Tottenham get Stevenage test in FA Cup 5th round

Tottenham have been drawn to play against League One Stevenage in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Spurs laboured to a 1-0 win against Watford on Friday night, and had previously beaten Cheltenham 3-0 in the 3rd round. Stevenage, meanwhile, beat Notts County 1-0 in this weekend’s round of ties, and have also claimed the scalp of Championship side Reading, as well as defeating Stourbridge and Hartlepool. As well as enjoying a successful cup run thus far, the Hertfordshire side are mounting a play-offs push in League One, currently…

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Everton Club Focus – Stracqualursi heads Toffees past Fulham as Bilyaletdinov heads home

Denis Stracqualursi’s first Everton goal was the highlight of the Toffees’ FA Cup victory over Fulham on Friday evening, with the burly Argentine levelling the scores following Danny Murphy’s penalty. Marouane Fellaini added the decisive second but it was Stracqualursi who took most of the plaudits for a performance of the greatest heart possible. Stracqualursi’s endeavour was in sad contrast to much of what came from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who on Sunday brought an end to a disappointing and frustrating Everton career, returning to Russia with Spartak Moscow for around £5m.…

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Tottenham Club Focus – Could Mourinho be coming to Spurs?

According to reports in the media, Jose Mourinho has indicated to close sources that he wants to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, irrespective of how successful the Spanish giants are, having seemingly grown tired of the political machinations that come with the role. His stated preference is to go to a club in the Premier League. Mourinho may not be short of offers with any of the top six clubs an attractive proposition, though any potential destination maybe governed by Champions League qualification. An obvious vacancy…

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Newcastle Club Focus – No FA Cup magic for dispirited Magpies

Newcastle United’s long awaited search for silverware will continue for another season as they were on the receiving end of another cup upset. A 1-0 defeat at Brighton means that Newcastle once again have nothing other than league positions to play for. Despite manager Alan Pardew prioritising the cup and fielding the strongest team available to him his side were on the receiving end of a giant killing for the second year running. While this was not quite as humiliating as the loss to then League Two Stevenage the defeat…

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David Luiz has yet to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League

Last January Chelsea signed David Luiz from Benfica, and 12 months later they are still waiting for him to show signs of adapting to the rigours of Premier League football. Ramires, who Chelsea signed from Benfica in the preceding transfer window, has become the driving force behind Chelsea’s midfield, yet Luiz appears as naive and ill-equipped as ever. There have been plenty of highlights, although most have occurred in the opposition’s penalty area. A stunning volley in a 2-1 win over Manchester United, a header in a 2-0 victory against…

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Kevin De Bruyne to have Chelsea medical

Highly rated Genk midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is set to undergo a medical at Chelsea today ahead of a £6.7m move. The 20 year old will sign a five year deal with the Blues and then be loaned immediately back to Genk until the end of the season. De Bruyne is rated as one of the brightest prospects in European football and will become the club’s second January signing after the capture of Gary Cahill for £7m. Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas admitted on Friday that the club’s pursuit of the…

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Blackburn Club Focus – Petrovic form gives Kean one less problem to worry about

When energetic defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones’ brief loan spell at Blackburn Rovers came to an end last summer, much-maligned manager Steve Kean was left to fill a gaping hole in the middle of the park. Tough-tackling Jones had become an integral part of Rovers’ spirited side as they battled to secure Premier League safety, but the Lancashire outfit were unable to make the United States international’s move permanent. Kean eventually found a much-needed replacement in the form of the younger Serbian player Radosav Petrovic. However, six months after his arrival,…

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Man United defender Ferdinand to shake Terry’s hand

Rio Ferdinand is expected to accept a handshake from Chelsea defender John Terry when Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, The Telegraph reports. The England captain has been accused of racially abusing Rio’s brother Anton and will face up to the United defender next weekend. Ferdinand has not made a public comment regarding the incident between him and his brother and will not make comments that could inflame an already volatile situation. United players will shake hands with Chelsea and Ferdinand is expected to start and be part…

