Category Archives: Football

Puyol Out of Euros

Spanish defender set to be sidelined with knee injury

Experienced Barcelona defender Carles Puyol is set to miss the European Championships after sustaining a knee injury which requires surgery. It is looking unlikely that he will recover in time to feature in the tournament.

The Spaniard is ready to undergo arthroscopic surgery this weekend, but the recovery time is likely to be no less than six weeks, ruling him out of Spain’s group matches. He could make a dramatic comeback during the knock-out stages at the end of June, although the likelihood of him actually being fit is very slim. Puyol now has an anxious wait to seewhether Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque will risk including him in his 23-man squad, set to be named on 27th May.

Spain face up to Italy in their first group game on 10 June.

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Blackburn Official Sacked over Letter

Deputy CEO Paul Hunt wanted Kean out

Blackburn Rovers’ Deputy CEO has been fired after a leaked letter seen by the Sporting Intelligence website indicated he told the club’s owners he felt Kean should be dismissed as manager.

Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League on monday after a 1-0 loss to Wigan, effectively ending what has been a turbulent season for the club and 44-year-old manager Kean. Hunt’s letter, sent in December, expressed the opinion that Kean’s management of the club wasn’t working. Rovers fans have had little problem voicing their thoughts over Kean’s management of the side, with many of the Blackburn faithful unhappy, but Hunt, whilst having the club’s best interests at heart, has shown a severe lack of respect to the Blackburn manager by sending this letter behind his back.

Blackburn will complete their troubling Premier League campaign with their final game at Chelsea on Sunday.

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Juventus Chase Van Persie

Arsenal ace one of three transfer targets for Italian giants

Gunners captain Robin Van Persie is thought to be the subject of some admiration from newly-crowned Serie A champions Juventus, although it has not been confirmed whether or not a bid will be made.

The dutchman is not the only attacker they have been linked with, however, as Juventus are said to also be interested in signing Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain. Of course, the Italians are not the first team to be linked with Arsenal’s talismanic forward in the lead up to the Summer transfer window opening, with interest reportedly coming from Manchester City, Real Madrid, AC Milan and a number of other high profile clubs. With only one year left on his contract it is looking likely that he will leave, although Arsene Wenger remains confident he can keep him at the club beyond the summer.

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Hazard Interest Hotting Up

Bidding war expected over Belgian international

21-year-old Lille midfielder Eden Hazard is much admired in Europe and he is expected to complete a move to one of the Premier League’s top clubs in the summer, but which one?

Manchester United and Manchester City are prepared to do battle over the tiny trickster, with both club’s representatives present at Lille’s match last month with Paris St Germain. However, Hazard remained coy when questioned over which club he would prefer to join, stating that he felt both blue and red suited him.

I’m anxious to see such a talent in the Premier League and look forward to seeing which direction he chooses. Perhaps another potential suitor, such as Chelsea, will join the fight.

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Vertonghen Drops Spurs Hint

Ajax defender reveals that deal is close

Much coveted defender Jan Vertonghen has dropped a strong hint to where his future may lie, with the Ajax star suggesting that he wishes to join Tottenham in the summer.

Both Arsenal and Manchester United have been linked with Eridivisie Player of the Year, but the 25-year-old seems now to be headed to White Hart Lane instead. Vertonghen said that Tottenham is a ‘fantastic, traditional club’ who ‘buy young, eager and offensive-minded players’.

With the Spurs squad lacking any quality at centre back (other than the crocked Ledley King), Vertonghen seems to be almost the perfect signing and would be a small consolation for Harry Redknapp following his disappointment at not being offered the England management position.

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Hodgson Given England Managerial Position

Former Liverpool and Fulham boss named as Capello’s replacement

Roy Hodgson has been named as the new England manager, despite the majority of pundits anticipating that the position would go to Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp. The 64-year-old had been enjoying a successful season at West Bromwich Albion, but his contract was due to expire in the summer, prompting the FA to make their move.

Hodgson’s appointment has met a mixed reception, with many English supporters remembering his disastrous reign as Liverpool manager. However, the reason the FA made their decision is probably due to his vast international experience- something Harry Redknapp lacks. Hodgson has previously managed the Switzerland, Finland and UAE national teams. It is also important to remember that, whilst he couldn’t find success at Liverpool, he managed to lead Fulham to the 2010 Europa League final and has won eight league titles during his career. Hodgson’s defensive style of football will bring stability to England, but you can’t help but think Harry Redknapp would have given the team a much needed attacking spark.

Many people are disappointed in Hodgson’s appointment (me included), hoping instead for the likes of Redknapp or Guus Hiddink, but the decision has now been made and as an England supporter I, personally, will support Hodgson and look forward to the European Championships, where we will face France, Sweden and Ukraine. Is it me or is there a bit of Steve McClaren about Roy Hogson, though…

 

 

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Di Matteo: Chelsea’s Man?

