SoccerLens Archives for January 2010

Puyol takes one from Ramos for a 5-star performance

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Carles Puyol has been the bigger man by making light of the incident when he was shoved in the face to the the ground by Spain teammate Sergio Ramos during the Monday night El Clasico.

Sergio Ramos was shown a straight red card after lunging into Lionel Messi in the 90th minutes of Real Madrid's 5-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona.

Carragher Ruled Out For Three Months: Time To Replace An Icon?

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After the FA splashed out £500,000 for the expensive privilege of having Steven Gerrard's hamstrings plucked whilst on England duty last month, Liverpool have today been forced to confirm that their mercurial captain's erstwhile stand-in, Jamie Carragher, is now also set for an elongated spell on the sidelines.

Pep: He is the Special One

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Going into last night 'El Classico' at Barcelona's Camp Nou, the news had been dominated by Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho.

The self claimed Special One was where he loves being, the focus of the event, more important that the players and the match itself.

Mourinho had assured us we were going to be seeing the two best sides in the world take to the pitch in what could be decisive in the battle for the La Liga title, and its still November.

The Race For The 2018 and 2022 World Cups: Every Bidding Nation and Vote Analysis

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The FIFA Exco will meet this week to decide the destination of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Here we look at each bidding nation and the 23 men whose vote will decide the winners.

The 2018 World Cup will go to Europe as Holland/Belgium, Spain/Portugal, England and Russia address the FIFA Exco with their final submissions on December 2.

Will Ancelotti Survive If Abramovich Chooses To Shuffle?

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It's fair to say that everything in the Chelsea garden isn't exactly 'coming up roses' at the moment, with the tangled tubers of power and influence seemingly beginning to undermine authority at Stamford Bridge once again, a pattern we've seen repeated several times during the club's recent history.

Transfer Watch: Bendtner to Juventus, Schweinsteiger to Manchester, Cassano to Liverpool?

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Today's football rumours column looks at the major transfer stories cropping up around Europe as clubs prepare to bunker down / dip into the winter transfer market.

1) Nicklas Bendtner to Juventus?

Juventus are reportedly keen on adding a striker to their squad, and reports in England suggest that should the loan-deal agreement with Manchester City collapse concerning Emmanuel Adebayor, 'The Old Lady' would turn to Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, who has had his share of hard times on the bench in Emirates, despite coming off the bench to score and impress several times since last year.

Post El Clasico: It’s wasn’t all about Barcelona being super

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"One team played very good, one team very bad. Deserved win, deserved loss. Humiliated? No. It's easy to deal with this loss, we just weren't good enough."

Oddly humble from Jose Mourinho, yet maybe not. It's hard to defend your corner with a matchstick, as some saying may or may not go the match wrote Mourinho's statement for him here.

England 2018′s Fate Lies With The World’s Worst Footballing Nation

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The time will soon be upon us when it will be discovered whether the England 2018 World Cup bid team (as well as their Russian, Spanish/Portuguese and Dutch/Belgian counterparts) will discover whether the last year or so of flesh-pressing, lobbying, rule-flaunting, power-brokering, politicking, back-slapping, bribery, petty sniping, short-sighted optimism and the abject hemorrhaging of several millions of pounds sterling will have been worth it all when the FIFA executive committee (ExCo) congregate to vote on the destination of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Zurich on Thursday afternoon.

Leaderless Liverpool Have Noel Gallagher To Thank For Tough Cup Draw

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With their mercurial captain Steven Gerrard already sidelined with the unfortunate hamstring tweak he sustained whilst on international duty not so very long ago, Liverpool have been dealt another cruel blow in the 'leadership' stakes after watching their erstwhile second in command, Jamie Carragher, trudge from the pitch yesterday with his left arm hanging disconcertingly limply from the corresponding shoulder joint.

Moyes wants to bring Beckham to Everton

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Everton manager David Moyes has expressed his desire to bring David Beckham to Everton.

In previous season's the former England captain has departed current club L.A. Galaxy on loan during the Major League Soccer off-season in order to keep his match fitness in order to play for his country, and Moyes, who played with Beckham during his time at Preston North End, would welcome the 35 year-old to Goodison Park if he chose to do so again:

"I would hope that if David wanted to come he would pick up the phone and call me.

Manchester United Must Spend On Midfield Playmaker

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Paul Scholes, the finest English player of his generation, continues to defy his age each week with a masterclass on how to pass a football and manipulate a game. That's the good news; the bad news is he is 36, no longer able to play every game and realistically may have only one season left. Replacing Paul Scholes is impossible, he is a magician, but Sir Alex Ferguson must make the position of attacking central midfield a priority.

Are FC Barcelona Even Playing the Same Sport as Other Teams?

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Having worshipped at many altars in my time, I took the chance to visit one of the greatest churches of all two weeks ago; the Camp Nou.

There, I saw Barcelona play Villarreal in one of the most entertaining encounters I have ever witnessed, and it left me begging the question: Are Barcelona even playing the same sport as other teams?

Welcome to Rio, land of football…and civil war

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What is in the news today, may surprise some, but hardly anyone who hasn't been in Rio de Janeiro. Well, maybe if you came to Rio with French League director Redha Chibani, who said he feels perfectly safe in the city. Clashes between police and drug cartels are going on for five days now, with more than 50 burnt cars, 39 dead (including a 14 year-old girl) and a city in complete despair.

West Ham vitally need the “Newcastle rejuvenation”

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It is pretty obvious to see that West Ham are failing miserably this year. It brings back memories of a failing Newcastle two seasons ago, when the youth wouldn't have shone through and the team appeared to be as loosely assembled as a three year olds Mr Potato Head.

Newcastle were in dire straights two seasons ago, with purchases like Xisco for £7million, and the loan signing of Ignacio Gonzalez to sit on the bench were evidence that communications were mixed at St.

Do QPR have what it takes to win promotion?

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As we stumble towards December, Queens Park Rangers remain unbeaten and are, so far, making a mockery of the much touted "most competitive league in the world" tag that the Championship has attained in recent seasons. Do they have the strength to maintain this form right through to May?

Long before Manchester City's bizarre financial rebirth, Queens Park Rangers were the billionaires' play-thing du jour.

Fergie Time: Inside Jose Mourinho’s House

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Welcome to Fergie Time, a roundup/newsletter type deal that delivers news, opinion and links directly to your screen. As the name suggests, there will be some exaggeration, nsfw moments, canceled press conferences (oh, who are we kidding) and late, late, late scoring of points. You'll like it, trust me.

How Good Is The Brazilian Championship?

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Brazilian Championship or "Brasileirão", as it is better known, approaches its end after the 36th round with league leaders Fluminense carrying a meagre 60% overall performance so far. Can it be identified as a sign of balance or a proof that the league itself is far poorer technically than it could be?

The Mystery That is Arsenal

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First, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at home to vicious rivals, Spurs. Now, they've returned home from Portugal with their heads down and their Champions League future in doubt. Despite the beautiful, attacking football often on display, Arsenal continue to fall well short of a trophy-winning team.

3 UP FRONT: Striking Refs, Wenger v Arsenal fans, Sacking Season plus bonus interview with Arseblog

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Check out the brand spanking new episode of 3 Up Front!

