SoccerLens Archives for January 2009

Ligue 1 midseason report – can Bordeaux stay ahead of Lyon?

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It's been a real roller coaster ride for many teams in the French league this season. With half a season gone and a deserved winter break underway it's a good time to look back at what's happened so far in one of Europe's most competitive league.

The title race

After Bordeaux broke the dominance of Lyon last season, the beaten team made big money signings in the summer.

What can United take from the Hull game?

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It's not even 1pm and I'm just about to head off to Old Trafford for tonight's game against Wigan...ahh the joys of being a London red.

But before I set of for the marvellous 5 hour journey through the snowy midlands, I thought I'd try and highlight a few pointers of how we can, and inevitably should, improve from the Hull game a couple of days ago.

‘Big 4′ victims of their own success

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‘It's a mad league' said Wayne Rooney after his side's hard-fought 3-1 victory of Hull at the KC stadium, ‘There are a lot of teams dropping points and it's really close.'The EPL has garnered an unpredictability in the 2009/10 season that seems to allude to the halcyon days of football when money was not the sine que non of its existence.

Let us dismantle the rumour mill?

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Imagine an article which included the following, ‘There's a chance that Justin Timberlake might include a song about his love for tennis in a new album'. Ridiculous isn't it?

 It's agreed the content is ridiculous in itself but I mostly want to draw attention to the fact that it's boring, lacking in any fact, highly unlikely and ultimately pointless all at the same time.

Thoughts on Hull City 1-3 Manchester United

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A flattering and at times thoroughly undeserved 3-1 victory at the KC stadium saw us finally capitalise on Chelsea's poor recent form as we closed the gap at the top to 2 points. However, before we get too carried away with the score-line and effect of the result, let's bring a bit Scrooge's miserly wisdom into the proceeding as we focus briefly, yet solely, on the ‘flattering' and ‘undeserved' parts.

Arsenal loom in the race for the title

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Christmas is my favourite time of the year and I hope everyone had a good one. Personally, all I asked was for a seemingly impossible win against Aston Villa. The West Midland giants have smashed Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool and are threatening to break into the top four.

The Arsenal apparently, the poorest out of these teams were expected to roll over and let the speed-demons take over at The Emirates.

Is it time Arsenal Fans Grew Up?

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Every time this current batch of the Arsenal team goes on to lose or draw a game from a winning position, pundits are quick to jump on the case citing a lack of maturity. How these players are not experienced enough to hold on to the lead. How their tender years have allowed the game to slip their grasp.

Manchester United’s Half-Way Report

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Well, as all who have read my blog so far this season – from the avid readers (my mum) to the likely majority who accidentally stumble upon it while looking for ‘cockney rhyming slang' or something – I have not been best pleased at our football this season. In the words of pretty much every one of my school teachers at this, the half way stage of the academic year, United also ‘could do better and SHOULD do better'.

Lionel Messi, World Player of the Year 2009 – Interview

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As Barcelona held Kazma for a 1-1 draw in an exhibition match in Kuwait, Lionel Messi was in Zurich collecting his FIFA World Player of the Year Award. The award is voted on by national coaches and team captains. Messi was declared the winner this year by a large margin over last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo (with Manchester United).

Should Real Madrid Buy A New Center-Back To Replace Pepe?

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Short answer is No.

And here is why.

First, it is undeniable that losing Pepe, whom I rate as one of the best center backs in the world, is a big blow not only to Real Madrid but also to his national team. However, losing him doesn't mean that Real must look in the market for a replacement because that's, although a normal reaction, couldn't be beneficial to the club and especially its defenders.

What’s up at Old Trafford?

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At this season kicked-off a gale rushed down the M62 all the way to the gates of Old Trafford, causing them to shudder in anticipation. No, it was not an August storm in Manchester but the sharp intake of breath from all Red Devils' fans in the vicinity that caused the disturbance. What would life without Ronaldo amount to and had Fergie taken to big a risk by keeping the £80m in his back-pocket instead of splashing it on a couple of big name replacements?

Juventus may face more problems after racist chants from fans

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Italian giants Juventus will probably be punished severely after their fans chants turned racist during their home defeat at the hands of Catania. Not the best day for Juve as the day began with the team bus being pelted with eggs and fireworks and ended with the third consecutive defeat; Catania's first against Juve in 45 years.

Soccerlens TV: Barcelona conquer the world as Chelsea get lucky

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Join celebrated football pundit, author, radio show host and DJ Andy Brassell every Monday on the Soccerlens Show.

In Episode 9, Andy Brassell evaluates the influence of derbies on title winning ambitions of Premier League teams and finds out that usually the top teams in London and the north have easily negotiated their local derbies.

Manchester City Dressing Room Split Over Hughes

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Manchester City have stopped newspapers from being delivered to the club's training ground, according to The Daily Express.

It is claimed that new boss Roberto Mancini is trying to shield his players from the ongoing saga surrounding the sacking of Mark Hughes, which has thrown the City camp into chaos.

Liverpool to choose from Heskey, Toni and Nistelrooy

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It is being widely reported in the English media that Liverpool are once again in the hunt for Emile Heskey, the Aston Villa and England striker.

The former Red has been linked on and off with a return to Anfield over the past 12 months, and The Mirror claims that Rafael Benitez is eager to bring him in this winter as an alternative or partner to Fernando Torres.

Wenger Under Pressure To Spend In January

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will face pressure to sign new players and spend significant money from the Gunners board in January, according to a report from The Daily Mirror.

Shareholders have apparently made it clear to the club's directors that a major signing is required in January in order to appease fans and make a statement of intent as far as ambition is concerned.

Donovan Granted Work Permit To Play For Everton

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LA Galaxy hotshot Landon Donovan has been granted a work permit to ply his trade in England, and the 27-year-old will consequently join Everton on loan next month, confirmed Everton's official wesbite.

