Kamis, 27 September 2012

Wenger welcomes return of Jack

Wilshere: Will play on Monday afternoon

The England playmaker has missed well over a year due to a serious ankle injury but will feature for an hour for the young Gunners away at West Brom.

Wenger said: "It is another important step, but he has not played for 14 months so we have to calm your impatience a little bit.

"It is fantastic for him. When you are at that age and are out for such a long time, that is absolutely massive to take."

Wenger warned, though, that England's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, at home, and Poland away next month would "be too early for him".

Fellow midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong has also returned to fitness, having been sidelined by a knee problem for over seven months, and came through a 20 minute cameo in the thumping Capital One Cup third-round victory over Coventry unscathed.

He will feature alongside Wilshere against the Baggies while full-back Bacary Sagna is back in action at Arsenal's London Colney training ground but is at least a week away from returning to first team contention.

With Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky only "two weeks away and (Poland's Wojciech) Szczesny two or three weeks away", the quality of the Frenchman's playing squad is increasing after a good start to the season.

Selasa, 25 September 2012

Ramirez lured by Saints' desire

Ramirez: Happy with life in England

Uruguayan star Ramirez joined the Saints in a club-record deal from Italian side Bologna over the summer, but he only made his first start at the weekend - inspiring them to a 4-1 win over Aston Villa.

The Fray Bentos-born winger is now more than happy with his decision to have moved to St Mary's.

"The only concrete, real and direct offer was the Southampton one," he told Tuttomercatoweb. "They wanted me strongly and this convinced me to accept.

"I wanted to play in England, a league that I always liked. Here I have had an interesting opportunity, Southampton believe in me.

"We are a young team, we want to do well and we have the potential to do it: we are experiencing slowly, we need time but I am confident."

Ramirez says he is quickly settling into life in England.

"My life in England? I don't speak the language yet, so I do have a little problem but I have team-mates who speak Spanish or Italian like Do Prado, so I am well integrated in the group."

He says he has no regrets about the way in which he left former club Bologna.

"I was fine in Bologna: people cuddled me and I thank them so much: I gave all my best for Rossoblu side and I carry their fans in my heart," he said.

"But there are situations that you don't know. [Bologna President Albano] Guaraldi called me 'unfair', but the truth is that he lied to me twice.

"He never talked to my face, he did nothing to make me stay. He didn't keep his promises."

Jumat, 21 September 2012

Ferguson makes final plea to fans

Ferguson: Written a letter to Manchester United supporters

The letter will be presented to fans as they enter the turnstiles and is a final plea aimed at getting them to behave themselves.

Earlier today Ferguson spoke of the sensitivities surrounding the fixture, Liverpool's first at home since the damning judgement on the Hillsborough disaster was released last week.

And he wants an end to the baiting of Liverpool fans over the disaster, in which 96 people died.

As published by www.manutd.com, Ferguson's letter reads:

"Dear Supporter,

"The great support you gave the team here [at Anfield] last season has seen our allocation back up to near-full levels. I want you to continue that progress today.

"But today [Sunday] is about much more than not blocking gangways. Today is about thinking hard about what makes United the best club in the world.

"Our rivalry with Liverpool is based on a determination to come out on top - a wish to see us crowned the best against a team that held th at honour for so long.

"It cannot and should never be based on personal hatred. Just 10 days ago, we heard the terrible, damning truth about the deaths of 96 fans who went to watch their team try and reach the FA Cup final and never came back.

"What happened to them should wake the conscience of everyone connected with the game.

"Our great club stands with our great neighbours Liverpool today to remember that loss and pay tribute to their campaign for justice. I know I can count on you to stand with us in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.

"Yours sincerely, Sir Alex Ferguson."

Earlier today, Ferguson admitted he could not discount the emotion having a negative effect on his players.

Liverpool intend to mark the occasion with a number of significant gestures, including a mosaic across three sides of the stadium.

And having gone through something very similar four years ago on the 50th anniversary of the Munich ai r disaster, the Red Devils boss accepts it may have a hidden impact.

"It's a possibility, I don't deny that," Ferguson said. "Human nature can be that way.

"When we played Manchester City for the 50th anniversary of Munich the place was so flat in the dressing room before the game. I even felt it myself.

"We just couldn't perform and were glad to get it out the way. It was such an emotional day for us and it could be that way on Sunday."

Chelsea v Stoke preview

Wilkinson: Begins a three-match suspension

Stoke will be without suspended defender Andy Wilkinson.

