Friday, August 14, 2009

Vive le Foot! Ligue 1 Weekend Previews

Ligue 1 started with a bang and some 24 goals. Lyon already showed their limitations with a very laborious draw while Bordeaux and Marseille showed that, yes, they were the team to beat. Meanwhile, only 3 correct predictions for week 1. Ouch!

Not much luck for Lens last weekend who tied the game before half-time but managed to take 2 goals in extra time courtesy of Marouane Chamakh and Yohann Gourcuff. Meanwhile Auxerre took a home defeat for what should be a very trying season.

Totti -- along with Robinho he leads the thumb-sucking brigade...


The most surprising result last Saturday came from Lorient who won at Lille thanks to its two French strikers Marama Vahirua & Kevin Gameiro while newly promoted Montpellier took its first point vs. PSG. I see Lorient doing really well this season, will deliver the goods.


All the teams from the North lost last week and Valenciennes will have a tough time versus Lyon, a team saved by his new Argentinean star Lisandro Lopez and a last minute goal. OL French Internationals Jean-Alain Boumsong and Francois Clerc will both miss the game for injuries.


Monaco made the news this week with the acquisition of Brazilian defensive midfielder Eduardo Costa from Sao Paulo. They also gathered all three points but will have a harder time with Nancy who easily won its first game in a fast and physical fashion.


PSG disappointed with an extra time draw from newly promoted Montpellier and starlet striker Mervut Erding (TUR) showed more clumsiness than Djibril Cisse on a bad day. Guillaume Hoarau (FRA) might be back from injury. Now will Everton coach David Moyes be in Paris for more scouting of David Sessegnon (BEN)…a 17M euros offer is rumoured…

PARIS S.G. - LE MANS 2 – 1

Yohann Gourcuff (FRA) was already the hero of week 1 with a brace again hardworking yet naive Lens and he could France is for high scoring midfielders (Plating, Sedan). They face Sichuan whose Czech International Vaclav Servos gave them the victory last week.


Andre-Pierre Gignac (FRA) extended his contract until 2013 and I feel like he will try to celebrate at the expense of St Etienne. Les Verts showed very little against Nice and they will take a similar beating tomorrow.


After a severe defeat vs Rennes it will be interesting to see if Boulogne can rebound and earn its first point. I actually think they could do even better vs. relegation candidate Grenoble.


Nice and Rennes both started their campaigns with convincing victories. New French international Loic Remy scored for Nice while Rennes goals came from their defensive players. There will be goals…


Marseille confirmed its ambitions Sunday with a clear victory while Lille disappointed most with a home defeat versus tiny orange-clad Lorient.


PS : following André-Pierre Gignac lonely goal versus the Faroe Islands, I kindly ask : are we done with strikers sucking on their thumb after scoring yet ??

England: Premier League Weekend Preview!!!!

And so the wait at last comes to an end. With all due respect to the enjoyable diversions provided by the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup, we can now finally get down to some serious business. The potential for this campaign has me more excited than I’ve been in several years, simply because of the myriad questions that will be answered come May, 2010. Can Sparky meld Manchester City’s Arabian Knights into a cohesive and threatening unit? Will the departures of Ronaldo and Tevez leave Sir Alex wanting as United’s season develops? Can Carlo’s Italian pedigree bring the title back to Stamford Bridge? Might this be the year that Liverpool ends the drought and brings the trophy back to Merseyside? And what of Arsenal? Are the kids alright, or will they continue their potential-filled, trophy-less existence? A few miles over, ‘Arry will lead his Spurs into battle after years of chaos and confusion. Is he the one that can bring some confidence and cohesion back to White Hart Lane? Everton and Fulham aim to follow up their promising seasons with strong runs for Europe, and in East London Zola’s charges will try to restore some pride to Upton Park. At the bottom of the table, Portsmouth look set to go down, with Stoke, Wolves, Burnley, Birmingham and Hull most likely joining the struggle for survival. Bolton & Blackburn? Well, you know the drill with those two. I’m excited, are you? -Sanford

The Fixtures:

Aston Villa vs. Wigan

Chelsea vs. Hull

Everton vs. Arsenal

Blackburn vs. Manchester City

Bolton vs. Sunderland

Portsmouth vs. Fulham

Wolves vs. West Ham

Stoke vs. Burnley

Manchester United vs. Birmingham

Tottenham vs. Liverpool

Weekend Preview


Team News

David Dunn: We’ll kick lumps out of City!

