Sabtu, 09 Februari 2013

Two goals from Gareth Bale gave Tottenham a 2-1 win over Newcastle

Gareth Bale: Brace wins game for Tottenham

The Welsh wizard was a constant thorn in Newcastle's side and he opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick after just five minutes.

Spurs were the better side in the opening exchanges, but the visitors looked dangerous on the counter and levelled with Yoan Gouffran's strike flying into the top corner off Michael Dawson's back just before the half-hour.

Both teams had their chances to win it in the second half, and it was Spurs who took the three points with just 12 minutes left as Bale broke into the box and fired under Tim Krul for his eighth goal in his last nine Tottenham appearances.

He did pass up a gilt-edged chance to take the match ball home but he fired over an open goal with his right foot from just five yards out - however, it mattered little as Spurs took the win and extended their unbeaten run to 10 games.

Bale was in in the mood from the start. Just 70 seconds had elapsed when he burst down the left after a clever one-two with Lewis Holtby, but Davide Santon cut the Welshman's cross out before Clint Dempsey could convert.

Three minutes later and Spurs had the lead. Fabricio Coloccini clattered into Dempsey 25 yards out and Bale stepped up to deliver a Ronaldo-esque free kick which dipped over the wall past a diving Krul.

Spurs dominated the rest of the opening quarter but Newcastle came back into it and levelled. Moussa Sissoko galloped down the right on a Newcastle counter and pulled the ball back to Gouffran who beat Hugo Lloris via a deflection from the diving Dawson.

Spurs had two penalty appeals turned down. The first - when Aaron Lennon's shot struck Santon's arm - looked credible, but the second - when Bale's volley brushed Mathieu Debuchy's shoulder - was not.

Just after the break and Newcastle were hit with a blow as goalscorer Gouffran was stretched off. Kyle Walker clipped the forward's right shin on the halfway line and he needed oxygen before being carried off on a stretcher. He was then taken to hospital for an X-ray.

Bale continued to look like Tottenham's best hope of finding a winner. The Welshman, who fired his country to victory over Austria in midweek, picked the ball off Lennon and fired a low cross into the box but it was cut out before Dempsey could score.

Bale came forward again, charging at the defence before firing a powerful shot which Taylor blocked bravely. But Taylor then went from hero to villain moments later, however, as his mix-up with Coloccini allowed Bale to race through the Toon defence and fire between the legs of Krul to make it 2-1.

Caulker could have added a third moments later with a free header when Krul went walkabout from a corner, but the defender nodded wide. Krul's finger-tips prevented Bale from adding a third after he raced through from a long punt down field before firing a powerful volley at goal.

Yohan Cabaye was guilty of putting in a terrible tackle on Dembele, stamping on the Belgian's ankle in a late attempt to win the ball. Spurs' players demanded a red card, but Phil Dowd issued just a yellow.

Newcastle threatened to equalise in the second of seven added minutes through substitute Shola Ameobi, but Lloris saved well to deny the striker.

Krul's acrobatics denied Bale his hat-trick twice in added time, but the winger did not mind. He had already done enough damage to see off the Toon.

Jumat, 08 Februari 2013

Liverpool to assess Daniel Sturridge; West Brom without banned Goran Popov

Daniel Sturridge: To be assessed by Liverpool

The England international pulled out of the midweek friendly against Brazil with a thigh problem sustained in last weekend's draw at Manchester City.

Winger Raheem Sterling, who also withdrew from international duty, is fit while new signing Philippe Coutinho has had his first week of training after his move from Inter Milan but may require more time.

West Brom left-back Goran Popov will start a three-match suspension after being sent off for spitting at Tottenham defender Kyle Walker, ruling him out of Monday's clash at Anfield.

Baggies midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is in contention to return to the starting line-up for the first time since January 1 after returning to training this week following a knee problem.

Head coach Steve Clarke has to decide whether to recall striker Peter Odemwingie, who was left out against Spurs after the collapse of his transfer deadline day move to QPR.

SAF fears over spending rules

Sir Alex Ferguson: Fears over new spending rules

United were one of the driving forces behind the measures agreed yesterday, whereby clubs will not be permitted to rack up losses of more than 105million over three years.

Clubs will also face limits on the amount by which they can increase their total player wage bills - and breaching either measure could lead to points deductions.

Ferguson said however: "It's all good in theory but the application of it will always be difficult. If people have money to burn they can place it anywhere in the world.

"I'll be interested to see how they think they can operate it. It would be good if it was applicable but I have my doubts. I think it's always going to be problem to try to enforce it."

Under the measures, clubs whose total wage bill is more than 52million will only be allowed to increase their wages by 4million per season for the next three years, though that cap does not cover extra money coming in from increases in commercial or matchday inc ome.

