Club Focus – Sunderland – Prepare to stake their claim for title of ‘Top Cats’ in the North East

Sunderland travel to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon to contest the first Tyne-Wear derby of 2010. Supporters are placing huge emphasis on the game, as with a mid-table finish likely, these are the games that will define the season. If the past few derby occasions are anything to go by, the game will be characterized by tough tackling, misplaced passing, and fleeting but key moments of quality. With this in mind, Bruce hopes his players go out into the most hostile atmosphere they will face this season with the right mentality.…

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Club Focus – Bolton Wanderers – Liverpool fixture falls kindly for Trotters

Lying 18th in the table after gathering only nine points from as many games, if there’s a time to play Liverpool, then its most definitely now. Following the welcomed news of the takeover being completed at the club, fortunes still seem to have stayed the same on the pitch. Of course, last Saturday’s win over Blackburn may have raised hopes ever so slightly for the fans, but the fairly timid display by the team to gain the win cannot be overlooked. And although Fernando Torres scored his first goal since…

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Premier League Preview – Week 10 – 30th/31st October

Nine games into the 2010/2011 Premier League season and the table is beginning to take shape. Chelsea have been in rampant mood so far and lead the way with Arsenal hot on their heels as they continue to score goals for fun. West Bromwich Albion are the surprise package so far, collecting 15 points already and just two points off the top four. It remains to be seen whether they can maintain their early season form in the coming months though and they will be wary of slipping down the…

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Club Focus – Everton – Howard’s Pienaar comments throw Moyes’ transfer record into the spotlight

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard gave an interview to Sky Sports News yesterday in which he spoke of how important he believes it is Steven Pienaar signs a new contract at Goodison Park, and stated that while there is no doubt the South Africa international is a vital member of the Toffees’ team, if Pienaar does depart for pastures new at the end of the season there should be little doubt David Moyes will adequately replace the mercurial midfielder. Moyes is after all the man who brought Pienaar to Everton in…

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Club Focus – Blackburn – Desai to make funds available to Big Sam in January

Earlier this week, Blackburn Rovers announced that the club will be sold to an Indian poultry group in November. Since then, there has been quite a lot of speculation about the company’s ambitions for the club and how much they would be willing to provide Sam Allardyce with to strengthen his squad in January. Early indications suggested that Venky’s, chaired by Anuradha Desai, would be happy to finish within the top twelve teams of the Premier League. This understandably raised some concern; after all, Rovers achieved a top-half finish last…

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Club Focus – Stoke – Marc Wilson: The time is now

“He’s one for the future without a question of a doubt.” Tony Pulis on Marc Wilson, October 25th 2010 Tony Pulis was forthcoming in his praise of young midfielder Marc Wilson in the wake of his second start for the club, in Sunday’s defeat to Manchester United. Yet the term “one for the future” has rarely had positive connotations during the Welshman’s tenure in the hot seat. Pulis’ preference for experience over youth is well-documented, and to be fair the policy is one that has served the club well in…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Glazer march gathering momentum

There’s never a dull moment at Old Trafford, but after a relatively harmonious few days in which Wayne Rooney has re-committed himself to the club – followed by a couple of morale-boosting late wins – the soap opera continues on Saturday with the anti-Glazer protest before the clash with Tottenham. The dissatisfaction with the American ownership has ran deep since day one, and has increasingly grown with every ticket price hike and interest payment since Avi, Joel and Bryan slipped past the police barricades and into the confines of the…

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Club Focus – Atletico Madrid: Atletico ease to victory as Aguero negotiations continue

In a busy week, Atletico Madrid produced a resounding victory in the Copa del Rey this week, while there have been reassurances over the futures and fitness of star players Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan. With an important league game against Almeria just around the corner, Quique Sanchez Flores must have been tempted to rest key players for the trip to Universidad de Las Palmas in the cup, but that wasn’t the case. Madrid ran out 5-0 winners in the Canary Islands and look certain to progress into the last…

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Tottenham news – Keane to Juventus, Mbokani rubbishes Spurs link, Gomes wants more top players

