SoccerLens Archives for January 2010

Expectations Rise For Rangers

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The fans are getting excited and there is a growing sense of optimism that a last 16 place could be secured.

Those inside Ibrox, meanwhile, are rightly remaining grounded and are not proclaiming any outrageous or ambitious plans.

The narrow victory against the Turkish champions Bursaspor is an excellent result for Rangers, and they now sit proudly at the top of the group with Manchester United on four points.

Jose Mourinho stamping his authority at Los Blancos with Pedro Leon in the thick of it

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Pedro Leon's absence from Real Madrid's Champions League tie with Auxerre on Tuesday night aroused suspicion as to why he was excluded. Well according to reports in Spain, coach Jose Mourinho lost his tether with the young Spaniard after he totally disregarded team instructions during the 0-0 draw with Levante on Saturday night.

Why ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez Is Destined For Greatness At Man Utd

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When Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson 'shelled out' (if you'll excuse the pun) the best part of £7 million for a promising but relatively unknown then-21-year-old Chivas Guadalajara striker back in July, the jury was out and the uneducated were left to question whether the veteran Scot had been at the Châteauneuf-du-Pape again.

Man Utd Pip Valencia At The Death, But How Did They Rate?

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Manchester United left it late to snatch the maiden victory of their fledgling Champions League campaign last night, eventually emerging from the decrepit Mestalla stadium with all three barely-deserved points after seeing off Spanish pace-setters Valencia by a single goal.

Mexican striker Javier Hernandez came off the bench to wrap up the win for United with just five minutes of the tie remaining, but the lion's share of the preceding 85 minutes left a lot to be desired with Valencia perhaps edging the doleful stalemate.

Sam Allardyce – A Case For The Defence

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It has been a busy few weeks for What's-His-Name ...

"I don't see any comparisons between anyone. There is no other Sam Allardyce, there is just the one. There never has been and never will be another Sam Allardyce. Sam Allardyce doesn't manage like anyone else."
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"I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho insists victory over AC Milan will clinch qualification

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Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho believes victory in their next Champions League tie with AC Milan will almost certainly clinch qualification to the last-sixteen.

He was delighted with his team's 1-0 victory in Auxerre where his decision to bring on Angel di Maria swung the tie in the favour of Los Blancos.

The Curious Cases Of Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema And Cristiano Ronaldo

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Real Madrid have been called a lot of things by a lot of people over the years, but goal-shy is certainly not one of them. During the 'galatico' era they played by the simple rule of 'score more than the opponents', whilst even when they have not won titles, they have always found the net.

This season though things appear to be very different indeed.

David Beckham Won’t Be Returning To Milan, But England Is Another Matter

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LA Galaxy's professional showpony and part-time midfielder David Beckhamâ„¢ has admitted that he doesn't envisage returning to Europe on a temporary basis this season, as he has done in recent the past.

In a bid to temper his frustrations at catching a surprise second wind on the international scene after prematurely moving from the Real Madrid doldrums into a lucrative semi-retirement in the MLS sustain his fitness following the culmination of the American season in November, Beckham has returned to European football twice in the last two seasons joining Italian giants AC Milan on loan on both occasions.

Stat Attack: How will Barca fare without Messi and will Eto’o ever stop improving?

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Barcelona and Inter Milan are two powerhouses of Europe. Both have featured in the Champions League time and again and both have consistently won their respective domestic league Inter have won it 5-in-a-row now.

Barcelona are going to pay the Russian club, Rubin Kazan a visit in their Group D encounter and Inter are hosting the German outfit Werder Bremen in their Group A match.

Are Liverpool Fans’ Protests Putting Off Potential New Owners?

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October 6th is a date that inspires a fair old gamut of emotions from the Anfield faithful. It is, of course, the deadline set in place by the Royal Bank of Scotland for Liverpool's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to put up or ship out, with £285 million's worth of outstanding loans needing to be settled before the lenders forcibly seize control of the club's assets.

Roy Hodgson’s Job At Liverpool Is Under Threat After Poor Start To The Season

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Roy Hodgson's Liverpool career is so fresh that the ink has barely dried on his contract. The popular manager has had to endure a trial by fire in his first weeks on the job. But just as he is getting his feet under the table there is a very real chance just over the horizon that he could be sacked.

Rangers Need To Move Bus And Rattle Turkish Champs

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'Parking the bus' has become a familiar phrase when talking about Rangers in Europe and Walter Smith's men secured a superb 0-0 at Old Trafford with a resilient display.

Davie Weir and Rangers frustrated Man United in Matchday One

The Champions League makes an eagerly-anticipated return to Ibrox with Turkish champions Bursaspor the visitors on Wednesday night.

Michael Owen; caught between a bench and a League title

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When Michael James Owen burst onto the Premier League scene in May 1997 the nation salivated at the pace and finishing prowess he exhibited right from his very first appearance. When he then took the international scene by storm at France '98 the nation fell head over heels for the young man.

Why Lukasz Fabianski’s ‘Big Chance’ Could Be His Last

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The news that 'keeper Manuel Almunia will have to be removed from betwixt their sticks for tonight's Champions League game with FK Partizan Belgrade due to a niggling elbow injury is reason enough for many-an Arsenal supporter to allow a feeling of womb-like warmth spread through their internal cavities however, when the accompanying caveat of the Spaniard's enforced absence hits home like a Polish atom bomb, all misguided pretences of renewed security are hastily chastened.

Redknapp hopes VDV will take them through Europe

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Tottenham vs FC Twente
Group Stage, UEFA Champions League
White Hart Lane, London
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

Tottenham will be looking for their first victory in the Champions League group stages when they host the Dutch champions FC Twente.

Can Partizan FK Arsenal?

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Partizan Belgrade vs Arsenal
Group Stage, UEFA Champions League
Stadion FK Partizan, Belgrade
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
19:45

Arsenal suffered a 3-2 loss at the hands of West Brom on the weekend in the English Premier League and they will be hoping to recover some lost pride when they goto Serbia to face FK Partizan Belgrade.

Yin, Yang & Football

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When ex-Manchester United striker Dong Fangzhuo left Legia Warsaw on August 1, a brief yet beautiful piece of football symmetry disappeared with him. The first Chinese player in Poland may have featured in only six games in just over five months – and failed to find the net in any of them – but in doing so he formed one half of an equation so perfect that his failure to make any impression in a league currently ranked 26th in Europe seems rather irrelevant.

Is Wayne Rooney Really Finished?

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For better or worse, the planets seem to be fatefully aligning at Manchester United of late at least in terms of their striking options. The dismal trough of slurry in which Wayne Rooney currently finds himself knee-deep would certainly be a much more pressing issue in United circles were it not for the perceived shift in 'talisman duties' to one Dimitar Berbatov who is finally hitting his stride/saunter at Old Trafford.

Werder Bremen Finally Up And Running

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Werder Bremen looked set for a dismal season. Not only had their star of last season left for Real Madrid, but they had numerous injury problems and results weren't going their way.

With only one Bundesliga win to their name, Thomas Schaaf's team must have been dreading the visit of Hamburg to the Weserstadion.

AS Roma must now kick on after proving their title credentials against Inter

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AS Roma must now certainly believe that they have turned a corner as Mirko Vucinic popped up in the dying embers of their Serie A clash with Internazionale on Saturday night and gave i Lupi their first league victory of the season following a catastrophic start to the campaign.

The Romans had been in dire straits prior to the clash with Rafael Benitez's men.

Should Sevilla Have Stuck With Antonio Alvarez?

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With just five matches gone in the current La Liga campaign, the bosses and fans at Sevilla have decided that they have seen enough of Antonio Alvarez and have given him the boot following a humiliating defeat against Hercules.

The decision marks yet another occasion when Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido has seemingly given into the wills of the supporters and yet again the timing of the departure is far from perfect.

Soccerlens Fantasy Football: How I Learned Not to Trust Manuel Almunia

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Week six of the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game is over, with my Soccerlens All-Stars team finishing sixth in our 11 team league, just two points and three places short of a top three finish and the prize money that comes with it. I was playing at the Silver level this week, which was $4.99 to enter, with $40 of prize money available.