Arsenal have also pushed for financial fair play, but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said he favoured more individual freedom for clubs.

He said: "I personally am for financial fair play in the way that companies and the clubs respect to manage the club with their own resources.

"For the rest I am for freedom, how you use your resources inside the club. I am not in favour of a Brussels-type of society with centralised control with complicated rules. I believe every company should live within its own resources. For the rest, leave it to the company to manage their company how they want to do it.

"It is nonsense because we live in a world where, if you look at Europe, most of the countries are in a very difficult financial position and I believe the minimum we can do in our world is respect the financial balance."

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said he hoped the new regulations would not lead to the club losing their top players.

He s aid: "Like everything else, it will probably start and we will have some flaws and if they get adjusted and amended as we go along that is fine.

"We will all have to try and live with what the new regulations will be when they are put in place. My only fear, from a personal point of view, is I hope we don't lose our best players."

Aston Villa were one of the clubs understood to have voted against the measures and their manager Paul Lambert insisted the proposals were still "up in the air".

He added: "Once it is set in stone then people can say whether it's good or bad.

"The Premier League is a vast football league and a business and you can't blame the players.

"Is the money crazy? Yes, it probably is. It's the way football is and the game is, it's not the fault of the players."

Adel Taarabt hopeful over QPR's Premier League survival chances

Harry Redknapp's side are rooted to the bottom of the table and know they will have to pull off a great escape if they want to retain their top-flight status, with six points currently between them and safety.

But the Hoops are unbeaten in five Premier League encounters and 23-year-old Morocco international Taarabt is still hopeful they can beat the drop.

"We have 13 games left and six points (between us and safety) and you never know, so I hope we can do it. We still believe," he told Sky Sports.

"This has happened, I don't know how to explain that. But everybody is trying to work hard and since the new manager has arrived we are doing better."

Taarabt, who missed a penalty last weekend as QPR's home clash against Norwich ended in a goalless draw, believes his side are in need of some good fortune.

"I think we needed a bit of luck because I think we play very good," he added. "Against Norwich I think we had a big chance to win the gam e.

"If I hadn't have missed the penalty we had a big chance to get close to the other teams. But I missed it and we focus on the next game."


QPR brought in 11 new faces in last summer's transfer window and Taarabt believes that increased the expectation on them to do well this season.

"I think the expectation on QPR from people was big at the beginning of the season," he said.

"Everybody maybe saw us doing very well this season, because we bought 11 or 12 players, and it's been difficult."

To find out more about live football on Sky sports, Click here

Kamis, 07 Februari 2013

Roo puts title thoughts on hold

Wayne Rooney: Not thinking about title tilt just yet

United have a built up a formidable nine-point lead over Manchester City and moved 16 clear of Chelsea with their win at Fulham last weekend.

Had it not been for their dramatic collapse last term, when they managed to blow an eight-point advantage in the space of just four games to hand the initiative to City, most observers would now be writing United up as champions already.

But Rooney has no intention of falling into that trap.

And with an Old Trafford encounter with his former club Everton on Sunday, whose fightback in the corresponding fixture last season blew the door open for City, the 27-year-old is adopting a blinkered approach to the situation.

"Results are the most important thing now," he said.

"Look at Manchester City against QPR. They should have got the win, had a lot of chances but ended up dropping two points.

"That could quite easily have happened to us against Southampton the following night.

"It pro ves we have to keep picking up the points when we can.

"Once it comes down to the last four or five games, then we will see what position we are in and work out what we have to do."

This is the moment City have been waiting for, though.

United must fight against the distraction of Wednesday's trip to Madrid - and that mouth-watering reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo - in order to maintain their present position.

It means that even more emphasis than usual will be placed on Sir Alex Ferguson's injury bulletin.

The bout of shingles that prevented Phil Jones joining up for England Under-21 duty this week is an obvious cause for concern, while Danny Welbeck was spotted with a minor limp as he left Wembley on Wednesday night.

There will also be an assessment of the condition of Shinji Kagawa following his return from Japan's friendly with Latvia and Javier Hernandez, who was on duty in Mexico, to determine what part they will play in next we ek's drama.

The fact Ferguson gave the green light to Rooney completing the full 90 minutes of England's victory over Brazil suggests he may be spared further exertion this weekend, although, as the forward pointed out, he is not the only one at United who gets their hands dirty when the graft has to be done.

"We don't have anyone who doesn't want to do the work," he said.

"We all look at the statistics after the game to see how much running we have done and are well aware of everything we do.

"There is no hiding place with all the technology and stuff."

Ferguson has still not forgotten how his side twice established a two-goal cushion against Everton last season and were unable to close out the contest.

It has been a similar story this term, only United have generally found a way to squeeze out a succession of unconvincing victories.