Keane to Juventus. Robbie Keane could be set to leave Tottenham in January, with a return to Italy on the cards for the Ireland international. Keane has recently been told by Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni that he will have to find first-team football if he wants to stay in the national team, and the player, who spent part of last season on loan at Celtic, is known to want a move. The most likely destination, according to The Sun, could be to Italian giants Juventus, who are known…

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Man Utd news – Hernandez nearly quit, Utd buy Stiles medals, Owen considers retirement

Utd buy Stiles medals. Manchester United have splashed out over a quarter of a million pounds to buy some of club legend Nobby Stiles’s most prized possessions. The former Reds defender decided to auction off his 1966 World Cup winners medal and 1968 European Cup winners medal as well as his England cap and United shirt from those occasions. Rather than allowing them to go to elsewhere, the club paid a total of £237,000 for both medals, which will now be displayed in the Manchester United museum at Old Trafford.…

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Arsenal Analysis – Returning stars impressive in Carling Cup win

NEWCASTLE 0 ARSENAL 4Krul (O.G) 45, Walcott 53, 88 Bendtner 83 Arsenal progressed to the quarter final of the Carling Cup despite resting many of its best performers from recent weeks. In the absence of Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh, Arsene Wenger rotated his squad and used the game as another opportunity to restore match sharpness to players who are working their way back from injury. Whilst many of the rested contingent are expected to return against West Ham on Saturday, the performances of Theo Walcott and Nicklas…

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Liverpool news – Reina and Torres want exit, Skrtel chases continued improvement, Hodgson denies Reina wants-away

Reina and Torres want exit. Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres are both ready to leave Liverpool, frustrated with their teammates inability to adapt to life under Roy Hodgson and humiliated by their position in the Premier League’s relegation zone. Giving their efforts to leave Liverpool that bit more intrigue and excitement are the ‘secret get-out clauses’ the pair are believed to be willing to activate – something which gives their attempts to desert Liverpool the sheen of a second-rate spy thriller. The Daily Mirror ‘exclusive’ reports that unfulfilled promises to…

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Man City news – Tevez flies home and may miss derby, Mancini frustrated again by player drinking, Fans remember “Big Mal”

Tevez flies home and may miss derby. Carlos Tevez has been given permission by City boss Roberto Mancini to fly home to Argentina today, reports The Guardian. Tevez has been granted special dispensation to return to his Buenos Aires home and visit his family for four days, which gives credence to Roque Santa Cruz’s claim this week that the City star was homesick. A scan on the dead leg that forced Tevez off after 52 minutes in the 3-0 defeat at home to Arsenal last weekend has shown that the…

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Blanc suggests an 18-team Ligue 1 but doubts over the proposal linger

France Coach Laurent Blanc has spoken out over the need for Ligue 1 to reduce the size of the division from 20 teams to 18 to aid the national side, but according to Dave Trotter of French football blog Ligue 1 Talk, the former Manchester United defender and World Cup winner’s proposal will not have the desired effect. “I really don’t think any reduction would help the national team. If anything, I think it might help teams competing in the Champions League or Europa League instead. They always seem to…

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Arsenal news – Gunners target Matuidi, Reina clause alerts Arsenal, Randall still has future

Gunners target Matuidi. Former Arsenal target Blaise Matuidi has told the media that despite reported interest from the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid, should he leave present club St. Etienne his first choice would be a move to the Premier League. The comments are likely to alert Arsene Wenger once again, who could battle with Liverpool for the France international’s signature. Imscouting.com reports that the 23-year-old told France Soir newspaper: “It is nice to know a club like Juventus is following you or asking about you. (But) the league…

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Blog: Wolves left howling as Baggies bounce into the Quarter-finals

After Tuesday’s Carling Cup results saw West Bromwich Albion progress and Wolverhampton Wanderers lose out, Greg Simkins analyses the two performances and looks at what lies ahead for the Midlands duo. In what is fast becoming something of a recurring theme this season; Wolves lost and West Brom won. Wolves – for the second time in four days – can at least cite the quality of the opposition as a mitigating factor for their defeat. Manchester United, despite fielding an under-strength team, can boast star players aplenty. That being said,…

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Blog: Red Devils’ young guns prove Rooney wrong