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Man United midfield trio closing in on return

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson expects Tom Cleverley, Anderson and Ashley Young to return to training over the next few weeks, BBC Sport reports. United have suffered with injuries all season, but are now getting their key players back ahead of a big run-in for the title. Young and Anderson will join up with the first-team squad in training this week after their slight knee injuries, but the best news for Ferguson is the return of Cleverley. The 22 year old impressed earlier this season and was called up…

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Evans confident Man United will be back

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans insists that the confidence in the squad has not dipped following their loss to Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup, manutd.com. The Premier League champions were undone by a late Dirk Kuyt strike which put them out of the competition at the fourth round stage. The Northern Irish international started at Anfield and is looking to hold his place against Stoke City on Tuesday night, which United will look to get back on track. The Premier League champions are three points behind league leaders…

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Chelsea could give Terry time off to fight racist allegations

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed he will award captain John Terry time off to deal with his current legal issues if the defender wants, ESPN reports. Terry has been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence against QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in the league meeting between the two in October. Villas-Boas praised the England international for his performance in the FA Cup tie at Loftus Road this weekend and Terry is in court in Westminster on Thursday to answer the charge. Terry has denied the accusation since it…

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Chelsea Club Focus – Fortune favours the brave as Blues show FA Cup intent

It is somewhat of a shame when clubs use the FA Cup as an opportunity to field weaken teams so key players can be rested, especially when defeat is obligatorily followed by the words of consolation: “We can now concentrate on the league.” On Sunday Andre Villas-Boas gave the competition the respect it duly deserved and is reaping the benefits as his side have a great chance to progress in the final eight after being drawn at home to Championship outfit Birmingham City in the next round. The 1-0 victory…

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Mata delighted with Chelsea FA Cup victory

Chelsea forward Juan Mata was delighted with his side’s FA Cup fourth round victory over QPR on Saturday and wants them to kick on in the competition, chelseafc.com reports. The Spaniard joined Chelsea this summer from Valencia and scored his seventh goal of the season from the penalty spot at Loftus Road. The Blues won 1-0 in a game that was built up to be a battle between QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea captain John Terry after their encounter in the league game earlier this season. Mata’s goal was…

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Chelsea to bid £1m for Forest starlet

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has made a £1m offer for Nottingham Forest teenager Patrick Bamford and is hoping to make the deal before Tuesday’s deadline, The Telegraph reports. The fee could rise to £1.5m depending on appearances and the 18 year old, if the deal is accepted, will be keen on a move to Chelsea. Bamford has made just two appearances for the East Midlands club and played for only 12 minutes, but Chelsea have seen enough to warrant an offer. In Forest’s last two academy matches, Bamford has scored…

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Arsenal captain Van Persie accused of elbow

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has claimed that Arsenal captain Robin van Persie used an elbow on Villa defender Carlos Cuellar, The Telegraph reports. Van Persie scored two penalty kicks in the game to complete the Gunners comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2. The incident overshadowed a great FA Cup tie on Sunday which saw Arsenal go into the half-time break two goals behind against Villa. Three second half goals in seven minutes put Arsenal back in front and turned the boos for Arsene Wenger into cheers. Van Persie’s…

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Miyaichi set to move away from Arsenal on loan

Young Arsenal forward Ryo Miyaichi is expected to move away from the Emirates Stadium to build up his first-team experience, Sky Sports reports. The 19 year old is a target for French side Valenciennes, who want to sign him on a loan deal until the end of the season. The Japanese attacker joined Arsenal 12 months ago and spent the second half of last season on loan at Dutch side Feyernoord. His work permit for the Gunners was granted this summer and he has made two substitute appearances in the…

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Mariappa shock target for Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is preparing to make an offer for Watford defender Adrian Mariappa as the transfer window reaches its end, The Sun reports. The Gunners will face competition from Newcastle United, who have seen a £2m bid rejected for Mariappa. Wenger had insisted he would not look to make moves in January, but his side’s poor defensive showing against Aston Villa in the FA Cup yesterday has changed his thoughts. Arsenal have also suffered defensive injuries and the 25 year old has been earmarked as the club’s defensive…

