Spurs show strength in depth as they ease to comfortable win over Fulham

TOTTENHAM 2Crouch 27, Bentley 60 FULHAM 0 The odds were stacked against an injury-hit Fulham side, making the short hop across the capital to face Tottenham and it proved to be a fairly comfortable night for the home side. The north London side came out of the traps like a team possessed, playing with a high tempo and immediately forcing two saves from Fulham stopper Mark Schwarzer. The first goal arrived after 27 minutes when a left-footed looping cross from David Bentley was not dealt with, firstly by Schwarzer –…

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Club Focus – Tottenham – Lacking in killer instinct

It was a tale of two penalties at White Hart Lane as Tottenham blew the chance of a comfortable passage through to the FA Cup Fifth Round. Jermain Defoe spurned an early opportunity from the spot that would have given substance to Spurs’ early dominance and Leeds were still in the game when Jermaine Beckford was given a late, late chance to equalise. With just an extra letter “E” on the Leeds striker’s name to distinguish him from his more illustrious namesake, Beckford raised his growing profile with a display…

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Premier League Preview – 26/27 January, 2010

After 18 teams had a weekend off from the Premier League while the nation took in the magic of the FA Cup, it’s back with a bang as a near full midweek fixture is upon us this week. With Manchester United set to do battle with their City rivals in the Carling Cup second leg on Wednesday, it gives Chelsea and Arsenal the opportunity to leapfrog them at the top of the table, while Liverpool and Aston Villa can both take over Manchester City with three points in the race…

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Club Focus – Leeds United – Whites force Elland Road replay as Beckford silences his critics

Manager Simon Grayson declared prior to the clash with Manchester United the FA Cup would be a reward for his achieving troops. He made it clear the starting lineup would feature those who were performing to their best in League One fixtures. Two matches later (A historic win at Old Trafford and a hard fought draw in London) and Grayson is perhaps wondering deep inside whether this emotionally charged run in the FA Cup will begin to have undesirable consequences on the club’s main objective which remains promotion to the…

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Club Focus – Manchester City – Robinho saga rumbles on

A much changed Manchester City side made it through a tricky tie with Scunthorpe United to reach the FA Cup fifth round, but the headlines again revolved around just one man. Robinho’s presence in the starting line-up meant more stories of his underachievement in Manchester were inevitable, but the Brazilian may soon be out of the spotlight. In the aftermath of the 4-2 victory over Nigel Adkins’ side, Robinho admitted to a Brazilian television station he had played his last game for City. It appears now the former Real Madrid…

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Club Focus – Arsenal – It’s tough at the top

Arsenal’s return to the summit of the Premier League was somewhat short lived as Manchester United seized top spot on Saturday with victory over Hull City, but their brief flirtation with the leadership brings with it a new set of challenges. After all of the delayed fixtures have been played, and first place has been passed around like a hot potato, it is likely to be very much ‘as you were’ in terms of the league standings. Although their three days at the top are of limited practical significance, withstanding…

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Africa Cup of Nations – Week 2 review/ Week 3 preview

Week 2 – Controversy hung uneasily over the tournament as Mali departed early with a deep sense of injustice. For some, Angola’s draw with Algeria leaves a nasty taste that will take some shifting. Both teams knew a draw would suffice to take them through to the knock-out stages, while Mali required victory over Malawi and an Angolan win, given their inferior head-to-head record with Algeria. The Malians completed their side of the deal by defeating the Flames 3-1 courtesy of a Fredi Kanoute opener, Seydou Keita’s stunning free-kick and…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – Post Christmas treats keep coming

This year’s FA Cup is like a box of chocolates – you munch your favourites early then make the most of those that remain. Well, so it seems for Chelsea anyway as three of the top four have plummeted from the tournament in its opening two (higher tiered) rounds. The Blues certainly haven’t given up on this illustrious and historic competition, and if the others want to disrespect the most prestigious of domestic cups on offer then so be it. Carlo Ancelotti undoubtedly came to the Blue of London with…

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Liverpool daily news – Benitez to Juventus, Kenwyn Jones latest, Rush: Aquilani can be a star

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Liverpool. Today: Read a full match preview of the Premier League game between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on Tuesday Jan 26 2010, kick-off 19.45 GMT. (The Telegraph) Juventus are believed to be considering an attempt to lure Rafael Ben

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Good Return from sole Premier League fixture

Manchester United started the match against Hull City this weekend with two former teenage wonders and former England partners spearheading the attack. They may have been on the same wavelength at times during the encounter but there is no doubt that they are poles apart in terms of their current fortunes. Wayne Rooney was in sublime form as his goal scoring exploits would suggest drawing praise from both Sir Alex Ferguson and Phil Brown. The latter stating he felt that Rooney is one of the top strikers in world football.…

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Club Focus – Fulham – will return to attractive football provide fresh impetus?

