Friday, August 24, 2012

The Joy of Six: Great Liverpool v Manchester City Matches

From two games in the space of three days in 1937 to a farce at Maine Road in 1996, here are half a dozen classic games.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews, Predictions, Etc.

Defending Premier League champions Manchester City travel to Liverpool while Chelsea and Newcastle United meet among the pick of this weekend's fixtures. Elsewhere, Robin van Persie could be given his first Manchester United start when Fulham visit Old Trafford and the Dutchman's former club, Arsenal, make the trip to Stoke City. Saturday's lunchtime kick-off sees Swansea City host West Ham United. Tottenham host West Brom, Everton go to Villa, Southampton host Wigan, QPR go to Norwich, and Sunderland host Reading.

Michael Cox: Tactical Preview

Weekend Previews: Spain, Italy, Germany

The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


Raphael Honigstein in Germany: Bundesliga 2012-13 Season Preview

Borussia Dortmund are heavily fancied to hold off the threat of Bayern Munich and win their third title in a row.

Nervous times as the clock ticks for four of football's unwanted

The last week in August brings anxiety for players seeking a new club, whether they be millionaires or honest toilers trying to earn a living wherever they can.

Louis Saha Interview

It was a love affair that began as an impressionable young man at Newcastle United and may well end at their bitter rivals Sunderland, but Louis Saha felt it was only right he returned to where it all started for him in English football.

Friday MLS Forecast

Heralding the return of a fabulous mullet...

The Forecast ponders the implications of Juan Toja's return to MLS and sorts through the weekend slate.

Rewind to 1987

Last week Robin van Persie became the first player in over 25 years to make the move from Arsenal to Manchester United, although his time at Old Trafford did not get off to the best start as even a 20-minute cameo from the Dutchman could not prevent United losing 1-0 to Everton.

So this week we look back at the last time United bought a Gunner - as a recently appointed Alex Ferguson his first move to refashion his squad by purchasing a £250,000 full-back...

Europa League: Thursday's Reports

Spanish Super Cup Leg One Report

Barcelona 3 - 2 Real Madrid

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paolo Bandini's Serie A Preview: Juve likely to dominate - even with Conte in the shadows

After a summer of scandal and austerity, the action in Italy kicks off this weekend. Juventus are clear favourites but could Zdenek Zeman's Roma challenge for the scudetto?

The Mill+

Thursday's Rumours


Fulham omit Clint Dempsey from squad to face Manchester United

Dempsey did not feature in last weekend's 5-0 win over Norwich after telling manager Martin Jol he no longer wanted to play for the club.  Liverpool have expressed an interest in signing the £7.5m-rated forward, but have yet to make a formal offer. "It's the same situation. There has been no formal bid on the table and nothing has changed," Jol said. Dempsey scored 23 goals in 46 appearances last season and has one year left on his contract at Craven Cottage.

Graham Hunter on La Liga: Super Cup yields first Clasico of 2012-13

Decades used to pass in Spanish football in which Real Madrid and Barcelona would fulfill their standard commitment to meet for two league games per season, all guns blazing, and the rest of the world didn't long for a superpower battle every couple of months.

But we live in the age of the Clasico, a battle underscored by the fact that by the first week in October, Jose Mourinho will have competed in 14 of them as Madrid manager -- approximately one every eight weeks of his reign.

And this battle recommences on Thursday. Camp Nou. Barcelona versus Real Madrid. Cup winners against La Liga winners. Again. 

England: Wednesday's Premier League Reports

Chelsea 4 - 2 Reading

Football Weekly Extra: Fernando Torres strikes to leave Royals raging

AC Jimbo and co on Chelsea's victory over Reading and Man Utd's defeat to Everton. Plus, a preview of the Serie A kick-off.

It's a special Young Guns edition of Football Weekly Extra, with Michael Cox, Jacob Steinberg and Ian McCourt marshalled by the wizened tones of AC Jimbo. Woof.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

EPL Midweek Previews: Chelsea vs. Reading

2:45pm on ESPN2

Chelsea's Roberto Di Matteo spoilt for choice as he prepares for Reading: Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata are all eager to start

Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard has the Premier League on red alert following his superb debut in Sunday's opening win over Wigan, and manager Roberto Di Matteo believes the £32m signing can get even better.


The cashmere and charm wears thin for Germany coach Joachim Löw

What a difference a few weeks make. It wasn’t long ago that Joachim Löw, with his expensive jumpers and endearing, Swabian lilt, was the envy of world football. He was the man who brought class to the classless and dragged Germany out of its darkest footballing hour since the war.

All this, of course, was before the pesky Italians worked their black magic again, and once more dumped Germany out of a major international competition. Never has the word bogey team been more appropriate than in the case of Italy when it comes to playing their German neighbours.

