Everton benefit from a rare constructive summer

A prosperous summer coupled with a bright start to the season – look out Premier League, Everton mean business this year. Having become accustomed to their plans being consistently disrupted by a late transfer market sale, the Toffees have managed to hold on to the likes of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini, while strengthening key areas. Jack Rodwell may have departed to subsidise their spending, but despite a lack of options in central midfield at present, his absence will not be keenly felt. He was often unavailable due to a…

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Man City will get better, insists Hart

Joe Hart has vowed Manchester City will improve on their sluggish start to the season, the Daily Mirror has reported, as the England international targets a second Premier League title and an impact in the Champions League as well. The Mirror points out that when the Community Shield is taken into account, City have conceded 16 goals in eight games so far this season and are without a win in their last four matches, which the newspaper claims is the club’s worst run of form under Roberto Mancini. Hart however…

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Rodgers challenges Downing and Enrique to regain Liverpool places

Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique have to prove they are good enough to play for Liverpool or face being shown the door by manager Brendan Rodgers, according to the Daily Mail. Both Downing and Enrique have been at Anfield for just over a year, with the Mail claiming Downing has never impressed since his move from Aston Villa – becoming the fourth most expensive player in Liverpool’s history in the process – and Enrique starting well but tailing off dramatically, to the point Rodgers has preferred to play right-back Glen…

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Redknapp holds no grudge against Tottenham chief Levy

Harry Redknapp is not angry or bitter at being sacked by Tottenham Hotspur chief executive Daniel Levy, a close confidant has told the Independent. Joe Jordan, a coach under Redknapp at Tottenham and Portsmouth, added that the move by Levy came as a surprise but neither he nor the former manager hold any animosity towards Levy for his decision. Jordan added that when Redknapp and Levy reached an impasse in the former’s contract negotiations, he had an inkling their future was elsewhere. He said: “[Being sacked] was not something I…

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Liverpool players may be forced into diving, says Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers has suggested that his Liverpool players will have to start diving in order to get decisions from referees to go in their favour, the Guardian has reported. The former Swansea City manager complained to referees’ chief Mike Riley that decisions were consistently going against his side, and added in a press conference that he feels Liverpool players are being punished for their honesty. Rodgers said: “We like to think we are a sporting team, I have always told my players to do the right thing, not to dive,…

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Kean forced out of Blackburn

Steve Kean has resigned as manager of Blackburn Rovers after his position was made untenable by rumours surrounding his future at the club, the Guardian has reported. The newspaper adds that the club’s owners also attempted to dictate team selection, which proved the final straw for the Scot. Kean’s departure brings an end to two years in the manager’s office, during which time the club has been relegated as fan discontent at both his employment and the practices of the owners, Indian firm Venky’s, often came to the fore in…

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Chelsea were lucky in the Champions League, claims Arsenal boss Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Chelsea rode their luck last season on their way to a first ever Champions League success, the Daily Mirror has reported. The two teams meet on Saturday in the Premier League. Wenger added that he was proud to see a team from the top flight of English football win the tournament, adding that the side which finished sixth at the end of the season winning the trophy reflected very well on the league. But Wenger, while praising the contribution of Chelsea’s players and in particular,…

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Gerrard warns Liverpool must win at Norwich

Steven Gerrard has urged his Liverpool teammates to go to Norwich City and come away with their first three points of the season, with the Guardian reporting the Reds captain as saying a draw is not good enough. Liverpool are stuck in the bottom three of the early season table, without a victory in the league under new manager Brendan Rodgers. They have only two points, from draws with Sunderland away and Manchester City at home, and were beaten by Manchester United last time out through a controversial Robin van…

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Rooney must earn Man Utd place, says Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has told Wayne Rooney that he cannot be considered an automatic choice in the Manchester United side anymore, the Daily Mirror has reported. The manager has Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck to call on as well as the England international, with Ferguson admitting he could plump for a partnership not involving Rooney. Rooney returned from injury against Newcastle United in the midweek League Cup victory, having missed the last few weeks of football because of the cut thigh suffered in an incident with Fulham…

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Mancini confident Man City will retain Premier League title

Roberto Mancini believes Manchester City will win back-to-back Premier League titles, the BBC has reported, despite his side’s slow start to the new season and the manager admitting it is more difficult to defend the trophy than win it for the first time. City have won only twice this season, against newly-promoted Southampton on the opening day of the season and one of last year’s relegation strugglers Queens Park Rangers, both at home, and were knocked out of the League Cup on their own ground in midweek. Mancini’s side have…

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Sunderland v Wigan Athletic – Match preview and team news

Defeat in this fixture last year for Sunderland after a long winless run ended Steve Bruce’s reign as manager at the Stadium of Light. While there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Martin O’Neil is under any pressure whatsoever, he will still be keen to get Sunderland’s first win in the Premier League this season in front of his own supporters. The Black Cats have been solid if not spectacular so far, although the record signing of Steven Fletcher already looks like money well spent with four goals in his…

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Stoke v Swansea – Match preview and team news

The Britannia is sure to be rocking for the visit of Swansea with the home fans expectant that Tony Pulis’ men will finally get their first win of the season at the sixth time of asking. Pulis can point to a tough start that has seen Stoke take on Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea in their opening five games but with visits to Liverpool and Manchester United on the horizon, victory in this game will be a definite target for the Potters. Pulis has the luxury of being able to…

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Man Utd v Tottenham – Match preview and team news

