Friday, December 10, 2010

Vacation Day

I'll be back on Monday with a wrap-up of all the weekend's action...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Phil McNulty: Is Pardew Right for Newcastle?

Alan Pardew walks into Newcastle United with his personal rating plunging off a cliff and an atmosphere of simmering unrest swirling around St James' Park.

Pardew will have got the hint that the welcome mat is unlikely to be thrust out before him on Tyneside after collecting less that 2% of more than 1,000 votes cast in local newspaper poll to find out who Newcastle fans wanted as their new manager.

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


Tom Adams: Rewind to 2004

On Monday night, Arsenal visit Old Trafford to take on a Manchester United side that are still unbeaten in the Premier League this season. Due to their unconvincing form, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have been dubbed 'The Crap Invincibles' in ironic homage to the Arsenal side that went the season unbeaten in 2003-04. However, six years ago, it was at Old Trafford that Arsenal's 49-game unbeaten run eventually came to an end in a poisonous game that became known as 'The Battle of the Buffet'.

Sir Alex Ferguson calls for end to sick chants aimed at Arsène Wenger

Sir Alex Ferguson is to make a personal plea to Manchester United's supporters to put an end to the sick chants that are aimed at Arsène Wenger whenever Arsenal visit Old Trafford.

United are so embarrassed by the nature of the songs Ferguson has decided to take the matter into his own hands to back the man he used to regard as a sworn enemy.

First XI: Harshest Dismissals

Having restored stability to a club many believed to be in freefall and taken them back to the Premier League, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley decided to sack Chris Hughton with the club sitting comfortably in mid-table after 16 games. Hughton is not the first manager to have been on the wrong end of a harsh dismissal, though. ESPNsoccernet selects a First XI.

Paul Gascoigne's car pushed out of snow outside court

The 43-year-old was given an eight-week sentence, suspended for a year after he admitted driving while more than four times over the legal limit.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Round-Up & Reports

Arsenal survived a nervous night at Emirates Stadium to defeat Partizan Belgrade and book a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, but already-qualified Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the campaign at Marseille. Elsewhere, Roma reached the knockout stages after a draw with CFR Cluj, while Bayern Munich made light work of Basel, and Spartak Moscow came from behind to defeat MSK Zilina in a match affected by crowd trouble. A Karim Benzema-inspired Real Madrid cruised to victory over Auxerre, and Ajax recorded a rare away win at AC Milan.


Arsenal 3 - 1 Partizen Belgrade
Kevin McCarra at Emirates Stadium
Phil McNulty at Emirates Stadium
Richard Williams' Analysis

Marseille 1 - 0 Chelsea

Dominic Fifield at Stade Vélodrome

MSK Zilina 1 - 2 Spartak Moscow
Crowd trouble mars Spartak win

Final Champions League Group Stage Tables

Steve Davis: U.S. domestic soccer will continue to grow despite World Cup bid loss

What does the U.S. Soccer establishment require to progress? Two measures essentially establish a country's place in the global soccer order: strong national team programs and a strong professional game, starting with a robust, tier-one association. Every nation you might view as a "strong soccer land" has one or both, right?

Perhaps MLS isn't your cup of tea. There are plenty of you out there, supporters who love the game but haven't bonded with an MLS club for whatever reason. You may not like to hear it, but MLS is the most visible, ongoing soccer property within the U.S. soccer structure. Betterment of MLS is a major element of the way forward.

Norman Hubbard: Clubs benefit from World Cup absentees

Being Welsh may permanently preclude Bale from participating in a World Cup. Others who didn't qualify include the Swedish striker Johan Elmander, who has been reinvigorated at Bolton, Marouane Chamakh, whose excellence for Arsenal has been camouflaged by Nasri's luminous displays, and Vincent Kompany, staking a claim to be the division's most solid defender.

The 2010 tournament, meanwhile, came too soon for emerging talents like Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll, who provided early-season evidence of their abilities. Others would have been there but for injuries that seem to have suited their respective employers. Michael Essien has been the sole source of dynamism in the centre of the Chelsea midfield while Nani is providing consistent invention on Manchester United's right flank.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This season's competitive Premier League table doesn't add up

Sir Alex Ferguson believes the lower clubs are condensing the Premier League into a much tighter competition.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Previews

Arsenal will be hoping that they can secure a safe passage into the knockout stages, with the Gunners having made hard work of Group H. Arsene Wenger would have hoped to have had a top-two finish sewn up by now, but the Frenchman knows his side must take three points from a home date with Partizan Belgrade to guarantee scraping through and avoid becoming the most notable scalp of this season's competition. Braga will be lying in wait should there be any mishaps at the Emirates, with the Portuguese champions desperate to keep their dreams alive when they go to the Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk - who could still drop out if results go against them. The only other group with something still riding on it is Group E, with two teams set to battle it out for second place. Basel are outsiders to snatch a late entry into the last 16, with the Swiss outfit set to face German giants Bayern Munich. Bayern may take their eye off the ball with top spot already wrapped up, but Louis van Gaal knows he cannot afford any slip-ups on home soil as he attempts to ease some of the mounting pressure on his shoulders. Anything less than a victory for Basel will see Roma safely through, but they can get the job done themselves and avoid any anxiety if they take a point or better from a trip to CFR Cluj.