The American had in the past expressed a desire to make a move to Goodison Park and play alongside international team-mate Tim Howard.

Can Gareth Bale Establish Himself At Tottenham?

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp insists that defender Gareth Bale will get a run out on the pitch when Benoit Assou-Ekotto departs for the African Cup of Nations next month.

The Wales international has only been a peripheral part of Spurs' plans this season, making just a handful of appearances.

Liverpool interested in signing Luca Toni on a free transfer?

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Liverpool are the latest club to express interest in Bayern Munich outcast Luca Toni, according to The Sun.

The player has made no secret of his desire to leave the Bavarians after not featuring regularly for coach Louis van Gaal. The former Fiorentina striker hopes to work his way back into the Italy national team mix before the World Cup in South Africa next year.

Manchester City defend Garry Cook

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Manchester City have today slammed the media coverage of yesterday's press conference at which new manager Roberto Mancini was unveiled.

News reports highlighted what was a perceived inconsistency between the responses of Mancini and chief executive Garry Cook when it came to the precise timing of the club's approach to the Italian.

Real Madrid Promise A White Christmas

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For many, the Christmas holiday is an occasion very happily celebrated by a variety of both religious and non-religious traditions. Across the world, few young boys and girls can contain their excitement with the approach of the coming festivities. But for Real Madrid, despite the warmth of family and friends, another month or so of football before the break would have probably been preferable.

Bayern Munich Keen On Maccabi Haifa Youngster Eyal Golasa

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Bayern Munich are closely monitoring the movements of highly rated Maccabi Haifa youngster Eyal Golasa, According to a report in German newspaper Bild.

The 18-year-old midfielder impressed scouts of the Bavarian powerhouse with a number of outstanding performances during Haifa's Champions League campaign and Bayern are reportedly keen to add Golasa to their squad in the summer of 2010.

Ferguson Should Carry On At Manchester United For Years

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may be 68 years of age but he should carry on at the club for as long as he wants, according to former United boss Tommy Docherty.

Docherty managed at Old Trafford in the 1970s, wining promotion to the top flight with them in 1975 and the FA Cup in 1977, and he feels that his fellow Scot should continue in the job as long as his health allows.

Sacchi: Inter Are A Team, Milan Are Individualistic

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Former Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi has drawn parallels between Milan and Inter, claiming the Nerazzurri are ahead on every level thanks to Jose Mourinho.

In his final end of year column in La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Sacchi spoke of the similarities and differences between both sides.

Liverpool FC is Tiny Tim

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As enticing as it was to make Leo Messi Tiny Tim, it would only have been for their similar heights.

According to the great people at Wikipedia as well as my vague memory of A Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim is a poor boy who is very ill and is in need of dire medical attention to prevent him from dying.

Jermain Defoe is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

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Rudolph, you loveable reindeer, you. No list of Christmas characters would be complete without a mention of Rudolph and it was slightly tricky picking who would represent him in this list.

None of Santa's other reindeer (all playing monopoly)Â take a liking to Rudolph because of his rosy nose, but Santa (in his underwear of course)Â picks him anyways to lead the pack on Christmas eve, and lead the pack he does.

Didier Drogba is Frosty The Snowman

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I'm sure we're all well aware of the story of Frosty the Snowman. In case you aren't, let's refresh your memory.

Originally a song, Frosty is about some kids making a regular snowman; the three massive snowballs, the carrot nose, the coal eyes, the scarf, the tophat, the whole nine yards.

FC Barcelona is Santa Claus

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Oh Santa, you jolly fat bastard. It's difficult to find anyone around Christmas time who hasn't heard the story of Santa, and if you haven't then you're either stupid, retarded, or both. Of course, he is the man who works year round making presents for all those good little kids out there and somehow manages to travel round the world in 24 hours dropping said presents off to every little kid in the world.

Rafael Benitez is Scrooge

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A Christmas Carol is quite possibly the best Christmas story ever. It teaches us that life isn't all about being successful and wealthy and that we should try to be happy and make those around us happy, and this is illustrated through Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Traumatized in his sleep one night, Scrooge is visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future who show him what has, is, and will happen if he continues to be the way he is.

Chelsea’s Ivanovic Considered As Pepe Replacement At Real Madrid

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Real Madrid have turned their attentions to out-of-favour Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in their bid to cover the gap left by Pepe's season-ending knee injury, reports Marca.

The Serbian international is widely regarded in the Blancos organization as the ideal replacement for Pepe: a tall, fast, and strong defender who can contribute to the attack and with a knack for goal-scoring.

Footballers as Christmas Characters

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With Christmas season in full swing and a completely, utterly depressing past few weeks of sports news for me, (Roy Halladay being traded to the Phillies, Liverpool football club as a whole, rumours of Steven Gerrard being sold) I thought it would be nice to take a step back for a second and insert some temporary amusement into my life.

Landon Donovan is USSF Male Athlete Of The Year for 2009

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To cap off his loan move to Everton, Landon Donovan won the U.S. Soccer Federation's Male Athlete of the Year award. This is Dononvan's third win after back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2004, tying him with three-time winner Kasey Keller.

Previously in the year, the 28-year-old won the Honda Player of the Year award and the MLS Most Valuable Player title.

Valencia Looking To Sell Players in Winter Transfer Window

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Valencia are reportedly set to allow a number of players to leave the Mestalla during the winter transfer window according to Super Deporte.

Los Che have already busied themselves in the transfer market by bringing in Argentine forward Chori Dominguez on a free transfer from Rubin Kazan but it appears that the bulk of their winter activity in the market may see players heading for the exit.

Stan Kroenke Edges Closer To Arsenal Takeover

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As news filters through that Stan Kroenke has purchased 25 more shares of Arsenal Football Club edging him closer to the 30% threshold for the mandatory takeover bid, it has become apparent to the fans that they might be looking at the future owner of the club.