Sparky's Rovers teams earned a reputation for no-nonsense football and midfielder Dunn, 29, reckons the City chief should be given a taste of his own medicine.

English Premier League Season Previews: West Ham, Wigan & Wolves

West Ham:
A curious mix of financial problems and excellent management make Gianfranco Zola's team something of a curate's egg.

Wigan: The challenge for Roberto Martínez is to make the Latics hard to beat but easier on the eye.

A good start is vital for Mick McCarthy who must make Wolves harder to break down without blunting their attacking threat.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

The second round of matches in the Bundesliga is upon us with every team keen on a good start to the season. The match of the week sees Bayern Munich hosting Werder Bremen, while champions Wolfsburg face Koeln. previews all the weekend's action...

Saturday 15th August
(all times local)

15:30 Bayern Munich – Werder Bremen
15:30 VfB Stuttgart – SC Freiburg
15:30 Hamburg – Borussia Dortmund
15:30 Bayer Leverkusen – 1899 Hoffenheim
15:30 Hannover - Mainz
15:30 Eintracht Frankfurt – 1.FC Nurnberg
18:30 1.FC Koeln – VfL Wolfsburg

Sunday 16th August

15:30 Borussia Moenchengladbach – Hertha Berlin
17:30 Schalke – VfL Bochum

Bobby McMahon's EPL Season Previews

Fulham, Birmingham, Bolton, Liverpool

Blackburn, Everton, Hull City, Aston Villa

Burnley, Chelsea, Sunderland, Stoke City

Arsenal, Wigan, Manchester City, Portsmouth

West Ham, Manchester United, Tottenham, Wolves

The Mill + ++

Friday's Rumours



Tottenham not impressed as David Bentley charged with drink driving

With England's players travelling back from Wednesday night's friendly in Amsterdam, Bentley was arrested after his car was involved in a collision with a lamp-post in the early hours of the morning in Judges Hill, Northaw. No other vehicle was involved, with Bentley taken to Hatfield Police station and duly charged.


Who is Arsène Wenger? Frenchman reveals answer

“Arsène Who?” was the headline-writer’s quip when the man from Alsace arrived in North London and, in a curious way — 13 years and three Premier League titles later — the question retains its resonance.

Just who is Arsène Wenger? What lies beneath?

Donovan Has The Swine

U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan has tested positive for the H1N1 flu virus, Donovan told on Thursday night.

"I felt something when I got into Miami on Sunday," Donovan said. "I just felt real bad and finally went to see the doctor. They took a swab from my nose and confirmed it, so that was that."

Don't drink out of this fountain...

Ives: Taking stock after Mexico/U.S.

In the grand scheme of things, Mexico's 2-1 victory against the United States wasn't an earth-shattering result for the Americans, but the result and performance on Wednesday was still a disappointing one and certainly raises new questions for a team that didn't look very much like the squad that reached the Confederations Cup final.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Amy Lawrence: Napoli's invite to party with Serie A-list puts spotlight on Roberto Donadoni

The first of a new weekly blog on European football.

This week, the manager who is under more pressure than Mark Hughes.

English Premier League Season Previews: Stoke, Sunderland & Tottenham

Stoke City:
Tony Pulis's side may not make significant improvements on last season, but their blueprint should see them to safety again.

Sunderland: If Steve Bruce's jigsaw falls into place Sunderland could end up in the top half of the table.

Tottenham: With expectation levels soaring at White Hart Lane, Harry Redknapp must engineer a challenge for a top six finish.

Where the Premier League's players come from

At the start of the 1989-90 season, leading clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United boasted just one or two regular first-team players who were born outside the United Kingdom.

Now, Premier League teams have, on average, 13 foreign-born stars within their ranks.

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


Sid Lowe in Spain

The most extraordinary thing about David Villa this summer is that Real Madrid were not prepared to pay €40m to sign him.

David Villa: the born goalscorer the giants failed to net.

International Friendly: Holland 2 - 2 England

Jermain Defoe scores twice as England make amends for defensive howlers.