Can Chelsea see Marseille off without Drogba and Lampard?

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Chelsea vs Marseille
Group Stage, UEFA Champions League
Stamford Bridge, London
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

Chelsea will be hopeful that the Newcastle horrors in the Carling Cup will be forgotten by the time the Ligue 1 champions, Marseille, face them in the Champions League group stage game.

Putting the billions of Manchester City & Chelsea into proper context

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There's been plenty of chatter about the fiscal power of Chelsea FC and Manchester City in recent years, especially in the context of their recent clashes. The head-to-head record for the last three Premier League games points to 3 wins out of 3 for Manchester City, a considerable achievement and since all three have come under Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, I'm sure he'll be itching to rectify this statistic come the return leg at Stamford Bridge.

Dirk Kuyt: Torres just needs time, that doesn’t mean he’s leaving

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Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt thinks that teammate Fernando Torres just needs time to heal from his current drop of form, and that Torres is happy in Anfield.

Scoring only one goal this season and poor body language in his last few games, Torres has worried the Liverpool fans, and has been thought to be a negative sign for what is to come later on in the season.

Can Chelsea And England Manage Without Frank Lampard?

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Can Chelsea and England manage without Frank Lampard? Well, the prosaic answer is that they're going to have to until mid-October, after a minor setback (inflamed scar tissue if you must know) in his recovery from groin surgery means that the midfielder will be sidelined until after the international break with a return tentatively pencilled in for Chelsea's Premier League tie with Aston Villa on October 16th.

Stamford Bridge classic proves Newcastle is still alive

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As cries of "that's why we're champions" rung out at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, the Fulham residents would undoubtedly have thought it was service as usual. How wrong they were...

Chris Hughton's masterful job at Newcastle continued in the Carling Cup as his reserve team dumped cup favorites Chelsea out of the competition.

Jonathan Woodgate’s Injury Deemed ‘Untreatable’: Is It Time To Bite The Bullet?

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The footballing career of Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate is seemingly teetering over the proverbial precipice after the blindingly obvious has finally dawned on him, his manager Harry Redknapp and everybody that populates every echelon within the club with he is currently employed that his perpetually recurring groin injury is completely and utterly 'untreatable'.

Krasic is the Key Player for Juventus

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A season ago Milos Krasic was a blonde haired Serbian winger playing in Russia, this season he has become the new Pavel Nedved for Juventus. While he has created chances provided plenty of assists, Juve's most recent match was where he showed enormous amounts of talent.

Krasic scored a hat trick as Juventus defeated Cagliari 4-2, propelling the Bianconeri up the table, just three points away from first placed Inter Milan.

Are Sam Allardyce and Arsene Wenger Feeling The Mourinho Effect?

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Arsene Wenger is a man of many talents but modesty is not among them judging from his most recent outburst. In the aftermath of the announcement that Arsenal had made a record profit in the last financial year Wenger took time out to draw attention to his record for developing young players.

Kevin Keegan Has Little Sympathy For Wayne Rooney After Tabloid ‘U’ Turn

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Former England manager Kevin Keegan has added his five-penneth to the debate over the slump in Wayne Rooney's form, inferring that the Manchester United striker's 'confidence has been shot' following the torrent of tabloid bulls*t that has recently fallen in his lap.

David Trezeguet rolls back the years as his brace claims yet another scalp for Spanish minnows

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French veteran David Trezeguet rolled back the years as he bagged a brace for his new club Hercules as they claimed yet another monumental scalp.

Sevilla are the latest casualties of the minnow's crusade to slay the giants of Spanish football. The newly promoted side sent ripples all across Europe two weeks ago as they defeated league champions Barcelona 2-0 at the Camp Nou – ending the Catalans' 17 game unbeaten streak.

Can Troubled Star Paul Gascoigne Turn His Life Around At Garforth Town?

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From his disastrous tragi-comedic cameo during the final hours of Cumbrian killer Raoul Moat's fatal stand-off with the Rothsbury police constabulary back in July or the car crash in Newcastle's quayside district that left him hospitalised for best part of a week the month previous, it seemed that former England star Paul Gascoigne was unravelling a little further with every headline he stumbled his way in to.

Would A Change In System Bring A Change In Results For Manchester United?

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Once more, it's a tale of Manchester United shooting themselves in the foot. Such talent oozing from the walls of Old Trafford, but thus far this season, United have failed to produce the desired results on the road. United are uncharacteristically chucking goals (and points) left and right and that worrying trend shows no sign of abating, given the result at Bolton.

Fabiano could seek move if Sevilla scenario doesn’t change

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The agent of Luis Fabiano has stated the striker may look to depart from Sevilla if his current scenario doesn't change.

Brazillian international Fabiano has only played 17 minutes of the current season, despite signing a new deal at the end of last month which sees him at the Spanish club until 2013.

Robins clinch deal for Spurs youngster Caulker

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Bristol City have today announced the season-long loan of Tottenham Hotspur youngster Steven Caulker.

The 19 year-old defender has been allowed to join the Championship side for the rest of the season which see's him join fellow parent-team-mate Danny Rose at Ashton Gate.

Caulker, who played in Spurs' 4-1 defeat to local rivals in the Carling Cup last week, can be called back to White Hart Lane after the first 28-days of the loan if needed.

Bolton 2 United 2: Blown Against Bolton

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In contrasting style to their previous two Barclays Premier League draws, Manchester United were forced to come-from-behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw with the Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium.

On two separate occasions, Zat Knight and Martin Petrov gave Bolton the lead, but Nani and Michael Owen were able to peg them back, but United were unable to find a goal to move them closer to top of the Premier League table.

“Javier Pastore is the new Zidane” – says Palermo owner

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The Sicilian region of Italy currently possesses the next Zinedine Zidane.

That is the view of Palermo's owner Maurizio Zamparini who is marveled by the potential and brilliance of Javier Pastore.

The young Argentinean gave a scintillating account of himself during the clubs epic 3-1 victory over Juventus in Turin midweek where he opened the scoring and continued to influence his team's cause leading to a man of the match performance.

Goalkeeper quits match after another ‘YouTube’ moment

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It's more than enough that the world laughs at you while you celebrate saving a shot that still rolls in. So when you make another mistake where you, in face of an innocuous looking backpass that's looking to be whacked away into the opposition half, dribble, lose the ball, concede, and proceed to throw your toys out of the pram.

Tevez reveals transfer “conversation with Ancelotti”

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Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has revealed he spoke to Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti after leaving Manchester United about a possible move to Stamford Bridge, but says there was never any "concrete" offer.

Tevez moved to City last summer after the lack of a contract offer from local rivals Manchester United, who he'd been playing for since 2007.

The Difference Between City & Chelsea

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Manchester City and Chelsea have provided some of the biggest talking points in football in recent years, with their hundreds of millions of pounds thrown at teams for some of the world's best players. This weekend, they faced each other on the pitch; and for the third time in a row City defeated the champions.

Watford win in 20 minutes, Hull FINALLY win away, Derby and Pompey score a hatful

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Watford impress again

Last week I said it was time to stop treating the North Londoners like plucky underdogs; after the 3-1 win over Middlesborough, when do we start treating them like contenders? To see off Boro inside twenty minutes sends an awesome message out to the rest of the division.

10 Outrageous Disallowed Goals

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Accepting that there is no greater feeling in football than scoring a goal, it could be assumed that there is no worse feeling than having one chalked off. Just ask Sol Campbell.

Unlike Campbell's efforts against Argentina in 1998 and Portugal in 2004, which were correctly disallowed for respective fouls by Alan Shearer and John Terry, the following list of ten of the most outrageous disallowed goals features ones which should have stood.

Arsenal embarrassed all over again

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I live a stone's throw away from the West Bromwich Albion ground. Its a great club, packed with wonderful supporters, many of which mirror the people of West Midlands, bubbly and friendly. The team plays lovely football, and many of my close friends are season ticket holders and we relive the beautiful football both Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion play.

Liverpool Website Encourages Violent Terrorism

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The editor of one of Liverpool's foremost fansites KopTalk recently posted a dangerously incendiary article which overtly encourages irate supporters to 'put the frightners' on owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett by using violent means.

