Friday, February 04, 2011

Who Won, Lost and Broke Even [And Lost The Plot] during the Transfer Window.

Who Won:

Chelsea: Blues fans must be delighted. Okay, there's an element of risk in paying 50m for a striker who's done little in the past year, but despite buying yachts, art and world cups, Roman still seems interested in Chelsea.

Liverpool: Replacing an in form Torres would be almost impossible, but he hasn't been happy for months and they got 50m for him. There's no guarantee Suarez and Carroll will work out, but they'll enable The Reds to move on.

Aston Villa: Sure, it's hard to say Bent is worth 24m without laughing, but he scores EPL goals, and that's what Villa need. Makoun and Bradley could be good buys and Villa fans will be happy Lerner is now investing. Martin O'Niell perhaps less so.

Bolton: They may have only signed Sturridge on loan, but Coyle managed to keep Cahill and Elmander.

Blackburn: No one has left, they've made a couple of promising signings and managed to avoid signing Ronaldinho.

Blackpool: They may get less for Charlie Adam in the summer, but he should keep them up.

Man City: Bought Dzeko.

Who Lost:

Wolves: They don't have any money and it showed. Even Kenny Miller turned them down.

Everton: When your window highlight is keeping Phil Neville you know you're in trouble. Will miss Pienaar.

Newcastle: While they may have got top dollar for Carroll, they didn't have a replacement lined up. An 8 point buffer should be enough, but you need to score goals to stay up.

West Brom: It's hard to see how bringing in Vela from Arsenal will stop the free fall.

ManU: No damage done, but it's yet another window in which they haven't bought a top player.

Arsenal: Considering how their opponents are playing this season but preparing for next, the Gunners might not get a better chance to win the league. So, when even Huddersfield are taking advantage of your defensive weaknesses, surely it's time to do something. Would buying, say, Hangeland, have really broken the bank and ruined the youth policy?

Who Broke Even:

Stoke: As always, Pullis was pretty active during the window. He offloaded a couple of average players and brought in a couple of average players.

Wigan: Didn't strengthen but managed to hold on to N'zogbia.

Birmingham: Brought in Bentley but lost no one.

Fulham: Brought in Gudjohnsen but lost no one.

Sunderland: Lost Bent but got bags of dosh for him.

Who Lost The Plot A Bit:

West Ham: Buying seasoned EPL players seems a sensible way out of a relegation battle, but for a debt-ridden club to spend a fortune on the wages of Bridge and Keane seems a tad desperate.

Spurs: It's not difficult to sum up Spurs - really strong in midfield, could perhaps do with a top striker, certainly weak in defence. So what does Harry do? Brings in Pienaar and just misses out on Adam. Odd.

The Joy of Six: Great Chelsea vs. Liverpool Moments and Matches

Half a dozen enthralling games, from a post-war 7-4 hammering to probably the most valuable 2-1 win ever.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview & Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

Barcelona have the chance to secure another spot in the history books then they host Atletico Madrid.

The defending champions are looking for a 16th successive La Liga victory.


Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Roma travel to the San Siro on Sunday evening to face Inter. The Romans go into the encounter on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw against Brescia on Wednesday, which left them fourth in the standings, one point clear of defending champions Inter. A draw at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium would benefit Serie A leaders AC Milan, who square off against Genoa at the Luigi Ferraris stadium looking to return to winning ways.


England: Premier League Previews & Predictions + Table

The battle is intensifying at both ends of the Premier League table but it is Fernando Torres' duel with former club Liverpool that will take centre stage this weekend. Chelsea will feel they can haul themselves back into the title race with the likes of Torres and fellow new boy David Luiz in their ranks, although Manchester United remain in a commanding position and Wayne Rooney ominously appears to be regaining top form. Among the chasing pack, Arsenal and Tottenham boosted their hopes with midweek wins but Manchester City's title dreams faded following a draw with Birmingham. Alex McLeish's Blues are one of several teams still embroiled in the scrap for survival, with the relegation picture changing after each round of games.

Preview I
Preview II

Team News

Lawro's Predictions

Man Utd2415903254
Man City2513751746
Aston Villa257711-1528
West Brom247512-1426
West Ham255911-1724

Gabriele Marcotti: Udinese's scouting the key to the club's successful business model

Last June, in South Africa, there was one Italian club with rather split loyalties. It had sent no fewer than eight players to the World Cup, representing six different nations. Had this been a perennial Champions' League powerhouse, you might not be surprised. But it was little Udinese, hailing from a town of around 100,000, tucked away in the foggy (half the year anyway), northeast of the country.

Sid Lowe: Torres' exit leaves a bitter taste

This was not the way that the Spaniard had pictured it, nor the way he planned it. He didn't want to leave this way. Under different circumstances, he would have preferred not to leave at all. But the circumstances were what they were. They were not good. Liverpool was not what he thought Liverpool should be and he was not prepared to wait for the club to be once more. That, in a nutshell, is why he wanted to depart Anfield. In the end, the desire simply to leave -- and leave as soon as possible -- overshadowed all else.