Rooney has no answer to a conundrum Ferguson has grown increasingly sick of trying to find a solution to.

However, while he, Robin van Persie and Hernandez in particular continue to find the net on a regular basis, the damage should not be too extensive.

"I can't put my finger on why we are not killing teams off," said Rooney.

"We have scored plenty of goals. It is the most number we have scored at this stage of the season.

"We have conceded too many and have done throughout the season.

"But that is the way we have been set up to play. We have to just keep our scoring going."

Luis Suarez feels Liverpool can push for UEFA Champions League

Luis Suarez: Striker feels Liverpool can push for a top-four finish

Liverpool sit nine points off fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with 13 games remaining, but have taken encouragement from their recent 2-2 draws at Arsenal and Manchester City.

Brendan Rodgers' side were the better team for long spells in both of those games and Suarez is delighted with the progress being made by the Reds.

"I'm very pleased and very happy because Liverpool is growing," Suarez, who has scored 17 Premier League goals this season, told Marca.

"It's not the team that it once was as they have had a dip. But now we have a new coach who has a philosophy of the game with which the players are very happy.

"The only thing missing is to have more positive results so we can finish in a Champions League spot.

"We showed we can match anyone, we had chances to win many of those matches.

"If we go in to every game in the Premier League with the same intensity that we've shown in the big matches, we can be much higher in the table."

To find out more about live football on Sky Sports, click here.

Rabu, 06 Februari 2013

Yaya ready to help City fight

Yaya Toure: Ivory Coast midfielder back with Manchester City

Nigeria's 2-1 win over Ivory Coast freed up Toure to return and he is set to feature in Saturday's game at Southampton as City attempt to cut Manchester United's nine-point lead at the summit.

Toure told the club's official website: "We are further behind than we'd like, of course, but all we need to do is think about last season to know what is possible.

"My friends are all here and are happy to see me and we are like a family or brothers who will all fight together - and that is a very important thing to have.

"United have a strong squad and on paper, they have an easier run in than we do but the title race is a long way from finished. It only takes a couple of results to go our way and we're right back in it - I'm sure we'll come back.

"I feel like I'm home again and I met some City fans before my flight from Paris to Manchester and they said 'welcome home, Yaya' and they said they wanted me to help the team and bring happiness to our s upporters. That's what I aim to do."

Aaron Ramsey a doubt for Arsenal's game with Sunderland after suffering calf injury

Aaron Ramsey: Forced to withdraw from Wales squad with calf problem

The 22-year-old was forced to withdraw from the Wales squad for Wednesday's friendly against Austria at the Liberty Stadium.

Ramsey has returned to Arsenal for treatment and could miss this weekend's trip to the Stadium of Light.

A Football Association of Wales statement on Wednesday read: "Aaron Ramsey has this afternoon withdrawn from the Wales squad to face Austria at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

"Aaron has a problem with his calf and has returned to his club Arsenal for treatment."

Midfielder Ramsey has made 32 appearances for the Gunners this season, scoring once.

To find out more about live football on Sky sports, Click here

Transfer news: Manchester City readying move for Napoli's Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani: Manchester City will face fierce competition for his signature i

The Napoli striker has long been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium, with his consistency in Serie A marking him out as one of the deadliest frontmen in European football.

There are, however, a number of obstacles City will need to overcome if they are to put a deal in place for Cavani.

The Uruguay international has a sizeable release clause in his contract and is also wanted by the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid - clubs capable of competing with City financially.

Gregucci has, however, told a Naples-based radio station: "City will definitely have competition for Cavani, who is dominating the Italian league with his goals and sacrifices for the team and whose contract has a 55m buy-out clause.

"Edinson is scoring a huge number of goals this season, and it will be difficult for City to take him. The 10 biggest clubs in Europe all have Cavani in their sights."


City are in the market for a new striker after a greeing to offload Mario Balotelli to AC Milan towards the end of the January transfer window.

Gregucci believes that deal will be beneficial to all concerned, with City set to make a profit on the 19million they paid Inter Milan for the fiery Italian back in 2010.

He added: "Manchester will take more than it cost, and we and Milan will both benefit, as we all know Mario can be devastating.

"Mario will also benefit because, away from the clutches of the British media, he will be able to concentrate more on football objectives.

"Staying close to his family, at a club like Milan, which he loves, could be his salvation, but at City with (Carlos) Tevez, (Sergio) Aguero and (Edin) Dzeko you can make a big impact in training and still be on the bench."

Stoke win planning approval for Britannia Stadium expansion

Britannia Stadium: Home of Stoke City

Stoke's application to 'fill-in' the south east corner of the stadium has been unanimously agreed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and means they can continue looking into the feasibility of the development.