Host Adrian Clarke, alongside wing men Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh run the rule over a number of issues in their own inimitable style including;

Is the Premier League going to even out in the coming years? The pod look at UEFA spending regulations and discuss whether they will actually create more parity amongst Premier League teams, and make for an open-ended, more competitive league?

UEFA to ‘investigate’ Real Madrid quintet for unsporting conduct – but ignore missed penalties

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"Uefa has charged Jose Mourinho and four of his Real Madrid players over allegations he ordered Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso to get themselves sent off in a Champions League match.

Uefa's disciplinary committee will investigate Mourinho for alleged unsporting conduct as well as Alonso, Ramos, Iker Casillas and Jerzy Dudek.

Gareth Bale Included On ‘FIFA World XI’ Shortlist

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Alongside the worldwide players' union (FIFPro), FIFA have this afternoon announced the 55 players that have been included on the shortlisted for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI 2010 which will be unveiled as the undercard event on the night that football's governing body also plan to dole out their prestigious Ballon d'Or award in Zurich on January 10th.

Is La Liga Stronger Than The Premier League?

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La Liga and the Premier League are, in most quarters, rightly recognised as the two strongest leagues in the world. Perhaps this is tough on Serie A; but it is no secret that most of the world stars occupy the two leagues in question.

It would be fair to say that, at this moment, the two best players in the world are Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

Rooney Emerges ‘Courageous’ From The Battle Of Britain

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Last night's Champions League tie between Rangers and Manchester United wasn't one that's going to live long in the memory, thanks largely to Walter Smith's propensity for forming an 10-man meat barrier in front of his side's goal whenever they venture to play outside of the comforting confines of the SPL.

Arsene Wenger Remains Blame Resistant After Braga Defeat

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It may have escaped your notice given the relative silence it's been afforded, but Arsenal's rag-tag bunch of pre-pubescent pygmies lost out 0-2 last night to the very same Portuguese side, SC Braga, that they trounced 6-0 at the Emirates in their opening Champions League fixture.

The defeat represents a considerable if not critical blow to Arsenal, who would have confirmed their passage to the knockout stages of the competition by leaving the Estadio AXA with a solitary point, and will now have to rely on results going their way when they take on an equally limp Partizan Belgrade outfit in a fortnight's time.

Rooney Misses His First Chance To Apologise

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After the exercise in tabloid-evasion that saw him carted around the world for the majority of the last month or so, Manchester United's wayward striker Wayne Rooney returned to the first-team fold last weekend entering the Old Trafford fray as a second-half substitute during their 2-0 Premier League victory over Wigan on Saturday afternoon.

Real Madrid’s Reds – Right Or Wrong?

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Oft accused of play-acting and theatrics, Real Madrid appeared to fall a long way short of their own 'high' standards against Ajax last night. For once, Cristiano Ronaldo was not at the heart of the action, instead, the central characters were Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso, both of whom managed to pick up red cards in the dying stages of the match for time-wasting.

N’Zogbia: Wigan Is Just A Stepping Stone

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Wigan midfielder Charles N'Zogbia has said his time at the club is "just a stepping stone."

The 24 year-old moved to the DW Stadium last year from Newcastle United after a squabble with then-manager Joe Kinnear, but claims that the club's board know that he will one day depart. Speaking with the Daily Star:

"Wigan's just a stepping stone.

Why This Is The Most Open Title Race In Years

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Although Chelsea sit at the summit of the table after 14 Premier League games with 28 points, they have already lost 4 times. Manchester United, having drawn as many games as they have won, sit second with the same points; Arsenal are only two points adrift having already lost 3 home games this season.

‘All The Fish Are Sold’: Spain Claim Seven World Cup Votes

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In a turn of phrase more befitting an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E than an interview regarding the upcoming World Cup 2018 voting ceremony in Zurich, the chief executive of the Spain/Portgual bid, Miguel Angel Lopez, has claimed that 'all the fish are sold' and that the Iberian campaign may have already (theoretically) garnered at least 7 and as many as 8 of the 22 votes available.

Manchester United Begin The Hunt For Sir Alex Ferguson’s Successor

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We always knew this day would come. Manchester United, like any major other organisation would, is preparing for the day that Sir Alex Ferguson retires by putting together a short list of candidates to succeed the great man.

It is no great secret that Sir Alex Ferguson will retire in the not too distant future.

Gamesmanship, Love it or Hate it?

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Gamesmanship is prevalent in the majority of sports and football is no exception, but I often wonder what is acceptable and what is not. How far does it go before it becomes cheating? Gamesmanship, by definition, is the use of dubious (although not technically illegal) methods to win a game.

Personally, I am no angel on the football pitch (even at amateur level) and I don't like losing, not many people do but there are somethings which are too far and can ruin a game of football.

Essien Could Be Better Than Messi or Ronaldo

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Ask someone who the best player in the world is and nine times out of ten the answer is either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Essien is a fantastic player and does not usually get mentioned in the same breath as the Argentinian and Portuguese men, but why not. I believe that Michael Essien is as good, if not better.

The ‘Bit Between The Ears’ Is Still Arsenal’s Biggest Weakness

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Over the last five-and-a-bit fallow seasons, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has seen his band of nimble tyros surrender one and two-goal leads on no less than 34 occasions with the most recent example being last Saturday's second-half capitulation against North London rivals Tottenham.

Under the stat-o-scope : John Obi Mikel

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Note: All figures with respect to English Premier League matches this season only.

That John Obi Mikel is a huge dividing force among Chelsea fans around the world is no secret. The 23 year old Nigerian moved to West London 4 years ago after a rather elongated transfer saga involving then league champions Chelsea and perennial contenders Manchester United, a deal which allegedly saw Chelsea offer United a sum in the range of £12 million to get him on a plane to Gatwick.

Arsenal Set To Breach The ‘£100 Ticket’ Mark

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There were a time when, in football's glorious sepia-hued yesteryear, a cloth-capped father could take his apple-cheeked lad to the football on a Sat'dy afters, stop for a pack of 10 Benson's from the kiosk in t'market square on the way to the ground, ay' a meat pie and a stout at half-time, get a pewter tankard engraved on their way back through town after the game and still have enough change from a shilling to get the tram back home again.

If Ancelotti Isn’t In Control At Chelsea, Just Who Is?

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As Sunday afternoon slowly leeched away into Sunday evening, Chelsea suddenly found themselves prompted into quickly quashing the growing rumours that a minor dip in his side's form and a recent, supposedly critical, undermining of his administrative authority had left manager Carlo Ancelotti dallying over his position at the club.

Ex-United midfielder may come out of retirement for 200k-a-week South China move

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Nicky Butt, formerly of Newcastle United and Manchester United, has confirmed he is exploring the option of coming out of retirement in order to sign for Hong Kong side South China, in a reported £200,000-a-week deal.

The midfielder was invited to train with and play one match for the Hong Kong First Division champions for a week, a chance he jumped at.

Papua New Guinea: The World’s Worst Footballing Nation?

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Everyone knows endlessly about the best international football teams in the world. Year after year the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain (and so on) head up the FIFA World Rankings and dominate most of the tournaments that come their way. What about the teams wallowing at the bottom of world football, so low they struggle to even find matches to play and when they do they get crushed and stomped all over.

Betis get financial guarantees till end of season

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Real Betis' hopes for a return to the top flight after a two-year absence have received a shot in the arm from Sporting Director Luis Oliver, who has revealed he will be guaranteeing payment to all staff until at least June, 2011, even if he is no longer with the club.

