News and Views from the Football League – The end of the season approaches

The regular season of the Championship draws to a close this weekend and what a final round of fixtures we have been left with. The automatic promotion spots may have already been decided but there is still one final play-off place to fight for as well as a relegation berth to be filled. Nottingham Forest, Cardiff and Leicester have already booked their place in the end of season lottery, but Blackpool and Swansea are still chasing that final spot. As the table stands, Blackpool can be seen as favourites. The…

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Club Focus – Barcelona – Mourinho’s Inter keep Barca at bay to deny Los Cules a consecutive Champions League Final

It was not the spectacle that was anticipated, but Inter Milan gave the world a lesson in how to beat Barcelona, pulling out all the stops to emerge with a 3-2 aggregate victory to win a place in this year’s Champions League final. Even before being reduced to ten men, it was obvious that the Nerrazzuri had come to do one thing – protect their lead. From a Barcelona point of view, there was an unusual lack of urgency and cutting edge. Also, for once Pepe Guardiola’s tactics deserved scrutiny.…

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Diego Simeone dreams of World cup action

Diego Simeone reached the age of 40 on April 28 and for the first time in his 23 year career, the Argentine is unemployed. They say life begins at 40, but for one of Argentina’s most iconic football figures it seems to have ground to halt. The South American once described his style as “holding a knife between his teeth.” He was a natural born winner, extremely competitive and fiercely passionate. Never one to shirk a challenge, Simeone has already taken three of Argentina’s biggest jobs. He became a figure…

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Premier League predictions – Chelsea and Liverpool to share spoils, Man Utd and Tottenham 3 points

Saturday, May 1st 2010 Birmingham 2 Burnley 0 The game is already up for Burnley with last week’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool confirming their relegation. Birmingham enjoyed a fantastic season back in the top flight and will want to bounce back from last week’s derby defeat to Villa. I fancy Alex McLeish’s men to grab the points. Man City 2 Aston Villa 1 The start of a massive week for the Champions League contenders opens at the City of Manchester Stadium where sixth placed City and fifth placed Villa clash.…

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Club Focus – Birmingham – McLeish commits his future as Blues looks to kick on

With the furore of the Midlands derby slowly ebbing away, focus is now turning towards the upcoming summer and consequential season. The Birmingham City board and fans will know that the extension of Alex McLeish’s contract is of vital importance. Before McLeish arrived, Birmingham were nothing more than a yoyo club. Now, with McLeish at the helm, Birmingham appear set to sustain their status as a Premier League club – not just dawdling in the bottom half but able to kick on year on year. While losing to Aston Villa…

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Club Focus – Manchester City – Champions League crunch time at Eastlands

After the furore over Manchester City’s goalkeeping problems, attention can now turn back towards matters on the field of play. The Blues’ season will be defined with their next two fixtures, home games against Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. Six points all but guarantees Champions League qualification and the first three are on offer when Martin O’Neill’s Villains go to Eastlands on Saturday. Despite Roberto Mancini’s protestations to the contrary – the Italian said: “I don’t think I will have failed [if we finish fifth]” – City’s season has been…

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Club Focus – Arsenal – Financial boost for the Gunners as they look to add quality

A lack of silverware for the Gunners this season has strengthened the view that there is a direct trade-off in terms of economically viable management and success. As large profits have been recorded and transfers made to balance the books, it seems like the new stadium that was to be their catalyst is more akin to a millstone around the neck at present. The move to the Emirates Stadium has significantly increased Arsenal’s revenue and turnover – Forbes ranked them 3rd in their list of the world’s wealthiest clubs –…

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A Different Week – Little-known Nielsen makes big splash

For a club that have spent over £200m on players in their attempt to break the dominance of the ‘big four’, it did seem rather odd to see Manchester City resort to a 23-year-old rookie goalkeeper from the Faroe Islands last Saturday. Gunnar Nielsen, who had previously been on the books of Blackburn (where he never played) and on-loan at Motherwell (where he never played) became the first Faroese player to appear in the Premier League, trotting out on to the Emirates turf to replace the injured Shay Given on…

