Friday, August 31, 2007

Fat Frank tears thigh; transfer market weak so far...

Steve McLaren was not greeted with good news today as Frank Lampard tore a thigh tendon and will miss a few weeks of action, which will likely rule him out of England's first two Euro 2008 qualifiers:

The Chelsea midfielder suffered the injury at the end of Friday's training session and was sent to hospital where a scan revealed the full extent of the problem.

The 29-year-old is certain to miss Sunday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa and a major question mark hangs over whether he will be fit for England's crucial Euro 2008 double-header.

McClaren's men are up against Israel at Wembley on 8th September before taking on Russia four days later.

So far there hasn't been any splash moves in the transfer market with only spare parts and youngsters getting moved today -- to stay up with the latest, click here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Week 4 preview and predictions:

Courtesy of the former Liverpudlian and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson:


Bolton v Everton

It's an improving Bolton side against difficult-to-beat Everton.

A real doughty, northern derby, and I can only see one real outcome, a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

Fulham v Tottenham

Tottenham had a couple of decent results at Craven Cottage last season, and their performance at Old Trafford last week will give them heart.

Fulham certainly haven't had the rub of the green so far - poor old Lawrie Sanchez must be wondering what's he's done to deserve it.

Prediction: 1-2

Liverpool v Derby

So far this season in the Premier League, Derby have been so poor at the back, it's frightening.

Liverpool have now got strength in depth, and they'll be able to freshen up and change the team that beat Toulouse in the Champions League.

Prediction: 3-0

Middlesbrough v Birmingham

Mido has come in and lifted everyone at Middlesbrough, and made a big difference to the club. They're also getting one or two injured players back.

Birmingham will scrap and battle, as they know they will have to do all season long. I'm not expecting a classic match.

Prediction: 2-1

Newcastle v Wigan

It's been a good start for Chris Hutchings as Wigan have beaten the teams expected to be with them around the bottom of the table.

But I expect Newcastle to win, they're unbeaten and Sam Allardyce has got competition for places.

Prediction: 2-0

Reading v West Ham

West Ham have made a stuttering start but they also have personnel returning.

Reading had been quite phenomenal before Saturday's 3-0 defeat and I can see them getting back on track with a draw at the Madejski Stadium.

Prediction: 1-1

Man Utd v Sunderland (1715 BST)

The return of Roy Keane to Old Trafford. But he's now had a realisation of what it will take to stay in this division. He's addressed that by bringing in a few new players this week.

I expect Sunderland to battle and scrap as their manager did when he played, but Man United will just have too much quality.

Prediction: 2-0


Arsenal v Portsmouth (1330 BST)

It's been softly-softly, catchee monkey Arsenal, who have quietly made a good start and are just starting to click.

This will be a tough game for Portsmouth, coming so soon after their trip to Chelsea, where they played well without reward.

Prediction: 2-0

Blackburn v Man City (1500 BST)

I was impressed with the way Blackburn played at Everton. They get criticism at times, but they are a good team, with good players who work hard.

Man City have made a spectacular start, but this will be a tough test for them. I also think it will be a more open game than you might think.

Prediction: 2-1

Aston Villa v Chelsea (1600 BST)

Chelsea just have this amazing way of not getting beaten, they're strong through the middle and they know how to win.

If Villa sit back, Chelsea can dominate them, if they attack, Chelsea can hit them on the break.

Prediction: 1-2

Kaka is the Euro player of the year...

From Reuters:
AC Milan's Kaka was named European club player of the year by UEFA on Thursday.

The Brazilian also collected the award for best forward during last season's Champions League.

Chelsea's Petr Cech was named the best goalkeeper from last season's tournament. AC Milan's Paolo Maldini won the best defender award while team mate Clarence Seedorf was judged to be the best midfielder.

Another day, another bicycle kick...

This time from Chris Klein of the LA Galaxy in the SuperLiga finals. Unfortunately the bike kick didn't pay off as the Galaxy and Beckham lost (the $1 million match) in penalties.

Champions league draw released

Of the premier league sides it looks like Chelski will face the toughest draw with quarter finalist from a year ago Valencia as well as Schalke and Rosenborg. However, barring any major upsets in Eastern Europe, all of the premier league teams should be moving onto the next round from the looks of it. The weakest group definitely looks like group D -- outside of AC Milan all the other sides are from lower tier leagues. Also worth noting is that Sevilla and AEK Athens have yet to play their qualifier due to the passing of Antonio Puerta. Here is the draw:


Liverpool (England) Porto (Portugal) Olympique Marseille (France) Besiktas (Turkey)


Chelsea (England) Valencia (Spain) Schalke 04 (Germany) Rosenborg (Norway)


Real Madrid (Spain) Werder Bremen (Germany) Lazio (Italy) Olympiakos (Greece)


AC Milan (Italy) Benfica (Portugal) Celtic (Scotland) Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)


Barcelona (Spain) Olympique Lyon (France) VfB Stuttgart (Germany) Rangers (Scotland)


Manchester United (England) AS Roma (Italy) Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)


Inter Milan (Italy) PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) CSKA Moscow (Russia) Fenerbahce (Turkey)


Arsenal (England) Sevilla (Spain) or AEK Athens (Greece) Steaua Bucharest (Romania) Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)

Anelka re-ups with Trotters; Shiva says no

Anelka has signed a 4 year contract extension to stay on Sammy Lee's side:

Bolton chalked up their first win of the season at the weekend by beating Reading with Anelka making it three goals in four games.