The Carling Cup has long since become a proving ground for the young whippersnappers of the Premier League big boys, as well as some of the not-so-big boys in recent times. Manchester United’s little devils were let loose against Wolves last night and proved egomaniac Wayne Rooney wrong with some impressive displays. Martin Shillito explains. If Wayne Rooney did not make himself look like enough of a self-centred, money-orientated fool during last week’s saga by initially declaring he would not sign a new contract as a result of the future…

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Liverpool news – Reds in for Szalai, Few funds for Hodgson, Gerrard happy with Torres goal

Gerrard happy with Torres goal. Particularly during the 2009/10 season as Liverpool mounted their only convincing title challenge since they last won the league in 1990, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres forged a famous partnership in attack. The respect was mutual as the goals flowed, and Gerrard believes that it will soon be rekindled. He told Skysports.com that, with Torres back amongst the goals, confidence is sure to rise. “It’ll do wonders for Fernando’s confidence,” he told Liverpool’s official website, inferring that there is more to come from the Spaniard.…

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Arsenal news – Szczesny set for start, Cesc Barca twist, City win pivotal

Arsenal to win 3-0 against Newcastle tonight: 16-1 – £10 bet wins £170. Szczesny set for start. Wojciech Szczesny looks set to start in the Carling Cup tie with Newcastle this evening, after his manager Arsene Wenger admitted he has time for the young Pole. The 20-year-old was “furious” at being overlooked in the last round of the cup, a 4-1 victory over north London rivals Tottenham, and said after his omission: “If you are fighting for trophies, you should pick your best players, not your oldest – no-one at Arsenal? is brave…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Confidence boost for Liverpool

Victory over Blackburn on Sunday ensured Liverpool ended their week on a much-needed high. The Reds may not have climbed out of the relegation zone just yet, but the impressive performance was enough to bring some hope back to Anfield. There are two players in particular who have earned high praise for their efforts against Rovers – Greek international Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Spanish sensation Fernando Torres. Kyrgiakos was brought to Anfield by former boss Rafael Benitez for a relatively small fee. At the time, many fans were surprised at his…

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Man City news – Dzeko to replace Tevez, Santa Cruz hopes for exit, Mansour spending increases again

Tevez homesick, Santa Cruz hopes for exit. City striker Roque Santa Cruz has said that his close friend Carlos Tevez is homesick. Tevez spoke recently of his dissatisfaction with the life of a professional footballer and has admitted considering retiring from international football. Santa Cruz told Spanish radio station Cadena Sur: “Your heart goes out to his family. He wants to be among his people, who are in Argentina. His siblings and his daughters are also there. When you feel that your homeland is calling you back, you could end…

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Tottenham news – Villa look to Keane, Redknapp praises new signing Khumalo, Spurs target Dzeko hints at Italy move

Villa look to Keane. According to the Metro, Gerard Houllier will look to Robbie Keane if he fails in his attempts to land Manchester United striker Michael Owen. The Aston Villa boss is keen to reunite Owen with his former Liverpool striker partner Emile Heskey and with the 30-year-old out of favour at Old Trafford, the Frenchman believes he will be able to agree a deal in January. However, it remains to be seen whether Sir Alex Ferguson will be willing to let him go rather than see out the…

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Chelsea news – Blues in Bojan link, Drogba nominated, Terry defence praise

Blues in Bojan link. According to caughtoffside.com, Chelsea are interested in Barcelona striker Bojan. The 20-year-old has been with the Catalan giants since the age of nine but is struggling to hold down a first team place and finds himself behind David Villa, Lionel Messi and Pedro in the pecking order. Chelsea are keen to start building a squad for the future and with Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba in their 30s, Carlo Ancelotti reportedly sees a player like Bojan as an ideal long term replacement. Drogba nominated. Didier Drogba…

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Club Focus – Sunderland – Sunderland travel to Newcastle for season’s first Tyne-Wear derby

Sunderland travel to Newcastle United on Sunday for this season’s first Tyne-Wear derby. It is likely to be a fiercely contested encounter at least partly due to some acrimonious encounters in the recent past and a victory for Sunderland would firmly establish them as the top team in the North East of England after decades of living in their rival’s shadows. Perhaps it is the infrequency of the fixture that makes it one of the fiercest rivalries in the country. Due to Sunderland’s yo-yo status in recent years and of…

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