zaterdag 31 december 2011

Last games from 2011

Manchester United 2 Blackburn 3
Rovers spoil the party as Yakubu and Hanley make it unhappy 70th birthday for Ferguson

Stranded: David De Gea (right) is left helpless as Grant Hanley heads in Blackburn's winner against United
Stranded: David De Gea (right) is left helpless as Grant Hanley heads in Blackburn's winner against United

Yakubu silenced the home crowd with a penalty after Dimitar Berbatov pulled down Chris Samba and the striker grabbed his second early in the second half.
Berbatov nipped in to score just seconds later and doubled his own tally with a cool finish from Antonio Valencia's delivery.
But despite piling on the pressure, it was United who were undone as David de Gea failed to collect Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner, allowing Grant Hanley to head home the winner 10 minutes from time.
It represented Kean's best win as Blackburn manager, taking them off the foot of the table, and left Ferguson to question the wisdom of not even putting a rested Wayne Rooney on the bench.
The party atmosphere at kick-off proved to be a false guide to what followed.
In a pre-recorded interview with MUTV, Ferguson confirmed his future plans, which would make him by some distance the Premier League's oldest manager.

Big day: Sir Alex Ferguson was all smiles at the start of the game on the day of his 70th birthday
Big day: Sir Alex Ferguson was all smiles at the start of the game on the day of his 70th birthday
Faithful: Ferguson was given a rousing reception by the United fans before his side faced Blackburn

The Scot then received a rendition of 'Happy Birthday to you' from the home fans, setting the scene for the slaughter expected to follow.
Except United, injury-hit to the extent of having to name Rafael and Park Ji-sung as central midfield partners, were not up to the task.
The fluency that had carried them to eight wins from nine league games since their only defeat, that 6-1 massacre by Manchester City in October, was so obviously missing.

Nani was an obvious attacking outlet but had one of his frustrating days and neither Berbatov, Hernandez nor Danny Welbeck could plot a path through the massed ranks of Blackburn's defence.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Ferguson had confirmed an intention to hand Berbatov an extra year's contract.
He must have felt like snatching it away, when the Bulgarian followed up his Boxing Day hat-trick against Wigan by hauling Christopher Samba over in the box.
At a club as unstable as Blackburn, one of the few certainties is that from the spot, Yakubu does not miss and the Nigerian promptly sent De Gea the wrong way.

United's response was strange in that, without playing well, they started to create opportunities.
Nani was off target with a couple of efforts then the Portugal winger was denied by Rovers' stand-in keeper Mark Bunn, as was Hernandez.
At one point, Hernandez also got in the way of a goalbound effort from Phil Jones, who had recovered from illness to face his former club for the first time since his £17million move to Old Trafford.
Pilloried by his own fans immediately before Christmas, Rovers boss Kean had now seen his side take first-half leads at Liverpool and United in a staggering six-day spell.

With no Rooney to assist his team, Ferguson turned to Anderson at the break, a move that triggered a number of positional changes, the most significant of which saw Valencia shifted into an advanced position.
But, before United had a chance to see whether the tactical switches would work, they fell further behind.
Yakubu had too much strength for makeshift central defender Michael Carrick as he turned on the edge of the area, then nipped past Jones before drilling his shot through De Gea's legs.

Disastrously for Blackburn, they conceded themselves within 20 seconds of the restart as United advanced, the ball eventually finding its way to Rafael whose bouncing cross-shot was nodded home by Berbatov.
So often have Ferguson's teams recovered from such unpromising situations down the years, Kean must have felt sick.
His side started to get overwhelmed by the tide of red attacks, with Valencia to the fore.

It was the South American's burst of pace and subsequent cut-back that provided Berbatov with the opportunity to side-foot United level.
Minutes later, Bunn almost unbelievably prevented Grant Hanley from turning Berbatov's cross into his own net. He did not know much about it though, as the ball flew over off his outstretched foot.
The weight of attacks on the Blackburn goal was immense. Yet United's commitment was so great they forgot to defend, and once again the questions were raised over De Gea, who came to collect Pedersen's corner.
Instead, Hanley won the first header, then found the bottom corner with his second.
United resolve was sapped and their hopes of snatching the point that would take them top of the table disappeared when Bunn and home debutant Will Keane got in the way of Jones' injury-time effort.

