Club Focus – Liverpool – Spurs edge out Liverpool

Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool side fell to yet another defeat away from home in the Premier League; however the manager’s decision to tinker with his tactics meant that the Reds looked much more threatening and adventurous than they previously have been on their travels. Despite the absence of inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, the visitors created several chances and could have been comfortably ahead at half-time. Hodgson’s decision to start with Fernando Torres and David Ngog up front allowed for a more positive performance from the Reds and if the former Fulham…

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Club Focus – Newcastle – Toon hold champions Chelsea to a draw

An under-strength Newcastle side claimed a share of the spoils as they held Chelsea to a draw at St James’ Park. An early Andy Carroll goal ensured that the Magpies bounced back quickly from their heavy defeat to Bolton in the previous weekend. Although they were unable to hold on to their lead under heavy Chelsea pressure it was certainly a case of a point gained rather than two lost. Due to heavy snow in Tyneside over the weekend the game was in doubt on Sunday morning. However the efforts…

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Club Focus – Arsenal – Nervy victory over Villa sees the Gunners briefly go top

For a few hours on Saturday, the Gunners sat astride the Premier League table. Given the dejection following the previous weekend’s early kick off, land a subsequent poor showing in Europe, such a lofty position was almost unthinkable, but proves how important each result is in the quest for the league title. Arsenal made hard work of what should have been a relatively routine victory given their first half dominance and resulting 2-0 half time lead. Andrey Arshavin’s rasping drive provided the breakthrough and ended his barren spell of 11…

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Club Focus – Blackburn – Allardyce’s men completley outclassed by Berbatov

It is not often that Blackburn Rovers are on the receiving end of a heavy defeat in the Premier League; however Sam Allardyce’s men were outperformed and outclassed as they were beaten 7-1 by a rampant Manchester United side on Saturday. Dimitar Berbatov was the star of the show at Old Trafford, as the Bulgarian striker became only the fourth man in Premier League history to put five goals past an opponent. Midfielders Park Ji-Sung and Nani also managed to breach the visitors’ defence, as the Red Devils climbed to…

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Manchester United Analysis – Stunning United sink Blackburn in eight goal thriller

MANCHESTER UNITED 7 Berbatov 2, Ji-Sung Park 23, Berbatov 27, Berbatov 47, Nani 48, Berbatov 62, Berbatov 70 BLACKBURN ROVERS 1Samba 83 In becoming the fourth player to score five goals in a Premier League game, and the second for Manchester United, Dimitar Berbatov has got his season firmly back on track. In not having found the net since his hat-trick against Liverpool, the Bulgarian seemed to have been suffering from a crisis of confidence. The work rate shown earlier in the season was gone, leaving him blaming his teammates…

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Tottenham news – Moyes to replace Redknapp, vdV eyes future Hamburg return, Crouch to end career at Spurs

vdV eyes future Hamburg return. Tottenham’s Dutch summer signing Rafael van der Vaart has indicated that he would one day like to return to previous club Hamburg, before he finishes his playing days, according to the Daly Star. “My decision to move to London was the best thing to do. I do not regret moving over here, said the Spurs forward. “We are doing well in the league and Spurs are a top side in the Premier League. “It is, however, a fact that I want to play for Hamburg…

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Liverpool news – Hodgson has final say over Comolli, Friendship suspended, Roy wants more goals

Friendship suspended. Two of England’s most erstwhile managers, Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson have forged a strong friendship throughout their many years in football. Today that friendship will be suspended for 90 minutes as their Tottenham and Liverpool sides meet at White Hart Lane. “You have colleagues and acquaintances, but me and Harry are a bit beyond that stage,” Hodgson told the Daily Telegraph. Redknapp had words of support for his ally, whose inability to turn things around immediately at Liverpool – in the way Redknapp was able to upon…

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Arsenal news – Gunners in £10m Cahill raid, Wenger happy with response, Chamakh aims for improvement

Wenger happy with response. Arsene Wenger was reportedly pleased with Arsenal’s response to recent criticism with an impressive 4-2 win at Villa Park. Following two consecutive defeats in the past week, Arsenal ruined former star Robert Pires’ full debut for Aston Villa by taking the three points back with them to north London. According to the UKPA, Wenger said: “When Villa came back to 2-1, it was in interesting test for my team. We could have crumbled or we could score again – and we did the latter. We got…

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Chelsea news – Blues line up Guardiola, Ivanovic admits Wilkins regret, Ancelotti: No new signings

