Chelsea playmaker Mata not feeling the strain

Juan Mata has rejected suggestions that he needs to be rested after making his 29th Chelsea appearance on the season, Sky Sports has reported. Mata also travelled to Euro 2012 with Spain and then returned to London to compete in the Olympics, having also had a late end to last season because of Chelsea’s involvement in the Champions League. Rafael Benitez, the interim Chelsea manager, had accused former boss Roberto Di Matteo of over-playing some of the Chelsea squad but Mata, who made his 50th Premier League appearance against Norwich…

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Arsenal and Chelsea fighting it out for Barcelona striker Villa

Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea are both in contention to sign Barcelona striker David Villa, the Daily Mail has reported. Arsenal are said to have enquired into the availability of the former Valencia striker, and been told that he can leave Barcelona on a permanent basis for €16m. With Villa having past 30, however, and with a history of serious injury, Arsene Wenger is unlikely to sanction a move at that price, preferring a loan deal until the end of the season. The Gunners manager would only move for…

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Bale good enough for Brazil, claims Tottenham teammate Sandro

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro has paid compliment to the ability of winger Gareth Bale by insisting the Wales international would be good enough to play for Brazil, the Daily Mirror has reported. Sandro was speaking after Bale scored his first-ever Premier League hat-trick in Tottenham’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa on Boxing Day, a result that took Spurs above Everton in fourth place. Andre Villas-Boas’ men leapfrogged David Moyes’ charges by virtue of having scored 34 league goals this season to Everton’s 32, Bales’ treble proving invaluable in what is…

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Mancini facing FA charge but Ferguson to avoid punishment

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is expected to be called before the Football Association to explain his comments about referee Kevin Friend and the other officials who over saw the Premier League champions’ defeat to Sunderland on Boxing Day, but his Manchester United counterpart, Sir Alex Ferguson, will not be sanctioned for his own clash with the officials in the victory over Newcastle United, the Daily Mirror has reported. Mancini was annoyed that a foul was not given when Sunderland’s Craig Gardner challenged City defender Pablo Zabaleta in the build-up…

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Chelsea target Everton defender Baines

Everton full-back Leighton Baines is attracting interest from the Toffees’ Premier League rivals Chelsea, with the Independent reporting that an offer could be made in January for the services of the England international. The newspaper adds that it is considering unlikely manager David Moyes would give the green light to Baines’ departure in the middle of the season, but that may not be enough to stop Chelsea tempting the Goodison Park hierarchy. The player is valued at £15m and if no offer is forthcoming in the next month, Baines is…

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Rodgers not under threat of sack at Liverpool despite poor form

Brendan Rodgers’ position as Liverpool manager is not under threat despite the former Swansea City boss emulating the points-to-games tally that saw Roy Hodgson sacked and replaced by Kenny Dalglish, the Daily Mirror has reported. Liverpool have racked up 25 points from their first 19 league games under Rodgers, while Hodgson’s time at Anfield was brought to an end with Liverpool picking up 25 points from 20 games, meaning defeat to Queens Park Ranger at Loftus Road at the weekend would leave Liverpool at the same juncture that saw Hodgson’s…

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Man City struggling to cope with Premier League defence, admits Hart

Manchester City have found the defence of their Premier League title more difficult than expected, goalkeeper Joe Hart has said. The Daily Telegraph reports that Hart feels that defending the title is proving even harder than winning it in the first place. City are currently seven points adrift of Manchester United, having suffered defeat against Sunderland on Boxing Day through a goal scored by former City winger Adam Johnson. The result ensured United will be top of the table going in to 2013 but was only City’s second loss of…

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Ronaldo and Mourinho linked with Man Utd move

Cristiano Ronaldo could be set for a return to Manchester United after rejecting the offer of a new contract at Real Madrid, and the Portugal winger could be joined by the Madrid Coach, Jose Mourinho, if this season proves to be the last for Sir Alex Ferguson, the Daily Mirror has reported. The newspaper claims Ferguson could step down at the end of the current campaign, having been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986. Ferguson turns 71 at the end of December and, if he does retire, the United…

