Friday, August 12, 2011

Chelsea's white and yellow third kit 'looks like Russian Imperial flag'

Has Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich exercised some creative input into the team's new third kit?

Some Blues messageboard users think he might have, after several pointed out its similarity to the Russian Imperial flag.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses Freddy Adu's move to Philadelphia before diving into the weekend slate.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

A new season dawns in the Premier League this weekend and after a summer of transfers and continued speculation, it is now time for action. Unrest has spread across England this week with riots flaring up in London and other major cities, and as a result Tottenham's home clash with Everton has been postponed. But elsewhere, the show must go on, and there are some mouth-watering encounters as top-flight sides look to get their campaigns off on the front foot. Champions Manchester United will be gunning for a record 20th league title and they kick-off at West Brom on Sunday, while Chelsea, under the tutelage of new manager Andre Villas-Boas, face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. Two newly-promoted sides are in action on Saturday with QPR and Norwich looking forward to life in the top-flight once again after success in the Championship last term. Rangers host Bolton and the Canaries travel to Roberto Martinez's Wigan, who narrowly escaped relegation in May. Elsewhere, Liverpool host Sunderland, Wolves go to Blackburn, Aston Villa play Fulham and the evening game sees Newcastle take on Arsenal.


Liverpool vs. Sunderland:
Fulham vs. Aston Villa:
Newcastle vs. Arsenal:

Key Points
Paul Merson's Predictions
Lawro's Predictions

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

Former Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich clash this weekend after contrasting starts to the season. Defending champions Borussia Dortmund looked like they are once again going to be the team to beat this season when they swept Hamburg aside last Friday night. They travel to Hoffenheim, who are still reeling about a controversial goal which cost them a point against Hannover last weekend.


The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


Philadelphia signs Freddy Adu on free transfer from Benfica learned on Thursday that Adu was likely headed to the Philadelphia Union, and the 22-year-old attacking midfielder was confirmed by the club as its newest member on Friday, joining on a free transfer from Portugal's Benifica.

England: SSN's Premier League Mini Preview

If you don't fancy reading those well-researched, well-written club previews in The Guardian, but want to stay informed, there's a chance the EPL will pan out like this: Arsenal will flatter to deceive, Abramovic's interference will fuck up any good work done by AVB at Chelsea, Mancini's lack of courage will keep City less the sum of their expensive parts, Spurs will impress against top teams, stutter against lower teams, Liverpool will improve but lack the quality to avoid too many draws, all meaning Manchester United will win the league despite repeatedly playing poorly. At the bottom the promoted teams will pull off the odd giant killing but be relegated, while the rest of the clubs will stay in the EPL by kicking the ball long distances and running around all.

For those of you who only really care about the top and value brevity over quality:

The deciding factor at Arsenal this season won't be whether Nasri or Cesc leave. It'll be whether someone at the club starts to understand how a good defense works. Many Arsenal fans seem to think all Wenger has to do is go out and buy a commanding central defender [the same fans who think Djourou had a good season]. It'd certainly help, but only an organized defensive unit will stop the team's attacking flair from being squandered. Wenger and defensive coach Pat Rice don't seem to get this. Both seem impressed by players able to make great last ditch recoveries [like Djourou] rather than ones who use positional sense and technique to stop problems occurring. Losing Cesc and especially Nasri would be a massive blow, but a midfield including Wilshere, Ramsey and Mata would still do damage and Gervinho looks decent. The trouble will be keeping RVP and Vermaelen fit. The start of the season, including a mean Champions League tie, will be crucial.

