Club Focus – Blackpool – Tangerines looking to get back on track with crunch game at home to Fulham

After the drubbing against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend and a Carling Cup upset at the hands of League One’s MK Dons, Blackpool boss Ian Holloway will look to get his club back on track. Holloway defended his team selection against the Dons, fielding a weakened side in the hope of resting his players for their Premier League encounters. The Blackpool team should have been strong enough to see of the lower league outfit side, but the plan backfired and Lewis Guy’s extra time winner upset the odds…

Read More

Club Focus – Real Madrid – Mourinho bow dawns as Madrid look to gatecrash Barcelona’s dominance

Real Madrid start the dawn of a new era on Sunday night when Jose Mourinho’s affluent amassed team make the trip to the Balearic Islands to take on a financially stricken Mallorca outfit, now managed by former Los Blancos and Barcelona playmaker Michael Laudrup. A successful, unbeaten pre-season has helped Mourinho tinker and test the resolve of a Real Madrid squad boasting an impressive catalogue of world-class talent. Even with an unprecedented amount of Euros again lavished , Madrid still remain partially wounded from last terms failure under erstwhile Villarreal…

Read More

Club Focus – Liverpool – Reds make heavy weather of things before enjoying Turkish delight

For large periods of last night’s Europa League playoff second leg, it appeared as though Trabzon was going to be as far as Liverpool would go on this season’s Europa League tour. Roy Hodgson went all the way to the final with Fulham last season – the Reds got to the semi-finals – but Teofilo Gutierrez’s early strike would have had him fearing that he was heading out of European competition before this season has really begun, still surely cursing an inability to kill off Trabzonspor at Anfield a week…

Read More

Club Focus – Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs rewarded with tough draw after securing Champions League debut

After a wait of 48 and a half years, Tottenham will again appear in the competition proper of the European Cup. After a 28-minute scare in Berne last week, Spurs hit back with a 4-0 win against Young Boys at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night, sealing a 6-3 aggregate victory and a place in the group stage of the Champions League. Tottenham discovered their opponents late on Thursday afternoon following the draw in Monaco. Having been placed in the third pot of seeds, a tough draw was always likely…

Read More

A Different Week – Stingin’ the Tayl’ – Why Steven Taylor must swallow his pride for both his and Newcastle’s sake

Steven Taylor’s Newcastle United career tonight hangs by a thread, with the North East club placing the popular defender on the transfer list after he refused a new deal at St James’ Park. Despite Taylor apparently living the dream of playing for the team which he supported as a boy, this was seemingly not enough for the player, who, after a number of discussions with the club, rejected a four-year deal worth £40,000 a week in the hope of the offer being upped to an alleged £65k. Newcastle, who are…

Read More

Boothroyd keeping Coventry’s feet firmly on the ground as a season full of promise looms

Press conferences have not always been cheerful affairs at Coventry City. The Sky Blues have flirted heavily with relegation in the last two seasons, and managers haven’t usually had too much to be upbeat about in front of the media. But there was a marked change in mood at the club’s training ground in Ryton yesterday. As Aidy Boothroyd sat down to field questions from the assorted journalists, he found himself having to tactfully play down expectations, in an effort to avoid putting too much pressure on a Coventry side…

Read More

Premier League week 3 preview – 28th/29th August

This weekend sees the third round of Premier League fixtures taking place and it certainly has a lot to live up to. Blackpool have already tasted the ups and downs of the Premier League, crashing back to earth last Saturday with a 6-0 defeat at Arsenal. There is no doubt Chelsea have set the benchmark with back-to-back 6-0 victories, but manager Carlo Ancelotti knows tougher tasks lie ahead. Manchester United let the lead slip on two occasions last Sunday as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Fulham at…

Read More

Club Focus – Valencia – Hope for Valencia after favourable Champions League draw

Yesterdays UEFA Champions League draw is one that offers much hope for Los Che as they will face Manchester United, Rangers and Turkish Champions Bursaspor in Group C. English Premier League outfit Manchester United will offer the sternest test for Unai Emery’s men, in a group which offers a good chance of progression for the Spaniards. Most recently winners of the competition in 2008, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have the European know how and the depth of squad to put themselves forward as real contenders for the trophy, and qualification…

Read More

Club Focus – Manchester United – Sir Alex Ferguson receives homecoming in kind UEFA Champions League draw for Red Devils

It did not take long during the excessively long and complicated UEFA Champions League draw for the ball representing Manchester United to appear. The Red Devils were the first side drawn, leaving them to sit through the drawing of the other seven seeds, the remaining three pots and individual awards for the defender, midfielder and striker of the year before they found out who they were to face. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were eventually handed Group C ties with Spanish side Valencia, Scottish champions Rangers and Champions League debutants Bursaspor…

Read More

Club Focus – Portsmouth – Wilson transfer a good deal for Pompey?

