Friday, January 04, 2008

FA Cup Third Round Preview – Mud, Myths & Magic

There is still an aura of magic about the first Saturday in January, when the Third Round of the FA Cup is staged, even though the world’s oldest knockout competition has lost a little of its lustre in recent years under a succession of small but cumulatively significant cuts.

And the BBC's Match of the Day editor looks forward to the Third Round.

La Liga Weekend Preview: Round 18

Round 18 kicks off with Barcelona playing catch-up on Saturday evening, and concludes with a double header of Madrid-Zaragoza and, above all, Sevilla-Betis...

La Liga Returns

Saturday 5 January 2008 (all times local)
20:00 Mallorca - Barcelona
22:00 Espanyol - Villarreal

Sunday 6 January
17:00 Deportivo - Atletico Madrid
17:00 Getafe - Valladolid
17:00 Murcia - Osasuna
17:00 Racing - Athletic
17:00 Recreativo - Almeria
17:00 Valencia - Levante
19:00 Real Madrid - Zaragoza
21:00 Sevilla - Betis

The Mill (s)

Friday's Rumours


Hutton spurns Spurs to stick with Rangers

The Rangers manager Walter Smith today confirmed that defender Alan Hutton has turned down a potential move to Tottenham Hotspur.

True -- not if they keep leaking goals and can't sign a defender.

Time is running out for Liverpool - and Benítez too

It was once unthinkable that Liverpool would surpass Manchester United's 26 years without a title win. Now it looks almost inevitable.

...nobody seriously thought English football's most successful institution would ever embark on the kind of barren domestic run Old Trafford suffered between 1967 and 1993.

John Barnes and his short shorts celebrate Liverpool's last title in 1990.

The 3-5-2: Questions and Inquiries USA's Greg Lalas has several questions, including those surrounding Tottenham's prolific striker Dimitar Berbatov, the lack of anyone crushing on Avram Grant and the choices made by U.S. National Team head coach Bob Bradley for his January training camp.

That's a smile...sort of...

Beane brings "Moneyball" approach to MLS

"If you get the data, what you're trying to ultimately achieve is: What is the intrinsic value of this player's performance?" Beane said. "What is he paid, and what should he be paid?"

Ernst Bouwes in Holland: What was hot and what was not

The halcyon days of wine and roses may be over in Dutch football, but suspense has made up for a lack of quality and success on the European stage. The last day of the 2006-07 league season was the most spectacular finale in national history as three clubs headed the virtual leaderboard at some point during the afternoon and, in the end, just one goal decided the title race eventually. The year 2007 had several of these ups and downs:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Look Alikes of the Week: Djimon Hounsou and Emmanuel Eboué

Silent majority claim Old Trafford has been ‘turned into police state’

The man was threatened with ejection and, by half-time, with his efforts to sing and shout having met calls to sit down and shut up, his enthusiasm had gone. He will know what one United supporter was talking about yesterday when he likened Old Trafford to “a police state”.

Galarcep: The Top 10 Story Lines of 2007

What is the best way to measure how good 2007 was for American soccer fans? Consider how easy it has been to forget the disaster that was 2006.

The U.S. national team crashed out of the World Cup, longtime stars Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Eddie Pope retired, and the subsequent search to replace departed head coach Bruce Arena turned into a fiasco. American fans were understandably concerned about what 2007 would bring.

The Mill ++

Thursday's Rumours


Top 50 Transfer Targets

The reasons players switch clubs are many. They might be unwanted, wanted by a bigger fish, or it may be down to their contractual situation. Gabriele Marcotti identifies 50 who could be packing their bags either in this transfer window or in the summer.

From Ronaldinho to Ronaldo, they're in no particular order.

Wednesday's EPL Reports + Table

Newcastle 0 - 2 Manchester City
Toon Army calls for the sack

Bolton 1 - 0 Derby County

Stelios strike in injury time a brutal blow for Rams

Blackburn 1 - 0 Sunderland
Keane's crew in trouble

The table -- Played and Points:

Man Utd2148
Man City2139
Aston Villa2136
West Ham Utd2029
Wigan Athletic2117
Derby County217

Richard Jolly at Anfield

Liverpool 1 - 1 Wigan

Liverpool rely too much on two men

Barcelona: A Club In Crisis?

Walter Townsend looks at the situation Barcelona find themselves in.

Arsenal Mid-Season Review: Exciting Times Are Back looks at the first few months of Arsenal's season...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

China players make million-dollar World Cup pledge

"I pledge to advance to the World Cup, which is the professional goal that we strive for," the players recited on Tuesday, according to the paper.

"We swear by death to kill along the bloody road of defending the honour of the motherland and realise our youthful dreams."

United's silent fans blasted by angry Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson described Old Trafford as having the atmosphere of a "funeral" when he spoke after Manchester United's 1-0 win over Birmingham City. Carlos Tevez's goal means the champions have won 10 league games in a row on their own ground but Ferguson was distinctly unimpressed with United's supporters, accusing them of letting down the team.

Five things we learned over the festive football period

Arsenal are in it for the long haul, Tottenham still can't defend and Roy Hodgson needs to think up a decent half-time team talk fast.

Martin Rogers: Soccer's people to watch in 2008

Juan Carlos Osorio. The Red Bull company is not interested in being a middle-of-the-road organization and is determined to establish its MLS team as one of the league's leading lights. Enter Osorio – the man in charge of turning around the underperforming New York Red Bulls after walking out on the Chicago Fire.

