Bergkamp lined up to replace Brady at Arsenal

Former Arsenal forward Dennis Bergkamp could be set for a return to the Gunners as Liam Brady looks for someone to fill his role in the club’s youth set-up ahead of his departure in 2014, the Daily Mail has reported. Bergkamp is thought to be an early candidate for the position having worked in the academy at Ajax, impressing the Dutch club’s hierarchy so much he was appointed as assistant to first team coach Frank de Boer, the Mail adds. Brady earlier this week announced he would be stepping down…

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QPR willing to break the bank for Samba

Queens Park Rangers will offer Christopher Samba a weekly wage of £100,000 to convince the former Blackburn Rovers defender to leave Anzhi Makhachkala and join their Premier League survival fight, the Daily Mirror has reported. The league’s bottom side will pay Russian club Anzhi £12.5m, the Mirror adds, after meeting Samba’s release clause. If Samba is signed before Thursday’s transfer deadline then it will be the second time in a month that QPR have made a new signing the highest paid player in their history – the honour previously went…

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Tottenham give Huddlestone permission to speak to Fulham

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Huddlestone could be on the verge of a move across London after Fulham were given permission by their Premier League rivals to speak with the England international, Sky Sports has reported. Spurs Head Coach confirmed that the Cottagers had asked for and received the opportunity to discuss a move to Craven Cottage with Huddlestone, who has four England caps to his name, but the Portuguese added he was unsure if the move would go ahead – and that he was a fan of Huddlestone. Villas-Boas said:…

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Arsenal boss Wenger looking for a left-back after Gibbs injury

Arsene Wenger will spend transfer deadline day pursuing a left-back to bring to Arsenal after Kieran Gibbs was ruled out of action for a month, the Daily Mirror has reported. Gibbs had to be withdrawn after half an hour of the 2-2 draw with Liverpool after suffering a thigh strain and is expected to miss at least the next three weeks, during which time Arsenal play a number of Premier League fixtures, the fifth round of the FA Cup and the first-leg of their Champions League double header with Bayern…

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Benitez baffled by Chelsea draw with Reading

Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has admitted he does not quite know how his side managed to give up a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Premier League strugglers Reading, the Daily Mail has reported. Goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard had put daylight between the visitors and the hosts, with Reading only getting back into the contest in the 87th minute with a strike from substitute Adam Le Fondre. Five minutes into injury time, though, Le Fondre struck again, taking advantage of lax Chelsea marking from a free-kick…

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Arsenal v Liverpool – Match preview and team news

Sixth faces seventh at the Emirates Stadium in a clash that could for the loser spell the end of their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via fourth place. Hosts Arsenal currently lie three points ahead of Liverpool and after morale boosting victories over West Ham and Brighton in the FA Cup on Saturday, will be confident of victory against the Merseysiders, who are smarting from their shock cup exit to League 1 outfit Oldham at the weekend. The Gunners have skipper Thomas Vermaelen again after he missed the…

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Everton v West Brom – Match preview and team news

Everton continue their fight for a Champions League place against a faltering West Brom side that are beginning to slide down the table after their excellent early-season form under Steve Clarke. The Toffees are three points off fourth-placed Tottenham, into the last 16 of the FA Cup but are without Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer, whose deal fell through today. David Moyes does have concerns about forward Kevin Mirallas however, who limped off in the weekend’s FA Cup victory at Bolton with a hamstring complaint similar to the one that had…

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Fulham v West Ham – Match preview and team news

Craven Cottage plays host to a London derby between two teams desperately struggling for form of late. Hosts Fulham have been on a catastrophic run that has seen them take them take just three wins from their last 18 in league and cup, a run that has seen the West Londoners drop from the Europa League positions to 14th position, just four points above the drop zone, and after their capitulation against Manchester United at the weekend, out of the FA Cup. Meanwhile, after finding themselves in eighth position after…

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Norwich v Tottenham – Match preview and team news