Having Kroenke as the owner of the club will not be bad.

Ian Wright: City Flops Adebayor, Robinho & Lescott Responsible For Mark Hughes Sacking

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright has declared that players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Robinho and Joleon Lescott were responsible for Mark Hughes being given the pink slip at Manchester City.

The former Gunner believes that the aforementioned players were overpriced and ultimately led to their gaffer's exit from Eastlands.

Petr Cech: Chelsea Can Win The Premier League & Champions League

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Petr Cech believes that Chelsea are still on course to win major honours this season, rather than fall into a downward spiral as their recent form may suggest.

Carlo Ancelotti's charges have registered only one victory in their last six outings in all competitions, and have looked particularly vulnerable in dead-ball situations.

Hughes lost the Manchester City dressing room, can Mancini do better?

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Manchester City fired Mark Hughes because the marquee signings didn't support him and they have now hired a manager who was dismissed because he could not get his expensively assembled squad at Inter to do his bidding.

Manchester City have defended their sacking of Mark Hughes by claiming that they saw no signs of the Welshman being able to change things around to meet targets at the club.

Can you deal with the outside interference at Manchester City?

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Six of the best quotes of the week from dangerhere.com:

1. Having John Salako do your game is worth an extra man:

"Both teams are adopting a 4-4-3 formation."

2. Nigel Spackman tries to explain where Ryan Nelson went wrong:

"He tries to block Crouchy off and then mis-a-sighted him.

Are Manchester United REALLY better off this season than last?

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I have always prided myself on being almost the antithesis of a red-tinted United supporter; one who constantly replaces gloating ignorance fuelled by the success of the past with genuine realism and understanding of the current game.

I will always maintain a respect for our past achievements and the clubs stature, but this will never – and should never – interfere with my perspective or analysis at our current state.

The Biggest Losers of 2009: Ranieri, Referees, Ireland and More!

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There are winners and there are losers in football and it's time to weed out those who suffered in 2009. But losing is not a simple concept. Some are major contributors to their own downfall and deserve the brick bats that come their way, while others are victims of circumstances and probably deserve better.

Snow leads to Serie A meltdown

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Christmas came early for Serie A, although not as Italy's football fraternity would have wanted. The Italian FA were forced to postpone 10 matches up and down the country on Saturday as snow created conditions that Il Corriere della Sera described as ‘Siberian'.

While some just shrugged their shoulders in the quintessential Italian way, taking the chance to stuff down another piece of panettone, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani cut a Scrooge-like figure, huffing and puffing in the cold air and doing his level best to put the red in Rossonero with his rosy baldhead.

The Biggest Winners of 2009: Barca, Blanc, Benitez (?) and More

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Once again it's that time of year when we like to kick-back and ask "where did that one go?", break out the Christmas spirit, and reflect on the football year that was. What were our highs and lows? Who stole the headlines and, more importantly, who won the prizes and is most deserving of our applause, however begrudging an exercise that may prove to be at times.

Barcelona v Estudiantes – The 2009 Club World Cup Final

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Barcelona v Estudiantes
Club World Cup 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009,
Kick-Off: 20:00 local (16:00 GMT)
Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi

King Of The World

The talk right now all focuses around Barcelona's sixth trophy. It's almost as if they've already lifted it.

SPL Weekend Preview: Celtic to beat Hearts

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Walter Smith insists the title race is still wide open, but the last seven days appear to have cleared the way for another Old Firm assault on the Scottish Premier League.

Dundee United and Hibernian have been giving the Glasgow two a run for their money this season, however once Rangers and Celtic get their noses in front of the rest, they tend to stay there.

Why United fans should keep the faith

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Talk of a looming crisis at Old Trafford is rife across the media today, following yesterday's 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Fulham. It's not often Manchester United concede three goals in a game and it's even less often that they concede three goals without reply. So should we go along with the media's perception of the situation at Old Trafford?

Ferguson keeps the faith in Berba…but do we really not need a new striker?

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News emerged recently suggesting that Ferguson will not spend money in January on another striker; choosing instead to place his faith in the goalscoring of Berbatov to complement Rooney's.

The article was quick to pounce on Ferguson's rationale; highlighting ignorant yet pivotal stats about Dimitar's goalscoring: ‘18 goals in 58 games and just five in his past 28 matches for the club.

As we travel to Fulham – how have United fared without Ronaldo this season?

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As we prepare for Craven Cottage – the scene of one of most disastrous and so nearly detrimental performances last season – I feel it appropriate to reflect on the season so far and discuss how the side has changed from the side Fulham beat in March who consequently recovered brilliantly to win the third title in a row.

Giggs signs new deal, Scholes to follow

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Ryan Giggs has won more medals than any other player in British football history, has made over 800 appearances in a career spanning 18 years and he's STILL enjoying his football. More importantly, he's hit the sort of consistent form (albeit playing once a week as he closes in on his forties) that merits a contract extension.

Puyol to Manchester City?

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This might not be your first read on this topic but I just felt like giving an input on this very badly. There are rumors of Manchester City to go after Carlos Puyol and Eric Abidal of Barcelona. I don't see this happening clearly. In my view, Abidal is pretty settled in Barca and Barca are pretty settled with Abidal.

Spanish Football: The Impossible Separation Of Sport And State In La Liga

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In much of the world, professional sports serve as little more than a form of entertainment a world of glorified, physically gifted athletes who are paid astronomical wages (although, based on the simple law of demand, rightfully so) to wow us with their trade. For most of us, the largely frivolous sphere of football rarely (if ever) comes into contact with the austere sphere of politics, the only exceptions being the presentation of an award to a national team or a charitable event.