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Carroll happy to stay at Liverpool

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll has reiterated that he will stay at Anfield and has no desire to leave the club amid rumours of a transfer away, The Guardian reports. The Reds had reportedly offered Manchester City the striker in return for Carlos Tevez to Anfield, but Kenny Dalglish has rebuffed the deal. Carroll joined Liverpool for £35m from Newcastle last January, but has failed to nail down a regular first-team place. The 23 year old had a great game against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday, but he…

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Liverpool fan arrested over racist gesture

Police have arrested a Liverpool fan over an alleged racist gesture aimed towards Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Anfield, The Liverpool Echo reports. The 59 year old from North Wales was caught on camera and arrested on Saturday evening. Liverpool won the game 2-1 thanks to a late Dirk Kuyt strike and on the majority, the fans were fantastically well behaved bar the Liverpool supporter. The police said that the incident was being handled by specialist hate detectives after a picture of…

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Liverpool make loan bid for Tevez

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is prepared to take Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez on loan until the end of the season, The Mirror reports. The Reds will have to wait for City to decide whether or not they want the Argentinian to move on a loan deal and Dalglish is anxious that there is little time left in the transfer window. Reports last week surfaced that Liverpool had offered a swap deal with the Premier League leaders involving Andy Carroll, but Dalglish refuted the rumours and insists Carroll is part…

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Libya vs Senegal – Africa Cup of Nations preview and prediction

Senegal will be hoping to restore some pride after two successive defeats, which saw them crash out of the African Cup of Nations, by beating Libya tonight. The Teranga Lions will face a difficult task against a Libya side who can still qualify for the quarter-finals. Amara Traore’s team looked to have salvaged a point against Equatorial Guinea in their second group game, but a late goal from Nzalang Nacional defender David Alvarez saw Senegal lose again. They were beaten by a poor defensive display against Zambia in the first…

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Africa Cup of Nations – Group A Camp Focus

When a country’s football team loses their manager two weeks before they host the biggest tournament in African football, pressure is exceedingly high on the replacement. Henri Michel quit over “third party interference” ahead of Equatorial Guinea’s co-hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations and the job was left to Gilson Paulo, a 62-year-old Brazilian who was formerly youth coach at Vasco Da Gama. Paulo has now been rewarded a new contract after brilliantly leading the Nzalang Nacional to the quarter-finals. Paulo’s side only need a draw with Zambia in…

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Falkirk vs Celtic – Match preview and prediction

The second finalist in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park will be decided this afternoon as Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic take on underdogs Falkirk. Falkirk boss Steven Pressley spent two years at Parkhead and is looking to overcome his former side to set up a final meeting with Kilmarnock. Moroccan striker Farid El Alagui suffered muscle tightness during last weekend’s First Division game against Raith Rovers, but will take his place in the Falkirk side. Pressley insists his side are ‘raring to go’ against the SPL leaders…

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Arsenal vs Aston Villa – Match preview and prediction

Arsenal and Aston Villa face each other for the tenth time in FA Cup history at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The Gunners are desperate to snap a three game losing streak, whereas Villa are looking to upset the odds with a win in this fourth round tie. Arsene Wenger’s side won the competition in 2005, but have failed to register a trophy since that win over Manchester United in Cardiff and Gunners fans are becoming restless. Arsenal got the better of Leeds United thanks to a solitary goal from…

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Sunderland vs Middlesbrough – Match preview and prediction

The first Wear-Tees derby in more than three years comes in the fourth round of the FA Cup as Sunderland host Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light. That game ended in a 1-1 draw and both sides will be looking for victory to get their name in the hat for tonight’s fifth round draw. Martin O’Neill has revitalised Sunderland since his appointment in early December and has lifted them into the top half of the table. The Black Cats beat Peterborough in the third round 2-0 and O’Neill will be…

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