SoccerLens Archives for January 2010

3 UP FRONT: Transfers, Tips, Wallies, Man City and Liverpool mess

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Make sure you tune in to the last 3 Up Front podcast of 2010!

Adrian Clarke is joined for this entertaining end of year special by Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh which covers;

Top transfer tips for the January sales who is going where?

Fact or Fiction: Liverpool will finish in the bottom half (or worse)!

Soccerlens Top 10 Fighting Footballers

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There's a particular line of thinking which suggests that 'everybody likes a dust-up' once in a while, no more so than this decuplet of scrappers, snarlers, biters, scratchers and degenerate ne'er-do-wells.

Soccerlens presents: The top 10 fighting footballers (in no particular order...)

1.

Biggest Losers Of 2010: Rooney, Rafa And A Particular Strand Of DNA

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Alas, 'tis that time of year again when thoughts invariably turn to the 'new' and stock is taken of the twelve months that played out hence and we forthright bods at Soccerlens are no different.

As we yet again slide effortlessly over the cusp of a footballing decade and into 2011, we thought it high time to shame the contemptible (and laud the deserving check out the 'Biggest Winners' list) who have piqued our disdain over the course of the last 525,948 minutes.

The Soccerlens Cheaters And Scoundrels XI

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Soccerlens bring to you: The Cheaters XI which is basically just the England squad of the last five or so years (plus a few peripherals) which, you can't help but feel, may say more about the British tabloid press than it does about the skewed fidelity of our nation's footballing protagonists!

Best of Soccerlens in 2010

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2010 brought a lot of ups and downs for a football fan with Spain seeing World Cup glory, Wayne Rooney going from a special bloke from the streets to a normal bloke from the streets who wants sex and more money. Cristiano Ronaldo suddenly became a father, Barcelona was caught in debt and was forced to make way for their first ever shirt sponsor while Real Madrid struggled to get a nil out of the fifth straight El Clasico loss.

Premier League Clubs in Crisis – Part 5: Which Players Should West Ham Buy in January?

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The final club being examined in this series is the struggling West Ham United. This surely is not one of the finest years in Avram Grant's managerial career. He experienced hard times at Portsmouth last season and just when he thought he had a fresh start at Upton Park, he finds himself dead last in the table with the guillotine dangling perilously above his head, ready to drop at any given time.

Soccerlens Top 5 Luckiest Transfers

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It's that time of year when thoughts should ineffably turn to those less fortunate than ourselves, 'tis the season of 'goodwill to all men' and all that jazz.

However, me being a stingy son of a gun, I felt the clamour to turn my thoughts to those far more fortunate than ourselves, and produce a list of some of the luckiest, gummy-grinned chancers the modern game has offered up to date.

Premier League Clubs in Crisis – Part 4: Which Players Should Fulham Buy in January?

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The penultimate club to be considered in this series is Fulham. Last season, the Cottagers were reaching for the stars. A fairytale run that led them to the Europa League final had the fans in awe. This season, however, the Cottagers are reaching for something, but it's only the rope that will lift them away from relegation.

Qatar 2022: Exclusive Interview with FIFA Bid Inspection Project Manager Jon Sinigaglia

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FIFA awarding the World Cup to Qatar in 2022 has certainly caught the imagination of the footballing public. For the first time ever the competition will make its way to the Middle East, where a vast untapped footballing community awaits with baited breath.

Jon Sinigaglia was Project Director for the FIFA pre-qualification bid inspection of Qatar and was an integral member of their winning bid team.

Lovelorn Rafael Benitez Should Take a Rest From Football After Inevitable Inter Split

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To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Rafael Benitez's time at Inter Milan is about to come to an end. If rumours are to be believed, this very night sees Rafa's agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, negotiating the Spaniard's second compensation package in the space of six months.

Winter Weather Proves That Premier League Should Put Fans First at Christmas

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Last weekend snowy weather conditions played havoc with the Premier League fixture list, next week will probably be similar. The recent inclement weather does raise one important issue though as far as the all important Christmas period is concerned; Why does the EPL make fans travel the length and breadth of the country when fixtures closer to home could easily be arranged?

Premier League Clubs in Crisis – Part 3: Which Players Should Aston Villa Buy in January?