Betis were relegated at the end of the 2008/09 season and in July this year Manuel Ruis de Lopera, owner for the past 18 years, sold his shares to Bitton Sport, a company fronted by Oliver.

Chelsea’s bad run still leaves them in pole position

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3 points in 4 games is not what Chelsea supporters have come to expect in the past couple of years. This is not a pleasant moment to be a supporter of Chelsea but, although there are few positives to be taken from the last 3 weeks, it's not all bad news.

There are a lot of excuses which could be made for the recent away form.

Set-Piece Tactics: Thinking outside the (6 yard) box

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Remember that really bad game England had recently? You know, the one last Wednesday? Oh I see, you tried to forget about it to spare yourself from the miserable 'woe is me' aftermath of a typical England performance. Fair enough. Well in the final minutes of the game we did have a notable chance, to this article anyway.

Are Man City Doomed To Fail Under Roberto Mancini?

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With Manchester City currently 'wallowing' down in fourth place after only 13 Premier League games, the fact that manager Roberto Mancini has been having to justify his position for the past weeks is fairly ludicrous yet equally indicative of the anabolic swell that the club's pretensions have undergone during the past couple of years.

Metalist, Lies & Videotape

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It's those men again. Despite catcalls in Kharkiv, derision in Donetsk and vilification in Lviv, the longest-running comedy show in Ukraine shows no indication of planning for a graceful retirement.

The question today is how much longer the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) will remain the only show in town.

The Curious Case of England

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It was a coming together of two world powers, so to speak. An England side that seems to have lost their way took on a France side that seems to be finding theirs. Both were still in the process of trying to blot out the same caustic memory of a depressing World Cup.

Since June's heartbreak, both countries have undergone changes in their own right.

Redknapp Wants Kranjcar Stay, But Wouldn’t Deny Departure

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Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has said he would not stop Niko Kranjcar from leaving the club in the January transfer window.

Croatian midfielder Kranjcar has had minimal opportunities to play this season due to the superb performance of both Rafael Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale, and Redknapp admits it must be frustrating for the 26 year-old,

"Let's see how things go in the next month with him.

Are Man City Doomed To Fail Under Roberto Mancini?

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With Manchester City currently 'wallowing' down in fourth place after only 13 Premier League games, the fact that manager Roberto Mancini has been having to justify his position for the past weeks is fairly ludicrous yet equally indicative of the anabolic swell that the club's pretensions have undergone during the past couple of years.

The Rise Of Javier Pastore – Sicily’s New Darling

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Javier Pastore is gradually making his way up the football spectrum as one of the games most talented players.

The Palermo man has been in star gazing form thus far in Serie A with his most recent display cementing his name in Sicilian folklore as he bagged a hat-trick against Catania last Sunday.

FIFA Complain Of ‘Sensationalism’ After Banning Six Crooked Members

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FIFA's paradoxically named Ethics committee have admitted that football's governing body have suffered 'very great damage' as a result of the corruption scandal that has engulfed the entire organisation after the Sunday Times went public with the results of their covert investigation into collusion between the bidders for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Is The FA’s New ‘Centre Of Excellence’ A Decade Too Late?

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Nearly ten fallow years have passed since the Football Association (FA) purchased 300-odd acres of rural Staffordshire in 2001 with the 'express' intent of developing a footballing 'centre of excellence' in the heart of England, akin to the elite Clairefontaine academy that has proved to be such a valuable asset to the French national team in recent history.

England’s dismal performance against France reminded me of Championship football

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I can't remember the last time I watched a football game where I have been so frustrated and disappointed at the way my team performed, whether it's club or country, and that speaks volume when I admit I'm a Crystal Palace fan.

Being a fan of the Championship, this article is in no way aimed as a criticism to the league, but it is a similar occurrence that some of the teams result to the ‘hit and hope' habit and the one dimensional play to a big man so I was astonished when the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard were kicking the ball away without any composure.

Copa Del Rey Last 16 Draw

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The draw for the last 16 of the Copa del Rey has been made, with the subsequent pairings ensuring the big two of Real Madrid and Barcelona can't meet each other until the final. Real have been drawn against Levante whilst the two most decorated teams in the competition's history Barcelona (25 wins) and Athletic Bilbao (23) came out of the hat together in what is without doubt the tie of the round.

Fergie Time: England vs. The Sun, Liverpool, Newcastle, Everyone

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Welcome to Fergie Time, a roundup/newsletter type deal that delivers news, opinion and links directly to your screen. As the name suggests, there will be some exaggeration, nsfw moments, canceled press conferences (oh, who are we kidding) and late, late, late scoring of points. You'll like it, trust me.

Liverpool Fume Over Gerrard Injury: Time To Write Off 2010/11?

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I'm not prepared to risk aneurysm by going into too much detail about England's rudderless outing against the French last night, but it's fairly safe to assume that there was one salient development that caught most Liverpool fans collective attention and you can pretty much rest assured that it wasn't the steady, assured performance of mooted January target Yann M'Vila in Les Bleus' rejuvenated midfield.

Ian Holloway Quotes

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"To put it in gentleman's terms if you've been out for a night and you're looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they're good looking and some weeks they're not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She wasn't the best looking lady we ended up taking home but she was very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much, let's have a coffee" on the "ugly" win against Chesterfield.

Mourinho v Preciado Round 2

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The row between José Mourinho and Manolo Preciado looks as if it might rumble on. The Real Madrid boss had accused the Sporting Gijón manager of fielding a weakened team against Barcelona in September and gifting them the match. Yet after Real's late winner in El Molinón at the weekend Preciado seems to have lost his head completely.

With Three Games Left In The Season, Who Will Win The Brazilian Campeonato?

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Let's get this straight from the start, despite the excitement and drama that is undoubtedly set to unravel in the next few weeks, the Brazilian Campeonato should already be over. The only reason why the destination of the title is not yet a foregone conclusion has been the stuttering form of Cruzeiro and Fluminense neither of whom look as though they want to finish above the other.

TV rights row threatens to split Spanish football

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The new La Liga TV rights deal is unfair to everyone except Madrid and Barcelona.

A rift is beginning to develop in Spanish football over the share of future television money from the LFP (Spanish League) after a meeting attended by all first division clubs.

Six of them Sevilla, Zaragoza, Villarreal, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol have all officially distanced themselves from any proposed agreement, and Sevilla president José María del Nido, spokesman for the group, explained the position to Palabra de Fútbol radio:

"Only Real Madrid and Barcelona stand to gain from this," he said.

Puyol hits 500 for Barcelona

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Barcelona's 3-1 win over Villarreal on the weekend was not just another step to stay within striking distance of La Liga toppers Real Madrid for captain Carles Puyol. It was his 500th appearance for the club in what has been an illustrious 12 years with the senior team. Puyi, as his friends refer to him, is the third most featured Barca player in the history of the club behind teammate Xavi (540) and the 70′s and 80′s legend Migueli (549).

Ancelotti oversight has Chelsea counting down the days until New Year

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Will November 16th be looked upon as the date when this season's title race was blown open? Since just about the first minute of their dismantling of West Bromwich Albion in August, Chelsea have looked like champions in waiting. But following Sunday's clatter to earth against Sunderland, today's revelation that both John Terry and Alex will be missing until 2011 takes on huge significance.