Source: mailonline

Arsenal 1-0 QPR
Robin van Persie hits vital second-half winner to move Gunners back into top four
Gunners take three points with lone goal from Dutch striker enough to secure win as visitors impress but cannot get past defensive wall, while home side blow countless chances

Arsenal picked up a vital win as their Premier League rivals dropped points with a second-half Robin van Persie goal helping them defeat QPR 1-0.

In a tight affair, the Dutch striker sealed victory after Andrey Arshavin's assist allowed him to tap home, with the away side given a good account of themselves against their London rivals.

Arsene Wenger looked to tweak the team that drew against Wolves last week, with Arshavin joining the attack in place of Gervinho and Theo Walcott replacing Yossi Benayoun.

Aaron Ramsey also came into the side after appearing from the bench last time out, with Tomas Rosicky dropping to the bench, whilst for the visitors, top-scorer Heidar Helguson was replaced by Jay Bothroyd up front.

In quiet opening 10 minutes to the match, both teams kept the ball well without really threatening, until Bothroyd struck the first shot of the match from 20 yards out, forcing a save from Wojciech Szczesny low to his left.

Rangers quickly responded as Adel Taarabt' through ball was latched onto by Shaun Wright-Phillips, but Szczesny was out quickly to block his 'dinked' effort.

Arsenal's first moment of intent came through Van Persie, but his cross was saved low by Radek Cerny after some nice wing play by the striker.

After a positive opening from Neil Warnock's side, Arsenal quickly laid siege to the their goalmouth as Van Persie came close three times, with a header, a dinked effort and a half-volley all spurned, while Walcott dragged an effort across the goalmouth when he really should have done better.

The visitors were then dealt a slice of luck as referee Martin Atkinson turned down a huge penalty appeal, as Luke Young flung himself to block Laurent Koscielny's volley, with the ball ricocheting off his leg onto his outstetched arm.

The 32-year-old could consider him lucky to have gotten away unpunished, while referre Martin Atkinson came under more fire from the home support as he booked Thomas Vermaelen in a case of mistaken identity after Koscielny brought down Wright-Phillips on the right wing.

Ramsey just before half-time, but his volley from the edge of the area was headed off the line by skipper Joey Barton after Van Persie's corner, with Arsenal continually threatening in the opening 45.

The second half began with a flurry as chances fell at either end, with Alejandro Faurlin coming closest to opening the scoring for QPR, but he fluffed his shot with the goal gaping - but his missed effort was soon to be better by Walcott's miss of the match.

The winger was put through with by a fabulous ball from Ramsey as they looked to break from a QPR corner, but as he reached the area one-on-one with Cerny, the former Southampton man dragged his shot well wide.

It didn't matter too much for the Gunners however, as they took the lead with half an hour to go through Van Persie.

QPR seemed to have won a corner but a goal-kick was indicated by Atkinson, not linesman Simon Beck, and the Gunners used the opportunity to break up field, with the much-maligned Arshavin finding Van Persie in space to slot past Cerny at his near-post.

It was to be Arshavin's last - and only - moment of note as he was substituted for Gervinho soon after.

The African winger was soon involved in the action, but missed another absolute sitter for Arsenal as he passed the ball wide from in front of goal having been set up by Van Persie.

QPR were spurred on and began to attack as the game ebbed away, but looked likely to be caught on the counter-attack.

While Rangers had plenty of possession towards the end, they couldn't find a way past the Arsenal defence, with Mertesacker in particular putting in some important blocks and headers, as the Wenger's side secured the three points that sees them break back into the top four.


Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa
Ireland, Petrov and Bent strikes stun Villas-Boas' men as Blues make it four games without a win
Alex McLeish's side produced a masterclass of counter-attacking football to cancel out Didier Drogba's opener and consign Andre Villas-Boas' men to a miserable end to 2011

Chelsea failed to win for the fourth Premier League game in a row as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Didier Drogba grabbed the opener for the Blues from the spot before Stephen Ireland bundled home to send the sides in level at half-time.

Despite the second-half introduction of Fernando Torres, the hosts could not find a breakthrough and saw Stiliyan Petrov and substitute Darren Bent's late goals secure a much-needed victory for Alex McLeish's men.

