Club Focus – West Ham United – Zola Hammered again

West Ham United. Although there is not a lot united about the club at the moment. The owners, manager, players and fans all currently seem divided, as the club fights desperately again to retain its Premier League life. The Wolves game was a humiliation – the mass exodus of fans when Wolves’ third hit the back of the net was an indication that enough was enough. As perfect of an away performance as it was by Wolves, to be outplayed like that was unacceptable especially considering the circumstances – that…

Read More

Club Focus – Portsmouth – Herminator to miss Judgement Day

Portsmouth’s situation hit breaking point on Saturday, as firstly they were sickeningly downed by two of their former employees, before their injury crisis grew even further as Danny Webber and Hermann Hreidarsson joined nine others on the sidelines. If that wasn’t desperate enough, Hreidarsson’s horrendous injury – believed to be a snapped Achilles tendon – looks certain to curtail not only his season, but probably his Pompey career. The 35-year-old Icelander has become a real terrace favourite since his 2007 move and his non-involvement at Wembley in under a fortnight’s…

Read More

Club Focus – Reading – Wembley glory for young Royals’ prospect Antonio

Reading fell one step short of Wembley in the FA Cup and a visit in the play-off final is still no more than an outside bet, yet for one member of the Royals’ squad there was glory at the home of football over the weekend. Whilst still to make any real inroads in the first team setup at the Madejski Stadium, Michail Antonio has been enjoying a profitable loan spell further south with Southampton. Having impressed former Reading boss Alan Pardew by scoring in a reserve team game against his…

Read More

Club Focus – Hull City – Bullard’s bullet to West Ham

Hull City have ensured that Premier League survival will lie in their own hands after seeing off Fulham on Saturday at the KC stadium. After imploding late on against Portsmouth the previous week, Ian Dowie’s men returned with an emphatic statement to the rest of the Premier League by beating the Europa League quarter-finalists 2-0. Many had written the club off previous to Dowie’s temporary appointment and the announcement that well-travelled manager would take the reins of the struggling Yorkshire club was met with a collective gasp from many football…

Read More

Club Focus – Liverpool – Torres: the ridiculous and the sublime

Which one was your favourite then? That remarkable dipping, curling third minute effort from the corner of the box, which was so perfectly placed that you wondered at first if it had got a deflection? Or his second, when Fernando Torres appeared to briefly stop time before he nonchalantly lifted the ball past the stranded Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon and several of his defenders? Either way, Anfield witnessed something truly remarkable on Sunday afternoon. At least, it would have been remarkable if it didn’t happen so often. Torres has been…

Read More

Club Focus – Chelsea – Blues reach seven heaven

Chelsea completed their second seven goal mauling of Premier League opposition of the season this weekend and again the feat was achieved without the talismanic Didier Drogba. Carlo Ancelotti’s bold move to leave Drogba on the bench did pay dividends, however questions were asked of the Italian’s selection policy. If Drogba was fit enough to be on the bench, the Ivorian was surely fit enough to start. Leaving the Blues’ top scorer out was risky especially considering the magnitude of the game – a sour result here would have almost…

Read More

Club Focus – Arsenal – The Gunners entertain Barcelona as Henry returns

The build-ups to Arsenal’s recent fixtures have been dominated by two players – Eduardo da Silva and Cesc Fabregas – yet bizarrely it seems as though neither of the protagonists will have taken centre stage come show time. With more publicity than a Don King title fight, the visit of Barcelona certainly promises razmatazz with the Gunners seeking first to nullify and then to glorify. However, with the sparkling form of Lionel Messi and Arsenal looking increasingly likely to be without their captain and talisman – the visit also affords…

Read More

The Top 10 Manchester Utd blog awards – Results

As part of our new series of articles detailing the best of the web, A Different League has been researching the Manchester United blogosphere, and come up with a list of the 10 best Man Utd blogs, based on site design, quality of content, and regularity of blog posting. Nominations were invited from A Different League readers last month and the top 10 has now been decided. The Man Utd blog category is a strong one compared to the rest of the Premier League, therefore those that have made it…

Read More

Andrew Tuft’s Monday Column – Zola staring down the barrel

Gianfranco Zola looks set to become the latest in a long line of wonderfully talented players to endure disappointing management careers. The Italian’s remaining time at West Ham looks terminally short with the axe about to fall – either by Zola’s own doing or that of his employers, Davids Gold and Sullivan. If it does not happen before the end of the season, it is difficult to envisage Zola leading the Hammers out in early August. Not that the former Chelsea forward’s managerial career should be considered over should he…

Read More

News and Views from the Football League – Saints’ Wembley glory to inspire promotion?

