Club Focus – Tottenham Hotspur – Redknapp insists surprise Wigan defeat is not a Champions League hangover

The popular explanation for Tottenham’s surprise home defeat to Wigan has been a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s show.” Having sealed qualification for the group stages of the Champions League in midweek, and then the excitement of being drawn against holders Inter Milan, Spurs could only offer a limp performance against the whipping boys of the fledgling Premier League season. Harry Redknapp dismissed the suggestions that his team had suffered a hangover from their European exploits, exposing a flaw in the argument with his assertion that after a 4-0…

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Club Focus – Wolves – Good start continues but McCarthy’s side far from the finished article

Five points from three games may represent Wolves best start to a Premier League season, but after the draw with Newcastle on Saturday, the main talking point lay in the team’s approach to the game. Criticisms about the Black Country side’s physicality were issued and there were also questions about whether Mick McCarthy’s brief flirtation with 4-4-2 has run it’s course. The game, which has been described as harking back to the 1970’s, saw 12 yellow cards waved, four of which were for fouls on Joey Barton. Newcastle may not…

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Club Focus – Bolton Wanderers – Late rally saves Jaaskelainen’s blushes

Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen provided the main talking point as his rash antics almost came at the cost of tarnishing their unbeaten start to the season. There was much hype going into Sunday’s early afternoon kick-off- with both sides looking to build on a win and a draw from their first two games. Both Birmingham City and Bolton had also been tipped by bookies in pre-season to finish in the top-half of the table, and with Wanderers playing at home; there was a window of opportunity to get ahead of…

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Club Focus – Newcastle – Magpies and Barton survive Wolves assault

Going into the two week international break manager Chris Hughton will be pleased with the start his side have made to life in the Premier League. On the back of the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Wolves they sit 8th in the embryonic league table with four points from three games. That is a respectable total given the tough start the fixture computer gave the Magpies before the season began. The undoubted highlight was the 6-0 victory over Aston Villa and there will be further satisfaction gained from a battling point…

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Club Focus – Everton – Moyes facing Cahill question as Everton’s progress becomes what is holding them back

After Everton’s latest early season disappointment, this time a 1-0 reverse against Aston Villa where the Blues dominated much of the game, a solution to the Toffees’ problems has become the Holy Grail on the Blue half of Merseyside. Some will point to simple bad luck and there may be a kernel of truth to that – who could have predicted Tim Howard would commit a rare blunder against Blackburn Rovers, or Marouane Fellaini would stumble over the ball on Sunday? But to suggest it is simply misfortune that has…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Hodgson finds a Portuguese man of war in Raul Meireles

Liverpool supporters always appreciate effort. It doesn’t matter if players haven’t got the most impressive technical ability – as long as they give their all for the Red shirt then they are going to be backed to the hilt. It’s why the likes of Igor Biscan and Erik Meijer are still fondly recalled despite their limited levels of skill – or almost complete lack thereof – but when a player combines that undeniable will-to-win with genuine, out-and-out quality, then the fans have got a favourite on their hands. That’s why…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Sorry Pompey hit rock bottom

They say every season starts with renewed optimism, but for beleaguered Portsmouth fans, it was a case of renewed ambiguity and uncertainty. Many predicted the side could still have the required quality to launch a play-off assault with off-field matters slowly returning to normality – some thought mid-table security was beckoning, while others thought a season fighting relegation was in the offing amid continued off-filed predicaments. After four league games, one glance at the table will tell you just which party were right. As Pompey prop-up up the Championship table…

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Club Focus – Aston Villa – Victory over Everton fails to mask the problems at Villa Park

Although Aston Villa beat Everton on Sunday, their performance did not warrant a victory and only partially masked the evident problems at the club. Luke Young’s rare goal brought about a 1-0 win over a club that are often quoted as the club whose seasonal prospects are most similar to Aston Villa. In that regard, it was an excellent win and one that was a rarity last season. Too often Villa played games at home and failed to scrap out a victory. Should the guile and effort be repeated at…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – United bounce back with another convincing home win over the Hammers