Arsenal vs. Partizen Belgrade

Jon Carter's Preview

Phil Munshull on Shakhtar Donetsk
Jonathan Wilson on Shakhtar Donetsk

Dominic Fifield on Drogba's return to Marseille

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Fifa's Goal of the Year List

With Glentoran's Matthew Burrows nominated alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Samir Nasri on Fifa's shortlist for the Goal of the Year 2010 award, Telegraph Sport looks at all 10 nominees.

Russia 2018 Fifa World Cup: Artist's Impressions of Stadiums

The Stadiums

Roberto Gotta: Benitez must bring home the World

There's an old Italian song, which people born before the '80s will recall with ease, whose first sentence goes "If you're nice, they'll stone you". However difficult it may be to label someone as nice simply based on his exchanges with the media, those lyrics may well apply to Rafael Benitez.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Round-Up & Reports

Tottenham progressed to the knockout stages as Group A winners with a thrilling 3-3 draw away to FC Twente, while Manchester United's defence was finally breached as they hit back against Valencia to top Group C following their 1-1 draw. Inter Milan missed the chance to claim the leadership of Group A as they were humbled 3-0 away to Werder Bremen, who finished bottom of the pile. Schalke retained top spot in Group B courtesy of their victory away to Benfica, who go into the Europa League, with Lyon progressing in second place following their 2-2 home draw against rock-bottom Hapoel Tel-Aviv. FC Copenhagen qualified for the knockout phase behind Group D winners Barcelona courtesy of their 3-1 victory over Panathinaikos, with Pep Guardiola's men seeing off Rubin Kazan at Camp Nou as the visitors had to settle for the Europa League.


Manchester United 1 - 1 Valencia

Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford

FC Twente 3 - 3 Tottenham
David Hytner at De Grolsch Veste

Champions League Tables

Italy: Strike 'very likely' to be called off

Serie A fixtures this weekend are expected to go ahead after talks to avert a players' strike were described as ''positive'' by the league's president, Maurizio Beretta. The row centres around a collective bargaining contract between the Italian Players' Association (AIC) and Serie A, which expired in the summer.

Pardew Set For Newcastle job

Alan Pardew is set to be named the new manager of Newcastle United in the next 48 hours. ESPNsoccernet sources have revealed that Mike Ashley decided to bring in the former West Ham and Southampton manager "some time ago".

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Manchester United and Tottenham will have their sights firmly set on the top spots in their groups in European action on Tuesday night. Rangers will visit Bursaspor in a dead rubber tie having already been eliminated from the competition last time out. Inter Milan will be keen on clinching pole position in Group A from Spurs when they make the trip to eliminated Werder Bremen.


Dominic Raynor previews Manchester United vs. Valencia

Walter Smith bids adieu to the Champions League

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Tim Vickery in South America

A couple of weeks ago I was doing the translating when Dan Roan interviewed former Fifa president Joao Havelange at the Soccerex conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Still entirely lucid well into his 90s, the Brazilian was asked what needed to change in Fifa. "Nothing," he replied. "It's perfect. It's not because of one fact in 50 years [a reference to the recent corruption scandals] that we have to change."

It is impossible to agree.

The facts would appear to be not one but many. Hiding behind its status as a not-for-profit organisation, Fifa's lack of transparency is surely unsustainable.

Sid Lowe in Spain

The ridiculous delays and politicking before Barcelona's game with Osasuna again showed that Spanish football lacks leadership.

La Liga: Played by geniuses, run by idiots.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

The Germany goalkeeper could soon be snapped up by the Bavarian giants after frustrating Louis van Gaal's team this week.

Schalke's Manuel Neuer shows Bayern Munich his true worth.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

With his side now 10 points behind Milan, Inter's manager could be gone by Christmas unless he wins the Club World Cup.

Rafael Benítez 'walking with a pistol at his temple' after Inter lose again.

Americans In The UK: Jonathan Spector’s Breakout

The scarcely used defender was tremendous last week, scoring twice in a win over Manchester United.

The Rest

Americans On The Continent: Off The Mark

Carlos Bocanegra scored his first goal for St. Etienne as they drew 2-2 against Bordeaux over the weekend.