Osorio did a solid job in Chicago, and his tactical style should suit main scoring threat Juan Pablo Angel. However, expectations will be high and Osorio will need a deep run in the playoffs to keep his paymasters happy.

People To Watch

EPL Wrap: Arsenal & United Win, Maintain Status Quo

Arsenal and Manchester United both won at home - 2-0 against West Ham and 1-0 against Birmingham, respectively - to maintain the order at te top of the Premier League. Everton got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough, while Portsmouth bounced back with a 2-0 win at Reading.

Status Quo

Premier League Team Of The Season So Far

It's that time of year so here is a purely subjective selection of the best performers in the Barclays Premier League in each position so far this season, in 4-4-2 formation.

Green (West Ham)

Mellberg (Aston Villa) Dunne (Manchester City) Vidic (Manchester United) Clichy (Arsenal)

Ronaldo (Manchester United) Fabregas (Arsenal) Cahill (Everton) Elano (Manchester City)

Berbatov (Tottenham Hotspur) Torres (Liverpool)

Richard Jolly at Old Trafford

Manchester United 1 - 0 Birmingham

MANCHESTER UNITED VERDICT: In his absence - for the majority of the match, anyway - United displayed why Owen Hargreaves is essential to add steel in the centre of the pitch. The more encouraging contributions were provided by Ji-sung Park and Nani, lively on either flank, though United could have benefited from either displaying a cutting edge. Ronaldo, prolific on the wing, failed to score as a striker.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Richard Williams on Newcastle

The trouble with Newcastle is not Allardyce - it's Newcastle

The Newcastle faithful's neediness is the problem on Tyneside, not Sam Allardyce's tactics.

Who's Going to the African Nations Cup?

Around 40 Premier League players could leave the domestic season in England to link up with their national team. Portsmouth could be most affected with five of Harry Redknapp's squad likely to be called up for national duty.

John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Didier Drogba and Saloman Kalou (Ivory Coast), Michael Essien (Ghana)

EPL Wednesday Previews + Table

Lawro's Predictions
Fasteddy's Tips
Your Guide to Today's Matches
Freddie Makes "Emotional" Return to Arsenal

The Table
1 Arsenal 20 24 47
2 Man Utd 20 26 45
3 Chelsea 20 16 41
4 Liverpool 19 21 37

5 Man City 20 5 36
6 Everton 20 13 33

7 Aston Villa 20 9 33
8 Portsmouth 20 9 31
9 Blackburn 20 -1 30
10 West Ham 19 8 29
11 Newcastle 20 -4 26
12 Tottenham 20 5 24
13 Reading 20 -13 22
14 Middlesbrough 20 -15 20
15 Birmingham 20 -9 19
16 Bolton 20 -10 17
17 Sunderland 20 -19 17

18 Wigan 20 -16 16
19 Fulham 20 -14 15
20 Derby 20 -35 7

Twenty six players picked for U.S. national team camp

The Yanks play a friendly against Sweden in L.A. on January 19.

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Will Hesmer (Columbus), Matt Pickens (Chicago), Zach Wells (D.C.)

Defenders: Dan Califf (Aalborg, Denmark), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City), Ramiro Corrales (Brann, Norway), Todd Dunivant (Toronto), Clarence Goodson (San Jose), Drew Moor (Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England), Eddie Robinson (Houston), Marvell Wynne (Toronto)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Brad Davis (Houston), Maurice Edu (Toronto), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Justin Mapp (Chicago), Pat Noonan (New England)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (New York), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City), Chris Rolfe (Chicago), Taylor Twellman (New England), Jeremiah White (Aarhus, Denmark)

Monday, December 31, 2007

Old Firm postpone clash in memory of O'Donnell

Wednesday's Old Firm clash between Celtic and Rangers has been postponed as a mark of respect following the death last weekend of Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell, the Scottish Premier League (SPL) announced on Monday.

Norman Hubbard: Worst players of the season... so far

While it is a comment that applies to entire teams, the half-term report card for certain players contains the unwanted words 'could do better'. The only consolation is that the second half of the season presents an immediate opportunity for improvement. But if not, it won't represent a year to remember for the following:

CASL 91 Elite defeats Chelsea at Disney Showcase

The team from Raleigh, NC pulled off an upset that the young players will remember for the rest of their lives with a 2-1 win over the world-renowned Chelsea FC U-16 team.

Americans in England: Rough Week for the Yanks USA's Matthew Braine runs down the happenings of the Americans in England this past week.

Figo Set For USA Move?

The Portuguese legend has reportedly signed a two-year contract with the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) worth $3.5m a season.

Luis Figo and his wife Helena Svedin

Select EPL Weekend Reports

Another interesting weekend in England as Ronaldo's penalty miss allowed West Ham to knock United off the top of the table, Arsenal employed long-ball tactics to beat Everton, and Spurs and Reading provided a comedy of errors...

West Ham 2 - 1 Manchester United

Lethargic Reds

Everton 1 - 4 Arsenal
Gunners finding new ways to win

Tottenham 6 - 4 Reading

Berbatov nets four in schoolyard contest

Manchester City 0 - 0 Liverpool
Title chances fading fast for Rafa

Birmingham 1 - 1 Fulham
Bocanegra heads in a point for Hodgson

Wigan 1 - 2 Aston Villa
Villians drive toward Europe

The Insider at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 2 - 1 Newcastle
When cheers turn to jeers

We may have come with the intention of issuing the last rights to Sam Allardyce's troubled reign as Newcastle manager, but a more accurate assessment of the day's happenings may be that this was the beginning of the end of Avram Grant's controversial reign as Chelsea manager.