Last week Duncan Oldham published the piece on the site entitled 'Get the baseball bats and ski-masks ready!

Inter Milan Star Wesley Sneijder: ‘I Could Never Refuse Man Utd’

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Inter Milan playmaker, and dirty flirt in chief, Wesley Sneijder has once again flitted his eyebrows longingly in the direction of Old Trafford by admitting that he would find the offer of moving to Manchester United at some point in the future too enticing to turn down.

The Dutch star has been quoted in this morning's Daily Star (try and stick with me) as saying;

"If somebody asks me if I will ever play for Manchester United, it's impossible for me to say no.

Guardiola Refusing To Play Mourinho’s Mind Games

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With just over two months to go before Real Madrid face their arch-enemies Barcelona in La Primera, Jose Mourinho has decided it is already time to try and start the mind games with Pep Guardiola.

The Portuguese coach is rarely one to keep his feelings to himself and in a press conference this morning he had a sly dig at the defending Primera champions by declaring that teams are 'gifting' games to them.

Fergie Time: Managers, Bloody Hell!

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Welcome to Fergie Time, a new roundup/newsletter type deal that delivers news, opinion and links directly to your screen, plus fake conversations, knee-jerk reactions and awards that don't really exist. 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.

Carling Cup – Proving ground for reserves

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The Football League Cup is slowly starting to become a legitimate cup-competition as more English Premier League teams including Manchester United are taking it more seriously.

Better known as the Carling Cup, the League Cup is now starting to be on the same level playing field as the prestigious FA Cup, but it might just be more desirable for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fantasy Football Preview: Forget Torres, back Berba and Malouda to score this weekend

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When picking your team for week six of the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game, then anyone planning to win the weekly prize money (available to the top three teams in each 11 team mini-league) should have only one question: Who's hot? If you have a second question, it should be: Who's not?

The Attraction of the Bundesliga

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The German Bundesliga has always been a strong league. However, in recent years, it hasn't been able to compete with the big spenders in the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.

Despite this, over the summer, German clubs have attracted some of Europe's big names, and many young talented prospects play in Germany.

Liverpool in doldrums, Wilshere’s rise and Tottenham’s selection issues

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3 Up Front is back and you'd be crazy to miss the latest blockbuster of a show! In a three-pronged attack on your footballing senses host Adrian Clarke, along with star pundits Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh are in fine form as they tackle all the burning issues including;

The shambles that is Liverpool and Everton.

Why Record Profits Mean That Everything Is Rosy At Arsenal

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It appears that the only 'red' Arsenal currently find themselves in is their long-standing club colours, after announcing record pre-tax profits of £56 million earlier this morning. The figures for the financial year ending May 31st, 2010 also show that the club's pre-tax net profits rose by a further £10.

Bundesliga Review: Bayern face mega injury crisis as Mainz takes the lead

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With weekend and midweek games in the Bundesliga, the prospect of being able to earn six points in as many days would have been an appealing one to not only those clubs who have started well but those who have struggled in the opening weeks.

The conclusion after Wednesday night's results: Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg will be pleased with earning maximum points.

3 UP FRONT: Misery in Liverpool, Arsenal’s new star, and Tottenham’s midfield conundrum

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3 Up Front is back and you'd be crazy to miss the latest blockbuster of a show! In a three-pronged attack on your footballing senses host Adrian Clarke, along with star pundits Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh are in fine form as they tackle all the burning issues including;

The shambles that is Liverpool and Everton.

Scunthorpe 2 United 5: Cupset Diverted

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A manager-less Manchester United survived a scare against Scunthorpe United and eventually escaped Glanford Park 5-2 winners to advance to the next round of the Carling Cup.

Josh Wright gave Scunthorpe a well-deserved lead midway through the first-half, but five unanswered goals from Darron Gibson, Chris Smalling, Ji-Sung Park and two from Michael Owen saw United cruise to the victory.

Derbies – North London Or North West?

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Having watched both the North London and North West derbies in the last three days, it is quite clear that the latter is more explosive no matter the form of the teams.

These two derbies between Manchester United/Liverpool and Arsenal/Tottenham Hotspur are without question the two most hostile in England, but the fixture that took place this weekend definitely takes the cake over the other.

The Battle For Enzo Zidane

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He might still go to school and study like most normal children at the age of 15, but there seems to be very little else 'normal' about the early teenage years of Enzo Zidane. Son to the France and Real Madrid legend, Zinedine Zidane, young Enzo hasn't even hit the grand-old age of 16 and already he is a regular star in the Madrid youth teams, where he continues to display footwork and skill reminiscent of his father.

Liverpool Chief Christian Purslow Offers Stunning Insight Into Hicks And Gillett’s Reign

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Liverpool are widely purported to be a football club stuck in an almost perpetual state of flux of late. Over the past two seasons, the team itself seems to have steadily diminished in front of our eyes, a fall from considerable grace which is no doubt exacerbated by the continuing turbulence at boardroom level.

Is Chelsea really as good as the results suggest?

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Will Chelsea will falter?

Chelsea have started the season in white hot form, literally scoring goals for fun. Every player looking like a well oiled cog in their ruthless pulverizing machine. The boys in blue are making it look so easy as they have brushed teams aside scoring 21 goals in their first 5 games and only conceding once.

Chelsea – Running Away With It?

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21 goals scored. 1 goal conceded. Played 5 games, all 5 won. You can't ask for a better start than that. Chelsea seem to be running away with the Premier League title already.

The question now is are they beatable? Sure, they lost almost every match of their pre-season and also went down to Manchester United in the Community Shield match but their response to that has been outstanding.

Vital To Find Van Der Sar’s Replacement

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There is a lot of talk about who Sir Alex Ferguson is going to bring into replace Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, but there is one player that changed the fortunes of Manchester United who might just just be as hard to replace as those two players.

A lot of people forget about how vital Edwin van der Sar's arrival has been to the club success since his arrival from Fulham in the summer of 2005 for a measly £2 million which besides Eric Cantona's £1 million could be Sir Alex Ferguson's best-ever bargain.

Should Messi And Ronaldo Be ‘Protected’ In La Liga?

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Protection. It seems to be a word that almost defines itself, and yet in Spain, despite being nearly identical in appearance and pronunciation protección the very mention of it in the footballing arena can cause a stir.

For some people in Spain the word 'protection' pretty much sums up what are often seen as the the two biggest problems in La Liga; Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Why ugly football is worth its weight in gold?

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Ugly football or negative football is often derided as being bad for the game, however I believe that ugly, hard working, strong tackling are qualities not only invaluable for a team to succeed but also good for the game as a whole and contrary to popular belief good and exciting to watch.

Brad Gilbert the former tennis player and coach to players such as Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray was famed for his unbreakable will and ability to "win ugly".

Spurs take penalties blindfolded

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2012 will not only bring the European Championships but it will also bring the Paralympic Games to London. As a promotional stunt (probably), Tottenham players decided to put blindfolds on and take penalties to get a feel of what it must be like for the blind footballers.

From the video, it seems like the blind footballers will probably thrash the blindfolded Spurs any day.

The 10 Largest Football Fan Communities Online

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So, which club do you think has the biggest fan following? Some would say Manchester United, others would say Real Madrid and a few would even say Bayern Munich. There isn't really a way to find out the exact number of fans of a specific football club... Or is there?

Maybe Facebook can give us a good sample for our "research".

Calls For David Moyes’ Head As Everton Lose Their Bottle Against Brentford

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Lauded by the many, derided by the few. However, it just so happens that those 'few' are all Everton fans fans that witness their side's foibles on a regular basis and aren't willing to adhere to the perpetual received wisdom that their manager, David Moyes, is the best there is outside of the Premier League's upper echelons.

Why everyone wants to play Manchester United early in the season

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Manchester United's performances in the last few seasons have a common trait they have notoriously slow starts (by the standards of a club that has won 5 league titles in the last 10 seasons). Fans know it and dread it, but it seems that there's statistical backing to the notion that teams playing Manchester United at the start of the season have a better chance of success than elsewhere during the season.

