Friday, 30 January 2009

The Day Today and the Day After [Football]

David Moyes takes his "Moyes Boyes" to Old Trafford, just outside Manchester, to take on the reigning Champions of the Universe Manchester United in what some have described as "a game on the telly tomorrow."

Setanta have very generously decided to move the match from Monday to Saturday, bearing in mind that Everton have the small matter of the Merseyside Derby to worry about on Wednesday. Obviously Setanta's decision had nothing at all to do with them trying to get back into both clubs good books after ludicrously trying to move last year's clash to an 8pm kick-off on Christmas Eve.

Naturally Everton have injury worries ahead of the game, their only fit forward is now Victor Anichebe after Tim Cahill limped off against Arsenal with a foot injury. Which is just magnificent, Moyes' squad is getting smaller and smaller by the minute. Cahill is expected to be rested tomorrow to make sure he is ready for Wednesday night.

United meanwhile will still be without W**** R****y who is still injured and will miss the opportunity to kiss the corner flag right in front on the travelling support. So Gary Neville will have to fill in for him on that front. It is also not known who United have selected to be referee for tomorrow's match, an official announcement is expected closer to kick off. Maybe.

Also, Liverpool's match with Chelsea is expected to go ahead, despite the obvious mental health problems of Rafael Benitez. Benitez is reportedly refusing treatment for his condition on the grounds that it is "Not his fault, it's Mr. Ferguson's, that is fact."

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Manchester City v Newcastle United Preview [Football]

Its been an interesting week so far for Man City. They have new signings to put out tonight in Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong and they also welcome back Robinho who has been the subject of many news headlines today! City will be without Richard Dunne who begins his four match ban so Nedum Onuoha is expected to partner Micah Richards in defense.

Newcastle are a team in crisis I think its fair to say. They are without keeper Shay Given but do have new signing Peter Lovenkrands available for selection. Geremi is out with a groin injury and big players for the club are still a few weeks away from starting.

City should be strong favourites for this game tonight. Playing at home is a big boost for them and having new signings is always a boost to team spirit. I am sure Robinho will take center stage one way or another.

Newcastle are a shambolic at the moment! Going forward they can look pretty good but defensively they are all over the place and Joe Kinnear is running out of time to put that right. The big taking point for them is the Shay Given saga. He could be a City player by the end of the week and what a huge loss that would be to Newcastle. If City turn on the style they will struggle tonight!


Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Onuoha, Richards, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, De Jong, Kompany, Ireland, Robinho, Bellamy.

Newcastle: Harper, Taylor, Bassong, Coloccini, N'Zogbia, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Barton, Geremi, Lovenkrands, Owen.

Wigan v Liverpool Preview [Football]

Wigan may be mourning the departure of Emile Heskey to Villa but their success in capturing Mido should give them a boost of confidence (providing they can get the best from the wayward striker). Mido is available for selection tonight but a player still in doubt is Hugo Rodallega who is waiting on international clearance. The Latics are also without new signing Ben Watson who has a calf strain and its doubtful whether Antonio Valencia and Chris Kirkland will be fit either.

Liverpool on the other hand have no injury worries ahead of this clash and they welcome back Robbie Keane to the side, with Rafael Benitez having dropped the striker in the previous match.

Steve Bruce is a very good manager and not someone who will let himself be phased by the task ahead of him. At home Wigan should fancy getting a point from this game and if they had key players available (such as Valencia) then a win surely would have been possible.

The problem facing Liverpool fans tonight is guessing what team Benitez is going to put out. He clearly favours the 4-5-1 system but if he wants to incorporate Keane into the side he would have to reshape and opt for a 4-4-2. Liverpool have travelled well this season winning 7, drawing 3 and losing once to Tottenham at White Hart Lane. If they want to stay in the title race this is a must-win game tonight and anything other than a win must be seen as points dropped!

Also, we wish Jamie Carragher a Happy Birthday. He is 31 today.


Wigan (from): Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole, Taylor, Camara, Kapo, De Ridder, Zaki, Mido, Kingson, Pollitt, Edman, Brown, Boyce, Rodallega.

Liverpool (from): Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Dossena, Hyypia, Agger, Babel, Benayoun, Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Kuyt, Torres, Keane, Riera, Lucas, Ngog, Cavalieri.

Everton v Arsenal Preview [Football]

Everton's only injury concern tonight is Spaniard Mikel Arteta who is doubtful for the game because of his rib injury. Louis Saha is battling back to full fitness but is not ready for a full comeback just yet! Fellaini also returns for the blues after serving his two match ban.

Arsenal have William Gallas fit and available for selection and they also welcome back Gael Clichy after serving his one match suspension. Silvestre is out of tonight's game with a thigh problem.

At home Everton should be capable of pulling off a result tonight. Even without a proper strike-force they have proven that they still carry a threat, especially from set-pieces. They will miss Arteta tonight though but their biggest boost could come from the fact Fellaini is back in the side.

Arsenal still have the belief that they can win the Premier League and with Van Persie on the field they are always capable of getting goals. If Everton defend well tonight it might mean Arsenal may have to be a bit more clinical with their chances.


Everton (from): Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Anichebe, Gosling, Castillo, Rodwell, Neville, Osman, Arteta, Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill, Nash, Yobo, Van der Meyde, Jacobsen, Jutkiewicz.

Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Denilson, Song, Nasri, Adebayor, Van Persie, Fabianski, Diaby, Vela, Ramsey, Gibbs, Djourou, Bendtner, Wilshere.