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The third club to come under the microscope in this series is Aston Villa. Gerard Houllier has had a tough job to do since taking over from Martin O'Neill. Injuries have severely affected this club and have given Houllier no choice but to call on several, untested youths.

Giving credit where credit is due, it has to be said that for the most part, the young ones have done a decent job.

Its Zlatan and Cassano!!

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Its summer 2010 and you are the chairman of a massive European club whose glories are becoming a distant memory. You are being overshadowed by your local neighbors and your squad is ageing.

What do you do?

That's right you go and get your team two of the most demanding, pampered players possible who have huge abilities but sometimes prefer not to use them.

El-Hadji Diouf: ‘Carragher Is Nothing, He Is Ketchup’

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Two years ago, Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher published 'Carra...', an autobiography in which, amongst various jaunty tales of pre-meditated assault, the centre-back 'questioned' the work ethic of his former Anfield teammate Senegalese forward El Hadji Diouf, who joined the club six years previous.

Nani Is 1,600 Times More Intelligent Than Arsene Wenger

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Earlier today, Manchester United's flimsy winger Nani traversed out on to a limb and effectively dismissed second-placed Arsenal's Premier League aspirations by proclaiming fourth-place Chelsea as his side's only serious title rivals.

Under questioning, the Portuguese international replied that he is only able to foresee two clubs being genuinely involved in the hunt come the end of May:

"I no longer see anybody winning the Premier League this season outside of Manchester United or Chelsea.

3 UP FRONT: Christmas special featuring Andy Brassell

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Treat yourself to a listen to the much anticipated 3 Up Front Christmas special featuring host Adrian Clarke, Iain Spragg, Iain Macintosh and special guest, European football expert Andy Brassell.

This week's bumper festive show includes;

The uphill struggles which lie ahead for Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.

Fergie Time: Looking Forward to a Winter World Cup

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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.

Wenger Wraps Wilshere In Cotton Wool, Rules Out Beckham Loan

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Arsenal patriarch Arsene Wenger looks set to re-open the dormant schism that exists between himself and the Football Association (FA) by attempting to levy 18-year-old midfield tyro Jack Wilshere's inclusion in the England U21 squad for next summer's European Championships in Denmark.

Rafael Benitez’s fixation with Jose Mourinho has ultimately cost him his Inter job

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Rafael Benitez's tenure at Inter Milan is over after just six months in charge. The eccentric Spaniard raised a few eyebrows with his audacious quotes and evident obsession to do the complete opposite of his predecessor Jose Mourinho which ultimately has cost him his job. As the saying goes, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

Qatar Royals Linked With £1.5bn Man Utd Takeover

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'Twas only a matter of weeks ago that, courtesy of infamous whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Manchester United found themselves to have been the subject of a $1bn takeover bid from Than Shwe, i.e. the despotic conker-box that currently heads up Burma's totalitarian military junta.

Quique steadies the Atletico ship

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Atletico Madrid said goodbye to 2010 in La Liga last night, with a comfortable 3-0 victory over struggling Malaga.

2010 started with the Madrid side in fear of relegation and peaked in the summer with the victories in the Europa League Final and the UEFA Super Cup, over Fulham and Internazionale.

Premier League Clubs in Crisis – Part 2: Which Players Should Everton Buy in January?

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Up next in this mini-series is Everton. David Moyes has done a fantastic job at Goodison Park since taking over a just beyond eight years ago. However, they've found themselves to be slow-starters in recent seasons and unfortunately, this season has proven to be no different.

They currently stand a mere five points above the drop zone despite their impressive victory over Manchester City.

Rafa Sacked By Inter: Time For Allardyce To Fulfil His Destiny?

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Yesterday it seemed that, after just six months in the job, Rafa Benitez was living on borrowed time at Inter Milan as a wave of conjecture began to emanate from Italy and ripple across the continent that the Spaniard had been delivered his backside on a plate by club owner Massimo Moratti.

Terrorism Claims Jeopardise Barcelona’s Qatari Shirt Deal

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A fortnight or so ago, debt-saddled (about €430 million at the last count) giants Barcelona announced that news that, for the first time in their grand 111-year history, the club had been forced to bow to the pervading market forces and sign a shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation a move that would see the Arab organisation's logo replace that of children's charity UNICEF atop the famous blaugrana.

