Why Roy Hodgson must take Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy to the Euros next summer

Jamie Vardy has been in sensational form for Leicester City throughout the early stages of the season. The Foxes striker has scored an incredible 14 goals so far this campaign, netting in eleven consecutive fixtures – a new Premier League record. On current form, Vardy is streets ahead of other potential candidates for Roy Hodgson’s squad, including Wayne Rooney, the injury-prone Daniel Sturridge and even Tottenham’s main man Harry Kane. At the time of writing, Vardy is an absolute shoo-in for the European Championship. While he isn’t the most experienced…

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Bergamo (and Italy!) debates the Guardian’s controversial take on Atalanta

Richard Hall, author of a blog called The Gentleman Ultra that mixes the nostalgia of Italian football with the reality on the Curva, was recently asked to write a club guide on Atalanta football club for The Guardian. However he couldn’t possibly have envisaged the huge reaction that it has generated over in Italy. Where in England the article was enjoyed, and Serie A fans awaited the next in the series, in Bergamo, noses it appeared, had been put out of place. Richard is slightly puzzled at the reaction as…

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Tottenham Focus – Forget a striker, defence is behind Champions League troubles

Tottenham do still have a chance of reaching the top four Premier League spots, and the coveted Champions League qualification that goes with that. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s late equaliser meant that Arsenal must win both of their matches, assuming spurs do likewise. A draw for the Gunners against relegation threatened Wigan and Newcastle would open the door for Spurs. With Arsenal having drawn two of their last four, and having shown questionable ‘bottle’ at times this season, it’s far from time to give up on joining Europe’s elite next year. However,…

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Tottenham Focus – Are Spurs the new Barcelona?

In the absence of Jermain Defoe, Tottenham have managed to win two and draw one of their last three games, a run that saw Gareth Bale hit four goals, and Mousa Dembele claim the all important equaliser against Lyon on Thursday. But on closer examination, when it comes to orthodox strikers, Spurs have learned to play without one. Just like Barcelona, having a striker is a luxury at Spurs, rather than a necessity. Whether Tottenham line-up with an out-of-form Adebayor, Defoe, an uncomfortable Clint Dempsey pushed up, or Bale moving…

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Arsenal up interest in Bong following Gibbs injury

Arsene Wenger is looking to sign Valenciennes left-back Gaetan Bong as cover for the recently injured Kieran Gibbs, reports the Daily Mail. Gibbs, 23, picked up a thigh injury in the midweek clash against Liverpool, an injury that is set to see Arsenal youth product out for around three weeks. The Gunners have limited cover in the left-back position, with Andre Santos next in line – however, following a disappointing start to his Arsenal career, the Brazilian has only made three league starts this season, and according to reports, another…

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How will Tottenham line-up under Villas-Boas?

With Andre Villas-Boas newly appointed as Harry Redknapp’s successor at White Hart Lane, Spurs fans will be looking forward to the former Porto boss stamping his own identity on the team, both tactically, and of course in the Summer transfer window. But what can we expect from the man who succeeded so well in Portugal, before coming unstuck at Chelsea? At both Porto and Chelsea Villas-Boas has been most comfortable playing a loose 4-3-3 formation, with one central midfielder slightly deeper than the accompanying two, and with one main striker…

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Book review – Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football

Book: Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of FootballAuthor: Matthew BazellRating: 8/10 Theatre of Silence, The Lost Soul of Football, by Matthew Bazell, is a hugely entertaining critique of modern day football, with a desire largely to return to what it deems as better, or at least more genuine, times. Covering a number of controversial subject areas from ticket pricing to television funding, terraced stands to FIFA, and much, much more. In essence the book is intended to take a second look at a number of changes made in the…

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Aston Villa vs Chelsea – Match preview and team news

With the sad news that Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia, this tie will serve as another opportunity to put the game of football into perspective. All at A Different League wish him well with his treatment. Form: Villa come into the tie having won just once in their last eight outings in all competitions, including a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal last weekend. This has seen the Villains drop down to 15th place in the Premier League, and the pressure mounting on manager Alex McLeish.…

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Milan vs Barcelona – Match preview and team news