Glenn Moore: Shame that Fulham forward Clint Dempsey's on strike. Bigger shame the PFA says nothing

Dempsey has every right to want to move, but he should honour his contract until he gets his wish. The Professional Footballers' Association should be condemning Dempsey for refusing to play, for he is bringing into disrepute the rights they have fought for over generations. Their silence is deafening.

Andre Villas-Boas waits for the music to stop at Tottenham as Daniel Levy calls the tune on transfer deals

Tottenham manager sees his squad being rebuilt as chairman ships more players out.

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Paul Wilson: Well done De Rossi for valuing loyalty more than millions

Riding to the rescue of football's bedraggled reputation after a month of being compared unfavourably, and largely unfairly, to the Olympic Games comes an unexpected knight in shining armour. Daniele De Rossi of Roma and Italy, in turning down Manchester City, has not only demonstrated that footballers occasionally possess both integrity and intelligence, he has restored many a jaded observer's faith in human nature.

Jonathan Wilson: No excuses as rich Paris St-Germain continue poor start to season

PSG's status makes them the side every other team in France wants to see fail. When you've been responsible for 70% of your league's transfer spending, the usual explanations ring hollow.

Tottenham confirm signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City in deal worth £9m

Tottenham have completed the permanent signing of Emmanuel Adebayor, with the deal eventually concluded after the Togo striker accepted a significant severance package from Manchester City. They also paved the way for the departure of defender Michael Dawson to Queens Park Rangers.

Jonathan Wilson: Injuries hurting, but Man Utd failed to address its most pressing needs

"I asked for a sofa, and they bought me a lamp shade."

Rafa Benitez's 2004 departure from Valencia -- after a dispute with sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch -- brought one of the great expressions of managerial frustration. On Monday, in its 1-0 Premier League season-opening defeat at Everton, Manchester United was left wandering around looking for somewhere to sit down and seeing only covers for light bulbs. Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are excellent players. That is not in dispute. The question is whether they are the players United needed.

Americans Abroad: Dempsey's absence leads American plots as European seasons start

People keep wondering where Clint Dempsey, after all of his success, gets the inspiration to maintain the permanent chip on his shoulder.

Well, events like the ones that have transpired in the last week certainly play a part.

Even after a season in which he scored 23 goals in all competitions, with his 17 league goals tied for fourth-most in the Premier League and accounting for more than a third of Fulham's total, Dempsey did not command the interest or respect in the transfer market he might have expected as he entered the final year of his contract with the club, and, as a result, he has been frozen out at a place where just months ago he was considered a hero.

The Rest

Adriano gets another chance at Flamengo

Former Inter Milan and Brazil forward Adriano has been given another chance to revive his flagging career after re-signing for Brazilian club Flamengo. The Rio de Janeiro club said in a statement that the 30-year-old, who left Corinthians in March after failing to get match fit, had been given a contract until the end of the season and that it would be based on "productivity".

Looking ahead to U.S. World Cup qualifying

The U.S. men's national team is no doubt still buzzing over last week's 1-0 win over Mexico, and with good reason. The win was the first-ever such triumph on Mexican soil, ending a streak of futility that had reached 24 games, and it will certainly give the U.S. a massive jolt of self-belief going forward.

The reality of course is that the victory will only carry the U.S. so far. The Americans will not receive any bonus points in the World Cup qualifying standings for ending its Azteca hoodoo, and in the grand scheme of things, the upcoming qualifiers against Jamaica – the away leg will be held in Kingston on Sept. 7, with the return encounter taking place four days later in Columbus, Ohio - dwarf the Mexico match in importance. With that in mind, here are five thoughts as these two crunch matches approach. 

Serie A Season Preview – A spectacle to behold

Turbulent waves of controversy are never too far away from the murky shores of Italian football, especially towards the beginning of each new season over the past several years. The countdown to Serie A’s last campaign was marred, and eventually delayed by a strike, after the Players’ (AIC) and Clubs’ (LEGA) unions failed to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Calciopoli match-fixing scandal in 2006 shook the entire sport to its core. With the subsequent trial lasting years and uncovering a ravage trail of corruption, but also descending into a complete mockery when evidence was only brought to light after the statute of limitations had already been superseded.

The built-up to the upcoming 2012-13 Serie A season has proved to be no exception to this now unwritten rule.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

Despite strike threats and strange kick-off times, goals from David Villa and 16-year-old Fabrice Olinga lit up the opening weekend in Spain.

Amid the mess and madcap scheduling, La Liga reignites – and delights.

Under the Radar: Premier League's impressive new signings

Claudio Yacub, West Bromwich Albion

Five Champions League play-off round matches to keep an eye on

While European league seasons are now getting under way, the continent's showpiece tournament, the Champions League, kicked off months ago: in fact, two days after Spain beat Italy in the Euro 2012 final.

