Friday, February 19, 2010

100 Years of Old Trafford - the Theatre of Dreams

A hundred at Old Trafford. So what's new? But this is football, not cricket, and the fact that the name is now more immediately associated with Manchester United than Roses matches or Neville Cardus is a measure of the extent to which the home of United has achieved worldwide recognition. Old Trafford is up there with the Bernabéu in Madrid, Camp Nou in Barcelona and San Siro in Milan.


England: Premier League Weekend Preview & Predictions

Wayne Rooney returns to Goodison Park as Manchester United meet Everton (7:45am EST on ESPN2) while the battle for a top-four finish intensifies when Manchester City lock horns with Liverpool. Elsewhere, Sunderland aim for a second win over Arsenal this season and their first since November, league leaders Chelsea make the trip to Molineux, bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth entertain Stoke City while Wigan Athletic hope to avoid a repeat of their 9-1 loss to Spurs earlier this campaign.

Preview I
Preview II
Preview III

Lawro's Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

AC Milan will hope to erase the their Champions League defeat to Manchester United on Sunday when they face Bari. Inter also go into their game at Sampdoria with one eye on next week's Champions League tie against Chelsea. Fourth-place Napoli will be confident of ending their three-match winless run when they make the journey to Tuscany to face rock-bottom Siena. Napoli need to prevail to be certain that Sampdoria and Juventus do not overtake them in the standings. Samp are level on 39 points with Napoli while Juve trail one point behind them.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Real Madrid have little time to dwell on their midweek loss to Lyon as they prepare to face Villarreal on Sunday. Barca will be eager to bounce back against Racing Santander at the Nou Camp on Saturday. Coach Pep Guardiola continues to have a selection headache, though. Last weekend he was without six defensive players through injury and suspension, and this weekend it is the midfield that's the main concern with Xavi, Seydou Keita and possibly Yaya Toure all missing.


Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

Leverkusen face a tough trip to Bremen and the Bavarian derby will be played in Nuernberg in this week’s action.

Hoffenheim – Borussia M’gladbach

Borussia Dortmund – Hannover
Koeln – Stuttgart
Hamburg – Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz – Bochum
Nuernberg – Bayern Munich

Freiburg – Hertha Berlin
Wolfsburg – Schalke
Werder BremenBayer Leverkusen

Oguchi Onyewu joins USA team for light training, Davies hopes for the same in a month

Onyewu hit the practice pitch for the first time since major knee surgery in October.

Sochaux striker Charlie Davies returned to France to rejoin his club this week after a tragic car accident in October left his body badly bruised and in need of surgery.

Fiorentina Fans To Wear Tom Henning Ovrebo Masks In Champions League Clash Against Bayern Munich

La Gazzetta dello Sport
claims fans have been encouraged by local media in Florence to wear Ireland shirts and Ovrebo masks in a protest against the Norwegian referee during the return leg against Bayern.

Europa League: Ngog breaks Unirea, Amauri sinks Ajax


Crowd trouble in Bilbao
President blames drunk fans

Harry Harris:
Low marks for frustrated Liverpool

Chelsea remind players to "protect club's image"

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti and chief executive Ron Gourlay have reminded the first-team squad of their responsibility for protecting the image of the club after a series of embarrassing headlines in recent weeks.

Revealed: The blonde football club secretary at the heart of Ashley Cole sex scandal

Amy Lawrence: How Lukasz Fabianski dropped his big chance with both hands

When Arsenal have invited the Polish goalkeeper to step on to the big stage he has repeatedly choked.

The Joy of Six: Inspired Substitutions

From Arrigo Sacchi's withdrawal of a legend to Bobby Robson's match-winning switch, here are half a dozen inspired changes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Europa League Preview: Round of 32

After the winter recess, Europe’s silver medal competition returns, boasting an array of new teams as the drop outs from the Champions League join up with those who safely negotiated the group stages...

Wolves fined £25,000 over Old Trafford team selection

Wolves have been hit with a £25,000 suspended Premier League fine for fielding a weakened team for their 3-0 December defeat at Manchester United.

English Premier League Report: Wigan 0 - 0 Bolton

Charles N'Zogbia hit the post as neighbouring relegation rivals Wigan and Bolton fought out a drab goalless draw.