Bringing in Villas-Boas was a bold, if unexpected, move by Chelsea. Stagnation was setting in and things needed changing. But while there's been a change in manager there's been no real change of players, and as past managers have found, most of the team only know one style of play. Fans will fear that not only has £50 mil been wasted on the next Shevchenko , it's money AVB could have used to introduce a more attacking style. Instead he's left forcing square pegs into round holes. Above all he needs to get Torres scoring and to do so he needs to get him the ball. Sneijder would do this, but he seems too rich even for Chelsea. If they don't get Modric either, AVB could be screwed even before he gets started

Shrugging off valiant efforts from Malaga and Paris Saint-Germain, The Reds have been determined to prove they can overspend better than anyone else. It seems £75mil only gets you Henderson, Downing and Carroll. Are you taking the piss?! But that aside, Liverpool could be quite effective. Not effective enough to win the league, but a CL spot is possible. Unlike Man City, there's a logic to their huge cash outlay: if you've bought Carroll it makes sense to buy Downing, if Gerrard is always injured it makes sense to have Adam. And they have Luis Saurez, who tore up the Copa America like a Londoner tears up his city. The defense still looks suspect, where, unless they buy, they could be relying on an aging Carragher and promising youngsters at full back. But if Arsenal lose the plot Liverpool look well positioned to take fourth.

Manchester City
A rich, shopaholic friend claims leaving the house with a lot of cash is never a good thing. Instead of coming back with what you need, you end up with a lot of expensive, flashy crap you can't offload on Ebay. And to an extent this applies to Man City, who, while buying some real quality, have stockpiled a shed load of average players no one wants to buy. What's more, even some of the better players don't seem right for the EPL. They have Clichy, Lescott, Kolorov and Zabaleta at left back while most football fans would swap all of them for Leighton Baines. That said, any team with Agüero, Toure, Balotelli, Kompany, De Silva, Dzecko and possibly Tevez and Nasri should be excepted to challenge for the title. Mancini would be better off admitting this, forgetting the cheque book, and concentrating on how his team make the next step up. Expectations are now higher and there's the CL to deal with, so they need to improve by becoming more expansive against lesser teams. A good start, with Kun settling in quickly, could see City pushing Man U all the way.

Manchester United
It's plus ca change at ManU. They've made some good signings, have a really good team and will probably win the league. What they still don't have is a top quality creative midfielder. Despite the cost it's a surprise they've not gone for Schneider. Buying him wouldn't be a Real Madrid type vanity signing. It'd fill the one obvious weakness of the squad: a proven performer able to bring the best out of other players. But even without him the unconvincing state of Chelsea and Man City mean it's still easy to see them being good enough to win the league. Were Chelsea able to get Torres scoring or Mancini to find some balls then United's lack of quality in midfield could cost them. But it's unlikely.

Maybe Arsene Wenger's aversion to spending is spreading across North London. That Redknapp hasn't brought in a striker or a central defender by now is baffling. Scoring was Spurs' major weakness last season and with Woodgate's departure and King's knees they're light at the back. They've players they can sell to raise funds and there are players in both positions out there. Whether Modric stays or nor is obviously important, but Spurs need consistency in these positions either way. Presuming he gets that sorted Rednapp will be hoping Kyle Walker, who had a good U21 Championship, will be a plus at right back, that Bale stays fit and that Van der Vaart doesn't slip into the moody player he became at past clubs. If these things don't fall into place Spurs could again struggle away from home, drawing games they should win, and stay bottom of the top six.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adrian Mutu banned for life by Romania for night of drinking with West Brom's Gabriel Tamas

Troubled striker Adrian Mutu has been expelled from the Romanian national team for life after spending a night drinking with a team-mate ahead of a friendly against San Marino, coach Victor Piturca said.

Paul Hayward: Postponing opening day bursts football's business-comes-first bubble

The gulf between the opulent existence of the top-end footballer and the poorest residents of Tottenham has never been more pronounced. This week we saw England's footballers appeal for calm and Liverpool and Everton issue a joint statement appealing for the chaos to stop. More dubiously, the billionaire Bernie Ecclestone posited that it would be "terrible" for England's image if Premier League games were rearranged, as if the TV pictures from our burning cities had not already shown the rest of the globe that London is no Camberwick Green.