The big winners in the first qualifying round were Luxembourg's Dudelange (7-0 winners over Tre Penne) and Malta's Valletta (8-0 against Lusitans).

Both have since been eliminated and this week sees some fascinating match-ups in the play-off round, with the winners reaching the holy grail -- and cash cow -- of the group stage.

Here are five matches worth keeping an eye on:

MLS Week 24 Power Rankings: Dodgy officiating steals spotlight

Stunning displays of officiating and a league office faux pas took plenty of attention away from the players during an action-packed Week 24 in MLS:

Tim Vickery in South America

On Wednesday Neymar helped Brazil to a morale-boosting 3-0 win away to Sweden. The next evening he was back in action on the other side of the Atlantic, in Florianopolis in the south of Brazil, where he played the starring role as Santos came from behind to seal a 3-1 victory against Figueirense.

The punishing schedule is reflected by a glance at the league table. The Brazilian Championship is approaching the halfway stage, but Neymar has hardly figured. He has been away on international duty, and Santos have struggled in his absence.

A defeat last Thursday would have left them just one point clear of the relegation places - and it looked a distinct possibility at half-time, when bottom of the table Figueirense were a goal up. Neymar put a stop to the panic with a superb solo equaliser, and laid on the clinching third goal. He also added another assist on Sunday as Santos came from behind once more to beat old rivals Corinthians. Suddenly the league table does not look so frightening.

Clearly, Santos need Neymar.

But does Neymar still need Santos?

It is an interesting question.

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


MLS: Five things we learned in week 24

• New York Red Bulls come from 2-0 to win amid controversy
• Montreal Impact win fourth in a row, in three red card game
• DC United's Ben Olsen slams the ref's "Geiger show"
• FC Dallas revive 2010 memories through Ferreira and Shea
• Chicago Fire making it hot for leaders in East

England: Monday Night Football Reports

Everton 1 - 0 Manchester United

Monday, August 20, 2012

Americans Abroad: Altidore starts the season on fire

With many European leagues already in swing, The English leagues kicked off over the weekend and while several Americans were in action, there were a few big name omissions. The German and Italian leagues start up next weekend so watch out for reports on Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson among others.

Phil Ball in Spain

Last season, as regular readers may recall, I dragged my young daughter from San Sebastian to the Camp Nou to watch Barcelona v Real Sociedad, only to experience the coldest night in the city for 50 years. However, the thoroughly decent 2-1 result helped to keep our toes warm. On Sunday evening, six months later, I couldn't resist the temptation to return - this time with my son, now back from his year in deepest Ohio. The temperature this time around failed to drop below 26 degrees, despite the late evening kick-off, and the result - 5-1 to the hosts - hardly cooled our brows. If this is Barcelona when they're tired (there were international games in midweek) or Barcelona when they're preoccupied with the coming Supercopa match with Real Madrid, then poor Real Sociedad would prefer not to play them when they're energetic and fully focused.

England: Monday Night Football Previews

Who: Everton vs. Manchester United
When: 3pm EDT
Where: Goodison Park, Liverpool

The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports, and Analyses

Brendan Rodgers made a dreadful start to his Liverpool league career with a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, while Arsenal's attack looked blunted in the absence of Robin van Persie as they were held 0-0 by Sunderland. Elsewhere, there was a two-goal debut for Michu as Swansea thrashed QPR 5-0, while Mladen Petric also netted a brace as Fulham crushed Norwich by the same scoreline. In the evening kick-off, Newcastle inflicted a debut defeat upon new Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas as the home side ran out 2-1 winners. On Sunday, Manchester City came back from a deficit to defeat Southampton and Chelsea won at Wigan

Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland

West Brom 3 - 0 Liverpool
Phil McNulty at The Hawthorns

West Ham 1 - 0 Aston Villa

Newcastle 2 - 1 Tottenham

Manchester City 3 - 2 Southampton

Wigan 0 - 2 Chelsea

Michael Cox: Tactics

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

David Villa scored in his first competitive appearance since 2011 as Barcelona thrashed Real Sociedad 5-1 in Tito Vilanova's La Liga in the Nou Camp hot-seat on Sunday. Real Madrid, who ended Barca's three-year reign as champions last term, could only start their defence with a 1-1 home draw with Valencia on Sunday evening. In a thrilling season-opener at San Mames, Real Betis recovered from squandering a 3-0 half-time lead to seal a 5-3 win over Athletic Bilbao.


Monday MLS Breakdown: D.C. United must locate its composure to clinch a spot in the postseason

United lost the plot in the late stages of Sunday night's 1-1 draw with Philadelphia as a physical opponent and a series of refereeing decisions impacted the team's efforts.

Arsenal midfielder Alex Song passes medical ahead of move to Barcelona

Lazy, late, bad attitude: Arsenal couldn't wait to get rid of Alex Song - first pics of midfielder at Barcelona here.

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.