Podcast: Chelsea champions, Tottenham for Europe and no guarantees for Liverpool

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Tune in for episode 33 of the world famous Soccerlens Podcast as Adrian Clarke and Iain Spragg provide an entertaining Premier League half-term report in their very own ‘All I Want For Christmas' special!Â

Having taken an unauthorised glimpse at the bulging sack load of desperate wish lists sent to Santa Claus from all 20 clubs, the cheeky pair assess how each of them have fared so far, and predict where they expect them to finish in May.

Manchester United need to be ruthless and pounce on ‘creaking’ Chelsea

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Manchester United must show no mercy to reel in a Chelsea team struggling with life at the top of the Premier League pile.

Carlo Ancelotti's honeymoon in England is drawing to a close after another unconvincing victory last night required Frank Lampard's 79th- minute penalty to see off bottom-placed Portsmouth 2-1.

Do Spurs really need Zigic?

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According to The Mirror, Tottenham Hotspur are considering a January bid for Valencia striker Nikola Zigic.

The Spanish club apparently wants to unload the 6′8″ Serbian international to ease their financial woes, and club sporting director Fernando Gomez has reportedly already sounded out Spurs about the possible move.

Mascherano: Liverpool need Torres to help league chances

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Javier Mascherano believes that Fernando Torres is the man to spur Liverpool to success, despite the disappointing nature of their campaign so far.

Torres came off the bench at Anfield last night to mark his 100th appearance for the Reds with the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic and Mascherano insists that the striker's fitness is key to the rest of the season.

10 Football League youngsters to watch in 2010

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With the January football sales fast approaching, it's time for every manager to start compiling their transfer window wish list. With plenty of young talent coming through, don't be surprised if these names feature heavily in transfer tittle-tattle, as their respective managers hang huge price tags around their necks to deter any would-be suitors.

Good result for Liverpool but the performance was far from perfect

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Anfield last night payed tribute to one of the most iconic football managers of all time, as the club marked the 50th Anniversary since the great Bill Shankly took charge of the club and made history during an incredible and awe-inspiring 15 years at the helm of the Merseyside giants.

The achievements of the club during the 1960's are still fondly remembered on Merseyside – and probably always will be as the great man took them from the old second division – now the championship, and won three league titles, two FA cups as well as a Uefa cup, a period which kick-started Liverpool's proud and inspiring history.

Euro 2012 Logo

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The governing body of football in Europe, UEFA has revealed their Euro 2010 logo recently. Euro 2012 will be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and some of the biggest teams and players will take part in it to become the champions of Europe. The theme of the logo looks different; let me explain:

The presentation video of revealing the Euro 2012 logo is more like the beginning of an animated Warner Brothers' movie and less like a presentation video of revealing the Euro 2012 logo.

Tom Hicks To Sell Texas Rangers – Will Liverpool FC See Some Cash?

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Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks is inching toward selling his Major League Baseball franchise, Texas Rangers, in what appears to be a move to free up funds to ease the Reds' financial concerns.

The Merseyside giants are heavily in debt; a situation that has hardly been helped by their on-field problems, in particular their early exit from the Champions League.

Hughes wants to keep Joe Hart a Manchester City player

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Manchester City manager Mark Hughes insists that Joe Hart currently on loan with Birmingham City will not be joining Alex McLeish's side on a permanent basis.

The former Blackburn Rovers boss maintains that the young shot-stopper was sent to St Andrew's only to continue his development, after he lost his place in the first team to Shay Given last season.

Ancelotti: Aston Villa ‘Very Dangerous’, Arsenal, United and Chelsea must respect them

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Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has branded Aston Villa as a "very dangerous" team that could break the domination of the so-called 'big four' this season.

Villa trumped Sunderland 2-0 at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, but not before toppling three of the big boys, as they have registered victories against Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool so far.

Soccerlens TV: Mock Champions League draw plus Liverpool v Arsenal and Lyon v Bordeaux

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Join celebrated football pundit, author, radio show host and DJ Andy Brassell every Monday on the Soccerlens Show.

Liverpool-Arsenal and Lyon-Bordeaux grabbed the headlines in league football in Europe and Andy discusses both games on this episode of the Soccerlens show. Andy evaluates the actual impact of Arsenal's win and by extension the gap that has developed between the big two and the rest of the league.

Premier League stars going to Angola 2010

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Who's playing in the African Cup of Nations this January from the English Premier League? Here's the full list of Premier League players headed to Angola 2010:

Team by team list:

Arsenal: Alex Song, Emmanuel Eboue
Aston Villa: Moustapha Salifou
Birmingham City: None
Blackburn Rovers: None
Bolton Wanderers: Danny Shittu
Burnley: Andre Bikey
Chelsea: Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel
Everton: Joseph Yobo, Ayegbeni Yakubu
Fulham: John Pantsil, Dickson Etuhu
Hull City: Kamel Ghilas, Daniel Cousin, Seyi Olofinjana
Liverpool: None
Manchester City: Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kelvin Etuhu
Manchester United: None
Portsmouth: Kevin-Prince Boateng, Nadir Belhadj, Hassan Yebda, John Utaka, Nwankwo Kanu, Aruna Dindane
Stoke City: Mamady Sidibe
Sunderland: John Mensah
Tottenham: Sebastien Bassong, Benoit Assou-Ekotto
West Ham: None
Wigan: Richard Kingson
Wolves: George Elokobi

By numbers:

Six: Portsmouth
Four: Chelsea
Three: Man City, Hull City
Two: Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, Fulham
One: Aston Villa, Sunderland, Stoke, Bolton, Burnley, Wigan, Wolves
None: Man Utd, Liverpool, West Ham, Birmingham, Blackburn

"Premier League stars going to Angola 2010" was originally published at Soccerlens.

2010 African Cup of Nations Preview & Predictions

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Though there are a number of European managers who would much rather not be reminded, the 2010 African Cup of Nations is a little more than a month away.