Wilkinson starts a three-match ban after the Potters accepted the violent conduct charge brought against him by the Football Association over an incident in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Manchester City where he caught Mario Balotelli in the face with an elbow.

Midfielder Jamie Ness could return having been back in training after his groin injury.

Stoke (from): Begovic, Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Cameron, Upson, Shotton, Wilson, Whelan, Etherington, Pennant, Delap, Palacios, Jones, Jerome, Crouch, Walters, Kightly, Whitehead, Adam, Edu, Nzonzi, Owen, Ness.

Kamis, 20 September 2012

Clarke hails outgoing Ashworth

Ashworth and Clarke: Close relationship

It was confirmed on Monday that Ashworth will leave the Hawthorns at the end of the season to take up the prestigious role of the Football Association's director of elite development at St George's Park.

It leaves a significant hole for Albion to fill, however, as they lose the man who has played such a significant role in the club's successful recruitment of players and coaches, as well as youth development and other off-field duties.

Clarke and Ashworth have already struck up an excellent working relationship since the former arrived in the summer, and the Scot admits his input will be missed.

"I don't think 'bad' is the right word to sum it up for the club but obviously it is a bit of a disappointment because it leaves a hole that has to be filled," said Clarke.

"But Dan's not going immediately, he's staying around to help in the process of finding a successor and I'm sure he'll do that as diligently as all the other tasks he's asked to do for the club.

"Meanwhile we'll look to appoint someone that can continue the good work that Dan and the chairman Jeremy Peace have done and hopefully it's someone I can work with as well.

"Dan will be involved in the process of identifying targets and people to come in to do the job, and I imagine the chairman will be the person to have the final say."

Asked to summarise Ashworth's role from his point of view, Clarke said: "His job is to syphon off all the transfer dealings, the agents, the looking at players, organising the scouting, taking all that pressure away from me so that I can go out on the pitch and coach and work with the players first hand.

"It takes a lot away from me.

"Around about that we speak daily, sometimes for five minutes, sometimes an hour and five minutes, sometimes even longer. We discuss almost everything.

"The thing about Dan is he's very open, very honest and if there's an agent who contacts about a play er, he tells me.

"He tells me everything that goes on and I think the fact he's so honest makes the relationship easy."

Clarke's priority for the time being is Saturday's visit of Reading.

While Albion took seven points from their first three games before losing to Fulham last weekend, the Royals are still scrapping for their first win of the Barclays Premier League campaign.

"Reading will be desperate to get their first win in the league this season," said the Baggies head coach.

"I think they were unfortunate to have a long enforced absence after the Sunderland game was called off and I think you probably saw the result of that in the first half against Tottenham (3-1 defeat) when they started a little bit slowly, which is very unlike Reading.

"I think a better example of Reading this season would be to look back at their performance at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, when I thought they were terrific and they pushed Chelsea all the way despite losing 4-2."

Chelsea condemn Mikel abuse

Mikel: Off Twitter, for now

Mikel removed his profile from the social networking site less than 24 hours after his mistake helped cost the Blues victory in the opening match of their Champions League defence against Juventus.

The 25-year-old Nigerian has deleted the 'Mikel12Official' account he set up this summer and Chelsea tonight admitted that they have informed the police about the tweets.

A statement read: "We've been made aware of racist tweets targeted at Mikel which are totally unacceptable, disgusting and abhorrent.

"We've informed the police and support taking the strongest possible action."

Mikel refused to hide from his mistake after last night's 2-2 Group E draw against Juve.

The 25-year-old gave the ball away 10 minutes from time before he and his team-mates failed to prevent Claudio Marchisio playing Fabio Quagliarella into space for the equaliser.

Mikel said afterwards: "If I want to make up an excuse, I can. But, for me, I gave the ball away. I put my hands up, we move on.

"I'm sorry about the mistake, but there are no excuses."

United scout Ogbonna - Torino

Ogbonna: On Manchester United's radar

Ogbonna forced his way into Italy's Euro 2012 squad after helping his team clinch promotion back to Serie A and the Turin club have suggested that scouts from Old Trafford and a host of others have been sent to watch him.

But sporting director Gianluca Petrachi insists Torino will not let the 24-year-old leave unless they receive a fee of at least 16million.

"I guarantee there are observers of many foreign clubs, who follow our games, including United's scouts," Petrachi told The Sun.

