Friday, August 27, 2010
A couple will represent each team taking part in the Premier League this season and be matched as per their club fixtures in a battle of brains, brawn and beauty.
Click on the match-up and vote for your favourites. We will then see how our Wags and Stags league table compares with the real thing.
Blackburn's Saturday lunchtime meeting with Arsenal is the first of 10 Premier League matches this weekend. Wigan will be out to avoid another 9-1 drubbing when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur, a rampant Chelsea entertain Stoke, Manchester United host West Ham while Manchester City travel to Sunderland on Sunday.
Tom Adams previews Blackburn vs. Arsenal
Jon Carter previews Manchester United vs. West Ham
Once again, then, the best way to look at Italian football is by focusing on the pitch. If you really concentrate, you can block out the vision - and thought - of the negative stuff: directors and owners you'd like never to see again, unruly fans, agents who are taking over the airwaves and sports pages with their, er, objective opinion about their own players, financial instability and hyping of moderately interesting transfer deals. Just look at the pitch and follow the ball rolling about: isn't that, after all, why we started loving football in the first place?
Barcelona will again look to rely on graduates of their academy to repel the threat of Real Madrid in the coming La Liga season.
Ideologies clash as Barcelona and Real Madrid prepare for La Liga duel.
Emmanuel Adebayor has threatened to leave Manchester City before the end of the transfer window. The striker is ready to move on if there is an offer for him before 31 August as he fears spending a large part of the season on the substitutes' bench if he stays.
Hey Ade! These guys might be willing to take you...
The new season is upon us and Off The Ball will be scratching around the underbelly of professional football for the duration of the campaign to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, Manchester United's new £7.4 million signing is dropped from the reserves, Panionios fans dig up their own pitch, there is a phantom underpant slasher at Chelsea and Khalid Boulahrouz kicks a ball at a woman's head.
Tottenham are alone among the four Premier League clubs in having a Champions League group they can really savour.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Hapoel Tel Aviv
September 14-15, 28-29; October 19-20; November 2-3, 23-24; December 7-8.
The crucial second goal of the night came to Spurs through a piece of outrageous cheating from Jermain Defoe. With a high ball coming in, Defoe clearly and deliberately controlled the ball with his hand, bringing the ball down to enable him to score the goal that put Spurs firmly on their way to the group phase.
What consequences then for Defoe?
“He got away with it,” was Beglin’s take on an act of cheating on a par with Henry’s. Back in the studio there were broad smiles all round at half time, “more than a little hint of handball in that second but there’s no denying it’s men against boys,” said Adrian Chiles, as Andy Townsend, another Irishman, sort of, and Gareth Southgate chuckled like school boys.
There is a prevalent sense that playing the right way is more important than adopting a more 'European' approach.
Argentina's romantic view of the beautiful game may be holding them back.
Yes, this is from River Plate's official website...
Chelsea, United and the Gunners are in pot one, with Spurs - who beat Young Boys 6-3 on aggregate to qualify on Wednesday - and Rangers in pot three.
Any one of the five British clubs could be drawn with Real in the group stages.
The English sides cannot play each other before the quarter-finals, but the trio of top seeds could face Scottish champions Rangers in the group stages.
"We had 31 shots and 14 of those were on target. It is a shame that we only scored one goal," Mazzarri said after the 1-0 victory in Naples.
Liverpool nurse a one goal advantage from the first leg the Reds can coast through to the group stages by keeping a clean sheet in Turkey.
Roy Hodgson will have to do without talismen Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres who will both miss the trip.
"It's going to be a very tough ask for the players in a difficult place but if we come through it we'll come through it stronger," said the new gaffer at Anfield.
Squillaci is unlikely to make his Gunners debut until after the international break as he will not be involved against Blackburn in the Premier League on Saturday.
It is sometimes unwise to voice ambition. The lower half of the Premier League is populated by managers who make it their raison d'etre to downgrade expectations. That way, mediocrity can be presented as achievement. Roberto Martinez, in contrast, has often said that his objective is to take Wigan into Europe.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The four malls are in Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado and two in Ohio. That means nine, or 13%, of the Glazers' malls are now "delinquent" or insolvent, and a further 29 centres, 43%, have so many units empty the rental income does not cover the mortgage payments.
France's battered football reputation has been dealt a new blow with claims from a former national team doctor that several players provided suspect blood samples just before their 1998 World Cup win.
Tottenham head into their UEFA Champions League qualifier on Wednesday against Young Boys hoping to avoid a disastrous exit at the first hurdle of the competition.
Aquilani, who has been capped 11 times by Italy but was overlooked for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has made only 28 appearances for the Reds, scoring two goals in the process.
There were fights on the pitch and in the boardrooms this summer, but the outlook in Italy is far from bleak.
It may seem early in the season for talk of must-win games - yet Aston Villa are facing two in the space of four days. And they will not only determine the future of caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald, but also test the commitment of American owner-chairman Randy Lerner.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Goal.com's KS Leong runs through the prospects of each contender in the Spanish top flight in 2010-11.
Andy Carroll wears Newcastle United's No. 9 shirt with pride but must lose some rough edges.
Unfancied clubs are sensing some of the elite are now vulnerable, a feeling backed up by early results.
Happily, the opening two rounds of the Premier League, featuring four -- four! -- 6-0 thrashings have arrived with a plink-plink fizz.
Neymar saying no to Chelsea's millions and staying with Santos is being seen as a huge victory for Brazilian football.
This might be going just a little too far but more than anything else, it is a victory for common sense.
The 18-year-old is a magnificent prospect. He is sleek and skilful, able to beat the defender on either side, capable of combining well, and full of tricks he can put to productive use in and around the penalty area.
He is a goalscorer and goal maker but he is still raw.
"If a French player receives an offer from Arsène Wenger, it's practically impossible to turn down," he said. "It was a sensational offer for me and I was happy Sevilla let me go. It was a difficult situation but I knew I had to take this chance. I knew if I played against Braga then I would not have been able to play for Arsenal in the Champions League."
After a major overhaul on and off the field, Hoffenheim's thrashing of Werder stood out as the best opening-day display.
Hoffenheim start with a bang as Bayern hand McClaren an early lesson.
New Tottenham signing William Gallas believes he has joined a side that possesses enough quality to mount a serious Premier League title challenge this season.
Monday, August 23, 2010
The battle of the challengers gets underway on Monday night, following their exertions in the Europa League. Both teams have aspirations to be playing at a higher level and, despite the opposing financial fortunes of the clubs, have claims to be pushing for Premier League title.
Last month, France won the Under-19 European Championships on home soil by beating Spain 2-1 in the final. It was the nation's first youth title since 2005, when a side that contained Yoann Gourcuff, Abou Diaby and Hugo Lloris won the same tournament in Northern Ireland.
As that trio figured in France's ill-fated World Cup campaign this summer, hopes are high that the current crop of youngsters, known as the "1991 generation," after the year of their birth, will go onto great things. Below is a list of the most promising French youngsters under 21, all of whom face important challenges in the coming season.
The absence of Wayne Rooney from Manchester United’s first stumble of the season shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. After all, the English striker has performed the soccer equivalent of a disappearing act for the past five months.
Chuck Norris can find Wayne...