The Football League has dished out its annual knock-out competition silverware following an entertaining fixture at Wembley on Sunday afternoon. A match which saw five goals fly in ended up in favour of Southampton, with Carlisle making the long trip home to Cumbria with their tails between their legs having found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline. The Saints’ victory at Wembley is their first domestic success since 1976, when Lawrie McMenemy’s side defeated Manchester United to claim the F.A. Cup, and it comes as a welcome…

Read More

Disastrous week for West Ham forces Zola to consider his options

WEST HAM 0 STOKE 1 Fuller 69 A second successive miserable home performance condemned Gianfranco Zola’s men to a sixth straight defeat. The result leaves the Hammers standing over the precipice as Hull – in 18th place – beat Fulham at home to move level on points with Zola’s side with a game in hand. An under-fire Zola was left bemoaning his sides’ lack of clinical finishing when after a rare good passage of play, Mido’s poor first touch saw a gilt-edged chance go begging. The Egyptian was unmarked near…

Read More

Red Review: Krylya given some wind beneath their Wings

In the run-up to the start of the Russian Premier League there were grave concerns over the financial status of a couple of clubs. FC Moscow were forced to pull out of the league when their main benefactors withdrew funding and a similar fate lay in store for one of the country’s most established and best supported clubs – Krylya Sovetov, or the Soviet Wings as they are more commonly known. In 2009 the Wings plodded home in their customary mid-table finish, boasting Czech internationals Jiri Jarosik and Jan Koller…

Read More

Premier League Week 32 Preview

As the Premier League edges nearer and nearer to what promises to be a pulsating climax, all 20 clubs still have something to play towards – whether it be pride in the case of Portsmouth, safety for those clubs towards the bottom of the table or glory for Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Having dropped to second last weekend – after Arsenal overcame West Ham – Manchester United resumed what has become one of England’s most fierce rivalries with Liverpool and despite going behind within just six minutes, the Red…

Read More

Club Focus – Stoke – Goal-shy Potters missing killer instinct

For all the undeniable progress made by Stoke City in only their second ever Premier League campaign, Tony Pulis’ men are still finding goals difficult to come by. Only Portsmouth and Wolves have found the net fewer times than the Potters this season. The ever-excellent Stoke fanzine The Oatcake amusingly highlighted in its weekend issue that Wayne Rooney has notched only three goals less than the entire Stoke team put together in 2009/10. If the club’s top-flight development is to continue apace, the players are going to have to become…

Read More

Club Focus – Manchester City – Fourth place paradise lost, for now

Manchester City’s schizophrenic season continued with defeat against Everton, the first of the season at Eastlands. Despite the disappointment of blowing a chance to go fourth, however, the Champions League chase is far from over but after the 2-0 loss, there is no more room for error between now and May 5, when Tottenham Hotspur venture north. The problem is, between now and then are some mightily tough games – home to Manchester United, away to Arsenal and home to Aston Villa are the three fixtures immediately before Harry Redknapp…

Read More

Liverpool news – Higuain link, watch Liverpool v Sunderland live, Gerrard admits bad form

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Liverpool. Today: Liverpool Hero Makes Very Unwise Statement. (Read more…) Liverpool star Steven Gerrard candidly admits: I’m not the force I used to be. (Read more…) Higuain linked with Liverpool. (Read more…) Rafael Ben

Read More

Club Focus – Newcastle – Carroll back from zero to hero

In a week where Andy Carroll’s latest off-the-field antics were the talk of Tyneside it was perhaps fitting that he should emerge as the match winner against Doncaster Rovers. A Carroll strike in the second half gave Newcastle a 1-0 victory and helped to allay fears that his spat with Steven Taylor would have a negative effect on the dressing room. In a season that has been all about togetherness and team spirit it was disappointing from a Newcastle perspective to see two of their key players allegedly trade blows…

Read More

Club Focus – Aston Villa – Time to be more clinical

Aston Villa’s unbeaten run in the Premier League continues, but their seventh draw of the season meant that it was two valuable points lost. Manchester City’s loss at home to Everton may have just kept the Villans in the race for fourth place, despite only gaining two points after back-to-back home games. However, with the chance to climb up to fifth place above City and within two points of Tottenham, the Villa faithful were left feeling frustrated after another missed opportunity. Although Martin O’Neill believes that there will be more…

Read More

Time for Celtic to discard sentiment

The removal of Tony Mowbray from his post as Celtic manager – following the shambolic 4-0 loss to St Mirren on Wednesday – has caused an outbreak of what can only be described as a cocktail of sympathy and relief. Sympathy for a decent man who had perhaps taken on more than he could handle. Relief that it was finally over. Watching Mowbray with head in hands on Wednesday night – clearly stressed beyond any reasonable level – suggests calling an end to the saga benefits all involved, the now…

Read More

Club Focus – Reading – Reading flying after victory over Foxes

It has taken 37 games, but finally Reading sit in the top half of the table. A dramatic stoppage time winner from the penalty spot at Leicester moved the Royals into the upper tier of the Championship for the first time this season. Brian McDermott’s team have now picked up four points from two very tough away fixtures over the past few days. The Walkers Stadium has proved a difficult place to go this season and no visiting team had left with the three points since December, a record that…

Read More

Club Focus – Chelsea – A defensive Villan

Title credentials may have been reaffirmed with Chelsea now sitting just a point behind leaders Manchester United, however a home tie against Aston Villa and a potential title decider with United lie ahead. A comfortable 5-0 win over a lowly Portsmouth did not come without consequence – injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Didier Drogba mean they are both doubts heading into the weekend tie and Ricardo Carvalho has been ruled out for five weeks with ankle ligament damage. Branislav Ivanovic will also be out for the following four games after…

Read More

Club Focus – Wolves – Victory against West Ham eases pressure in relegation scrap

What a great fortnight it has been for Wolverhampton Wanderers, picking up seven points out of an available nine, but there is still plenty of hard work ahead of them if they are to survive. Wolves had a successful end to their recent claret-and-blue trilogy by hammering West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park. The result has moved the Wanderers up into 15th in the Premier League and has given them a great boost in their survival hopes in the top flight. Kevin Doyle, who opened the scoring at Upton Park…

Read More