The truth about Manchester United’s contracts and transfers policies

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Manchester United's policy to sign young players accepting that grooming young players made more economic and long-term sense (and built a team rather than a collection of superstars) has been used by critics to complain about the club's debts. Never mind that a focused effort on grooming young players is the hallmark of all 'big' clubs across Europe (including clubs with as diverse financial issues as Chelsea and Arsenal) and that policy is usually matched with buying experienced players where needed.

Why Berbatov and Torres need Manchester United and Liverpool fans to be more patient

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Last Sunday, the world was treated to a highly entertaining feast of football highlighted by the genius of one man. Dimitar Berbatov finally lit up Old Trafford after 2 seasons of lingering in the shadows behind the ruthless Ronaldo and Rooney (prior to Rooney's off field problems).

United's number 9 was purchased for a jaw-dropping £30.

Scunthorpe v Manchester United Preview: Strike The Irons

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Manchester United travel to Glanford Park to begin their quest for their third consecutive Carling Cup title as lock horns with an unfamiliar opponent, Scunthorpe United, in the Third Round of the competition.

United have never met Scunthorpe in any competition, so it will be a bit of an mysterious match up for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, but the Reds should be in a buoyant mood after the way they beat their most-hated rival, Liverpool, in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.

Ooh Aah Berbatov?

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Well that was crazy wasn't it? I mean from the joy of watching United storm into a two goal lead to the despair of watching Liverpool pull two goals back in the space of six minutes to the sheer ecstasy of Dimitar rising high to head United 3-2 in front, and with lessons learnt from Fulham and Everton and earlier in this game, United were never going to throw it away!

Benitez: Liverpool directors know nothing about football

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I like Rafa I've defended him in the past when even the Liverpool fans had turned on him but he can be terribly transparent when it comes to manipulating the press.

So when he says:

"The last year at Liverpool I had directors who knew nothing about football and you couldn't talk about football with them.

Can Wigan Athletic Save Themselves?

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We may be just a few games into the season, but already, Wigan are engrossed in a relegation dogfight. The appointment of Roberto Martinez last season by Dave Whelan was a gamble considering Martinez is new at football management.

Unfortunately, it's a gamble that is yet to pay dividends.

Platini Defends International Football Against Club Football

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UEFA President Michel Platini has stepped up to defend international football in the face of criticism from European football clubs about crowded fixture lists and 'meaningless friendlies'.

In remarks published on UEFA's website (www.uefa.com), Platini said:

"National teams have always been the supreme expression of national football since 150 years ago when England first played Scotland," he said, after clubs complained about the international fixture list.

David Beckham launches football festival to help England’s 2018 World Cup Bid

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David Beckham will launch a football festival in Trinidad and Tobago this weekend to help boost England's chances of staging the 2018 World Cup.

His visit coincides with the Under-17 Women's World Cup final, which Fifa vice-president Jack Warner will attend. Beckham made the commitment to visit Trinidad when he met Warner at the World Cup finals draw in 2009.

Arsene Wenger Facing His First Touchline Ban, And He’d Be Wise To Take The Hit

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is facing his first ever touchline ban in English football, after being charged with 'using abusive language and behaviour amounting to improper conduct' by the FA.

The charge relates to an incident at the end Arsenal's recent Premier League game with Sunderland, in which the irate Wenger was seen to shove/tap/sarcastically pat/savagely maul (delete according to your own personal bias) then deliver a verbal volley to fourth official Martin Atkinson after Darren Bent dramatically equalised for the Black Cats as the tie entered it's fifth minute of stoppage time.

Do You Pick These 10 Players For Your Soccerlens Fantasy Football Team?

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The Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game is now five weeks old, so it's time to take a look at some of the best performing footballers. Because Soccerlens Fantasy Football is a week to week game, we're going to take a look at top 10 fantasy football players based on average points scored per game played, rather than total points scored in the five weeks of play.

Klinsmann: USSF wouldn’t give me 100% control of USMNT

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Jürgen Klinsmann said that the US Soccer Federation USSF would not put his authority in writing even though they had verbally agreed with him to take over the US National Team as head coach.

Ultimately Sunil Gulati chose to rehire Bob Bradley (who's done a fine job so far, it has to be said) for a second four-year stint after Klinsmann ended the talks with USSF.

Manchester United: Disorganised and Lacking Nerve

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Despite winning their biggest derby match of the season, Manchester United has continued to show their frailties as they threw away another lead, which is the third time this season they have done that.

A lot of attention from the post-match press has been positive for United, because they defeated their long-time domestic nemesis, Liverpool, but it could have very easily ended so differently if it wasn't for the late heroics of Dimitar Berbatov.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Post-Match Barbs Reveal His Growing Insecurity

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Doubtless that you are already aware, but Manchester United ran out as deceptively narrow winners over Liverpool in a rather enthralling game of football yesterday afternoon

You may also be privvy to the fact by now that Dimitar Berbatov finally shed two calendar years of resolute indifference in one (or three) foul swoop(s) by carding a sublime hat-trick and that despite hauling themselves back into the game rather fortuitously Liverpool really were quite impotent for the most part.

Blind fan support means Manchester United owners still won’t listen

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The way in which many fans support their clubs is often difficult to watch. No matter the current state of the squad, no matter the fitness of the players, no matter the most recent fixture results, they continue to support the club through thick and thing. This is what real supporters do. They always hope for brighter days, and support the squad through the rough times.

Goalscoring Eto’o Thrives Under Benitez

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Eto'o has always been known as one of the world's deadliest forwards, a player with speed, intelligence, and pinpoint finishing. His statistics are incredible, with great goalscoring records at club and international level. But this past season where he won the treble with Inter Milan was a severe drop for him in goalscoring terms.

Newcastle have option to purchase Ben Arfa at season’s end

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News has emerged that Newcastle United have the option to purchase winger Hatem Ben Arfa from Marseille at the end of his loan spell this season.

The French international impressed Premier League admirers this past weekend, with a stunning 25-yard winner against Everton on Saturday, and manager Chris Hughton says the club have the option of purchase in the future:

"We have a loan with an option to sign him.

Dimitar Berbatov proving the doubters wrong

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Entering this season, many of the Manchester United supporters wanted to Dimitar Berbatov out the Old Trafford exit doors, but now they are singing a different tune following his impressive performances this season.

The Bulgarian bagged his first hat-trick and all three of United's goals, which ultimately spared their blushes in 3-2 win over their most-hated rival, Liverpool.

United 3 Liverpool 2: Su-Berb Performance

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Dimitar Berbatov scored a quality hat-trick to propel Manchester United to a fully-deserved 3-2 win over Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League.

The Bulgarian, who was restored to the United line-up after he was given a rest against Rangers, scored a fine treble of goals, which ultimately overcame two set piece goals from Steven Gerrard.

Fabregas & Milner – Ideal professional footballers?

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In an era of football mega-stars and celebrity lifestyles Cesc Fabregas is showing himself to be a truly world class footballer.

The talent of a man born in Vilassar de Mar, Barcelona and raised through FC Barcelona's legendary football academy has been quite rightly lauded since Arsene Wenger handed him his first team debut in a League Cup game against Rotherham in 2003.

10 Outrageously Awarded Goals

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It's a well-known moniker in football that "goals change games". But the impact can be cataclysmic when the goal should never have been allowed to stand.

Here are ten goals that will give players and supporters a legitimate reason to bleat "if only!" for decades to come.

1. Diego Maradona, Argentina 2-1 England, World Cup, Quarter Final, 22 June 1986

"The Hand of God".

Mighty Watford, Stumbling Cardiff, Coventry and Swansea finally wake up

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Watford hit 6

Perhaps the most important conclusion to draw from Watford's improbable 6-1 win at the Den is that this league retains a crazily unpredictable edge. It's also about time Malky Mackay's Watford side lose their label of  plucky underdogs. This is a side with talent, although probably not enough to sustain a charge for the play-offs.

Why Rafa Benitez has already failed at Inter

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It has been all downhill since that 'great' Liverpool second-place Premier League finish for Rafa Benitez, hasn't it?

