Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Friday!

Sid Lowe on Villarreal's poor form, Anton Ferdinand speaks to the press but he and brother Rio won't speak to John Terry, Rohan Ricketts on taking racism in stride, weekend action in Italy includes Juventus at Inter Milan and AC Milan at Roma, weekend EPL action features a London Derby as Arsenal travel down to Chelsea, Manchester United go to Everton, table-toppers Manchester City get Wolves for the second time in four days, Chelsea's Abramovich suffers defeat to Chelsea pitch owners, Friday MLS Forecast, Titus Bramble charged with sexual assault and public urination and much more!!

How Rohan Ricketts Handled Racial Abuse in Greece

Some say show racism the red card, well I like to say show racism it can’t faze you and keep it moving. This is what I had to do last week during our Europa tie against PAOK Salonika in Greece. Coming to the stadium from our hotel was a very long drive. I was running through the game in my head like I do before every game. I gave a little thought to the fact that I was playing in a country where I may face a bit of racism. It’s not something I like to worry about, even though it’s likely to happen.

Sid Lowe in Spain

Defeat to Real Madrid was yet another wobble for Villarreal in a season that is rapidly spinning downhill.

Chelsea Pitch Owners reject club's attempt to leave Stamford Bridge

The Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the club's fans after shareholders in the Chelsea Pitch Owners company rejected a proposal to buy back the land upon which Stamford Bridge is built at a fractious extraordinary general meeting.

England: Premier League Previews, Predictions & Spotlight

Chelsea and Arsenal meet on Saturday lunchtime in a London derby at Stamford Bridge. The home side are engulfed by off-field controversy following the FA's charges in the wake of last Sunday's foul-tempered defeat by QPR, while John Terry has also been accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Arsenal, in comparison, are in a relative state of stability after what had been a turbulent start to the season. By the time Chelsea and Arsenal kick-off, Manchester United will be approaching half-time in their match at Everton. After hammering Wolves in the Carling Cup, Manchester City will be in confident mood when they welcome Mick McCarthy's struggling side to Etihad Stadium. Liverpool also booked a place in an unusually exciting looking last eight of the Carling Cup with a rare win at Stoke and now Kenny Dalglish will hope to carry the winning feeling into a reunion with Roy Hodgson. There was a sense of inevitability about the West Brom manager's victory over his former club at The Hawthorns in April. On a rare quiet Sunday in England's top division, Tottenham host London rivals Queens Park Rangers.

Manchester United vs. Everton: Preview

Chelsea vs. Arsenal: Preview

West Brom vs. Liverpool: Preview

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Claudio Ranieri is confident Inter Milan's players can make life difficult for his former club Juventus when the two sides meet at the San Siro. Lazio travel to Sardinia this weekend to face Cagliari while Udinese take on Palermo at the Friuli stadium, having won all of their home games so far. Defending champions AC Milan travel to the capital to face Roma, and Milan are riding a three-match winning streak. Fourth-placed Napoli will look to end Catania's five-match unbeaten run when the two teams square off at the Angelo Massimino stadium. Fiorentina coach Sinisa Mihajlovic will be under pressure heading into Sunday's game against Genoa, with his side having failed to win any of its last five games.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview + Quiniela

Levante are revelling in their unlikely status as La Liga leaders with midweek hero Ruben Suarez declaring: "We are the team to beat." Ruben lashed home a stunning 93rd-minute winner as Levante edged out Real Sociedad 3-2 on Wednesday to move back to the top of the table after being briefly usurped by Barcelona. The win saw Levante re-establish their one-point lead at the summit over Real Madrid, who won later in the evening, an advantage they will try to preserve at Osasuna on Sunday afternoon. By the time they take the field at the Estadio Reyno de Navarra, Levante could be down in third, however, with the big two playing on Saturday. European champions Barca are first up with a home game against Real Mallorca. Madrid kick-off at Real Sociedad minutes after the Barca game concludes.

Sunderland's Titus Bramble charged with sexual assault

Sunderland footballer Titus Bramble has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and urinating in a public place.

England: Arsenal AGM leaves fans underwhelmed

When Stan finally spoke at Arsenal's Annual General Meeting (AGM) it was worth the wait.

Forthright, honest and impassioned, it was exactly what you would expect from a man with a significant emotional and financial stake in the North London club.