He said: "I seem to have been linked with every club in the country of late but my heart is with Bolton.

"I am very happy with my form, the club and the manager so signing a new contract was not a difficult decision.

"Hopefully we will prosper together because I would not have remained at Bolton if I had thought we could not win trophies."

Anelka's decision is a marvellous boost for manager Sammy Lee ahead of the home game against Everton on Saturday.

Lee said: "We have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get him to commit his long-term future to us.

"Nicolas is one of the world's best strikers and I am immensely proud and happy that he has shown such commitment to the club.

"It is also a boost for the dressing room because a team never wants to lose anybody of Nicolas's stature and presence."

Lee added: "This shows our ambition to be among the top clubs, not just in this country but across the world.

"Nicolas is one of the most sought after strikers in the world and I am delighted that he will continue to wear the Bolton shirt.

Don't know if Anelka's presence in the dressing room is as positive as Sammy Lee implies as he's known for being somewhat of a malcontent but Bolton surely needed his talents if they are to stay out of the relegation zone.

In other news:
Shiva won't go back to Dynamo Kiev and wants to return to first team action with Chelski

Most of the other transfer rumors, including the Defoe/SWP swap, were bull.

Zat Knight gets nicked with crack cocaine and heroin
just hours before being trumpeted as Villa's new signing.

Reading are offended by West Ham's "derisory" offer for Nick Shorey.

Pompey is still looking for a striker.

Another Russian billionaire is getting into the Premier League.

Freddy Adu is getting settled at Benfica.

Dane, Thomas Graveson, has joined Everton on loan for the rest of the season.

Sam Eto'o is out two months for Barca
with a partial tear of his right thigh tendon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Riquelme won't be a Spur...

Spurs supporters will be dissappointed as Riquelme has joined Atletico Madrid:

Big news - and positive news - out of Spain on an otherwise dark day where a fallen hero was mourned.

Argentina midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme has agreed to join Atletico Madrid on a 2 year deal. I suspect that the price was fairly low considering that this was partly about his old side - the Yellow Submarine - getting rid of his contract.

Atletico have done some fantastic business this summer and as our earlier poll showed, this community believes that the Juan Roman deal turns their decision to sell their hero to Liverpool a good one for the club. I just wish they were playing CL this season.

Players suddenly collapsing...

The NY Times takes an in-depth look into the death of Antonio Puerta and also examines two other collapses that occurred yesterday and in the past:

Late yesterday another player — the Zambian striker Chaswe Nsofwa, 27, who plays for Hapoel Beersheva in Israel — collapsed during a scrimmage. He was taken to a hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Writing about Puerta, one Spanish newspaper, La Razón, said “the heart of football has stopped.”

Unfortunately, it is not the first time a soccer player has died from a heart attack in recent years.

*On Tuesday, Leicester City’s 27-year-old defender Clive Clarke suffered two heart attacks during halftime of his club’s Carling Cup game against Nottingham Forest. He was listed in stable condition yesterday. According to the BBC, Clarke was treated with a defibrillator in the Leicester City locker room and was conscious when he was taken to the hospital.

*Perhaps the most public of incidents occurred during the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in France when Marc-Vivien Foe of Cameroon collapsed in the center circle during a game against Colombia in Lyon and later died. Foe had been a member of Cameroon’s 1994 and 2002 World Cup teams and was a member of the squad that won the African Nations Cup in 2000 and 2002. He was 28.

*Hugo Cunha, a midfielder of União Leiria in Portugal collapsed and died during a pickup game with friends in 2005. He was 28.

*The Brazilian striker Márcio Dos Santos scored a goal for his Peruvian club, Deportivo Wanka, in a game in October 2002. Hours later he suffered a heart attack and died. He was 28.

*In January 2004, Miklos Feher, a 24-year-old Hungarian, collapsed from a heart attack and died during a match between Benfica and Vitoria Guimarães in Portugal.

*Dave Longhurst, 20, a striker for York City in England collapsed right before halftime of a game between his York City club and Lincoln City in England in September 1990. An autopsy found that he had suffered from a rare heart disorder.