Rejuvinated Chelsea need Italian on permanent basis

When Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea manager the team was stuck, under-performing and drifting through the season, looking unlikely to challenge for any form of silverware this year. The unenviable role of caretaker manager was given to Roberto Di Matteo until the end of the season and he has reignited Chelsea.

Di Matteo has not only managed to lead the blues to FA cup glory over Liverpool, but has also managed to mastermind a European run that sees them heading to Munich for the final. This included a remarkable victory over two legs against undeniably the world’s best team, Barcelona. Alongside this success, the Italian has also managed to bring Fernando Torres back into form, following up his winning goal against Barcelona with a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers. The reason for this appears to be due to a surge in confidence and an apparent heightening of his appetite for football. If I was to put forward my own opinion I’d say that actually wanting to perform for the manager in charge is helping him.

Di Matteo has shown that he is capable of managing a club of such a high stature, as well as demonstrating that he has the ability to bring silverware to Stamford Bridge. He deserves the Chelsea managerial position on a permanent basis, but an inkling tells me that Mr Abrahmovic won’t be willing to give him the job unless he wins the Champions League.

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One Hand on the Trophy

The blue side of Manchester celebrates as City close in on title

Following a hard-earned victory over Newcastle, Manchester City maintained their lead in the Premier League, although United still only trail on goal difference.

Inspired by Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany, City have managed to overturn an eight point deficit and now sit in pole position going into the final match of the season. Only a slip up against relegation battling Queens Park Rangers will, in all probability, see the red devils hold onto their crown. In theory, United can still win even if City overcome QPR, but they would have to win by at least nine goals in order to do so. United also appear to have, on paper, a much more difficult final encounter- a trip to Sunderland, who sit comfortably in mid-table.

If Man City do prove to be champions it will be their first league title since 1968, and will show the improvements the team has made over the last couple of years under the management of Roberto Mancini.

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Premier League Title: United’s to Lose?

Red Devils looking impressive as title race hots up

Throughout the current premier league campaign the two teams from Manchester have been the only sides truly challenging for the title, with the team in sky blue having led for the majority of the season. But that is no longer the case. Manchester United, so renowned for how strongly they have finished in recent seasons, have wrenched the initiative from Manchester City.

Following their victory over Fulham, United now have a 3 point cushion at the top of the table and look unlikely to slip up, particularly considering their fixtures should not prove as challenging as those facing City. The only match that looks a potentially difficult encounter for United is their trip across the city to their rivals, a match that could decide which team wins the league. City, on the other hand, have two difficult games against Arsenal and Newcastle, as well as the match against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

United have peaked at the business end of the season, with Wayne Rooney inspiring them with a superb run of goal-scoring performances. City, however, have dropped points against Stoke and Swansea and appear to lack the flare they had, with important players such as David Silva not putting in the sort of performances he did earlier in the season.

Man City’s players are beginning to look tired and, in comparison, United’s strength in depth is beginning to show. United also have experience behind them, with the legendary football club hunting their 20th Premier League title. In summary, United appear strong and are beginning to look in control of the title race. However, with City only three points behind, anything could happen. Tevez’s return to the club could prove crucial, too, if he steps up in the Manchester derby and scores the winning goal.

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Podolski set for move to Arsenal

Reports claim that German ace is headed to Emirates

With speculation mounting over the future of Arsenal’s star player, Robin Van Persie, it comes as little surprise that the London club are looking at potential replacements. Reports from Germany have suggested that Arsenal have agreed a fee of around £10.9 million for Lukas Podolski, currently playing at Cologne in the Bundesliga.

Robin Van Persie is looking more and more likely to leave Arsenal in the summer, with teams such as Milan and Man City supposedly lining up bids for the Dutch star. If he does move, then perhaps Podolski is the perfect replacement. They are very similar in many ways; they are both left-footed, both like to run at defenders and they both have an exceptional eye for goal. In signing Podolski they will not just have signed a player who possesses the attacking quality to score goals, however, they will have signed a player with experience as well. Although he is only 26, he has already managed to make 95 appearances for Germany and play in two world cups.

Robin Van Persie is not guaranteed to leave Arsenal, of course. He loves the club and if he is offered a good enough contract there is a strong chance he might choose to stay. If this is the case then Arsene Wenger may have to change his current tactic, employing a 4-4-2 instead of his preffered 4-3-3. Podolski can play on the left, but is more effective through the middle, similarly to Van Persie himself and so Arsenal may be encouraged to line them up alongside each other up front.

Cologne have not confirmed the deal yet, but it looks very likely that Podolski will complete his move to Arsenal in the summer… a good piece of business by Arsene Wenger.

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