"Most of the time they come just to see Ogbonna because he is a player who has great potential. Last year we refused 10m for him but it is clear he is worth more than 16m.

"Angelo has the desire to do better but I believe he should continue to grow with Torino."

Selasa, 18 September 2012

Ba denies Everton at Goodison

Fellaini: Had a goal disallowed

Everton justifiably felt aggrieved after having two goals controversially ruled out before Newcastle snatched a last-gasp draw.

Substitute Victor Anichebe, whose earlier header had appeared to cross the line but was not given, thought he had won it two minutes from time but Demba Ba scored his second of the night even later.

Leighton Baines had put the hosts ahead in the 15th minute only for Ba to score with virtually his first touch after coming on at half-time.

Marouane Fellaini's effort was ruled out on a questionable offside decision before Anichebe's disallowed goal added to the controversy.

While the post-match discussion was all about technology and officials' decisions, understandably the pre-match focus was on recognising the fight of Hillsborough campaigners in their battle for justice after the publication of last week's independent report.

The club's approach was pitched perfectly as, in addition to two mascots wearing an Everton number nine shirt and a Liverpool top with the number 6 and ball boys bearing the number 96, the names of all victims of the disaster scrolled across Goodison's television screen accompanied by the Hollies' 'He Ain't Heavy...He's My Brother'.

David Moyes, in his programme notes, had summed up the feeling on Merseyside by writing: "I and everyone at Everton stands alongside the Hillsborough families.

"I am a football supporter and a father and I applaud the families who continued to fight for the ones they loved.

"The outcome (of the findings of the independent panel) was nothing short of disgraceful.

"We have all been brought up to believe and trust in authority...the authorities who were responsible for the safety of supporters that day let themselves down."

But while Everton stand side-by-side by their neighbours in relation to Hillsborough they are pulling away from them in the table.

A draw extended the gap over 17th-pla ced Liverpool, whom they finished above last season, to five points.

They have been imperious at home in the last six months and that was reflected in a one-sided first half.

Magpies boss Alan Pardew, serving the first of a two-match touchline ban for shoving assistant Peter Kirkup on the opening day against Tottenham, must have run up a hefty bill trying to correct matters on the phone to coach Steve Stone, his go-between with John Carver in the dug out.

Nikica Jelavic had an early goal disallowed for offside but it set the tempo and when the breakthrough came in the 15th minute it was no more than the hosts deserved.

A 17-pass move merely reflected the Toffees' dominance as Baines raced onto a clever backheel from Steven Pienaar to fire past Steve Harper, in for the injured Tim Krul.

Kevin Mirallas, the 6million summer signing impressing on his first league start, had a couple of good chances while Phil Jagielka shaved the post with a vol ley from Jelavic's lay-off.

However, Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse should have at least tested Tim Howard with a volley after Phil Neville's poor headed clearance of a free-kick while Leon Osman was indebted to Baines' goalline clearance to prevent the equaliser.

The loss of Croatia international Jelavic with a knee injury just before the interval was a blow to Everton but not as much as Ba's equaliser just after the break.

Within four minutes of being introduced the half-time substitute hit a low shot past Howard after Yohan Cabaye robbed Osman and rolled a perfectly-weighted diagonal pass into his path.

It was the first goal scored by an opposition player at Goodison Park since Thomas Vermaelen's winner for Arsenal on March 21, a run of 11 hours and 11 minutes.

Harper's sportsmanship did Victor Anichebe a favour when he made little of the forward's late sliding challenge, intimating to referee Michael Jones he did not have an issue with the tackle.

Marouane Fellaini had a goal ruled out for offside, a decision which was marginal at best, but only goalline technology - which does not come in until next season - could have assisted Jones with his next decision as Anichebe's header tipped onto the crossbar by Harper appeared to bounce down over the line before Mike Williamson cleared.

Anichebe left no room for doubt three minutes from time when he turned in the penalty area to fire home but Everton's celebrations were short-lived when Ba latched on to Shola Ameobi's knockdown to roll a shot under Howard.

Minggu, 16 September 2012

Defoe helps Spurs sink Royals

Defoe: Celebrates first with Lennon

Tottenham were the better side from the first whistle in Berkshire and took the lead in the 18th minute when Defoe converted Aaron Lennon's cutback.

Reading threatened briefly either side of half-time but Spurs had regained control of the game well before Bale made it 2-0 with a scuffed finish in the 71st minute.