Egypt followed up winning in 2006 as hosts by defeating Cameroon to win the final in Ghana in 2008, and they'll be looking to make history this time around in Angola and be the first country to win three titles in a row.

Carlos Tevez and his giant ceramic heart

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Six of the best quotes of the week from dangerhere.com.

The coveted Random Comparison of the Season award looks set to remain in the Kamara household for another year after this appraisal of Carlos Tevez:

"They've got this man with a heart as big as...as big as.

Steven Gerrard’s best dives

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"If I ever saw one of my team-mates diving, I'd definitely have a word"

"I don't think there is anything worse than a player diving. It does ruin the game."

"Players like Ronaldo and Carvalho are ruining the game."

These are some of the quote from Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, England) that I found on the internet.

Footballers in Films

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The two latest Soccerlens podcasts [1, 2] have seen Clarkey & Spraggy trying to tickle your funny bone with their suggestions for the film remakes they'd like to see football folk in.

It's been a hit-and-miss feature so far, so we're asking you to put the dynamic duo out of their misery and come up with some genuinely funny offerings.

Arsenal’s golden chance to prove the doubters wrong

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"Arsenal don't have the experience or mental strength to lift the Premier League title."

That has been the damning verdict of critics about Arsenal since 04/05, as Chelsea and then Manchester United stamped their authority on the league and turned it into a Big Two race. Every year you'll see Chelsea and Manchester United being mentioned as the serious title contenders, while the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal shine brightly for half a season before being pushed aside with ease by the two leaders.

The surreal world of an English Football Manager

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So every season around 45% of the 92 clubs replace their managers. Â Most find another role within months, with clubs ignoring the fact that the reason why they are available is that they failed in a previous role. Â

Some managers are heralded as the next best thing, only to be on the scrap heap within months.

Clouds gathering over Puel’s head

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Lyon's 1-0 defeat to Bordeaux last Sunday was already their 4th of the league season. To comparison, the 7-times French champions lost 7 all season last year. Whilst there's still plenty to go until the end of season 2009/2010, the title is slipping further and further away from Claude Puel and his team.

Ciro goes from hero to zero at Juventus

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A week is a ridiculously long time in football, no more so than in Italy. Last Sunday, the Ferrara household woke to headlines like, "It's all true", and, "The championship starts again", after Juventus fought hard to record a gutsy 2-1 win over Inter in the Derby d'Italia.

Arsene Wenger drags Arsenal back in the title race

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Another must win game between two heavyweights of English football in Arsenal and Liverpool at Anfield.

When you talk about these two teams, history and class pours out. Arsenal won the game 1-2 with another sensational goal from a player that looks an absolute bargain at fourteen million in Arshavin.

AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi punched in the face by angry protester

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Silvio Berlusconi, the longest serving Italian Prime Minister and owner of AC Milan, was punched in the face by a young man holding a small statue in his hand during a rally in Milan. The 73-year-old was left with a bloodied mouth and was swiftly taken to the San Raffaele hospital where they decided to keep him overnight for observation.

Soccerlens Liverpool v Arsenal Match Viewing Party – a followup

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Thank you all for coming out in the chilly weather to join the Soccerlens crew at the Soccerlens Match Viewing Party. The Liverpool v Arsenal game ended 1-2 with yet another away win in the Premier League this weekend.

Seems like this weekend was a good time to go play away from home in England as Birmingham City was the only team to get the three points at their home against West Ham United.

Liverpool fans aren’t happy after shock Arsenal defeat

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I just got back from the Soccerlens match-viewing party in Lahore for the Liverpool-Arsenal game, and I can't forget the look on the face of Steven Gerrard 3 minutes into extra time total disgust at his team's situation and how far behind they had fallen after the heady days of last season.

football goes crazy

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Stamford Bridge 3.00 pm Everton go to league Leaders Chelsea where the home team have only conceded 1 league goal all season.

Stamford Bridge 4.50 pm Everton and Chelsea take place in a heartstopping 3-3 draw, which puts it up there in the matches-of-the-season category. Then why are the boos so deafening?

Potential Strikers for Arsenal to buy in January

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The unexpected news that Arsene Wenger has declared he will try to sign a striker in January must have floored most Arsenal fans. The Frenchman doesn't usually make any claims let alone buys in the transfer window.

Even if Robin Van Persie wasn't out for the season, I still really felt Arsenal had to buy.

African Cup of Nations – Angola 2010 – Fixtures & Results

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The 2010 African Cup of Nations begins on 10 January in Angola, with the hosts kicking off the tournament against Mali.

That will be the first of 32 matches that will be played in Angola over a three-week period, culminating in the final in the capital city of Luanda on 31 January.

The complete list of 2010 African Cup of Nations fixtures is listed below, and when the competition starts, you can check back here for results and reports.

Calling all Arsenal and Liverpool fans…

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Join the Soccerlens crew in Lahore as they descend on the town (accompanied by friends and the odd good-looking stranger) to watch Arsenal and Liverpool slug it at out at Anfield.

What? Match Viewing Party
Which? Liverpool vs Arsenal
Where?

FC Hollywood: Lights, Camera, Action!

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Bayern Munich lived up to their nickname FC Hollywood after they qualified for the last 16 of this season's Champions League in truly dramatic fashion. They never seem to do the task in hand the easy way. Drama always seems to surround the Germans (and sometimes it's not in their favour either).

Ferguson: Giggs is a god in the Manchester United dressing room

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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson talks to BBC Sport Wales about 20 years about Ryan Giggs, from chasing the player as a young teenager to managing him in his mid-thirties. They talk about his importance to the squad as a senior player, his battle with injuries and even his international career.

Hughton tames Newcastle squad by letting them rule

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Newcastle United are a fascinating subject and thankfully for the club, out of the limelight as they've confidently racked up seven straight wins in the Championship and top the table. And all of this has happened without Kevin Keegan or Alan Shearer, and despite Mike Ashley.