Marouane Fellaini's absence will be sorely felt, at Everton and beyond

Fellaini's absence will be felt most deeply at Goodison Park, where David Moyes does not yet have the sort of squad capable of easily absorbing the loss of such an influential and effective player, as was shown in what remained of the derby when Everton, without their main competitor, were no match for Liverpool's 10 men. But even away from Merseyside Fellaini was well on his way to becoming one of the glories of English football and one of the hardest-working and combative players in the Premier League, as well as one of its most recognisable.

Portsmouth seek permission to sell players outside transfer window

Portsmouth want to sell some of their players in order to pay their bills and the Premier League has confirmed that it has received a formal request from the cash-strapped club.

A spokesman for the club said: "I can confirm we have put in a request to the Premier League to sell players outside the transfer window. It is something we are exploring."

FA charge Patrick Vieira with violent conduct after Glenn Whelan clash

Patrick Vieira faces a three-match ban that would rule him out of Manchester City’s games against Liverpool and Chelsea after he was charged with violent conduct yesterday.

Dimitar Berbatov's hope of reviving Manchester United career looks a non-starter

Amid all the tributes being paid to Wayne Rooney after another virtuoso performance on Tuesday evening against AC Milan took his goals tally for the season to 25, it was easy to forget that Dimitar Berbatov was even at San Siro.

Adu Scores Again In Aris Victory

The young American has netted his second in as many matches.

UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich 2 - 1 Fiorentina

Match Report

Ref Ovrebo under fire again after Bayern win

Player Ratings

Dah Mayer:
UEFA has embarrassed city of Florence

UEFA Champions League: Porto 2 - 1 Arsenal

Dominic Fifield:
Fabianski Horror Show

Oliver Kay:
Comedy night in Porto
Amy Lawrence:
Keeper undoes Campbell's nous

Harry Harris:
Sol impresses back in limelight

Sol Campbell:
Referee blocked my path

Wenger slams ref's decision
Arsenal Player Ratings

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Last-16 First-Leg Previews

Porto vs. Arsenal

Estadio do Dragao, Porto, Portugal
2:45pm EST
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Injury plagued Arsenal head to Portugal
David Pleat's Key Clashes
Porto aim to confound the pundits

Bayern Munich vs. Fiorentina

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
2:45 EST
U.S. TV: Setanta (live), FSC (delay at 5pm)
Preview I
Preview II

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"Listen, this is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries. If this had happened in, let's say Latin countries, then I think he would have been applauded."
Sepp Blatter's helpful take on the John Terry saga.

"I'm disappointed in Roger Johnson, because when we were coming off he shouted over: 'I'll be drinking the champagne tonight, Sav'. Well, he can swig his Moet but he should know that I've been drinking Dom Perignon for the past 12 years in the Premier League. "Actually, I've not been drinking champagne for the past 12 years, which is why I played in the Premier League for that long and I'm still playing at the age of 35. Once he's played 350 league games at the top, he can go from Moet to the vintage I drink. In fact, I'll buy him a bottle myself."
Derby's Robbie Savage getting confused as to whether he drinks champagne or not following the FA Cup defeat by Birmingham.

"This was a typical Championship game. Both teams had chances, it finished 1-1
And we all go home. Boring."
Ipswich boss Roy Keane after his side's 15th draw of the season, against Middlesbrough.

"Am I that old?"
Patrick Vieira, 33, when asked if he would need a break after playing 90 minutes for Manchester City against Bolton.

"It's really like taking a new girlfriend out - for the first couple of times it is so fresh, but then over a period of time that fades. I'm not saying you don't still love her but it does die down a little bit."
Stoke's Tony Pulis compares their second season in the Premier League to the first.

"Someone's been sent off, idea who it was because I wasn't concentrating. This game is about as flat as my wife's Yorkshire puddings."
Dean Windass on Soccer Saturday.

The Rest

Hiddink to Head Turkey

The Dutchman has agreed a two-year deal with Turkey with the option of two more and will take control from 1 August.

Hiddink has previously managed Real Madrid and Chelsea, as well as South Korea, the Netherlands and Australia.

UEFA Champions League: Lyon 1 - 0 Real Madrid

A superb strike from Jean Makoun gave Lyon the narrowest of leads after the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash with Real Madrid.