Italy: Inter defeat Bari, Now -7 from Milan + Crazy Chivu: punches Rossi

The experiment Pazzini-Milito-Eto’o failed miserably, the Nerazzurri found their rhythm only when they reintroduced the diamond formation. The Biancorossi recriminated that Chivu should have been sent off.

Arsène Wenger in war of words with David Moyes over Cesc Fábregas

Arsène Wenger has accused David Moyes of breaking the unwritten code of managerial conduct, as the row over the Arsenal captain Cesc Fábregas's behaviour in the tunnel against Everton on Tuesday night rumbled on.

Dominic Fifield: Fábregas risking his and Arsenal's reputation with petty battles

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1996

Gary Neville's decision to retire from football on Wednesday marked the beginning of the end of an era for English football, as the Manchester United defender became the first of the famed Fergie Fledglings to finish his professional career. This is the story of their emergence from the youth ranks at Old Trafford.

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

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, Walter Pandiani tells "arrogant" Cristiano Ronaldo he has a screw loose, Brazilian goalkeeper Saulo injures himself celebrating his goal, the Ankaragucu manager punches a fan of his own team during a game and Arjen Robben chokes Thomas Muller for being disrespectful.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Robbie Findley injured during training

American forward Robbie Findley has hurt a thigh during training with his new club, Nottingham Forest.

Real Madrid to Play Barcelona in Copa del Rey Final

Real Madrid will play fierce rival Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 21 years after Spain’s biggest teams both recorded comfortable two-legged wins Wednesday.

Madrid beat Sevilla 2-0 for a 3-0 overall win, while Barcelona earlier defeated Almeria 3-0 to complete an 8-0 aggregate victory.

Grant Wahl: Potential MLS loan gives Davies an opportunity to start over

On Oct. 13, 2009, the life and career of U.S. striker Charlie Davies changed in the amount of time it took for the SUV he was riding in to crash on the George Washington Parkway near the nation's capital. Now it appears that Davies' recovery may take him back to Washington, D.C., this season.

Failed Andy Carroll Shirt Burning

England: Wednesday's Premier League Round-Up, Reports, Etc.

On a night when Liverpool supporters saluted a new goalscoring hero in the shape of Luis Suarez at Anfield, Manchester City were left to rue twice throwing away a lead at Birmingham to leave St Andrews with just a point.

Robbie Keane marked a debut of his own with a goal in West Ham's vital 3-1 win over Blackpool, Damien Duff haunted former employers Newcastle and Tottenham did a smash and grab job on Blackburn.

A frenetic and always entertaining evening's football concluded at the Reebok as Bolton snatched a victory over Wolves thanks to substitute Daniel Sturridge's last gasp intervention.


Liverpool 2 - 0 Stoke City

Andy Hunter at Anfield

Birmingham City 2 - 2 Manchester City
Kevin McCarra at St. Andrew's

Best of the Midweek

King Surgery Delayed

Harry Redknapp has revealed that Ledley King's groin operation has been put back to next week after he lost his passport and was unable to travel to Germany.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

'Referee-gate' is being blamed for Juventus's reverse at the hands of Palermo, but the club's problems run far deeper.

Old Lady 'taken for a ride' as patience wears thin in Turin.

Cesena 1-1 Catania, Chievo 2-0 Napoli, Fiorentina 1-0 Genoa, Milan 0-0 Lazio, Palermo 2-1 Juventus, Parma 0-1 Lecce, Roma 1-1 Brescia, Sampdoria 0-1 Cagliari, Udinese 1-1 Bologna.

Gary Neville Retires

Gary Neville's announcement that he has retired from football will not be mourned on Merseyside. It will not be met with sadness by supporters all across the country who came to greet the mention of his name with a smirk or a sneer; this was a footballer who divided opinion like few others. However, it marks the end of a great career, and one that demonstrated just what can be achieved through application and determination. It should be met with sadness.

Wenger reveals Neville respect

Richard Williams: The finest right-back of his generation

An emblem for Manchester United's greatest years

Champions League: 1999
Premier League: 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009
FA Cup: 1996, 1999, 2004
League Cup: 2006, 2010

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Definitive List Of Every Player Tottenham Tried And Failed To Sign In January

Tottenham's actions in the January transfer window were so chaotic that it came as little surprise when it emerged on Monday night they had tried and failed to sign Charlie Adam - a player they didn't even need - at the last minute.

Here, UK takes a look at the A-Z of targets Spurs missed out on...

England: Wednesday's Premier League Previews

Following a busy January transfer window, there promises to be a number of fresh faces on display in Wednesday's top flight fixtures. Premier League bosses have spent the past few weeks scouring the market for top talent, and now is the time for those new recruits to be let off their leash. Among those on show in the latest round of midweek activity are Liverpool, who captured the headlines on deadline day. Title-chasing Manchester City and Tottenham are also in action, while Newcastle will be hoping to make a positive start to life post-Andy Carroll. At the bottom, West Ham and Wolves have the opportunity to get their heads back above water and clamber out of the relegation zone.