Man City Fluff Their Chance To Break ’81-Year Christmas Duck’

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By losing out to Everton in the Premier League yesterday evening, Manchester City fluffed a timely opportunity to celebrate wayward striker Carlos Tevez's new-found commitment to the cause and threw away a chance to break a long-standing '81-year duck' that will now continue to hover over the club for at least another twelve months.

Man City Fluff Their Chance To Break ’81-Year Duck’

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By losing out to Everton in the Premier League yesterday evening, Manchester City fluffed a timely opportunity to celebrate wayward striker Carlos Tevez's new-found commitment to the cause and threw away a chance to break a long-standing '81-year duck' that will now continue to hover over the club for at least another twelve months.

Rafa Benitez’s Time Is Almost Up At Inter Milan

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It would appear that the last few grains of sand are about to run through the egg-timer of fate for Rafa Benitez at Inter Milan, with almost every news outlet in Italy claiming that the Spaniard is within a hair's breadth of the sack despite overseeing the Nerazzurri's fifth title of 2010 over weekend, albeit the utterly vapid FIFA World Club Cup bauble in Abu Dhabi.

Premier League Clubs in Crisis – Part 1: Which players should Liverpool buy in January?

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We are mere weeks away from the January transfer window and without doubt, a few of the league's managers will be champing at the bit to get some business done to save both their jobs and the club's aspirations or in some cases, reputation. Among these managers is, unsurprisingly, Roy Hodgson.

Although much criticised this season, Hodgson is adamant that he is not fearful of getting the sack.

Premier League Sack Race: Odds For Every Manager

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Who will be the next manager to get the sack in the English Premier League? Are Avram Grant's days numbered? Does Wenger have to win a trophy? Can Roy Hodgson turn Liverpool around?

You wait around all season for the first EPL manager to be sacked and then two happen within the space of a week.

Does Carlos Tevez Deserve An Easy Ride?

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Labouring under very flimsy pretences, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is adamant that agitated striker Carlos Tevez will not receive a hostile reception from the jilted home support, when drop zone-flirts Everton visit Eastlands this very evening.

The Premier League tie will see Tevez face the (potentially) baying City crowd for the first time since the striker aired his grievances submitting a written transfer request after citing 'broken relationships' with the club's hierarchy and blaming a continuously crippling bout of homesickness for his wandering eye.

The 2010 Soccerlens Awards Winners

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The wait is finally over. After 3 weeks of furious campaigning, a record 37k+ votes and an unbelievably positive response from fans, voters and nominees, the 2010 Soccerlens Awards winners have been decided. As is customary, the winners are decided exclusively through fan voting, although the SLA team picks the voting shortlist from nominations made by fans and readers.

Arsenal v Stoke City preview: Don’t mention the injury

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Much has been made of Arsenal's inability to win the big games, and how it may be the undoing of their title challenge. So after Monday night's defeat at Old Trafford, and with the boxing day visit of Chelsea to come, should Arsenal be looking towards the Carling Cup as their only hope of silverware?

3 UP FRONT: Tevez, Rovers Cowboys, Liverpool – and Chelsea v United

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Put your Christmas shopping on hold for some old fashioned football chat by tuning in to this week's 3 Up Front!

A day later than planned, Adrian Clarke, Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh have climbed off their sick beds to bring you yet another cracker of a show that features;

What's going on with Carlos Tevez?

Chelsea vs Man Utd: Blues Chase Kickstart Against Unbeaten United

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Chelsea vs Manchester United
Premier League
Stamford Bridge, London
Sunday 19th December 2010
16:00 BST

Having more or less shared the Premier League title for the past six years (both clubs have won it thrice), the top flight's 'big two' are set to meet in anger for the first time this season when table-topping Manchester United travel 200 miles south to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon to square off against reigning champions Chelsea.

If anyone deserves the 2010 Ballon d’Or its Xavi Hernandez

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If anyone deserves to be credited with the tag as world's greatest player it's Xavi Hernandez.

The Catalonian has had an unbelievable year with his club Barcelona as they retained their La Liga crown as well as cementing his name in the history of Spanish folklore along with his peers as the country finally captured a long overdue FIFA World Cup in the summer.