Liverpool Fans Should Be Careful Of What They Wish For

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As Liverpool slumped to yet another defeat, in this, the most wretched of seasons, their fans chanted the name of the man they want to replace Roy Hodgson. None other than Kenny Dalglish. However, the very fans chanting that name should be careful of what they wish for.

There is no denying; Liverpool FC has endured a brutal start to the season.

The Worst of Times for Chelsea?

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Bah. So Sunday's thrashing at the feet of Sunderland at the Bridge should be a wakeup call to all of Chelsea nation. But let's not overreact, it was one match, and true champions usually bounce back after a poor performance, which I expect us to do against Birmingham on Saturday. But still...

I think it's safe to say that after the strength of our starting XI, we have some serious depth issues.

3 UP FRONT: Chelsea implosion, Champion Gunners and Club v Country

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Check out the latest episode of the 3 Up Front podcast!

Expect all the usual bouncy banter from Adrian Clarke, Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh as they tackle all the game's hottest topics in half an hour of fast flowing conversation.

This week's show includes;

Are Chelsea on the brink of implosion?

Tottenham Olympic Stadium Plan Branded ‘Unacceptable’

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Tottenham and AEG's joint proposal to take over the Olympic Park Stadium as and when the Olympic bandwagon rolls out of town in the Autumn of 2012 has suffered a potentially devastating setback after being branded as 'completely unacceptable' by UK Athletics (UKA) chairman Ed Warner.

Andy Carroll: How ‘Criminal’ Is ‘Too Criminal’ For England?

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Newcastle's tempestuous target man Andy Carroll has made considerably more appearances in the dock than he ever has for his national side, but the 21-year-old has been handed a conditional reprieve by England manager Fabio Capello and, as such, is set to collect his first senior cap this evening.

Manchester United owners to pay off £220m PIK loan

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It was reported tonight that the American owners of Manchester United, the Glazer family, have agreed to pay off a £220m payment in kind (PIK) loan on 22 November.

The £220 million payment-in-kind (PIK) loan was taken out in August 2006 as a consolidation of the Glazer family's £790 million takeover that took place in May 2005.

Barca go in search of records

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This Saturday's game at Almería could see Barcelona create a new record. If they are victorious in the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos they will have notched up 10 wins from the opening 12 games, a feat never before achieved in the club's long and illustrious history. Barca have won all five of their away games so far and if they can make it six it will be the club's best-ever start away from home; it would also equal the record set by Real Madrid in the 1991/92 season when they won the first six games on their travels.

A Defining Fortnight Ahead for Ipswich Boss Keane

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Ipswich Town boss Roy Keane is again under fire from supporters following Saturday's embarassing defeat at home to Barnsley. Blues faithful are growing increasingly tired of turgid displays on home soil, and many believe that poor performances as well as results at Hull and bitter rivals Norwich in the next fortnight could prompt reclusive owner Marcus Evans to act.

World Focus: UAE Pro-league

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This year's UAE Pro-League showcases expectation and pressure that hasn't been seen since England's World Cup campaign and we all know how that turned out.

The giants of UAE football, Al Ahli, are looking to rebuild on and off the pitch following last seasons bitterly disappointing seventh placed finish.

Unsung Coyle Twists the Perception of Bolton

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What is it with Scotland and football managers? Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson set the blueprint for management for the modern age, chairmen across England have been falling over themselves to get themselves the next big thing from across the border. While English bosses still look years away from finding a maiden Premier League title winner, Scotland already have two (from a total of five) in their ranks.

Adam Johnson Mulling Over Man City Exit

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Manchester City's 'sky-blue meat grinder' transfer policy is seemingly set to claim yet another victim with winger Adam Johnson today admitting that he is beginning to entertain thoughts of leaving the club, despite having only joined from Middlesbrough a little over ten months ago.

Barcelona Reach Bargain €3m Deal For Ibrahim Afellay

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If reports on UEFA.com are to be believed then Barcelona may just have pulled off one of the bargains of the past few seasons yesterday evening, with the announcement that the Catalan club have struck a deal with PSV that will see highly-rated young midfielder Ibrahim Affelay move to Spain in January for the princely sum of €3 million.

Barcelona and PSV agree on Afellay move

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Ibrahim Afellay, the Dutch winger playing for PSV Eindhoven has been announced as the next signing of Barcelona when the transfer window opens. Barca's website announced the deal late last night. Personal terms are still to be agreed between the club and the player.

The 24 year old winger will be joining the club in the January transfer window.

Javier Pastore dedicates Sicilian hat-trick to Diego Maradona

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Palermo hero Javier Pastore has dedicated his derby day hat-trick over Catania to Argentine compatriot Diego Maradona.

Pastore is genuinely blossoming into a future world star and his hat-trick in Sunday's game to give his club Sicilian bragging rights has the whole of Europe talking about his attributes.

England 2018 Plead With FIFA To ‘Ignore The Media’

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In a development that reveals just how low they now deem themselves to have sunk in FIFA's estimations (and how far back they have fallen back in terms of the impending vote), England 2018 have written to every voting member on the organisation's executive committee (EC), pleading with them to not to punish the bid team for the actions of the nation's independent media and press.

Manchester United can’t win, Manchester City won’t win, and Mourinho never lost at Stamford Bridge

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For those fans whose expectations of this year's Premier League title race were shaped by the English press orgasming over Chelsea's prowess, I have to burst your bubble Chelsea haven't won the title yet. It's only November, and you don't win titles in November. You can lose them (as Liverpool did last year, or City have with their results), but you can't win them.

Jay Bothroyd’s Dream Is England’s Nightmare

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A decade ago, tempestuous teenager Jay Bothroyd was told by Arsenal's head of youth development, Liam Brady that he would never play for the club again after the surly young striker hurled his shirt at coach Don Howe upon being substituted during an U19s match.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mancini?

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How do you solve a problem like Mancini? Ger McCarthy looks at what's going wrong at Manchester City in the wake of the Premier League club's third consecutive league game without scoring.

The chorus of jeers ringing around Eastlands at full time on Saturday said it all.

England squad for France friendly

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England v France
Friendly
Wednesday 17 November
Wembley, England

Fabio Capello has announced an experimental / fresh-looking squad to play France on Wednesday at Wembley which is bound to ruffle a few feathers, although at this point anything Capello does provokes a mini-lynching from sections of the press.

Fullback Tactics: Out Wide Or In The Box?

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In todays format fullbacks are deadly important, apparently it was Brain Clough wasn't it, who said that fullbacks were the most important player on the pitch because of the space they would get when moving into the final third. And certainly the modern game attacking fullbacks are seen as a must have Evra, Alves, Maicon, Cole.

Mourinho under fire ahead of Sporting Gijón clash

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José Mourinho has carried on his tradition of getting under people's skin wherever he goes, but this week he came under fire from two sides as he was labelled "ill-mannered" and a "rogue."

First up was boss of Mediapro, Jaume Roures, whose company has the rights to televise El Clásico on Monday, 29 November.

Juventus looking to end Roma’s good run

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Juventus vs AS Roma
Serie A
Stadio Olimpico di Torino, Torino
Saturday, 13th November 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

Juventus and Roma are on the up after both suffering indifferent starts to the season.

