Football Station


No Bid For Ribery – Ancelotti
August 28, 2009, 9:59 AM
Filed under: bundesliga, premier league | Tags: , , ,

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has rejected fresh speculation they have made a bid for Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.

The midfielder’s future was the subject of more summer rumours on Friday morning, with reports emanating from his native France that the Blues had offered £57million for him.

But Ancelotti simply said: “No that is not true.”

Meanwhile new boys Burnley will provide Chelsea with another potential banana-skin on Saturday.

Owen Coyle’s side dumped the Blues out of the Carling Cup last season and have made a fine start to life in the Premier League with victories over Manchester United and Everton.

Chelsea, second in the table, have a 100% record with wins over Hull, Sunderland and Fulham but Ancelotti is well aware of the task ahead – predicting an open game in the early kick-off at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

“In these last three matches we played very well,” said Ancelotti.

“For sure, we can improve. But I didn’t find in these matches a lot of mistakes.

Is the signing of Robben a signal of intent from Bayern that they will sell Ribery?

Is the signing of Robben a signal of intent from Bayern that they will sell Ribery?

“The team played very well in these games. It’s important to continue and maintain a very good motivation.

“With Burnley, it’s important to take control of the game. They have good quality in attack and can use the wings, the long ball, and the quality of their midfielders. It will be an open game.

“They have had a very good start to the season – they beat Manchester United and Everton. I watched these games and they like to play football.

“Tomorrow will be a very good match, a spectacular match. They will not come to Stamford Bridge just to defend and I am impressed with the quality of their play.”

Chelsea will still be without midfielder Joe Cole, defender Alex, and new signing Russian Yuri Zhirkov against Burnley.

“Zhirkov is feeling a bit better and will go with the national team, if it’s possible, to play with them. He’s very close to a return to playing

“Joe started to train with us on Tuesday. With him, we have to stay calm because he came out not easy from the injuries. We have to stay calm and work with him.

“We have to put him in the squad at the right time. Now is not the time to do this, but we hope in the next few weeks that he can train and play with us.

“After the international games, we’ll be more precise on his return. But I think he’s very close to a return to playing.”



Champions League Draw in Full

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Analysis:

Group A:  Group A will be a very interesting group to watch unfold.  Juventus, Bayern and Bordeaux all have a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, but it may all come down to how each of them play Maccabi Haifa – the Israeli champions.  In my eyes, whoever drops points to Haifa, doesn’t make it to the next round.

Prediction:

Bayern Munich and Juventus progress

Group B: Manchester United will be disappointed with all the traveling they will be doing, especially to Turkey where the hooligans go mad every time United come to town.  Wolfsburg is also going to be a bigger threat than they’re given credit for, watch for them to nick points in group play.  The Russians will be a stingy opposition and may steal points in the Motherland, but away from home may struggle to find their feet.  Wolfsburg are my dark horse of the tournament.  I don’t think for a second they deserved the fourth pot, but now find themselves with a tall order.  They can push for the knockout round, and their match against CSKA Moscow will make or break their run.

Prediction

Manchester United and Wolfsburg progress

Group C: Group C, along with F, is a “group of death”.  Somehow, Madrid dodged the British bullet (which makes for a more exciting knockout stage!), and they should find themselves in the knockout round before too long.  AC Milan have had a dodgy start to their campaign, and if they don’t start clicking could start dropping points in group play.  Marseille have been a tough nut to crack in years past, and with the addition of Morientes to their attacking play, will give Milan and Madrid a test.

Prediction:

Real Madrid and AC Milan to progress

Group D: The boys from London should have a spot in the knockout round if they keep their heads about them.  The only thing I would worry about is that they’ve been giving up goals early in the EPL and come from behind to win it, and may well do so against more formidable sides in this competition who won’t be so forgiving.  Atletico are always impressive to watch and I don’t see anyone but those two making it past this group.

Prediction:

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to progress

Group E: Liverpool can’t have too many complaints here, they were grouped with great teams in Lyon and Fiorentina, but, to be honest, they should be able to cope.  The Merseysiders should claim the top spot, but the second one is completely up for grabs.  Fiorentina and Lyon are both squads that have firepower up top (Mutu and Govou) and can work to break down their opponents.  Fiorentina would love to have Melo back in their squad as I have no doubt he’d love to break up the Frenchmen in attack.

Prediction:

Liverpool and Lyon (by a hair!) to progress

Group F: This is it.  The group of death. We have the reigning Spanish and European champions as well as the Italian and Ukrainian league winners.  I’ve had to keep my mouth shut all day so as not to drool all over my desk.  Mourinho vs. Guardiola.  Eto’o vs. Pique.  Ibrahimovic vs. Cordoba.  Chocolate vs. Vanilla.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Bert vs. Ernie.