Halftime: Cashing In On 15 Minutes of ‘Entertainment’

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Hands up who knows what footballing event happened on Saturday 3rd March 1995 in a place famous the world over for golf?  It was change that has literally resulted in billions of pounds worth of revenue flowing into the game in some form or another.  Still none the wiser? Well what if I said that it also resulted in us, TV viewers, being exposed to the intellect of the likes of Andy Townsend, Harry Redknapp and Edgar Davids?

Fergie Time: In Support of Carlos Tevez

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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.

Ballon d’Or: Who should win it?

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Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta are the the final three shortlisted for the award. If it wasn't for the women's award, the ceremony will probably be held at Nou Camp to save the traveling cost.

The last time a non-World Cup winning player to win the Ballon d'Or in a World Cup year was in 1994 and the player was Hristo Stoichkov while he was playing for Barcelona.

Wolfsburg ‘Cash Cow’ Dzeko Makes Written Plea To Join Man City

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In lieu of anything else of any particular significance happening in the footballing sphere this morning, several organs of the national press are going big with the story that Carlos Tevez isn't the only uppity striker to file a written transfer request at Manchester City with the news that Wolfsburg's towering target man Edin Dzeko personally drafted a personal plea to join the Eastlands revolution over the summer.

Mancini Confident Of Pulling Tevez Back From The Brink

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Poor old Roberto Mancini never seems to get a day to himself at Manchester City these days, and what with Carlos Tevez's recent ill-timed foray into fate-tempting, it seems overly likely that the harangued Italian's next day of rest may fall sometime next July.

Mancini has revealed that he plans to hold a bout of talks with Tevez tomorrow, and the City manager is confident that he will be able to stem his restless striker's homesickness by reminding him that he is duty-bound to honour the remaining three-and-a-half years of his contract at Eastlands which, upon expiration, should have left the idling forward with just enough time to establish himself as one of the Premier League outfits' all-time 'greats'.

Spurs well stocked for winter and beyond

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Harry Redknapp is renowned for making shrewd transfers during the January window but do Tottenham need any new purchases with such a large fist team squad asks Ger McCarthy.

Tottenham Hotspur Chairman, Daniel Levy, has moved to reassure Spurs fans that Gareth Bale will not be sold amid recent transfer speculation and that should appease Tottenham fans expecting few in any new signings in the January transfer window.

Neymar – The Real Deal

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The word ‘superstar' is thrown around far too often in football these days, but one player who really can be that good is Neymar.

Neymar has been on the radar of all the top clubs for a while now even though he is still just 18. Much of the hype surrounding him started as early as age 13 as he progressed through the ranks in Brazil.

Both Inters Expected To Fight It Out For World Crown

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The commonly confusing format of the FIFA Club World Cup sees Champions League winners, Inter Milan, need only one win to reach the final of this years competition.

Rafael Benitez's side will play Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in Wednesday's semi final as they bid to become world club champions.

AFC Champions League winners, Seongnam, beat Al Wahda 4-1 in Saturday's quarter final.

Blackburn Target Madcap Maradona To Replace ‘Big Sam’

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Strange as it may seem to us on the outside, but the latest fad sweeping through the boardrooms of the Premier League appears to be the practice of unexpectedly sacking otherwise comfortable managers that have done absolutely nothing wrong then, to put the icing on the proverbial dog turd, you publicly cite 'shifting club ambitions' for the given individual's dismissal.

Should We Feel Sorry For Carlos Tevez?

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As you're probably aware by now, Manchester City knocked back a (presumably ghost-) written transfer request from their obstinate striker Carlos Tevez over the weekend, a matter of days after he told the club's official website that he was 'happy with the sacrifices' he'd been forced to make by committing himself to Sheikh Mansour's sideline in über-capitalism.

Where will Owen and Keane go from Man Utd and Spurs?

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As the January transfer window closes Michael Owen and Robbie Keane in particular face uncertain futures at their respective clubs, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Rewind ten years and these two players represented the future of the English Premier League.