The home side made three changes to the side which drew with Fulham in their last outing at Stamford Bridge. Didier Drogba replaced the misfiring Torres as Paulo Ferreira deputised for the injured full-back Jose Bosingwa. Frank Lampard also missed out with Brazilian midfielder Ramires returning to the starting lineup.

For Alex McLeish, Bent proved fit enough to take a place on the bench as Stephen Ireland was handed a shock start with Emile Heskey still injured. 

Despite pre-match discussion over the absence of Torres, it was a man whose presence in the Blues side is never in doubt who was presented with the opportunity to give them a dream start. Juan Mata collected Daniel Sturridge’s lofted pass in the box but could not escape the attentions of the Villa defence and had to settle for a corner.

That set-piece was easily repelled by the visitors and they had their own chance to break when Gabriel Agbonlahor’s cross almost found Ireland, who had pulled off his man at the edge of the box but could find the header.

Chelsea struggled to find any further fluency in the opening exchanges as the Villans stuck to their defensive task admirably and provided ample evidence that their pace on the counter would cause trouble.

Given the cagey nature of the opening 20 minutes, the breakthrough for the hosts may have felt like sweet relief for Andre Villas-Boas, especially given the fortunate nature in which it was seized. 

Drogba collected the ball in the box after Ramires’ burst from midfield and shifted it into an area of little threat, only to see Richard Dunne clumsily throw out a leg and give the forward an opportunity to tumble, which he duly took.

The Ivorian subsequently stepped up and slotted a nervous spot kick down the middle, which Guzan will have been disappointed not to stop, to notch his 150th Chelsea goal and give his side lead.

The goal did little, however, to dispel Chelsea’s stuttering start and it was therefore unsurprising when the visitors hit back just five minutes later. 

Charles N’Zogbia burst into the box, after being released by Ireland, who had controlled brilliantly, and the winger cut back to his provider to see him slide the ball beyond Petr Cech after it appeared that John Terry’s arm had prevented his first goalward effort. 

The goal was little more than Alex McLeish’s side deserved given their attacking potency and they continued to suppress the Chelsea attack, constantly providing a threat on the break.

Despite that threat, the hosts would have been disappointed not to immediately regain the lead with 10 minutes of the half remaining as Guzan’s tame block allowed Mata to release a shot at an empty goal, which Stephen Warnock did brilliantly to slide in and clear.

It was in fact the best chance the hosts would get before half time with a Drobga free-kick driven woefully wide the only other opportunity of note before the break. 

Laughing stock | Chelsea woes continue with a Stamford Bridge defeat

Though no changes were made by the hosts at half time, they started the second period undeniably brighter. A lofted Raul Meireles pass found Mata in space, but the Spaniard was left frustrated as none of his team-mates gambled on his drive across the six yard box.

At the other end, a Villa free kick evaded everyone but defender James Collins and, although the Welshman knew nothing of it, he almost diverted the ball beyond Cech into the Chelsea goal.

The Blues then received another let off as a fantastic exchange between N’Zogbia and Ireland allowed the visitors to break and release Agbonlahor one-on-one with Cech. Unfortunately for the Villans, the pacy striker could not provide the finishing touch and drove into the goalkeeper’s legs, much to the relief of the home crowd.

Chelsea’s inability to create in midfield forced Villas-Boas to look to his bench just 10 minutes into the second half, as Frank Lampard replaced Oriol Romeu. The change almost produced the opposite of its desired effect just seconds later, however, as Agbonlahor turned Terry with ease in the box but dragged his shot wide of the near post.

Mata was proving to be the hosts’ only true creative outlet on the day and he underlined this when beating two Villa defenders in the box before standing the ball up to the back post. Once again, however, no Chelsea forward could provide the fitting finish to his good work.

Torres replaced the ineffective Sturridge on the hour mark and the Spaniard almost went some way to atoning for his poor form as his fantastic drive from the edge of the box crashed off the Villa bar just seconds after his introduction. 

Villa continued to provide stubborn resistance against the reinvigorated hosts and Marc Albrighton took his turn to serv a reminder of his side’s menace with a volley which tested Cech at his near post.

It was a defensive change by Chelsea which almost proved key with 15 minutes remaining as Bosingwa, who had missed out on a start due to hamstring concerns, replaced Ferreira and brought a fine save from Guzan just moments into his cameo.