UEFA World Cup Qualifying Reports

Faroe Islands 0 - 1 France:
Unconvincing win

Norway 4 - 0 Scotland:

Poor temperament from the Caldwells

Azerbaijan 0 - 2 Germany: Germany on the verge of qualification

Honduras Crush Costa Rica 4-0 To Keep WC Qualifying Tight

Carlos Costly hit a brace in a 4-0 win over Costa Rica that puts Honduras back in the thick of World Cup qualifying. With the win, Honduras moves up to tied for second place with the United States on 10 points, bumping Mexico down to fourth again. Costa Rica still leads the group with 12 points. With four teams within three points, the final stretch of 2010 World Cup qualifying games promise plenty of drama.

Pre-game action in San Pedro Sula...

The Final Stretch:
5.9.2009Costa Rica - Mexico20:00San Jose, CRC
5.9.2009USA - El Salvador18:11Sandy, Utah USA
5.9.2009Honduras - Trinidad & Tobago19:30Tegucigalpa, HON
9.9.2009El Salvador - Costa Rica19:00San Salvador, SLV
9.9.2009Trinidad & Tobago - USA19:30Port of Spain, TRI
9.9.2009Mexico - Honduras20:00Ciudad de Mexico, MX
10.10.2009Costa Rica - Trinidad & TobagoTBDSan Jose, CRC
10.10.2009Mexico - El SalvadorTBDTBD, MEX
10.10.2009Honduras - USATBDTBD, HON
14.10.2009USA - Costa RicaTBDWashington, D.C. USA
14.10.2009Trinidad & Tobago - MexicoTBDTBD, TRI
14.10.2009El Salvador - HondurasTBDTBD, SLV

World Cup Qualifying: Mexico 2 - 1 United States

The match reminded me a bit of the Brazil contest in the Confederations Cup. As splendid as the opening goal by Davies from the lethal Lando pass was, I always worried that there would be too much time for Mexico to come up with a response. True enough, the first goal came in due time and it was after a foul on Donovan that was not called. Play continued and as the U.S. defense backed off, Mexico had the time and space to set up a shot from outside the area. The U.S. did well to make it to halftime without conceding a second, and actually had some opportunities from set pieces to snatch a second of their own. It would have been flattering, however, since Mexico was in control. Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra were all disastrous. Clint Dempsey had some decent touches, but was mainly ineffective. Lando tried to make his penetrating runs through the middle but was constantly fouled by the stubborn Mexican midfielders. Sometimes it was called, but more often than not the ref let play continue. I would have liked to see some additional yellow cards for some of the Mexican clowns, but it was our defense that ended up in the book instead. Not that it really made a difference in the contest, however. In the end, Mexico got the second goal and won again at home, and that is what you have to do to make the World Cup. The Mexicans (my neighbor included) will try and make a big deal out of this match and the fact that El Tri beat the United States, but really, anything other than a win in the Azteca for Mexico would have been embarrassing. That was obvious in the way some of the Mexican players went into petulent mode as the clock ticked and the score remained level. So, no big woop. The race for South Africa continues. -Sanford

Greg Lalas's Report

Ives: Same old story for U.S.

Stars of the Match

USA: Winners and Losers

Rogers: South of the Border inhospitality

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

World Cup Qualifying Preview: Mexico vs. United States

Who: United States vs. Mexico
What: CONCACAF World Cup 2010 Qualifying
When: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009, 4 p.m. EDT
Where: Estadio Azteca; Mexico City, Mexico
TV: Telemundo and Mun2

Starting spots up for grabs

Carlisle: U.S. players like their chances

Rogers: The final analysis

Advantage: Mexico

English Premier League Season Previews: Manchester United & Portsmouth

Manchester United:
United will stand and fall by how well their two main threats, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, combine this season.

Portsmouth: Paul Hart will have to attack the first half of the season with a painfully thin squad and is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge ahead.

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


World Cup Qualifying: Honduras in positive mood for Costa Rica showdown

A Honduran club’s 6-0 rout of Costa Rican opponents last week is giving Honduras added belief for their World Cup qualifier at home to their neighbours in San Pedro Sula on Wednesday.

The Costa Rica team arrived amid tight security following the coup in June that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya but coach Rodrigo Kenton said they found the atmosphere calm and felt at home in “a brother country”.