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Liverpool eye Holtby move

Liverpool transfer target Lewis Holtby is reportedly refusing to sign a new contract with current club Schalke, opening up the possibility of a switch to Anfield, reports The Daily Mirror. Holtby, 22, has been playing for the German club since 2009, and this season, has made 23 appearances for them, scoring 3 goals and providing 8 assists. He leads his side in the assists department, a statistic that has seen him called up to the German international squad. It is expected that an announcement on Holtby’s future will be made…

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Zaha emerges as Tottenham target

Tottenham are reportedly ready to table an offer for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, Tribal Football has reported. Manchester United have been linked with the youngster, despite Sir Alex Ferguson already saying that United will not be doing any business in the January transfer window. It is thought that if Spurs get their bid on the table early, they may be able to secure the services of the promising winger before bigger clubs come calling. Tottenham currently sit 4th in the Premier League, albeit on goal difference above Everton and…

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Ake eyes more Chelsea action after Boxing Day debut

Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake has spoken of his delight after making his debut for the London club in the Boxing Day fixture, Goal.com has reported. Ake, aged 17, made a late substitute appearance for the Blues in their narrow 1-0 win over Norwich at Carrow Road, and despite admitting some nerves, the Dutch youngster said he relished the opportunity. “I was nervous when I was brought on. But it was 1-0, so I thought I should just do my job. The coach gave me a few assignments and he told…

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Arshavin linked with Reading move

The Mirror has reported that Arsenal midfielder Andrei Arshavin is a possible transfer target for struggling Reading when the transfer window opens in January. Arshavin has not started a Premier League game for the Gunners this season, restricted to substitute appearances and League Cup games. Whilst the likes of Zenit St Peterburg and Fulham have been linked with the Russian, Reading have emerged as a possible destination, with billionaire owner Anton Zingaervich keen to give manager Brian McDermott the funds to stave of relegation. Reading currently sit 2nd last in…

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Fulham Focus – Desperate performance adds to heavy Liverpool defeat

In truth, Fulham fans and players will hardly have travelled up to Anfield with much confidence. Aside from the Cottagers’ perennially poor away record, Martin Jol’s men have hardly been in sparkling form of late, with only two wins, both at home, coming from their last 12 Premier League outings. However, the Cottagers have a good record against Liverpool in recent seasons and considering the way the Reds were swatted aside at home by a young Aston Villa side who with all due respect to them, contained lesser names than…

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Liverpool Focus – Emphatic Fulham victory sees Reds rise again

As Chelsea put six, seven, and then eight goals past a hapless Aston Villa in a one-sided Premier League affair on Sunday, Liverpool fans cast an envious look towards Stamford Bridge, wondering whether the Villa team in question was really the same one which had emerged victorious at Anfield just a week earlier. Paul Lambert’s side had produced one of the performances of the season to beat the Reds 3-1, but Villa’s embarrassing performance in London left many supporters of the Merseyside club scratching their heads. A win over the…

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Aston Villa Focus – Aston Villa suffer heaviest ever league defeat away to Chelsea

A truly awful performance from a team that seemed to have found its way of late, but are now back into the bewildering threat of relegation. The 8-0 score line actually flattered Aston Villa, as Chelsea wasted several glorious chances throughout the match, including having a penalty saved by Villa ‘keeper Brad Guzan. Villa looked inept in all areas, and were taught a harsh lesson that will stick with the young team throughout their professional careers. Paul Lambert has always been a manager that believes attack is the best form…

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Everton Focus – Anichebe the most successful of surprise Moyes changes

Victor Anichebe marked his surprise return from injury with his fourth goal of the season as Everton eked out a 2-1 win over West Ham, a game more discussed afterwards for the intervention of the officials than the striker’s vital contribution. Pre-game there was much talk surrounding how Everton would cope without the suspended Marouane Fellaini, and what David Moyes would do without the Belgian. Of all the solutions proposed, a switch to 4-4-2, with Anichebe partnering Nikica Jelavic, was barely given a mention. Moyes has been attached to playing…

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Arsenal Focus – Cautious optimism in Gunners’ half-term report