Blackburn v Bolton Preview [Football]

Given the North West element to this blog I think its only fitting I preview tonights North West derby between Blackburn and Bolton.

Blackburn have virtually a full squad for tonight's game at Ewood Park with Jason Roberts and Matt Derbyshire back in contention after missing the game against Sunderland in the FA Cup. David Dunn is also available but Steven Reid is still out with injury.

Bolton have a strong squad of players to choose from including Captain Kevin Nolan, who has served his two match ban (and returns from minor surgery on an ankle problem). New winger Mark Davies, a £1m signing from Wolves, is expected to start from the bench.

This should be a good game as Sam Allardyce will want to get a result aganist his old club. Gary Megson has got Bolton playing as a team that are hard to break down and they performed quite well against Man Utd and Arsenal so I expect this to be a physical game, although maybe not a lot of goals.


Blackburn (from): Robinson, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Ooijer, Olsson, Emerton, Tugay, Mokoena, Andrews, Pedersen, Dunn, McCarthy, Santa Cruz, Roberts, Derbyshire, Brown, Grella, Khizanishvili, Vogel, Villanueva, Judge, Simpson, Givet, Bunn, Treacy.

Bolton (from): Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, A O'Brien, Samuel, K Davies, Basham, Muamba, Gardner, Nolan, Taylor, Makukula, Puygrenier, Obadeyi, Al Habsi, Bogdan, M Davies, Smolarek, Riga, Shittu.

Robinho denies sexual assault charge [Football]

British Transfer record signing Robinho has denied claims he was involved in a sexual attack in a nightclub in Leeds.

The Manchester City and Brazil star, who recently returned from Brazil after celebrating his 25th birthday, was arrested and questioned by West Yorkshire Police as part of their ongoing enquiry.

Robinho's spokesman, Chris Nathaniel confirmed that Robinho met West Yorkshire Police "as a pre-arranged part of a criminal investigation" and added "He strenuously denies any allegation of wrongdoing or criminality, and is happy to cooperate with the police if required further."

City will host Newcastle in the Premier League tonight and a club source told one tabloid newspaper that Robinho will train as usual and is expected to play in tonight's game.

Robinho joined City in September 2008 for a record £32.5m from Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Podcast: Episode 1 [27/01/09]

Join me, Chris McDonnell and Barry McHale as we discuss the past weekends sporting events including the FA Cup, Austrailian open and why on earth Khan has taken the Barrera fight!

We look ahead to the games this week and have a right old sound off on the Merseyside Derby.

Want to have your comments read out on next week's show? Post your comments on any of our news items this week and the best will be included in next weeks show.

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People Living In Glass Houses [Football]

So for the second time in a week, the bragging rights of Merseyside were shared at Anfield, which means both Liverpool and Everton must square off one last time this season at Goodison next Wednesday. On prime time telly no less. The prize? A 5th round FA Cup tie at home to Tom Hanks' boys, Aston Villa. But the honours for the most churlish manager of the year yet again goes emphatically to Rafael Benitez.

Over the past few weeks, Benitez has developed a sizeable chip on his shoulder, which after Sunday's outburst has now become a large portion of chips on his shoulder, salt and vinegar included. And once again, Everton were the subject of his ire. Benitez was infuriated that a team with just one fit striker and virtually no midfield, looked to play to their own strength's and not let his Liverpool side have their own way. Everton, having taken a first half lead through Joleon Lescott, decided defence was the best form of attack and did duly allow Liverpool to come onto them. However all Liverpool had to show for their territorial and possession dominance was another Steven Gerrard derby goal which owed a lot to the class of Fernando Torres and the clumsiness of Tim Howard.

So it was only natural that Benitez would ignore his own side's failings, i.e. allowing Tim Cahill a free header in the box for the 2nd game running and his own side just plain not being good enough to break down a resolute Everton side. Benitez chose instead to blame Everton's negative tactics, claiming only one team wanted to win the game and one team wanted to draw it. He also claimed he never would and never has employed such tactics. It was classic Benitez, blaming someone else for his own problems.

David Moyes for his part, refused to bite and shot down these accusations quite majestically by claiming that while Liverpool are "A great club going for the title", Everton were a club that "did things with dignity and style". A great retort from a less childish manager. But if Moyes had wanted to enter into a war of words with Benitez, then he could easily have reminded his Iberian counterpart of Liverpool's glorious Champions League triumph of 2005. Then he could have reminded Benitez of tactics he used at the Stadio Delle Alpi in the 2nd leg of the quarter final against Juventus, in which Liverpool needed a goalless draw to reach the last four of the competition. Or indeed the tactics he used, at Anfield no less, in the 2nd leg of the Semi-Final against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea once Liverpool had taken the lead in the 4th minute. Or maybe he could have reminded the Spaniard of the tactics he employed once Liverpool had completed their remarkable comeback on the hour mark of that famous night in Istanbul. On all three ocassions, Benitez utilized the exact tactics he lambasted Moyes for using on Sunday, and to an extent on Monday too.

Moyes has since refused to discuss Benitez's comments, claiming he is "not interested". And it is Benitez that has once again, made himself look like a petty spoilt child. All this hot on the heels from his now infamous attack on Alex Ferguson. Even then, Benitez managed to accuse Ferguson of things that he himself has complained about in the past, most notably the fixture schedule for his side after Champions League ties.

It is simply quite clear that until Benitez addresses his own short-comings, he may never deliver that coveted 19th League Title to Anfield. Instead he may be in danger of disappearing up his own considerable backside. Which, like next Wednesday's 4th round replay, will make for entertaining viewing for the nation.