Carrow Road pits Norwich against Tottenham Hotspur in a clash between two sides attempting to get over FA Cup disappointment at the weekend. The Canaries were stunned by non-league Luton Town despite home advantage while Spurs were knocked out at Leeds despite Andre Villas-Boas fielding a near full-strength team. Chris Hughton’s hosts have been on an extremely poor run of late but will take confidence from the fact that his side are undefeated against their opponents in their previous two meetings this season in league and cup. Influential central-defender Sebastien…

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Man Utd v Southampton – Match preview and team news

League leaders Manchester United will be highly confident of extending their lead at the top over rivals Manchester City back to seven points as they welcome a Southampton side still reeling from the sacking of Nigel Adkins and arrival of Mauricio Pochettino as his replacement. Sir Alex Ferguson is said to make a number of changes from the side that comfortably saw off Fulham in the FA Cup on Saturday, with Robin Van Persie, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand all set to return, along with Shinji Kagawa. Ferguson could choose…

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Reading v Chelsea – Match preview and team news

In-form Reading could pile more misery on Rafa Benitez and his struggling Chelsea side as the European Champions make the short trip to the Madejski Stadium. The hosts may currently sit 19th in the Premier League table but with a better goal difference than both Aston Villa and Wigan directly above them, will know that a point will be good enough to take them out of the relegation zone. Indeed, manager Brian McDermott may be targeting all three points after a run of form that has seen the Royals win…

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Villas-Boas believes inspiration is crucial ahead of Spurs clash with Norwich

It might have been a slow start to his reign as Tottenham manager but confidence is flowing in the Spurs camp ahead of Wednesday night’s Barclays Premier League trip to Norwich. Portuguese boss Andre Villas-Boas believes his players will take inspiration from two significant factors ahead of the encounter in East Anglia, reports the club’s official website Tottenham have a good record in Premier League history against the Canaries at Carrow Road, winning on each of their last four visits, but were beaten on their last trip by Chris Hughton’s…

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Arsenal freeze ticket prices

After a backlash from fans amid the ticketing debacle earlier this month against Manchester City, Arsenal have announced that their ticket prices will not be increased for next season. The Guardian understands that prices will still be the same to adhere to fan concerns, and the economic recession. The club said: “The price freeze applies to all match ticket prices including season tickets in both general admission and club level. “Club level season ticket renewals will begin on 12 February. The move follows a full review by the Arsenal board…

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Liverpool set to offload Coates

The Daily Express is reporting Sebastian Coates is to be offered out on loan by Liverpool. The defender has struggled to settle in on Merseyside since being signed by Kenny Dalglish from Nacional in the summer of 2011. He seems to have taken the biggest blow from a poor defensive display at Oldham Athletic on Sunday that saw the Reds make an disappointing exit from the FA Cup. Manager Brendan Rodgers was furious after the defeat at Boundary Park with the performance of his young players, and the Uruguayan –…

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West Ham set to complete Robinson capture

Sam Allardyce is on the verge of completing the capture of goalkeeper Paul Robinson from Blackburn Rovers, reports the Daily Mail. The 33-year-old was first choice when Allardyce was in charge at Blackburn from December 2008 – December 2010. Having lost his first team place to youngster Jake Kean earlier this season, the former England international is set to trim the wage bill at Ewood Park by making the move to east London. Current Hammers reserve Stephen Henderson will go to Lancashire in exchange for the deal to go through.…

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AFCON 2013: Group D Focus – Drogba gamble pays off as Ivory Coast ease into quarter-finals

After this column had earlier called for Didier Drogba to be given a strike partner to help him after the Ivory Coast’s lethargic 2-1 victory over Togo in their opening Group D fixture, the Elephants’ boss Sabri Lamouchi sprung arguably one of the biggest surprises so far by dropping perhaps African football’s biggest icon for the first time in his international career, favouring a strike duo of Lacina Traore and Salomon Kalou against Tunisia. While it would be churlish to suggest that Drogba’s absence was a reason for his side’s…

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Arsenal considering final offer for Barca striker Villa