EPL Season Previews: Tottenham & West Bromwich Albion


West Bromwich Albion

London riots: nine Premier League fixtures and full Football League programme to go ahead

The Premier League have confirmed that the nine remaining top-flight matches in the opening round will go ahead after Tottenham's match against Everton was postponed due to this week's riots.

Jon Carter: Rewind to 1997

The start of the Premier League season sometimes brings with it the kind of serendipity usually reserved for the silver screen. For the opening fixture on August 10, 1997 the computer saw fit to pair Tottenham with Manchester United, with Spurs having just sold star striker Teddy Sheringham to the Red Devils. The match would be a memorable one for Sheringham as he struggled to fill Eric Cantona's boots at Old Trafford.

Player strike to disrupt Spanish season

The Spanish professional footballers' union (AFE) has announced they will go on strike and delay the start of the new La Liga season in a row over a wage guarantee fund.

Phil McNulty: My Premier League 2011-12 Predictions

Manchester United's show of strength in the Community Shield win against Manchester City demonstrated their determination to land a 20th domestic title.

Can City build on their 2011 FA Cup win and seriously threaten their Old Trafford neighbours? Or can new Chelsea boss Andrea Villas-Boas bring the title back to Stamford Bridge?

Kenny Dalglish has spent £100m since returning as Liverpool manager in January, but will that be enough to beat Arsenal and Spurs to a place in the top four and a return to the Champions League, the publicly-stated aim of Liverpool owner John W. Henry?

And can any of the promoted teams - Queen's Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City - expect to survive in the top-tier?

So many questions - and time to dust down the crystal ball and to try to predict what the forthcoming Premier League season will bring...

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


MLS and NBC announce three-year broadcast deal

Each season, NBC will broadcast two regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two U.S. national team matches. The rest will be shown on NBC Sports Network, which will be the new name of Versus starting in January 2012.

The move signals the end of Major League Soccer's relationship with Fox Soccer Channel, while the league will continue to broadcast on ESPN. Both ESPN and NBC's contracts now run through 2014.

Montreal MLS team hires Jesse Marsch

U.S. assistant Jesse Marsch has signed a three-year deal to coach the Montreal Impact when the club makes the jump to Major League Soccer next season.

International Friendly: United States 1 - 1 Mexico

Jurgen Klinsmann sent a message in his U.S. coaching debut without saying a word. He stripped the names off the back of the jerseys and assigned Nos. 1-11 for the starters and 12-18 for the reserves. He wanted the Americans to know that all that mattered was representing their country. Klinsmann's debut is out of the way, and now the real work begins.

Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts

Martin Rogers: Tall task ahead

Player Ratings

Sid Lowe in Spain

Fabregas' move to Barcelona is best for all parties concerned.

Peter Schmeichel's Danepak Commercial

Tottenham Game Called Off

The Premier League has confirmed that Tottenham's home game against Everton on Saturday has been postponed following the riots in London this week.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: ''At the moment the other nine games are on.

''Police are unable to hand Tottenham High Road back to the council until Friday night so there can be no safety certificate for the game... it's a regret.. a real shame"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

EPL Season Previews: Sunderland & Swansea City


Swansea City

Colombia head coach Hernán Darío Gómez resigns after punching woman

Hernán Darío Gómez has stepped down from his role as boss of Colombian national team in the face of huge public pressure.

Gómez left his post after it was revealed he had punched a woman outside a bar in Bogotá in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Football fans, politicians and team sponsors all rounded on Gómez giving the manager no option but to relinquish his post.

London and UK riots: England players back call-off and use Twitter to beg rioters to stop

The "tut" was unmissable. The gasp of disapproval from one of the England players, sitting listening to reporters question Football Association officials about the postponement of the Holland friendly, was an expression of annoyance at a query about compensation.