Italians wine bill leaves bitter taste in China

Serie A teams Inter Milan and Lazio acted like tourists and drank wine worth more than $10,000 when they were in China last week for the Italian Super Cup, local media reported on Wednesday. Champions Inter lost 2-1 to Italian Cup winners Lazio in the season curtain-raiser played in front of 70,000 fans at the Bird’s Nest stadium on Saturday night.

Although moving the match from Italy to China was a success, the behaviour of the clubs fell below the standards the organisers expected of their guests.

The Full English: A Clean Plate - Part I

August is here. With a week of the year’s eighth month in the books, there remains but one more before the English Premier League season kicks off.

To put it plainly, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning.

The summer has been agonizingly slow for me. Writing match reports on FC Dallas beating the Kansas City Wizards 6-0 should be interesting, as there were goals, but hey…it wasn’t.

I need me some EPL.

Being that I started “The Full English” late last year sometime, I wasn’t able to do a season preview type deal. Now I can.

Vive le Foot!: World Cup Qualifying Preview -- Faroe Islands vs. France

Last time France landed in Faroe, they barely made it safely to the ground but still managed to score six goals in a 2007 Euro qualifier. But that was before the disaster of Euro 2008 and the pathetic beginnings of their World Cup qualifying campaign. Les Bleus now trail Serbia in UEFA Group Seven.

The ever courageous French manager Raymond Domenech has already described the game against the ferocious Faroe (163rd in FIFA ranking, 1 point in Group 7 obtained vs. Austria) as a “trap” while admitting that anything less than a victory would be a disaster. Fortunately Yohann Gourcuff has already shown some magic with a brace in the first Bordeaux game of Ligue 1, while the probable partnership of recently impressive Malouda and Nicolas Anelka could bring the goals in the absence of the doubtful savior Franck Ribery.

Thierry Henry has not made the trip so William Gallas will inherit the captaincy, a job he accomplished quite unconvincingly with his current team Arsenal up until late 2008. Meanwhile, Nice’s striker Loïc Rémy (picture above), a player Lyon relentlessly pursued throughout the summer, might make his debut and confirm his status as the next Benzema (whether it is as a team wonder or a Bleu underachiever), unless he becomes the next Andre-Pierre Gignac? Last year Ligue 1’s top scorer, he has yet to find the goal in a possible 4th appearance with Les Bleus. Also expected to shine are Michael Ballack’s new friend Patrice Evra, Real Madrid’s “new Makelele”, Lassana Diarra and Lyon’s underrated Sydney Govou (mark my words, he will score!)

France should win this one 5 – 0 but will probably declare a holiday if they only win by a two goal margin. That is France under Domenech, a team full of talent with no clear tactic that never fails to disappoint. Also to be noted, Patrick Vieira was not selected and it is this time not due to injury, so seeing him in the national blue jersey might not ever happen again…sad considering the services rendered to the team but not a surprise knowing that he shall be sitting on Inter’s bench for most of the season.

John Brewin's EPL Season Preview: Chelsea Will Take Title

This might just be a historic season in the English Premier League - and not just for ESPN. Should Manchester United and Liverpool shoot it out for the title as they did in 2008-9 then these bitter rivals will be battling to be the first team to reach 19 titles. Last season saw United knock Liverpool off, to place it in the colourful terms of Sir Alex Ferguson, "their f*****g perch" as English football's most successful club in domestic league football. Now, United can make it four in a row for the first time ever, while Liverpool can end 20 years without a league title.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sanford's English Premier League 2009-2010 Season Prediction #1

This team is not good enough to win the title...

Vive le Foot!

Editors note: Due to technological problems, the first issue of Vive le Foot was delayed until today. Today's column should have run last Friday, before the season began. Not to worry, we're now caught up and our Fearless Frenchman shall return on Friday to preview the upcoming weekend's fixtures. -Sanford

Vive le Foot! is a new column that addresses the hot topics in French football through the national league, national team, and players playing abroad. The column also provides previews and picks of Ligue 1 games every Friday. This will also be a useful crash course in knowing who’s who in a pre-World Cup season and in a league that includes several underrated internationals.

Nothing much to be said about Auxerre, the Green Bay Packers of French soccer, but Polish striker Ireneusz Jelen should provide the goals and help them effortlessly remain in Ligue 1 while staying away from the top of the table.