After the disappointment of dropping two points at Fulham last weekend, Manchester United bounced back with an excellent performance and a convincing win over West Ham at Old Trafford. The match was reminiscent of the opening-day victory over Newcastle, not just in the 3-0 scoreline but in the pattern of the game. In both matches, United controlled the game early on without making the breakthrough before dominating totally once ahead without racking up the number of goals their superiority deserved. After the match with the Magpies, Sir Alex Ferguson described…

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Club Focus – Fulham – Konchesky departure means Hughes is set for busy deadline day

With the transfer window coming to a close at the end of today, the Fulham final 25 could yet take on a very different shape to the one Mark Hughes currently has to work with. With Paul Konchesky a near-certainty to join Liverpool, and Mark Schwarzer looking increasingly likely to finally move to the Emirates, the loss of two members of the mean Fulham defence of recent years leaves work to be done on the busiest day of the footballing year. Konchesky is undoubtedly missed when he doesn’t line up…

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Club Focus – Blackpool – Seasiders Surrender to Sparky’s Fulham

A carnival atmosphere buzzed around Bloomfield Road on Blackpool’s first home game in the Premier League. Pre-match, souvenirs and mementos of the historic occasion were being sold on every corner of the ground. Optimism was the key word of the day, as the fans settled in for what became a rollercoaster ride of a match at Bloomfield Road. Mark Hughes’ side took a lead into the interval after Bobby Zamora’s somewhat controversial close-range finish on 37 minutes. In the build-up to the play, Blackpool’s Ian Evatt seemed to be unfairly…

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Club Focus – Chelsea – Nine points from three games as Blues keep up perfect start

Chelsea players departing for the international break will leave the club top of the Premier League table after a 100 percent start to the season continued with Saturday’s 2-0 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge. Going into the weekend Chelsea led the way as the only side yet to drop points after 6-0 victories over West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic and maintained their advantage as goals from Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba’s penalty saw off Tony Pulis’ men. After Frank Lampard saw his weak spot-kick saved by Thomas…

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Club Focus – Stoke City – Are Potters being too hasty in writing off Liam Lawrence?

With the transfer window about to slam shut, the new 25-man squad directive threatens to spark a flurry of last minute deals. Few clubs were expecting to be busier than Stoke City, with the Britannia Stadium set to be a hive of activity as Tony Pulis seeks as many as five new faces ahead of Tuesday’s 6pm deadline. Amid all the wheeling and dealing, one player who looks likely to leave the Potteries is Liam Lawrence, offered to Portsmouth along with Dave Kitson and a rumoured £3m in exchange for…

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Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – Home defeat to Arsenal but it’s not all gloom for Allardyce’s men

Blackburn Rovers slumped to their second consecutive league defeat this weekend as they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side. Theo Walcott’s sparkling form continued as he bagged an impressive opener in the first-half, but his vicious strike was cancelled out by an equally well worked goal scored by Mame Diouf minutes later. Russian forward Andrei Arshavin sealed the victory for the Gunners at the beginning of the second-half, condemning Rovers to their first home defeat of this new campaign. Ewood Park has become somewhat of a fortress…

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Club Focus – West Ham – Hammers brushed aside at Old Trafford and still without a point

West Ham suffered their third defeat of the season away to Manchester United, which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the Premier League heading into the international break. The Hammers were not expected to get anything from the game, but another loss will only add to the pressure Avram Grant is under to gain his first league win in charge. In his first three league games, his team have conceded nine goals and scored only one, a Mark Noble penalty against Bolton Wanderers. The fixture list has not been…

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Club Focus – Manchester City – Given turns down Fulham offer to stay at City

As you are reading this piece, I’s will be dotted and the T’s crossed on dozens of last-minute transfers up and down the land. Managers will desperately look to find the elusive final piece in the jigsaw to complete their squads. Without pausing for breath, managers will present new recruits to the Media, the smiles on their faces betraying the doubts which lie at the back of their mind. Make no mistake; most of the transfers will be made in a rush, the players struggling to justify the vastly inflated…

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Chelsea Analysis – Efficient Chelsea see off Stoke

Chelsea’s blistering start to the season showed no signs of stopping as they eased out a dogged Stoke side in an efficient display. CHELSEA 2Malouda 32, Drogba 77 STOKE 0 Though the visitors were spared the embarrassment of a six goal landslide, Chelsea were clear and deserved winners despite Frank Lampard’s early penalty miss. His failure to convert from the spot means Lampard has now missed his last three penalties dating all the way back to the FA Cup Final in May. When referee Martin Atkinson awarded Chelsea a second…

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A Different Opinion – With the England squad for the European Championship qualifiers announced yesterday, is Theo Walcott the answer to the team’s recent problems?