These two sides meet for the third time this season, after qualifying from the same group – Milan first held Barcelona to a draw in the Camp Nou, before the Catalans secured a 2-1 win at the San Siro. The game is sure to be more competitive now the teams meet in the knockout stages, and the San Siro will be a 78,000 sell-out for this stand-out fixture of the quarter-finals. The two European giants will be battling it out to secure a Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. Barcelona come…

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Benfica vs Chelsea – Match preview and team news

Chelsea travel to Benfica, with the knowledge that both Manchester sides were knocked out of the Champions League by Portguese clubs, and will be looking to avoid a hat-trick at the Estadio da Luz tonight. It is a game that will also see defender David Luiz, and midfielder Ramires come up against their old teammates. Chelsea arrive in the quarter finals of the Champions League having defeated Napoli after extra time in the last round. The Blues have now won four of their last six games, all under interim manager…

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Tottenham vs Bolton – Match preview and team news

It has been a little over a week since Fabrice Muamba collapsed from a cardiac arrest in the FA Cup quarter final between these two sides at White Hart Lane, but both sides go into this rearranged game lifted significantly by the miraculous progress Muamba is making in his recovery. Without doubt this game will be an emotional one for players, fans, and all concerned – Muamba himself is poised to watch the game from his hospital bed. Tottenham have been out of form in recent weeks, managing just one…

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Man City vs Chelsea – Match preview and prediction

Manchester City look to close the gap on city rivals United to just one point at the Etihad Stadium tonight, as Chelsea try to keep pressure on Arsenal for the coveted fourth spot. Man City are without Jolean Lescott and Vincent Kompany in central defence, both out with injury, so Kolo Toure and Stefan Savic will partner. The return of Carlos Tevez to the City side is approaching, and the Argentine could feature tonight, although he is set to start the tie on the bench, with Mario Balotelli and Sergio…

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Tottenham vs Stoke – Match preview and prediction

Tottenham go into Wednesday night’s home clash against Stoke City with memories fresh in the mind of Saturday’s tragic events, that saw Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba suffer a cardiac arrest on the pitch. The game goes ahead in no small part due to the excellent recovery Muamba is making in recent days. Redknapp has told his players that with such an experience on Saturday, any players who are not comfortable taking to the field tonight, can sit out the game, although there are no indications that any players have publically requested…

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Milan put pay to media myths as Arsenal succumb in San Siro

In the space of one night, Milan have gone from over-aged, slow and toothless, to genuine Champions League contenders, in the mind of some of the less studied media writers, and to many who do not watch Serie A on a regular basis. Taking a look at recent history, the result should not come as too much of a surprise – Milan are Scudetto holders, top of Serie A this term, were the only team to take points off Barcelona in Group H, and had one of Europe’s top strikers,…

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Tottenham Club Focus – Have January transfers improved Spurs?

The January transfer deadline passed without Spurs making the marquee signing that had been hoped for since the Summer. Whether for the want of trying or not, Tottenham go into what may be a title challenging last four months of the season without Roman Pavlyuchenko, Steven Pienaar, Vedran Corluka and Sebastien Bassong, and with new signings Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen. But are we really any better off than we were on Tuesday morning? The least contentious decision would likely be the loan move of Vedran Corluka to Bayer Leverkusen.…

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QPR complete signing of Man City defender Onuoha

Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha has completed a transfer to QPR. The 25-year-old has struggled to break into the first team at City under manager Roberto Mancini, spending last season at Sunderland, and making nine appearances this term. Onuoha now links up with former teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips at QPR, who are now under the management of former Man City boss Mark Hughes. The ex-Man Utd striker is delighted at the new signing, telling AP: “He did very well for me at Manchester City and played a number of games, probably…

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Dalglish confirms Liverpool interest in Sporting youngster

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has confirmed the clubs’ interest in bringing Portuguese midfielder Joao Carlos Teixeira to Anfield. The 19-year-old Sporting Lisbon player has only just broken into his club sides’ first-team squad, but impressed Liverpool scouts in the NextGen Series last year, when he was part of a Sporting side that beat the Reds 3-0. Talking to the official club website, Dalglish revealed: “There might be something about that, yes. If we’ve something to say we’ll tell you but I think there might be something on that.” See what…

