Wednesday, 11 February 2009

International Friendlies [Football]

Lets have a preview at a few of the friendlies being played tonight...

Venue: Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Seville
Date: Wed, 11 February
Kick-off: 2100 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Five Live & showing live on ITV1

Fabio Capello

Tonight England take on the European Champions Spain in what promises to be a very interesting friendly game. England are without key players for this game including Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Rio Ferdinand returns in defense and if played, David Beckham will equal the record number of caps for an outfield player, which currently stands at 108.

This match could see appearances from James Milner and Carlton Cole, both of whom are enjoying a fabulous run of form for their respective clubs, Aston Villa and West Ham United.

With Gerrard and Rooney out, it is likely we will see Gareth Barry partner up with Frank Lampard in the center of midfield and tonight could see a start for Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor who could partner either Cole or even his Villa team mate Emile Heskey.

For Spain, head coach Vicente del Bosque has uncapped Barcelona pair Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets at his disposal, but experienced centre-back Carles Puyol misses out with a leg complaint.

Del Bosque has also called up five Liverpool players for the match, with goalkeeper Jose Reina, full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, midfielders Albert Riera and Xabi Alonso, and striker Fernando Torres all included.

Star Reds attacker Torres could be set to form a deadly strike partnership with Valencia's David Villa, with the pair particularly effective alongside one another at Euro 2008.

Just to have it on record, I am predicting a 2-1 win for England in this one. Feel free to insult me in the comments after the game (if I get it wrong of course)!

Other international games being played tonight:

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Malta v Albania, Gp 1, 18:30
Rep of Ireland v Georgia, Gp 8, 19:45
San Marino v Northern Ireland, Gp 3, 19:30
International Match
Andorra v Lithuania, 17:15
Angola v Mali, 14:00
Austria v Sweden, 19:30
Belgium v Slovenia, 19:45
Cameroon v Guinea, 18:00
Cyprus v Serbia
Cyprus v Slovakia, 19:00
Egypt v Ghana, 17:00
Estonia v Kazakhstan, 17:00
France v Argentina, 20:00
FYR Macedonia v Moldova, 14:00
Germany v Norway, 19:30
Greece v Denmark, 19:15
Iceland v Liechtenstein, 16:00
Israel v Hungary, 17:00
Latvia v Armenia, 13:00
Libya v Uruguay, 14:30
Malta OFF Albania, 18:30
Morocco v Czech Republic, 19:00
Nigeria v Jamaica, 19:45
Portugal v Finland, 20:45
Romania v Croatia, 18:45
Serbia v Ukraine, 19:00
South Africa v Chile, 18:30
Spain v England, 21:00
Switzerland v Bulgaria, 19:30
Tunisia v Holland, 19:30
Wales v Poland, 17:15

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Everton 1 Liverpool 0 [A.E.T.]

Goodison Park is an old decrepit mess. It's wooden flooring and almost endless obstructed seats are an embarrassment to a Premier League club. However, on nights like Wednesday 4th February 2008, it is also the best place on planet earth.

Dan Gosling inscribed his name into Everton folklore by scoring the winning goal in a tense FA Cup 4th round replay against Liverpool in the last minute of extra time. That sentence alone brings the goosebumps back.

After one tight and tense league clash and one tight and tense Cup match at Anfield, Everton and Liverpool slugged it out at the Old Lady in a tight and tense Cup replay. Everton remained unchanged from the side that were downed at Old Trafford on Saturday. However Rafael Benitez just could not resist the urge to rotate his side from Sunday's convincing win at Anfield against Chelsea. Rafa the Gaffer, or to use his full name "Fat Spanish Waiter", dropped Javier Mascherano and Fabio Aurelio for Andrea Dossena and Lucas Leiva, both of whom were absolute cack.