The home of carmaker Peugeot, Sochaux lost striker Mevut Erding (TUR) but will welcome the interesting addition of American striker Charlie Davies from Swedish team Hammarby. I see them surviving this new campaign somewhere around the 15th spot.

Auxerre - Sochaux 2 - 0

Olympique De Marseille is this year’s favorite and arguably Ligue 1’s own “Galactiques” following the aggressive recruiting of Porto playmaker Lisandro Lopez (ARG), ex-PSG (via Manchester United and Real Madrid) Gabriel Heinze (ARG), veteran striker Fernando Moriantes (SPA), Rennes defender Stephane M‘Bia (CAM) and Souleymane Diawara (SEN). Add France # 1 goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and World Cup winner Didier Deschamps at the helm and Marseille is already the team to beat.

Grenoble did very well in its first season in Ligue 1 and much can be attributed to its Bosnian coach Mehmed Bazdarevic and attacking midfielder Sofiane Feghouli (FRA). But with little
reinforcement this year it could be a very trying campaign for the Isere side.

Grenoble - OM 1 - 3

Everybody seems to be a little too convinced that the hegemony of Olympique Lyonnais is over with the loss of the title for the first time in eight years (!!!) and the departures of Karim Benzema (FRA) to Real Madrid and L1’s superstar Junínho (BRA) to a Qatari side. Lyon has splashed the cash on nothing less than Lille midfield genius Michel Bastos (BRA), dental liability Aly Cisshoko (FRA), and Euro 2008 disappointment & St Etienne striker Bafetimbi Gomis (FRA).

Difficult to know what Le Mans will be up to this year since the constant bleeding of its talent doesn’t seem to impact its strength to remain in the first division, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team having difficulties finding points on a weekly basis.

Le Mans - Lyon 1 - 2

Toulouse took a surprise fourth place thanks to revelation Andre-Paul Gignac (FRA) and his nineteen Ligue 1 goals. If able to repeat such a feat, Gignac would certainly be heading to the Premier or the Liga next year…expect the southwest team to battle again for a European Cup spot this year but probably dropping out of the Top Five.

has been criminally uneven the last few seasons and Guy Lacombe could possibly give the team the discipline and focus it needs, especially with its crop of young talent. Maybe a return to a Europa spot would then be attainable.

Monaco - Toulouse 2 - 2

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) had somewhat of a renaissance last season battling until March for the title only to find themselves out of the Europa League by the end of the season. With Paul Le Guen gone to coach Cameroon and replaced by PSG semi-legend Antoine Kombouare, the summer recruiting saw the crucial extension of the two revelations of last season, top scoring runner-up Guillaume Hoareau (FRA) and Benin Number 10 Stephane Sessegnon, a player whose future shall belong to a top European team very soon. The recruiting of ex-International Gregory Coupet (FRA) in goal as well as young Turkish striker Mevut Erding from Sochaux and defender Christophe Jallet (FRA) from Lorient shall strengthen the group following the fall from grace of Jerome Rothen (FRA)…Meanwhile uber veterans and Champions League winners Claude Makelele (FRA) and Ludovic Giuly (FRA) will provide dressing room guidance.

Montpellier is making a comeback in the top flight and despite the disappointing firing of its overachieving yet loudmouthed coach Roland Courbis, they might be able to stick around next year due to a smart yet conservative policy of hiring experienced L1 players.

Montpellier - PSG 0 - 2

Let’s face it, Boulogne was about to be relegated to third tier National just over a year ago so the North team will have a hard time playing the big boys and avoiding relegation. Besides, can the region (that is also home to Lille, Lens and Valenciennes) really support four Ligue 1 teams?

Rennes replaced coach Guy Lacombe with Nice wizard Frederic Antonetti so it should be interesting to see the team possibly still battle for a Europa spot with a solid formation featuring French internationals Rod Fanni and Jimmy Briand, as well as American international Carlos Bocanegra.

Rennes - Boulogne 1 - 0

While Nice managed to hang onto its striker extraordinaire Loic Remy, St Etienne managed to get an amazing 15M euros for underachieving and chronically out of shape Gomis. But overall I find it difficult to imagine St Etienne doing much, especially after the 07/08 Ligue 1 winning coach Alain Perrin showed so little last year. As for Nice they should once again find themselves in the upper mid-table causing all sorts of trouble for the well-established teams.