The Potters want to add an additional 1,800 seats which will increase the Britannia's capacity to 30,000.

They plan to 'fill-in' the gap between the Seddon Stand and the Marston's Pedigree Stand allowing a sweep of the stadium bowl on three sides.

Richard Smith, managing director of Stoke City Property Ltd, commented: "This is great news that we now have planning permission for the expansion.

"We will continue therefore to work on an implementation plan to undertake this work at a point in the future when it is considered appropriate to do so."

Selasa, 05 Februari 2013

Norwich confirm loan signing of Kei Kamara from Sporting Kansas City

Kei Kamara: Granted visa for Norwich move

The 28-year old's move from Major League Soccer to Carrow Road until May 6 was announced last week, subject to receiving immigration clearance, which has now been granted, the Canaries have announced.

A statement on the club's official website added: "City are pleased to confirm forward Kei Kamara has been granted a visa to come and play for Norwich City on loan from Sporting Kansas City until May 6.

"The 28-year-old Sierra Leone international will fly into the UK to join his new Canary team-mates over the next 24 hours and will be available for selection for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Fulham at Carrow Road."

Kamara could make his debut in Saturday's Premier League clash with Fulham.

"Finally the time is here. I'm so excited," the Sierra Leone forward told Canaries Player ahead of his flight to the UK. "I've just got to get there, try to impress in training and try to get myself in a position where I can be on the field.

"I'm going to make it difficult for the coach, to have options and to give me a chance when the time comes."

Kamara, who had a trial at Stoke before Norwich made their move, has been training on his own in recent weeks to prepare for the move, including going to the gym during last Sunday's Super Bowl.

"It's really not that hard to keep yourself motivated, saying 'hey, I'm going to be playing in the Premier League'," he said. "It's a good motivation when you're in the workout room."

Kamara thanked his MLS side for the opportunity to move to Carrow Road. "I loved my time at Kansas," he said. "It's the best place for me; the best three years. I've had so much fun.

"But when you have a chance like this, to play in the best league in the world, there's no way they were not going to let me live my dream a little bit.

"Getting the chance to come over is surreal. I can't wait. It's time for me to test my skills with the top play ers. I'm a forward with a lot of energy, athleticism.

"I'm just really, really happy to get myself in front of goal. What I want to do is get chances to put the ball in the back of the net."

The deal for Kamara was agreed last Wednesday, ahead of the 1-1 draw with Tottenham, and Luciano Becchio followed from Leeds 24 hours later on transfer deadline day.

Norwich boss Chris Hughton was enthusiastic about Kamara and speaking after the Spurs draw, Hughton said: "I think he'll give us another dimension in the forward area.

"He's a player that's done very, very well in the MLS over the last few seasons, scored a lot of goals, a lot of assists.

"From what I've seen of him, we're not just taking an average player from that division. We're taking a player from that division that has excelled in recent seasons.

"How quickly he can adapt, how much he can give us. We're quite looking forward to the prospect of seeing that."

Norwich are 1 4th in the Premier League, seven points clear of the relegation zone, but have just two wins from 12 in all competitions.

Romelu Lukaku believes he can become a legend at Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku: Scored nine goals for West Brom

The Belgium international striker is currently on loan at West Brom and has scored nine Premier League goals for the Baggies this season.

But the 19-year-old sees his long-term future at Stamford Bridge and believes there is still time for him to become a star with the Blues.

"Yeah, that is the dream. That's what I signed for Chelsea for," Lukaku told Sky Sports News.

"My aim is to play at the Bridge and to be a legend over there in the future.

"But the time is going so really I need to keep playing. And hopefully in the next few years become one of the key elements at the Bridge.

The signing of Demba Ba in January looks to have made Lukaku's task of earning a starting spot at Chelsea a trickier one but the powerful forward is undaunted by the competition.

"That's the thing when you play for Chelsea. They will always sign big players," he added.

"So now it is up to me to show I can go over there and play and do the sam e as he does now."

Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko feels he is suited to Premier League

Moussa Sissoko: Enjoying new midfield role with Newcastle

The France international midfielder delivered an inch-perfect pass on debut for Papiss Cisse to score at Aston Villa and then followed up with a brace at home to Chelsea at the weekend.

The 23-year-old credits his success to the more attacking role he is now allowed to play for both club and country.

"Toulouse are a good team with quality players but going forward sometimes we experienced difficulties," Sissoko told L'Equipe.

"English football is made for me. I've thought that for a while. I know I will often be in a position to score, just like last weekend.

"It is the same in the France team. I feel better and better. At first, I didn't dare to take risks - I just did control and pass. Nowadays if I have to dribble, I do it."

France coach Didier Deschamps is increasingly being forced to look overseas to see the country's best players in action but the 44-year-old believes it can be a help rather than a hindrance.