Blues line up Guardiola. Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich is thought to be lining up a sensational move for Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola should current manager Carlo Ancelotti head for the Stamford Bridge exit door. Despite insistence from the corridors of power at Stamford Bridge, it is thought that privately they are developing contingency plans should Ancelotti leave. Mirror Football have stated that contract talks between Ancelotti and the club were postponed earlier this month, and with Guardiola’s own contract expiring at the end of next season an approach could be…

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Everton Analysis – Toffees plumb the depths as West Brom run riot

EVERTON 1 Cahill 42 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 4 Scharner 16, Brunt 26, Tchoyi 76, Distin (o.g.) 87 Everton crashed to a devastating defeat against West Bromwich Albion in a game that saw the Premier League new boys teach their more established hosts a lesson in football. For their part, Everton were tragic and only helped the Baggies with a number of mindless decisions, not least from Mikel Arteta who was deservedly sent off for a stamp on Gonzalo Jara. David Moyes made a handful of changes to the side that…

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El Clasico 2010 – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – Key Clashes

Lionel Messi vs. Sergio Ramos: The Catalan’s left sided magician has been in ruthless form so far this season – Messi’s hat-trick in the 8-0 demolition over Almeria portrayed his ability to cause problems off either foot. Whether he wanders infield to feed off striker David Villa or looks to take on his full-back, Madrid stalwart Ramos will be forced to curtail the Argentine’s attacking instincts initially to prevent him getting a foothold in the game. Ramos has the ability to get forward and support Madrid attacks, often stretching the…

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El Clasico 2010 – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola

As the saying goes in Catalonia – ‘Real buy, Barca breed’, and certainly that sentiment extends to the coaches of these respective dynasties. A native Catalan – Josep Guardiola has been fed and schooled Blaugrana. After a distinguished playing career at the Camp Nou he began his coaching path with the Barcelona ‘B’ team, which provides an important conveyor between the clubs famed La Masia youth set-up and the first eleven. Guardiola radiates everything that is Barcelona. ‘Mes que un club’ (More than a club) is the motto, competing, playing…

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Liverpool news – Reina wants improvement, No Aquilani return, Hodgson: We don’t fear Spurs

Reina wants improvement. Speculation over Pepe Reina’s future at Liverpool has been rife in the midst of the Merseysiders disappointing start to the season. Whilst 13 points from their last six games points towards a mini revival, the Spanish goalkeeper told the Daily Telegraph that finishing the season where they are now would be a disaster. “We have to finish this season in a better position than we are at the moment [ninth] and make sure we build for the next years,” he said. Refusing to commit his future to…

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Arsenal news – Juve in Bendtner bid, Wenger: Defence is great, Pires Arsenal return

Pires Arsenal return. Aston Villa new boy Robert Pires has told reporters of his love for Arsenal, and even admitted it would have been a dream to rejoin the Gunners, according to The Sun. His comments come ahead of the clash between the two sides this afternoon, where the Frenchman looks likely to make his full debut for the midlanders. He said: “It is going to be very strange – only 10 days ago I was training on the pitch with Arsenal. But I won’t offer them any presents –…

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Chelsea news – Terry and Lamps to return, Ancelotti: Pressure is on, Leboeuf attacks Roman

Terry and Lamps to return. Crocked Chelsea duo John Terry and Frank Lampard are reportedly “nearing return”, according to The Metro. The pair have been long-term concerns for the Blues, with Terry missing several games due to a nerve problem in his leg and Lampard suffered a groin injury during rehabilitation from a hernia operation. Ancelotti believes that at least one of the two England internationals could return within the next week or so, if not both of them. He said: “Lampard needs to have next week, I think, and…

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Tottenham news – Dawson set for return, Gomes: We can make the final, Defoe: We need Utd’s mentality

Defoe: We need Utd’s mentality. Jermain Defoe has called for his Tottenham team-mates to emulate Manchester United’s winning mentality as Harry Redknapp’s army continue their chase for silverware. The striker, who looks set to make his first start since September in this afternoon’s clash with Liverpool, believes that he is in the right place at the right time to bring success to White Hart Lane the likes of which has not been seen in 50 years according to The Telegraph. He said: “You have to believe you can win every…

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El Clasico 2010 – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – Messi vs. Ronaldo

Monday night’s derby between Barcelona and Real Madrid is the most anticipated Clasico in recent years. Rejuvenated under Jose Mourinho, Los Blancos have been able to amass their most convincing title challenge since Bernd Schuster reigned. Hungry to defend their title, the Blaugrana boast a large section of the World Cup winning Spain team, and a Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta midfield combo in delectable form. There is, however, a sub-plot to this colossal clash of titans. With the meeting of these two football giants comes a head-to-head between two…