In fact the only time these days that you do hear about Newcastle is when their most famous fan quits blogging, or when the owner fails in another attempt to sell the club.

Chelsea v Everton Preview: It’s going to be a big one

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Free £20 Bet on Chelsea v Everton for Soccerlens readers 14/1 for a 4-1 Chelsea win offers the best winnings. Bet now on Chelsea v Everton.

Chelsea v Everton
English Premier League
Stamford Bridge
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Kickoff: 15:00 GMT

Chelsea have only take one point from their last three games but they'll be looking to turn around that sequence and get back on a winning streak as they take a break from European football for a couple of months.

Can a patched-up Manchester United hold off Aston Villa?

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Free £20 Bet on Manchester United v Aston Villa for Soccerlens readers 13/2 for an Aston Villa win, 9/1 for Agbonlahor to score 1st goal. Bet now on United v Villa.

Manchester United v Aston Villa
English Premier League
Old Trafford
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Kickoff: 17:30 GMT

With six Premier League ties in the month of December, the games keep coming thick and fast for EPL sides.

Football Christmas Parties

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Get the inside scoop on Arsenal Christmas parties of the past, including a Wenger story, from a former Arsenal player on this week's Soccerlens Podcast.

The Christmas Party is a seminal event. It fathers the juiciest rumours of the year. It creates character sketches so accurate Data wouldn't find flaws in them.

Jens Lehmann takes a break, pisses off club

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Double trouble for Jens Lehmann the Stuttgart keeper he jumped behind advertising boards, went down on one knee and wizzed while keeping a keen eye on the ensuing action on the pitch.

But that's not what's landed him in hot water the former Arsenal and Germany keeper also criticised the board for bowing to pressure from fans in sacking ex-manager Markus Babbel something the club's director of sport Horst Heldt rejected and countered by saying that:

"The timing was wrong and the remarks were completely wrong.

Didier Drogba – the Beast

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An excellent video compilation for Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, made by the talented CFC8Scott you can see more of his videos here.



"Didier Drogba the Beast" was originally published at Soccerlens.com - Football News.

Podcast: Arsenal Christmas Parties and Manchester United chat with Rob Smyth

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Join Adrian Clarke and Iain Spragg for some festive fun on episode 32 of the world famous Soccerlens Podcast.

As well as talking Christmas parties, James Beattie and CSKA's drug test trauma, the duo are also joined by top freelance journalist Rob Smyth for an in depth discussion about Manchester United.

Premier League report – how’s your team doing?

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Even before a ball was kicked on the 15th August, fans of the 20 English clubs were anticipating one of the most intriguing premier league seasons to date.

And here we are, almost half way through the 2009/2010 season and it hasn't failed to deliver by providing us with as many talking points as we might be forgiven for expecting through the course of a whole season.

Jermaine Defoe – the Goalmachine

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An excellent video compilation for Tottenham and England striker Jermaine Defoe, made by the talented CFC8Scott you can see more of his videos here.



"Jermaine Defoe the Goalmachine" was originally published at Soccerlens.com - Football News.

Extra Nation at the World Cup? Here’s a better solution

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FIFA's recent discussions regarding Ireland led me to think about the possibilities of an extra side at the tournament, and what would perhaps be more exciting than including a side who claimed they've been cheated out of the tournament would be to enter an entirely new team.

This team would be made up of international players whose respective countries did not manage to qualify for the finals.

Olympiacos v Arsenal Preview

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Free £20 Bet on Olympiacos v Arsenal for Soccerlens readers 11/4 for an Arsenal win, 12/1 for Theo Walcott to score 1st goal. Bet now on Olympiacos v Arsenal.

Guaranteed top spot in the group and with a squad crippled by injuries, Arsenal have flown out a very inexperienced side to Athens for their final group game with a number of their starting lineup rested for the big weekend game against Liverpool.

If Capello wants Defoe as super-sub, why not use Owen?

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Michael Owen once again demonstrated class is permanent in his clinical performance away at Wolfsburg. Three well taken goals will have no doubt helped stake his claim for a regular place in the United line-up and will have done his confidence a world of good.

Seeing Owen in that form was like rolling the years back and made me wonder if I'd rather see Defoe or Owen come off the bench in an attempt to save England in the last 20 minutes of a WC quarter final.

The Case for United’s Defence

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Watch Manchester United's inexperienced side take on Wolfsburg LIVE on Soccerlens tonight.

Following their crushing defeat of West ham on Saturday, Manchester United's defensive injury crisis turned from troublesome into farcical. Already decimated by injuries, United lost club captain Gary Neville and utility defender Wes Brown to knocks.

World Cup Preview – what will happen at South Africa 2010?

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Podcast regulars Adrian Clarke and Iain Spragg present a World Cup special, excitedly plotting the thrills and spills we've all got to look forward to next summer.Â

Can Capello's England go all the way? Will France get their comeuppance? Is this the year when an African side makes it to the final?

Tough love with Tony Pulis and more quotes of the week

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Six of the best from this week's bunch on dangerhere.com.

1. No wonder Arsene Wenger wouldn't shake hands with Mark Hughes after Phil Thompson blew the lid off the carnival of love he's presiding over at Eastlands:

"You see some people who are just having it off and taking it easy and other people are putting in a shift.

Can Marseille beat Real Madrid by 4 goals?

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Marseille v Real Madrid
Uefa Champions League
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Kickoff: 20:45 CET

Real Madrid beat Marseille 3-0 at the Bernabeu earlier this season and Marseille will need to better that winning margin if they want a chance to progress to the next round in the Champions League.

Watch Liverpool v Fiorentina Live on Soccerlens

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Liverpool v Fiorentina
Uefa Champions League
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Kickoff: 20:45 CET

Liverpool are in the Europa League. Liverpool. Are. In. The. Europa. League. Liver...