Tottenham v Chelsea Live Blog – 12 December 2010

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Fresh from their high of topping their Champions League group first time of asking, Tottenham Hotspur welcome defending Premier League champions Chelsea to White Hart Lane. Chelsea are seeking their 2nd win in 7 games and captain John Terry has publicly called on his teammates to either step up or forget about their title defence.

Manchester United v Arsenal Live Blog – 13 December 2010

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Manchester United host Arsenal on Monday night with both teams jostling for position at the top of the Premier League table. Arsenal are more confident than usual this season, with all the talk from the Gunners' camp about how the boys have 'grown up into men'. It's far more respectful than Evra's boast about how United could lose to Arsenal and still win the league although in Evra's defence his PR strategy has always been to try and say what Manchester United fans at large think, and in that respect he is right most United fans will feel that Arsenal, despite their table-topping form, will not last the whole season at the top.

Do Arsenal Have What It Takes To Beat Man Utd And Chelsea?

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Arsenal go into Monday's clash with title-rivals, Manchester United, knowing that a win would see them almost certainly top the table at Christmas.

Wenger and his side have been heavily criticised this year for some lacklustre performances, but they're still managing to contend with the big boys every single week and currently sit top of the Premier League.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Arsenal are better than last season

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Arsenal have improved since last season, insisting that his side will have to work harder than ever to try and get past Arsene Wenger's side.

Arsenal currently sit at the top of the table, with one point being the difference between themselves and second-place Manchester United, who in their defence, have a game in hand in the form of an away game at Blackpool which was called off due to difficult playing circumstances.

Cesc Fabregas: We are detemined to win at Old Trafford

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Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has challenged his team to deliver a "statement of intent" against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Manchester United and Arsenal lock horns on Monday night, and Cesc Fabregas, who might not participate in the huge event due to hamstring injury, believes his team can beat United.

Arsenal vs Manchester United: What everyone has to say, and expected Starting XI

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When Manchester United and Arsenal collide, you just know it will be special. And as a Christmas present that comes with this year's fixture, everyone has something to say concerning the top-of-the-table clash between the Red Devils and The Gunners.

MANCHESTER UNITED:

The Red Devils currently stand second in the rankings, and are hoping the presence of their home fans will prove to be a boost.

Patrice Evra Mocks Arsenal’s Title Ambitions

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Relations between Manchester United and Arsenal have thawed, with the two clubs' long-standing managers forging a deep-seated (but rarely aired) admiration for one another over the years which, in turn, has undoubtedly thawed the abject mutual loathing that the pair once shared.

Many claim that the flagrant hostilities between Sir Alex Ferguson and his long-standing Gallic adversary Arsene Wenger have been tempered by the fact that Chelsea seem to have replaced Arsenal as the former's principle bête noir, with the Gunners having chosen to sacrifice out-and-out trophy-chasing in favour of undergoing a complete youth-orientated rebuild a few (say.

Fabio Capello Backs ‘Arry And Big Sam For The England Job

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With the date of his departure already set in stone, England manager Fabio Capello has already vowed that his £6 million-per-annum contract with the FA will be his last in football a final appendix to his glistening 47-year career that is already looking more like a high-rolling pension than a swansong of any substance.

Fergie Time: Newcastle United are Predictably Unpredictable

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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.

The Newcastle Saga Continues

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What I would pay to be a fly on the wall in the Newcastle boardroom.

Mike Ashley and his side-kick Derek Llambias have once again defied belief in setting in motion the baffling events of the last week at Newcastle United Football Club.

Bar some unsavory rumblings that Chris Hughton's managerial berth was in question in recent weeks, rumors which every football fan and pundit alike chose to ignore as they were clearly delusional life at Newcastle was for once rather settled.

3 UP FRONT: Mike Ashley v Newcastle, Manchester United v Samir Nasri and Ronaldinho to Liverpool?

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This week's 3 Up Front podcast is a must-listen for football fans everywhere!

Host Adrian Clarke does his best to control perky punditry pair, Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh, as they dissect and debate a plethora of hot topics, including;

The X-aggerated Factor: Is Mike Ashley the greatest buffoon in English football?

President Sepp Blatter: ‘FIFA Is Not Corrupt, There Are No Rotten Eggs’

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FIFA's erstwhile despot president Sepp Blatter has branded the English as 'bad losers' in the wake of the recent World Cup auction which saw Russia and Qatar purchase the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments respectively.