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Blackburn close to Bordeaux striker loan deal

Blackburn are set to complete a loan deal for 23-year-old Bordeaux striker Anthony Modeste. Rovers are looking to improve their fire-power, with only Yakubu (12 goals) netting more than three league goals this season so far, and the young French forward Modeste has impressed Blackburn manager Steve Kean while scoring three goals in four starts for Bordeaux in Ligue 1 this term. The deal on offer would appear to be a simple loan deal, with no option to buy the player at the end of the season, according to FIFA.com.…

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Man Utd lead race for Crystal Palace defender

Manchester United are monitoring Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne, with a view to a potential £3m move to Old Trafford, according to the Daily Mail. Sir Alex Ferguson is thought to be in the market for a right-back, with the injury to Rafael meaning centre-backs, most notably Chris Smalling, have had to fill in on the right side of defence. Palace are expecting to lose the player at the end of the season, having failed to agree a renewal of his contract, and a January bid would likely be acceptable…

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Marseille defender interested in Chelsea move

Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta has made clear his interest in signing for Chelsea, following recent reports linking the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge. The Blues are thought to be in the market for a right sided full-back, as a replacement for Jose Bosingwa, and with the potential exit in the coming year of 33-year-old Paulo Ferreira. Talking to L’Equipe, 22-year-old Azpilicueta revealed: “There has been no contact, and I am still bound to OM until 2014. Now, if the leaders of Chelsea want me, they should first discuss that with OM.…

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Drogba close to Chelsea exit as Shanghai links increase

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba could be about to join Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, linking up with former Blues teamate Nicolas Anelka, according to the club owner Zhu Jun. Drogba has been unable to find agreement with Chelsea over a new contract, and has been linked continually with a Stamford Bridge exit. It is thought the Ivory Coast international is looking for a longer term contract, but Chelsea are only willing to extend his deal by one year. Zhu Jun, the owner of Shanghai Shenhua, is quoted in the Telegraph as…

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Kakuta makes Chelsea loan exit to Dijon

Chelsea midfielder Gael Kakuta has gone on loan to French side Dijon for the rest of the season. Kakuta, 20, has already spent some time on loan at Bolton Wanderers earlier in the season, but since returning has not been able to break into the Chelsea first-team this season, with his last appearance in blue coming more than a year ago, in the FA Cup victory over Ipswich. It will be the third loan spell the Frenchman will have had since joining the London side in 2009, having also made…

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Everton ponder move for Vietnam international

Everton could be preparing a move for Vietnam striker Le Cong Vinh, after the Merseyside club sent scouts to watch him play for Hanoi Club, according to Vietnamese online newspaper VietNamNet. It is reported that Everton scout for South-East Asia, Steve Darby, was present at Hanoi’s clash against Khanh Hoa, where Cong Vinh’s side won 4-1, and is keen to recommend the Vietnam international to the Toffees in a bid to bring the player to the Premier League. Cong Vinh, 26, has scored nine goals in nine international appearances for…

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Hazard interested in Chelsea or Man Utd transfer reveals agent

Eden Hazard would be interested in joining Chelsea or Manchester United, according to the players’ agent. The Belgian international has won rave reviews over the past season playing for Lille, and has been strongly linked with moves to the Premier League, as well as to Italy and Spain, with Barcelona and Inter Milan rumoured to have sounded out the player about such a move. Agent John Bico revealed to the Daily Mail: ”He is a professional, and the club is a company. Sometimes clubs have to deal with the reality…

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Granero could make Liverpool move says agent

Out of favour Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero could be set for a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu, with Liverpool a possible destination, according to the players’ agent. The Spanish attacking midfielder has found opportunties limited under Jose Mourinho since his 4m Euro move from Getafe in 2009, falling behind the likes of Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil in the central positions. Granero has played just 11 minutes in La Liga this season, over three appearances, and agent Teofilo Lazaro told the International Business Times: ”He’s finding his chances limited…

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