"It is a g ood thing," Deschamps told L'Equipe. "Take the example of Sissoko. Now he is a No 10. I could not imagine seeing him in such a position."

Senin, 04 Februari 2013

United hit by Jones illness

Phil Jones: Has a bout of shingles

Jones missed United's Premier League win at Fulham on Saturday and 24 hours later was withdrawn from the England Under-21 squad for Tuesday night's encounter with Sweden in Walsall.

No reason was given by the Old Trafford outfit for the absences.

However, England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has confirmed Jones is suffering from shingles.

"Jones picked up shingles and there's not a lot we can do about it," said Pearce in quotes carried by several national newspapers.

"It's a shame because it makes us stronger when Phil's here, that's for sure. But it gives someone else a chance."

A similar virus to chicken-pox, shingles is relatively common and the symptoms last for at least a fortnight.

So, depending upon the severity, it is difficult to see Jones recovering in time to make the trip to Madrid for next Wednesday's game.

It would be a blow to Sir Alex Ferguson too as the youngster recently excelled in a central midfield role against Tottenham and United might have been looking for Jones to carry out the same duties again as they look to get a positive result to take back to Old Trafford for the decider on March 5.

FA unaware of match-fixing probe

Football Association: Have not been notified about match-fixing investigation

The mystery surrounding a European police match-fixing investigation into a Champions League game in England has deepened after it emerged neither the Football Association nor UEFA were aware of any such probe.

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol - the European Union's law enforcement agency, told a news conference on Monday that the match which took place "in the last three to four years" was one of 380 under investigation.

Europol said a total of 425 match officials, club officials, players, and serious criminals, from more than 15 countries, are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix matches.

Wainwright refused to name which English Champions League match in particular due to "ongoing judicial proceedings" - and the FA, which as the governing body in the country should be alerted, is also at a loss to know which one.

A spokesman for The Football Association said: "The FA are not aware of any credible reports into suspicious Cham pions League fixtures in England, nor has any information been shared with us.

"While the Champions League comes under UEFA jurisdiction, The FA, alongside the Premier League, Football League and Conference, monitor markets for the top seven leagues and three major cup competitions in England and take matters of integrity in football extremely seriously."

It is understood UEFA is similarly unaware of an investigation into an Champions League match in England.

A Europol spokesman said he was unable to comment when asked why neither the FA nor UEFA had been informed.

Investigators told the news conference an Asia-based crime syndicate is behind the fixing of the 380 matches, along with World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and "several top football matches in European leagues".

Wainwright said at a press conference in The Hague: "This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networ ks around Europe.

"It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe."

Wainwright revealed the scale of the corruption in Germany, where 13.8 million was wagered on matches in the country with payments of 1.73m believed to have been paid to those involved.

Overall, Europol claim match-fixing had taken place in 15 countries with 50 people arrested to date.

Wainwright added: "The focus has been on other countries, not the United Kingdom. However we were surprised by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was.

"It would be naive and complacent of those in the UK to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe."

UEFA confirmed it would co-operate with the investigation and stressed it had a zero -tolerance approach to match-fixing.

It added in a statement: "UEFA is aware of the statements made by Europol regarding the alleged match-fixing that has taken place in various football competitions, and expects to receive further information in the coming days.

"As part of the fight against the manipulation of matches, UEFA is already co-operating with the authorities on these serious matters as part of its zero tolerance policy towards match-fixing in our sport.

"Once the details of these investigations are in UEFA's hands, then they will be reviewed by the appropriate disciplinary bodies in order that the necessary measures are taken."

FIFA's head of security Ralf Mutschke said prison sentences for fixing needed to be tougher.

He said: "In football, a national association can sanction a member of the football family if they are found guilty of contravening the legal, football framework.

"FIFA's disciplinary code provides the oppo rtunity to extend those sanctions, and impose a life ban.

"But for people outside of football, currently the custodial sentences imposed are too weak, and offer little to deter someone from getting involved in match-fixing."

Meanwhile, the Danish FA banned a player for six months on Monday for placing bets on a 2011 cup match he played in.

Kristoffer Wichmann, who plays for second tier side FC Vestsjaelland was deemed to have used middlemen to place bets on the match, although he is appealing against the ban.

Magpies hope to settle a score

Alan Pardew: Delighted with back-to-back wins

The Magpies head for White Hart Lane on Saturday having given their Premier League survival hopes a significant boost with back-to-back victories over Aston Villa and, in spectacular style, Chelsea with new boys Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran and match-winner Moussa Sissoko having added a little Gallic flair to the mix.

They will do so determined not only to collect another three precious points, but also to make amends for a 5-0 thumping in the corresponding fixture last season.