Top of the table Milan looking to end derby day blues against inconsistent Inter

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AC Milan vs Internazionale
Serie A
The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
Sunday, 14th November 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

La Gazzetta dello Sport get your printers at the ready because it's the Milanese derby this weekend.

Bendtner Threatens To Quit Arsenal As Chelsea Chase ‘Ronaldo’

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Arsenal's vainglorious striker Niklas Bendtner has never been one for the subtle understatement, lest we forget that it was only a few months ago he claimed himself to be the 'greatest goalscorer in the world' during an interview with FIFA.com haughty declarations which he has since tempered (he now 'plans to become' the greatest goalscorer in the world) if not rescinded completely.

A British Revolution In Southern Spain

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While the amount of British players to have made themselves a name in Spain is relatively small David Beckham, Gary Lineker, Laurie Cunningham to name but three there is a quiet revolution taking place at the moment in the backwaters of Southern Spain, albeit at a much lower level, which is starting to make people sit up and take notice.

What Now For Sergio Asenjo?

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It might have been over ten years since Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid and more than fifteen since the same club won the league title, but few can remember the last time los Rojiblancos had a goalkeeping crisis a good one that is. While attacking talent is usually found in abundance at the Vicente Calderon, security between the sticks is something that the club has struggled to find for a long time.

Chelsea Benefit From Lampard’s Continued Absence

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It was today confirmed by Carlo Ancelotti that Frank Lampard will be out for a further 2 or 3 weeks despite reports that he'd be back this weekend against Sunderland. Lampard has been absent since August, missing 14 games in this time. It is easy to have a moan about the bad-luck of it all for him and for Chelsea, but positives can be drawn from his absence.

Football Managers Are Hypocrites

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Rarely a week goes by where we don't get some manager, player, or chief executive spouting off to the press about some vapid issue or another. This week we were treated to Ian Holloway and Alex Ferguson raging about whatever matter of contention was vexing them at that particular moment while Arsene Wenger criticizes opponents for their tackling while his own team sit on top of the red card table in the EPL.

Fergie Time: Didier Drogba’s Malaria Proves That Nobody Knows Anything

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Welcome to Fergie Time, a roundup/newsletter type deal that delivers news, opinion and links directly to your screen. As the name suggests, there will be some exaggeration, nsfw moments, canceled press conferences (oh, who are we kidding) and late, late, late scoring of points. You'll like it, trust me.

Pellegrini starts Málaga reign with a win

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Ex-Real Madrid and Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini, appointed Málaga manager seven days ago, marked his return to Spanish football with a 3-2 triumph over Hércules to send his new team through to the last sixteen of the Copa del Rey. But it needed a last-gasp header from diminutive Uruguayan striker Sebastián Fernández to make it a happy one for the 57-year old Chilean; it was the first time this season Málaga have won at home in six attempts.

Joey Barton Is A Contemptible Little Sh*t

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Yesterday evening the Football Association announced that they had bought 'violent conduct' about Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton (or '37542′ as he was briefly referred to as for a short stretch back in mid-2008) for the sly jab he delivered to Blackburn winger Morten Gamst Pedersen when the two sides met in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

Van der Vaart – Premier League’s Best Performer This Season?

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Castrol Rankings put Tottenham's Rafael Van der Vaart at an impressive 7th place that is to say, over the last 12 months, Van der Vaart has been the 7th best footballer in Europe's top leagues.

This achievement is made more impressive when you realise that VDV has jumped 76 spots in the last month (the Rankings are updated every month) to achieve his top 10 ranking leading us to wonder if he is the best performer in the Premier League this season (so far)?

Let Holloway manage as he sees fit; it worked for McCarthy

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When I saw Ian Holloway had changed ten of his playing personnel for his side's midweek encounter at Villa Park, I understood exactly what was going through his mind.

 I immediately recalled an animated Mick McCarthy vehemently defending his decision to make ten changes when he took Wolves to Old Trafford last year (although he was perhaps not as animated as the Blackpool manager this week click here).

What In Blue Blazes Is Going On At Chelsea?

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As you may or may not be aware, Chelsea took the executive decision to sack their erstwhile assistant coach of the past two-and-a-half managerially turbulent years, Ray Wilkins, yesterday afternoon.

It is being widely reported that Wilkins was completely unaware of his impending dismissal before being summoned to meet with Chelsea's chief executive Ron Gourlay at half-time of the friendly between the club's second-string and their Bayern Munich counterparts at Cobham at lunchtime on Thursday a game he had been overseeing alongside manager Carlo Ancelotti.

3 UP FRONT: Torres, Redknapp, Magpies and Premier League quality

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You'd be crazy to miss the brand new episode of 3 Up Front so tune in now!

Host Adrian Clarke, along with prickly pundits Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh, debate a whole host of hot topics that include;

Is the Premier League going downhill in terms of quality?

Fact or Fiction: Should we apologise to Torres and Hodgson for writing them off?

Is Ian Holloway Unravelling Before Our Eyes?

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'Twas only a little over nine months ago that Wolverhampton Wanderers were handed a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League board for fielding what they deemed to be a weakened team against Manchester United in a league game the previous December.

In a game he wasn't expecting to get anything from, manager Mick McCarthy made ten changes to his team with one eye firmly fixed on an upcoming ‘relegation six-pointer' with fellow stragglers Burnley.

Is Ian Holloway Unravelling Before Our Eyes? (draft title)

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'Twas only a little over nine months ago that Wolverhampton Wanderers were handed a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League board for fielding what they deemed to be a weakened team against Manchester United in a league game the previous December.

In a game he wasn't expecting to get anything from, manager Mick McCarthy made ten changes to his team with one eye firmly fixed on an upcoming ‘relegation six-pointer' with fellow stragglers Burnley.

Barcelona-Madrid to play on Monday, 29th November

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After speculation as to the exact date of the game, the date of the first leg of the El Clasico has been announced by the Liga de Futbol Professional (LFP): the game will be played on Monday, 29th November 2010 at 21:00 (local time) at the Camp Nou.

Despite the rumor that both Real Madrid and Barcelona have ruled out the chances of playing each other on Monday, the game is scheduled to be played on Monday.

Can Arsenal and Manchester United Finish Ahead Of Chelsea?

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The race for this year's Barclay's Premier League title looks like going right to the wire with none of the pre-season favourites able to pull away from the chasing pack after the opening 12 rounds of fixtures. Ger McCarthy analyses the current 3 front-runners and outlines which of those clubs looked best equipped for a tilt at the championship.

Manchester United: Drop it like it’s hot!

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Two very different things. Manchester United is a football club and "Drop it like it's hot" is a song by Snoop Dogg. What relation could there possibly. Well, how about Rio Ferdinand and a 2009/2010 Manchester United home shirt.

Judging from the shirt, it seems like an event from last year.

El Clásico confirmed for Monday, 29 November

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It's now officially over. The issue that has gripped the Spanish nation for the past few weeks has come to an end. El Clásico has finally been given a date and kick off time – Monday 29 November at 9pm.

The matter had been the subject of intense debate over the whole of the peninsula, with newspaper polls and even TV shows trying to unravel the mystery of when it would actually take place.