Defoe then scored another three minutes later after a run from inside his own half to earn Andre Villas-Boas his first win as manager but leave Reading still looking for their first success back in the Premier League.

The Royals did score a late consolation, however, when Adam Le Fondre lifted a ball to the far post for his fellow substitute Hal Robson-Kanu to poke home.

Full report to follow...

Carlisle calls for calm approach

Ferdinand: Refuses to shake hands with Terry

Terry was cleared in court in July of allegations that he racially abused the QPR defender in a match at Loftus Road last season, though he still faces a Football Association charge over the matter.

Ferdinand refused to shake hands with either the Chelsea skipper or Ashley Cole, who appeared as a character witness for his Blues and England team-mate, ahead of Saturday's west London derby at Loftus Road.

Rangers captain Park Ji-sung, a former Manchester United team-mate of Ferdinand's brother Rio, also opted not to shake his opposite number's hand during the pre-match formalities.

The incident overshadowed a goalless draw and, along with Manchester United fans' distasteful chanting about Liverpool in the wake of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report being released this week, dominates the agenda after another difficult week for football.

York defender Carlisle feels that in the face of the Hillsborough issue, Ferdinand and Terry's feud is an unwanted sideshow.

He told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "After all that's happened this week - talking about Hillsborough and a long campaign and justice that has finally come for those families, and the club and the city of Liverpool - it all seems quite trivial."

QPR manager Mark Hughes stated, before and after Saturday's game, his belief that the handshake ritual should be scrapped.

But Carlisle continued: "I'm actually an advocate of the pre-match handshake, I think it's a statement of intent to play the game in a certain manner that's befitting to a professional.

"It was brought in for the Respect campaign so it's trying to tie in that relationship with the officials as well, because both teams have to shake their hands as well.

"I think it's a good thing that's in the game but when you do get a matter like this, a situation that is so personal between two people - or three people - you can't force any human being to shake another person's hand.

"It becomes one of those talking points that right now football can do without.

"When something has been so deep-rooted and has had such a vitriolic response from both sets of supporters, I'm not surprised there are residual feelings that bite into their professional lives.

"But I would hope that at the conclusion of the FA inquiry, that we can put this situation to bed from a media angle and an industry angle and that the message that can come forth is one of education, of how we move forward and ensure something like that doesn't happen again."

There are fears the situation could be repeated next week when Liverpool and United meet at Anfield, with Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra having been embroiled in a race row of their own last season.

Suarez served an eight-match ban after the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Evra, and the Uruguayan controversially refused to shake Evra's hand when the sides met later in the season.

Clarke is hopeful the issue will not rear its head on this occasion and said: "We have tried our best as a union to get all four clubs together.

"With QPR and Chelsea it's very difficult because it's all still ongoing and doing something like that could prejudice any kind of investigation.

"With Manchester United and Liverpool, they as clubs have decided that they want to try and put it to bed and they want everybody else to help them to do that."

Sabtu, 15 September 2012

Sunderland v Liverpool reaction

Suarez: Celebrates with Sterling

Luiz Suarez' 71st-minute equaliser denied the Black Cats victory at the Stadium of Light on a day when the 96 Reds fans who died at Hillsborough 23 years ago were poignantly remembered.

They and their fellow fans were this week cleared of blame for the disaster, with a number of apologies issued ranging from the prime minister to Football Association chairman David Bernstein as a result.

And Rodgers, whose players wore the number 96 on the back of their tracksuits before kick-off, was full of praise for them.

He said: "They have been terrific. It's been a difficult week, of course, as you can imagine for the city and everything surrounding it.

"Some of the players have been involved in the tragedy in terms of relatives, so it's been a really emotional week.

"But when you sign for Liverpool, that's part of the contract. As a player or manager, you sign an agreement and a contract with the supporters, an emotional one, and that's all p art of the journey of Liverpool.

"We wanted to give hope for two reasons: one, for ourselves, because we have shown really good progress over the course of the weeks - we haven't quite got the results, but the performance level at times has been very good.

"And to end the week for the supporters, because it has been very difficult for them.

"It was a good point all round. We will go away from the game really pleased with the performance."

Flags flew at half-mast at the stadium as Sunderland paid their respects to the Hillsborough victims, a move Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill felt was only right.

He said: "It was the least we could have done in terms of our part of proceedings.

"It's been a pretty harrowing 20-odd years, but justice has been done and I think they will draw some comfort from events in the past couple of days."