"I've been coming for 30 years and that was probably the worst AGM I've ever attended. The club often talks about respect but there was a complete lack of respect shown today. It was awful."

That Stan was Stanley Salter, a long-term shareholder and Highbury veteran.

The other Stan, Stanley Kroenke, the majority shareholder and Emirates parvenu, also spoke at Thursday’s meeting. It was…well, a bit underwhelming.

Friday MLS Forecast: Conference Semifinals, First Leg - Colorado completes the semifinal field with a narrow victory over Columbus

The Forecast discusses the Rapids' 1-0 result over Columbus from Thursday night and previews the four conference semifinal series.

Ferdinand speaks of 'crazy' week

Anton Ferdinand broke his silence for the first time since becoming embroiled in an alleged race row involving England and Chelsea captain John Terry, referring to the events of the past week as "crazy".

ESPNsoccernet can reveal that Anton and Rio Ferdinand are refusing to talk to John Terry, and have declined his frantic attempts to speak with them.

Wayne Rooney can be England's top player – as long as he isn't picked

It has been a bad month for the talisman. Carlos Tevez is "very much City's talisman" according to John Motson – himself very much the sort of item you might hang from the rear-view mirror to ward off road accidents, and mask the smell of the dog – but has been forced to work his medieval-mugged magic from the stands, while City try to decide whether to send him back to the belltower or not.

John Terry, Chelsea's supernatural charm (and I think we can all agree that Terry's charm is not entirely earthly), has been forced to explain that the only reason he allegedly directed a racist remark at Anton Ferdinand was to demonstrate just the sort of alleged racist remark he did not, had not and would not ever allegedly make. The fear at Stamford Bridge is that the FA may follow the Blues' captain's lead and ban Terry for three seasons just to prove that this is exactly the sort of thing they would never do in a million years.

And then there is Wayne Rooney. Poor, poor Wayne.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Decided to take the day off

and do this instead. We'll be back tomorrow with all the previews for what should be another great weekend of football...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Preview

Everton host Chelsea, Stoke welcome Liverpool, Manchester City go to Wolverhampton, and Blackburn host Newcastle.

The Forgotten Story of ... the English Super Cup

After English clubs were banned from Europe in 1985, the Football League created a consolation competition for them

Cyberspace plays judge and jury as John Terry 'racism' case escalates

With this visual material flying around cyberspace, the blogosphere and Twitter, Terry's defence was that Ashley Cole walking across the camera shot had obscured the first part of his remark to Ferdinand: the bit, Terry says, in which he shouts "I did not call you a …" at the QPR man. The footage is chilling, because the offending words are apparently so clear, but also disembodied, because Cole stops us seeing what Terry said before he used a profoundly nasty and potentially illegal phrase.

Italy: Tuesday's Serie A Report

Juventus 2 - 1 Fiorentina

Spain: Tuesday's La Liga Wrap

Champions Barcelona returned to winning ways in the Primera Division but had to grind out a 1-0 win away to nine-man Granada. Tuesday night's other game saw Sevilla, on a high following a strong run of form that saw them frustrate Barca in a goalless draw at the Camp Nou on Saturday, salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Racing Santander.


England: Tuesday's Carling Cup Review & Reports

Manchester United bounced back from its derby humiliation by cruising to a 3-0 victory over forth-tier club Aldershot in the League Cup, while Arsenal overcame Premier League rival Bolton 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals on Tuesday. In Tuesday's other cup matches, Cardiff beat Burnley 1-0 while second-tier leader Southampton lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace.

Aldershot Town 0 - 3 Manchester United

Arsenal 2 - 1 Bolton

Americans Abroad

Gomez makes a strong case for U.S. recall; more Americans Abroad.

Tim Vickery in South America

"It's been a big task and long work," said Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke last week when the calendar of the 2014 World Cup was presented. "We had 57 versions of this match schedule and finally nine on which we have been working. We took into account the medical aspects, logistics, travel and accommodation."

Staging a World Cup in a country the size of a continent is not easy, and Brazil in June/July offers a specific challenge - winter bites hard in the south and barely touches the north.