Mourinho gets his marching orders

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José Mourinho's ambition of doing the treble in Spain is still on course after Wednesday night's 5-1 annihilation of Murcia in the second leg of the Copa del Rey. However, it was a night of mixed emotions for the ‘Special One' as he was sent from the bench in the 38th minute for insulting referee Paradas Romero.

Worst…Manchester Derby…Ever!

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'Tepid', 'stale', 'ugly', 'dreary' and 'utterly devoid of anything approaching creativity, inspiration or incident' just a refined selection of what the country's leading back-page quota-fillers are calling last night's 156th (142nd in the league) Manchester derby.

There are precious few scintillas of optimism to be found in today's press, and perhaps rightly so, as both sides of the Manchester divide laboured and contained in equal measure whilst singularly failing to pick those crucial holes in each other's compact defensive units it's fair to say that it wasn't really one for the attacking purists.

Atlético look to Asia to compete with Madrid and Barcelona

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It's a move that could have far-reaching effects for Spanish football. Atlético Madrid this week became the first Primera Liga club to formally ask the Liga de Fútbol Profesional if they can move all home games to a 12 noon kick off when the second round of matches begins in mid-January. ‘Los Colchoneros' have acted quickly in trying to secure their share of the lucrative Far and Middle Eastern markets, believing the club would double its income if fans in that part of the world were able to see their live games at peak TV viewing time.

Time to be a real sport FIFA: bring on the goal line technology

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For some reason, the concept of goal line technology, essentially a NON-ISSUE, now threatens the very the integrity, if not the very innocence of football. Platini, the incorrigible leader of UEFA, lamented that the introduction of goal line technology would turn Football into Playstation football.

Two Court Cases Await Rooney On His Return

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After initially allowing Wayne Rooney to spend a fortnight or so recuperating from his 'non-existant' ankle injury under the expert supervision of the poolside medical team (who, rather strangely, also do a fine line in rum-based cocktails) at Dubai's five-star Burj Al Arab Hotel, Manchester United then carted him off to Nike Town in Oregon with the club's official line being that their haughty striker was to undergo an additional period of 'conditioning' in the States before returning to Old Trafford.

‘Stupid’ Tevez Billboard Is A Sign Of The Times In Manchester

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Between the years 1989 and 2002, Manchester United comprehensively dominated local rivals City when it came to the derby ties betwixt the two clubs.

After hammering United 5-1 at Maine Road in September of '89, City then endured a 13-year barren run before finally emerging victorious again in November of 2002, thanks mainly to Shaun 'The Goat' Goater's 100th and 101st goals for the club.

Who will virus-struck Manchester United play against Tevez’s Manchester City?

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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson confirms he has not decided who is in the squad for the near trip to Manchester City.

The Red Devils travel to the City Of Manchester Stadium on the back of a narrow 2-1 win against Wolverhampton on Saturday evening, and are now looking for the chance to actually go top if Chelsea fail to pick up maximum points against Blackburn tomorrow night.

Chaos Reigns Supreme Ahead Of The Superclasico

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If this is the calm before the storm, then it is going to be quite some storm when River Plate meet Boca Juniors next Tuesday evening.

The derby widely regarded as the most passionate and intense in world football (see the world's most violent football rivalries) rarely needs an introduction, except on this occasion.

Why Theo Walcott Is One Tactical Change Away From Greatness

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He's been highly-rated for some time, but Theo Walcott is finally starting to show some steady progress. With several goals already in the bag for the campaign, Walcott has developed an appetite for shooting rather than crossing and with fresh demands for a central role now tickling the ears of manager Arsene Wenger, there is indeed a tactical decision to make.

Frank Lampard Reveals Massive Man Crush For Wayne Rooney

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In an impassioned appeal to football fans, Frank Lampard has defended Wayne Rooney from "lazy" criticism and said that his fellow England player is cute, sensitive and sharp, and also has a great sense of humour.

No, seriously...

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Frank Lampard made the following comments on Wayne Rooney.

Chelsea In Talks To Leave Stamford Bridge

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West London property investors Capital and Counties (C&C) have once again approached Chelsea with a proposal that would see the club vacate Stamford Bridge, their home of 105 years, in order to relocate to a new 60,000 capacity stadium that C&C are hoping to develop on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Earls Court exhibition centre.

FC Barcelona – The best of Spain?

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According to the official FC Barcelona website, Barcelona has been declared the best in Spanish La Liga in the first decade of this century by the Centre d'Investigacions d'Historia i Estadistica del Futbol Espanyol (CIHEFE).

In the first decade of this century, the Catalan giants have earned 1,630 points and Real Madrid are on the second place far behind with 1,482 points.

The 2010 Soccerlens Awards

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The Soccerlens Awards are all about celebrating the very best in football from around the web from those breaking the news to those making it. A year is a long time for the web and so we make sure we spend time fine tuning the SLAs to reflect the changes and trends we see out there in the online football world.

Is Andy Carroll Finally Ready For England?

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A rambunctious start to his Premier League career saw all and sundry begin to tout Newcastle target man Andy Carroll for a call-up to the national side which, given the straw-clutching at the time, seemed like more of a denigration of manager Fabio Capello's senior front-line options than a fully fledged endorsement of the rangy striker's obvious, if a little unpolished, talents.

Fernando Torres Will Never Be ‘Back To His Best’

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You can bet your bottom Euro that, had Liverpool striker Fernando Torres put in his now-customary idle mope against Chelsea yesterday, today's tabloids would have been crammed to the hilt with sourceless stories of his impending desertion to whichever cash-rich suitors were plucked out of the hat first.

Manchester City could be perfect for Jose Mourinho in the long term

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It was inevitable wasn't it? Jose Mourinho being touted as the man to succeed Roberto Mancini at Manchester City just as he did at Internazionale where he delivered what his predecessor couldn't –the European Cup.

Mancini has come under more scrutiny these past two weeks following the club's three back to back defeats along with player unrest.

BBC Probe Threatens To Derail England 2018 World Cup Bid

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Coming in the wake of the Sunday Times' recent cavalcade of dogged exposés, that grand old bastion of British broadcasting, the BBC, have signalled their intent to completely undermine the England 2018 World Cup bid team's efforts by pressing ahead with the screening of a Panorama investigation into the various foul play and corruption that goes on within FIFA's corridors of power.

The Soccerlens All-Stars Fantasy Football Team. Can You Beat Them?

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I'm laying down a challenge. I've picked my 11 players for week 11 of the Soccerlens fantasy football game. I'll be entering the team at the Silver level and competing for the $40 in weekly prize money, but am also challenging you to try and beat me.

My team is below, and my reasons for picking the eleven I did are below that.

Liverpool FC: NESV Plan For The Future

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Barely two weeks since John Henry and the New England Sports Venture took over Liverpool FC they have begun to put their stamp on the club. Not only has Damien Comolli been placed between the Directors at the club and Roy Hodgson but co-owner Tom Werner has also made it known how NESV will try to exploit the club going forward.

Can Atletico End Real Madrid’s Undefeated Start?

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As derbies go, it's one of the most passionate and dramatic in Europe, however, in recent years, it has also been one of the most one-sided. Despite going close on a number of occasions, Atletico Madrid have not beaten their arch-rivals Real Madrid for over a decade back in the days when Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink was plying his trade by the Manzanares.

