Friday, August 10, 2007

Sanford's Premiership Predictions

Sunderland v Tottenham

Roy Keane jumps right into the fray as he welcomes Spurs to the Stadium of Light and I don’t think it’ll be pretty. I still need to be convinced that Tottenham will defend better this campaign, but I’m quite certain of the quality of firepower they’ll have up front. Even with the long trip up north and a few of their lads ailing, Spurs will still have too much for Keano’s new boys. Look for the Black Cats to get on the board but be overwhelmed. Spurs have looked solid in the run-up while Sunderland will need some time to get their feet wet.


Bolton v Newcastle

It’s the return of Big Sam to the Reebok to face Little Sam. At least that’s what the tabloids would have you believe. It’s really about overachievers versus underachievers, each with a new gaffer. Expect plenty of nasty fouls and crunching tackles. And a snarl from Alan Smith. And I’m going with Big over Little by a nose.


Derby v Portsmouth

The Rams top most lists for a quick return to the Championship and I can’t say that my list reads any different. Playing at Pride Park Saturday will help, but Portsmouth have really strengthened this off-season as ‘Ol ‘Arry went and splashed the cash about. The likes of John Utaka, David Nugent and Sulley Muntari add another level of quality to Pompey, and should make them one of the more exciting sides in the league for the neutral. I can’t see Derby handling this well. The question for the Rams is, “Where will the goals come from?”


Everton v Wigan

Not one for the neutrals this, as Wigan travel to Goodison Park in what I think will be a dull affair. Look for Everton to simply have much class for Wigan. Plus, at home the Blues are a tough nut to crack.


Middlesbrough v Blackburn

This has draw written all over it. Normally I’d lean to Mark Hughes’ side to pull it out, but I think Boro will have enough at the Riverside to claim a point. I worry for them over the long haul, though. There’s just no steel in the middle of the pitch. And if they lose Yakubu, all bets are off.


West Ham v Manchester City

A tale of two teams throwing the cash around. Which will come out on top? I can’t see either squad being settled enough to create any sort of flow. Usually, that spells doom for the defense and I think we’ll see the nets bulging at Upton Park.


Aston Villa v Liverpool

Liverpool have got loads of questions to answer this season. Primarily, how will all those guys Rafa has purchased play? And how will Torres handle the pressure while leading the line? Over in Birmingham Mr. O’Neill has reshaped the Villa squad but I still don’t see them as anything other than a strong mid-table team. With the amount of cash in the league these days their return to the "glory years" as a "big club" will have to wait. Indefinitely. This one goes down at Villa Park so let’s say it results in a draw.


Arsenal v Fulham

Even with all their kids, the Gunners remain tough to be at home, whether it’s Highbury or the Emirates. Fulham (a.k.a. Northern Ireland with some USA on top) will find the going tough this year, and they’ll begin their campaign with a loss.


Chelsea v Birmingham

Can you say two-nil?


Manchester United v Reading

The Champions look terribly strong and even though reading should have another decent year, they won’t start off with a win. The addition of Tevez could take ManU to the top of Europe this year and after a dominating pre-season, their solid form will continue.


TSB's pre-season thoughts

Well we're off again, and as ever with the EPL, it's a bit of a madhouse. There's plenty going on at every club [except Boro] to get the pulse going :