And now after a sour end to Benitez's six-year reign at Anfield, he was hired as a replacement for Jose Mourinho at Inter.

Needless to say, the appointment puts Benitez in the hottest seat possible.

Dimitar Berbatov – A giant among men this season

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Who knew when the brilliant Bulgarian burst the Celtic net in Manchester United's first pre-season game that it would kick start his best ever season so far in a Manchester United jersey? With a full pre-season under his belt, he used the Community Shield against Chelsea to showcase to the United faithful (and unfaithful to Berbatov in some sections) what was to come in the next few weeks and hopefully longer.

Will We See Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham In This Year’s Champions League Final At Wembley?

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As things stand, there have only been two occasions during the illustrious 54-year history of the Champions League (or the European Cup, as it was known pre-1993) when a club emanating from the host city of the final has managed to hoist the trophy aloft both coming over 45 years ago.

The first instance occurred way back in 1957, a year after the competition's inception in 1955/56, when Jose Villalonga Llorente's vaunted Real Madrid side rolled Fiorentina over on the hallowed turf of the Santiago Bernabeu and eventually ran out 2-0 winners.

Bundesliga In World Cup Hangover?

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Three games played in the Bundesliga and the unfashionable duo of Hoffenheim and Mainz 05are the only teams with perfect records – and of the clubs who have won the Bundesliga in the last decade, only Borussia Dortmund are in the top half of the table.

Aon, Manchester United and Charity

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At half-time at the Manchester United Liverpool game on Sunday, Aon (United's new shirt sponsors) will be hosting a charity event on the pitch.

Five children from the Manchester United Soccer Schools will each take one shot at a goal from a place on the pitch between the penalty spot and the six-yard box (there will be a hole in the "o" in an Aon banner at the East stand goal for them to shoot through).

Was Ferguson’s Team Selection Really At Fault?

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Alot has been made about Fergie's dramatic change in personnel from the League draw at Goodison Park on Saturday to the Champions League game against Rangers three days later. For those of you who missed it, here are the two line-ups:

Everton

(11th September)

Van der saar

Neville

Evans

Vidic

Evra

O'Shea

Scholes

Fletcher*

Giggs

Nani

Berbatov


Rangers

(14th September)

Kuszczak

Brown

Ferdinand

Smalling

Fabio

Valencia

Gibson

Fletcher*

Park

Hernandez

Rooney

*(Fletcher being the only player to keep his place)


Some good pieces were written in response to this team selection, in particular this one from Scott at Republik of Mancunia, claiming the team was fair, and another contrasting view from Football 365.

Will Newcastle rue the day Blackpool spoilt their unbeaten record?

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May 16th 2008, the date that Alan Shearer managed the last Newcastle United team to lose at St James Park. Under the unassuming Chris Hughton a reinvigorated Newcastle squad went 16 months, 26 games and a little shy of 2400 minutes of football without defeat at home.

However, last weekend Ian Holloways Blackpool team, who finished some 32 points behind the Magpies in the Championship last season, put an end to this air of invincibility that had engulfed the Tynesiders.

Shearer: I didn’t think Newcastle would come back up at the first attempt

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Alan Shearer's comments that he thought he had the Newcastle job before it was given to Chris Hughton should not be taken out of context. Shearer also goes on to give Hughton a lot of credit for the way he brought Newcastle back into the Premier League, and for a Newcastle fan, has a fairly pragmatic view on Ashley:

"You have got to look at the guy and think, 'Hang on a minute, he has put a hell of a lot of money into Newcastle United, so he is entitled to do what he wants to do'.

Can underdogs Lille beat Lyon and Marseille to Ligue 1 title?

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The Ligue 1 or Ligue Un is more competitive than a few years ago, and that can only be good for the game. But is it open enough for an unfancied team like Lille to win it all?

Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO) and RunningBall developed a new statistics model for football and the model helped predict the probable national champions in Europe's top five leagues in 2011.

Bundesliga vs Bayern – Can they stop the Reds?

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A star-studded squad and young talents that lit up the World Cup, Bayern are still the team to beat in Germany, and it's unlikely that anyone can stop them.

Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO) and RunningBall developed a new statistics model for football and the model helped predict the probable national champions in Europe's top five leagues in 2011.

Will Rafa Benitez cost Inter the title?

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Inter are still the strongest team in Italy with five titles on the trot, but will Rafa's approach to team management and tactics be successful in Serie A?

Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO) and RunningBall developed a new statistics model for football and the model helped predict the probable national champions in Europe's top five leagues in 2011.

Blue, Red or City? A three-way battle for Premier League title

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Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are still the teams to beat, but by now Manchester City have spent enough money to buy a small country. Will we be seeing them in the Champions League next season?

Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO) and RunningBall developed a new statistics model for football and the model helped predict the probable national champions in Europe's top five leagues in 2011.

Can a two-man Madrid really stop Barcelona?

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First it was Cristiano Ronaldo who was going to bring the title to the capital, now it is Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo who will bring the title to the capital. Can they really stop a star-studded Catalan army?

Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO) and RunningBall developed a new statistics model for football and the model helped predict the probable national champions in Europe's top five leagues in 2011.

2010/2011 League Champions

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Note: It is 'League Champions' and not Champions League.

Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO) and RunningBall developed a new statistics model for football and the model helped predict the probable national champions in Europe's top five leagues in 2011.

Soccerlens Newsletter: Are Liverpool turning El Nino into an old man?

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The Soccerlens newsletter delivers highlights of the past week on Soccerlens. Read below and click your way through to the latest football news and views, as well as top content like our 3 Up Front podcast and the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game. To receive these updates via email, use the subscribe button on the left.

Soccerlens Fantasy Football Week Five Preview

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The Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game is all about picking winners. The game is weekly, as opposed to season long, so if you see a Premier League game where you know what's going to happen, that's points in the bank. And points in the bank means money in the bank, because the Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game offer weekly cash prizes to the top three in each 11-team weekly league.

Fantasy Premier League 5-a-Side

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With the FA Umbro Fives competition in full swing this month, we decided to put up our own ultimate Premier League 5-a-side team, with the caveat that they must be currently playing the Premier League. Have a look through our team below, and share your own in the comments. You can also look at our 'world' 5-a-side selection from way back in 2007.

Fergie, Spurs and Liverpool under microscope plus Champions League chat

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Make sure you don't miss the latest top notch episode of 3 Up Front!

Adrian Clarke, Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh provide all their best insight and banter during a show that includes;

Fact or Fiction Are the Champions League group stages a snorefest?

The X-agerrated Factor Could Liverpool be even duller under Hodgson?

3 UP FRONT: Fergie, Spurs and Liverpool under microscope plus Champions League chat

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Make sure you don't miss the latest top notch episode of 3 Up Front!

Adrian Clarke, Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh provide all their best insight and banter during a show that includes;

Fact or Fiction Are the Champions League group stages a snorefest?

The X-agerrated Factor Could Liverpool be even duller under Hodgson?

Raise, Call, or Fold: L.A. Galaxy, David Beckham and Landon Donovan

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Rumors in and out of the executive suites of professional and international soccer are a perpetual game of partial information. There is usually some truth, some falsehoods, and some bluffs being run through the press. It's a lot like Texas Hold ‘em poker in that executives, agents and managers have to make player acquisition decisions based on some information, but not quite all of the information at hand.

Negativity is the key for Rangers

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It wasn't pretty but few from the Rangers camp will care how they grabbed a point from Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

A goalless draw away to Manchester United should not have any negativity put towards it, although some will have a bash anyway.

Ten men behind the ball was hardly a surprising tactic imposed by Walter Smith – he did it all the way to a European final two and a half years ago.

Are Liverpool Using The Correct Formation?

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Watching Liverpool thus far this season, it's apparent that things are not how they are supposed to be. They are not scoring as they should and they are not really that convincing at the back. Roy Hodgson admitted that his transfer activity was a bit limited, but as they say, the show must go on.

Who Should Be Manchester United’s Next Full Time Captain?

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It was announced earlier this week that Gary Neville would no longer be United's captain on the field, due to the fact that Sir Alex wants someone who is going to play week in week out. He will however, remain official club captain off it.