With the hosts having made all three possible changes, Alex McLeish introduced his first substitute of the game, as Bent made his first team return in place of a tiring N’Zogbia whilst youngster Gary Gardner was handed his Villa debut, replacing Albrighton. 

It took just minutes for substitute Bent to have an impact, with his great work in beating Terry almost garnered a penalty, only for the referee to wave away his claims and those of Petrov just moments later after another debatable tackle in the box.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of those decisions, Villa would get what they perceived as justice just seconds later as Ciaran Clark found captain Petrov in space in a disorganised Chelsea defence, and the midfielder drove home brilliantly to give his side the lead.

Bizarrely, that was to be the Bulgarian’s final contribution, as he appeared to pick up an injury in the celebration, and he was replaced by Barry Bannan shortly after. 

It appeared the cool head of an experienced midfielder would be a big miss as Villa needed to hold out against their illustrious opponents but what followed moments later dismissed the need for a backs-to-the-wall performance.

Ireland, who had proved brilliant throughout his return to the first team, intercepted Terry’s loose pass across defence to find himself through on goal and he unselfishly passed to the supporting Bent, who forced the ball past Cech to seal the points for the visitors. 

That goal was to provide sufficient breathing space for Villa and ensured they consigned Chelsea to a miserable end to 2011.


Well everyone, I hope you ALL have enjoyed the articles I've been placing here.
This was the last one for 2011!!
Thank you ALL for coming here and reading my articles.


See you in 2012.

Cruijff didn't win from Tunisia

Johan Cruyff  failed Friday night to win in Catalonia from Tunisia. 

Cesc Fabregas (R) van Catalonië in duel met Aymen Abdennoun (L) van Tunesië. EPA

The game ended in a goalless draw. Cruyff, coach of Catalonia, had access to stars like Xavi, Victor Valdes, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Bojan Krkic. Since 2009 he leads the "National team of Catalonia", which takes action annually. Cruyff won the last years from Argentina (4-2) and Honduras (4-0).

Because of the crowded calendar the soccer players of Catalonia came all shortly before the game together."We have not trained, but we all had a nice dinner together,'' said Cruijff.

Source: Brabants Dagblad (translated by me)

Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle:

Bellamy bags brace & Gerrard scores off the bench to cancel out Agger own goal as hosts move fifth
With all eyes on Andy Carroll, it was another ex-Magpie who came back to haunt his old employers with a well-taken brace, after the visitors had taken the lead in the first half

All smiles | Bellamy nets Liverpool's second from a free-kick

Two goals from Craig Bellamy against his former club helped Liverpool to a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, while Steven Gerrard netted his first goal since returning from a lengthy absence through injury.

Alan Pardew's side had taken the lead in the first half courtesy of an own goal from Daniel Agger, but the hosts gradually grew into the game and eventually ran out comfortable winners to move up to fifth in the Premier League.

It was a slow start to proceedings, with both sides opting for a tentative 4-5-1 system which resulted in a congested centre. Liverpool started brightly and should have taken advantage of Jose Enrique’s low cross which fizzed past everyone in the Newcastle box.

Although the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession, they were unable to create any telling chances and on 22 minutes, the visitors struck against the run of play.

Ryan Taylor cut in from the left and angled a cross in towards Yohan Cabaye, whose flicked header took a deflection off the arm of Agger which fooled Pepe Reina who had already committed to diving to his left.

The goal sparked Liverpool's retaliation and within eight minutes they were level as Bellamy rifled in a low drive from the middle of the box as Newcastle failed to clear their lines following a positive run from Charlie Adam on the right flank.

With the supporters now in full voice, the hosts came within inches of a second less than ten minutes later, as Martin Skrtel flashed a header across goal from Adam’s corner.

Liverpool continued to look dangerous down the wings but they failed to significantly trouble a Newcastle defence which was brilliantly marshalled by Fabricio Coloccini, who himself won almost every aerial duel against Andy Carroll.

Pardew would have been keen for his side to retain better possession in the second half, and his team duly obliged as they frustrated Liverpool after the restart, who themselves struggled to maintain a high tempo.

Kenny Dalglish waited until the hour mark to introduce Gerrard, and the talismanic midfielder threatened immediately after his introduction, whipping an inviting cross towards Carroll which flashed across the goal mouth.