Preview I
Preview II

Italy: Serie A Midweek Preview

Roma will be fully rested heading into their home game against strugglers Brescia, with their game at Bologna on Sunday called off due to bad weather conditions.

Juventus coach Luigi Del Neri goes into Wednesday's match at Palermo under pressure after last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Udinese marked their third defeat in five games.

Fiorentina will be bolstered by the return of Adrian Mutu when they welcome Genoa to Florence.


Europe's Top Transfers

The English transfer window may have taken up a lot of attention with Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll, David Luiz, Luis Suarez, Darren Bent and Edin Dzeko all sealing moves in excess of £22 million. But Europe also saw some movement, albeit not quite as explosive in terms of the money spent.

While the likes of Cagliari striker Alessandro Matri joined Juventus on loan and Real Madrid snapped up Man City's Emmanuel Adebayor for the rest of the season, here ESPNsoccernet looks at some of the top permanent transfers in January.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Reports

Manchester United
3 - 1
Aston Villa

Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Paul Wilson at Old Trafford

Arsenal 2 - 1 Everton

Kevin McCarra at the Emirates Stadium
Tom Adams at the Emirates Stadium

Sunderland 2 - 4 Chelsea

Louise Taylor at the Stadium of Light

Sid Lowe in Spain

Real Madrid are now seven points behind a Barça side that have won 15 straight in La Liga. Game over? Almost certainly.

Real Madrid suffer forbidden error at Osasuna as title hopes crash.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

The Hamburg derby is due on Sunday, but the Social Romantics at St Pauli have their focus fixed on a longer-term battle.

Trying times at St Pauli as fans' faction fights to maintain values.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

While Pazzini was busy rescuing Internazionale on debut, his previous club suffered another worrying defeat.

Giampaolo Pazzini an instant hit at Inter as Samp slippage continues.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Phil McNulty: Torres & Carroll Lead Frenzy

If January's transfer deadline day was football acting in a deep recession, the mind boggles at what will unfold should the good times roll once more.

Two British record transfer fees within minutes in a blur of aircraft and fast cars travelling between Tyneside, Merseyside and London as Liverpool and Chelsea sent the markets into a frenzy.

And the catalyst for it all was the conversation Fernando Torres conducted with Liverpool late last week which culminated in a written transfer request only three days before the transfer window closed.

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Roberto Gotta in Italy

Despite a surge in managerial turmoil in the past two weeks - when Catania replaced Marco Giampaolo with Diego Simeone and Brescia recalled Beppe Iachini after an unsuccessful seven-match spell under Mario Beretta - Serie A chairmen, that notorious publicity-craving, trigger-happy bunch, have been more restrained than in the past.

Phil Ball in Spain

Every Monday night I turn up at Berio training ground in San Sebastian around 7pm, ostensibly to watch the last half hour of my son's training session. Of all the three training sessions during the week, and I watch them all, Monday is my favourite. It's easy enough to work out why. There is a hardcore group of fathers who turn up around the same time, and we huddle in the warmer protective area of the outside bar, from where you can still watch the training, sipping a wine or beer and talking about the weekend's action. It often starts with the boys' game itself, but then turns to La Liga in general. As I've mentioned before, these male huddle-sessions are crucial for my understanding of Spanish football, but not for my understanding of the offside rule. You know where this is going.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Martin Rogers: Bradley’s Villa move could last

American midfielder Michael Bradley has been handed the opportunity to earn himself a full-time switch to the English Premier League after joining Aston Villa on loan.

Arjen Robben chokes Thomas Muller for being 'disrespectful'

Arjen Robben does not appreciate it when his teammates moan about his wayward free kicks. When Thomas Muller gestured to express his disapproval of Arjen Robben's second half free kick in Bayern's 3-1 in over Werder Bremen on Saturday, Robben took exception.

Georgina Turner on the EPL

The fourth round of the FA Cup interrupted the Premier League calendar this weekend, which meant the handful of eliminated top-flight clubs were not in action. Here are a few thoughts on some that were:

The Mill + ++

Monday's Rumours



European Weekend Review

Real Madrid slipped seven points behind Barcelona in La Liga while leaders AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund both won in Italy and Germany.


England: FA Cup Weekend Reviews, Reports & Fifth Round Draw



Everton 1 - 1 Chelsea

Andy Hunter at Goodison Park

Southhampton 1 - 2 Manchester United
Joe Lovejoy at St. Mary's

Notts County 1 - 1 Manchester City
Richard Jolly at Meadow Lane

Arsenal 2 - 1 Huddersfield
David Hytner at Emirates Stadium

Fulham 4 - 0 Tottenham
Phil McNulty at Craven Cottage

Fifth Round:
West Ham United v Burnley
Notts County/Manchester City v Aston Villa
Stoke City v Brighton & Hove Albion
Birmingham City v Sheffield Wednesday
Leyton Orient v Arsenal
Everton/Chelsea v Reading
Manchester United v Crawley Town
Fulham/Tottenham Hotspur v Bolton Wanderers/Wigan Athletic

* Ties to be played on Feb. 19 and 20.

The Fifth Official

Few of us like Monday 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 a week brimming with potential victims.