The Rest

Richard Williams: Just another dismal decision from Mike Ashley, a disgrace to football

So Mike Ashley has now seen off five managers in just under three years as the owner of Newcastle United. Perhaps he is in a race with Milan Mandaric, who went through six managers in his three-and-a-half years at Leicester City. These people are a disgrace to football.

Qatar's World Cup: Engineering Marvel, PR Nightmare?

If you thought building 12 open-air, air-conditioned stadiums was hard, try shipping them abroad when you're done. And then try to explain why one of your top architects is called Albert Speer.

Yesterday Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, based on a bid with some wild ambitions. This is meant to be a carbon-neutral event, in the middle of a scorching desert, spread across 12 separate stadiums. But here's the kicker: A major contributor to the building plans is the son of Adolf Hitler's chief builder, Albert Speer.

Tip of the hat to SSN's staff architect Kenny Lacerda for this one...

England: Monday's Premier League Reports + Table

Liverpool 3 - 0 Aston Villa

Phil McNulty at Anfield
Richard Jolly at Anfield
Paul Wilson at Anfield

Man Utd158701931
Man City16853929
West Brom16646-422
Aston Villa16457-1017
West Ham16268-1312

Phil Ball in Spain

I've been waiting three years for the Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Athletic de Bilbao to be played again. The last time was in Anoeta in San Sebastian, and Athletic won 2-0 with a brace by Andoni Iraola, a player who should really have ended up at Real Sociedad but who decided as a young man to travel west, to the bright lights of Bilbao.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday Night Football

Who: Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

When: 3pm EST
Where: Anfield, Liverpool

Houllier and Roy Hodgson will put a win above all other priorities

The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


Players, Serie A officials to hold emergency talks

The Italian Players’ Association and Serie A officials have been summoned for emergency talks to try to avert a strike called for this weekend.

Five things we learned from Saturday's action in the Premier League

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

The best goals leave defenders on their backsides, Wolves are doomed and why are so many defenders scoring?

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review & Report

Hernan Crespo scored twice to help Parma put some breathing space between themselves and the drop zone as they beat Udinese 2-1. Fiorentina beat Cagliari 1-0 to move up to 12th, with Adrian Mutu grabbing the only goal of the game. In Sunday's game, Juventus cemented themselves in third place with a hard-fought 3-1 win at Catania.


Lazio 3 - 1 Inter Milan

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Villarreal capped a fine week with a 1-0 victory over Sevilla, who slumped to their fourth successive defeat in all competitions. A Cristiano Ronaldo double saw Real Madrid bounce back from their Barcelona thrashing with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Valencia. Lionel Messi struck twice to give Barcelona a comfortable 3-0 win at Osasuna on Saturday after the Catalans had raced against the clock to arrive in Pamplona in time for the Primera Division fixture.


Chris Hughton sacked by Newcastle

Newcastle United have parted company with manager Chris Hughton following a recent dip in the team's fortunes. The Magpies were beaten 3-1 at West Brom on Saturday, a week after holding Chelsea to a 1-1 draw, although that result followed a 5-1 defeat at Bolton.

Hughton guided Newcastle back into the Premier League in May after their relegation in the 2009-10 campaign.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League table but Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion also impressed. However, Chelsea continued their recent struggles, when a late Jermaine Beckford goal earned Everton a well-deserved point in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge to leave Carlo Ancelotti's men with just one win in their last six league matches. Manchester City remain right in contention as they beat in-form Bolton 1-0 at Eastlands. Tottenham's run of four wins in all competitions ended with a 1-1 draw at Birmingham. Wolves' miserable form away from Molineux continued as they lost 3-0 at Blackburn, a result which dropped them to the bottom of the table. Stoke are above them on goal difference as they drew 2-2 at Wigan.

Review I

Review II

Martin Lipton's Weekend Review

Arsenal 2 -1 Fulham
David Hytner at Emirates Stadium

Chelsea 1 - 1 Everton
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge
Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge

Birmingham City 1 - 1 Tottenham
Joe Lovejoy at St. Andrew's

Premier League Chalkboard Analysis

UEFA Champions League Tables

Uefa Champions League : Group A Table

1 Tottenham 5 3 1 1 15 8 7 10
2 Inter Milan 5 3 1 1 12 8 4 10
3 FC Twente 5 1 2 2 6 8 -2 5
4 Werder Bremen 5 0 2 3 3 12 -9 2

Tottenham and Inter Milan progress to the knockout stages, while FC Twente will play in the Europa League as Werder Bremen cannot topple them because of a poorer head-to-head record against the Dutch. Spurs need to match or better Inter's result to top the group.

Remaining fixtures:
FC Twente v Tottenham
Werder Bremen v Inter Milan


The Fifth Official

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.