So who will be United's next full-time captain on the field?

What Next For Liverpool?

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A new manager, yet a somewhat slow start to the season. New signings, yet a shortage of strikers. Hope, yet barely a reason to believe. What kind of season are Liverpool in for? The first four games of the season already paint a bleak picture for Roy Hodgson and his Reds. What has contributed to what's happening and is there a solution?

5-a-side with Messi tonight in London – can you get there in time?

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In the next 30 minutes Messi's going to be arriving in London! So now it's time for us to tell you exactly where he's going to be.

Hackney Marshes, 4pm
So his first game as the world's fastest sub is going to be taking place on Hackney Marshes around 4pm. The game's already started, and he'll be joining it as soon as his helicopter has raced him across the city!

England are 6th in FIFA rankings – here’s why

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Today's FIFA rankings are going to provide the self-loathing, masochistic English press with more ammo to berate the English national team, and then take the easy option making fun of FIFA, Blatter and anything else that they can't understand (statistics).

England were in 7th place in FIFA rankings after the World Cup, and now, thanks to back to back wins in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, they've moved up to a heady 6th spot above World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay.

Valencia’s replacements at United – who would you play on the wings?

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With Antonio Valencia set to miss the rest of the season a minimum of 5-6 months plus rehabilitation time means it's likely that he'll be back for pre-season next summer Manchester United will now look to the rest of the squad to make up the difference.

Even if you allow for United's supposed parsimony in the last few transfer windows, there's no doubt that Valencia brought something special to the table.

Who orchestrated the fake Togo – Bahrian friendly?

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Reports suggest that Bahrian 3-0 win over Togo in a friendly game wasn't really a win over the Togolese team. Instead, they were playing a 'fake' team, with the official / pre-approved squad list replaced by a new list of players provided by team officials minutes before the start of the game.

Two changes FIFA can make to improve football

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FIFA has admitted that it was not happy with some aspects of the recent World Cup and is contemplating some fundamental changes. President Sepp Blatter announced that FIFA will consider getting rid of extra time at World Cups and possibly reviving the 'golden goal'. Blatter is far from happy with some teams' priority to secure a penalty shoot out in the extra time period.

Man Utd Make Ten Changes Against Rangers: Surely A £25k Fine Is In Order?

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Back in February of this year, Wolverhampton Wanderers were handed a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League board for fielding a weakened team against Manchester United the previous December.

Manager Mick McCarthy made ten changes to his team with the view of resting his first string players for an upcoming 'relegation six-pointer' with fellow stragglers Burnley – a game that Wolves duly won 2-0, thus vindicating McCarthy's decision entirely.

Real Madrid vs Ajax – How far can Mourinho take Galacticos?

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Real Madrid vs Ajax
Champions League
Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Wednesday, September 15 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

The two clubs, Real Madrid and Ajax have met six times in European competitions, with Ajax winning in four whereas Madrid triumphant only in one in 1967.

Pep’s still working out his Plan B

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It was 16 months in the waiting but on Saturday night Pep Guardiola and Barcelona experienced their first home defeat in La Liga and it was to the most unlikely of opponents.

Newly promoted Hercules came to Camp Nou with more hope than expectation but left this great stadium with the 3 points after a stunning 2-0 victory over the reigning champions.

Championship Review: Rs go clear at the top, Pompey’s struggles continue

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Hoops continue to impress

Being a QPR fan makes me very weary of all the hype building up around this side. I have seen us flatter to deceive too often to get carried away too fast.

But I must admit that tonight was exciting. Unbeaten Ipswich away looked a tough game; it turned into a stroll.

All is well at Camp Nou…for now

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El Mundo Deportivo's website exclaimed "Exhibición." Sport asked the question, "Who ever doubted this Barca team?" Yet, perhaps the Madrid based Marca said it best: "Una 'manita' para olvidar las penas." A short term reprieve to help fans forget the recent pains (of the loss to Hercules).

When Reina asks for patience, you know Liverpool are in trouble

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Jose Reina has always been the optimistic one for several years, every year Liverpool's title challenge would falter only for Reina to trot out the most optimistic of predictions, claiming that Liverpool were 'still capable' of winning the title that season. Even last year in January / February he was certain of Liverpool's ability to catch up with the top three.

Werder Bremen welcomes inexperienced Tottenham to the ‘real’ Champions League

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Werder Bremen vs Tottenham
Champions League
Weserstadion, Bremen
Tuesday, 14th July 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

Tottenham will be playing their first Champions League group stages fixtures against Werder Bremen away from home.

Tottenham Preview

So, the only real Champions League experience comes in the form of William Gallas and Sylvie Rafael van der Vaart.

The Battle of Britain: Manchester United vs Rangers

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Manchester United vs Rangers
Group Stages, Champions League
Old Trafford, Manchester
Tuesday, 14th July 2010
19:45 BST (+1 GMT)

In the 'Battle of Britain', Manchester United will face Rangers at Old Trafford in their opening Champions League group stages game later today.

David Moyes Charged With Improper Conduct: The FA Bring The Game Into Disrepute Once Again

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The Football Association, in their infinite wisdom, have seen fit to charge both Everton manager David Moyes and his assistant Steve Round with improper conduct, after the irate pair huffed across the Goodison turf following their last-ditch 3-3 draw with Manchester United on Saturday to berate referee Martin Atkinson for the monumentally crap timing of his final whistle.

Soccerlens Fantasy Football Week Four Review: Where’s Rooney?

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Alex Ferguson's decision to drop Wayne Rooney from his Manchester United squad for the game against Everton this past weekend did my Soccerlens Fantasy Football team no favours. Like many people, I'd picked Rooney expecting the former Everton player to teach booing Toffees fans a lesson by scoring at least a couple at Goodison Park.

Spurs: One Trick Ponies?

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No-one is really doubting the job Harry Redknapp has done at White Hart Lane in the last two years or so. It seems even he tries to point out Spurs were bottom with two points after eight games when he arrived, almost at any opportunity. But, Spurs have had quality in their side for a long time now, with many believing it was only a matter of time before they -and not Man City or Villa broke the mould that is the 'big four'.

3 Clues To Find Messi

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With just over 24 hours to go until Messi lands in London, we can now give you your first clues about exactly where he's going to be.

Here's the picture of the first location. If you want to see Messi turn a game as the world's fastest sub, you'd better start checking whether this is your local pitch!

Play Football With Lionel Messi in London on Wednesday!

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As revealed on Friday Messi will racing through London to take part in a special 11-aside match somewhere in the capital where two pre-selected teams will get to play football alongside him and you can be there to watch.

At the moment this location is still unknown but what we can reveal is that Messi will be taking part in a further two challenges and we've got the details on them!

Who Should Play Up Front Against Liverpool?

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A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on Berbatov, expressing the fact that this season he had to produce somewhere near his best form or else he was out the door. To be honest I didn't think he was anywhere as bad as people would make ya believe, he has produced some moments of brilliance. Since the start of the season, the eyes of all Manchester fans alike have been watching him, and I'm delighted to say he has so far started to prove all his doubters, I remember screaming "WHERE'S ALL THE DOUBTERS NOW?

Is Liverpool’s Over-Reliance On Fernando Torres Crippling Him?

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Before we get started I'd just like to get my disclaimer out of the way.

This opinion piece is not a spurious personal attack on Liverpool Football Club and/or the many supporters thereof it is a potted critique of one man, Fernando Torres, and the circumstances in which he currently finds himself, i.

Do Footballers Deserve Privacy?

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With Wayne Rooney being plastered on every British daily over the past week, he has now sent out a request for privacy during this difficult time with his wife. This is reminiscent of the treatment that Tiger Woods requested following his scandal last year.

Both athletes decided to take part in extra marital activities, but after they got caught and dragged through the mud, they demanded that their family be treated with respect.

We Ate All The Pies: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole

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Title: We Ate All The Pies: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole
Author: John Nicholson
Publisher: Biteback (19th August 2010)
ISBN-10: 1849540675
ISBN-13: 978-1849540674
RRP: £9.

Championship Update: Is Strachan taking Middlesbrough backwards?