Liverpool actually started the match in the box seat, Everton were chasing red shadows for the first 15 minutes. Xabi Alonso almost made the reds early dominance count with a rasping volley which drifted past Tim Howard's right hand post. We weren't to know at the time, but that was as close as Liverpool would get to scoring all night. Not long after that, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was forced to withdraw from proceedings after straining his hamstring. It appeared that Fernando Torres was going to be brought off after taking a knock to his ankle from a full blooded, but fair, challenge from Joleon Lescott. But to the crowds delight, it was Liverpool's heartbeat who trudged off. The rapturous reception to Gerrard's withdrawal was a sure sign of the crowds fear of Gerrard and his departure signalled Everton's arrival to the game. Suddenly, royal blue shirts were winning more second ball's and having more prolonged spells of possession.

Everton then went close to opening the scoring, after Tim Cahill's flick on was met on the volley by Leon Osman. But Osman, whilst getting a lot of power, couldn't find a lot of accuracy and could only lift his volley in the Glwadys Street end. Both sides traded spells of possession but not a lot was created from them as we headed into the break even stevens again.

Liverpool almost drew first blood in the second half as the impressive Alonso seemed to play in Albert"Quagmire" Riera one on one with Howard, however the American's speed was enough to make sure that Quagmire's effort was blocked. Everton then almost, and should have, taken the lead with the best move of the match. By now, Gosling had replaced the ineffective and possibly injured Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell was brought on for the ineffective and definitely injured Steven Pienaar. And it was Rodwell's ferocious challenge in midfield which set the awesome Mikel Arteta on his way. His sublime ball to Cahill was cutely played into the path of the oncoming Osman. From 8 yards out, Osman beat Pepe Reina, but could only see his shot smack the post.

At that point, we all thought and knew that this one was going the distance. However we hadn't counted on Liverpool being reduced to 10 men. The awful Lucas, after harshly being booked in the first half, only went and scythed down Lescott in full flow and right in the eyeline of Alan Wiley, who did not hesitate in dismissing the Brazilian. At that point, Benitez decided that penalties was Liverpool's best chance of reaching the 5th round and Liverpool went straight to safe mode as Everton played out the rest of the half in front of Liverpool's defence.

So after yet another deadlock, we were then forced to endure extra time and it was a case now of who's nerve would break first. Everton immediately set about making sure it was Liverpool's. First a deflected Osman shot was saved by the fingertips of Reina who then utilised his excellent agility to make sure the surging Gosling couldn't capitalize on the loose ball. Cahill then went agonisingly close after seeing his near post header from a corner flash agonisingly past the unprotected far post.

Benitez was then forced to end Torres' participation after his stint up front on his own finally took it's toll as he tired in extra time. His efforts were also undermined by the world class defending of Phil Jagielka, who had Torres in his arse pocket for the entire match. Everton then made a wacky substitution of their own by bringing on forgetten Dutch wizard Andy Van der Meyde. He spent much of his rare appearance on a football field by pretty much chasing his own tail. However he would have a big part to play in one of the greatest single moments ever witnessed at Goodison.

The flying Dutchman finally got the better of Dossena and whipped in a curling cross which landed at Gosling's feet. Gosling then seemed to take an age to get the ball out of his feet, but once he did, aided by a slight deflection of the toe of Martin Skrtel, he curled the ball past the helpless Reina, off the post and into the Park End net as Goodison went ballistic. The scenes of pure joy and ecstasy by the Evertonians were in stark contrast to those in the Liverpool end, who had presumably run out of socks to throw onto the pitch.

Everton then had to endure 2 minutes of injury time, but were never troubled and when Wiley blew to end the game, the roar that greeted it still echoes in my ears even 24 hours on. The celebrations that followed could only be repeated if Everton do go on to win the Cup itself. At last Evertonians could rejoice at securing a last gasp win over the dear neighbours. And it felt fucking brilliant.

Gerrard faces three-weeks on the sidelines

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard will be out for three weeks with a torn hamstring, the club has confirmed.

