ways but also to rest many of the first team players who may have needed some down time to recover from the disastrous performance at Anfield. Sir Alex Ferguson made wholesale changes – as was expected – from the side that played against Liverpool giving starts to Anderson, Michael Owen, Gary Neville, Danny Welbeck and Gabriel Obertan to name but a few. Of the mentioned players Neville will…

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Club Focus – Newcastle – All change at the club where everything stays the same

The short term future of Newcastle United became a lot clearer this week when owner Mike Ashley announced that the club were no longer up for sale. The Magpies also firmed up their structure on the pitch with the permanent appointment of Chris Hughton on an 18-month deal. While the announcement was not entirely unexpected it is still a bitter blow for the supporters who can’t wait to see the back of Ashley. It is the second time he has put the club up for sale only to take it…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – SouthEnders

Barbara Windsor this week announced that she will be quitting her role in EastEnders after 15 years on the soap. Portsmouth have yet to deny the actress, famous for playing pub landlady Peggy Mitchell, is being lined up for a role in the soap opera at Fratton Park, as life on South Coast takes yet another twist. Indeed, if Pompey’s off-the-pitch woes were that of a scripted TV show, it would be all too far-fetched and ridiculous. However, the South Coast saga is very real, and as Paul Hart attempts…

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A season in the saddle – The story of one York City fan and his bike

Every lower league football supporter will tell you that they are a ‘true’ fan. They don’t need a Sky plus subscription or a club-endorsed credit card. For them, all they need is an away day in Altrincham on a wintery Tuesday night to reaffirm their faith. One fan, however, has taken his devotion to a whole new level – Simon Hood will be following York City to every match this year. Nothing new there you may think. He is, however, following them for the full 10 months on his push…

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From The Archive – Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal – October 23, 1999

West London, on a washed out autumn afternoon. Buried amongst the huddle of celebrating Arsenal players was the gangly frame of their No. 25. The young African forward had just heralded himself from Gunners cult hero to legend with a match-winning performance against bitter London rivals Chelsea on their own patch. Emmanuel Adebayor this was not – Nwankwo Kanu it most definitely was. Adebayor was but a 15-year-old, quite possibly watching on as his idol (and admittedly, sole reason for wanting to own the number 25 jersey during his time…

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Match preview – Fulham vs. Liverpool – Tough away-day for Rafa’s revitalised Reds

Liverpool travel to Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon on the back of an inspiring win against rivals Manchester United. Having already lost four league games this season, the three points against United were much needed, and will give the Liverpool players a lot of confidence ahead of the game on Saturday. Fulham have also had a mixed start to their season, recording only three wins so far, and losing four. Craven Cottage is an extremely difficult place to go to, with Fulham beating both Arsenal and Manchester United their last…

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Carling Cup action round-up – Round 4 – No surprises as Premier League sides prove too strong

There were no shock defeats in the Carling Cup fourth round as the Premier League teams held their form to continue to the last eight. Manchester City sustained a sublime run that has seen them lose only one game in all competitions so far by winning 5-1 against Championship relegation-battlers Scunthorpe, who left themselves exposed with their free style of play. This competition could offer Mark Hughes some silverware and he showed his understanding of this by fielding a strong side and a fresh face – Roque Santa Cruz, who…

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News and Views from the Football League – Blink and you’ll miss it

Well, it’s all been happening in the Championship this week. The news has just kept flowing and there are simply too many issues to discuss fully here. Needless to say however, if your team is the near the top of the Championship, exciting times are ahead. Firstly there is the matter of a potential new signing at the Walkers Stadium. Milan Mandaric has revealed that the Foxes have been in discussion with former Dutch international Edgar Davids. Always a stand-out figure on the pitch, the midfielder had a talent for…

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Match preview – Everton vs. Aston Villa – Injuries could hold the key

If ever there was an advertisement for the Premier League, this fixture last season would be it – a five goal thriller which saw Everton lose 3-2 with the final kick of the game. Everton had already equalised in injury-time with Joleon Lescott scoring his second of the game but were caught napping by a sprightly Ashley Young in the dying seconds. This didn’t stop Everton finishing a place above the team in claret and blue last season, beating Villa to the finishing line by a solitary point. The fifth…

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Has Moyes taken Everton as far as he can?