On the pitch, Sunderland took the lead against the run of play when Steven Fletcher got ahead of his m arker to turn Craig Gardner's 29th-minute cross past keeper Pepe Reina for his third goal in two league starts.

Liverpool lost momentum in the immediate aftermath, but fought back strongly after the break and were twice denied an equaliser by the woodwork when Glen Johnson's curling 51st-minute effort came back off the bar and then Steven Gerrard clipped the post on the hour.

However, salvation arrived 19 minutes from time when substitute Titus Bramble was only able to stab Raheem Sterling's cross to Suarez, who fired home to claim a point.

Rodgers said: "The performance was outstanding, both our creativity and our movement, and there was a really good tempo and rhythm to our game.

"We went behind and we were disappointed with the goal, it was a soft goal from poor perspective and it went against the run of play.

"But in the second half, we showed a real reaction and continued what we were doing in the first half, but really upped the tempo and the penetration in our game and by the end of it, I am sure Sunderland were probably happier with the point than ourselves.

"But overall, the performance was outstanding and it's a big credit to the players."

O'Neill, who lost defenders Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose to hamstring and groin injuries respectively, admitted the outcome was probably the right one.

He said: "I thought we played well in the first half, we gave as good as we got, got the goal in front and the irony of it is that we were probably in the second half having our best spell in possession of the ball and looked as if we had got a second wind when they got the equalising goal.

"But they had a number of chances and didn't take them, hit the bar and so from that viewpoint, probably a point was a fair result."

Rabu, 12 September 2012

Duo back in Chelsea training

Cole: Fitness race

Terry and Cole have this week been in a race against time to shake off ankle knocks for the west London derby at Loftus Road on Saturday.

The defenders were both forced to withdraw from the England squad for last night's 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw against Ukraine but have made enough progress to be able to step up their rehabilitation.

It remains unclear whether either will be risked for a Barclays Premier League fixture that will be overshadowed by talk of the first public showdown between Terry and Anton Ferdinand since the Chelsea captain was cleared in court of racially abusing the QPR defender.

Terry still faces a Football Association charge over the incident, one he has denied, and it has been suggested his personal hearing over the matter could be held on September 24.

The FA declined to comment on the timing of the hearing when contacted by Press Association Sport today.

Terry is reportedly as eager to play in Saturday's g ame as he was when Chelsea played at QPR in an FA Cup fourth-round tie in January.

That game saw him aggravate a knee injury which kept him out for six weeks and required minor surgery.

If Terry, Cole and Ferdinand all start on Saturday, the Premier League have no plans to abandon the pre-match handshake, despite the possibility of Ferdinand snubbing one or even both of the Chelsea players.

The handshakes prior to January's cup tie and April's league game were both cancelled due to the legal proceedings which ended in July.

Cole gave evidence in Terry's trial which helped exonerate his captain.

Meanwhile, Chelsea today confirmed that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust had topped a poll giving the charity the right to hold a bucket collection at Stamford Bridge during the September 22 home game against Stoke.

More than 12,000 people took part in the Medical Charity Poll via the club's official website, www.chelseafc.com and facebook page, with the CF Trust gaining 3,852 votes to make them the winners.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "We have been delighted with the response from fans. More than 12,000 supporters voted over the course of a week in this poll, which just goes to show how important charitable causes are to Chelsea supporters.

"We are very proud of the initiative's outcome and there are still four more polls to come this season."

Selasa, 11 September 2012

Fox extends Canaries stay

Fox: Staying at Norwich

The 28-year-old played a key part in City's promotion to the Premier League and his first year in the top flight culminated in him coming third in the player of the season awards.

Manager Chris Hughton told Norwich's official website: "I'm thrilled he's signed a new contract and committed himself to the club for the next two years. He's got plenty of quality and experience which I'm sure he'll continue to bring to the squad like he has since he arrived at the club. He's missed a lot of pre-season this year but it's great to now have him back in training, fully fit and available for selection."

Fox added: "I'm delighted to be here for the next couple of years and now I can push on from what has been a very successful time for myself and for the club.

"To end last season by coming third in the player of the season award was really touching and I was humbled by the whole thing. The lads played really well last year and it was a collective effort from everyone. It's up to me to play as often as I can now.

"I'm now fully fit and have been for a couple of weeks. I'm nowhere near match fit but you only get that by training and playing games. It's up to me to take my chance when I get it. I've now got to impress the manager and show him why I should be in the team. I'm raring to go when I am called upon."