Prediction:

It’s not going any other way.  Barcelona on top, Inter taking second.

Group G: My pick (and yours if you have sense) for the tamest group.  Not a lot to gawk at here.  Rangers and Sevilla will probably make the next stage, as I don’t think Stuttgart have enough bite to make any marks here.  Unirea Uriziceni will just be happy to be in the competition, and will love the fact that they have be thrown into this group.

Prediction:

Rangers and Sevilla to progress (in that order)

Group H: Arsenal may have the best of the English teams, and Wenger will be hard pressed to find something to complain about (if you can believe that!).  But remember the torrid time Standard Liege gave Liverpool last season in the qualifying rounds, as they could give group H some trouble.  Gunners aside, this group is fairly balanced.  Each team will fancy their chances at nabbing the last spot into the knockout stages.

Prediction:

Arsenal and Standard Liege to progress




Liverpool Down, But Not Out
August 25, 2009, 12:08 PM
Filed under: premier league | Tags: ,

Liverpool fans shouldn’t be losing too much sleep these days (despite opening their campaign with two losses from three games).  Sure it’s nice to get out of the gates early, boost confidence and send a message to the rest of the league, but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

Remember last season?  By the end of September, Manchester United had only amassed five points from four matches and sat around mid-table but still found a way to go on to win the league.  Remember Hull City?  They took three points from Fulham, Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham as well as drawing Blackburn and Everton.  However, despite being joint top of the league with Liverpool and Chelsea around October, they only missed relegation on the final day of the campaign.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from past campaigns, it’s that every team’s own individual one is subject to fluctuations in form – no doubt about it.  The real test is how do they deal with it?  Usually the managers are put in the hot seat, who then may deflect the blame to owners and funds made available.  Which will undoubtedly become the case with Liverpool, unless they can shape up.

What’s wrong at Liverpool?

The loss of Xabi Alonso was detrimental to both the appearance and fluidity on the field of the Merseysiders.  However, it’s time for them to get over it – players come, players go.  Benitez seems to be content for now with partnering Mascherano with the young Brazilian, Lucas.  Watching him play, he looks ages away from Xabi Alonso, but how many aren’t?  With the acquisition of Alquilani, Benitez could have an ample replacement…except he’s injured for two months.

For now, fix the formation – Pull Gerrard back, Riera out left, tuck Benayoun up front behind Torres and drop Lucas.  Done deal.  We know Benayoun has the creativity to make scoring chances, Riera can run at full backs with success, and Gerrard is Gerrard.

The young Brazilian is finding it hard to find his feet at Liverpool.

The young Brazilian is finding it hard to find his feet at Liverpool.

To me, Benitez has proven his inability to call the shots on young guns and replacements for his squad.  With the purchase of Lucas, who’s been mediocre in most cases, we have a midfielder who can’t really…do anything.  He’s not a bulldog, ball winner like Mascherano, he’s no Alonso by spraying the ball 30 yards to open play, and he doesn’t look like much of a playmaker – so what is he?  With other purchases like Voronin, Babel (who is failing to live up to his expectations and you know it) and Mark Gonzalez (who?), it looks like Rafa is having a hard time with finding good new blood.  And now, he’s bought a midfielder for £20m who will be out for 2 months and a center defender who is supposed to be cover for their back line, but he’s not fit either.  What is Benitez playing at?

It’s no secret that Benitez doesn’t get on swimmingly with the American owners, but not many in Liverpool seem to at the time.  The fans call for their heads just about every game with banners, signs and Spirit of Shankly protests.

However, despite all of this, the media is only scaremongering.  Liverpool aren’t in any trouble – yet.  Yes, they’ve dropped points to two teams with Top 4 ambitions, but they’re just about as alive as anyone in the hunt for the title.  Here’s why –


How they can bounce back –

Liverpool’s next five fixtures are Bolton (A), Burnley (H), West Ham (A), Hull City (H), Chelsea (A).  Not the best set, but not too shabby, either.  They should, by all means, pick up points from Bolton (despite them being tricky to break down at the Reebok) and Burnley.  West Ham proved to be a tough nut to crack at Anfield, however on the return fixture to Upton Park, the Reds tossed them aside, 3-0.  Hull City has enjoyed a decent start to the campaign, but I can’t see them taking three points from Liverpool at Anfield, especially if they play the way we’ve seen them do before against Real Madrid and Manchester United.  Obviously, Chelsea at the Bridge is the fixture most are drooling at.  However, if things don’t come into perspective in Liverpool soon, it may well be a walker for Chelsea.  But I’m calling the Reds to bounce back.