There has been much discussion at the start of this Premier League season about which clubs can break into the top four and gain Champions League qualification for next season. Whilst the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have had a great start to the campaign, it is worth considering a team who were in the top four at the end of the 2004/05 season and have finished fifth in both of the last two. Everton have had a remarkable few years under the managerial guidance of David Moyes.…

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The Championship – Week 14 review / Week 15 preview

Week 14 – Cardiff moved second in the table after a thrilling match at Sheffield United. The Bluebirds ran out winners by the odd goal in seven, with Peter Whittingham the hero as he grabbed a hat-trick. The midfielder now has nine goals in the last six games, and 12 for the season overall. Jay Bothroyd gave the Welsh visitors the lead a few minutes before half-time, sparking an incredible period leading into the break. Two minutes later, Darius Henderson levelled for the Blades, only for Whittingham to net his…

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Premier League Lessons – Robbie Fowler

The next edition of Premier League Lessons sees Liverpool’s own, Robbie Fowler, remembered. “I hate talking about football. I just do it, you know?”– Robbie Fowler None of the 12,541 people who were there could have imagined what they were going to see, but Liverpool’s supporters were about to witness something special at Anfield on the evening of October 5, 1993. Eighteen-year-old Robbie Fowler, who had scored bags of goals in Liverpool’s youth and reserve teams, and notched his first senior strike in the first leg of this League Cup…

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La Liga action round-up – Week 7 – October 24-25, 2009

Barcelona treated their fans to a masterclass in attacking football as they beat Real Zaragoza 6-1 at the Camp Nou. It was Seydou Keita, playing alongside Xavi in midfield, who put the home side ahead on 25, latching onto a perfectly weighted cross from Lionel Messi to head past Juan Carrizo. Zlatan Ibrahimovic doubled the lead 12 minutes later with a thunderous free-kick from 30 yards out, and it was the Swede who orchestrated Barca’s third – playing a sumptuous ball across the face of goal for Keita tap in…

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Bundesliga action round-up – Week 10 – October 23-25, 2009

A dramatic last minute equaliser gained a point for Schalke against ten-man Hamburg in a dramatic six goal thriller at the Arena AufSchalke. Schalke, who had the chance to go top of the table, found themselves two goals down at half-time, following goals from Marcus Berg and Piotr Trochowski. However, they clawed their way back into the game following the break, Kevin Kuranyi scoring Schalke’s first with a fine header after 50 minutes. Ten minutes later Hamburg were reduced to ten men, when David Rozenthal was sent off for a…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Bouncebackability

It was when the first beach ball bounced down from the Kop that everyone seemed to have got the message – enough is enough. After weeks of being ridiculed, torn apart and told about the dim, almost post-apocalyptic near-future of the club, it was time to remind everyone of what Liverpool FC is all about. The dozens of inflatable balls that found their way from the Reds supporters onto the pitch before kick off against Manchester United carried the humble, self-deprecating, typically Liverpudlian message that the supporters had seen the…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Thommo draws short straw as Pompey secure languid stalemate

“Bad news Jeff, both teams did come out for the second half.” chirped a broken Phil Thompson, after enduring a horrific first 45 at the KC Stadium. Unfortunately for the Sky Sports resident Scouser, the second half was of little improvement as Portsmouth gained just their second points score of the season. In retrospect, as Pompey sit rock bottom at present, any point is a point gained. However, in a match void of any quality whatsoever, Paul Hart’s men did have two very good chances, yet were again let down…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Poor showing from all involved at Anfield

There are few positives Manchester United can take from Sunday’s defeat at Anfield. The Red Devils were in a perfect position to deal a significant blow to Liverpool’s top four ambitions but failed to deliver any sort of performance. Liverpool is now only four points behind United, with the Red Devils themselves two points behind table-toppers Chelsea. This in itself does not make for pleasant reading, considering the position United were in after the previous weekend’s round of games, but what is most disappointing for everyone involved at Manchester United…

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