Rio Ferdinand

International Friendly Previews: United States vs. Mexico

The U.S.' targets for Wednesday's friendly against Mexico (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Univisión) seem clear enough: continue acquainting players and coaches; set a baseline of expectations on each side, and; make progress on a blueprint that adds some German craftsmanship to that quintessential American determination.

Martin Rogers: Howard focused on revenge

Marcela Mora y Araujo in Argentina

Argentina recently unveiled its fifth manager of the main national squad in as many years. Alejandro Sabella, aka Pachorra -- a colloquial expression denoting a mellow laid-backness -- is perhaps the most low-profile among the handful of names who have attempted the challenge of returning the once great soccer nation to its former glory.

England: Premier League Club-By-Club Preview

The BBC's Take

Real Madrid sign seven-year-old Argentine boy

Spanish football team Real Madrid have signed a seven-year-old Argentine boy, a spokesman for the club has said.

Leonel Angel Coira, who has lived in Spain for three years, was spotted during try-outs, Real Madrid said.

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Premier League may delay decision over opening weekend until Friday

The Premier League could delay until Friday its decision on whether the new season can start as scheduled this weekend.

The Premier League, Football League and the police have stated that they will offer a public assessment on Thursday as to whether matches will be played as planned following the riots that have taken place throughout the UK. However, they are now prepared to take more time over that decision, with the situation changing daily.

England: It's a big season for...

Ahead of the new Premier League season, ESPNsoccernet puts together a selection of ten players who need to deliver.

John Brewin: Premier League Preview 2011-12

Full of intrigue, but by no means vintage in quality, would seem an accurate summation of the 2010-11 Premier League season. Allegations that this was the worst Manchester United title-winning side of all the eleven since the reformation of English football persist, though their winning margin of nine points was their best in a decade. It barely said much for their rivals. A summer bereft of a major tournament for the European nations gave rise to a vacuum into which rabid transfer speculation was only too glad to step. Some of the purported major deals remain undone at time of writing but names like Sergio Aguero, Gervinho, Romelu Lukaku, and David De Gea have arrived from Europe, though the majority of deals have been intra-mural in the Premier League.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

England: Premier League's opening fixture list hangs in the balance

The start of the Premier League season is in the balance, with police to decide if this weekend's opening matches go ahead following the disorder that has taken place over the last three days in and around London and which has spread to other areas of the country.

Americans Abroad: Jozy Altidore scores, Maurice Edu bows out of Champions League early

Jozy Altidore starts his AZ Alkmaar stint with a bang

The new AZ Alkmaar signing opened a new chapter in his footballing career in fine fashion, making his first appearance for the Eredivisie side in the 65th minute and netting his first goal for the side after just 15 minutes.

The Rest

EPL Season Previews: Queens Park Rangers & Stoke City

Queens Park Rangers

Stoke City

Ben Lyttleton in France

After spending €83m in the summer Paris St-Germain were favourites for Ligue 1. But someone forgot to tell Lorient.

PSG's Galactiques suffer 'cold shower' as Lorient rain on their parade.

The Trawler: Big Sam's Anti-Climax

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

Premier League club-by-club guide: Parts One & Two


Summer in six words: Uncertainty, failed bids, excruciating chicken adverts.

Last season
Finished 15th
Top scorer David Hoilett, Nikola Kalinic, Jason Roberts (5)
Bad boy Michel Salgado (10 yellow cards)

In Myles Anderson (free, Aberdeen), David Goodwillie (£2m, Dundee Utd).

Out Phil Jones (Man Utd, £16.5m), Frank Fielding (£400,000, Derby

Most likely phone hacking victim
Chris Samba, rumoured target for Arsenal and Tottenham.

What Joey Barton might tweet
I still can’t believe they fired Big Sam. There’s an old Hopi Indian phrase: "You never know what you have until it’s gone." Oh, hang on, that’s Joni Mitchell, isn’t it?

Tabloid headline of the season
Kean: every team needs a Goodwillie

What are they made of?