Gerrard was substituted in the 16th minute of the FA Cup clash with Everton, which ended in a 1-0 win for the blue half of Merseyside.

This now means Gerrard will miss the game against Portsmouth on Saturday, England's friendly match against European Champions Spain and the clash against Manchester City at Anfield.

This comes a blow for Liverpool who have relied heavily on Gerrard this season with the midfielder scoring 11 goals. Rafael Benitez did not add to the squad in January and sold striker Robbie Keane to Tottenham so this injury leaves Liverpool short of attacking options, especially with Fernando Torres not yet back to full sharpness.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Sky win Premier League Rights, pays a lot for them [Football]

The Premier League has announced that BSkyB has won four of the six live TV packages paying an estimated £1bn. Each package contains 23 games so this will entitle Sky to show 92 games per year. The Premier League has refused to discuss the actual ammount paid and what packages Sky has won.

This follows on from the news that the BBC payed £173m over three years to renew their rights to show Premiership highlights on Match Of The Day. This figure is slightly higher than what they paid last time around but the new package includes extra internet rights.

The remaining two packages are to go to a second round of bidding with the two bidders involved believed to be Setanta and ESPN.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Podcast: Episode 2 [03/02/09]

In this weeks show we discuss the weekend action in the premier league, including Bosingwa's newly acquired Judo skills and we have a look back at the Austrailian open final.

We also preview the sport ahead in the coming week and run through some of the confirmed transfers from Monday.

Hosted by Chris McDonnell and co-hosted by Andrew Ryan.

Download iPod/iPhone format

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Go to our iTunes page (requires iTunes to be installed)

Monday, 2 February 2009

Transfer Day News

Check back here for the latest news from Transfer Deadline Day...

In: Everton (Jo), Fulham (Gray), Newcastle (Taylor), Portsmouth (Basinas), Stoke (Camara), Wigan (N'Zogbia)

Out: Fulham (Leijer,Teymourian), Liverpool (Gulacsi, Hamill), Man City (Jo), Man Utd (Chester), Newcastle (N'Zogbia), Portsmouth (Hyland), Wigan (Camara, Taylor)

In: Hamilton (Quinn)

Out: Hearts (Berra), Rangers (Adam, Gow), Hibernian (Shiels)

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Premiership Weekend Roundup [Football]

Now that the games have been played and things are starting to shape up in the table, lets look at the games this weekend...

Manchester United 1 - 0 Everton

United cemented their place atop the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Everton. David Moyes' record against United is rather poor and Everton went into this game relying on a rock solid defense to keep the score respectable and considering United's only goal came from a penalty, which came about when Arteta fouled Carrick in the Everton box, this is probably a good result. Ronaldo was the penalty taker and his cool stroke into the Everton net sealed the win for United.

Liverpool 2 - 0 Chelsea

Thanks to two late goals from Fernando Torres, Liverpool move into second place in the league three points ahead of Chelsea. The game was a typical high tempo affair with very little for the neutral to enjoy and referee Mike Riley had to keep his cool and make sure the game did not boil over, which for the most part he did. Chelsea fans will be disappointed with his decision to send off Frank Lampard in the 60th minute after a challenge on Xabi Alonso but in truth this did not change the game too much for Chelsea as Liverpool had most of the play and Chelsea were poor going forward. Scolari would have probably taken a draw after the sending off but it wasn't to be.

Torres scored his first goal, a header, with 90 seconds left of normal time which came from a cross from Fabio Aurelio. Torres then netted his second deep in to injury time when he took advantage of an Ashley Cole error.

Bolton 3 - 2 Tottenham

Kevin Davies is having a good season for Bolton and this continued with his late winner against Spurs on Saturday. Wanderers fans might have been forgiven for thinking Deja Vu after seeing their side go two goals up before letting Spurs back in to bring the scpre to 2-2.