Madrid Derby: Atletico win will be an epic upset

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Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid
La Liga
Bernabeu, Madrid
Sunday, 7 November 2010
20:00 GMT

To overcome ten years of hurt, Atletico Madrid have been handed the opportunity to take on the undefeated Real Madrid. And what better place to achieve that feat then at Galacticos' own home, Bernabeu.

The Evolution of Fantasy Football: From Crumpled Tabloids to Online Auctions

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Fantasy football is changing. Let me take you all the way back to the '90s, and my very first venture into fantasy football. The internet as we know it was yet to be invented, and so selecting my team involved a crumpled copy of a well known tabloid newspaper, entering player codes into a premium rate phoneline, and a cheque sent to said tabloid newspaper's HQ in an envelope.

Fergie Time: Zidane and Materazzi are the new Ross and Rachel

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Welcome to Fergie Time, a roundup/newsletter type deal that delivers news, opinion and links directly to your screen. As the name suggests, there will be some exaggeration, nsfw moments, canceled press conferences (oh, who are we kidding) and late, late, late scoring of points. You'll like it, trust me.

Will Roberto Mancini’s Defiance Force The Sheikh’s Hand?

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As a direct consequence of their monolithic fiscal prowess, nowhere is pressure to be felt more keenly than at the sharp end of Manchester City's footballing enterprise these days.

With £500-odd million already frittered away into the ether, manager Roberto Mancini is the man currently doomed to somehow begin delivering instant results with an undeniably talented yet flaw-riddled, fragmented and hopelessly one-dimensional side time, as they say, is not really a viable option.

Luciano Civelli – Does His Face Fit at Portman Road Anymore?

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Ipswich Town's forgotten man Luciano Civelli has declared to the regional press in recent weeks that his knee feels "perfect" after his 18-month injury nightmare that has seen the Argentine wide man play just eight times for the Tractor Boys since a £1 million switch from Banfield in the 2009 January transfer window.

3 Up Front Podcast: Mancini, Commoli, World Cup farce and Bale Mania

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Make sure you don't miss the brand new episode of 3 Up Front, which is an absolute cracker!

In a show packed with more than its fair share of fireworks, host Adrian Clarke guides Spraggy and Macca through all the hottest topics including;

Will the British media cost England the right to host World Cup 2018?

The cunning yet brilliant Filippo Inzaghi

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Filippo Inzaghi at 37-years of age is edging ever nearer to the day when he'll hang up his boots and sit back in Piacenza revising all his memories in a career that has been littered with goals, goals and goals.

His brace in mid-week against Real Madrid was a reminder of his capabilities and what ‘Pippo' is all about.

Tearful De La Red Announces His Retirement At Just 25

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It's not often that football brings you to tears. While everyone has seen the fans crying on television when their team are relegated or lose in a cup final, rarely does one see moments of tears amongst raw emotion. Today, however, as Ruben de la Red announced his retirement, was one of those rare moments.

Liverpool Owners May Push For Everton Ground-Share

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In new owner John W Henry, Liverpool obviously haven't gained a free-wheeling oligarch with purse strings looser than the Tea Party's grip on reality, but rather a pragmatist with no express desire to go doubling his £300 million outlay by building extraneous stadiums hither and thither.

What Can Liverpool Expect From Damien Comolli?

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Like that of David Dein and Richard Scudamore, Damien Comolli's name is one that you hear in loose connection with English football on a fairly regular basis and, even when spoon-fed their respective job titles, it's quite difficult to pin down what they actually do for a living and for which club/organisation they actually do it.

Did Clattenburg really make one of the worst refereeing decisions ever?

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There has been fervent debate in the wake of Mark Clattenburg's decision to allow Nani's goal at Old Trafford on Saturday evening to stand even though Heurelho Gomes had rolled the ball out convinced he had been awarded a free kick. I have been absorbed by the arguments with some in support of the ruling and others lambasting the referee's actions.

Batista secures permanent role as Argentinean coach

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Sergio Batista, the man who has filled in for Diego Maradona since his contract expired as Argentina manager, has been given the role on a permanent basis.

Batista has signed a contract keeping him at the South American country until after the 2014 World Cup, held in Brazil.

The 1986 World Cup winner said:

"I'm fulfilling a dream, one of my great objectives,"

During his temporary spell in charge, Batista triumphantly led his side to a 4-1 victory over World Champions, Spain.

Who do Chelsea really owe their current success to?

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"Scolari reckons that Chelsea's success is all down to him", "Scolari insists that Chelsea's current domination of England is thanks to him" and "I made Chelsea Great!" are ludicrous statements from a number of newspapers recently.

I'm sure many other football supporters, like me, were intrigued by how ridiculous and audacious these claims sound.

Ferguson: United Won’t Purchase In January

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Wayne Rooney may have signed a new five-year deal at Manchester United, but that was all based on the reassurance of the club moving forward and bringing new, world class players into the team. Now, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he will not be signing anyone in the January transfer window.

Glory Glory Man United, but for how long?

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Since Manchester United recently released a record loss of 83.6 million and an increased turnover, fresh cries for the Glazers to leave have been reinstated and we can expect to see a lot more of the famous Newton Heath style scarves being brandished around Old Trafford.

Man United fans have made no big secret of their loathing for the Glazer family who they accuse of having no passion for the club, and only real interest being only to squeeze every penny they can out of the illustrious club.

Player Power and The Premier League: How A Salary Cap Could Save Football

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In English football, we've never had it so good.

Gone are the days of falling attendances; of a sport rife with hooliganism; of dilapidated and sometimes deadly stadia. Instead, football has become a family-friendly affair, is played in theatres of dreams, in front of sell-out crowds. The English Premier League is the most watched league on the planet, the place where every youngster wants to ply his trade.

AC Milan 2 -2 Real Madrid – Pedro Leon’s last gasp equaliser clinches qualification for Madrid

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Following Real Madrid's coasting over Milan two weeks prior, the Rossoneri were looking to assert themselves in tonight's return tie – especially after the weekend defeat to Juventus in Serie A.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri introduced Kevin Prince Boateng to the fore – effectively in place of Clarence Seedorf.

Stat Attack: McGeady, Anelka, Gattuso & Ronaldo to watch out for in tonight’s Champions League

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Londoners Chelsea are hosting one of the coolest teams in UEFA Champions League, Spartak Moscow temperature cool, that is and Spanish capital club Real Madrid are off to Italy to play AC Milan.

These two games are set to be packed with action as Moscow will be hoping for Aiden McGeady to take full advantage of the home game against the Blue reigning English champions.

Is Theo Walcott Ready For The ‘Henry Role’ At Arsenal?

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Ever since he signed for the club as a wide-eyed 16-year-old back in January of 2006, Arsenal prodigy Theo Walcott has been systematically lauded as the natural successor to Thierry Henry's considerable mantle at the club and, by proxy, unfairly derided for his continuing failure to do so.

NESV Offer No Debt Guarantees: History Repeating At Liverpool?

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Do you remember Tom Hicks and George Gillett? The two rootin'-tootin' American business men that almost single-handedly ploughed Liverpool FC into the terra firma by saddling the club with monstrous debts and elaborately convoluted payment plans? The pair of ruddy-faced barnacles that dug in their spurred-heels and hung on for dear life as the club slowly died on the vine, despite the fact that several conglomerate defibrillators were reportedly waiting in the wings to revive it?