Title-chasing Manchester United welcome a Tottenham side to Old Trafford who are just beginning to find their feet it seems under Andre Villas-Boas on Saturday afternoon. Sir Alex Ferguson and his team will know that with fellow title rivals Arsenal and Chelsea taking points off each other earlier in the day, the Red Devils could reach the summit of the Premier League with victory over Spurs despite not having the most convincing starts to the season. Wayne Rooney made his return from the nasty gash that has kept him out…

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Fulham v Man City – Match preview and team news

Manchester City travel to London to the banks of the River Thames looking for their first win in four matches and first away victory in all competitions this season after a stuttering run of form that has seen them drop points to Stoke and Arsenal in the Premier League, collapse late on at the Bernabeu in the Champions League and in midweek, dumped out of the cup at home by Aston Villa. The defending champions remain unbeaten however and despite Mancini’s concerns, the City fans remain hopeful on the season…

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Aston Villa v West Brom – Match preview and team news

Aston Villa prepare for what many Villa fans are describing as their biggest derby of the season following Birmingham and Wolves’ absence from the Premier League this season. Paul Lambert’s team were disappointing in the way they ultimately collapsed at Southampton last week but responded quite magnificently in the League Cup in midweek, when a courageous counter-attacking performance brought progression with a 4-2 victory against a Manchester City team that though weakened, was full of established internationals. Lambert will know just how important this clash is for the fans but…

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Arsenal v Chelsea – Match preview and team news

Two sides that are unbeaten so far in the Premier League this season face-off at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, as first meets fifth. Chelsea have had an excellent start to their campaign, as they try to adapt to a less direct style of football. The signing of Eden Hazard, along with the form of Juan Mata, have helped Roberto Di Matteo’s side to four wins in their first five ties. Arsenal will however prove Chelsea’s toughest task so far – Arsene Wenger’s side are also unbeaten, with three draws…

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Norwich vs Liverpool – Match preview and team news

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton will lead his team out at Carrow Road and be hoping to get their first three points of the season as they take on Liverpool, who are also searching for their first win in the Premier League. The Canaries progressed to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup in the week and Hughton is likely to keep Bradley Johnson and Jonny Howson in midfield, while Steve Morison should also retain his place up front. Liverpool made eleven changes for the win at West Brom…

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Stoke Focus – Swansea the perfect opportunity for Stoke to get off the winning mark

Anticipation is building ahead of what Stoke fans believe to be the ideal opportunity for the Potters to finally – at the sixth time of asking – achieve their first Premier League victory of the season. Stoke started well enough with four straight draws but after their gallant, late defeat at Chelsea last week and with trips to Liverpool and Manchester United on the horizon, manager Tony Pulis will not need to be told that this Saturday’s home match with an out of form Swansea is one his team simply…

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Man Utd Focus – Vidic compounds Ferguson’s ever-increasing defensive crisis

Manchester United’s defensive crisis deepened this week with the confirmation that club captain Nemanja Vidic will be sidelined for two months due to surgery. The Serbian was left out of Sunday’s victory at Anfield after complaining of tightness in his knee, and following subsequent examination it was deemed necessary for a meniscus operation to be performed. This leaves Sir Alex Ferguson down to the bare bones in the centre of defence. The manager will also be concerned that it is the same knee that caused Vidic to miss five months…

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Aston Villa Focus – Cup victory must inspire and not distract

It was a night to remember for Aston Villa and their fans at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, with their victory against Premier League champions Manchester City in the Capital One Cup certainly the highlight of their season so far. Mario Balotelli had scored six goals in his four previous appearances against Aston Villa, so it was no surprise when he gave the hosts the lead in the 27th minute. Many would have then expected Villa to crumble, especially following a crushing defeat away to Southampton just three days previously,…

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Arsenal Focus – Reasons for optimism on and off the pitch

It has been an encouraging few days for the future of Arsenal, both on the pitch and behind-the-scenes. On Wednesday, an Arsenal side containing several highly-rated youngsters impressed in a 6-1 brushing aside of League One Coventry City in the Capital One Cup. French striker Olivier Giroud also scored his first goal for his new club while Theo Walcott, whose contract wrangling continues, made his case to play in his desired fole a frontman by finding the net twice. There was even time for the forgotten man Andrei Arshavin to…

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Reading v Newcastle – Match preview and team news

After their midweek cup heroics Reading will be hoping they can pick up their first Premier League win of the season. The Royals came from behind twice at QPR on Wednesday, to win 3-2, but have lost their last three league games and sit bottom of the Premier League with a solitary point. Reading are likely to line up with Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam le Fondre in attack, although Jason Roberts is also available after recovering from a calf injury. Jimmy Kebe could be set to make his first league…

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Everton v Southampton – Match preview and team news

Everton will be glad to return to Premier League action after being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Leeds United midweek. David Moyes had made six changes to the team that won at Swansea last weekend, but his plan backfired as The Toffees were unable to progress in the competition. Key players Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar and Tim Howard are expected to return to the Everton starting eleven for the visit of Southampton. Everton fans will be hoping Marouane Fellaini will continue his impressive start to the season.…

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Agger could be fit in time for Liverpool’s trip to Norwich

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is optimistic that centre-back Daniel Agger will be fit to take his place in the starting line-up for Liverpool’s trip to Norwich at the weekend as the Reds search for their first Premier League victory of the season. Denmark international Agger, 27, was stretched off in last week’s defeat to Manchester United after clashing with teammate Glen Johnson in the build-up to the award of a penalty against the home side that Robin van Persie converted to give the three points to the Red Devils. However,…

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