The View from Italy: Eternal rivalry yet similar directions

In the final minute of injury time, Miroslav Klose brought a pass from Matuzalem under control and had the time, quality and nerve to slot his side-footed shot past the Roma goalkeeper. The German international's fourth goal of the season a week ago - his sixth in eight games since joining the Biancocelesti - helped his Lazio side come from behind to end ten-man Roma's series of five consecutive wins against their crosstown rivals, stretching back to April 2009. The Rome Derby is quite simply the biggest rivalry in Italian football, its passion and polarising effect are unsurpassed by any other in Serie A.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

England: Tuesday's Carling Cup Previews

Aldershot Town
Manchester United

Preview I
Preview II
Barney Ronay: Aldershot's Holdsworth ready for United
Aldershot Town's Remarkable Journey

Arsenal vs. Bolton
Preview I
Preview II

Aldershot's EBB Stadium at the Recreation Ground (capacity 7,100)...

Italy: Serie A Midweek Preview

AC Milan and Inter Milan will both be looking to build on victories at the weekend in their matches against Parma and Atalanta respectively on Wednesday. Juventus have yet to taste defeat this season and take on Fiorentina on Tuesday in Turin hoping to return to winning ways after last weekend's 2-2 result against Genoa. The Turin giants are third, two points adrift of Udinese.


Spain: La Liga Midweek Preview

Barcelona take on promoted strugglers Granada on Tuesday looking to make up for Saturday's goalless La Liga draw at home to Sevilla. Other midweek action sees Sevilla at home to rock-bottom Racing Santander, while off-colour Atletico Madrid travel to the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao.


Sid Lowe in Spain

Messi should have been the hero as he stepped up to take Barça's 95th-minute penalty – but no one told Sevilla's No. 1.

Barça's Lionel Messi foiled on the night that changed Javi Varas's life.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

The forward's lifestyle has been questioned but after rescuing Milan with a hat-trick at Lecce few could doubt his focus.

Kevin-Prince Boateng's belief gives Milan kiss of life.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Red cards, a penalty and Oscar-winning playacting, in Jupp Heynckes's eyes, blew open the Bundesliga title race.

Hannover ham up their part as beaten Bayern bemoan always being right.

The Trawler: Fergie left furious, Sven gets serious

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.

Louise Taylor: Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and the cruel Championship

The paradox was McClaren was unable to sign new players while Eriksson recruited far too many; but the Sven and Steve show is far from over.

Americans Abroad: Steve Cherundolo sees red, Tim Howard holds off Fulham and Altidore starts for AZ

Cherundolo's Hannover squad stunned Bayern Munich, while Howard held off Clint Dempsey's Fulham and Altidore returned to AZ's starting XI.

Americans Abroad

Police investigate John Terry's comments to Anton Ferdinand

Police are investigating allegations that Chelsea's John Terry racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand after a public complaint prompted by this video.

Another Angle

Steve Davis on MLS

Playoffs begin quickly for teams in Major League Soccer's new wild-card round; the postseason opener is Wednesday.

The favorites (Los Angeles foremost, followed closely by Seattle) join this weekend.

Every side has Nov. 20 circled on the calendar, date of the MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center outside Los Angeles.

Here, then, is a team-by-team look at the 10 playoff qualifiers. (Listed in order of total points.)

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Simone Pepe (Italian for pepper) has a salty sense of humour, and it has been reported that Juventus coach Antonio Conte told him to control his urge to quip one-liners as they might interfere with his, and the team's, concentration during training.

Henry Winter: Thanks for the wacky weekend that was in the Premier League

So thank you David Silva, Rafael van der Vaart, Yohan Cabaye and John Ruddy. And thank you also to Robin van Persie, Louis Saha and even Nicklas Modesty Bendtner.

John Terry apologises to Chelsea fans after they erroneously flocked to see him open a pet shop

The Chelsea and England captain had been expected to cut the ribbon at the opening of Reptile Kingdom on Ewell Road after he had completed training at the club's training ground, which is in nearby Cobham.

Uli Hess in Germany

On Sunday, the Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster, asked me to explain why an in-form Cologne FC, with a red-hot Lukas Podolski, was hammered by a Dortmund team that had embarrassed itself and the Bundesliga on the European stage just a few days earlier. The reporter probably expected me to hem and haw and produce one of my patented long-winded incoherent ramblings. But as a matter of fact, that one was quite easy. Cologne were soundly beaten, ran my profound expert analysis, because they are always rubbish in Dortmund.