St Etienne - Nice 1 - 1

Maybe Valenciennes’s most serious loss this year is that of coach Kombouare. And while the team has given itself the means to succeed, this could be the year when the squad’s feisty blandness finally shows it colors.

Hard to say where we will find Nancy at the end of the year but Isaar Dia (FRA) might have somewhat of a breakthrough season and help the team reach midtable.

Valenciennes - Nancy 0 - 0

lost one of the five best players of last year in Michel Bastos but will still battle for a European spot this year and might do well thanks to the addition of Gervinho (IVO) from Le Mans, the rise of defender Adil Rami (FRA), as well as talented midfielders Rio Mavuba (FRA) and Ludovic Obraniak (POL).

Year after year tiny Brittany side Lorient led by Yohann Gourcuff’s own father Christian manages to comfortably survive in the rough seas of the top flight despite zero budget. This summer they lost Abriel and Jallet to Lyon and PSG, respectively, and this year but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended somewhere mid-table as they routinely seem to do.

Lille - Lorient 1 - 0

Champions Girondins de Bordeaux have been rather timid this summer and Laurent Blanc has subtly complained about the lack of money to strengthen his side, besides the great coup of landing International goalkeeper #3 Carrasso (FRA), keeping a bitter Marouane Chamakh (MOR) -forbidden to move to lesser club Sunderland and deemed too expensive by Arsenal. Yohann Gourcuff (FRA) shall follow up on his breakthrough season with the help of great defending hope Michael Ciani (FRA) from Lorient.

RC Lens is back! But with very little money to spend, the Sang & Or (Blood & Gold) will have to count on their legendary supporters and proud history to hope getting enough points to finish above the 18th spot.

Bordeaux - Lens 3 - 0

Overall Ligue 1 has hired a strong Argentinean contingent, pillaged the nest of talent that is Porto and placed faith or extended the contracts of its most promising youngsters. Last season somewhat changed the league’s reputation as a goal famished one so let’s hope that the trend continues and the likes of Marseille, Bordeaux and Lyon challenge the existing European titans.

In the end Bordeaux wins again, Marseille and PSG catch the 2 other CL spots followed by Lyon, Rennes and Toulouse. Disaster strikes in the North - much like Normandy last year - because Boulogne, Valenciennes and Lens go down.

Americans On The Continent: New Beginnings

This weekend signaled the beginning of the new season for many of the continental European leagues, with new 1860 Munich signing Kenny Cooper got his side off to a winning start in the 2. Bundesliga.

Bob Bradley Explains Late Arrival In Mexico City

The United States will train in Miami ahead of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match against arch-rivals Mexico, only flying in to Mexico City on gameday for the match.

The lack of time for the players to adjust to the altitude and smog has raised eyebrows, but U.S. head coach Bob Bradley pointed toward research backing his plans in a conference call.

The Big Interview: Manuel Almunia

Five years ago last month Manuel Almunia arrived at Arsenal from the backwaters of Spanish football with a sense of shock and awe. He had just spent another season on loan from Celta Vigo, his third in a row with a different club, and helped Albacete Balompié avoid relegation. Arsenal, meanwhile, had just won the Premier League and become the first club in 115 years of English football to remain undefeated in an entire top-flight league campaign.

"I was 27 but I was very shy because everybody at Arsenal was a big star in world football," Almunia grins ruefully. "Bergkamp. Vieira. Henry. Ljungberg. Pires. Cole. Campbell. I signed just when they'd become the Invincibles. I couldn't believe it."

Oh, dear...

English Premier League Season Previews: Everton & Manchester City

Everton: David Moyes's annoyance at Manchester City is understandable as his team has been replaced as the one most likely to break into the Big Four.

Manchester City: Whether Sir Alex Ferguson and City's other critics like it or not, we are back to the days when there are two clubs in Manchester who count.

Phil McNulty's EPL Season Preview: Liverpool Will Take Title

Chelsea and Manchester United set the tone for the battle at the top of the Premier League in a Community Shield encounter liberally sprinkled with spice and confrontation. The traditional quartet will jostle at the sharp end of the table - but can anyone break up the cartel of the so-called "Big Four"?