Upon crashing out of the 'ballot' in the first round with a paltry total of two votes (one from themselves, and one from the main butt of BBC Panorama's 'potentially devastating' exposé into the institutionalised corruption within football's governing body Cameroonian ExCo member Issa Hayatou), the England 2018 team reacted with a flurry of frothing self-entitlement and a brief swathe of measly protests, which were all about as half-cocked as the bid attempt itself.

Is Alan Pardew Really An Improvement On Chris Hughton?

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As we cross the cusp from morning to afternoon, it is being widely reported that Newcastle are within hours of appointing Alan Pardew as their new manager, following owner Mike Ashley's seemingly illogical decision to sack Chris Hughton from his post on Monday.

Manchester United Were $1bn Takeover Target For Burmese Junta

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According to leaked news cables recently published on the now-infamous whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks (which you may not be surprised to find has now been taken offline), one of the world's most brutally oppressive, secretive and totalitarian football clubs were the subject of a proposed takeover bid from the fine-fettled leader of Burma's military junta in January of 2009.

Tottenham ‘Have Every Chance’ Of Winning Champions League

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Last night, Harry Redknapp's gung-ho Tottenham side defied all expectations by securing a table-topping finish to their maiden Champions League group campaign by means of a pulsating 3-3 draw with Dutch also-rans FC Twente.

On their way through to the knock-out stages, Spurs have filed some ebullient performances, scoring a record number of goals (18) for a tournament debutant in the process a total only two short of the overall record which was set by Manchester United during their victorious 1998/99 season.

Martin Jol Heavyweight Favourite For Newcastle Job

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Given yesterday's developments, it would be ridiculously easy to 'play to the gallery' and paint Newcastle owner Mike Ashley as some kind of slavering, cack-handed, tactless, abhorrent, manipulative, back-stabbing, flesh-pressing barrel of an ingrate but we'll leave that for another time.

Football Algebra

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Unless we're watching an International friendly, the days of a football team donning the traditional 1 to 11 numbering system is long behind us.

Since the Premier League switched to assigned squad numbering at the start of the 1993/94 season, you are just as likely to see a goalkeeper wearing the number 25 shirt as you are of hearing Alan Hansen refer to defending as ‘catastrophic' on Match of the Day.

Fire Sale Eredivisie

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The Eredivisie is one of the great leagues, a "selling" league over the years, but a good league. The term selling in football is often closely followed by club or even league in this instance and means that the club rather sells to make money rather than sell and buy another player. The highest league in Holland contains major sides such as Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord.

FA Face Limbo As Chairman Stands Down In FIFA Protest

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England 2018′s resolute failure to schmooze their way into FIFA's good books earlier in the week have left relations between the two camps at an all-time low, with the English FA left to fume over a 'complete breakdown in trust' after seeing their glossy, self-entitled £15 million pitch get widely snubbed by the voting members of the ExCo in Zurich on Thursday afternoon.

Qatar 2022 may have a stunning project on paper but the feasibility of it being a success is doubtful

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If Russia's 2018 bid was seen as high risk in terms of delivering a FIFA World Cup of technical brilliance then the decision to stage the tournament in Qatar is staggering.

This isn't a jibe at the country but how on earth can they host a World Cup that is going to capture the imagination of a generation who are looking to football to be their inspiration?

Trains, Planes & Automobiles: A Messi Trip to Osasuna for Barcelona

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Barcelona's great run of form almost came to a "Messi" end on the weekend after the Catalan club almost failed to show up against Osasuna! The La Liga champions had believed that their game had been postponed until Sunday because of the wildcat strike by Spanish Air Traffic Controllers.

Harry Redknapp On FA ‘Long List’ To Become Next England Manager

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Word is filtering down from highly-prominent FA sources this morning that Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is a leading contender to replace incumbent Fabio Capello as England manager when the Italian's contract expires in 2012 news which is, at best, another one in the eye for the gods of karmic retribution and, at worst, a harbinger for the impending apocalypse.

Sneijder Snubbed As Barcelona Trio Make Ballon d’Or Shortlist

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For the first time since 1989, one single club can boast the honour of employing all three players named on FIFA's 2010 Ballon d'Or shortlist.