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The miracle of Turf Moor

It is hard to take positives from a game in which you throw away a 3-1 lead in the final ten minutes but Preston should be encouraged by the majority of their performance. Winger Keith Treacy was outstanding.

As for Burnley, they were limp, lacklustre and completely reliant on the brilliance of Chris Iwelumo.

Man Utd Throw Away Two More Points

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Seriously, what the hell happened? United were cruising, after coming from being one nil down to produce some great football to go 3-1 in front, and then to see all that good play undone by two last minute goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta. I'm really tempted now to go with my knee jerk reaction and just rant about how pathetic that was.

Blue Moon Rising – Review

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There been many films surrounding football but none like Blue Moon Rising.

The docu-film, created by Endemol, follows a group of true blue Manchester City supporters who follow the blues home and away in a battered old Renault Espace named Helios during the 2009/10 season. The season marked the first full year of ADUG in charge at Eastlands, which started with Mark Hughes as manager but ended with Roberto Mancini in the hot seat.

Forget Rooney – United’s defending could cost them the title

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The lurid allegations about Wayne Rooney's personal life continue to dominate the Manchester United-related news sections of the various football websites and newspaper columns.

If this says anything about today's world, it proves two main issues: first, that the people are too interested in celebrity lives especially when over-hyped, soap-opera-like stories blaze the daily journals' back pages.

Dumbest Goalkeeper Ever?

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I wonder what his team-mates would have said to him afterwards.

I'm guessing he's not going to take his eyes off the ball anytime soon


Which London Team Will Messi Play For?

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Subscribe to Soccerlens on Facebook to get the latest updates on Messi's race through London.

Adidas is bringing Lionel Messi, the world's fastest player, to London!

Once he's there, he'll be taking part in a massive city-wide game of ‘Catch Him if You can.' Over the course of the day, Adidas will be sending him on a series of ‘challenges of speed', set throughout the city, to see just how fast he really is.

Houllier’s a good manager, but still a concern for Aston Villa fans

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The second the rumours about Gerard Houllier being the next Villa manager went from conjecture to confirmation I was asked by a friend of mine what I as a Villa fan thought about it. Well he's got a great record I said, but still.....and that's the thing about Gerard Houllier, he has got an excellent CV, but there is still a faint whiff of failure (read: ridicule) hanging over his sunken, Gallic head.

RBS Attempt To Force Liverpool Owners To Sell Up

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The Royal Bank of Scotland who are Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett's current lenders have put an October 6th deadline in place, by which time they expect the American pair to fully repay outstanding loans that totaled somewhere around the £285 million mark at the last count.

Why Gerard Houllier is destined to fail at Villa

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After a week of anticipation, in which papers published pretty much the same story every day, Gérard Houllier has finally been confirmed as Martin O'Neill's successor at Aston Villa.

There is no doubt that Houllier has established himself as a fine manager and gathered experience in the Premier League from his time at Liverpool.

Soccerlens Fantasy Football Week Four Preview: Back in Action

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The international break is over, which means Premier League football returns this weekend. Which means the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game returns too. For those unaware, the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game is played week to week. It's not about accumulating points over the season, it's about winning points and cash prizes in every week of Premier League action.

Premier League Predictions: Everton to beat Man Utd, Chelsea and Tottenham to Draw

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Premier League football returns after the international break that saw it's usual spate of injuries, outstanding performances and potential returns to form.

In the context of the title race it's still early but Chelsea and Arsenal have a relatively easy game compared to Manchester United, while all English teams involved in Europe will also have an eye on midweek's fixtures when they embark on their Champions League and Europa League group stage games.

Dire World Cup Leads FIFA To Re-Consider ‘Golden Goal’ Rule

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On Saturday 28th February 2004, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) chose to abolish the 'golden goal' rule six years after it was first utilised during a World Cup tournament in 1998 as a means of deciding knock-out phase matches.

The 'golden goal' rule (or the less heart-breaking 'silver goal' rule, as it was at the time of it's demise) was used on an ad hoc basis within the global game, as it was not a blanket or compulsory stipulation.

Can Hamburg Win The Bundesliga?

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Before the international break Kaiserslautern gave a massive boost to everyone hoping for a more competitive Bundesliga this season with their 2-0 win over Bayern Munich – two goals in two minutes sent most the near 50,000 crowd in the Fritz Walter Stadion and plenty of non-Bayern fans in Germany and around the world into raptures as the Red Devils beat 'FC Hollywood' for the first time in the league since 1999.

Why Marc Albrighton could be the next James Milner

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Doom and gloom surrounded many circles at Villa Park after James Milner's departure, but could there be an instant successor. The emergence of Marc Albrighton at Aston Villa this season has gone some way to lifting the mood at the Midland's club and the winger is already showing real promise.

3 UP FRONT: Champions League, Houllier, Apologies and more (9th September 2010)

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Make sure you tune in for the latest episode of Three Up Front!

Adrian Clarke, Iain Spragg and Iain Macintosh are on fine form as they discuss your emails and much, much more.

Fact or Fiction: Is Houllier the man to inspire Villa?

The X-agerrated Factor: Should England fans have City as their 2nd team?

Euro 2012 Qualifiers – A look at the Azzurri so far

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After 2 games played, 2 wins and 6 points, Italy currently find themselves sitting on top of Group C in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Anything less from a results point of view would have been a massive disappointment but following the 5-0 win over the Faroe Islands Prandelli's honeymoon period has continued.

Scots, Wha Hae

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Football is all about contrasting emotions; joy and despair, victory and defeat.

How emotions swing one way to the other through the 90 minutes of a match is what generates the drama that attracts people to the sport and makes us fans.Â

Scotland 2 – Liechtenstein 1 To see a game dramatically turn in the 7th minute of stoppage time (2minutes more than the minimum required) and see a side go from total disaster to total glee, it never stops to amaze.

Shhh! As Wazza and Bebe Shine on International Duty

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Ahh the football international. A time where the worlds greats can showcase their talent by proudly representing their countries and putting their bitter club feuds aside as they line up alongside their rivals. Poetic, aint it?

Me personally, I see the international break as a nuisance.

Gerard Houllier announced as new manger of Aston Villa

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Aston Villa's month long search for a new manager has finally concluded with the club announcing the appointment of Gerard Houllier.

The distinguished Frenchmen who  has played an integral role in the evolution of French football for nearly two decades has replaced Martin O'Neill who walked out on the club five days prior to the start of the domestic season after a clash of views with club owner Randy Lerner.

Raise, Call or Fold – The Bob Bradley Edition

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Rumors in and out of the executive suites of professional and international soccer are a perpetual game of partial information. There is usually some truth, some falsehoods, and some bluffs being run through the press. It's a lot like Texas Hold ‘em poker in that executives, agents and managers have to make player acquisition decisions based on some information, but not quite all of the information at hand.

England: How To Win Our Support Back

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England's World Cup was a shambles. It's been spoken about far too much since, so I'm not going to keep flogging the already heavily incapacitated horse like everyone else seems to. Instead, I'm looking at the aftermath of what may as well have been a squad holiday for England to South Africa, with a few effortless kick-arounds thrown in.

We Are Manchester United

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Manchester United supporters should never refer to themselves, or the club as "Man U," because it is derogatory insult towards the club.

The term is only used by supporters of other clubs as a complete and utter insult to our Manchester United. The "U" is meant to be "you" by the rival fans.

Giggs The Gaffer

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In an interesting twist of the club vs. country saga, Ryan Giggs has turned down the chance to manage the Welsh national team, because of his commitment to Manchester United.

Giggs has never hid his ambition to manage one day with United and the top job in Wales on his hit list, and it brings up the point can he be the next one of Sir Alex Ferguson's prodigies to enter management?

Thiago Silva Certain that AC Milan Will Win Champions League or Scudetto

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Following the signing of Robinho and Ibrahimovic, AC Milan has become the favorite to take the UEFA Champions League and Serie A titles, at least that's what Milan defender Thiago Silva believes.

"The club had a fantastic transfer campaign. I won't say that we will win the Champions League and Scudetto, but we will reach one of these objectives," said Silva to Sportsmedia.