Sulmaan Ahmad:
Pellegrini botched it on big stage

UEFA Champions League: AC Milan 2 - 3 Manchester United

Kevin McCarra:
Rampant Rooney gives United the edge
Richard Williams:
United prevail in historic battle
Gabriele Marcotti:
Neither United nor Milan will win CL
Harry Harris:
Beckham proves enduring quality
Phil McNulty:
Rooney rides to rescue

Player Ratings

Paul Scholes rides luck as Sir Alex Ferguson's men go up through the gears.

English Premier League: Barry lifts Manchester City into Champions League spot

This second clash with Stoke City in four days would be different from the first, Roberto Mancini had pledged. Instead, it was the same for Manchester City — only worse. Another 1-1 draw, but this time Mancini’s team needed a late equaliser and a dubious refereeing decision to deny their ten-man opponents the victory they merited.

Europa League: Everton concede late penalty to give Sporting the edge

“Their goal changed the perspective of the tie,” Moyes said. “I’d thought it was more likely to go 3-0 than 2-1, but we didn’t go for it enough. Maybe we were conserving energy when we should have been going for a third. We’re not down, just disappointed that we didn’t see the job through like we should have done. We’re now going to have to go to Lisbon and do a very good job in the second leg.”

Maradona has called Cup certainties

Inter Milan trio Nicolas Burdisso, Walter Samuel and Diego Milito, Palermo forward Javier Pastore and Olympiacos midfielder Jesus Datolo have been recalled to the group. Only three players from the domestic league have been included - Estudiantes duo Juan Sebastian Veron and Clemente Rodriguez and Velez Sarsfield centre-back Nicolas Otamendi.

Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, Newcastle midfielder Jonas Gutierrez, Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi were also included. Maradona has a firm idea of half of his squad for this summer's showpiece event in South Africa but claims there are still places up for grabs.

Looks like Tevez will be his roommate...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Last-16 First-Leg Previews

AC Milan vs. Manchester United
San Siro, Milan, Italy
2:45pm EST
U.S. TV: Fox Sports Net (Live)
FSC (Delay at 5pm & 8pm)
Fergie's patience tested as Vidic pulls out
Emotional Beckham focused on beating ManU
Matteo Bonetti's view
David Pleat's key clashes
Leonardo's gamble to mold Milan as Brazil
No reason to fear ordinary Milan side

Lyon vs. Real Madrid

Stade Gerland, Lyon, France
2:45pm EST
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel (Live)
Preview I
Preview II

English Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester City

Stoke will be without Matthew Etherington for the Barclays Premier League clash against Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium.

David Moyes fumes at Everton's teatime Europa League kick-off

Unlike some other Premier League clubs, Everton have embraced the concept of the Europa League but they drew the line at being ordered to kick off at teatime. Everton's manager, David Moyes, today condemned Uefa for insisting that their tie with Sporting Lisbon start at 5.45pm today to avoid a clash with Champions League games kicking off two hours later.

Back to reality: John Terry and wife Toni put on ANOTHER show of unity as they arrive back in England following Dubai holiday

Returning home to the real world from a five-star romantic holiday is never easy.

But John Terry and wife Toni looked happier than ever as they arrived back in England yesterday.

The couple, who have publicised their recent reconciliation with a series of saccharine photo opportunities while on holiday in Dubai, couldn't hide their feelings for each other as they arrived at London's Heathrow Airport.

Sid Lowe in Spain

Pep Guardiola's injury-ravaged side suffered their first league defeat of the season as the La Liga race was thrown wide open.

Barcelona's supermen find no answer to Atlético Madrid's Kryptonite.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

For the first time since the manager took charge in 2005 there is a creeping sense that things are going backwards at Fiorentina.

Cesare Prandelli must ring the changes to quell Fiorentina dissenters.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Ruud van Nistelrooy's magic start for Hamburg in the Bundesliga has had the German media gushing.

Ruud van Nistelrooy hits the sweet spot for Hamburg.

Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe

The Dutchman took Russia to a new level but after missing out on the World Cup now might be the right time to leave.

Guus Hiddink's spell in Russian football took them into the fast lane.

Who is there to guide Arsenal's great leader?

It is a question frequently asked of dictators. At what point does their supremacy sway from strong, visionary leadership to absolute power and control? While Arsene Wenger is far too conciliatory and reasonable to be labelled a dictator, there is a growing debate about whether his status at Arsenal is healthy for the club that has become his life's project.