Sven, Mr QVC, is spending faster than my mother and girlfriend combined. God knows how Man City will function as a team, especially with Mr Evil overseeing everything. But it'll be entertaining, as it always is with the Citizens.
West Ham, not to be outdone in the nouveau riche stakes, have also been spending like drunken democrats. They used to be most people's favourite London club, but maybe not for much longer.
ManU and Liverpool have also spent big, but the pressure is probably greater on Benitez, despite his new little goatee diverting attention. Will he finally stick to a settled team? It's asking a lot of Torres to be the new Rushie from the get-go, and provide some needed penetration. They still look like they'll struggle to break down defensive teams. God knows how Fergie is going to keep all his players happy - there will be competition just to get on to the bench. Pool getting Heinze would add some spice.
If their pre-season friendlies are a good guide then the stories of Arsenal's death are greatly exaggerated, but they'll still continue to entertain and frustrate in equal measure. They surely need to start scoring more goals from midfield - while Pires used to shoot on sight, Hleb and Rosicky seem to wait for Saturn and Jupiter to align. For me, much well depend on Gallas' fitness, not to mention state of mind.
Could this be the year Spurs turn the big four into the big five? They've certainly made some great young signings. Unfortunately they're all injured. And Jol still needs to sort out the left flank.
Newcastle have thankfully pushed out one fat, pertinacious, boor in Freddie Shepherd, sadly they've added another in Sam Alladyce. And Joey Barton, and Alan Smith. Imagine sitting at a table with those three dickheads. But it'll be interesting to see how Martins and Owen play together - which will probably happen around Xmas.
Signing Jagielka and Baines can only make Everton stronger, but hardly more entertaining. Moyes will be sweating on Cahill's fitness.
Unfortunately there does seem to be a few teams competing for the title of most boring team. Sanchez is re-assembling N. Ireland in Fulham, while all Southgate needs to do is sell Yakuba and he'll have totally rid Boro of goals. I also fear Derby could park the team bus in front of the goal all season. I have to admit I hope Fulham struggle, as their treatment of Chris Coleman was a joke. Hardly fair on the fans, but I hope Al Fayed pays for being a twat.
Other things to look forward to:
Keano's back.
Jimmy Bullard will be back soon - hopefully.
Titus Bramble is still here, unbelievably.
Jose's going all mellow. Good job there's no injury crisis at Chelsea like last year to tax his nerves.

Dodgy predictions: Blackburn, if the keep Benni, will have a good season, as will Everton. Bent will have a strong year, and Rooney, just to annoy the Editor, will also be in the goals. And Da Silva. Hargreaves will excel in the EPL, as will Malouda, esp. if he forms a partnership with his left back like he did at Lyon. Clichy will come into his own at Arsenal. Wigan and Bolton will struggle, maybe Reading too, though I hope not. Hutchings wont make to the end of the season and even Curbs could be sacked. Derby will have the league sewn up by the end of March, meaning they'll field their youth team when Arsenal visit in May.

Lawro's Premiership Predictions

The First of the Season! Oh, the excitement...

"Tottenham are fancied to do a lot this year but they will have to be happy with a draw here - I see this one as ending up with honours even."

Football Chant of the Season

Nearly 10,000 people had their say, with our Cilla getting 22% of the vote, followed by Arsenal's tribute to Cesc Fabregas on 17% and Palace fans' humorous dig at poor Colchester keeper Dean Gerken (13%).

7) "Niall Quinn's disco pants are the best,

They go up from his a*** to his chest,
They're better than Adam and the Ants,
Niall Quinn's disco pants!"
Sunderland fans to chairman Niall Quinn.

8) "Who needs Mourinho, we've got our physio!"
Scunthorpe fans pay tribute to manager Nigel Adkins, the club's old physio.

Premiership Preview No 20: Wigan

Wigan fans must hope that their new manager Chris Hutchings has learnt something from his disastrous spell at Bradford.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction 19th Odds: 5,000-1

Premiership Preview No 19: West Ham

Hammers fans may welcome a season that will probably end with the club in mid-table.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 9th Odds: 1250-1

Germany: Bayern Munich favored at start of Bundesliga season

Bayern Munich invested heavily in hoping to avoid another season without a trophy. The team spent about $97 million, bringing in big-name players and looking to send a jolt of fear through the Bundesliga.

Stuttgart Ready for Title Defense

And Raphael Honigstein says that Bayern Munich will cruise to the title and the race for second will provide the only excitement...

English Premier League Previews

Holders Manchester United begin by hosting Reading at Old Trafford while Chelsea host Birmingham.