Uninspiring, unattractive, uncomfortable – three words that sum up Fulham’s FA Cup trip to the uneven surface of the Crown Ground. In fairness to Accrington Stanley, they played a perfect 60 minutes of football. Before Damien Duff’s goal on 61 minutes the hosts were far better, and but for Darran Kemspon’s red card just before half-time, might well have provided the fairytale this year’s cup deserves. The performances of the majority – especially Mark Schwarzer, Brede Hangeland, Chris Baird and Danny Murphy – can be forgotten, but just enough in…

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Club Focus – Stoke – Old Guard Inspires Stoke to Famous Cup Win

Mama Sidibe, Ricardo Fuller, Rory Delap and Tony Pulis. Four men who were pivotal to Stoke’s 2007/08 promotion to the Premier League, their first such dalliance with football’s elite in almost a quarter of a century. This quartet has come in for criticism recently however as the Potters have endured a Jekyll and Hyde campaign this term. At times this disapproval has been warranted, but on Sunday these old hands bounced back to silence their detractors in considerable style. The Potters’ 3-1 FA Cup Fourth Round upset of Arsenal was…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Blues set for pivotal week

After weeks of uncertainty, it looks as if we’re finally going to get some action on the transfer front – both inwards and outwards. It is on good authority that the transfer embargo will be lifted as soon as today or tomorrow, and with the help of a few big-name exits, Avram Grant will get his chance to dip into the January sales. Mark Jacob gave a small outline of the coming week but stopped short of raising any kind of hope amongst fans. Words such as “could” and “hopefully”…

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Club Focus – Reading – Up for the Cup but what about the league?

With Reading’s FA Cup form a distinct improvement on their league showings, the draw for the next round will have come as something of a disappointment. Having demonstrated the ability to live with and beat Premier League sides in both rounds so far, it would have been preferable to have drawn another top-flight side. Divisional rivals seem to be a problem for the Royals at the moment as the club languish in the relegation zone. Whilst the second half performance last weekend against Nottingham Forest was a great improvement on…

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Club Focus – Hull City – Wacky Zaki a calculated risk

By Niall McGlone It has been a big week for Hull City, more so off the pitch rather than on it. The clubs allegations against former chairman Paul Duffen has attracted national media attention and could perhaps affect the team’s focus, not least Phil Brown’s, who had a close relationship with his former boss. The upcoming home game against Wolves could be a season defining moment and one that the Tigers feel they can and must win in front of their own fans. The team should head into the game…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Villa’s impressive cup form continues

Whilst some critics may argue that Villa’s league form has been somewhat inconsistent, their cup form has been the complete opposite. Reaching the final of the Carling Cup last Wednesday only prompted the Villans to embark on another campaign for silverware after beating a hardworking Brighton side in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Lacking his usual modesty, Martin O’Neill showed a hint of optimism following his side’s victory: “Can we reach two cup finals this season? We are certainly going to try. We’ve reached one already and now…

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Club Focus – Newcastle – Magpies left angered by official

Newcastle United will now just have their league ambitions to concentrate on following their exit from the FA Cup at the weekend. It was with a great feeling of injustice that Newcastle went out of the cup in a 4-2 to defeat to West Brom. Referee James Linnington’s performance was the game’s main talking point as he angered the Newcastle faithful with a number of controversial decisions which seemed to favour the home side. Even the normally calm and relaxed Chris Hughton struggled to contain his disappointment at the inept…

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News and Views from the Football League – Beckford’s awaiting a twilight deal?

Another exciting January week is upon us and all the signs are there that there will be plenty more activity to come as the transfer window draws to a close. The start of a new calendar year always proves to be an interesting time in football, especially since the introduction of the mid-season transfer window. January was once famed for being the date of the F.A. Cup third round, the time when the minnows of English football had the opportunity to embarrass one of our giants. Of course, this is…

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Ligue 1 Focus – Money, money, money…

For the past few years the economic world has suffered a crisis on a catastrophic scale. Unfortunately for the sporting world, the footballing economy is no exception. While the world experienced a large scale economic boom fuelled on credit so did the footballing figures as transfer fees rose rapidly over the last decade. However as the bubble continued to swell and reach a colossal size, the bubble was consequently bound to burst. The LFP last week revealed that for the first time in three years the figures after tax for…

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La Liga player profile – Sergio Canales, Racing Santander

At just 18 years of age Sergio Canales Madrazo is a player in demand. The Racing Santander midfielder, in just under 2 years of becoming a professional, has been rapidly gaining rave reviews in Spain for his performances this season that have since fuelled major transfer speculation throughout Europe. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal are just a few of the big names who have taken an interest. Whilst scouts have been flooding to the El Sardinero to catch a glimpse of the prot

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Andrew Tuft’s Monday Column – Big guns’ failure to fire leaves FA Cup wide open

After a weekend that saw another of the Premier League’s big four drop out of the FA Cup, as well as last year’s beaten finalists, the road to Wembley is clear for a number of less glamorous names. Chelsea remain favourites to retain their trophy, but the likes of Birmingham City and Stoke City must be considered dark horses to taste glory in May. Stoke, who dispatched Arsenal in comfortable fashion yesterday, and Birmingham, whose victory over Everton on Saturday made it 15 games unbeaten this season, have further depleted…

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Lilywhites no match as Blues cruise

PRESTON 0 CHELSEA 2Anelka 37, Sturridge 47. There was no FA Cup romance to be found at Deepdale yesterday, more of a speed-date. Played against the backdrop of the world’s oldest league football ground, with a crisp bite to the Lancastrian air, the gulf between Preston North End and Chelsea was simply too big. The Cup holders opted to give a breather to Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic but it mattered little as two goals, either side of half-time, ensured a serene passage through to the…

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