21 years ago, AC Milan achieved the feat when legendary triumvirate Franco Baresi, Frank Rijkaard and eventual winner Marco Van Basten were whittled down from the preliminary long list, but this time round it is Catalan powerhouse Barcelona who are now guaranteed to see one of their number crowned as the best player in world football come January 10th.

The Blind Truth

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Danny Blind.........wasn't he that Dutch bloke with the dodgy perm who brought down Paul Ince for the penalty at Euro 96?

It seems the current AFC Ajax Director of football is remembered more for his resemblance of a Harry Enfield sketch than his playing career.

A complete travesty if you ask me.

How Bayern can pull off a Miracle

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The season has got off to a horrid start for Bayern Munich, sitting seventh on the ladder, a remarkable seventeen points behind league leaders, Borrusia Dortmund. Despite a fair home record, they have been severely let down by their away form – winning only one game outside of Allianz Arena – following a devastating two nil loss to Shalke on the weekend.

La Liga Preview: Madrid Trio Look To Bounce Back While The Basques Do Battle

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Madrid might boast one more club in La Primera than Barcelona, but at the moment is is the Catalans who are coming out on top. The thrashing of Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Monday evening was hugely impressive and, coupled with Espanyol's win over Atletico Madrid at the weekend, gave the capital clubs plenty of thinking to do heading into the next round.

FIFA’s World Cup Sell-Out: The 2018 Aftermath

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The fall-out from FIFA's utterly predictable decision to chase the World Cup Gaz-ruble/Petro-dollar has begun in earnest this morning, with the English media's reaction swathed in varying hues of frothing umbrage; be it with a flurry of archetypal thinly-veiled racism, über-obnoxious pontification and/or weapon's grade blame dispersal.

If You Thought South Africa 2010 Was Bad, Wait For Qatar 2022

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Six months down the line, the general consensus seems to be that the World Cup held in South Africa this summer was the worst on record.

Far too many god-awful games, a peppering of overwrought gamesmanship, flagrant continent rape on FIFA's part and the tinnitus-inducing drone of the relentless vuvuzelas did not a 'Rainbow Tournament' make rather, a bit of a botch all things considered.

Fergie Time: How England Can Host the Next World Cup

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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.

SOLD? Russia and Qatar to host World Cup in 2018 & 2022

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It's tempting to claim that bribes, favours, politics and financial opportunity determined the fates of World Cups 2018 and 2022 long before the staged drama of bid presentations yesterday and today.

It's easy to say that Blatter is taking the World Cup to Russia to make money, or that Qatar got the World Cup to build Blatter's legacy.

3 UP FRONT: England 2018 reaction, Man Utd softies and Dein to Liverpool

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Cheer yourself up with a listen to the latest entertaining episode of 3 Up Front!

Despite their disappointment at England's failure to land the 2018 World Cup, host Adrian Clarke, alongside Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh remain upbeat as they discuss;

Their immediate reaction to England's loss in the 2018 bidding process

Football's latest fashion accessory the snood

Ask if David Dein will be Liverpool's next chairman?

Title decider? No: league format wins headlines in Brazil

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One round left and Fluminense kept the leadership under its arms to play the title decider against relegated Guarani at home on Sunday. However, discussion raging in Brazil nowadays is not over the qualities of the league. The intense debate in the country is over an old obsession: the format of the tournament.

Slick Pitch Leaves England 2018 Bid In Pole Position

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Sitting through the four respective last-ditch World Cup 2018 pitches this morning was nigh-on insufferable at times, as if trapped in a hellish junior management sales exposition that was doomed to cycle on for the rest of human existence.

First up, Holland and Belgium, who's bid president Ruud Gullit opened up by informing the room that their option would be 'safe' and very little else, with luminaries such as Johan Cruyff (to warn the ancient FIFA delegates about the adverse effects that PlayStations can have on a child's life prospects) and Guus Hiddink (who flatly regaled us with memories of Euro 2000 not the best strategy considering that, if I recall correctly, it wasn't all that long ago) following closely behind.

Mansfield Town Close in on New Manager, While Heavy Weather Threatens the Conference’s Weekend Fixtures

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Stags chairman John Radford has announced his four-man shortlist for the vacant managerial role at Mansfield Town, as the ground staff at Field Mill battle to be ready for the weekend game with Barrow.