  • Sunderland v Tottenham
  • Bolton v Newcastle
  • Derby v Portsmouth
  • Everton v Wigan
  • Middlesbrough v Blackburn
  • West Ham v Man. City
  • Aston Villa v Liverpool
  • Arsenal v Fulham
  • Chelsea v Birmingham
  • Man. United v Reading

Beckham makes his belated MLS debut

Despite the complicating factors of bad weather and a costly ejection for his Galaxy side, Beckham made his belated debut in an MLS match with a 72nd minute introduction Thursday night at wet RFK Stadium.

You don't see a scene like this very often for an MLS match. -Sanford

Feilhaber gets work permit to play for Derby

"We're bringing in another very good young player with excellent potential who is growing in stature with his national team," Derby manager Billy Davies said Thursday. "I believe he is ready for the challenge of the Premier League."

River supporters club leader dies after shooting

A leading figure in the hardcore supporters club of Argentine first division side River Plate died on Thursday, two days after being attacked and shot in the head, a hospital spokesman said.

Brings back memories from my trip to the Superclasico at La Bombonera. -Sanford

Thursday, August 09, 2007

EPL: The Sack Race

Not many would have backed Iain Dowie to become the first Premier League managerial casualty of last season.

Sammy Lee - Bolton

It will be difficult to repeat what Sam Allardyce achieved, but the diminutive Sammy Lee will undoubtedly give it his best.

Will it be enough? Probably not.

Verdict: The leap from tracksuit coach to tracksuit manager will be too great. Could be the first to go.

Sack Rating: 6/10

Alan Hansen's Column

Carlos Tevez's arrival has added to the array of attacking riches available to Premier League champions Manchester United - but I am backing Chelsea to regain the title this season.

Premiership Preview No 18: Tottenham Hotspur

There comes a time in life when talent and potential has to be realised. For Martin Jol's young side, this is it.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 5th Odds: 100-1

Premiership Preview No 17: Sunderland

Although circumspect fans will settle for survival, there's no reason to believe Roy Keane can't drive Sunderland onwards and upwards.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 15th Odds: 2,000-1

Football's 50 Greatest Hard Men

Football isn’t always the Beautiful Game. Sometimes it can get ugly. Really, really, ugly. And nobody has done more to bring the threat of menace or the whiff of danger to our sport than the following merchants of mayhem.

50 Pierluigi Collina (Referee)

Not strictly speaking (or even vaguely speaking) a player. But the scary Nosferatu-ringer easily merits a place in the top 50 toughest football folk, for his forbidding, bug-eyed glare alone.

38 Duncan Ferguson (Dundee United, Rangers, Everton, Newcastle United and Scotland)

Pigeon-fancier who did bird for crimes related to football and chip shops, and emerged from Barlinnie without a scratch.

Owen and Martins fight for one place

Sam Allardyce has served notice on Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins, his two most explosive strikers, that they will be vying for a single place for much of the coming season.

Since Owen will be out injured for most of the season, things are looking good for Obafemi. -Sanford

Bundesliga Preview: Bayern München

After years of relative austerity, Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge finally snapped and splashed out in excess of €70 million to make FC Bayern München odds-on favourites for another German title. Brian A. O'Driscoll's preview

Benny Feilhaber Set For Premiership Move

According to the player's agent, Premiership new boys Derby County are chasing Hamburg midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

The Mill ++ +++

Thursday's Rumours



Americans in EPL Season Preview

Led by the trio at Fulham and three of the top goalkeepers in the league, there are enough American players in the Premiership to warrant their very own preview going into the 2007-08 season.

How to make MLS major league

David Beckham could have been forgiven for thinking he was back in the United Kingdom on Sunday night.

Sure, it was hot and humid and everyone spoke differently, but the newest franchise in Major League Soccer – Toronto FC – could have been lifted straight from England.

There were raucous and knowledgeable supporters and there wasn't a spare seat in the stands – all thanks to an inspired marketing strategy that does not try to dumb down its product but celebrates its uniqueness compared to more traditional North American sports.