Americans In The UK: Everton Soaring With American Duo

Everton continued their strong league play last week when they defeated Chelsea 2-1 at Goodison Park.

Americans On The Continent: Valentine’s Gift

Freddy Adu scored his first European goal in more than two years and Eddie Johnson tallied an assist to help their new side Aris Thessaloniki defeat Ergotelis 2-1.

Phil Ball in Spain

So in a week of mourning, the yin-yang repeats itself, with the 0-3 win at Xerez preceding Barcelona's much-predicted (and eventual) defeat at Atletico Madrid in the late Sunday game at the Calderon. The leaders had lost Alves, Abidal, Pique. Marquez, Yaya and Chigrinski before the game, only to lose Seydou Keita in the second minute. Add to that the fact that Carles Puyol was hardly firing on all cylinders and Gabi Milito was still short of match sharpness, it was not altogether surprising that the vultures (Forlan and Simao) swooped down quickly to pick at the carrion.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Night at The Emirates

A wonderful video from Wednesday's Arsenal/Liverpool match. Well done Rohan Blair-Mangat!!

Jeff Carlisle Column: Last chance to impress Bob Bradley

Time is a measurement that has an oddly elastic quality. There are moments when 10 seconds can seem like an eternity. In other instances, a deadline three months away can bring immense pressure, and pass in what seems like a nanosecond. That latter scenario is precisely what is facing the 23 U.S. national team players who have convened for training camp at the Home Depot Center.

Gabriele Marcotti Column: Annual pillaging of Porto begins to take a toll

Perhaps the greatest challenge for a manager isn’t building success, it’s rebuilding. You win silverware with a group of players and then — because they’ve aged or because your owner decides to cash in — you have to start over. Except because you’ve been successful and fans and media have grown accustomed to it, the pressure to win right away is immense, despite the new cast of characters.

Jesualdo Ferreira, the Porto coach, knows a thing or two about this.

The Big Interview: Clarence Seedorf

The Dutch master has played for some of the world's greatest managers, is the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs and, though battling an injury, is desperate to play against Manchester United.

Michel Platini takes Champions League to new heights of dominance

Spreading Champions League last-16 matches over four weeks instead of two is part of Uefa tightening its grip on the club game.

Tim Vickery in South America

As a general rule, I prefer to make my predictions after the event - I find it does wonders for their accuracy. But if you're going to put yourself on the line and make a forecast, there's one situation where getting it wrong is a pleasure - when someone turns out to be better than you expected.

For me, Leonardo's performance as Milan coach is in that category. He might be under pressure and it could be that losing to Manchester United in the Champions League might cost him his job, but the Brazilian has made a better, and certainly a bolder, fist of it than I imagined.

Premier League ponders play-offs for Champions League

The Premier League is considering a proposal to introduce a play-off for the fourth Champions League place.

The top four currently enter the tournament but the new idea would mean the teams from fourth to seventh playing in a mini-knockout competition.

Spurs still wouldn't qualify...-Ed.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Roundups

Ruud brace leads Hamburg

Schalke keep pace

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Barcelona failed to regain their five-point lead at the top of the La Liga after a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid. On Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice on his return from suspension as Real Madrid flourished late in the game to thrash Xerez 3-0.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Review + Team of the Week

Inter Milan are seven points clear at the top of Serie A after their 0-0 draw at Napoli today. Roma's emphatic victory over Palermo yesterday had seen them move to within six points of Jose Mourinho's side but Inter's efforts at Stadio San Paolo guided them a little further ahead.

A disputed penalty allowed Juventus to win their first game under coach Alberto Zaccheroni as they came from behind to beat Genoa 3-2 as they moved into sixth.

Team of the Week

England: FA Cup Weekend Review & Reports & Draw

Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham were all forced into replays of their FA Cup fifth round matches.


Bolton 1 - 1 Tottenham
Richard Jolly: Trotters turn a corner?

Chelsea 4 - 1 Cardiff
Kevin Palmer: Blues cruise

Sixth Round Draw
Ties will be played over the weekend of 6 and 7 March 2010. Winning clubs in the Sixth Round will each receive £360,000 from The FA's Prize Fund.

1 Chelsea v Manchester City or Stoke City

2 Fulham v Bolton Wanderers or Tottenham Hotspur

3 Reading or West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace or Aston Villa

4 Portsmouth v Birmingham City