Repetition doesn't make it any easier to accept, although thankfully for Rafael Benitez he has a very professional squad of players and the teams around him in the domestic league (Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa) are doing their best to help Liverpool qualify for the Champions League for next season.

Can Juventus dump Bayern to another Europa League season?

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Juventus v Bayern Munich
Uefa Champions League
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Stadio Olimpico
Kickoff: 20:45 CET

Juventus go into the final Champions League group A game knowing that a single point will see them through to the next round. Bayern Munich need a win, and have dropped points against Juventus at home and with a team struggling with injuries and unhappy players, it seems likely that the German giants will be lining up in the Europa League in the second half of this season's European campaign.

Watch Wolfsburg v Manchester United Live on Soccerlens

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VFL Wolfsburg v Manchester United
Uefa Champions League
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Kickoff: 20:45 CET

Manchester United have already qualified for the second round, and need just a point to guarantee top spot in the group. A point is the least of their worries though, as the team's defences have been savagely cut down by injuries and only Patrice Evra remains fit as United first choice AND second choice back four have stayed back in Manchester.

Soccerlens TV: World Cup 2010 Predictions

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Join celebrated football pundit, author, radio show host and DJ Andy Brassell every Monday on the Soccerlens Show.

With the World Cup 2010 draw happening on Friday, there was only one thing we could possibly cover in today's show. With due respect to the Christian Fuchs-induced Babbel dismissal in Germany, the handbags and fireworks in Italy, red cards in Spain and two missed penalties in England, today we look solely at the World Cup.

Tomasz Kuszczak goal celebration

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Tomasz Kuszczak has found it difficult to establish himself as the top goalkeeper at Manchester United. His celebrations leave a bit to be desired too, but he gets 10/10 for effort.




Brought to you by the #1 Manchester United site, Republik of Mancunia.

Maybe EVDS should give him some tips on celebrations, hmmm?

Video: John Terry and Frank Lampard on their ’special’ relationship

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This is absolutely brilliant. Frank Lampard kicks things off by saying ...wait, wait, we'll let you see (and hear it) for yourself:




Via Kickette.

Hilarious stuff. Well done John Terry and Frank Lampard.

"Video: John Terry and Frank Lampard on their 'special' relationship" was originally published at Soccerlens.

Juventus v Bayern Munich – Video Preview by Diego

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Juventus v Bayern Munich
Champions League Round 6
Stadio Olimpico

Juventus take on Bayern Munich in the final round of group games this week nothing less than a win will do for Bayern while Juventus need just a point to help them through to the second round.

How will Angola 2010 affect Ligue 1?

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It has developed into some kind of a tradition that every year, when the African Cup of Nations takes place in January, Chelsea come out moaning about the effect it will have on their team with a number of players leaving their club duty to represent their countries in it's continent's most important competition.

Milan are the real winners after Derby d’Italia

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Alberto Cerruti, La Gazzetta dello Sport's chief football writer, was unsparing in his analysis of Saturday evening's much-anticipated Derby d'Italia.

"Juventus win with a splendid goal and Inter lose, seeing their lead reduced to four points over Milan and five over the Bianconeri.

Manchester United squad for Wolfsburg

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Manchester United take only 19 players to Wolfsburg with the team not only missing eight first-team defenders but Ferguson also choosing to leave behind their key attacking players with one eye on a grueling upcoming league schedule.

Of the defenders, all of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown, Gary Neville, Rafael, Fabio, John O'Shea and Jonny Evans are out with various injuries, although at least two of them should be back for the weekend action.

Gerrard’s dive against Blackburn

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Behind the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa in the league and as things stand not even qualifying for the Europa League through their league position, Liverpool are in a bit of mess.

But does that make it OK for Stevie G to dive?

via Republik Of Mancunia.

West Ham 0-4 Manchester United – all the goals

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All the goals from the West Ham-Manchester United game from Upton Park on Saturday 5 December 2009. Manchester United scored 4 goals and kept a clean sheet with a patched up defence as they cut Chelsea's lead at the top to two points.

See the goals below, and read the report here.

West Ham 0-1 Manchester United (Scholes)

West Ham 0-2 Manchester United (Gibson)

West Ham 0-3 Manchester United (Valencia)

West Ham 0-4 Manchester United (Rooney)

"West Ham 0-4 Manchester United all the goals" was originally published at Soccerlens.

Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea – all the goals

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Manchester City came from behind and saved a late penalty to beat Chelsea 2-1 and move up to 6th in the Premier League, ahead of Liverpool in 7th place. Chelsea saw their lead cut to two points.

See the goals below, and read the report here.

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea (Adebayor own goal)

Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea (Adebayor)

Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea (Tevez)

Manchester City v Chelsea (Given save)

"Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea all the goals" was originally published at Soccerlens.

Manchester united as City cut Chelsea lead to two points

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A day in which everything went according to plan for the Manchester clubs, even if it didn't, really. United beat West Ham 4-0 at Upton Park despite their severe defensive injury crisis and City survived an early own goal and a second half penalty to turn over Chelsea at Eastlands.

Manchester United the walking wounded

For Manchester United, the big story out of today's 4-0 win away at Upton Park wasn't the efficiency of the win or the hope amongst United faithful that Gibson is the real deal, but the fact that United now have their whole defence injured first choice or second choice.

Miodrag Bozovic: Why Europe Should Be Out for the Count

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As everybody knows, the most famous Count of them all had no reflection and could only be seen by others, never by himself. A curious inversion of this phenomenon appears to have recently afflicted FC Moscow coach Miodrag Bozovic. Long ago christened 'the Count' by an unknown Serbian newspaper – for reasons which will soon become apparent – the 41–year old Montenegrin, despite yet another remarkable season, seems to have been rendered invisible to the world.

Will Tottenham do a Liverpool and beat Everton at Goodison?