Puygrenier put a header past Cudicini to make it 1-0 to Bolton and then Bolton went further ahead on 64 minutes with a lovely goal from Kevin Davies slotting the ball in the top-right corner. Darren Bent then got two goals for Spurs and the striker showed no lack of confidence with his simple finishes to bring it level. The game looked to be heading towards a draw but Kevin Davies powered a header past Cudicini to seal all three points for Bolton.

Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Blackburn

Yet another draw for Big Sam leaves Blackburn in the bottom three as Rovers failed to capitalise on a poor Middlesbrough performance. Chances were kept to a minimum as both sides lacked a killer instinct and an injury time miss by Jason Roberts pretty much summed up the game.

Stoke City 1 - 0 Manchester City

Mark Hughes was disappointed with his side after failing to score against a resolute 10-man Stoke City. The only talking points of the game was the sending off of Rory Delap and the goal from James Beattie. Delap took umbrage at Wright-Phillips' lunging tackle on Danny Pugh and tripped the former Chelsea wide man from behind before kicking the ball into Wright-Phillips' torso.

Wright-Phillips was lucky not to be sent off himself after appearing to retaliate to Delap's outburst but instead of City capatalising on the advantage of an extra man they let James Beattie power a header from the back post giving Joe Hart no hope at all. Let's hope Shay Given knows what task he is letting himself in for.

Aston Villa 0 - 0 Wigan

Villa missed the chance to go level on points with United with a goalless draw against a strong Wigan side. Villa hammered the Wigan goal in the second half hitting the post on one occasion and having two shots cleared off the line by Wigan's Paul Scharner. This was a very good game with the scoreline perhaps not doing the game justice. Steve Bruce will be happy with the point, which his side worked incredibly hard for.

Arsenal 0 - 0 West Ham United

Arsenal see this as two points dropped as they failed to close the 5 point gap between themselves and Aston Villa with the goaless draw at the Emirates. Arsenal dominated the game from start to finish with West Ham's efforts severely restricted and thus bringing an end to Carlton Cole's run of goals. Arsenal did not create many clear-cut chances and their worries were added to by the injuries to Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue. The focus now seems to be on signing Andrei Arshavin before the 5pm deadline on Monday.

Fulham 3 - 1 Portsmouth

This was a nightmare game for Tony Adams who will have to start turning things around very soon if he is to keep Portsmouth in the Premier League. Fulham were very good in this game and their 3-0 lead after 80 minutes reflected this. Goals from Johnson and Nevland were enough to end this as a contest with David Nugent's goal a mere consolation to what was a bad day at the office for Tony Adams.

Hull City 2 - 2 West Brom

One of these teams is in a relegation fight. Arguably the other will be if they keep struggling to close out games. Hull twice gave away the lead to allow West Brom to snatch a point from an entertaining game at the KC Stadium. Bernard Mendy put the Tigers ahead after latching on to Ian Ashbee's long ball and rounding keeper Scott Carson. On-loan striker Jay Simpson leveled the game for Albion after being set up by James Morrison in the penalty area. Craig Fagan then put Hull back in the lead but the Tigers hearts were broken when Chris Brunt scored a vital penalty to make it honours even.

Newcastle 1 - 1 Sunderland

Three points in this game will have been vital for both teams so its perhaps fate that meant this one ended with the spoils shared. In typical North East derby fashion the game started with a quick tempo and the action was end to end with both teams carving out small chances. It was Sunderland who opened their account with Cisse scoring a cool rebound finish after seeing his first effort deflected by Harper.

Cisse and Jones made life difficult for the Newcastle defense but the visitors managed to step up a gear and create opportunities for themselves. It was in the 68th minute that Newcastle equalised with a controversial penalty decision. Malbranque was controversially adjudged to have felled Taylor inside the box and it was Shola Ameobi who stepped up and blasted the ball past Fullop to make it 1-1. Sunderland then upped their tempo and put Newcastle under pressure but in the end a poor effort from Michael Chopra meant the game ended with both sets of supporters applauding what was a terrific contest.