MLS audiences continue to wait on Beckham

The "MLS Primetime Thursday" night clash between D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) originally looked to be a showcase of the oldest true rivalry in the league. The novelty of David Beckham's arrival was expected to have worn off sufficiently for everyone by now, allowing more focus on the game itself.

However, an ankle injury has delayed Beckham's first appearance in league play. The spectacle of the midfielder making his MLS debut threatens to overwhelm the match itself to a side note.

Nowak to coach U23 team trying to make Olympics

The 43-year-old Nowak, an assistant coach for the full national team since December, takes over for Bob Bradley, currently the head coach of the full team.

Zeta apologise to Rangers over racism

The offensive chanting towards American winger Beasley and French striker Darcheville could result in UEFA taking strong action against Zeta.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Beasley appalled by racism in Euro tie

Rangers match-winner DaMarcus Beasley insists UEFA and FIFA must take a hard line stance against racism after he was targeted by FK Zeta fans making monkey noises during last night's Champions League tie.

The Kid's Goal...

Premiership Preview No 16: Reading

With a canny manager and more strength in depth than commonly imagined, the Royals should have no problem consolidating their top-flight status.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 14th. Odds: 1,800-1

Premiership Preview No 15: Portsmouth

Pompey's exciting purchases will propel them to even greater heights than last season.

GU writers' prediction: 7th Odds: 1000-1

Q&A with Arsenal defender William Gallas

Despite rumours of an imminent departure, William Gallas is now ready to take on another season for the Gunners. The former Blues defender elaborates exclusively to ESPNSoccernet on the potential of the new vibrant Arsenal side as well as his feelings about Thierry Henry's decision to bring down the curtain on his Arsenal spell.'s Premiership 2007/08: Preview & Predictions

It’s that time of year again and it hasn’t come around quickly enough. Saturday marks the start of the Premiership season and the best ten months of the year. It’s been a long summer of transfer chatter, plenty of rumours and some interesting dealings. Starting from this weekend, twenty of the best clubs in England will fight it out to become 2007/2008 Premiership champions.


Jonathan Lloyd

Graham Lister

Abhishek Thakur

Rob Hogley

George Tsitsonis




Man Utd

Man Utd

Man Utd


Man Utd

Man Utd

























Man City




West Ham

West Ham






















Bundesliga Preview: VfB Stuttgart & Schalke 04

Champions VfB Stuttgart begin the defence of their Bundesliga title having kept the bulk of last season’s victorious squad at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion. Brian A. O'Driscoll's Preview

Schalke 04 must dust themselves down and recover from the disappointment of missing out on last season's Bundesliga title if they are to make amends this term. Brian A. O'Driscoll's Preview

Plus, Five Young Guns to Watch

U.S. U20 midfielder Szetela in discussions with Roma

U.S. under-20 and Columbus Crew midfielder Danny Szetela is in discussions with AS Roma about possibly transferring to the Italian club after the Major League Soccer season when his contract expires.

Some Gossip For Your Hump Day

From the BBC

From The Times

The biggest nugget of news has Yokubu going to Everton...

EPL: Top 10 smartest transfers of the close season

After a summer of big spending, these are the new signings most likely to succeed in the Premier League.

Younes Kaboul
, 21, Tottenham Hotspur
£8m from Auxerre

Martin Jol could find himself reliant on a France Under-21 captain entering his debut season in England. Tottenham have toiled without Ledley King and he is again missing. A fragile team needs another imposing centre-half if it is to contend for a Champions League spot.

The prospect of Kaboul getting early chances at White Hart Lane is pleasing for many French observers who think he will be in contention for a role at Euro 2008 if the former Auxerre player gets enough Premier League experience. Spurs, paying £8m for him, have expressed their faith in the defender. Profile: José Enrique

Newcastle United's capture of José Enrique from Villarreal raised a few eyebrows outside of Spain as football fans everywhere wondered why Sam Allardyce had opted to pay €10m for a relatively unknown defender. continues its' series of player profiles and looks to explain why the Magpies are so delighted to have bought the former Levante full-back.