The urgency is now officially instilled.  With the first loss at White Hart Lane, most pundits and fans were calling upon the fact that it was opening day, nerves were being settled and there was still plenty of football to be played.  However, now, we have seen Liverpool pick up 3 points from a possible 9 and their rivals ascend the table.  Lighting a fire under the Reds seems to be the best way to produce their magic.  When they were 2-0 to City, they produced a stunning comeback and won.  Go back further, when

The Liverpool captain scoring the second of four at Old Trafford last season.

The Liverpool captain scoring the second of four at Old Trafford last season.

they were 3-0 down to Milan in Istanbul, one of the most memorable comebacks in history.  When they were down 1-0 to Olympiacos and needed to win by two goals, they pulled through.  What happened last season when United were top dogs for the second half of the season?  Liverpool produced the best football in the league and missed the title only due to their inability to beat poor teams at home.

The main concern has to be their complacency.  They’re a hard team to put a finger on, because sometimes they are throttling teams like Aston Villa, Manchester United and Real Madrid and others dropping points to West Ham, Hull and Stoke.  When did the last three happen?  First half of the season.  When did their biggest wins happen last season?  After Christmas.  When someone lights a fire under the boys, they produce.

Furthermore, I understand that Rafa walked out on their training session before the Stoke game and threatened to quit, but the Reds romped over Stoke and instilled confidence once more.  Maybe the Spaniard should threaten to leave more often.

The urgency flame is now lit, watch it burn into a bonfire.

-Caleb Sonneland



Ferguson “Scared of City” – Tevez
August 24, 2009, 10:10 AM
Filed under: premier league | Tags: , ,

Carlos Tevez believes Sir Alex Ferguson is worried about Manchester City following their busy summer of spending.

Tevez spent two years on loan at Old Trafford before securing a permanent switch to Eastlands over the summer.

Ferguson has played down the significance of the Argentine’s departure, whilst also warning Man City that it will be difficult to break into the top four this season.

The Argentine is one of the many recruits at the Eastlands this summer.

The Argentine is one of the many recruits at the Eastlands this summer.

However, Tevez feels Ferguson does fear his local rivals and will not be relishing the Manchester derby on September 20.

“Ferguson is history for me but I know that he is scared of playing against us,” the striker told Globoesporte.

“It’s dangerous for Ferguson’s objectives and for him to criticise Manchester City.”

Tevez has also explained the differences between playing under Ferguson and working with current manager Mark Hughes.

“Mark Hughes is only focused on his work and the team, he doesn’t get involved in the negotiations,” he said.

“He has been a football player so there is a big difference in the way he treats each player.”

Analysis:  Tevez may well have a case here, but it’s still too early to tell.  The Blues haven’t really been tested all that much so far this season. Not until they play the Gunners on September 12th will we be able to get a decent idea of their strength this season and in seasons to come.



Lescott Set for Eastlands
August 23, 2009, 12:34 PM
Filed under: premier league | Tags: , , , ,

Everton manager David Moyes has criticised Manchester City for trying to haggle over the price of wantaway centre-back Joleon Lescott.

The England international is expected to undergo a medical on Monday after City finally came up with a bid which met the Merseysiders’ valuation of the player.

Having rejected two previous offers – the first about £18million – Everton are reported to have accepted £24million from City for Lescott.

But Moyes is unhappy that the Eastlands club, bankrolled by Abu Dhabi’s multi-millionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, were not prepared to pay what he thought was the going rate from the outset.

The former Toffee talisman is about as loyal as a hyena.

The former Toffee talisman does his best impression of a hyena, as he's about as loyal as one.

Asked if the Lescott deal was well advanced the Everton boss said: “If they (City) say they are quite far on I’m sure they are.

“But we shouldn’t have been asked to wait this length of time for an amount of cash we think was the correct value for the player.

“Real Madrid came in with the money (£80million for Cristiano Ronaldo) for Manchester United the week after the end of the season.

“If the money had been offered in June it would have been a lot easier for us.

“The time is against us (to find a replacement).”

Analysis:  This is getting sickening.  Manchester City is becoming sell-out central.  Now with Lescott’s addition this will sure up their back line.  Lescott and Toure could form a formidable back line duo, and this City team can really now start t cause problems for the rest of the league.



Transfer News – August 23rd

NEWS OF THE WORLD:

  • Wayne Rooney is to be offered a stunning new contract in line with the biggest earners in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal are ready to open contract talks with Cesc Fabregas to fend off Barcelona.
  • Everton will demand a Premier League probe into their claim that Manchester City tapped up Joleon Lescott.
  • David Gold and David Sullivan will step up their bid to buy West Ham next week.
  • Fulham defender Brede Hangeland will not leave the club in the current transfer window despite the interest shown by Arsenal and Everton.
  • Portsmouth manager Paul Hart plans to offer former Wigan striker Henri Camara a Premier League lifeline.
  • Martin O’Neill is plotting to prise Jermaine Jenas from Tottenham with a £12million bid.