Manchester United: August 2010 Review

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Manchester United have completed their first month of the 2010/11 season, and even though they had a little hiccup against Fulham, it was a pretty successful August for the Reds.

In their four matches during August, United scored 11 goals with eight different players as well as being the beneficiaries of an own goal finding the scoresheet.

Adam Johnson Deserves To Be More Than Just A ‘Super Sub’

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After netting his second international goal in the space of four days, England's greenhorn winger Adam Johnson is for all the right reasons attracting considerable attention, thus helping to drag the nation's spotlight away from his more 'scandal-mired' cohorts.

The 23-year-old replaced the injured Theo Walcott (who rolled an ankle in the build up to the opening goal) after ten minutes of England's Euro 2012 qualifier with Switzerland had elapsed last night, and duly set about stating his case for a regular starting berth with aplomb punctuating his endeavour with an opportune second-half strike.

What’s Wrong With Wayne Rooney, And Why Should We Care?

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For a man who has built a career on an ability to stand out from his English footballing contemporaries by displaying not just a puffed-chest, thick-necked grunt work-rate but also a consistent predilection for oft-competent touch and technique, the Wayne Rooney we've been forced to endure over the past few months (the Bulgaria game apart) has been, at times, bordering on torturous.

Facts: Manchester City’s Joe Hart Is The Best English Goalkeeper

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Joe Hart has been the best English goalkeeper in the Premier League this season so far, saving a superb 94% of the shots fired in on his goal, a figure only one goalkeeper in the division can better – Chelsea's Czech stopper Petr Cech (100%).

The search for a new long-term goalkeeper has plagued successive England managers since David Seaman hung up his gloves, but now, after a number of false starts and calamitous errors, Fabio Capello may have found his permanent number one.

What Spurs really paid £8m for…

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The end of the Premier League transfer window saw a hurried move by the Dutch play-maker Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid to Tottenham. A lot has been said about the pros and cons of this move for both the club and the player but a lot of people have forgotten what you actually get when you buy VDV.

Former US coach criticizes the lack of support for Bradley

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Bruce Arena, the former USMNT coach from 1998 to 2006, recently criticized the US Soccer chiefs for giving adequate support to the current head coach Bob Bradley. Although, the federation has extended Bradley's contract until 2014.

Despite the fans wanting to see a foreign coach and despite the fact that Jurgen Klinsmann's name was up there to be the successor of Bradley after the 2010 World Cup exit at the hands of Ghana in the Round of 16, Sunil Gulati, US Soccer president, and Bradley agreed to an extended deal last Monday.

Why Mourinho won’t be the one to replace Alex Ferguson

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There are claims, there is endless speculation and there is somewhat shameless begging, but I hope Jose Mourinho is comfortable at Real Madrid, because I'm sure he will be there for some time.

Sir Alex Ferguson is adamant that he'll be at the helm of Manchester United until his health knocks him off his perch and when that time comes, I'm certain that the self-proclaimed "Special One" will be at the unfortunate end of world football's biggest snub.

Investigators Reveal ‘Massive’ World Cup Data Breach

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It should come as no surprise to any football fan with even a passing contempt for the game's governing body that FIFA have yet again dropped a sizeable bollock, a bollock that stands a very good chance of ruining many innocent supporters' lives.

News has broken this morning that a database containing the personal details of hundreds-of-thousands of football fans that purchased World Cup tickets through official FIFA-sanctioned outlets has been stolen and incrementally sold on.

FA: Wayne Rooney to travel to Switzerland despite allegations

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The Football Association have confirmed that Wayne Rooney will travel with the England squad to face Switzerland on Tuesday, despite allegations about his private life emerging over the weekend.

The striker, who performed well in the Three Lions' 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria on Friday, has come under fire with publications The News of the World and The Mirror releasing a controversial story over the weekend.

How Can Mascherano Best Fit Into Barcelona’s System?

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When does Barcelona NOT strike fear into clubs worldwide? They do it so well on the pitch and this summer, they did it through their use of the transfer market. The signing of David Villa to spearhead such an already petrifying forward line is something that has to have La Liga teams and Champions League rivals quaking in their boots!

The Champions League is a beautiful oxymoron

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As beautiful as the UEFA Champions League is one thing suddenly hit me when viewing the group stage draw in Monaco last Thursday – and that was the realisation of just how contradictive the title and format of the competition really is.

It is club football's  premier competition where the continent's most scintillating players and charismatic coaches pit their wits against one another to experience the aura and drama of a Tuesday/Wednesday night from all four corners of Europe.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Parting Shot Leaves A Bitter Aftertaste

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There are a myriad of ways you could describe AC Milan's much-travelled show-pony Zlatan Ibrahimovic (lolloping gobshite, work-shy flake, disruptive semi-megalomaniac, self-important tossweed) but 'likeable' or even 'affable' probably wouldn't be the kind of characteristics that would be on the tip of your tongue if you were asked to outwardly assess his personality.

England vs Bulgaria – A case for Theo Walcott

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England vs Bulgaria
Euro 2012 Qualifiers
Wembley Stadium
Friday, 3rd September 2010
20:00 (BST)

Although not many people are too eager to go watch the match at Wembley but we can be sure that this game, along with many to come, will see Fabio Capello build a team that will be a strong contender at Euro 2012.

3 UP FRONT: Van der Vaart, Transfer Window Yawns and England Pressure

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Don't miss the new episode of 3 Up Front!

Iain Spragg returns to join Adrian Clarke & Iain Macintosh for half an hour of devilish debate on all the hottest stories dominating football this week.

Fact or Fiction Should Capello get the axe if England fail to start their Euro 2012 with two victories?

Did the Signing of Van der Vaart Make Sense?

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Don't say this to Harry's face, but the "Wheeler and Dealer" springs yet another surprise, much to the delight of the Spurs faithful. On deadline day, despite Redknapp's claims to the contrary, he ended up completing a magnificent piece of business. Or did he? Given the system often used by Redknapp and the plethora of midfielders (especially Central Midfielders) already at his disposal, was the signing of Rafael Van der Vaart really necessary?

The England Team Picked Using Fantasy Football

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Fabio Capello has to sit through a lot of football matches before he decides who to pick for England. But the Italian manager could save himself a lot of trouble if he just played the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game instead. I've looked at the stats, and picked an England team according to which English players have averaged the most points per game during the first three weeks of the Soccerlens Fantasy Football Game.

Is Fabio Capello A God Or A Monster?

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"You created a God, and you created a monster!" may sound like something a distraught, sunburnt Charlton Heston might scream at a laboratory full of inquisitive apes, but alas, the above is not a paraphrase from the script of a piece of late-1960's dystopian cinema, but a direct quote from the England manager himself, Fabio Capello.

Houllier to join Villa?

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The Daily Mail have reported that Gerard Houllier is to be the new man in charge at Villa Park. The 62 year old, if the papers are anything to go by, is now the hot favourite with the board and will become Villa's first foreign manager for 20 years, Jozef Venglos was the man in charge, spending just one season at the club.

England 4-0 Bulgaria – The Player Ratings

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England relieved some of the pressure that had been mounting on their besieged manager Fabio Capello by getting their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign underway with a convincing victory, registering an emphatic win over Group G rivals Bulgaria at Wembley last night.

On paper at least, Bulgaria represent one the biggest potential stumbling blocks in England's qualifying pool, but in reality they posed little threat as Capello's side contained them efficiently throughout the game whilst sniping goals on the counter-attack.

Everton v Manchester United Preview: Be Better At Goodison

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After a brief hiatus, Manchester United resume their 2010/11 Barclays Premier League season with the short trip to Goodison Park to take on a sputtering Everton side.

So far this season, United have taken seven from a possible nine points, but Everton has got off to yet another slow start and only have a single point to show from their first three Premier League games.

Winless Roma to host top drawer Inter

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AS Roma vs Inter Milan
Serie A
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Saturday, 25 September 2010
20:45 GMT

After a spicy end to the 2009/2010 season of the Serie A, Roma has failed to reproduce the form they did from last season. Whereas in Milan, Inter are going as well as they have been for the last five seasons.