Pardew said: "Tottenham is a difficult one, but we are going to go there with renewed vigour - we have some 'je ne sais quoi' in the team - and hopefully get something there.

"Last year when we were flying, it was a real disappointment for us that day. We were well beaten, so we need to put that right."

Victory over Chelsea edged the Magpies six points clear of the drop zone, but, perhaps more importantly, helped to re-establish a measure of confidence in a squad which has been painfully short of that particular commodity in recent months.

In addition, it presented the Toon Army with a potential new hero as Sissoko turned in an energetic individual display capped with the two goals which first pegged the Blues back and then condemned them to defeat.

The former Toulouse midfielder was one of five Frenchmen to join the club during last month's transfer window in the wake of Demba Ba's departure for Chelsea, and Pardew was thrilled to see him take up the baton so quickly.

He said: "You lose great players - you lose Andy Cole, you lose Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, people like that.

"They come through the door, you love them and unfortunately for whatever reason, money or the end of their career, they drift away.

"But new stars emerge. Demba was one for us - he has gone away now and Sissoko has announced his arrival.

"He won't get as much time and space perhaps as he got on Saturday because teams are going to be wary of him, but he enjoyed himself. It was a brilliant performance."

Minggu, 03 Februari 2013

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers happy with controversial goal against Manchester City

Brendan Rodgers: Delighted with his team's efforts in Manchester

Daniel Sturridge cancelled out Edin Dzeko's early opener, with City boss Roberto Mancini feeling Reds defender Daniel Agger should have been punished for a foul on the Bosnian.

Referee Anthony Taylor played on and despite the boos, Liverpool opted against putting the ball out of play with the City striker laid on the turf as Sturridge slotted in.

After Sunday's Premier League clash at the Etihad ended 2-2, Rodgers said: "The first goal was clear. Both bodies get tangled up, Dzeko thinks it's a free-kick but you're talking about a minute or so after (until Liverpool scored).

"The referee told a couple of players - Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard - to play on which is why they kept going.

"There was one in the second half when Daniel kicked the ball out. There was no injury to Dzeko, it was purely the referee's decision.

"The controversy probably takes it away from what was a great strike from Daniel."

Despite failing to se cure the spoils having taken the lead from Steven Gerrard's superb 30-yard dipping volley, Rodgers was pleased with the performance.

He was unhappy with the mistake by Jose Reina that led to City's equaliser, the goalkeeper charging out to the edge of his penalty area only to see Sergio Aguero turn and rifle in from a tight angle.

"That was an outstanding performance coming here, which is notoriously difficult place where it is even difficult to score goals," Rodgers added.

"We were brilliant. The only disappointment is that we were outstanding in our work but mistakes have cost us. Aguero's finish for the second was unbelievable but from our perspective we are bitterly disappointed he was in that situation.

"It was a mistake, everyone is clear on that, but I can't fault the players."

There was yet more praise for Gerrard, with Rodgers saying: "It was a brilliant goal from him to beat Joe Hart from that distance. I thought his performance w as immense."

Defoe to miss Brazil friendly

Jermain Defoe: Ruled out of England friendly

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas confirmed in his post-match press conference that Defoe would be withdrawn from Roy Hodgson's squad ahead of the Wembley clash.

Defoe suffered the injury in the first half at The Hawthorns, when he landed awkwardly on his left ankle after avoiding a challenge from Shane Long and was substituted.

Villas-Boas said Defoe would be sent for a scan to determine the extent of the damage.

Villas Boas said: "I am extremely happy with the win - apart from the injury to Jermain Defoe.

"He rolled his ankle. He will have to have a scan to reveal th extent of the injury.

"Hopefully there is not a lot of ligament damage. If there is, he could be out for two to three weeks.

"Has he been withdrawn from the England squad? Yes he has."

Wenger pleased with Nacho debut

Nacho Monreal: Made his debut against Stoke

The 26-year-old arrived from Malaga on transfer deadline day and made his Gunners debut less than 48 hours later.

Monreal replaced the injured Kieran Gibbs at left-back and helped his new team-mates to a hard-fought 1-0 victory.

The Spain international put in a convincing performance at the Emirates Stadium and Wenger believes it bodes well for the future.

"We are a team who can create chances and score goals," the Frenchman said. "Against Stoke it was not the case; we created chances but could not get the goals.

"But still I am happy that we didn't concede and the defence looked solid.

"The satisfaction is that Nacho Monreal had a good start for a player who just arrived yesterday and is in the team.

"He did not have time to think about it, but he got stronger and stronger during the game.

"There is no better culture shock than Stoke when you come from Spain! They had a very physical game and I think he dealt well wit h it."

Wenger was also pleased by the way Theo Walcott dealt with the attention he received on Saturday.

