Football Station


Turn Around Time

The first half of the EPL Season has almost come to a close in what is one of the tightest tables we have seen in years.  Manchester United sit top and deservedly so after going undefeated in all competitions (scratch the Carling Cup defeat to West Ham).  Neighbors City hold the coveted 4th place spot with Tottenham snapping at their heels and riding a high after topping their Champions League group and beating would-be Top 4 contenders Liverpool in a lively game in London.

There has been no shortage of stories coming from England this season, and it’s our job here at Football Station to bring you the best, brightest and horrible.

Owen Coyle and Bolton Wanderers

The Scotsman came from a sinking Burnley ship to manage the Wanderers in what has become the managerial success story of the season so far.  What was once a hard nosed defense-first Northwestern outfit has become a slick passing and clinical side

Cocky, seductive and just plain sultry. Coyle's proved part genius this season in the EPL this season.

under the guidance of Coyle.  The Wanderers sit 6th currently, and one has to wonder: just how long can they keep this up?  Boasting a win over Tottenham, a hard fought draw against United and having a win at Everton snatched from their grasp with a last gasp goal from Jermaine Beckford, Coyle’s boys have maintained that defensive resolve while learning to press as a unit into the attacking half. Keys to their success are: American Stuart Holden and South Korean Lee Chung-Yong and Bolton’s record signing Johan Elmander putting in more than his fair share of goals up top.  Other than their monthly opener at Eastlands and closer at Chelsea, Bolton’s games in December are all winnable and could easily maintain a 6th or 7th spot going into the New Year.

Liverpool’s Stop-Start Season

Just what the hell is going on in the Northwest this year?  The humiliating defeats to Manchester City, Everton and Blackpool highlight a Liverpool season that hasn’t had a heap of good news coming its way.  With the exit door blaring, Roy Hodgson’s

Skeptical Roy

ill-advised outbursts seem to be making him more friends than enemies.  Benitez hits out at Roy, Roy hits back, Benitez hits back again, Roy apologizes.  Roy criticizes Glen Johnson’s form, Glen Johnson responds, Roy apologizes.  Roy says he is disappointed his Daniel Pacheco, now he says he has a bright future at the club.  Is he manic?  He’s like a 5 year old version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a speech impediment.  The January transfer window will either be his saving grace or nail in the coffin, so he had better make it count.  But with names like Keisuke Honda (reportedly a bid has been tabled) and Eden Hazard (more of a rumour) being linked, he just might have a little genius inside that huge coat.  They do have a run of fixtures coming up that most would fancy and don’t face too stiff of competition until the 5th of Februrary when they travel to Stamford Bridge (if you don’t count Everton and Stoke).  If Roy plays his cards right (e.g. playing Pacheco and more youngsters and not playing Poulsen) he could find himself knocking on 4th place’s door.  Oh, also Tom Hicks and George Gillette are taking LFC back to court. Awesome.

Zero to Hero

£30m has never looked so good.  Dimitar Berbatov is firing in goals like it’s his job.  Finally. Because it is his job.  And he used

Andytar Berbacia

to suck at his job.  That said, the Bulgarian ace has been in a rich vein of form with the Red Devils and is currently sitting Top Scorer of the Premier League with 11 goals. And with Blackpool next on the fixture list at Old Trafford, the Andy Garcia body double’s odds of scoring are looking pretty decent.  The Seasiders have allowed 18 away goals this season (2nd in the EPL).

Shape of Things to Come

While it may be fruitless to try and lay down a prediction for the second half of the season, I may as well try.  Chelsea have Tottenham coming up, United have Arsenal, then Chelsea have United, then Arsenal have Chelsea…as you can see, there will be much movement within the top 5 or 6 in coming months.  Nothing will be set in stone until May 22nd rolls around.  However, with the look of things, United and Chelsea are still looking favorites for the title.  Arsenal have a fantastic squad, as do Spurs and City, but shortcomings in each squad will prove decisive in their respective bids for the crown.  Arsenal have proven time and again that they can’t last the full season and often drop results come the tail end of the season.  Manchester City are going through issues within the squad and with the manager (shocking) and that will eventually provide their fall from the Top 4.  Tottenham have a legitimate shot at going for 3rd or even 2nd should results go their way.  They have a solid squad, a good looking schedule and are playing football that wins games.  The only blotch on their otherwise shiny squad is the injury to Rafael Van der Vaart.  The Dutchman has been instrumental this year in providing goals and scoring them himself, and it will be interesting to see how the Londoners cope without the big man.

Prediction – The Top 4 won’t have the same occupants this year as it did last year.  Manchester City should rest in 4th but may even snag 3rd spot from under Arsenal’s noses if they don’t clean up their act in the latter half of the season.  Who says money can’t buy happiness?  It will be a slug fest for top spot and the May 7th game where United host Chelsea could well decide the title.  Tottenham and Liverpool will find themselves in 5th and 6th place, respectively after a fruitful transfer window for the latter pays dividends.

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Transfer News – September 16th

Transfer News – September 16th, 2009

DAILY MIRROR:

  • Newcastle boss Chris Hughton wants to sign Fulham forward Diomansy Kamara and Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood on loan.
  • Hull could allow Caleb Folan and Daniel Cousin to join Middlesbrough and Newcastle respectively on loan.
  • Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is giving former Sunderland goalkeeper Jurgen Macho a chance to return to the Premier League.
  • Bolton have agreed a deal worth up to £1million with Wolves to sign defender Mark Connolly.
    The French-Senegalese hitman has been targeted by a number of clubs.

    The French-Senegalese hitman has been targeted by Newcastle

    DAILY STAR:

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has blasted Manchester City manager Mark Hughes for trying to defend Emmanuel Adebayor.
  • Rafa Benitez says the Premier League has rushed through the introduction of a quota system for home-grown players too soon.
  • Former Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton has applied for the manager’s job at League Two side Rotherham.
  • Stoke defender Andrew Davies has rejected the chance to join Plymouth on loan.
  • Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell is ready to battle with Ipswich, Colchester and Barnsley to sign Danny Shittu from Bolton.DAILY MAIL:
  • It has emerged that Liverpool’s kit sponsorship with Standard Chartered is worth more than the £120million a year reported.
  • Liverpool chief Tom Hicks has hit out at the Arab owners of Manchester City and insisted that there £120million transfer spending spree is ‘unsustainable’.
  • Olympiakos have expressed interest in making Bryan Robson their new coach.
  • James Vaughan has been given approval by Everton to join a club, which could be Middlesbrough, on loan.

    The EPL's youngest goal scorer could be on his way out of Everton.

    The EPL's youngest goal scorer could be on his way out of Everton.

  • Former West Ham and Liverpool defender Julian Dicks has been appointed as manager of Grays Athletic.DAILY EXPRESS:
  • Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung wants Birmingham to spearhead a revolution in Chinese football, after formally lodging his takeover bid.
  • The Scottish FA yesterday kept faith in George Burley by backing him to continue as Scotland manager.THE SUN:
  • Newcastle are lining up a loan move for Fulham’s Diomansy Kamara to cover for Shola Ameobi.
  • West Ham are set to open an academy in Minna, Nigeria.
  • Carson Yeung’s Birmingham takeover is just six weeks away after his company made an £81million offer in cash.
  • New Portsmouth owner Sulaiman Al Fahim insists there will be money to spend in January even though Peter Storrie says the club remains short of funds.
  • Michel Platini’s plan to make the clubs live within their means was approved by UEFA yesterday.DAILY RECORD:
  • Alex McLeish has welcomed the decision to save Scotland manager George Burley’s job.


  • 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.



    Wenger Content With Group of High School Boys
    July 31, 2009, 5:31 PM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: ,

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he will not rush to spend the money raised from the sales of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City.

    Wenger has generated in the region of £40m from the transfers but has made only one summer signing so far, Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax for £10m.

    “I feel we are strong enough but if we can add then we will do it,” Wenger told the club’s official website.

    Mr. Wenger watches the glory days slip away.

    Mr. Wenger watches the glory days slip away.

    “In England, people think all problems can be sorted out by buying players.”

    Arsenal have been linked with a host of players this summer but Wenger says the club are not “close to signing anyone at the moment”.

    Defenders Brede Hangeland of Fulham and Newcastle’s Sebastien Bassong as well as strikers Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Real Madrid, Bordeaux’s Marouane Chamakh, have been linked with moves to the Emirates Stadium.

    Former skipper Patrick Vieira, 33, is also rumoured to be on Wenger’s radar after falling out of favour at Inter Milan.

    “We have money available so for us it is now (important) to spend it in the right way when we do it or if we do it,” added Wenger after Arsenal’s 1-0 friendly win over German side Hannover on Wednesday.

    “The biggest target is to work hard in training, improve what we can improve and have confidence in the players that we have.”

    The lack of summer signings, the departures of defender Toure and striker Adebayor and the serious injury to Samir Nasri has put the spotlight on the club’s transfer policy.

    The Gunners lost out in their bid to sign Felipe Melo from Fiorentina, with the Brazil midfielder opting to sign for Juventus instead.

    Since moving to the Emirates Stadium in 2006, the Gunners boss has focused on nurturing young players rather than capturing experienced stars.

    The likes of Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto Silva and Alexander Hleb have all left the club while Wenger has developed the talent of youngsters such as Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.

    But Arsenal are without a trophy since 2005 and finished a distant fourth in the Premier League last season, leading to a lively shareholders meeting back in May at which Wenger criticised the negativity of the Emirates crowd.

    Analysis:  Arsenal have to beef up their squad.  Fact.  They’ve lost Adebayor and Toure, but still Arsene Wenger declares his intent to rest upon the squad he has now.  That will work wonders for the morale of the younger lads who were on the bench last season, but for the Fabregas’s and Van Persie’s it could spell disaster.  I don’t care who your team is, it usually helps to inject a little new blood here and there – especially when you haven’t won a trophy for four years. They do have some depth up front without Adebayor in that of Eduardo, Arshavin, Van Persie, and Walcott, if needed.  But still, they lack overall depth and experience from their starting XI to the bench.  I don’t know what Wenger is trying to accomplish.  Does he want to become a feeder club?  Is he going to foster all this young talent only so they can be shipped off once they mature into better players? He’d better be eating paint chips and be going insane or have a few tricks and deals up his sleeve this summer, or he could be in for one long, hard season.

    Result:  Wenger will be given the year, but if he fails to bring any silverware back to the proud London club, he could face the axe.  He’ll have to face the music and start spending all the money he has (albeit little).



    Transfer News – July 30th

    ***********************

    Transfer News – July 30th, 2009

    ***********************

    THE SUN

  • Arsene Wenger wants Patrick Vieira to make a shock return to Arsenal.
  • Gianfranco Zola is stepping up his bid to sign a new striker after West Ham failed to muster a single shot in China.
  • Hull insist that it will take a ‘ridiculous’ bid to get Michael Turner.
  • Burnley boss Owen Coyle has been unable to sign winger Fernando Guerrero because his Ecuadorian club’s president is on holiday.
  • Kolo Toure was last night unveiled by Manchester City after sealing a £14million move.
  • Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic flew in to join troubled Portsmouth, but left without signing after a row over the £5.5million fee.
  • Portsmouth are close to sealing a shock move for ex-Southampton keeper Antti Niemi.
  • Manchester City’s injury-hit star Valeri Bojinov is poised to join Parma on loan.

    Cattermole, Liverpool and Tottenham target, is currently plying his trade at the JJB

    Cattermole, Liverpool and Tottenham target, is currently plying his trade at the JJB

  • Danny Murphy is set to sign a new one-year deal with Fulham.
  • Alvaro Arbeloa last night completed a £3.5million move from Liverpool to Real Madrid.
  • DAILY MIRROR
  • Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says signing Xabi Alonso from Liverpool is vital.
  • Ian Wright claims Patrick Vieira is going to rejoin Arsenal.
  • Aston Villa are set to make a £12million move for West Ham defender Matthew Upson.
  • Celtic boss Tony Mowbray is preparing to make a £2million bid for Sheffield United defender Matthew Kilgallon.
  • Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth could be set for a £2million move to Fulham.
  • Blackburn have pulled out of a £1.7million swoop for Celta Vigo striker Kamel Ghilas after the Algerian failed a medical.
  • DAILY STAR
  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Dimitar Berbatov to finally live up to his £30.75million price tag.
  • Martin O’Neill admits that Aston Villa have to sign five players or risk stretching their threadbare squad to breaking point this season.
  • AWOL Middlesbrough star Mido is ready to take a £15,000 a-week pay cut to return to Egypt.
  • Laurent Blanc has warned Steve Bruce that he is out to scupper Sunderland’s £10million move for Marouane Chamakh.
  • DAILY MAIL
  • Aston Villa are monitoring Robbie Keane’s situation at Tottenham following Peter Crouch’s £9million arrival from Portsmouth.

    Robbie Keane is being monitored by Aston Villa.

    Robbie Keane is being monitored by Aston Villa.

  • Inter Milan are ready to revive their interest in Chelsea midfielder Deco if Alexander Hleb backs out of a loan move to the Italian champions.
  • Newcastle last night accepted a £9million bid for Obafemi Martins from German side Wolfsburg.
  • Manchester City made a £19million bid for Everton’s Joleon Lescott last night as they completed the signing of Kolo Toure from Arsenal.
  • Liverpool are on the verge of striking a compromise deal to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and will plough part of his transfer fee into bids for Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole and Hull defender Michael Turner.
  • Former Manchester City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver is training with Sheffield United.
  • DAILY EXPRESS
  • Arsenal could bank an incredible £17million by selling Kolo Toure to Manchester City.
  • Alex McLeish is fuming with new signing Christian Benitez after he played without Birmingham’s permission.
  • Darren Bent has his heart set on a move to Sunderland, but so far the Black Cats and Tottenham cannot agree a fee.
  • DAILY RECORD
  • Furious Kilmarnock players have threatened to strike after popular first-team coach Gary Locke was shown the door by the Rugby Park outfit.


  • Wenger – “Next Season Decisive”
    July 4, 2009, 10:03 PM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: , ,

    The Gunners Boss realizes the significance of the upcoming season.

    The Gunners Boss realizes the significance of the upcoming season.

    Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal are about to embark upon a “decisive season” and admits he will have to rethink his strategy should the young Gunners fail to make an impact on the Premier League title race.

    The French coach rejected the overtures of Real Madrid, who were reported to have made an offer worth around £6million a year, to “finish the job” he started back at Highbury more than a decade ago.

    Arsenal, though, have so far made only one major move in the summer transfer market, bringing in Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen, 23, from Ajax.

    While the Gunners could yet step up their interest in Bordeaux’s Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh, but only should Emmanuel Adebayor leave, Wenger continues to talk about evolution and progression for his squad rather than a radical overhaul.

    It is, however, a policy which has so far failed to deliver a first Premier League trophy for the cabinet of the impressive 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.

    Nevertheless, reaching the Champions League final of 2006 should certainly not be underestimated. Indeed, but for some better fortune along with cooler heads in the games which mattered, both domestic and European silverware could have been safely locked away since.

    Wenger, though, remains determined Arsenal will deliver come May 2010.

    “I refused [Real Madrid] because I have built a young team and I have the feeling that I have not finished my job,” Wenger told French radio station RMC.

    “I am not denying it will be a decisive season. If we are not in the title race, we will have to build everything again.”

    Wenger, whose side finished fourth last term, reaching both the semi-finals of the FA Cup and Champions League, added: “People always expect more than the previous season, but I already put the pressure on myself.”

    While harbouring no intention of leaving his post just yet, Wenger, who turns 60 in October, accepts he cannot go on forever.

    “I am near the end of my career, I won’t be coach for another 10 years,” reflected Wenger, who fended off some stern criticism from sections of the Gunners fans last season.

    “I have been at the club for 12 years and I do not want to go on even one year too much.”

    After failing to lure Wenger to the Bernabeu, Real eventually appointed Manuel Pellegrini and have since spent almost £140million on Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, with another hefty price set to be paid for Lyon’s Karim Benzema – who had been a target for both Manchester United and Arsenal.

    Wenger, though, rejects the notion that simply spending money, however much, is the way forward.

    “We have got an ‘anti-Real’ policy. We build on the long term, a bit like Barcelona,” he said,

    “There are two prices today, the price when Real Madrid buy and the market price.

    “In the market, 35 million euros for Benzema is a very good price. But is he three times less good than Ronaldo? I don’t think so.”

    Wenger added: “We do not need a lot of signings, only if there are players leaving.

    “We have got a young team, which has an average age of 22 or 23, and one which is maturing – even if it can make mistakes like in semi-final of the Champions League this season.”

    Arsenal have confirmed their final pre-season friendly will be played against Spanish side Valencia on August 8 at the Mestalla Stadium.

    The Gunners open the new Premier League campaign at Everton and face a Champions League qualifier the following week.

    Analysis:  I have to respect Wenger.  When Real Madrid tried to lure him away from the Gunners, surely they told him of who they were going to (try to) bring in.  It’s hard to imagine a manager turning down the chance to handle the likes of Kaká, Ronaldo, Benzema…etc.  Real Madrid is just a classier Manchester City with an actual history and the money plus the history plus the prime position to make a charge in Europe is mouth watering to several star footballers.

    Indeed, it will be a VERY defining season for the Gunners.  Should they manage to keep a hold of Fabregas and Adebayor, they will have to win a trophy or put in a decent title charge to keep their fans happy and players satisfied.  I’ve read again that Fiorentina is open to selling Felipe Melo to the Gunners…do it, Arsene.  The kid will harden up your spine and stop play better than Eboue (who is rumoured to be linked in a swap deal with Melo).  Vermaelen will be a good addition with Gallas always seeming a liability on and off the field.

    Result:  If the Gunners don’t deliver this season, I would expect Adebayor and maybe Fabregas and Wenger gone next season.  And if Wenger leaves, it could be detrimental to Arsenal.  At least a trophy for Wenger’s boys, and with the new trend of playing your fringe players in the Carling Cup, expect them to take that or make a damned good charge.  We’ve watched his “b-side” strangle opposition time in and time out.