Friday, January 27, 2012

England: FA Cup Weekend Previews & Predictions

Liverpool's visit of fierce rivals Manchester United takes centre stage as the FA Cup resumes with a jam-packed weekend of fixtures. The glamour tie of the fourth round will take place on Saturday lunchtime with Anfield as the stage, with the Reds having already booked one Wembley visit after advancing to the Carling Cup final with a win over Manchester City in midweek. The clubs have joined forces in calling for both sets of fans to act responsibly, with the clash marking the first time the teams have met since Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra in October, but tensions are expected to run high in a fiercely-contested affair. Two Friday games are scheduled, one of which will see Tottenham make the short trip to Championship opponents Watford, with Harry Redknapp set to return to the dugout. In Friday's other encounter, two top-flight opponents go head-to-head when Everton host Fulham at Goodison Park, with in-form Cottagers striker Clint Dempsey seeking his third hat-trick this month.


Watford vs. Tottenham: Preview

Brighton vs. Newcastle: Preview

Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Alan Hansen's Preview

Lawro's Predictions

The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


Jack Wilshere hands Arsenal and England a fresh injury scare

Jack Wilshere has given Arsenal and England a massive injury scare after suffering a recurrence of the ankle problem which has kept him out this season, the Guardian understands. In what will come as a significant blow to both his club's efforts to secure a Champions League berth, and the national team's preparations for Euro 2012, Wilshere suffered a breakdown just at the point when he was set to return to first-team training for Arsenal.

Rewind to 2002: Hiddink's winter of discontent

South Korea finished fourth at the 2002 World Cup as a nation turned red with excitement, yet just five months earlier, the team managed the same position at the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup while the country turned pink with embarrassment. In June, the Taeguk Warriors defeated Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain on their way to the semi-final; in January, they lost to the United States, Costa Rica and Canada while drawing with Cuba and Mexico. In June, Guus Hiddink was a hero; but in January, he almost lost his job.

Dempsey: I want to play in UCL

Fulham star Clint Dempsey has put the Premier League's top clubs on alert by revealing that he will not be happy in his career until he has played in the Champions League.

Dempsey: U.S. stars a major force now

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

David Conn: Onus on clubs to prevent ugly spectre of racism rearing its head again

If you had invited predictions a year ago about football's most combustible issue, it is unlikely that racism, the focus of sustained and successful efforts to kick it out, would have come anywhere near top of the list. Yet as Liverpool prepare to face Manchester United in the FA Cup for a match in danger of being more poisonous than for a long time, football's long, progressive battle against racism is suddenly spotlit again.

Rob Bagchi: For every prolific Lilian Thuram there's a wobbly Jonathan Woodgate

Thuram and some dude
There have been crimes committed against the fraternity of full-backs in recent weeks. Arsenal's spate of injuries has obliged Arsène Wenger to send out four centre-backs whose relative uniformity of size when strung in a defensive line has left them looking at times like table footballers – with the proviso that they lack the positional discipline compelled upon them by having a pole running through their ribs to link them together. Tony Pulis, who seems to have an aversion to orthodox full-backs, sent out Stoke City for their FA Cup third-round victory over Gillingham with the former England centre-halves Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson at right- and left-back respectively. Indeed he has persevered with Woodgate in the old No2 role despite evidence that suggests the defender is wholly unsuited to the task.

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Charlton fans arrested over alleged racist chanting after Fulham game

Nine men have been arrested by police investigating suspected racist chanting by football fans. Police received reports of a group of Charlton Athletic supporters singing racist songs on a train following their FA Cup tie at Fulham on 7 January. Detective Inspector Ashley Cooper, leading the BTP investigation, said the suspects, aged between 20 and 30, were taken to a north London police station and are helping police with their inquiries. Cooper said: "We launched Operation Midas after a group of men, who we believe to be Charlton supporters, boarded a train at Putney and were heard chanting racist songs – something which was both offensive and extremely intimidating for other passengers on board.