Each week, A Different League takes an emerging issue from the Premier League and gathers the viewpoint of three of our expert writers. This week: With the England squad for the European Championship qualifiers announced yesterday, is Theo Walcott the answer to the team’s recent problems? Alex Bath: “If Theo Walcott is the answer then people have seriously misunderstood the questions the English national team face. There is no doubting Walcott’s talent. He has performed on many occasions. Walcott’s problem is he rarely has a run of games where he has performed.…

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Aston Villa Analysis – Stubborn Villa hold out for victory

ASTON VILLA 1L. Young 9 EVERTON 0 Luke Young’s early goal proved to be enough to secure victory for Aston Villa, as they fought hard to hang to their lead against a strong Everton side to record a second Premier League victory of the season. It has been a difficult week for the Villains, losing embarrassingly to newly promoted Newcastle United last weekend and then being knocked out of Europe midweek. Yesterday’s result was the perfect tonic for Kevin MacDonald’s side. Villa’s system under MacDonald resembles a cross between a…

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Liverpool Analysis – Reds still searching for fluidity as Torres inspires crucial first win

LIVERPOOL 1Torres 66 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0 “Being brutally honest they haven’t brought any top-class players in to replace the ones they have sold. They haven’t tried to improve the squad. Nando deserves to be playing with the best players like he does with Spain. If Liverpool have another disappointing season that will be it for him. Our coach Pep Guardiola is a big admirer of Nando. If he wanted to leave next summer I would imagine Barcelona to be very much in the running.” As Arsene Wenger will testify,…

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Premier League Analysis – Three games in, can we start judging the teams?

As John Motson is often so eager to reminisce about, many years ago the league did not even publish tables until three games in. The idea being that you cannot really judge the form of the teams until they have played a few times. So three games in, can we now judge the state of the league? Chelsea will be delighted with their start. They may have enjoyed this weekend less than some recently, disappointing everyone by only winning 2-0 against Stoke. Frank Lampard missed his third penalty of recent…

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Club Focus – Everton – Toffees turn attention to Aston Villa after leaping over Huddersfield hurdle

A morale-boosting 5-1 League Cup victory over Huddersfield Town was the perfect tonic for an Everton side suffering a lack of confidence after a poor start to the Premier League season, but when the league campaign resumes on Sunday at Villa Park, Everton will be faced with a Jekyll and Hyde home outfit. Will David Moyes be faced with the Villa side that dismantled West Ham on the opening weekend of the season, or the one that crumpled against Newcastle United in their last domestic outing? Gauging which Villa will…

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Marlon King Set For Controversial Return

Disgraced footballer, Marlon King, is set for a controversial return to the Football League following his release from prison last month having served nine months of an eighteen-month jail sentence for assaulting a woman in a London nightclub. King was sacked by Wigan Athletic Chairman Dave Whelan, who claimed that he couldn’t see a future in professional football for King. The thirty-year-old is no stranger to controversy, having faced criminal charges in court seven times since the age of seventeen. Whilst playing for Gillingham back in 2002, King was and…

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Club Focus – Manchester City – City into Europe as Ireland’s Aston Villa crash out

Even Manchester City fans with the most nervous of dispositions could not have worried unduly about Europa League qualification. This Manchester City team is built of stronger, more expensive material than Stephen Ireland’s Aston Villa side disposed of by Rapid Vienna at this stage of the competition for the second consecutive season, and adding to their one-goal first-leg advantage proved a formality. As is Roberto Mancini’s wont with such a vast squad at his disposal, numerous changes were made following Monday night’s impressive statement of intent against Liverpool, allowing Shaun…

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