 Current caretaker manager Duncan Russell is among the final four but Radford has been playing his cards close to his chest regarding the other three candidates.

Ode to Emile

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Emile Heskey perhaps epitomises the recent state of the England squad. Slow, tired, unable to find goals and the butt of the majority of jokes sent from phone to phone, laptop to laptop. Many stats and figures have been passed around throughout his international career, the most relevant perhaps being that goalkeepers Rene Higuita and Jose Luis Chilavert have scored more international goals than Villas striker.

FA Vow To Probe ‘Dark’ Violence After Birmingham Derby

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Judging by the considerable hike in both steward and police presence at St. Andrews (over 500 West Midlands officers were drafted in for the occasion), it's pretty clear that the relevant authorities were envisaging a bit of a feisty affair between second city rivals Birmingham and Aston Villa in the Carling Cup last night although the ugly tension that swarmed after the final whistle could, in these supposedly enlightened times, hardly have been preempted.

Vote on the 2010 Soccerlens Awards

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After three weeks of sifting through hundreds (and thousands) of nominations for the 2010 Soccerlens Awards, we're proud to announce that the shortlists have been decided and the Awards are now ready for your votes.

You can head over to the Soccerlens Awards website (or just click on the individual award category links below) and vote for your favourite football sites and writers.

Beckham Says No To Everton Relegation Battle

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David Beckham has insisted he will not be joining Everton on loan this winter and who can blame him. This was supposed to be the season Everton really pushed for the top 4, something which was heavily advocated in the summer by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. But as other teams have improved, Everton seem to have gone backwards.

Premier League Teams Fluff £67m On Agent Fees

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According to figures posted yesterday, Premier League clubs paid an inordinate £67.1 million in order to sate the whims of the various agents, middle-men and brokers with which they dealt in the period between October 2009 and September 2010.

The results actually show a slight decrease from the £70.

Set-Piece Tactics: Direct Free Kick fun

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Direct free kicks aren't the same as corners. A simple point, but important. For one thing, there is much less point being complicated when it comes to just taking a shot over a man wall on goal -Â better to just concentrate on getting the ball on target then to dally and lose the oppurtunity over getting a nicer position.

David Beckham: ‘We Can Trust FIFA Members’

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As part of the final preemptive charm offensive before tomorrow's big ballot, the England 2018 World Cup bid team have sent out their big-hitting (and chintzily named) 'Three Lions' out into the conference and media halls of Zurich to deliver one last wave of thick, undulating schmooze to the relevant FIFA Executive Committee (ExCo) members from which they remain hopeful of pilfering potentially decisive votes.

If Bolton can change, England certainly can

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Like most people, I have been hugely impressed with Bolton Wanderers this year. After 15 league games the Lancashire outfit are flirting with the Champions League places and whilst it is highly unlikely they will reach the Promised Land, their footballing reinvention is as entertaining as it is unfamiliar.

Manchester United v Valencia Live Blog

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Soccerlens and RedRants blogger and Manchester United superfan Eddie Griffin will be bringing you live coverage of the United v Valencia game tonight you can follow the action live below:

Manchester United v Valencia Live Blog
Live Match Blog: Manchester United vs. Valencia (UEFA Champions League)

Watch Manchester United vs Valencia Live Online

You can watch Valencia take on Manchester United live online as well as all other Champions League matches, plus hundreds of football games from around the world.

Man Utd vs Arsenal: Can United Reclaim The Summit?

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Manchester United vs Arsenal
Premier League
Old Trafford, Manchester
Monday 13th December 2010
20:00 BST

Moved to a Monday night to presumably suit Murdoch and his minions, Manchester will play host to one of the biggest games of the season so far as the Premier League's top two face off under the Old Trafford floodlights for the first time this campaign.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Sixth Time’s A Charm

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Arsenal vs Chelsea
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, London
Monday 27th December 2010
20:00 BST

If mean ol' mother nature doesn't throw yet another snow-bound wobbler then Monday night will see Chelsea make their way across the capital to face...well, title-chasing Arsenal in the last of the Premier League's sumptuously heavyweight yuletide fixtures.