USA: International Friendly Preview

Estadio Rommel Fernandez
Who: Panama vs. United States
When: 8:30pm EST
Where: Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City
U.S. TV: Galavision, ESPN3

Spain: Wednesday's Copa del Rey Semi-Final Second Leg Preview

The Stamper
Who: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (2-1 agg.)
When: 4pm EST
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona
U.S. TV: GolTV, ESPN Deportes

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Previews

Yes, that's Lucille Ball
Who: Liverpool vs. Manchester City (1-0 agg.)
When: 2:45pm EST
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Lawro's Preview

England: Tuesday's Carling Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Report

Cardiff City 1(3) - 0(1) Crystal Palace 
Dominic Fifield at Cardiff City Stadium

African Cup of Nations: Updates & Team of the Round

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is well underway after three days of competitive matches that have done little to betray the tournament's reputation of being one of the most exciting and unpredictable events in world football. The tournament kicked-off in Bata, a port-city on the Atlantic coast of Equatorial Guinea, with an opening ceremony full of glitz and glamour that provided a stunning backdrop to the competition on Saturday evening. The ceremony was truly a spectacle to behold, but thankfully so far the tournament itself has provided entertainment to match.

Ghana and Mali came out on top as the Africa Cup of Nations completed its opening batch of group matches here on Tuesday. Ghana are with Ivory Coast carrying the tag of favourites on their shoulders and they duly earned the three points with a 1-0 win in their Group D clash with Botswana.

Jonathan Wilson: Ghana worryingly fragile

Team of the Round

Uli Hesse in Germany

They're trying to conceal it as best they can, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that somebody is scripting the Bundesliga. Last weekend, Germany's top flight returned from hibernation and the games involving the clubs in the title race produced the results required to create a rare and thrilling situation. For the first time in two decades, three teams are level on points at the top after 18 matches of the season. Not to mention that a fourth is trailing that trio by only one point.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

The Portuguese wants to know who plunged the knife into his back after a training ground conversation was leaked to the press.

Mourinho meltdown and hints of civil war at Real Madrid.

Richard Williams: José Mourinho joins Arsène Wenger in facing the stirrings of rebellion

Real Madrid manager has found himself in the same position as Arsenal's Arsène Wenger – under attack from players and fans.

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Sir Alex Ferguson writes to fans asking them to behave at Anfield

Sir Alex Ferguson has written to all Manchester United fans travelling to Anfield for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Liverpool. The United boss has asked for the fans to behave and for "positive, witty and loud" support. The letter made no mention of the recent racism row, instead urging fans to help protect future allocations.

Africa Cup of Nations: Tunisia beat neighbours Morocco

Tunisia capitalised on a wasteful Moroccan performance to beat their North African rivals 2-1 in Group C. Khaled Korbi opened the scoring for the Carthage Eagles, floating a free-kick straight into the Moroccan goal. Substitute Youssef Msakni doubled Tunisia's lead with a wonderful solo effort, before Moroccan skipper Houcine Kharjah pulled one back. Morocco squandered several chances to score but Tunisia deserved their opening win, after a gutsy performance.

Americans Abroad

Zak Whitbread, D, Norwich City - Started, played 90 minutes in Norwich City's 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday. Whitbread had perhaps his best game of the season, clamping down on Fernando Torres and doing his part to keep Chelsea's high-potential attack off the scoreboard. SEASON: 12 games, 12 starts

The Rest

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Antonio Conte refuses to talk about the title but his side's ability to grind out wins makes the scudetto a tangible prospect.

Reluctant winter champions Juventus work hard to deliver the real deal.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Goals a plenty, shock results plus a gory smorgasbord of injuries helped reinvigorate the title race in Germany.

Bundesliga provides Hollywood drama as Gladbach make Bayern Reus the day.

Alan Smith: the five reasons why Arsene Wenger is starting to lose his grip at Arsenal

Alan Smith during happier times

From players showing dissent to disquiet among supporters, where is it all going wrong for Arsenal's once-revered manager?

Redknapp trial: Transfer-bonus bank account hidden

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was accused in court Tuesday of concealing a "secret'' offshore bank account from British tax authorities that was used for six years to stash $295,000 of transfer bonuses. Redknapp, considered a favorite to become England manager after this year's European Championship, is standing trial with his former chairman at Portsmouth on tax evasion charges during their time working together at the south coast club. "I don't fiddle anybody. I pay my tax,'' Redknapp said in a police interview read to the court.