Phil Ball in Spain

Saturday night's the night I like, sang Elton John (that ages me), especially when you've got Malaga v Real Madrid followed by Barcelona v Sevilla on the telly.

It sets you up nicely for the in-the-flesh Sunday game, ultimately something of a snooze-fest in Anoeta between Real Sociedad and Getafe (0-0). Perhaps it just paled by comparison, although that should never be the case when it comes to savouring the live experience.

Putting your feet up on the sofa and popping open a half-decent Rioja is one thing, but getting down to the local stadium should always be the aesthetic priority.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday MLS Breakdown

Lineup selections raise eyebrows as the regular season concludes -- Several teams weighed a series of competing priorities during the final matchday.

Plus, the Breakdown also offers a first glance at the known playoff pairings.

Grant Wahl: Lots of questions about Fox's surprising World Cup coup

Big news in the world of U.S. soccer came on Friday when FIFA awarded the U.S. broadcast rights for 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Fox (English language) and Telemundo (Spanish language). The Sports Business Journal reported the total rights fee for the U.S. to be between $1.05 billion and $1.1 billion, an increase of at least 147 percent over the combined $425 million that ESPN and Univisión paid for the rights to the '10 and '14 tournaments.

Fox paid a reported $450 million to $500 million to beat out ESPN and NBC for the English rights, while Telemundo is said to have paid $600 million for the Spanish rights. Here are my thoughts for now on the news:

England: Premier League Review, Reports, Analyses & Teams of the Week

One of the most historic weekends in Premier League history provided what could have been a changing of the guard in Manchester. A stunning performance from City saw Roberto Mancini's side come away with a 6-1 victory over United at Old Trafford, following an afternoon which Sir Alex Ferguson described as his 'worst ever day' at the club. Elsewhere, in a fractious encounter at Loftus Road, QPR overcame nine-man Chelsea after an ill-tempered West London derby. Arsenal picked up a win but Liverpool were held by Norwich, with Blackburn still bottom after a defeat to Tottenham.

Georgina Turner's Review

Manchester United 1 - 6 Manchester City
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Paul Hayward at Old Trafford
Phil McNulty at Old Trafford
International Media Reaction
Alan Hansen: Title is City's to lose
Five Things We Learned

Queens Park Rangers 1 - 0 Chelsea
Jeremy Wilson at Loftus Road
David Pleat: Villas-Boas almost pulls off nine-man win

Arsenal 3 - 1 Stoke City
Gerry Cox at the Emirates Stadium
Amy Lawrence at the Emirates Stadium

Blackburn 1 - 2 Tottenham
Graham Chase at Ewood Park

Aston Villa 1 - 2 West Bromwich Albion
Stuart James at Villa Park

Chalkboard Analysis
Team of the Week I
Team of the Week II

Peter Berlin: Five Thoughts

European Weekend Review

Cristiano Ronaldo was on form as Real Madrid thrashed Malaga in Spain to go above Barcelona, while Inter Milan picked up a much-needed win. Celtic battled to victory over Aberdeen while Borussia Dortmund won in Germany, as Bayern Munich lost to Hannover.

Real Madrid produced an impressive performance to thrash Malaga 4-0 and go second in the La Liga table, above Barcelona. Lionel Messi has been hitting the headlines with his performances in recent weeks but Cristiano Ronaldo was the man of the weekend, the Portuguese attacker netting a hat-trick in the rout, with Gonzalo Higuain scoring the other. Barcelona, though, were held by Sevilla at Camp Nou, with the Andalusians battling valiantly for a 0-0 draw. Levante are top of the pile as their remarkable start continued with a 3-0 success at Villarreal, Juanlu scoring two in the comfortable victory.

The game of the weekend in Italy was played out at Lecce where a thrilling encounter ended with AC Milan edging out the home side 4-3. It was a sublime performance from Kevin-Prince Boateng who came off the bench to score a hat-trick for the Rossoneri. Inter Milan had made their worst start to the season for 28 years but Claudio Ranieri's side picked up a much-needed 1-0 victory at home to Chievo - Thiago Motta scoring the only goal of the game.


Spain: Sevilla and Barcelona Brawl

Cesc Fábregas denies racially abusing Frédéric Kanouté during match

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.