  • 47% Chicken
  • 12% Modified starch
  • 11% Breadcrumbs
  • 9% Water
  • 21% Emulsifiers, flavourings and preservatives

Who should own them?
Go Compare - Their advertising is, unfortunately, far more memorable than the product itself.

The Rest of Parts One & Two

Louise Taylor: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can prove that father knew best at Arsenal

The 17-year-old Southampton winger, who is 'better than Theo Walcott', persuades Arsène Wenger to part with £12m.

Italy: Atalanta penalized six points in Serie A

Atalanta will start the Serie A season with a six-point penalty for its role in the latest Italian match-fixing scandal, while its captain Cristiano Doni has been banned for three and a half years.

Buh bye...

Grant Wahl: Jurgen Klinsmann Interview

The first thing you notice is the shirt. Jurgen Klinsmann is wearing a blue-and-red Nike shirt with the badge of the U.S. national team as we sit down on Sunday for our first private interview since he took over as the U.S. coach. For some reason, seeing Klinsmann in the team gear for the first time rams home the point more than anything else so far. He's here. The World Cup-winning German really did take the job.

Klinsmann's first game happens to be against Mexico, the U.S.' archrival, here on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Univisión). But more important than the result itself is the new vibe that Klinsmann is trying to create around the national team. He's serious about his new project, but there are plenty of smiles and laughs in our 20-minute talk, which at times seems more like a conversation than an interview.

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Tim Vickery in South America

Top scorer in the current Brazilian championship is twice former FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho. After sleepwalking his way through the last five years, the ex-Barcelona great has woken up. His coach at Flamengo Vanderlei Luxemburgo may have performed a masterstroke in mid-June, when he substituted Ronaldinho with two minutes remaining in a match purely so the player could be booed by his own fans. It was cruel medicine, but maybe a dose of public humiliation was what was needed.

Since then it has been a different story.

London Riots: England v Holland called off but third Test set to go ahead

England's friendly against Holland at Wembley on Wednesday night has been called off by the Football Association following a third night of riots that spread throughout the capital. It is unclear at the moment if Ghana's friendly against Nigeria at Vicarage Road in Watford, which is just north of London, will still be played. West Ham United, Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace have postponed their respective home Carling Cup ties with Aldershot Town, Reading and Crawley Town, while Bristol City against Swindon Town is also off.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

After Dortmund's exhilarating opening win, Bayern Munich were lethargic and one-paced throughout their loss to Borussia.

Manuel Neuer mishap caps chastening Bayern loss to Mönchengladbach.

Monday, August 08, 2011

London riots: Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy voices dismay at riots though Everton match still set to go ahead

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has voiced his concern at the damage caused to the club's ticket office and the rest of the area by rioters this weekend.

The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


EPL Season Previews: Newcastle & Norwich City


Norwich City

On the Border: A look at the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexico

To understand the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexico, you have to start with the Border. I don't mean the border, the physical region where the two countries intersect. I mean the Border, the mythologized, only quasi-geographical territory where the idea of America and the idea of Mexico bleed together. The border, the physical region, is a place with a real climate and real people, an economy, cities, maquiladoras, drug trafficking, checkpoints, and so on. The Border, the psychic region, is a sun-obliterated desert where law and chaos expire into each other and civilization dissolves. It's a terrain of rattlesnakes, liquor, and bones, the place where criminals run to escape. Lonnie Johnson was singing about the Border in 1930, when he recorded "Got the Blues for Murder Only."

England: Community Shield Reports & Analyses

Manchester City
2 - 3
Manchester United

Mark Lomas at Wembley
Richard Williams at Wembley

Five Things We Learned

Spain: Focus on Malaga

The word igualdad isn't one that is heard too much anymore in La Liga. The Spanish term, meaning 'parity', has little place in Spain's top-tier these days what with Real Madrid and Barcelona's annual dominance of the division's remaining 18 clubs.