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Everton v Tottenham
English Premier League
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Goodison Park
Kickoff: 16:00 GMT

Normally you'd back the home side in such 'even' games but Everton's recent home record and Tottenham's more-than-decent away record points to a difficult game for the Blues.

Watch the 2010 World Cup Draw LIVE on Soccerlens

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It's time. Yes, the much-hyped, much-awaited draw draw to determine the 8 groups for South Africa 2010 will kick off in just a few minutes.

There's little time to waste, so let's look at a) the Pots and b) how you can watch the whole event LIVE right here on Soccerlens.

The Pots

Pot 1 (seeds): South Africa, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Spain, England, Holland, Argentina.

Manchester United should blow away West Ham on Saturday

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West Ham v Manchester United
English Premier League
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Upton Park
Kickoff: 15:00 GMT

A big game for United as they try to put pressure on league leaders Chelsea who play City later in the day. For West Ham though, it's all about survival.

Fantasy Football: Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea to clean up this week

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Another week, another manager under-fire. This week it is Arsene Wenger's turn to assume what has recently become known as "The Rafa Benitez" position in front of the media's firing squad. Back-to-back league defeats, coupled with a League Cup exit, have led to some uneducated souls calling for the Frenchman's head.

Scotland – the second toughest job in football?

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As Brian Glanville opined in his book on England managers, it is perhaps the toughest job in football. As the founders of the modern day association rules football, the English national team has a prestige and it is the manager's job to protect this; to ensure that England remains at the top (or at least near to it) of the world game.

Podcast: Where are Wenger’s manners?

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Check out Adrian Clarke & Iain Spragg as they enjoy a lively verbal kick-about on episode 31 of the world famous Soccerlens podcast.

The duo debate FIFA's decision not to introduce rule changes for next summer's World Cup Finals, a problematic week for Arsene Wenger and they also ask themselves if Lionel Messi deserved to be the runaway European Footballer of the Year.

Are Manchester United screwed?

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The trouble with making jokes about potential disasters is that when they come true, you're torn between the urge to shout 'I told you so' and, depending on your social stereotype, the urge to cry / pray / drink / blow yourself up.

At Manchester United, by no means are we near any financial disasters, but that will be the talk of the town after United backed out of the Adem Ljajic deal.

Nike teams up with RED to fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa

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Didier Drogba and Joe Cole (Chelsea), Andrei Arshavin and Denilson (Arsenal), Marco Materazzi (Inter Milan), Lucas Neill (Everton) and Clint Dempsey and Seol Ki-Hyeon (Fulham) joined the U2 star Bono in London to announce the partnership between Nike and RED to fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Where will your centre-back be next season?

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This article is not a slight on the perceived fickle nature of today's players. Everton fans should not take this as an intentional attempt to drag up memories of Joleon Lescott's departure. I do not seek to address where defenders will be in terms of transfers next year, but where on the pitch.

Watch Xerez v Barcelona Live Online on Soccerlens

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Xerez v Barcelona
La Liga
Wednesday 02 December 2009
Kickoff: 9:00 PM BST

Top of the table and loving it Barcelona travel to Xerez tonight knowing that a) they're ahead of Real Madrid in the league by two points and b) a win at lowly Xerez will give them a nice cushion against Los Blancos when the Catalan club head out to play in the World Club Championship.

Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham – Gibson’s double (goal videos)

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The Manchester United Tottenham Carling Cup quarter final ended 2-0 and was mostly an unremarkable game, save two well-taken goals from Darron, both shots from outside the box and both coming in the first half.

Given the number of games he's played, this is a great time for Gibson to push on and stake a claim for a position in the regular starting lineup for United and in all likelihood he'll get more chances this season in both cups and maybe in the glut of December games that are some of the easiest set of fixtures for United in recent memory.

Quotes of the Week – Tottenham handball and more

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A hot half dozen of the week's best quotes from dangerhere.com:

1. Chris Kamara was certain the Cottagers had earned their corn:

Jeff Stelling: "Have Fulham got their just desserts?"
Kammy: "They have and they deserve it!"

2.

Same Old Arsenal

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The game on Sunday with Arsenal and Chelsea was not as close as most of us thought.

It was an easy game for Chelsea, brushing aside the young boys fewer than five foot at the Emirates with not a bead of sweat broken. Before the game, Arsene Wenger had promised the game would showcase to the world how his team were genuine title contenders.

Gabriel Milito returns from injury after 580 days!

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Barcelona and Argentina center back Gabriel Milito will finally join the rest of the Barca squad after being sidelined for an astonishing 580 days with an injury. Back in the 2007/2008 Champions League semi-final against Manchester United, Milito suffered a cruciate ligament injury to his right knee.

The World’s Most Violent Football Rivalries

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Every league in the world has its derby matches, those entrenched local, political or social rivalries which give added fervour to the average game. Some of these derbies, however, spill over into frequent violence, hatred and all-out warfare between the fans of the respective clubs.

In this article I list ten of the most vociferous and aggressive derbies in world football and look into the violence which has made them so notorious the world over.

Champions League Report: Predicting the final 16

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Champions League View: Liverpool are dumped to the Europa League, and one of Bayern Munich and Juventus will join them tonight.

It's official the big sides aren't having it all their way this season in Europe already we've seen Arsenal struggle at home, Liverpool struggle home and away, United drop points, Barcelona lose at home, Inter making a mockery out of their status as Serie A champions and German giants Bayern Munich with one foot already in the Europa League.

Win tickets to the 2010 FIFA World Cup with your best football image

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Do you love sport? Are you passionate about photography? Would you like to go to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, sponsored by Sony?

As sports fans get ready for the biggest football event of next year, the Sony World Photography Awards – one of the largest global photographic competitions – is looking to uncover the best amateur football photographs in the world for the 2010 Campaign Award.