"There were some heated moments," Wenger added. "I don't think there was anything exceptional in the tackles.

"Theo Walcott got good treatment today, but I am very happy because the way he responded to it was with full commitment and desire to impose himself.

"That is where you see that Walcott has become a different player recently.

"They know that we try to play a game based on movement and technique and they oppose us with a very strong defence.

"You have to give them credit for the way they defended today, but overall I don't think too much happened. Apart from Theo Walcott, he got a few bad tackles that maybe deserved a yellow.

"Overall it was a physical game with a team who tries to get some points and we expected that. We prepared mentally for that."

It was a result that could have been a whole lot worse for S toke had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The 25-year-old proved why he is so sought after with a fine first-half display in which he superbly denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain either side of stopping a Laurent Koscielny header.

Begovic was eventually beaten by Lukas Podolski's deflected free-kick but his performance, coupled with Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland's deadline-day acquisition, has led to suggestion he could leave the Britannia Stadium this summer.

"He is a top goalkeeper and he made some fantastic saves," City boss Tony Pulis said. "We have hopefully signed another fantastic young goalkeeper in Jack Butland.

"The speculation will now be about Asmir but we never bought Butland [to replace him]. We bought Butland because we thought it was a fantastic deal for a kid who hopefully has a great future in front of him."

Michael Owen could face FA action after Mikel Arteta clash

Michael Owen: Facing potential probe by the authorities

Owen appeared to thump Arsenal midfielder Arteta on the back towards the end of the 1-0 defeat at the Emirates.

The striker was not booked but the FA could investigate after it was caught on camera.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis said: "Arteta's challenge was poor, but Michael should not do that."

The Potters had fallen behind to Lukas Podolski's deflected free-kick when Arteta challenged Stoke substitute Owen.

Former England international Owen reacted angrily and appeared to lash out at the Spaniard, but referee Chris Foy did not book the 33-year-old.

"If Michael has done what he has done and they look at it, then they will deal with it," added Pulis.

"We'll see what they say. Obviously I am going to be biased as it is my football team."

Sabtu, 02 Februari 2013

Premier League: Manchester United edge out Fulham to go 10 points clear

Wayne Rooney: Grabbed the only goal of the game 11 minutes from time

Bryan Ruiz hit the post for the hosts, while Rooney, Patrice Evra and a wayward header from Brede Hangeland cannoned back off the frame of the goal at the opposite end of the field.

An eventful encounter then saw the floodlights fail at Craven Cottage, forcing the players from the field shortly before half-time.

It looked as though that would be the major talking point in the game, but Rooney stepped up for United on 79 minutes - stroking the ball into the bottom corner after leading a counter-attack.

Released from the Old Trafford cabbage patch, United stated their intent by selecting two orthodox wide-men and attacking from the first whistle.

With Fulham, even minus former Red Devils striker Dimitar Berbatov, far more of a threat than they were when the sides met in the FA Cup seven days ago, it made for a rip-roaring opening in which both keepers excelled and the woodwork at either end was rattled.

Robin van Persie's corn er started it, bouncing off Hangeland and towards his own goal, forcing Mark Schwarzer into the first of a series of excellent saves. Evra reacted quickest but could only scoop the ball against the bar before Sascha Riether cleared Wayne Rooney's shot off the line.

De Gea then got fingertips to a Ruiz shot that thudded against a post before play switched down to the other end where Hangeland, after denying Nani with a superb last-ditch tackle, turned Van Persie's corner on to the bar.

Only then did a breathless contest slow in intensity, although a brilliant move involving Nani and Tom Cleverley created another opportunity for Rooney, which he stroked against a post.

Nani was certainly making an impression on only his fourth match back after two months out with a hamstring injury, only for his momentum to be halted as the stadium was plunged into darkness.

The players did return to complete the opening period, although Van Persie's shot, gathered at the second attempt by Schwarzer, was the only incident of note.

The floodlight incident seemed to take the zip out of the entire contest, with neither side coming close to matching the thrills they had produced before the impromptu break in proceedings.

For a while it appeared Fulham might claim a major scalp.

Rafael cleared off the line from Ruiz after Jonny Evans had been forced to head away from underneath his own bar.

Rooney had other ideas, though, and when Fulham failed to get a touch to De Gea's long kick downfield, the England man picked his spot and, in front of national coach Roy Hodgson, calmly found the bottom corner.

Fulham piled forward in search of a dramatic leveller, but they were unable to break United's stubborn resistance - with Van Persie clearing a Philippe Senderos header off the line in stoppage-time.

Sir Alex Ferguson felt Manchester United deserved to beat Fulham

Sir Alex Ferguson: Happy with battling win

Wayne Rooney scored another late winner to put the Premier League leaders 10 points clear for 24 hours at least and Ferguson paid tribute to the defence, who have conceded just 16 goals in 12 away games this season.