Can Liverpool end a 20-year wait to bring the title back to Anfield? Who will emerge from the pack? Who will consolidate? Who will be condemned to a season fighting for survival? It will all unfold once the top-flight campaign commences next Saturday.

Time to polish off the crystal ball and study the prospects of those hoping to make an impact in the Premier League in 2009/2010.

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


England: The Top Ten Teams of the Past 25 Years

10: Newcastle United 1994-96

The only trophy-less team on the list, but Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle will live longer in the memory than Leeds United’s champions of 1992 or Liverpool’s cup treble winners of 2001. Epitomised by the flair of David Ginola, they captivated audiences across the country. Nor was their defensive record as bad as people seem to think.

The Rest

The Joy of Six: Worst Kits

From Scotland away in 1991 to David Seaman's jersey at Euro 96, Scott Murray pays tribute to some of the worst kits ever.

'91-'92 Celtic away...

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

It's still the school holidays in that part of Germany where I live, which is why we currently have a young lad at the office who earns himself a few Euros during the summer weeks. He was born in Mainz and supports Mainz 05. Last week, on Monday afternoon, one of my colleagues, faking innocence, casually asked him: "What do you think about the new coach?" The teenager looked up, somewhat bewildered, and replied: "What do you mean? Who's got a new coach?"

Middlesbrough's Andrew Taylor sets up site to stop players being ripped off

Tired of being ripped off for customised alloys on the Baby Bentley? Think you have paid over the odds on a Rolex Daytona? They might not feature on Watchdog any time soon, but help is at hand for footballers who feel they are the victim of unscrupulous salesmen.

English Premier League: Season 2009-10 Preview

The new Premier League season is almost upon us, and has assessed the twenty teams and their impending campaigns...

Monday MLS Breakdown: Solid Defensive Foundation Fuels Galaxy's Playoff Hopes

Bruce Arena had an almighty task in front of him when he took over the L.A. Galaxy 51 weeks ago. By importing a mix of solid veterans and talented rookies and molding a unit out of the pieces on hand, the Galaxy is in the midst of a six-match unbeaten run and on track for a playoff berth. Kyle McCarthy explains how and why the Galaxy is back on track before he examines a renewed referee initiative to stamp out poor sideline behavior and chats with Peter Vermes about his new role in Kansas City.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

The first week of the new Bundesliga season proved last year's winners are still strong, while Bayern will not be having have it all their own way.

Wolfsburg show their hunger as Hoffenheim keep Bayern at bay.

Pre-game action at the Wolfsburg/Stuttgart match...

The Top Ten Football WAGs

9. Danielle Lloyd

The former Miss Great Britain and a serial WAG whose exes include Jermain Defoe, Marcus Bent and Teddy Sheringham.

The Rest

Nightmare in Norfolk as Norwich concoct a disaster for Delia

Delia turned up, suitably dressed in black — the colour of the new away kit — and sat peering from the director's view. Another 25,216 supporters joined her. She didn't say: 'Come on, Let's be having you,' but the majority shareholder might have offered some alternative wake-up words with the back four and a new goalkeeper, who played like they'd been at her cooking wine.

This nightmare in Norfolk for anyone not supporting a rampant Colchester was witnessed by a bumper crowd (2,000 more than went to West Brom v Newcastle), who turned up trying to forgive their club for taking them into the third tier of English football for the first time in half a century, but ended up suffering the club's worst home defeat in their 107-year history.

Advocaat Sacked as Zenit Manager

Russian club Zenit St Petersburg have sacked coach Dick Advocaat following a run of disappointing results.

English Premier League Season Previews: Fulham & Hull City

A second successive European place is possible thanks to the coaching acumen of Roy Hodgson.

Hull City: The cold harsh reality is that, without a new goalscorer, Hull could be back in the Championship next spring and Phil Brown unemployed by Bonfire Night.

The Mill + ++

Monday's Rumours



Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Reviews + Team of the Week

Saturday Review

Sunday Review

Team of the Week

Bradley names U.S. roster to face Mexico

U.S. men's national team coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 20 players who will train in advance of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Mexico that will take place Aug. 12 in Mexico City. The U.S. seeks its first-ever victory on Mexican soil, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. ET at Estadio Azteca. The match will be broadcast live on Telemundo, mun2, and the Futbol de Primera Radio Networks.

Breaking down the U.S. roster