*Serginho, a defender for São Caetano in Brazil, crumpled to the turf away from play in the 59th minute of a game against São Paulo in October 2004. Doctors on the field were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive him using CPR. At the time, club medical officials said Serginho had been receiving treatment for heart problems. He was 30.

One has to wonder if FIFA needs to be taking more precaution prior to the season and require all players to have the most thorough heart exams possible.

Here are pictures of the memorials for Puerta that took place across Spain

Before the window closes...

The latest rumors leading up to the closing of the transfer window:
England international forwards Jermain Defoe and Shaun Wright-Phillips could swap clubs while Nicolas Anelka could leave Bolton Wanderers for either Manchester United or Manchester City.
Defoe has yet to commit himself to a new deal at Tottenham Hotspur while Wright-Phillips has failed to fully establish himself at Chelsea since moving there from Manchester City two years ago.

Manchester United could move for Frenchman Anelka to ease their striking problems, while City would be keen to boost their vibrant new squad.

Chelsea's interest in Barcelona's Brazilian Ronaldinho was still being widely reported even though Barcelona president Joan Laporta says he will not be leaving the Nou Camp.
More on the possible moves by Man U:

As well as Saha being on the verge of a comeback, Brazilian new-boy Anderson could also feature for the first time after overcoming a niggling hamstring complaint picked up during pre-season combat in Doncaster.

The potential availability of that duo is likely to mean there will be no late deadline-day arrivals at Old Trafford, even though the names of Dimitar Berbatov and Nicolas Anelka continue to be linked with a move to the champions

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chelski defender backs move for Ron (and some transfer rumors)...

John Terry has bought into bringing Ron to Chelski - so long as he buys into what Jose preaches.

John Terry said yesterday that Ronaldinho would be the perfect signing for Chelsea – just as long as he obeyed Jose Mourinho's orders and tracked back. The Brazilian's future is the transfer saga that refuses to go away with three days left until the transfer window closes on Friday.

The Chelsea captain is a close confidante of Roman Abramovich, but even he could not offer an insight into whether the 27-year-old is a serious prospect for his club or just using them to negotiate a better deal with Barcelona. Instead he said that the man twice voted Fifa world player of the year would be suited to Chelsea's new more attacking style – but that even Ronaldinho would be expected to do his share of defending too.

The tantalising prospect of Chelsea pulling off one of the greatest transfer coups of all time is balanced by the possibility that Ronaldinho's brother and agent Roberto de Assis Moreira is using the club's interest as a bargaining chip in contracts talks with Barcelona. Nevertheless, the reports of meetings between Moreira and Abramovich had reached the Chelsea players. "It was exciting. I've seen the coverage," Terry said. "To get a player of that ability would be a great acquisition. I've seen him, seen what he's all about and he's a very difficult player to mark.

"If he did come he would give us that option up front and it'd be great for the Premiership to get the likes of Ronaldinho. For me personally, Chelsea and everyone at the club it would be great."

There was still a surreal element to discussing with Terry how one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time would potentially fit into Mourinho's team – but this being Chelsea, even their club captain was not about to dismiss the possibility out of hand. Having witnessed the Mourinho-effect first hand, Terry said that even Ronaldinho, who has faced Chelsea in the Champions League each season for the last three years, would have to stick to the core principles of the team.

Don't think Ron is a very good fit at Chelski but he is the two time FIFA player of the year and absolutely brilliant. Such class should theoretically be able to adapt to any system but as Shiva and Ballack have proven, this isn't always the case.

(Other transfer rumors - some featuring Adriano - there should be plenty more before the transfer window closes on Friday)

Morecambe shocks the Carling Cup again! + Quick hits

Newcomers to the Football League, Morecambe FC, have followed up on their shocking upset of PNE with another upset -- this time Wolverhampton fell victim to the Shrimps:
SAMMY McIlroy was understandably delighted with his players' performance in beating Wolves in the Carling Cup.

After seeing his side score twice in extra-time to beat a second successive Championship team, McIlroy said the win was 'magnificent'.

He said: "I am immensely proud of my boys and the supporters must be in dreamland with the way things are going at the moment.

"It was another magnificent win for us and I don't think anyone can say we didn't deserve it.

"Wolves played some neat football and had a lot of possessions but they never really hurt us.

"We defended superbly as a team and always looked threatening on the break."

The Shrimps had looked set to win in normal time with Carl Baker's penalty enough for them to lead until, with seven minutes left, Andy Keogh scored from the spot.

But goals from Jon Newby and Garry Thompson in extra-time put the Shrimps in the third round draw with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Looks like the fairy tale story will end in the next round if the Shrimps face either of the squads mentioned above but nice run lads.

Other notes of interest from the Carling Cup:
After their hot start Sunderland lost to Luton Town -- oh dear.

Kieron Dyer breaks his leg - not a good result for West Ham, regardless of the score.