Senin, 10 September 2012

Swans confirm Tiendalli signing

Tiendalli: Relishing the challenge

The 26-year-old Dutchman, who left FC Twente over the summer, has joined the Swans until the end of the season although the deal has yet to be ratified by the Premier League.

Tiendalli will provide defensive cover for Neil Taylor, who is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the campaign after fracturing his ankle against Sunderland 10 days ago.

"I'm looking forward to working under Michael Laudrup, who is a massive name in football, and showing him what I have to offer," Tiendalli said on Swansea's website.

"Playing in the Premier League is something I have always wanted to do - it's the best league in the world.

"I know my opportunity comes after an unfortunate injury for Neil Taylor, but hopefully I can bring experience to the squad and more options for the manager.

"It would be great to play on Saturday against Aston Villa, but my concentration first and foremost is to impress the manager in training and get used to my new tea m-mates."

Tiendalli began his career with Ajax before moving on to spells with Utrecht, Feyenoord, Sparta Rotterdam and Twente.

Sabtu, 08 September 2012

Prem is paradise for Pogrebnyak

Pogrebnyak: Raves about the English game

The 28-year-old Russia international made an instant impact in the Premier League during a loan spell at Fulham last season in which he scored six goals in 12 games.

And the former Stuttgart man netted against Chelsea in his second game for the Royals.

It is no surprise to Pogrebnyak that he is enjoying his football having been an admirer of the English game since he was a youngster.

"My dream has always been to play in the Premier League," he told sports.ru.

"At the end of the 90s I liked watching English football very much so I wanted to sign in England but I didn't think it would happen so late. But now I'm here and I'm happy about it.

"The first time I watched English football (live) was in 2001 or 2002. I decided to go to a Premier League game (with a friend).

"We were both Manchester United fans and our favourite players - Giggs, Scholes, Beckham - were running around. That's why I always try to get the No 7 shirt.

< p>"It was impossible to get a ticket to the games of Manchester United so we went to a Chelsea-Newcastle game. Without (Roman) Abramovich and the star players Chelsea weren't such a big team as they are now."

Asked why he preferred English football, Pogrebnyak explained: "Because of the speed, fights and tough play. As a striker I always liked crosses from the wings.

"When I was sitting in front of the television in Russia I was amazed to see when someone heads the ball after a big jump or started to dribble, it was very fascinating for me to see.

"Scoring a goal like this and then running to the fans - it's like paradise for me.

"In Germany the stadiums are packed and the infrastructure is good. But I couldn't become one with the rest.

"Here you don't have time for the training - game, regenerating exercise, training and game again.

"In England you're tired because you play football frequently, but in Germany you're tired because yo u train as much as a horse. But here everything is a joy and a satisfaction."

Kamis, 06 September 2012

Wenger hails Bould impact

Bould: Making an impact

The Gunners have yet to concede a goal in their opening three games, and registered their first win at Liverpool with goals from summer signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen feels a lot of the Gunners' new-found defensive solidarity is down to the work put in by former centre-half Bould, who joined Wenger's first-team coaching staff after the retirement of Pat Rice.

Wenger believes signs are positive for the bigger challenges which lie ahead.

Speaking at the UEFA elite club coaches forum in Nyon, Switzerland, the Arsenal manager said: "We have played two teams who didn't really attack, but he [Bould] is doing a good job.

"We continue our training regime. He has taken over from Pat Rice for the defensive job where he is doing very well.

"Will we finish with the best defence in the league? I hope so."

Wenger, however, maintained it would not be a case of the days of '1-0 to the Arsenal' once again.< /p>

He added: "No, no, we want to score goals, but Steve Bould is doing very well and I am confident we have a good defensive record at the end of the season."

Podolski was deployed as alongside fellow summer signing Olivier Giroud at Anfield, where Cazorla again caught the eye with an all-action display.

The Germany international, signed from Cologne in a reported 11million deal, feels it is a combination which can prove electric.

"I like Arsenal's style of football and Santi's as well - I love his style of football, with one or two touches," he said.

"We play [well] together and you could see it here - he passed for me for the first goal, I passed to him for the second goal.

"But we are only three matches in. We have 35 matches more so we must keep going."

Podolski added: "At Arsenal, I not only play on the line, but I can go in the middle and play with Santi and Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta.

"This is my style of football. I like this, but it is not only about one match - I want to play more of these matches."

Defender Bacary Sagna is currently recovering from a broken leg suffered at the end of last season, and could be in contention to return by the start of next month.