With Arsenal now almost exactly halfway through their Premier League campaign, it is perhaps a good time to pause and consider the Gunners’ season so far. After last season’s late dash for Champions League football, there was cautious optimism around the Emirates Stadium in the summer, despite Robin van Persie’s much-publicised move from Arsenal to Manchester United. Using the funds brought in by that transfer, Arsene Wenger added the likes of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. The latter of those names was tipped as the man who was…

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Lampard targets more Chelsea records

Frank Lampard wants to break more Chelsea goal scoring records after becoming the club’s all-time top flight goal scorer when netting in the Blues’ 8-0 Premier League hammering of Aston Villa, the Daily Mirror has reported. Lampard surpassed Bobby Tambling as Chelsea’s leading league scorer as one of seven different players to hit the target in the emphatic win over Villa. Lampard’s goal was his 130th league strike, coming in his 383rd league appearance for Chelsea and his 500th overall, including his time at West Ham United. Now Lampard has…

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Rodgers wants Gerrard to sign new Liverpool contract

Brendan Rodgers is keen to offer Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard a new contract to ensure the England skipper stays at Anfield for the foreseeable future, the Daily Mirror has reported. Gerrard, 32, has just under a year-and-a-half to go on his existing deal and the newspaper claims there was a question mark as to whether or not the midfielder would be offered fresh terms. Both Rodgers and the Liverpool board have emphasised the production of young players as Liverpool look to re-build in the image of the current boss, but…

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Stoke Focus – Potters continue impressive run with point at Spurs

Stoke City’s goalless draw at Tottenham Hotspur marked their eighth consecutive match without defeat. The last time they lost was at Norwich in early November when they were placed 16th with only nine points. Now, Tony Pulis’ men can sit down for their Christmas dinners safe in the knowledge that, in ninth place with 25 points, only five off fourth-placed Arsenal, the Potters are on course for their most successful season since their arrival into the Premier League in 2008. It certainly may not have been the most exciting eight…

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Toure sees Arsenal spirit in Man City

Manchester City defender Kolo Toure has claimed the spirit around the Premier League champions is reminiscent of that which powered his former club Arsenal through their unbeaten season, the Daily Mirror has reported. Toure was one of Arsenal’s 2003/04 Invincibles, when the Gunners claimed the title without losing a single game, winning 26 and drawing 12 of their 38 fixtures. Arsenal eventually won the title by 11 points from nearest challengers Chelsea, who themselves were four points clear of third-placed Manchester United, with Liverpool in fourth. That year, City finished…

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Man Utd boss Ferguson claims Swansea captain Williams could have killed van Persie

Sir Alex Ferguson has angrily claimed that Swansea City captain Ashley Williams could have killed Manchester United striker Robin van Persie by powerfully kicking the ball against the Dutchman’s head during the 1-1 draw between the sides, the Daily Mirror has reported. Williams denied he intentionally struck van Persie with the ball, insisting that he was attempting to clear the ball from the penalty area and could not avoid hitting van Persie, who was on the ground after a challenge by another Swansea player. Michael Oliver, the referee, had blown…

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Tottenham midfielder Huddlestone linked with Reading loan

Premier League strugglers Reading could give Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Huddlestone a route to regular first team football, with Brian McDermott keen to add the player’s top flight experience to his side, the Daily Mirror has reported. Huddlestone is one of three players the Mirror claims Reading are chasing, with the others out-of-favour Liverpool attacking midfielder Joe Cole and Blackburn Rovers’ former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson. Huddlestone could be available after falling behind Sandro and Moussa Dembele in the White Hart Lane pecking order. McDermott has admitted he hopes for…

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Chelsea striker Lukaku wants to stay at West Brom

Romelu Lukaku has admitted he hopes his parent club Chelsea allow him to see the season out at Premier League rivals West Bromwich Albion, and added that he would like to return to the Hawthorns next season as well, Sky Sports has reported. Lukaku has played a part in the Baggies’ rise up the table, with Steve Clarke’s side seventh as Christmas approaches, level on points with three teams directly above them. West Brom join Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and fourth-placed Arsenal on 30 points, firmly in contention for a Champions…

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