Mexico to Play Brazil on U.S. Soil

Mexico will face the world’s top-ranked team and five-time World Cup champion at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA on September 12 (Telemundo, 8:00 p.m. ET).

The forgotten man of Old Trafford

Is the striker that Sir Alex Ferguson has been looking for actually already sitting on his bench?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Premiership Preview No 14: Newcastle

Comedy is no longer on the bill at St James' Park, where Sam Allardyce's ethos is anathema to the romantic values of the club in modern times.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 6th Odds: 250-1

Football is back!

Match of the Day's Steve Wilson on the new campaign...

Oh, how sweet to be able to savour the syllables on my tongue; “Aston Villa versus Liverpool”, and “Manchester United against Reading”. Seldom has the word “Middlesbrough” sounded more inviting.

Lawro's Premier League Guide

Our favorite BBC Sports Football Expert breaks down every EPL side as kick-off approaches...

Lawro's verdict: A question to be asked of all the promoted sides is who will score the goals to ensure their survival?

The Mill + ++

Tuesday's Rumours



Still, best not complain - at least we don't have it as bad as Antonio Cassano. After a year and a half sitting around in the Real Madrid reserves, even constant eating has begun to lose its initial thrill. In fact poor Ant is so desperate for a change of scene that he's now willing to consider signing for West Ham or Bolton. Thankfully, Sampdoria should step in to save him the indignity.

Fergie was nothing like his ‘hairdryer’ image . . . until I got drunk on a night out

In the final extracts from his autobiography, Norman Whiteside reveals how booze and anger characterised his last days at United.

Bayern's modest star Ribery set to shine

In a recent poll, 54 per cent of German sports magazine Kicker's readers believe Ribery will be the Bundesliga's new star, but the devout Muslim and impressive saxophone musician has no interest in the limelight.

"I do not want to be the team's huge superstar," Ribery said.

"I would like to work hard, settle in my job, have fun and give the fans something to celebrate. And I want a title."

The Resident Paisan: Good Riddance

The Resident Paisan is back from his extended summer vacation and says Francesco Totti’s departure from the National Team will help -- not hurt -- Italy as it tries to qualify for Euro 2008. Profile: Giuseppe Rossi

As the transfer window begins to creak closed, strives to provide readers with detailed profiles of the players being bought and sold, so that we can all enjoy the trials and tribulations that an incoming player may bring. Next in the series is the young hotshot Giuseppe Rossi, who has just completed a permanent move to Spanish side Villarreal CF.

The Monday MLS Breakdown: Buyer Beware

What does David Beckham, Don Garber and your average lemonade stand have in common? USA's Kyle McCarthy explains.

England: Championship Preview 2007/08

A look at the second division...

Scunthorpe United

Position last season: League 1 champions

Manager: Nigel Adkins - Who needs Mourinho, they had their physio?

In: Paul Hayes (Barnsley), Kevan Hurst (Sheffield United), Izzy Iriekpen (Swansea), Martin Paterson (Stoke), Jonathan Forte (Sheffield United)

Out: Neil Mackenzie (Notts County), Steve Foster (Darlington), Steve Torpey (released), Ramon Calliste (released), Ashley Allinson (released), Robbie Foy (released), Lee Ridley (Cheltenham), Richard Hinds (Sheffield Wednesday), Billy Sharp (Sheffield United)

Scunthorpe's was an unlikely path to promotion. Elevating physio Nigel Adkins to the manager's job when Brian Laws left proved spectacularly successful and, by taking 51 points at Glanford Park, they ensured it is a ground few relish visiting.

The difficulty for Scunthorpe is that 30-goal Billy Sharp has returned to Sheffield United and, following Andy Keogh's January move to Wolves, it leaves them looking desperately short of firepower.