Usually, losing your club’s captain and most talented player would be a blow for any football fan. However, Marc Wilson’s proposed transfer to Stoke, which is expected to go through by Monday, could be the exception. Wilson was made captain by Steve Cotterill last month, possibly with the incentive of keeping the highly-rated youngster on the club’s books, as the new boss looked to build his team around the Irishman. But now, with Pompey still looking to raise cash to fund the CVA, Wilson looks set to seal a deal…

Read More

Club Focus – Bolton Wanderers – 1-0 Carling Cup win at Southampton highlights value of Bolton’s bench boys

The Trotters secured a place into the third round of the Carling Cup with a deserved 1-0 win at League One side Southampton. Owen Coyle made ten changes to the side that beat West Ham last week in an attempt to get the most out of his first 11 for their crunch match against Birmingham on Saturday. When initially drew the tie looked tricky for the visitors- with Southampton being tipped to finish top of League One after a year of frequent spending. However, Saints had only picked up a…

Read More

Club Focus – West Ham – Hammers require last-minute winner to defeat Oxford ahead of trip to Old Trafford

A last-gasp winner from Scott Parker ensured West Ham claimed victory against League Two side Oxford United. Extra time loomed large until Parker’s strike from a Frederic Piquionne cross spared the Hammers blushes, giving Avram Grant his first win since taking over as manager. Although the Irons won the game, it was a frustrating encounter against a side that set out to defend. The primary cause for concern was that, in spite of Oxford’s inherent defensiveness, Grant’s team found it hard to break them down. Grant made seven changes to…

Read More

Club Focus – Sunderland – Man City win could kickstart Mackems’ season

Sunderland face Manchester City on Sunday afternoon aiming for their first league win of the campaign. It will be a stern test against the summer’s top spenders, but Steve Bruce knows the pressure is on after a return of only one league point from two games many expected the Black Cats to win. The unlimited transfer funds of Sunderland’s weekend opponents only serve to contrast the two very different approaches to transfers the clubs are following. It would be wrong to suggest Sunderland have not spent a significant amount on…

Read More

Club Focus – Fulham – A cup is a cup and a win is a win

Despite the Carling Cup’s reputation having been ripped to shreds by Premier League managers who see the competition as a pain rather than a prospect, the bottom line is the tournament represents a real chance for clubs that will never get close to the league or – ordinarily – a major European trophy to notch up some silverware. And Mark Hughes went a long way to confirming such ambitions with the XI he named on Thursday night against League Two side Port Vale. As has been keenly pointed out by…

Read More

Club Focus – Atletico Madrid – Forlan wants to halt Inter in European Super Cup

Last season Atletico Madrid were undone by their poor start to their La Liga campaign and struggled to make a mark against domestic opponents besides the 2-1 triumph over league champions Barcelona. Los Rojiblancos were slow out of the blocks and despite their positive results in the latter parts of the season they could not salvage a fourth place finish which would have opened the door for Champions League football. As such, the club’s star players Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero are concentrating on starting the season with a strong…

Read More

Club Focus – Wolves – Young starlets promising showing bodes well for future

The League Cup may not have been kind to Wolves in recent years but Richard Stearman, captaining his hometown club for the first time, bundled in a 122nd minute winner to ensure another potential upset was avoided right at the death. The tournament is often ridiculed for being nothing more than an annoyance to teams with bigger things on their mind, but on Tuesday night it served a good purpose for the Black Country side. True, their performance was disappointing and Mick McCarthy even admitted it was cruel on Southend…

Read More

Club Focus – Newcastle Untied – Taylor contract talks cause problems

The big story on Tyneside this week surrounds defender Steven Taylor and his future with the club. On Wednesday Newcastle announced that the 24 year old youth team graduate had been placed on the transfer list after they had failed to come to an agreement over a new contract. Taylor is out of contract at the end of the season and as a result would be able to leave for nothing when his current deal ends. It appears that the club’s hierarchy have decided to cash in now rather than…