The France international, however, has been left disillusioned by the departures of former captain Robin van Persie and midfielder Alex Song during the transfer window.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Sagna said: "Everyone was expecting Robin Van Persie to leave, but Alex Song, that was a surprise. I don't understand that at all. It is a big loss for the club.

"When you see two of the best players from last season leave, you ask a lot of questions.

"On the street, sometimes the fans come to see me. I understand they are upset. I am like them, I do not quite understand."

Sagna, 29, signed from Auxerre four years ago, and in that time has seen several of his team-mates leave - including France d uo Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri, who went on to win the Barclays Premier League title with Manchester City last season.

He continued: "It is not disturbing, but annoying.

"In May, I watched City's parade on TV. I saw Samir and Gael lift the trophy. I want that."

The France defender will be heading into the final year of his current deal at the end of the season, and maintains as yet there has been no talk over an extension.

He said: "I just want to play again and be good again with Arsenal so far. Then, we will see. Each person has his own destiny."

Midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong could also be back in contention shortly after the international break, having suffered cruciate knee ligament injury while on loan at Wolves last season.

Meanwhile, winger Andrey Arshavin has been linked with a move back to Russia with Dynamo Moscow ahead of their transfer deadline, but is understood to be determined to force his way into the Arsenal first tea m again.

Guthrie eyes England call-up

Guthrie: England dream

The 25-year-old moved to the Madejski Stadium after not being offered a new deal at Newcastle, where he had become more used to sitting on the bench.

He has impressed in his first two games for Reading and now the former Liverpool youngster is targeting a start to his international career.

"I'm a really ambitious person so I'd love to represent my country, it's one of the reasons why I did move on," he told Reading's official website.

"It's one of the things I want to tick off on my list and I feel if I'm playing well and regularly I can.

"You've got your top players - the (Steven) Gerrards, (Frank) Lampards and (Jack) Wilsheres - then after that I think there's a chance for a new group of midfielders to come through."

Guthrie also revealed it was a meeting with Reading boss Brian McDermott that convinced him to complete a move the Berkshire club.

"It would have been easy for me to sign a deal at Newcastle and play 20 games a season but if I wanted to go to the next level then I felt I had to move on," he said.

"I spoke to a few clubs over the summer but once I'd met the manager, and heard his plans, this is where I wanted to be."

Guthrie scored his first Reading goal in the 4-2 defeat at Chelsea and is playing in a more advanced role under McDermott than he has been used to in the past.

He said: "In my time at Newcastle I was used more in a sitting role, like a quarter back almost - spraying the ball about, but the manager has seen something in me and wants me to get forward into the opposition's final third to create a goal or create a chance."

Senin, 03 September 2012

Berba: Fergie's lost my respect

Berbatov: Admits he lost respect for Ferguson

The Bulgarian striker last week joined Fulham in a deal worth a reported 5million after falling out of favour at United.

The 31-year-old cost United 30.75million in 2008 and was the Premier League's top scorer in 2010-11 but made just 12 league appearances last term.

The beginning of the end appeared to come when he was left out of the matchday squad completely for the 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona.

Speaking at a press conference in Sofia, Berbatov told reporters: "I don't think I deserved such treatment at United - not playing in the last year.

"I went more than 10, probably 15, times to ask the coach if they need me.

"And every time I was told that I'm an important player and should not leave, but then again I was not in the team.

"Maybe I should've gone when he [Ferguson] left me out of the squad for the Champions League final.

"I know he's the boss, but he has lost, to some extent, my respect because of the way he treated me."

Berbatov found himself below Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck in the Old Trafford pecking order last season and this summer's arrivals of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa threatened his place further.

Berbatov felt he was the victim of a decision by Ferguson to play with a different style.

He said: "He tried to explain to me that the team will be using a more direct style, with more speed.

"But I've never been among the fastest players, I like to hold the ball, this is my style.

"I found it hard to accept his decision - I still have my dignity. I scored many goals, I won the league two times, and I was the league top scorer, so it's not bad.

"I'll have no problems playing against United as this already happened in my career. But there's no point to look back again.

"I said goodbye to the people who deserve it. I couldn't say goodbye to Ferguson."

Berbatov's move to Fulham wa s not without controversy as he angered Fiorentina by turning down the chance to join them and then snubbed Juventus.

Berbatov defended his position, saying: "I've never personally told them, 'Yes, I'll play for you'.