Adkins' additions are young and usually untried in the Championship, but they look short of class. Scunthorpe may relish their status as underdogs but despite their success last season, few anticipate anything other than a relegation battle.

Key Man: Joe Murphy - Voted the best goalkeeper in League One. Could be busy in the Championship.

One To Watch: Jonathan Forte - Quick and skilful, he never made the breakthrough at Sheffield United, but caught the eye in various loan spells before joining Scunthorpe.

Must Do Better: Paul Hayes - Struggled to make his mark in the Championship at Barnsley. Now in his second spell at Scunthorpe, he will hope to fare better there.

Prediction: Their prime matchwinner is gone so, unless Scunthorpe can maintain their wonderful home form, a return to League One beckons.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Insider at Wembley + Lawro's Verdict

Manchester United win the Shield via penalties...

Lawro on the Community Shield

EPL: How they'll finish... maybe

As the 2007/08 season draws ever closer, the final few transfers of the summer are being concluded to try and give each team the best chance of success.

Man United have spent the most and it should guarantee them the title, while Liverpool may have the edge on a surprisingly stingy Chelsea this season. As for the rest, there are few surprises, although all will become clear by May 2008.

Beasley still upbeat after bruising SPL debut

DaMarcus Beasley has refused to become a victim of the SPL bullies after being handed a brutal introduction to Scottish football.

From The Times:
The game was also blessed with some fine bits of aggro, such as the way Ross Tokely, an Inverness defender who looks like he is built for caber-tossing, hatcheted down Rangers’ DeMarcus Beasley as the American tried to break forward in the second half. While Kenny Clark, the referee, missed the incident, Beasley had plenty to say about it later.

“I’ve always been a small guy and been picked on a bit, but today it was a little bit over the top,” the American said of Tokely’s challenge. “I’ve had it my whole life. Today, I just didn’t jump away quick enough and he got me a couple of times. The guy is bigger than me and guys like that always try to kick you around a bit. I try to be smart about it and I know how to deal with it.

“He caught me when I was running through and he kicked me. It’s the sort of thing that shouldn’t happen in football, but it does. Someone could get seriously injured. I think everyone saw it except the ref. I told him [Tokely] I wasn’t scared of him. We had a little bit of banter - it was OK.”

The Mill + ++

Monday's Rumours



EPL ins and outs -- a team by team guide

Young guns set to take centre stage in Premiership

Tottenham manager Martin Jol has made no secret of his plan to snap up Europe's most promising starlets and this close-season he signed Younes Kaboul, 21, Gareth Bale, 18, Adel Taarabt, 18, Kevin-Prince Boateng, 20.

Beckham's ongoing injury leads to more questions

As the interminable wait continues on soccer's most recalcitrant ankle, the list of questions continues to expand on L'affair Beckham.

First and foremost of course, when will David Beckham play? He missed Sunday's match at BMO Field as Toronto and an offensively moribund Galaxy played out a 0-0 draw that was rescued somewhat by the fabulous fans in Ontario.

Mourinho facing new season injury crisis

'When you ask me about John Terry and Didier Drogba or Michael Ballack, Salomon Kalou or Claude Makelele - all of the boys who were not here - I don't want to go in that direction because I want to respect the players I had here today.'

Premiership Preview No 13: Middlesbrough

Boro's fans are dreaming of Europe when really they should be worrying about the possibility of relegation.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 18th Odds: 1750-1

Premiership Preview No 12: Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson has assembled arguably his best ever squad - but even that may not be good enough to win the league.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 2nd Odds: 11-8 (fav)

Premiership Preview No 11: Manchester City

Sven's trolley-dash makes these exciting times for City fans, but they will probably need to be patient.

Guardian Unlimited writers' prediction: 12th Odds: 1,750-1

Richard Williams: Malouda muscles in and gives a hint of striking future

Chelsea's new winger made an encouraging debut and should be a hit in the Premier League.