Read More

Club Focus – Chelsea – Blues learn their Champions League fate

Chelsea will face French champions Olympique Marseille, an away trip to Russia to take on Spartak Moscow and Slovakian debutants MSK Zilina in the group stages of this season’s Champions League after the draw was announced in Monaco. The Blues, who have never failed to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League, were eliminated by Inter Milan in the second round of last season’s competition as the Italians went on to lift the trophy with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in charge. This season’s group stage will pitch…

Read More

Club Focus – Arsenal – Gunners must match flair with fire for Blackburn encounter

Last season Arsenal came up short in the race for the title. Although they were out of contention by the time they travelled to Ewood Park in early May, the result reinforced the theory that Arsenal are still a work in progress. Familiar flaws began to re-appear, leaving Arsenal clinging on for third spot heading into the final game of the season. Whilst a draw, or even another defeat, this time around would not instantly write off their chances, if the club genuinely harbours title aspirations, the weekend’s encounter is…

Read More

Club Focus – Stoke City – There’s something about Tuncay

Anyone who witnessed Stoke City’s narrow defeat to Tottenham last Saturday could not have failed to notice the impact of Tuncay when he was introduced from the bench around the hour mark. The Turk injected hitherto unseen invention into the Potters’ display, creating chances out of thin air for himself and others and all but single-handedly turning a team that was running out of ideas into one that was unlucky not to claim at least a point. Tony Pulis, however, is not “anyone”, and preferred to play down Tuncay’s influence,…

Read More

Club Focus – Wigan Athletic – Latics get first win of the season

Wigan eased to victory over Hartlepool in the League Cup, however, their performance still needs improving. After conceding 10 goals in their first two league matches, including six to Chelsea last weekend, Roberto Martinez made six changes including on loan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and new signing Steven Caldwell, with the latter helping get a goal three minutes into the match. Jordi Gomes lofted a free kick into the area which was turned in by the unfortunate Sam Collins who was under pressure for Caldwell. However, the early goal was…

Read More

Club Focus – Espanyol – Kameni injury threatens season opener.

Key player Carlos Kameni has been injured and is a doubt for the first game of the season against Getafe. The injury occurred during the ’blue and whites’ disappointing 1-1 draw with Club Gimnastic de Tarragona. It was, however, the injury to Cameroonian keeper Kameni that will be of greatest concern to the Catalonian’s. To steal a well known adage it was a game of two halves, with the La Liga outfit getting the best of the first half, but no goals were scored and the nervousness surrounding the inability…

Read More

Chelsea Player Focus – Florent Malouda

Since Roman Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea cued mass spending as the club pursued Champions League success, the Blues have regularly possessed a quality left-sided player. From the early days of Damien Duff, to Arjen Robben, then Joe Cole. But the man currently occupying the position is fast emerging as the finest. Florent Malouda is a prime example of a talented player needing time – and faith from the manager – to settle in England. Now in his fourth season at Stamford Bridge, Malouda’s Chelsea record reads of steady progression only…

Read More

Arsenal Player Focus – Theo Walcott

After a summer of disappointment, Theo Walcott made the best possible start to his season by scoring his first club career hat trick in Arsenal’s 6-0 thrashing of Blackpool. Walcott was one of the high profile omissions from England’s World Cup squad, but it appears to have done him the world of good. The former Southampton winger has his critics, in particular Chris Waddle, who believes the player ‘does not understand football’. However, his display against Blackpool suggests that is far from true, as he ripped apart the Tangerines defence…

Read More

Man Utd news – Reds in for Ben Arfa, Mourinho keen to manage Utd, No Obertan exit

Every morning A Different League searches the nations press to bring you the latest goings on at Man Utd. Today: No Obertan exit. Preston North End manager Darren Ferguson has dismissed claims he is set to sign Gabriel Obertan on loan. The Lilywhites boss already has Josh King and Matt James on loan from father Alex’s Manchester United, while the Frenchman attended Saturday’s home game with Portsmouth. Darren Ferguson told the Lancashire Evening Post: “That’s one we’ve not even spoken about”. He’s in their first-team squad, there’s no chance.” The…

Read More