Jonathan Wilson at the African Cup of Nations

Gabon celebrate their victory

Gernot Rohr will hope his co-hosts, inspired by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, can reach the Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

Gabon throw conservatism aside to impress at Africa Cup of Nations.

David Hytner: Mutiny erupts but no end in sight to Arsenal's ever-decreasing circles

Fans turn on Arsène Wenger but changes at the top are unlikely to halt Arsenal's drop in expectations.

Corky Romano And The Other Things Your Fox Affiliate Is Showing Instead Of Soccer

Fox is understandably proud of their experiment this morning to show English Premier League soccer live on U.S. broadcast TV for the first time. Yet it seems Fox affiliates aren't so excited, as 23 of Fox's 185 stations decided to air something else. Here's the list of cities where you can't see Arsenal take on Manchester United, and what they're showing instead.

Phil Ball in Spain (Half-Term Report)

It's week 19, and time for the half-term report. The players quake in their sponsored boots, as the verdict is delivered on their collective performances so far. Will it result in being grounded, a temporary loss of pocket-money, or a shiny new bicycle? As ever, the teams will appear from the top in order of the 'unexpectedness' of their league position, their general performances, or a mixture of both. So the first side to appear will have surprised us quite a lot (negatively or positively), and at the bottom of the league will be the team that has behaved exactly as everyone predicted.

Monday, January 23, 2012

International Friendly: Ricardo Clark's goal boosts U.S.

Ricardo Clark had barely played in the last six months. His last appearance for his German second-division team came in July, and this was his first game for the U.S. national squad since August. Finally given a chance, he provided the goal that had eluded his team all night. Clark headed Jermaine Jones' corner kick into the net in the 7th minute of stoppage time and the United States beat Venezuela 1-0 in a friendly on Saturday night.

African Cup of Nations: Reports

Ivory Coast 1 - 0 Sudan: 
Drogba shines in win

Senegal 1 - 2 Zambia: 

Burkina Faso 1 - 2 Angola: 
Manucho seals win

The Trawler: Taxing Times for Pompey

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.

European Review

Real Madrid and Barcelona won again in Spain while Bayern Munich's defeat allowed the chasing pack to move level on points at the top in Germany. Juventus continue to lead the way in Italy, although AC Milan and Udinese maintained the pressure with wins of their own. Marseille and Lyon were given tough times by lower league opposition in the Coupe de France while holders Lille survived a scare. In Holland, AZ Alkmaar and Ajax finished all-square in the battle of the top two while Celtic have extended their lead on Rangers in Scotland.


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

Hat-trick Hero Clint!

Manchester rivals City and United kept things tight at the top of the table after overcoming North London opposition in a dramatic weekend of Premier League action. The city rivals defeated Tottenham and Arsenal respectively to cement their dominance in the top two spots, while Chelsea were another capital side to suffer a setback in a goalless draw at Norwich. Robbie Keane starred against former club Wolves as Aston Villa enjoyed a derby win, while Fulham pulled off a stunning comeback to thrash Newcastle and Mark Hughes enjoyed his first league win as QPR boss over Wigan.


Norwich City 0 - 0 Chelsea
Paul Doyle at Carrow Road

Fulham 5 - 2 Newcastle
Rob Smyth at Craven Cottage

Bolton 3 - 1 Liverpool
Paul Wilson at the Reebok Stadium

Manchester City 3 - 2 Tottenham
Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium
Kevin McCarra at Etihad Stadium
Richard Jolly at Etihad Stadium
Richard Williams at Etihad Stadium
Five Talking Points

Arsenal 1 - 2 Manchester United
Daniel Taylor at the Emirates Stadium
Henry Winter at the Emirates Stadium
Dominic Fifield at the Emirates Stadium
Michael Cox: United look to future with Smalling and Evans

Team of the Week
Garth Crook's Team of the Week

Chris Kamara's Talking Points

Harry Redknapp appears in court over tax evasion charges

The Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, appeared in the dock today to face trial for tax evasion. Redknapp denies two counts of cheating the public revenue when he was manager of Portsmouth. He appeared behind bullet-proof glass at Southwark crown court to face charges alongside the former Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric. A host of relatives, including Redknapp's former footballer son Jamie, looked on from the public gallery as proceedings began.

The Fifth Official

Few of us like a Monday morning, 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.