"We had so many chances. It was a terrific football match and it was an excellent result, and I'm very pleased for us," said the Scot.

"They had some great chances. Our keeper (David De Gea), Jonny (Evans), Rio (Ferdinand) were terrific and we had a few chances ourselves, the second half in particular.

"In the first half we hit the woodwork three times but we deserved to win. They have had a great home record over the years and it is a very important result for us.

"It's a good position (we are in) we are pleased. Tonight you can look at the performance of the players. They put their bodies on the line, blocking shots, great headers out of defence, really determined effort by the players.

"It was similar to when we playe d here a few years ago when Cristiano scored near the end and we went on to have an undefeated run after that. It was around the same time too.

"It was a well-taken goal and Rooney was unlucky before that, hitting the post and having a couple of shots saved by the goalkeeper."

De Gea has come under fire after some uncertain performances this season, but Ferguson was quick to single him out for praise.

"It's not fazed him, for sure," Ferguson said of the recent criticism. "He enjoyed this game. It's a challenge and it's not easy for a young goalkeeper, but he's enjoyed tonight."

Fulham manager Martin Jol tips Manchester United to reclaim Premier League title

Martin Jol: Encouraged by Fulham performance

The Cottagers more than held their own with the league leaders, but Wayne Rooney's delightful strike 11 minutes from time bagged all three points for the visitors.

Jol's men had their fair share of chances in an entertaining contest, and Fulham's display gave their manager cause for optimism.

"We did well in midfield and at the back," Jol said. "It was one of our better performances this season.

"But they are capable of creating something out of nothing, as Rooney did. Now, I think they will win it."

Fulham suffered an injury blow with the loss of key defender Brede Hangeland to an Achilles injury, but Jol added: "Hopefully it is not a long one."

The game was disrupted by a floodlight failure three minutes before half-time, although Jol felt the delay did not affect the outcome.

"We did well to get the lights on again," he said. "Normally it takes a long time.

"I feared when we came back our concentration was down and we would end up conceding a goal but it wasn't a problem."

Premier League: Manchester United edge out Fulham at Craven Cottage

Wayne Rooney: Grabbed the only goal of the game 11 minutes from time

Bryan Ruiz hit the post for the hosts, while Rooney, Patrice Evra and a wayward header from Brede Hangeland cannoned back off the frame of the goal at the opposite end of the field.

An eventful encounter then saw the floodlights fail at Craven Cottage, forcing the players from the field shortly before half-time.

It looked as though that would be the major talking point in the game, but Rooney stepped up for United on 79 minutes - stroking the ball into the bottom corner after leading a counter-attack.

More to follow...

Jumat, 01 Februari 2013

Transfer news: Luis Suarez shrugs off rumours linking him with Bayern Munich

Luis Suarez: Paying little attention to the latest transfer rumours

It has been suggested that the Uruguayan frontman will be a top target for Pep Guardiola when he inherits the managerial reins at Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Suarez has endured a controversial spell at Anfield, with his antics often making headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

It was speculated that he could be tempted to cut short his time in England and start afresh elsewhere, but the 26-year-old insists he will continue to pay little attention to transfer gossip until he is put in a position where a decision has to be made.

"We all know how important Guardiola is and the many things he won at Barcelona. He must know a thing or two about football," he told Uruguayan radio station Sport 890.

"But if I'm being honest, I don't ever stop to read what is being said about me in the press - it would drive me mad as I'm linked to so many clubs.

"The day a concrete offer comes for me to the club, we will sit down and do what's best for everyone.

"But I'm happy here. The Premier League is the best league there is.

"I watch a lot of football in my spare time but the most attractive for me is English football - I want to stay here. I'm very happy here."

Premier League: Reading welcome Sunderland to Madejski Stadium

Danny Graham: Sunderland's £5million striker set for debut at Reading

Republic of Ireland international Noel Hunt faces a late fitness test for Reading, while Jason Roberts (hip) will play no part.

The striker missed the comeback draw against Chelsea in midweek with an unspecified knock and is again a doubt for manager Brian McDermott.

McDermott must decide whether or not to promote Adam Le Fondre to the starting line-up. The striker again impressed off the bench against Chelsea, scoring twice for the second successive league game - but McDermott has stressed his best role is presently as a substitute.

Striker Danny Graham will go straight into the Sunderland squad after completing a 5million switch from Swansea.

Graham was due to train with his new team-mates for the first time on Friday and is likely to be included alongside defenders Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose, who could return from hamstring injuries.

Sskipper Lee Cattermole will remain on the sidelines after aggravating his knee problem on his return to training, while striker Louis Saha has left the club after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent.