Apr 22, 2011

Spurs rescue derby thriller

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Rafael van der Vaart was on target with a stunning brace to hand Tottenham a share of the spoils in a breathtaking 3-3 draw against Arsenal at White Hart Lane.

Wednesday night's thrilling North London derby saw the goals flow thick and fast in the opening half, with the clash balanced on a knife edge at the break after Spurs pulled it back to 3-2.

Dutchman Van der Vaart then made no mistake in converting from the spot with his second of the night after substitute Aaron Lennon was brought down in the box by Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Theo Walcott had got things rolling for the visitors in the fifth minute when he powered home the opener, but Spurs responded through Van der Vaart just two minutes later to level the scores.

Arsenal ploughed ahead with goals from Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie but Tom Huddlestone kept Spurs in with a chance with a crucial strike on the stroke of half-time before Van der Vaart levelled things up after the break.

Tottenham's point keeps them in touch with Manchester City as they battle for a top-four Premier League finish, but Arsenal will be disappointed not to take the maximum haul after leaders Manchester United handed them a lifeline in the title race on Tuesday night when they could only manage a draw at Newcastle.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas had criticised his team-mates before the match, claiming that the Gunners lacked a killer instinct and that was certainly evident in the second period as they failed to finish their bitter rivals off despite dominating for large parts of the opening half.

United's draw meant this encounter was the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to put the pressure back on the leaders and regain some momentum after Sunday's disappointing draw with Liverpool.

Spurs needed little motivation for the match though, as they knew a win would give the club their first league double over their bitter local rivals for 18 years and see them draw them level with fourth-placed Manchester City.

The game started well for Arsene Wenger's men as the game lived up to it's pre-match billing with three goals within the first 12 minutes amid a white-hot atmosphere.

Fabregas took advantage of Huddlestone's carelessness in the centre of the park to release Walcott, who calmly slotted past Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes from inside the box.

Just two more minutes had passed before Van der Vaart equalised. Vedran Corluka threaded the Dutchman through before he beat Wojciech Szczesny at his near post to claim his first Spurs goal in over two months.

Arsenal were back in the lead five minutes later though as Tottenham's defence were made to pay for backing off as Nasri fired a deflected shot past Gomes from 25 yards.

The match was being fought with genuine steel as Abou Diaby proved when he clattered into Luka Modric, but referee Martin Atkinson waved play on, much to the anger of the home bench.

The Spurs defence seemed to have no answer to Walcott's pace as he raced through their stationary defence on the half-hour only to see his shot trickle wide.

The home fans were given a scare when Gareth Bale was left needing treatment after coming off second-best in an aerial tussle with Szczesny, but he returned to action a couple of minutes later as Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp urged his side to look for an equaliser.

It was Arsenal who got themselves on the scoresheet next though thanks to William Gallas' mistake. The former Arsenal man failed to clear the ball inside the Tottenham box and Walcott crossed to find Van Persie, who beat Gomes at the second attempt after the Brazilian had palmed away the striker's first header.

Bale was carried off on a stretcher after being clattered over by Szczesny and limped throughout the remainder of the half. Two minutes before the break Huddlestone put Spurs back in the game with a wonderfully-hit half-volley from 20 yards after Arsenal had cleared a corner.

Bale did not emerge for the second half and was replaced by Aaron Lennon.

Peter Crouch gave Bacary Sagna a bloody nose as they went up for a header before Wenger brought on Jack Wilshere for Diaby, who hobbled off the pitch through injury.

Spurs started the second half quietly but they suddenly sprang into life in the 54th minute when Modric played in Van der Vaart, who hit a fierce shot that drew a top-class diving save from Szczesny.

Van Persie had the ball in the net soon after but the goal was ruled out for offside, with replays suggesting the Dutchman was half a yard onside.

Walcott broke through for Arsenal again, but this time Benoit Assou-Ekotto tracked back, forcing the England winger to shoot wide.

Spurs were handed a golden chance to get back into the game when Szczesny tripped Lennon in the box in the 70th minute and Van der Vaart duly obliged, slotting home from 12 yards to make it 3-3.

Modric should have put Spurs ahead from six yards but he shot straight at Szczesny, who cleared with his feet on the line.

Wenger, sensing his chances of winning the game, and indeed the title, were slipping away from him, brought on Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner for Walcott and Nasri.

Substitute Sandro then danced past two Arsenal defenders before seeing his shot saved by Arsenal's Polish goalkeeper.

Tottenham desperately sought a fourth and Laurent Koscielny almost gifted it to them when his header almost flew into his own net in injury time as a breathless match drew to a close.



Jose could risk Ronaldo

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Jose Mourinho has admitted he could take a chance on Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness against Tottenham if the player agrees to defy medical opinion.

The Real Madrid manager admitted on Friday that Ronaldo was likely to miss the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, along with Karim Benzema and Marcelo.

However, Mourinho's mind is not mind up quite yet and he will speak to Ronaldo about whether he wants to gamble.

"If he has a chance it's because he and his coach are taking a risk, because the information from the medical department is that he can't play, that he can only play in the game in Bilbao (next weekend)," Mourinho told reporters after Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Sporting Gijon.

"But if the two of us and only the two of us decide that he's going to play then the risk is mine and his.

"Tomorrow I will talk with the injured players and decide if we will risk them."

The result against Gijon ended Mourinho's personal nine-year unbeaten record at home stretching back to his time with Porto.

It left Real five points adrift of Barca in the Primera Liga title race ahead of the Catalan side's game at Villarreal later on Saturday.

And Mourinho admitted it would now be extremely difficult to Real to make up the ground, with the season coming to an end next month.

"Mathematically the league is not over but if the gap goes to eight points it is practically impossible (to win the title)," he said.

"Luck is a part of football and our opponents had it all, while we didn't have any tonight."

Mourinho added: "We played without the team's most creative players. We lacked creativity. We had to try a different style, more direct with long balls in the air, and we had more opportunities.

"If I had wanted to draw the game 0-0 from the start I would have done so. But a draw was a bad result.

"Against Tottenham on Tuesday, it won't be. If we draw at home, it would not be a drama because we will have the return to play in London."



Defoe staying positive

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Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe admits he has endured a difficult season but has vowed to remain positive for the season run-in.

The England striker has netted just two Premier League goals this season, with injuries limiting him to just 14 starts and three substitute appearances.

Defoe has played a part in the club's impressive UEFA Champions League run, though, scoring three times in as many starts.

Though the former Portsmouth man acknowledges he may well be placed on the bench for Tuesday night's visit to Real Madrid, he refuses to dwell on the prospect.

"I stay positive because I know there are massive games coming up," Defoe said.

"This season has been frustrating because of injuries but there's no point knocking on the manager's door.

"I know I have got important goals to score from now until the end of the season.

"It's important for me to stay positive. If your mind goes, you are not right mentally if you get on the pitch.

"If you do come on, it's important to make an impact. Luckily, being a striker, you can."

Whether he starts the game on Tuesday or not, Defoe is excited about the Bernabeu meeting and believes any involvement will be a personal ambition achieved.

"What should we be scared of?" he said. "We are playing against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, potentially the biggest club in the world with great players. But that's why you play football.

"As a young lad you dream about playing in these games. My mum has always told me just to enjoy playing football. The bigger the game, the better you will play as long as you enjoy it. It's as simple as that."

Meanwhile, a lacklustre draw away to Wigan on Saturday leaves Spurs with a difficult task in catching fourth-placed Manchester City in the race for fourth place in the Premier League.

However, Defoe believes the race is still very much open, and has pointed to the club's strength in depth ahead of eight crucial league games.

He said: "It's important for the club to go on a good run from now until the end of the season.

"We need to finish in the top four to make sure we're in the Champions League again. I believe we're good enough to do that because we have a massive squad.

"We've also got players coming back from injury, like Gareth Bale and Tom Huddlestone. It means Harry Redknapp can chop and change.

"I believe that whoever comes in can do a good job. The players at this club are top class."



Apr 21, 2011

Torres told to improve

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Carlo Anceloti has admitted that Fernando Torres must start performing better but has dismissed suggestions that his arrival has unsettled Didier Drogba.

Torres has still not scored since moving to Chelsea from Liverpool in a £50million deal at the end of January.

He was dropped to the substitutes' bench for the 1-1 draw with Stoke on Saturday, before enduring more frustration during a 30-minute cameo in the second half.

Ancelotti has previously played down the 27-year-old's goal drought and remains convinced that he will soon start to link up with his team-mates more effectively.

The Blues manager has called on the other players to make Torres' job easier by spotting his clever runs, but also concedes that the Spaniard needs to contribute more.

"He has to improve, obviously," Ancelotti said in the News of the World.

"But this has been his first two months here. If he has some difficulties building relationships with the players, that can happen.

"Sometimes he moves very well on the wrong side of the centre-back and the ball does not arrive at the same time so we have to improve this."

Torres has struggled to build up an on-field rapport with Drogba but Ancelotti has laughed off claims that the Ivory Coast international is reluctant to pass to his new team-mate.

"This is pub talk," he said. "When we drink in Italy we usually say 'bar sport'.

"If there is a possibility, they pass the ball without problem."

The arrival of Torres fuelled speculation that Drogba's days at Stamford Bridge could be numbered, but the former Marseille forward's reaction has pleased Ancelotti.

He said: "I spoke with Didier about this and his thought is this: that Torres is here to improve the power of the team. And, for this reason, he is happy.

"If he thought that Chelsea had bought Torres to replace him, obviously he would not be happy."



Blues close the gap on United

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Last Updated: April 20, 2011 9:57pm

Image text here Malouda celebrates his opener with Kalou

Chelsea closed the gap on leaders Manchester United to six points with a 3-1 win over Birmingham at Stamford Bridge.

Two goals from Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou's strike were enough to give Chelsea the three points and move them into second spot ahead of Arsenal and keep alive their slim hopes of retaining the title.

Malouda gave Chelsea the perfect start with the opener after just three minutes and Kalou doubled the lead on 26 minutes with a fine solo goal.

Chelsea made it 3-0 just past the hour mark when Malouda headed home debutant Ryan Bertrand's cross.

Birmingham netted a consolation 14 minutes from time when Sebastian Larsson converted from the penalty spot after David Luiz brought down Matt Derbyshire inside the box.

More to follow...

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With Rochdale upsetting the odds in League One, Chris Burton catches up with Marcus Holness.

Absolute Sky Sports

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Houllier taken to hospital

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Houllier: Villa manager in hospital after being taken ill on Wednesday night

Sky Sports News understands Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier is in a comfortable condition in hospital after being taken ill on Wednesday night.

The Frenchman, who has been in charge at Villa Park since September, will remain in hospital for the time being and is hoping to be released soon.

Former Liverpool boss Houllier was forced to undergo life-saving emergency heart surgery in October 2001 after complaining of chest pains at half-time of the Anfield outfit's Premier League game with Leeds.

The 63-year-old made a fully recovery from an 11-hour procedure to repair an aortic dissection and returned to the dug-out in March 2002.

Houllier has endured a difficult campaign back in Premier League management with Villa sliding into a relegation battle, although recent victories over Newcastle and West Ham have seen the Midlands club reach the 40-point mark.

Villa are due to play host to Stoke at home in the Premier League on Saturday and it remains to be seen whether Houllier will be able to sit in the dugout for the weekend clash, with assistant boss Gary McAllister standing by.

The veteran tactician left Liverpool in May 2004 and had a two-year spell in charge of Ligue 1 outfit Lyon from 2005-2007 before taking a role with the French Football Federation prior to being tempted back into English football.



Mancini - Tevez can make final

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Tevez: FA Cup final fitness race for Manchester City striker

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is optimistic Carlos Tevez will be fit to play in the FA Cup final next month.

Tevez missed the semi-final victory against Manchester United last weekend after suffering a hamstring injury in the defeat by Liverpool.

City expect him to miss the next four league games as well, starting at Blackburn on Monday.

But Mancini believes the Argentina striker could be back to face Stoke at Wembley in the showdown on 14th May.

"I hope Carlos can recover in time as we have four weeks, " said Mancini.

Defender Micah Richards is also ruled out of the Blackburn game after missing the semi-final with a hamstring problem, but Mancini expects to have him available early next month.

Mancini added: "Micah is not ready yet. He needs another week to 10 days to recover."



Harry writes off Gunners

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Redknapp: Spurs boss has written off Gunners' hopes

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has written off Arsenal's fading hopes of beating Manchester United to the Premier League title.

The Gunners again missed the chance to close the gap on the league leaders on Wednesday night after being held by Spurs in a six-goal thriller at White Hart Lane.

Arsenal squandered a 3-1 lead against their arch rivals on the back of conceding a last-gasp leveller in Sunday's controversial draw at home to Liverpool.

Arsene Wenger's side are six points behind the Red Devils with just five league games remaining, although Sir Alex Ferguson's troops still have a trip to Emirates Stadium to come and a clash with Chelsea.

While teams have come from behind in the past to win titles, Redknapp believes the gap is too big for Arsenal to overcome and some now feel their mentality to succeed is to blame.

"I can't see Arsenal doing it," said Redknapp.

"Chelsea have gone second in the table after their win and that six-point gap between Arsenal and United is going to be very difficult to overhaul.

"Big leads have been turned around before, it wouldn't be the first time it has happened, and I don't want to be disrespectful - but I can't see them doing it.

"Yet Man United did not play that well against Newcastle on Tuesday. Chelsea might go on a terrific run and win every game.

"Man U have yet to play Arsenal and Chelsea so it's not impossible."



Villa boss Houllier in hospital

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Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has been admitted to hospital, the club has confirmed.

The 63-year-old was taken to hospital in Birmingham overnight.

He has spoken to the club's chief executive Paul Faulkner and his condition is said to be comfortable.

Assistant manager Gary McAllister will take Thursday's training session. Houllier has thanked supporters for their concern.

He is expected to remain in hospital for a couple of days as a precaution and it is anticipated McAllister will take charge of the team on Saturday for their game against Stoke at Villa Park.

Mr Faulkner said Houllier sounded "positive" when he spoke to him.

"I've also received a lot of good wishes from fans and I would like to thank them for their kind thoughts in wishing Gerard a speedy recovery," he said.

"I will see him this afternoon, along with Gary, and we will pass on the fans' messages.

"I know they will mean a lot to him. We would ask everybody to respect his privacy and that of his family at this time."

'Healthier and fitter'

Houllier had major surgery after suffering heart-related problems in 2001, whilst manager of Liverpool FC.

He arrived at Villa Park in September to succeed Martin O'Neill.

When he took the position Houllier revealed he had consulted his heart surgeon before accepting the job.

He said he had returned to speak to Dr Abbas Rashid, the man who led the team who performed his 11-hour operation, and was given a clean bill of health.

"When you go into a job you know there will be pressure, that it will be hard work and you won't sleep every night," he said at the time.

"You need to make sure your body is ready. I have checked that. I am much healthier and fitter now than I was before."

Villa have been hovering around the relegation zone in recent weeks, although they have won their past two matches and the club previously said Houllier had their "total support" as he attempts to guide them to Premier League safety.



Ferguson lauds Man Utd comeback

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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson declared his side performed like "champions" to beat West Ham.

The Premier League leaders recovered from 2-0 down to win 4-2 with striker Wayne Rooney getting a hat-trick.

"We played like champions," said Ferguson. "It was a real championship performance as far as I'm concerned.

"I said to them at half-time, 'Look, goal difference doesn't matter now - you're getting something from this game. The next goal wins the game'."

Ferguson added: "That's why I put Ryan [Giggs] back to left-back to have a go and just attack.

"It paid dividends and I'm pleased with that."

The Old Trafford outfit had fallen behind to two Mark Noble penalties after a Patrice Evra handball and Nemanja Vidic trip on Carlton Cole.

Ferguson, who was in the stands as he served the second of a five-game touchline ban, replaced Evra with striker Javier Hernandez and pushed Giggs back to left-back after the break.

I want to apologise for any offence that may have been caused by my goal celebration

Fellow forward Dimitar Berbatov also came on before Rooney kick-started his side's comeback by converting a free-kick.

Rooney added a clinical finish and a penalty to complete a 14-minute hat-trick, while Hernandez grabbed a late goal to make sure of the victory.

"They've [the players] got the ability to turn it around - that's the first thing," added Ferguson.

"But they've got great faith in themselves, faith in the team, faith in their team-mates.

"It doesn't always work but you can rest assured, they keep trying to create and play their football, and in the second half we dominated."

The Red Devils are now seven points clear of nearest title rivals Arsenal, who could only manage a goalless home draw against Blackburn, while Chelsea are a further four points behind following the Blues' stalemate at Stoke.

Chelsea have a game in hand and have still to play the Old Trafford side but will struggle to defend their title.

"It makes an impact on us," said Ferguson on the title race. "Seven games left.

Vidic could have been sent off - Grant

"You can count the games down one by one. It ends up you run out of games and hopefully we're there.

"Arsenal have games in hand and it could go to goal difference but I somehow don't think so."

The only sour note for Ferguson's side was Rooney heard swearing by a television camera after scoring.

The Football Association said it would examine the footage before deciding to take any action but Rooney was quick to say sorry.

"I want to apologise for any offence that may have been caused by my goal celebration, especially any parents or children that were watching," said the England stirker.

"Emotions were running high and on reflection my heat-of-the-moment reaction was inappropriate. It was not aimed at anyone in particular."

The defeat dropped West Ham back into the relegation zone and Hammers boss Avram Grant believed Vidic should have been sent off for a perceived professional foul on Demba Ba rather than the yellow card he received when the visitors were trailing 2-0.

"I think so [that he should have been red carded] but I don't want to talk about the referee," said Grant.

He continued: "In the second half, they [Man Utd] had nothing to lose but we have given them too much space.

"There were a lot of positive things. We wanted to win and did everything very good in the first half. But footballers need to complete two halves."

Grant added: "The league will be very tight but I think we can do it [avoid the drop] because we have come into good shape at the right time.

"Against Manchester United, you want to take points but you do not count on winning against them.

"We still have good momentum."



Hodgson plays down Reds revenge

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West Brom manager Roy Hodgson insisted Saturday's crucial 2-1 Premier League victory against Liverpool did not feel like revenge against his former club.

Hodgson lasted just 191 days in charge at Anfield before he left the club in January, taking over at the relegation-threatened Baggies five weeks later.

"I don't take any particular pleasure in that victory," said Hodgson.

"The great pleasure I take is beating Liverpool because it is not something West Brom do very often."

Liverpool took the lead through a Martin Skrtel header after the restart at the Hawthorns but Chris Brunt converted two penalties to hand WBA victory - and in doing so boost their prospects of Premier League survival.

The win lifted West Brom to 12th in the table, four points clear of the relegation zone and the highest total they have managed in the top flight.

Red letter day for West Brom - Hodgson

"I am more than satisfied, I am really happy with the performance," added Hodgson.

"I thought apart from the first 15 minutes, we took the game to Liverpool and played some really good football.

"When we went a goal down, it was very much against the run of play but it was a great achievement for the players to put that behind them and score two goals."

Baggies striker Peter Odemwingie was brought down for both of the penalties - the first following a challenge with defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos and the second after he tried to guide the ball round goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

"They were both very clear penalties and the result of excellent work by Odemwingie," continued the Baggies boss.

"Those two goals were a result of quite a lot of pressure we were able to exert on the Liverpool defence.

"We've come back a couple of times against Stoke, Wolves and now against Liverpool. I don't doubt the commitment of the players and their ability to come back from being a goal down.

"We do have a considerable goal threat in the team and it was nice to see the team pass the ball so well against a quality team like Liverpool."

It was a frustrating afternoon for Reds boss Kenny Dalglish, who wants clarification on the issue of who takes responsibility for awarding penalties.

"The only thing I would say about the penalties is one was given by the referee and one by the linesman," said Dalglish.

"If they just tell us when the linesman takes over the authority from the referee, then I think we will understand it better.

"I know the linesman is there to be of assistance to referee, but it would be important if they tell us when they overrule the ref because he was only 10 yards from play for the second one."

Injuries and mistakes costly - Dalglish

Liverpool lost defensive duo Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger to injury in the opening half.

Those injuries followed the news that skipper Steven Gerrard had picked up a knock in training on Friday.

"Agger has done the tendon behind his knee and Glen looks like he has damaged his muscle in his leg," said Dalglish.

"Steven was training on Friday, ready to be available for the match at West Brom, then innocuously tried to turn with the ball, and he felt a sharp pain.

"It is the same area of his groin but not the same thing. We will get him assessed and at the end of the week we will know better about everyone."



Chelsea 3-1 Birmingham

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Chelsea leapfrogged above Arsenal and moved into second place in the Premier League after brushing aside Birmingham.

Florent Malouda converted a Didier Drogba flick-on after three minutes while Salomon Kalou finished a solo run with a thunderous strike.

Malouda scored his second with a near-post header after the break.

Sebastian Larsson scored a penalty for Birmingham after David Luiz fouled Matt Derbyshire but Chelsea held on to move six points behind Manchester United.

Arsenal were held 3-3 by Spurs across London at White Hart Lane, allowing Chelsea to move above the Gunners on goal difference.

Carlo Ancelotti's side have won six of their last seven top-flight fixtures and are the form team as the season moves towards its conclusion.

Chelsea have five league games left - including a trip to Old Trafford to face United on 8 May - while Sir Alex Ferguson's team also face a match against Arsenal.

However, although Wednesday's results might have given Chelsea a glimmer of hope that they can retain their Premier League trophy, it was not a perfect evening for Ancelotti's team.

Fernando Torres came on as a second-half substitute for his 13th Chelsea appearance but did not really have a clear sight of goal and has now gone almost 900 minutes without scoring.

There were no such problems for Malouda, who converted Chelsea's first meaningful attack with a finish from three yards.

The goal came from Paulo Ferreira's right-wing cross after he controlled a raking pass from John Terry.

The home team were in total control and almost doubled their lead when Ben Foster struggled to deal with a long-range strike from Drogba that the keeper just managed to tip over his crossbar.

The visiting side did threaten to force their way back into the contest but Terry made a superb covering tackle to deny the recalled Alexander Hleb, who was poised to shoot, while Petr Cech saved Cameron Jerome's strike from a tight angle.

Drogba went close with an audacious attempt at a lob and drew a good save from Foster with a precise strike that threatened to find the bottom corner.

But Foster was powerless to prevent Kalou doubling Chelsea's advantage after the Ivorian capped a fine mazy run that left Roger Johnson and Stuart Parnaby trailing in his wake with a crisp shot from 20 yards that clipped the inside of the post.

If there was any doubt about the outcome of the match, the London side appeared to have made sure of three points when they scored a third just after the hour mark.

Malouda lost marker Liam Ridgewell at the near post and had plenty of time to head substitute Ryan Bertrand's cross beyond Foster.

The visiting side pulled a goal back when Larsson drilled a penalty into the top corner after Luiz had needlessly fouled another substitute, Matt Derbyshire, on the edge of the penalty area as the two players headed away from the danger zone.

And Derbyshire might have pulled another goal back - and in the process set up an exciting climax to the contest - but after bearing down on goal the former Blackburn Rovers player snatched at the chance and his low strike went wide of goal.



Tottenham comeback stuns Arsenal

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Arsenal's title challenge suffered a further blow as Tottenham came from 3-1 down to earn a deserved draw in an excellent north London derby.

In a frenetic first half, Theo Walcott side-footed the Gunners ahead before Rafael van der Vaart struck a leveller.

Samir Nasri's drive put Arsenal back in front and Robin van Persie hooked in a third but Tom Huddlestone's stunning drive made it 3-2 before the break.

Van der Vaart's second-half penalty completed Spurs' comeback.



Title race not over - Ancelotti

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Title race not over yet - Ancelotti

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti challenged his players to win their five remaining games after closing the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester United.

"We are six points behind and it will not be easy to close that," said Ancelotti, whose team defeated Birmingham 3-1 on Wednesday.

"Our aim is to win every game and after that see how our position is. It will not be easy but that is our aim.

"We have to believe until the referee whistles for the end of the game."

Florent Malouda scored twice against Birmingham, including an early strike that set his team on their way to a comfortable victory.

With Arsenal held 3-3 at Tottenham, the men from Stamford Bridge moved above the Gunners and into second place on goal difference.

Chelsea have now won six of their last seven top-flight fixtures and have five games left to try to overhaul United and retain their Premier League title.

Ancelotti's team travel to Old Trafford for a match against United on 8 May, while the Red Devils also have to play Arsenal.

"The game is not finished but Manchester United have a fantastic advantage," added Ancelotti.

"We now have two games at home and after that we will have to wait and see."

Chelsea went six top-flight games without victory between 14 November and 27 December and have not been as high as second in the table since the middle of that poor spell of results.

But with his team hitting form at the right time, Ancelotti added: "In football, I learned that everything can happen in the game right up to the final whistle.

"You can win the title in the last minute and you can lose the title in the last minute.

"If we thought that one month ago we'd have a little chance to come back to fight for the title, I think that everyone could have said we were crazy."

Chelsea won the title with 86 points last season but currently have 64 points and cannot break the 80-point barrier this campaign.

"To win the title we'll need less points than last season," reflected the Blues boss.

"We won it with 86 last season. With [a total of] 80 points, United can win the title. They need 10 points [to reach that target]."

But Ancelotti refused to confirm whether wining the title would improve his chances of remaining in charge next season.

The Premier League is his team's one remaining chance of winning silverware this campaign, but the Italian said: "Questions with 'if' are not good.

"At the end of the season, we will have a big press conference, a strong and tough press conference."



Ancelotti defiant on title hopes

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Ancelotti refuses to give up on title

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insists his side will not give up hope of retaining the title despite trailing leaders Manchester United by 11 points.

The reigning Premier League champions could only draw 1-1 away against Stoke on Saturday, almost certainly ending their already slim hopes.

But Ancelotti said: "We have to continue to do our best.

"The gap [to United] was not easy before and now it is more difficult but we have to think game by game."

Chelsea fell behind to an early Jonathan Walters strike and despite drawing level and dominating the first half, the hosts were good value for their point.

Ancelotti's side still have one game in hand on Man Utd and have to visit Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men must also face second-placed Arsenal but Ancelotti knows his side are rank outsiders in the title race.

"We didn't think about this before this game and we don't have to think about it after this game," Ancelotti said.

"The gap is more open now but we have to play our game. It is not about Manchester United.

"I think it is very difficult - we said that before the game.

"We did our best. It was a good result because Stoke had opportunities.

"They could have won, we could have won. It was exciting.

"It was a really tough game. Both teams could have won. We had a good reaction after we conceded a goal and the game was in balance.

"We are not so happy for the result but it was the right one for this game."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis felt his side gave Chelsea too much respect in the first half but was delighted with their second-half efforts.

Pulis impressed as Stoke 'match' Chelsea

"It was a great start and Jon scored a great goal," Pulis said. "But we sat back and gave them the impetus and in the last 20 minutes of the first half they showed what a great team they are.

"We had too many players after we scored sitting back and watching them pass it around.

"In the second half we pushed on to them with better quality balls up to Kenwyne Jones and got more bodies up there and it made for an entertaining game.

"We had the chances to win it but Chelsea are a great side with great players and you have to give them credit.

"They have a massive Champions League game against Manchester United on Wednesday and I thought their attitude was first class."



We will fight for title - Wenger

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Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can win the title despite letting a two-goal lead slip in the draw at Tottenham.

The Gunners were held 3-3, missing out on the chance to close within four points of leaders Manchester United.

But Wenger backed their mentality - and also said that a recent interview from captain Cesc Fabregas, which seemed to undermine his boss, had been twisted.

"They have an outstanding attitude," said manager Wenger. "We'll fight like mad for the next game. We can do it."

Of suggestions that his team - who were leapfrogged by Chelsea on goal difference on Wednesday and now sit third in the table - lacked the capability to secure an important win from a commanding position, the Frenchmen added: "It is very unfair.

"We're on a 15-game unbeaten run, and no-one else has done that.

"Chelsea are now back in the race. Chelsea play Manchester United and Tottenham, but it's down to us. We have to keep our faith and keep battling."

In an interview with Spanish magazine Don Balon earlier this week, Fabregas appeared to suggest that Wenger would have been sacked if he was managing a similar-sized club in Spain - given that Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005.

"It's clear that if you come to Spain and say to [Unai] Emery, [Pep] Guardiola or [Jose] Mourinho that they'll win nothing in the next three years, it's obvious they wouldn't continue [in their jobs]," Fabregas is quoted as saying.

"But here it's different. The boss is an intelligent person and the club values other things: that the team is always in the Champions League, that it fights until the end, that it brings young players through, the economic stablity."

Yet Fabregas himself said that his words had been manipulated, and Wenger echoed those sentiments after the thrilling encounter at White Hart Lane.

"The article bothers me," Wenger said. "This was an article organised by the club with a check viewing of the article. Not only did the author not respect the agreement, but also he did twist completely the article and we are really upset about it.

"It was not an attack on my philosophy. That is not what he Fabregas said. He said completely the opposite."

Of the match, which leaves Arsenal with only five league games of the season left, Wenger felt his side struggled to maintain their intensity throughout, having come through a tough draw against Liverpool on Sunday.

"It was a game with a frenetic tempo," he said. "Of course we have regrets, because we were 3-1 up. But the second was an outstanding goal and then we conceded a penalty.

"We had a fantastic attitude in the first half but dropped in the second half because it is a massive advantage playing two games of such stature in a matter of days.

"It is too short to maintain that pace for 90 minutes."

Redknapp pleased to match Arsenal

Spurs quickly recovered from going 1-0 down to Theo Walcott's opening goal to level through Rafael van der Vaart.

Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie then made it 3-1 to the visitors before Tom Huddlestone completed a remarkable first half of scoring to reduce the deficit.

Van der Vaart's penalty made it 3-3 and Tottenham could have even taken all three points had Luka Modric not seen a shot well smothered by Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

"It was a great game to be involved in," said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp.

"We had two teams playing unbelievable football. We couldn't live with them early on with their passing ability, which was breathtaking, but we stuck in there and stayed with them and got an equaliser.

"It looked over at 3-1 - I spoke to [Arsenal keeper] Jens Lehmann and he said we looked dead and buried - but it was an amazing performance from us. We have both got attacking flair and go for it. We swarm forward in numbers and so do they.

"It's what football is all about - you don't want to see teams sit back and play for 0-0."



Liverpool Plan £16m Bids for New Centre Back Pairing

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Anfield side look to bring in defensive duo.

Roger Johnson has emerged as a target for Liverpool after director of football Damien Comolli ran the rule over Birmingham City’s centre back.

Kenny Dalglish is in the market for a defender this summer and Johnson, who was recently called up to the provisional England squad, is nearing the end of a second impressive season at St Andrew’s.

The 27-year-old, who has only one year remaining on his contract after signing from Cardiff for £5million in 2009, is refusing to talk about contracts until Birmingham’s Barclays Premier League future is secured. Coincidentally, City face Liverpool on Saturday.

SOURCE: Daily Mail

As well as potential moves to bring in Birmingham City defender Roger Johnson Liverpool are also strongly linked with a move for Wolfsburg’s highly rated Danish international Simon Kjaer who moved to the Bundesliga last summer only to see his former title winning side nosedive dramatically as well as seeing the boss who purchased him, Steve McClaren, axed.

Kenny Dalglish is looking to make significant changes to his Anfield squad for next term and appears to have earmarked his defence as an area that needs improvement. Given that Jamie Carragher and Sotirios Kyrgiakos are both getting on a bit and that Daniel Agger has constant injury concerns, moves to bring in reinforcements makes a great deal of sense. The club can at least rely on reliable Slovakian international Martin Skrtel and also have youngster Danny Wilson to call upon.

Roger Johnson has been a hugely consistent performer since his move to St Andrews’ two years ago and it is largely down to the 27 year old and his partnership with Scott Dann, another Liverpool target who is now injured, that Alex McLeish’s side are so hard to beat. Whilst the former Cardiff and Wycombe man may not be the most spectacular of signings he is a player who gives 110% and could provide some extra steel at the back.

Simon Kjaer at 22 has the footballing world at his feet and looks like he may push to leave Wolfsburg this summer after seeing the club perform disastrously this term. Felix Magath has returned to the club but has not been able to arrest the slide down the table that has left the title winners of 2008/09 sitting in 16th place in the relegation play-off zone.

Liverpool’s new owners appear ready to offer Dalglish significant financial backing this summer having brought in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll using the money accrued from the sales of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel and these two potential signings are realistic and relatively inexpensive ways to improve their defence.



Tottenham To Launch Bid For Schalke’s Manuel Neuer

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp will attempt to bring Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to White Hart Lane this summer.

The Spurs boss wants the 25-year-old to replace Heurelho Gomes, who has made a string of high-profile errors in his time in North London.

The Germany international is out of contract in 2012 and has turned down a new deal offered by the Bundesliga club. Redknapp hopes he can get a cheaper deal than the £21million valuation.

“I have taken this decision without any external influence,” explained Neuer on his club’s website.

“The decision has nothing to do with the change of coach or any other person at another club.

“I have a great deal to thank Schalke and their unique fans for, but I would like to have the opportunity for a change after 20 years’ faithful service to this club.”

Neuer attracted strong interest from Manchester United as a replacement for Edwin van der Sar, but the Red Devils decided to go for Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea.

Schalke are resigned to losing their captain but Redknapp will face strong competition from Bayern Munich.

“As much as it hurts us, we have accepted this development and we respect it,” commented the club’s director of sport Horst Heldt.

“How things develop with Manuel Neuer will emerge in the coming weeks and maybe months, but we are now concentrating on our sporting challenges and the rest will follow in due course.”



Arsenal Man Linked With £6m Tottenham Move: Wenger Eager to Sell

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White Hart Lane boss ready to launch bid to sign Emirates Stadium utility man.

Speculation is rife that Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue will be sold by Arsene Wenger this summer with Harry Redknapp keen to sign the Ivory Coast international to help beef up his defensive options. The 27 year old’s costly error, when he gave away a last gasp penalty against Liverpool on Sunday, is said to have been the final straw for the Gunners boss who was already leaning towards selling the utility player.

The £6m rated right sided player has been at Arsenal for six years and has in the main only be called upon when poor form, injury or suspension had left Wenger having to depend on Eboue to put in a solid shift. The former Beveren man became the subject of booing from his own supporters at one stage of his career at the North London club but had improved steadily since.

However this season Emmanuel Eboue has been an up and down one and now it appears that Wenger is ready to let the at times eccentric performer leave. Tottenham boss Redknapp has had various issues with the right side of his defence of late and neither Vedran Corluka or Alan Hutton have the first team spot nailed on.

Eboue’s adaptable ability is said to interest the White Hart Lane boss and both The Metro and Daily Mirror have in recent weeks stated that a move was on the cards and after Sunday’s calamity a deal appears to be in the offing.

The foul on Lucas could well prove very costly to Arsenal who saw two point dropped in their pursuit of table toppers Manchester United and Wenger is ready to conduct a major clear-out this summer with the likes of Denilson, Abou Diaby, Manuel Almunia, Nicklas Bendtner and Gael Clichy all strongly linked with exits from the Emirates Stadium.



Arsenal Striker To Make Decision On Future At End Of The Season

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Emirates star is only concentrating on overhauling Old Trafford club.

Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner will make a decision on his future in North London at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old is frustrated over a lack of first-team opportunities with 11 of his 14 appearances in the Premier League coming from the bench.

The Denmark international has constantly bemoaned the fact he should be a regular in the Gunners line up but his claims have gone unanswered.

But he will leave any decision until the summer as he is fully concentrated on overhauling Manchester United’s seven point lead at the top of the table.

Arsenal have six games remaining and travel to neighbours Tottenham Hotspur tonight.

Bendtner understands why he has not had more starts this season but believes he deserves more chances.

“It is incredibly frustrating not being seen as a first-team player, but there is not much I can do about it,” Bendtner told Ekstra Bladet.

“I have proven that I am good enough to play from the start at Arsenal.

“[Robin] van Persie is ahead of me at the moment and there is nothing to say about that because he has scored 16 goals since New Year.”

“After this season I will decide on my future, but not before.”



Chelsea Owner’s Pursuit of Neymar Could Lead to Ancelotti Exit

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Stamford Bridge owner wants to get involved in transfer matters again.

According to reports in South America, Chelsea’s representatives have been in contact with Santos over a summer deal for the 18-year-old Samba starlet.
However, the move is being driven by club owner Roman Abramovich and apparently without approval from Ancelotti – a situation that could leave the Italian out in the cold, and therefore out of a job, at the end of the year.
The former AC Milan coach, who won the double last season, has previously stated it would ‘not be a problem’ if he was let go by the Blues in the summer after what looks set to be a trophyless campaign.
But his move towards the Stamford Bridge exit could be accelerated by Abramovich’s meddling in the club’s transfer dealings, which has been highlighted as a problem before.
Neymar has already stated his desire to move to the Premier League this summer, saying Chelsea are ‘a great club’ and ‘it’s a dream of every player to play there’.
However, after being told of Neymar’s comments last month, Ancelotti said he was ‘not interested’.
‘It’s good for the club and the manager if players want to come here. He’s very young and a fantastic talent but at this moment we’re not interested,’ he said.


Meddling in transfer business was said to have been one of the big reasons for Jose Mourinho’s departure and was something that ‘Big Phil’ Scolari has stated was a factor during his brief stint at Stamford Bridge, so could owner Roman Abramovich be set to anger Carlo Ancelotti into leaving? Is that perhaps the Russian billionaire’s plan?

There are some who believe that Fernando Torres’s arrival at Chelsea was not sanctioned by Ancelotti either and that move has not exactly paid off either and one wonders if the pursuit of Neymar could be the final straw for the Italian who is strongly linked with a return to Roma this summer.

There is a great deal of speculation that this summer could see some real upheavals at the West London club with a number of the club’s old guard linked with Blues exits. The likes of Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka are all supposedly exit bound with Chelsea looking to the future, hence Abramovich’s reported interest in teenager Neymar.

The Brazilian international has been in phenomenal form for Santos and impressed whilst in action in London when he scored twice against Scotland in the friendly at the Emirates Stadium. Abramovich is apparently ready to splash the cash again having spent large sums to bring in Fernando Torres and David Luiz in January.



Liverpool Goalkeeper Drops Biggest Hint Yet He Will Still Be At The Club Next Season

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Anfield hero is making plans for next year on Merseyside.

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has dropped the biggest hint he is staying at the club yet as he outlines plans for next season.

The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away from Anfield for some time and was the subject of a failed bid from Arsenal last summer.

Arch-rivals Manchester United have also shown interest in the Spain international as a replacement for Edwin Van Der Sar.

Reina has always declared his love for the club but wants the board to show ambition  especially after the departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

Liverpool had the worst start in Premeir League history this year under Roy Hodgson but fortunes on the pitch have turned around following the appointment of Kenny Dalglish.

But Reina says the club cannot afford another start like they had next year if they want to win a trophy.

“We didn’t start this season, or last, the best – and next time we need to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he told LFC Weekly.

“We need to be consistent with the aggression, commitment – everything. And if we get the balance right, we’ll be a lot closer to where we want to be.”



La Liga Club Set To Become The Manchester City Of Spain Following £80m Takeover

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Getafe could become the Manchester City of Spain after the La Liga club was bought by the Royal Emirates Group for €90million (£80million).

The Dubai investment firm is chaired by Sheikh Butti Bin Suhail Al Maktoum has wanted to buy a football club for a long time.

It is believed he wants to rival Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the owner of Manchester City, who has spent £391million on transfers since 2008.

The deal would be the third for a La Liga club involving a non-Spanish buyer in the past year following the sale of Malaga to a member of the Qatari royal family and the purchase of Racing Santander by an Indian businessman.

Royal Emirates Group said Dubai’s minister of culture, the Spanish ambassador and ‘many other corporate icons and members of the ruling family of Dubai’ would attend an event scheduled on Thursday to announce the deal.

“It is Getafe… we will announce it in a big way tomorrow,” Suleiman al Butti, project manager of Royal Emirates Group, told Reuters.

Royal Emirates said in statement the club would be named ‘Team Dubai’, although it was not clear whether that would become the team’s official name.

Getafe are currently 14th in La Liga with 37 points from 32 games and hovering just above the relegation zone.



Inter Milan Set For £65m Bid For Tottenham Stars

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San Siro giants are keen on White Hart Lane duo.

Inter Milan officials have contacted their Tottenham Hotspur counterparts about the possibility of signing midfielders Gareth Bale and Luka Modric.

The Serie A champions want to rebuild an ageing sqaud this summer and see the Spurs duo as the ideal replacements.

Inter manager Leonardo is a long-term admirer of both players and his bosses were impressed by them after playing Tottenham in the Champions League.

The Italians believe they will have a realistic chance of persuading Spurs to sell, should they miss out on the top four.

Inter will test the North London club’s resolve with a £65million double bid for the midfielders.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp insists none of his stars will be sold but chairman Daniel Levy has said the wage bill will have to be reduced if the club do not retain Champions League status.

Modric has said he is not thinking of leaving, but Inter believe they can lure him away by offering him Champions League football next season.



Milan Jovanovic: I Regret Moving To Liverpool

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Liverpool midfielder Milan Jovanovic regrets moving to Anfield and cannot wait to leave Merseyside.

The 30-year-old joined the Reds last summer was signed on a free from Belgian side Standard Liege by former manager Rafael Benitez.

The Serbian international has struggled to make an impact under Roy Hodgson and then Kenny Dalglish and has been linked with a move away.

Jovanovic is unhappy with his situation and wants to move to back to Europe but admits life would have been different if Benitez stayed in charge.

Asked if he ever regretted his move to England, Jovanovic told Sportske.”If I’m completly honest, I must say that I regulary think about this.

“If I would move to Italy or Germany I would be happier than in England – my life would be nicer.

“And also for my career it would be better to play in Serie A or the Bundesliga.

“In Belgium I was living in an area where there were so many people from Serbia and my life was different, more dynamic.

“Liverpool is such a different place. I’m here alone, without anybody. I’m just a very lonely stranger.

“In my months here I haven’t met anybody from my country. If I wouldn’t have my wife and my kids I just couldn’t speak Serbian with anybody.

“But Liverpool is of course a club which you can’t refuse.”

“My only regret is, that the coach, who brought me at Anfield, left the club even before my arrival,” he said.

“If Rafa Benitez would have stayed in Liverpool I believe everything would be different for me.

“There were 15 other clubs which followed me but I chose Liverpool and made a mistake.”



Arsenal Boss Prepares £22m Bids for Relative Unknown Strike Pairing

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Emirates boss targets Bundesliga and Ligue 1 aces.

Arsenal will need to part with at least £13million if they want to solve their goalscoring crisis with Papiss Demba Cisse.
Arsene Wenger’s side have scored just seven goals in their last seven games – a poor return for their usually prolific free-flowing football – and have all but surrendered the title to Manchester United.
Meanwhile, Freiburg’s 25-year-old striker has scored 20 goals in 28 Bundesliga appearances this season putting the Senegalese forward at the top of a number of Europe’s top sides’ shopping list.
But German newspaper TZ claims the club has told anyone interested in the striker not to waste their time with any bids below £13m.


Whilst there is no denying that Papiss Demba Cisse is in a rich vein of form it is also true that the Senegal international striker is a player that most football supporters had not have heard of prior to his Bundesliga exploits this term.

Arsene Wenger is known for opting to cut costs by spending relatively small amounts on rough diamonds that he can then hone into the finished polished article and it’s a process that may help Arsenal to keep the club on a sound financial footing, however it does require these players longer to bed in than established stars, which has in some ways left the North London club to be in a continual state of transition.

25 year Cisse has done fantastically well this season but it is worth noting that prior to this term the Dakar born striker had scored a grand total of six top tier goals having previously played predominantly in France’s Ligue 2.

Wenger is also tracking £9m rated Lorient forward Kevin Gameiro who has been very consistent over the past three seasons and is currently the second top scorer in France’s top tier, again though, he is not a big name. Clearly Arsenal have bought Laurent Koscielny from the same club last summer, could that signing be considered a success? Perhaps a month ago it could’ve been but the Frenchman has been shaky of late.

There has been much speculation that the Gunners boss is keen to chop and change his front line and such action seems much needed. Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela may be offloaded and there is even talk of a return to France for Marouane Chamakh, the Moroccan started the season with a bang but has looked out of his depth since November.

Arsenal supporters would probably like to see the club chase relative big names, maybe an offer for the likes of Karim Benzema, but Wenger seems happy to continue his tried and tested pattern of expenditure and in the main that plan of action has been a huge success but after six seasons without silverware, as it may well turn out to be, perhaps it’s time for the Emirates Stadium side to look for immediate returns on their investments?

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Bolton And Newcastle United To Scrap Over Birmingham City Striker

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St Andrew’s star could be on his way to the Reebok Stadium or St. James’ Park.

Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers are fighting for the signature of Birmingham City striker James Mcfadden.

The 28-year-old is out of contract in the summer and has attracted interest from a string of clubs in England and Scotland.

He has struggled with injuries this season, which has restricted his appearances to just eight games in the whole campaign.

The Scotland international is set to make his return from a cruciate knee injury he picked up in September.

Newcastle sources suggest they are very keen on bringing McFadden to St James’ Park but any deal rests on whether they sign Bolton hit-man Johan Elmander.

The Swedish international is also a free-agent this summer, and was the subject of interest from Magpie boss Alan Pardew in January.

Trotters manager Owen Coyle has been a long-term admirer of McFadden and wants his fellow Scot to replace the Swede.

Coyle does not want to lose Elmander but knows he cannot do anything to stop him leaving as he cannot offer European football.



Harry Redknapp On… Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Lionel Messi, England And David Bentley

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White Hart Lane lifts the lid on his dealing with Emirates club, signing a Nou Camp legend and the ‘disrepectful’ St Andrew’s player.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was the guest of honour on a special Absolute Radio breakfast show celebrating the 20 years of Sky Sports.

Hosts Russ Williams and Helen Chamberlain asked the colourful manager on his side’s upcoming derby clash with Arsenal, his relationship with Arsene Wenger, the England job, signing Lionel Messi and THAT moment when he was soaked by David Bentley.

Here’s the transcript of their chat:

Harry Redknapp on… Spurs vs Arsenal
Harry Redknapp: “I don’t mind, as long as we come out on the right end of the score.  Maybe 2-1, a bit like last year’s result, certainly we’d take that.

“The score tonight, I wish I knew. It’s going to be a tough game, they’re a good side and away from home they’ve got unbelievable form.

“They haven’t lost in the League for an awful long time, but we’re very good as well, so it’s got the makings of another great game.

“I mean, we’ve turned it round a little bit the last couple of years with Arsenal, we won at the Emirates this year for the first time in an awful long time, we beat them at home last year.

“So hopefully, I don’t mind, as long as we come out on the right end of the score.  Maybe 2-1, a bit like last year’s result, certainly we’d take that.

Russ Williams: “And a Danny Rose-like goal would be very handy.”

HR: “Yeah, that was an amazing goal for Danny, I mean, to make his debut and come in that night and score that goal, you know.

“You haven’t seen too much of Danny since, but I still think Danny’s a kid with a good future, and he’s certainly come back in good form recently, and I’m sure we’ll see a bit more of Danny.

Harry Redknapp on… Arsene Wenger
HR: “I get on okay with him, I don’t have too many problems with Arsene, we always seem to get on okay, you know. Everybody else has had problems with him, I don’t.”

Harry Redknapp on… Dream transfer signings
HR: “You’d have to say Messi, I think Messi is just an absolutely incredible player, you know, for me he’s almost unplayable.

“You look at his goal record, 60-odd goals in 60-odd games for Barcelona in the last 60-whatever matches, he’s just amazing.

“When you watch him play he’s unstoppable, he’s a little man who looks like he loves playing football, he’s an absolute genius, and for me he’s the best player in the world at the moment.”

Harry Redknapp on… The England job
HR: “You know, in this game one minute you’re going well, a few bad results and you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s an amazing game.

“So, you know, I love what I’m doing, I’m working at a great club at the moment, so who knows what happens in the future.

“I don’t tend to look that far into the future, I live a little bit for this week and see what the future brings when it comes, you know.”

Harry Redknapp on… David Bentley
Helen Chamberlain: “I want to know when David Bentley threw that bucket of water over you in celebration, was that the moment you knew you were sending him out on loan?

HR: “No. Well I’ve got to be honest, Helen, it was a bit of fun, but I wasn’t best pleased with it, I’ve got to be honest with you, I just thought it was a bit disrespectful if I’m honest about it.

“I could never imagine doing that with Ron Greenwood, who was my manager when I was a player, or Bobby Moore doing it to the manager.

“But no, David’s a good lad, I just think they got a bit carried away on the night.

“You notice it was all lads who didn’t play who did it, it was none of the boys who actually played?”

“They probably thought ‘We’ll let him have it for leaving us out tonight’.”



Getafe set for Team Dubai rebrand takeover

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"It is Getafe... we will announce it in a big way tomorrow," Suleiman al Butti, project manager of Royal Emirates Group, told Reuters.

Early reports had indicated that the club in question was Real Zaragoza and suggested that the cash-strapped outfit would be renamed 'Team Dubai' but a spokesman denied that rumour to ESPNsoccernet and said: "It is a Spanish La Liga division side. The team will not be renamed but it will be titled as '[club's name] Team Dubai' in order to deliver the message that Dubai care."

Getafe Team Dubai seems likely to be the new monicker, and the club's chairman and a number of players are due to arrive in Dubai on Wednesday and the grand announcement is set to be made on Thursday.

The deal would be the third for a La Liga club involving a non-Spanish buyer in the past year following the sale of Malaga to a member of the Qatari royal family and the purchase of Racing Santander by an Indian businessman. Getafe are 14th in La Liga, and in danger of relegation. In recent years, Getafe have twice been runners-up in the Copa del Rey, and reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 2007-08.

Last season saw them qualify for the Europa League but the team, managed by Real Madrid legend Michel, exited the competition at the qualifying stage to Cyprus APOEL.



Copa del Rey unharmed after horror fall

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Mourinho thanks critics

The cup slipped from Ramos' grasp as Madrid celebrated their 1-0 victory over Barcelona on Wednesday night, and footage showed it was caught under the front wheel of the coach. However, Ramos told Telemadrid: "The cup fell, it fell, but the cup is in good shape."

Ramos also hailed Jose Mourinho after he got the better of Barcelona to deliver his first piece of silverware to the club.

"Mourinho is the captain of our ship and we are with him to the death. What he is trying to instil in us is working wonderfully."

Barca president Sandro Rosell, meanwhile, feels there is cause for pride despite the defeat to their arch-rivals.

"We're not going away with our hands empty," he said on the club's official website. "We can take away plenty of pride, having played some great football. I am happy because of what the players have done and especially for the fans, who set a great example.

"Now we have to think about the next game and then the Champions League. We have to finish off the league and then press on. Barca is a very great institution and we'll get over this."



Carlos Tevez in race to be fit for FA Cup final

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• Johnson: Europa League limbo

Tevez is currently in Italy receiving treatment on a hamstring injury and is not expected to be available for three weeks. With the Wembley showpiece, which will be screened live on ESPN, taking place on May 14 it is touch and go as to whether the Argentina striker will be available.

City are expecting an update on Tevez's condition this week and the forward is determined to help the club end their trophy drought.

"We are playing well and we have a chance to achieve something big for Manchester City," Tevez said. "For the club, owners and fans; as a player you want to play in the big occasions.

"I played at Wembley once for United against Everton in the semi-finals. We lost the penalty shootout so it's not a happy memory.

"United have been winning the games that we felt we could win - but we felt Saturday was an opportunity to beat them and dedicate an historic win to our supporters.

"I have played in the cup for three teams and know what an important competition it is. In some countries the domestic cup is not important. But because of the history and of what the FA Cup means to the supporters it carries more significance.

"It always has a special atmosphere because of that and I'm sure the game will be an amazing occasion."



Manchester United and Beckham top Forbes list

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Manchester United and David Beckham continue to lead the Forbes lists of the most valuable teams and highest-paid players.

The American business magazine ranks United as being worth 1.86 billion US dollars (?1.12 billion), ahead of Real Madrid (?900 million) and Arsenal (?700 million).

It is the seventh consecutive year that United have topped the Forbes list and Real Madrid and Arsenal, now under the control of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, remain second and third.

Barcelona have dropped to fifth place, however, with German side Bayern Munich leapfrogging the Catalan team. AC Milan are the highest-placed Italian side on the list in sixth place, with Juventus in eighth and Inter Milan tenth.

Two other Premier League sides are in the top ten, with Chelsea (?400 million) in seventh place and Liverpool (?332 million) in ninth.

England midfielder Beckham continues to dominate the list of highest-paid players thanks to recent endorsement deals with Pepsi and Electronic Arts.

His earnings last year were estimated at 40 million US dollars (?24 million), ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (?23 million) and Lionel Messi (?19 million).

The full lists will be published in Forbes magazine's May 9 issue.



Jovanovic: Joining Liverpool was a mistake

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Jovanovic moved to Anfield from Standard Liege last summer but he arrived only after the man who had sanctioned his capture, Rafa Benitez, had left the club.

The Serbia international has made just one start since Kenny Dalglish took the reins in January. Jovanovic is likely to be moved on in the summer and it seems it won't come soon enough for the player.

Asked if he regretted moving to the club, he said in the Liverpool Echo: "I must say I regularly think about this.

"If I would move to Italy or Germany I would be happier than in England, my life would be nicer, and also for my career it would be better to play in Serie A or the Bundesliga.

"In Belgium, I was living in an area where there were so many people from Serbia and my life was different, more dynamic. Liverpool is such a different place. I'm here alone, without anybody. I'm just a very lonely stranger.

"In my months here I haven't met anybody from my country. If I didn't have my wife and my kids, I just couldn't speak Serbian with anybody, but Liverpool is of course a club which you can't refuse."

Jovanovic stressed that he believed the departure of Benitez had been the key factor in his failure to settle at Anfield.

"My only regret is that the coach who brought me to Anfield left the club even before my arrival," he said. "If Rafa Benitez would have stayed in Liverpool I believe everything would be different for me.

"There were 15 other clubs which followed me, but I chose Liverpool and made a mistake."



Apr 20, 2011

Liverpool Plan £20m Double Newcastle United Raid

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Anfield boss keen on St James’ Park wide men.

Liverpool are preparing an ambitious move to sign Newcastle United pair Jonas Gutierrez and Jose Enrique this summer. The Anfield side will reportedly look to strengthen their weak left side with the capture of the St James’ Park duo who have been in fine form for the Magpies this season.

Kenny Dalglish is known to be an admirer of Spaniard left back Jose Enrique and he has been linked with a move for the 25 year old former Villarreal man as the Liverpool boss looks to fill the left side of his defence. Paul Konchesky and Emiliano Insua are currently out on loan at Nottingham Forest and Galatasaray respectively and neither appear to be in favour with the manager.

The likes of AC Milan and Man United have also been linked with moves for Enrique who has been at Newcastle United since the summer of 2007 and is apparently reluctant to put pen to paper on a new deal until he sees how the club finishes the season and is also looking to see owner Mike Ashley use the funds generated from the sale of Andy Carroll re-invested in the squad. Many sources believe the former Spanish Under 21 international is readying a move away from the North-East club.

Argentine international Jonas Gutierrez is also on Liverpool’s radar as they look to bring natural width to their attack and having seen how well the left side Newcastle United pair work in tandem the Merseyside is interested in replicating the pairing at Anfield.

With the likes of Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole failing to make an impact and with Maxi and Dirk Kuyt as the default options on either wing, the addition of an out and out winger appears to be uppermost in Dalglish’s plans hence his reported interest in the likes of Aston Villa contract rebel Ashley Young and Wolves wide man Matt Jarvis.

Reports suggest that the combined valuation for the pair is around £18-20m.