World Focus: South African Premier Soccer League

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After the passion and enthusiasm shown by South African natives in the recent World Cup, this year's ADSA Premier Soccer League is bound to be the most followed and exciting domestic contest the African coast has seen for years.

Following a diverse positioning during the past few years, ranging from second to ninth, Mamelodi Sundowns occupy the top of the table with fifteen points.

Will Leiston FC be Victims of Their Own Success in Ridgeons Premier League Title Tilt?

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For a number of seasons now Leiston FC have been knocking on the door for promotion out of the Ridgeons League for pastures new, be it the Ryman League or the Zamaretto League. The club certainly appears geared for the next step up the pyramid, proven by their stunning 2008/09 FA Cup run which saw the Blues make the 1st Round proper for the first time in their history.

League One remains tighter than a South African goal-line decision

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League One has been a frustrating affair for most clubs this season, and unless you're Brighton (happily sitting at the top of the table and unbeaten in eleven) you probably feel you have more to complain about than to celebrate; yet you look at the league table and see that your team still has a good shout at promotion.

Gareth Bale inspires Spurs to 3-1 victory over Inter

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Another magnificent performance by Spurs' left midfield sensation Gareth Bale saw Tottenham take a justified 3-1 victory over Champions League holders Inter Milan and see the Spurs elevated to the top of group A.

The Welshman set up two goals for his fellow team mates Crouch and Pavlyuchenko who capped off a night that will go down as a historical night in Tottenham's elusive history.

Hat-trick or treat: Nolan and Co. hammer horror-show Sunderland

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Newcastle 5 1 Sunderland Hat-trick hero Kevin Nolan led Newcastle to their biggest win over Sunderland in 55 years as they humiliated their bitter rivals at St James' Park on Sunday.

Nolan became the first player to score a hat-trick in the fixture since Peter Beardsley 25 years ago, in a stunning performance that ended a week of speculation surrounding Toon boss Chris Hughton's future at the club.

Gareth Bale and Spurs Beat Inter Milan 3-1 as Rafael Benitez Goes Eric Cantona Crazy, Again…

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Tottenham Hotspur and Gareth Bale (again) produced one of the great European performances as they swept Inter Milan, the current European champions, aside 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Harry Redknapp's side were brilliant right from the very first whistle and thoroughly deserved their win over Rafael Benitez's shell-shocked troops.

Jarvis for England?

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After a recurring sight of seeing Wolves' bright young winger impress the Molineux faithful, it seems no surprise to most he has recently been linked with a possible inclusion in the England squad for the France game.

The quick, intelligent winger started his career at Gillingham where he repeatedly frightened English Championship and League One defenses with the constant threat he posed with pace no defense could handle, and now, his performances are shortly becoming reminiscent of his performances as a young talent in the lower leagues.

FIFA Member Deems World Cup Corruption Probe ‘Unethical’

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In their incessant bid to 'create the news' rather than merely report it, the Sunday Times' (ST) undercover arm seem to take great pride in their uncanny ability to p*ss off just about everybody they come into contact with.

Having already effectively enforced suspensions upon two senior FIFA committee members (namely Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Oceania's Reynald Temarii) amidst allegations of selling off their World Cup votes to the highest bidder and running quotes from former FIFA secretary-general Michel Zen-Ruffinen who levied some fairly hefty accusations against his former employers, it now seems that the newspaper have made themselves yet another high-ranking enemy.

Harry Redknapp Is Right To Threaten Media Blackout

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Let it be known that I'm not one to freely subscribe to the received wisdom that Harry Redknapp is some kind of roguish impling that should be cherished for his pithy remarks or Cockney chirruping (a fact that I may have previously alluded to on the odd occasion), but that's not to say that I don't wholeheartedly agree with his predilections from time to time.

FC United of Manchester Gear Up For FA Cup Debut Against Rochdale

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Forget about how Luis Nani and Mark Clattenburg robbed Tottenham Hotspur this weekend the big story in football and in Manchester in particular is that FC United of Manchester will play their first televised match next weekend when they take on local side Rochdale in the first round of the FA Cup.

The Incredible Rise Of Luis Nani

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It was the summer of 2007. Rumours were rife about the Sporting Lisbon winger. The deal was then sealed. In a transfer worth £30m, including the switch of Anderson from Porto, Luis Nani joined Manchester United and donned the #17 jersey vacated by Henrik Larsson the previous March.

Nani had been hailed as the next Ronaldo and a whiz kid and he showed this sporadically during his maiden season with the English club.

Drenthe Hits Top Gear Off The Pitch Too

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Royston Drenthe has been the driving force behind much of Hercules' success this season but could now find himself in trouble after hitting top gear off the pitch too. The Dutch footballer reportedly hit speeds of 180km/h in his sports car following the Copa del Rey clash with Malaga last week and was caught breaking six red lights!

Ashley Should Finally Lay The Hughton Speculation To Rest

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Chris Hughton is still waiting over news of a new contract.

It was a crazy game at Blackpool tonight and it's a crazy looking division at the moment, with all three promoted teams sitting pretty in the top half. But while the clash at Bloomfield Road resembled more of a pantomime than a football match, the real outstanding slice of theatre was being dished out the day before at St James' Park.

Spurs set to make a mark in Europe or will Benitez save Inter?

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Tottenham vs Inter Milan
Group Stage, UEFA Champions League
White Hart Lane, London
Tuesday, 2nd November, 2010
19:45 GMT

Tottenham Hotspur probably have a fairly good chance to get on over Rafael Benitez and reigning champions Inter Milan from their last match where Spurs ended up losing but with three away goals.

Is Roberto Mancini Standing In The Way Of His Dysfunctional Family?

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Reports are swirling today (notably in The Sun, who have run with the typically subtle headline 'Dead Manc Walking') that Manchester City's evil band of profligate mercenaries, nefarious chancers and horrid foreign greed-hounds are becoming increasingly keen for the club to sack coach Roberto Mancini, who they believe is the last obstacle in their way to world domination or the Premier League title, whichever comes first.

Harry Redknapp Facing FA Charges For Ludicrous Referee Rant

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There's something about Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp that just makes him so intrinsically hard to love.

It may very well just be the fact that his face looks like four lungs wrestling for position in a plastic bag, or that he constantly seems to evade any form of karmic footballing retribution despite his recklessly myopic quest for instant gratification regardless of the financial capabilities of whichever club he pitches up at or maybe, just maybe, it's because of his particularly repetitive brand of blame resistant buck-passing.

Chelsea’s Greatest Signings under Roman Abramovich

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Chelsea have made approximately 50 signings since the take-over of Roman Abramovich. About £470 million (and William Gallas) has been spent on these players – that averages out at just over £9 million (and one of Gallas' hands) per player.

Compiling a list of the best 10 signings in this time is not a simple task and there will, no doubt, be objections.

Tottenham vs Liverpool: Can Hodgson ‘Leapfrog’ Harry?

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Tottenham vs Liverpool
Premier League
White Hart Lane, London
Sunday 28th November 2010
16:00 BST

To borrow the slightly derisory words of Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, Tottenham are a 'top side' and no longer the 'mugs' that they once were, with a bounding start to the season already seeing them dispatch of reigning European champions Inter, bitter local rivals Arsenal and (most consumately of all) Champions League also-rans Werder Bremen with their patented brand of gung-ho bombardiering.