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Club Focus – Real Madrid – Whites ready for Catalan test as investigation looms

A UEFA investigation aimed at four Real Madrid players and their Coach Jose Mourinho following accusations of deliberately incurred red cards in Tuesday’s 4-0 Champions League thumping of Ajax, has hardly been ideal preparation for Los Blancos to lock horns with eternal foes Barcelona, in Monday night’s ‘El Clasico’. The dismissals for time-wasting for Spanish duo Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso, which were almost identical, mean both players will miss the club’s final European group game, hence freeing their services for the knockout stages of the competition. Footage apparently showed…

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Premier League Preview – Chelsea make room for Manchester United at top of table

Chelsea’s title defence has been derailed in remarkable fashion with Carlo Ancelotti’s side losing three of their last four Premier League games and throwing the title race wide open. Despite struggling to hit top form so far this season, Manchester United have gradually gained ground on their rivals and are now level on points with Chelsea after last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Wigan. A Wayne Rooney penalty against Rangers on Wednesday night secured their progress to the knock out stages of the Champions League, while extending their unbeaten run in…

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Club Focus – Blackburn – Allardyce closes in on Santa Cruz

Blackburn Rovers have been looking for a quality, experienced, proven goalscorer ever since a certain Paraguayan forward left the club to join big-spending Manchester City. Now, the Lancashire outfit could be preparing a sensational swoop for the man who left them for a fee of over £15m. Roque Santa Cruz is in line for a shock return to Ewood Park -according to local and national media – and that has been the most significant story surrounding the club over the last couple of days. Santa Cruz scored 19 goals for…

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Club Focus – Manchester City – City’s credentials tested by a trip to Stoke

Vincent Kompany wants Manchester City to do their talking on the pitch. Expressing his disdain at Harry Redknapp’s claims that Tottenham are capable of winning the Premier League title, Kompany said that no such talk would willingly come from the City dressing room. Their prime concern is simply winning football matches. The Britannia Stadium is notoriously a place where actions speak louder than words. Brittle teams fold under Stoke’s high intensity, direct approach, supplemented by no mean quality in attack. It is a place where teams must earn the right…

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Ligue 1 Daily – Lyon retreat from Schalke defeat with a place in the knockout stages

Olympique Lyonnais reached the second round of the Champions League last night regardless of a 3-0 away defeat to Schalke 04. Last season’s semi-finalists now sit second in Group B – a point behind Wednesday’s opponents – and face bottom side Hapoel Tel-Aviv at Stade de Gerland in the final group game. Having qualified with a game to spare usually lifts the pressure off a team, but Coach Claude Puel has insisted that his side need to be ready should Schalke fail to win at Benfica. Following the defeat he…

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El Clasico 2010 – Five Classics – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

Barcelona 1-5 Real Madrid, January 27th 1963 Real Madrid have recorded plenty of bigger wins over their arch rivals – an 11-1, an 8-2 and a couple of 5-0’s – but few demonstrated the early dominance they held over their Catalan cousins quite like this. This was the era of the legendary, immortal Los Blanco’s side. Five consecutive European Cup’s from 1956-60. The names roll off the tongue; Santamaria, Zarraga, Gento, Kopa and of course Puskas and Di Stefano, who were all present for another humiliation of Barca. Madrid arrived…

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Club Focus – Liverpool – Should Liverpool go for broke against Tottenham?

Liverpool face Champions League outfit Tottenham Hotspur this weekend and Roy Hodgson will be hoping his side can build on their victory against lowly West Ham last time out. The Reds hammered Avram Grant’s side in the encouraging 3-0 victory; however Harry Redknapp’s men will provide a tougher test for the Merseysiders. Having just qualified for the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition, Spurs will understandably be on a mental high. They have managed to progress from a tough group, which will give them confidence for the matches ahead. But…

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Newcastle Utd news – Hughton: We’re not a dirty team, Campbell and Taylor to Face Chelsea? Colo never wanted exit

Hughton: We’re not a dirty team. Newcastle United boss Chris Hughton has defended his team’s record in the face of mounting disciplinary problems, reports The Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette. Defender Mike Williamson was banned this week for three games for an off-the-ball foul on Bolton striker Johan Elmander during last week’s 5-1 defeat at the Reebok. Williamson’s central defensive partner Fabio Coloccini is also out for the same period after getting his marching orders in the same match, again for a foul on Elmander. In addition, Joey Barton has a…

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