    The Republic of Ireland winger has been targeted by Redknapp.

    The Republic of Ireland winger has been targeted by Redknapp.

  • Wigan are poised to make a £3.5million bid for Bristol City midfielder Marvin Elliott.
  • Harry Redknapp has targeted Celtic stars Aiden McGeady and Scott Brown to bolster his Tottenham squad.
  • Phil Brown could turn to Matty Fryatt to solve Hull’s striker problems.
  • Everton and Blackburn have stepped up their interest in Norway winger Erik Huseklepp.

    STAR ON SUNDAY:

  • Chelsea will smash the British transfer record with a £40million move for Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero.
  • Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou is considering his future, despite being offered a new deal.
  • PSV Eindhoven winger Balazs Dzsudzsak claims Arsenal are preparing an offer for him.
  • Daniel Cousin is facing showdown talks with Phil Brown at Hull.
  • West Ham have asked Livorno to name their price for Italian hitman Alessandro Diamanti.
  • Newcastle have held move talks with the representatives of free agent Peter Lovenkrands.

    SUNDAY PEOPLE:

  • Furious Everton chiefs are to report Manchester City to the Premier League for allegedly tapping up Joleon Lescott.
  • David Beckham’s contract at LA Galaxy has a secret get-out clause, which could see him move to one of Europe’s top leagues.
  • Thailand manager Peter Reid is poised for a shock return to English football – as assistant to Tony Pulis at Stoke.

    The Argentine has long been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid.

    The Argentine has long been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid.

  • Chelsea are aiming to spring a major surprise before the transfer window closes – with sources in Spain claiming Sergio Aguero is on his way to Stamford Bridge in a £42million deal.
  • Joe Cole is set to be handed a new four-year contract worth around £90,000 per week.
  • Fulham will stage an ambitious late bid to sign Bordeaux hitman Marouane Chamakh.
  • Stoke boss Tony Pulis is ready to shatter their transfer record with a £12million bid for Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones.
  • West Brom’s wantaway midfielder Borja Valero will complete a deal to Real Mallorca this week.
  • David Moyes will spark a late transfer window buying spree with Russian star Vladimir Bystrov at the top of his shopping list.
  • Harry Redknapp is ready to make a cut-price move for West Ham midfielder Scott Parker.
  • Dietmar Hamann has turned down Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Notts County and will instead move to Portsmouth.

    SUNDAY MIRROR:

  • Dean Ashton is set to announce his shock retirement from football.
  • Everton will ask the FA to investigate their claim that Manchester City made an illegal approach for Joleon Lescott.
  • Rafa Benitez has told Liverpool’s fans they can put their money on him staying at Anfield for the remaining five years of his contract.
  • Arsenal want William Gallas to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.
  • Portsmouth are ready to sell Niko Kranjcar if a club will meet their £8million asking price.
    The Spanish mastermind looks set to remain loyal to his Liverpool contract.

    The Spanish mastermind looks set to remain loyal to his Liverpool contract.

    SUNDAY EXPRESS:

  • Everton are going to war with Manchester City after finally agreeing to sell Joleon Lescott for £24million.
  • Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is bidding to end once and for all the rumours that he is ready to walk out of Anfield.


  • Russian Ace Calls for New Blood
    August 23, 2009, 8:02 AM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: , ,

    Andrey Arshavin believes Arsenal must raid the transfer market to add depth and quality to their squad.

    The Russia forward has suggested Arsene Wenger’s current pool of players is too small, when compared to Arsenal’s trophy rivals.

    Desperation etched into his face.

    Desperation etched into his face.

    And although Arshavin recognised Everton’s achievements of finishing fifth in the Barclays Premier League with a small squad last season, he claims Arsenal should not be looking to directly follow their example.

    Arshavin told the Sunday Times: “We still have to buy. That’s my opinion.

    “We shouldn’t set Everton as a benchmark, we should be looking at the top teams of Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona.

    “We should buy first-class players, regardless of their age. We should buy the ones who should improve our game. The top teams have much bigger squads than ours and that is why we have to buy.”

    Analysis:  This should be raising a few red flags for Wenger and the Holdings.  Despite absolutely throttling a typically tough Toffee side, their key players are calling for reinforcements (Fabregas, Almunia, now Arshavin).  Odds are that Wenger doesn’t have all that much cash to spend, which is usually the case for the Frenchman.

    Result:  He may well stick to his guns and hold out for his youth policy.  It doesn’t help matters that one of the stingier managers in the EPL is being forced to toy around in the most inflated market we’ve seen in years.  That aside, I expect Wenger to bring in one more addition – possibly a holding midfielder.