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Club Focus – Sunderland – All eyes on the Stadium of Light as Manchester United come to town

Many pundits are suggesting that the fate of the title depends on whether or not Chelsea can go to Liverpool and win. They apparently forget that later that day the Red Devils travel to a stadium in which only two visiting sides have managed to take full rewards this season. Sunderland are unbeaten at home in 2010 and one of the characteristics of Steve Bruce’s tenure so far, is that the Stadium of Light is beginning to regain its reputation as a formidable challenge to away sides. Only Chelsea in…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Eastlands clash a must-win in race for fourth

With almost a week passed since Villa’s last Premier League game, the players should be rested and ready for their tough away fixture against Manchester City this Saturday. A win for Villa would certainly put them in serious contention for the Champions League place. Martin O’Neill identified the fixture as a must win for his Villans, suggesting that his side have what it takes to overcome the Citizens at Eastlands: “We will go to Manchester City with loads of confidence after taking 13 points from 15. We know we have…

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Club Focus – Newcastle – Capital finish for Champions

Newcastle bring down the curtain on a memorable 2009/10 campaign with a trip to the capital to take on Queen’s Park Rangers. The Champions have little other than pride to play for although they will conscious of picking up the one point needed to reach the 100 point milestone. That would certainly be a great achievement in a season where a number of different landmarks have been reached. Manager Chris Hughton has confirmed that he will stick with the ruthless mentality that has been the key to the Magpies’ success…

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Club Focus – Tottenham Hotspur – Bolton boost important ahead of City clash

With both teams kicking off at the same time, Saturday afternoon will be a big period in the race for the Champions League between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. For Spurs, a home game against Bolton is on the agenda and Harry Redknapp’s side will go in to the game with confidence despite the late defeat at Old Trafford last weekend. Having beaten the Trotters 4-0 at White Hart Lane in an F.A Cup replay in late February, Tottenham will have little to fear ahead of the match but will…

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Has John Terry had a fair try in the media?

In recent months John Terry has been lambasted by the media every time he has a bad game for Chelsea and has been labelled as a potential liability for England’s World Cup campaign. Is it a fair criticism? Are the media being overly intrusive regarding the players’ private life and his form thus affecting his performance? Terry had been under media scrutiny all season starting with rumours of his exit in search of more money at Manchester City and most damagingly were the stories about his private life and betrayal…

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Club Focus – Everton – Moyes looks to Portugal to bolster Blues’ strike force

Everton’s potential signing of Portuguese forward Joao Silva – the new Pauleta if the media is to be believed – shows that not only is David Moyes planning for next season already, but he has pinpointed the areas he needs to strengthen if Everton are to join Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool in fighting for the Champions League. Everton’s strikers are currently misfiring, leaving the team heavily reliant on goals from midfield and defence. Joao Silva – or Joao Pedro Pereira Silva to give him his full…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Forlan finalises failure as thoughts turn to Chelsea

The extra time goal from Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan late last night ensures that, yes, it has been a catastrophic season by Liverpool’s very high standards. There will be no face saving, glorious sun-filled afternoon in Hamburg for the Europa League final – and all Reds supporters wish Fulham good luck, and a good day’s drinking at that – but Liverpool’s campaign can be safely written off as an abject failure now. Those who were concerned that their jokes – made so often, and with so much good reason, about…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Diop due to depart with few admirers

The name Papa Bouba Diop has been one Premier League fans have enjoyed saying for almost six years now. His move to Fulham in 2004 – largely off the back of an impressive World Cup in 2002 – was a huge success, although eventually trailed off, ultimately landing him on the south coast. Indeed, back in 2004, then-Pompey boss Harry Redknapp battled it out with the Cottagers for the Senegalese international before losing out at the final minute. Diop’s start to life in England was superb with suitors such as…

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Club Focus – Wolverhampton Wanderers – Henry back with much to play for at Molineux

With their Premier League status safely assured Wolverhampton Wanderers can relax as they play out their two remaining fixtures this season, but they are unlikely to be resting on their laurels. Relegated F.A Cup finalists Portsmouth await the Black Country club’s arrival for their Premier League game on Saturday at Fratton Park. Wolves still have positions and pride to play for and if they were to pick up enough points to finish in 14th place it will be seen as a good achievement for Mick McCarthy’s team, who have scrapped…

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Red Review: Kazan’s Ruby fails to sparkle

If goals are a source of joy, spare a thought for the poor folk of Kazan, where their side, defending champions, Rubin, have scored just five times in the opening seven fixtures – with only two of those coming in their last five games. Pretty poor fare. However, this chronic lack of firepower has not prevented the Ruby from occupying their customary spot at the business end of the table, because the miserly Tatarstanians have let just one goal in all season. As Jose Mourinho will smugly point out, if…

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Tottenham news – Spurs eye Bundesliga midfielder, O’Hara could make West Ham move, Bale set for bumper contract

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Tottenham. Today: West Ham hope to strike deal with Tottenham to sign Jamie O’Hara. (Read more…) Tottenham set sights on Munich playmaker. (Read more…) Tottenham fume over Man City deal for Sunderland keeper Fulop. (Read more…) Bale is poised to double his money at Spurs. (Read more…) Play Fantasy Football this weekend and win upto £80 for picking the team of the weekend. (Find out more…) Don’t forget to check out the Tottenham…

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Man Utd news – Benzema rumours increase, Modric linked with summer move, fans urge Glazers boycott

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Manchester United. Today: Manchester United linked with summer move for Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric. (Read more…) Manchester United to Make Big Summer Bid for £35m La Liga Man. (Read more…) Manchester United fans urged to boycott season tickets over Glazers. (Read more…) Manchester United warned off £20m Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic. (Read more…) Play Fantasy Football this weekend and win upto £80 for picking the team of the weekend. (Find out more…)…

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Man City news – City in for Zarate, Toni, Deschamps dismisses Tevez rumours, Hart set for starting role next year

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Manchester City. Today: Lazio Striker Mauro Zarate Attracts Attention From Liverpool & Manchester City. (Read more…) Deschamps dismisses Tevez links. (Read more…) Manchester City ready to hand Hart starting role next season. (Read more…) Toni linked with Mancini reunion at Manchester City. (Read more…) Play Fantasy Football this weekend and win upto £80 for picking the team of the weekend. (Find out more…) Don’t forget to check out the Manchester City Club page,…

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Liverpool news – ‘Pool chase £7m defender, Benitez reveals no-one has asked him to stay, Athletico preview

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Liverpool. Today: Liverpool v Atletico Madrid preview. (Read more…) Liverpool Chase £7m Rated Rangers Centre Back: Rafa Wants Experienced Defender to Make Anfield Move. (Read more…) Benitez: no one has asked me to stay at Liverpool. (Read more…) Reading give Spurs and Liverpool green light to prise £4m-rated duo Adam Federici and Gylfi Sigursdsson. (Read more…) Play Fantasy Football this weekend and win upto £80 for picking the team of the weekend. (Find…

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Fulham news – Hodgson will stay – Al-Fayed, Hamburg preview, Soot plans Fulham exit

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Fulham. Today: Fulham v Hamburg preview. (Read more…) Fulham owner Al Fayed says Hodgson will remain as boss. (Read more…) Gold regrets Fulham appeal. (Read more…) Stoor planning Fulham exit. (Read more…) Play Fantasy Football this weekend and win upto £80 for picking the team of the weekend. (Find out more…) Don’t forget to check out the Fulham Club Focus piece every Tuesday and Friday here at A Different League for the latest…

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Premier League Week 37 preview – Races for fourth spot and title in crucial weekend

With the three sides that drop out of the Premier League finally confirmed as Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull City, attentions are now fully focused on the top of the table with both the title race and fourth spot set to go all the way to the final day of the season. Manchester United showed exactly what champions are made of last Saturday, securing a hard fought 3-1 victory over in form Tottenham Hotspur and putting the pressure firmly on their title rivals. Chelsea answered in emphatic fashion, demolishing Stoke City…

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