Foxes match suspended at the half after player collapses in the same day that Spanish middy, Antonio Puerta, dies after collapsing on the pitch

Week 3 Best XI...

From ESPN:
GK: Craig Gordon (Sunderland)
Pascal Chimbonda (Tottenham)
Sol Campbell (Portsmouth)
Micah Richards (Man City)
Mohamed Sissoko (Liverpool)
Nani (Man Utd)
Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham)
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Cameron Jerome (Birmingham)
El Hadji Diouf (Bolton)
Ashley Young (Aston Villa)

Eyebrows were raised when Roy Keane splashed nine million pounds on Craig Gordon but they will have been lowered after his performance against Liverpool on Saturday. The Scotland number one was busy all afternoon and kept the score-line respectable for the home side. He is going to have ample opportunity to show his pedigree in what is shaping up to be a long season for the Black Cats.

Pascal Chimbonda
gave a great all-round full-back's display at Old Trafford showing off both his defensive capabilities and attacking instincts. He shepherded the United trio of Carlos Tevez, Nani and Ryan Giggs when called upon and won the battle against his opposite number Patrice Evra with his dangerous marauding runs down the right flank.

Sol Campbell
, possibly enlivened by his recall to the recent England squad, was a rock in the Portsmouth defence as Pompey gave Chelsea a fright at the Bridge with a confident, assured display. Campbell made a couple of important tackles, racing back and using his strength to deny the home team.

Micah Richards
personally capped another great week in a season of great weeks so far with another outstanding performance for Manchester City. He faced Emanuel Adebayor and the lanky Gunner was second best against England's rising star (so much so he was subbed later on). Richards also gave a mature performance in midweek for the national team.

Tom Huddlestone
gave an elegant display in the Spurs midfield and his repertoire of passing was on full display as he helped carve out several chances for Martin Jol's side at Old Trafford. He showed up ex-Spurs man Michael Carrick (who was substituted after an hour) and was always involved in the hub of the action for the visitors.

Cesc Fabregas again shouldered the burden of delivering the goods for Arsenal as they grabbed a single goal victory against a resurgent Manchester City at the Emirates. It was from the youthful foot Fabregas that the points were secured. The Spaniard darted in to the penalty area before firing past the otherwise impressive Caspar Schmeichel late on.

Mohammed Sissoko
slipped in to the notin-any-way-daunting-at-all boots of Steven Gerrard at the Stadium of Light and was a more than able deputy. He scored a great goal too, a pile-driver from twenty-five yards. Close your eyes, and you could have sworn it was Stevie G who hit it. Except you wouldn't have seen it (but if you had the commentary on the TV you would have known who scored).

Ashley Young
was man of the match for Aston Villa against Fulham and was a constant threat with his searing pace. He went close with a couple of efforts, then received a bit of help when his shot deflected in off Zat Knight for the first Villa goal. There was nothing remotely fortunate about Young's role in the winner though as he provided a wonderfully executed slide rule pass for Maloney to slot home.

Steve Bruce got some valuable return on the £3 million he spent on Cameron Jerome when the striker bagged a brace to win the game for the Blues at Derby. Jerome struck the first after just thirty seconds, latching on to a fine Mikael Fossael pass to beat Stephen Bywater. The winner was a volley from fifteen yards after Sebastian Larsson's flick to give Birmingham a valuable three points against one of their fellow promoted sides.

Nani made his home debut for Manchester United and crowned the day with a stunning goal to give his side their first win of the season against Spurs. Alex Ferguson envisaged a marginal role for the 20 year old this season. If this is so, then they have themselves one hell of a substitute. Nani, turned and hit an unstoppable shot from thirty yards past England's number one (whatever connotations that title confers on its owner these days).

Mr Popularity El-Hadji Diouf rolled up his sleeves and showed his fight for the battle by masterminding Bolton's first win of the season against Reading. Well, perhaps. Or, Mr Popularity El Hadji Diouf realizes the transfer window looms large and if it slams shut on Friday he will remain plying his trade at the Reebok for at least another half season, so decided to remind would be suitors he is a decent player. Anyroad, whichever it is, he played well. And for that his manager Sammy Lee will be more than grateful. To say Lee has a difficult job following Sam Allardyce in to the Bolton hotseat goes without saying. A diabolical start has made him bookies favorite for the axe but if he can hold on to Messrs Anelka and Diouf and his side continue to put in performances like the one which brought a 3-0 win against in-form Reading, then things may swing in his favour.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ronaldinho to Chelski?? Weekend wrap-up

A short update due as I am travelling but a couple things that have caught my eye...

- Chelski looks to spend some ridiculous money on the Brazilian phenom.

- Barca denies

- David Warner wrap-ups Saturday & Sundays premier league action

- Berbatov to remain a Spur

- Fergie says injury woes are coming to an end