"It's not my problem that someone is disappointed. After all, I choose where to play and be happy."

Berbatov's agent Emil Danchev also revealed that Tottenham made a last-ditch attempt to re-sign their former player.

He said: "We were in touch with Tottenham at the last moment."

Blues sell Meireles to Fenerbahce

Meireles: Joins Fenerbahce

The 29-year-old midfielder had struggled to force his way into the starting XI this season and manager Roberto Di Matteo deemed the Portuguese as surplus to requirements.

Meireles started 37 games for the Blues last season after arriving from Liverpool on a four-year deal on last August's transfer deadline day, for a reported fee of 12million.

A statement on the Premier League club's website read: "Chelsea Football Club thanks Raul for the part he played in such an historic and successful year, and wishes him well at his new club."

Sabtu, 01 September 2012

City edge past battling R's

Yaya (r): Opened the scoring

Sixteen weeks after the dramatic season finale that saw City crowned Premier League champions at the same ground, the hosts survived another scare against the side managed by their former boss, Mark Hughes.

Despite creating a multitude of chances, City needed a quick response from Dzeko after Bobby Zamora cancelled out Toure's effort but Tevez made the scoreline more convincing in injury time.

Apart from QPR's recovery after falling behind, the match had little in common with that in May.

The visitors were hardly a factor for long spells and only three of their starting line-up were in the team that memorable afternoon.

Their changes included a debut for new signing Esteban Granero while goalkeeper Robert Green, dropped from the England squad this week, started what could be his last match as first choice.

The 32-year-old only joined the club in the summer but now faces an uncertain future following this week's capture of Julio Cesar from Inter Milan.

Scott Sinclair was the only one of City's five deadline day signings to make their squad but did not get off the bench.

City, watched by Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho ahead of their Champions League meeting, soon established control with Toure bossing the midfield.

QPR survived a scare in the first minute when Dzeko, starting for the first time this season, glanced a header wide from a corner.

The Bosnian went even closer as he was first to meet another corner but this time Fabio da Silva, on loan from Manchester United, did well to hack off the line.

Toure powered in on the rebound but this time former City playmaker Shaun Wright-Phillips blocked.

The City pressure continued as Rangers were starved of possession and an Aleksandar Kolarov cross almost fell for Jack Rodwell after a touch from Tevez.

QPR's first opportunity came from a City mistake as Rodwell overhit a backpass and the ball dropped over his o wn bar for a corner. The visitors were unable to capitalise.

It seemed inevitable City would take the lead and their opener came in the 16th minute as Tevez saw an effort blocked from yet another corner but Toure followed up to thump home.

Green got a hand to it but could do little on what was shaping up to be a difficult afternoon for him.

Former Real Madrid man Granero had QPR's first shot when he found space outside the area but Joe Hart was not troubled.

David Silva tricked his way into the QPR box and dug the ball out from under his feet to force Green to save and Samir Nasri was unable to follow up.

Silva spurned another opportunity when he was played through by a superb long ball from Kolarov. The Spaniard failed to get away a shot quick enough and Fabio produced another timely block.

Tevez fired over as City continued to power forward and Rodwell wasted an opening when he opted to pass instead of shoot.

QPR's opportuni ties were limited but Granero looked composed when allowed time on the ball but missed the target with another attempt.

City returned for the second half with much the same approach as the first and threatened a second straight from the restart as Tevez drilled an awkward shot at Green.

The tireless Pablo Zabaleta, probably knowing new signing Maicon might be after his place, went even closer as he took a fine pass from Silva and curled an effort onto the bar.

Yet as much as they were dominant, recent history threatened to repeat itself as QPR levelled against the run of play just before the hour.

Andrew Johnson stole possession outside the area and forced a good save from Hart with a deflected shot. Hart could not recover his footing quick enough to regather and Zamora stole in to head home.

Yet in contrast to last May, City began their reply earlier and without falling behind.

They swiftly moved back up the field and Tevez did well to keep the ball in play and cross for Dzeko to head home at close range.

It should have been the sign for City to wrap up the game but despite continuing to carve out chances - Dzeko twice shooting only to be flagged offside - it remained a slender lead.

There were definite signs of nerves when Granero whipped in a free-kick and Ryan Nelsen narrowly failed to touch in at the far post.

City wrapped up the job in injury time as Tevez, moving back into an onside position, diverted the ball home from Dzeko's shot.

After apparently being told off for lifting his shirt in recent weeks, he kept it down this time.