Friday, November 19, 2010
On Saturday, Arsenal and Tottenham meet at Emirates Stadium in the latest instalment of one of English football's fiercest rivalries. But what lies at the root of this bitter North London dispute? The answer can be found in a sequence of events in the 1910s, and in a shadowy, legendary figure found deep in Arsenal's history.
When Arsenal meet Tottenham it is rarely dull. And, on occasion, the north London derby serves up something a little bit special.
North London Derby,
21 January 1934
Gallas left Arsenal in the summer, only to go down the road to White Hart Lane to join Arsenal's arch rivals Tottenham.
The French centre-back is expected to get an unwelcome reception at best, but how does he compare to other controversial stars that returned? Sportsmail looks back on the players that went back and would not forget it in a hurry.
A triumph for Arsenal would put further pressure on out-of-sorts Chelsea as the Blues travel to St Andrews to face Birmingham City. Manchester United are also in action at 3pm as they welcome Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford with Wayne Rooney expected to make his comeback. Liverpool are involved in another Saturday evening kick-off, this time versus struggling West Ham.
Slayers of Liverpool, Stoke City, lock horns with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. Second-from-bottom Wolverhampton Wanderers seek to end their poor run when they travel to Blackpool.
High-flying Bolton Wanderers are in action versus Newcastle United at the Reebok Stadium and Blackburn Rovers' face Aston Villa at Ewood Park.
Following the aforementioned game is Manchester City's trip to Fulham.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham: Paul Merson's Preview
Arsenal vs. Tottenham: Tom Adams' Preview
Arsenal vs. Tottenham: Georgina Turner's Preview
Liverpool vs. West Ham: Dominic Raynor's Preview
Paul Merson Previews Sunday's Matches
Eintracht Frankfurt – Hoffenheim
Nuernberg – Kaiserslautern
Borussia Moenchengladbach – Mainz
Schalke – Werder Bremen
Freiburg – Borussia Dortmund
Hannover - Hamburg
Bayer Leverkusen – Bayern Munich
Stuttgart – Koeln
St Pauli – Wolfsburg
Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez goes into Saturday's game at Chievo feeling under pressure after his team's poor run of form.
The mood in AC Milan's camp is in stark contrast.
The Rossoneri host Fiorentina on Saturday on the back of three straight wins and top Serie A by one point from Lazio after 12 games played.
Real Madrid are set to face a player they are reportedly keen on when they welcome Fernando Llorente and his Athletic Bilbao side.
Barcelona, who have won their last five league matches - one less than the run Madrid are on, are away to third-bottom Almeria this weekend.
There is already a gap starting to develop between the big two and the rest of the pack, and that could increase in the 12th round of action as third-placed Villarreal - who are five points behind Barca - meet local rivals Valencia, who are three points further adrift in fourth place.
In some ways, it was always bound to happen. Placing the league's most important fixture smack dab in the middle a Toronto November guaranteed the meteorological outlook would capture a decent share of the attention in the buildup to the match. No one would bother to spend much time trying to divine the meaning of yet another sunny and temperate day in southern California, for instance.
Fabio Capello's decision to persist with Steven Gerrard against France could cost the Football Association up to £500,000 in compensation after the Liverpool captain was ruled out for three to four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Manchester City have alerted football's top agents that they are willing to write off close to £100 million worth of players in the January transfer window. Joleon Lescott, Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Jo have been earmarked either to be sold off at cut-rate prices or loaned out with the club willing to pay 50% of the players' wages. ESPNsoccernet has been informed that Adebayor is on £170,000 a week, with Bridge earning £90,000, Lescott £75,000, Santa Cruz and Jo both on £70,000 and Wright-Phillips on £65,000.
Donovan was listed on the ballot for the award, which selects a goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards – as a forward.Yet after the votes cast by players, coaches, general managers and the media were tallied, Donovan was left out in the cold, with his Los Angeles Galaxy teammate Edson Buddle and league top scorer Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes being named in the forward roles.
Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic auditions for the Karate Kid, Crisitiano Ronaldo has a tantrum after Nani ruins his wonder goal, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola "should be in a mental asylum" and the miss of the century.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Pires, 37, will sign for Villa on a free transfer later this week if he successfully completes medical tests and agrees the finer points of his contract, marking an unexpected Premier League rejuvenation for a player who has spent the past four seasons in Spain with Villarreal.
The other day I was watching the Manchester derby. Those of you who've seen the game will know that it was the kind of encounter where you look hard for something - anything, really - that might grab your attention. That's how I came to notice the gooey spot on Dimitar Berbatov's shirt.
The 20-year-old was the subject of abuse every time he touched the ball in the international friendly that was played in Austria, reportedly mostly from his own fans.
Argentina 1 - 0 Brazil
Louise Taylor at Kahlifa Stadium
Messi wins it late
Messi trumps new-look Brazil
England 0 - 1 France
Phil McNulty at Wembley
Owen Gibson at Wembley
Kevin McCarra at Wembley
Richard Williams at Wembley
John Brewin at Wembley
Dominic Fifield: Five Things We Learned
Portugal 4 - 0 Spain
Portugal Rout World Champions
Juan Agudelo had a dream debut for the United States national team as the 17-year-old scored the only goal of the game as the United States beat South Africa 1-0 at a sold-out Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. The win closed out the year for the U.S. but also gave hope for the future of the national team as five players earned their first cap.
Martin Rogers: Agudelo's brilliance comes with pressure
Monday, November 15, 2010
As the Los Angeles Galaxy’s title hopes collapsed amid a heap of red mist, the reality that star power counts for little in Major League Soccer has never been so brutally obvious.
The MLS Cup dreams of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the league’s most famous club didn’t just drift away on Sunday night, they were blasted into orbit by an FC Dallas side short on celebrity but packed with passion.
Henry Winter: Jay Bothroyd proved at Arsenal he is hard work - but so is England's farce with France
The French are in town but it’s England laying on the farce. John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gabby Agbonlahor yesterday pulled out of Wednesday’s friendly at Wembley while Carlton Cole, Stephen Warnock and Gary Cahill were drafted in.
Chelsea and Manchester United are no invincibles, Johan Elmander is actually pretty good and in praise of goalless draws.
Chelsea 0 - 3 Sunderland
Kevin McCarra at Stamford Bridge
Aston Villa 2 - 2 Manchester United
Kevin Palmer at Villa Park
Paul Wilson at Villa Park
Manchester City 0 - 0 Birmingham
The Insider at Eastlands
Stoke City 2 - 0 Liverpool
Tim Rich at Britannia Stadium
Everton 1 - 2 Arsenal
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
Richard Jolly at Goodison Park
Phil McNulty at Goodison Park
Tottenham 4 - 2 Blackburn Rovers
David Hytner at White Hart Lane
- although they again left it late. Liverpool's improvement in form was halted as Stoke City ran out 2-0 winners at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday evening. Tottenham Hotspur earned their first win in five attempts as they saw off Blackburn Rovers in a hugely entertaining encounter at White Hart Lane. The pressure continues to build on Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini's shoulders after his side played out a goalless draw against Birmingham City. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers played out a cracking match-up at Molineux which the latter won 3-2. West Ham United failed to defeat newly-promoted Blackpool as the game at Upton Park finished goalless, despite there being chances aplenty for both teams. Wigan Athletic edged their meeting with West Bromwich Albion 1-0 to lift the Latics following a first win achieved in six matches. Lastly, Newcastle United and Fulham played out a third goalless draw of the weekend.
DEFENDERS: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa, England), Clarence Goodson (Start, Norway/Brondby, Denmark), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA/Tigres, Mexico), Tim Ream (New York), Gale Agbossoumonde (Miami/Braga, Portugal).
MIDFIELDERS: Brian Carroll (Columbus), Robbie Rogers (Columbus), Eddie Gaven (Columbus), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek, Norway), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro, Sweden), Logan Pause (Chicago).
FORWARDS: Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Teal Bunbury (Kansas City). Juan Agudelo (New York).
Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.