Arsene Wenger has met with the Arsenal hierarchy at the club’s training ground to discuss whether or not to launch a late move for Barcelona striker David Villa, the Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper adds that Ivan Gazidis was at the London Colney facility to meet with the manager and lay out how a move for Villa would transpire, with time running out before the transfer window shuts late on Thursday evening. Arsenal have thus far not made any signings in January, with Gazidis thought to have told Wenger…

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Everton move for Fer in doubt

Everton’s proposed move for FC Twente’s Netherlands international midfielder Leroy Fer has been thrown into doubt after the Premier League club raised concerns over a knee injury that Fer has been troubled by in the past, BBC Sport has reported. The Toffees are still said to be keen to sign the 23-year-old but want to renegotiate the terms of the transfer with Twente. Everton will still pay the reported £8.6m, the BBC adds, but want to stagger the deal so it is based on appearances or other clauses in case…

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Liverpool reliant on Gerrard, admits Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers has admitted that Liverpool still rely on captain Steven Gerrard and praised the midfielder’s performance in the Reds’ FA Cup exit to Oldham Athletic on Sunday, according to the Daily Mirror. Gerrard started the match on the bench but with the tie slipping away from the Premier League side, was introduced by Rodgers in the second-half. The England skipper was unable to turn around the scoreline but the consensus was that Gerrard raised the level of Liverpool’s performance almost single-handed, hitting the crossbar with a late effort that…

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Ferguson believes Man Utd have title-winning lead

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United are well-placed to regain the Premier League title from Manchester City thanks to the points lead they currently hold, the Daily Mirror has reported. United go into their home game with Southampton four points clear of their near neighbours after City recorded a goalless draw with struggling Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening. If United beat the Saints they will end January seven points ahead of City. Ferguson maintains that while United are certain to drop points between now and the end of the…

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Man City want Villa to replace Balotelli

David Villa is the name Manchester City have identified as the player to replace the departing Mario Balotelli, the Daily Mirror has reported, with the Premier League champions said to be keen to push through a move for the Barcelona striker before the transfer window closes on Thursday. Balotelli is to join Italian club Milan in a transfer worth at least £17m, with more dependent on add-ons, while Villa could be available for around £15m. There had been interest in the Spain international from City’s domestic rivals Arsenal but it…

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Birmingham goalkeeper Butland turns down Chelsea move

Jack Butland has turned down the chance to join Premier League Chelsea despite his club, Birmingham City, accepting a £3m offer for the England international according to the Daily Mail. Birmingham are in troubling financial straits and while they were reluctant to lose one of their brightest young prospects, they could not reject the money on offer. However, Butland does not want to move to a club where he is unlikely to see first team football, potentially risking his development as a player and rejected the approach from the Champions…

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Defoe back fit for Tottenham after injection treatment, reveals Villas-Boas

Jermain Defoe has made a speedy return to fitness after injuring his pelvic muscle thanks to a treatment advocated by Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas, Sky Sports has reported. The Spurs boss revealed that Defoe first complained of the injury last Friday, which meant Tottenham had to keep the England forward out of the following Sunday’s FA Cup match with Leeds United. Tottenham were beaten in Defoe’s absence, Villas-Boas having to use midfielder Clint Dempsey as a striker and later calling on youngster Jonathan Obika. There were fears that…

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Mancini sad to see Balotelli leave Man City

Roberto Mancini has admitted he is sorry to see Mario Balotelli leave Manchester City as the Italy international completes a move to Milan, ESPN has reported. Mancini added however that a return to Italy was the right move for Balotelli at the right time, offering the striker the chance to be closer to his family. Mancini backed Balotelli to become of the best players in the world – and described the former Inter forward as being like “one of his children”. “We are also sad because Mario was an important…

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Terry wants to see more from Chelsea teammates

John Terry has urged his Chelsea teammates to raise their game after two disappointing results in quick succession threaten to leave the Premier League club without a trophy this season, ESPN has reported. Chelsea were knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the semi-final stage last week by Swansea City, going down 2-0 on aggregate after a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium, while their participation in the FA Cup was in doubt for large parts of the weekend fixture with League One Brentford. The lower division side twice…

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