The frustrated Carroll then spurned a glorious chance, as he latched on to a Jordan Henderson pass only to touch the ball into the grateful gloves of Tim Krul.

Liverpool’s frustration was not to last, however, as Bellamy rifled in a free-kick from 25 yards which hit Danny Simpson on its way towards goal, taking the ball away from Krul.

Newcastle almost hit back immediately when Ba was played through by Cabaye, but his well-placed chip over Reina was brilliantly hooked off the line by Skrtel. Moment later, Carroll suffered further frustration as his close-range header cannoned back off the crossbar.

Gerrard had looked lively since his introduction, and with just over ten minutes to go, the captain made the points safe, slotting home between Krul’s legs from a tight angle after being played in by Jay Spearing.

Newcastle were beginning to look disorganised for the first time in the match, and it nearly got worse for the visitors when the ball broke to Glen Johnson on the edge of the area, but the England full-back dragged his shot well wide of the mark.

Despite the match ending in frustration for Carroll, who is now without a goal in eight appearances, Liverpool remain in contention of securing a Champions League spot, while Newcastle continue to have problems replicating their early-season form. 


woensdag 28 december 2011

Ajax and AZ Alkmaar will play again

De Ajax-supporter die AZ-doelman Esteban aanviel wordt gepakt

Ajax AZ will be played without audience

The KNVB has decided that the discontinued Cup match between Ajax and AZ must be entirely replayed from the beginning (0-0). 
There will be no audience in the Arena.

The game was stopped last week when an Ajax supporter suddenly appeared on the field and attacked the AZ's  goalkeeper Esteban. 
After a couple of kicks, the keeper got a red card, then AZ coach took his players directly away from the field and refused to continue playing.

The game is now gonna be played on Thursday 19 January at 14.30. Three days later, on Sunday, January 22, the two teams will meet each other again.
AZ Alkmaar and Ajax will play the first game in the league since the winter break.

AZ keeper Esteban, whose red card one day after was canceled, may appear just to the kickoff. The KNVB has decided also to cancel the yellow cards from Eyong Enoh (Ajax) and Jozy Altidore (AZ).

"The best solution"
According to Bert van Oostveen, director of the KNVB, "This decision is the best solution. We could play from the moment that stoped - 37 minutes - and carry on with the 1- 0 and let Esteban keep his red card. So, we chose the best option, to start from the beginning".

10.000 euros fine
Ajax was proposed to pay to the KNVB Cup a fine of 10.000 euros fine and a game without an audience. The Amsterdam club has accepted the proposal.

Financial director Jeroen Slop says that Ajax has been severely punished. "We will play, but under protest. For our fans is of course very ironic. and we'll try to compensate the supporters in an appropriate way".

Source: - (translated by me!)

dinsdag 27 december 2011

Arsenal 1-1 Wolves

Steven Fletcher strike cancels out early Gervinho opener as 10-man visitors earn their point
Gunners frustrated as Hennessey produces a fine performance to nullify the hosts' attack after a header from Fletcher restored parity following Gervinho's opener

Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw with Wolves as they failed to leapfrog Chelsea into fourth in the Premier League.

A goal from Gervinho gave the hosts the perfect start after 10 minutes, but the Gunners were pegged back by a Steven Fletcher header in the first half, and some fine saves from Wayne Hennessey throughout the game helped earn the Midland side a point, even after Nenad Milijas' sending off in the second half.

For the hosts, Johan Djourou was back in the team after a short spell on the sidelines following an injury picked up against Manchester City, while Theo Walcott was absent through illness. 

Tomas Rosicky filled in for the pacy winger, and Aaron Ramsey was dropped to the bench in favour of Yossi Benayoun.

And it was the Israeli who played a pivotal role for the home team, sending Gervinho through on goal in the opening 10 minutes. The Ivorian then rounded Hennessey before coolly dispatching the ball into the bottom corner.

Robin van Persie almost extended his account for the season, but slipped as he pulled the trigger with his right foot, and dragged his shot wide after being put through by Gervinho.

The Dutchman was later denied by a good block from Roger Johnson, and then a fine stop by Hennessey as he dived low to his right to turn the ball around the post.

Arsenal seemed very comfortable in possession, but Wolves earned themselves a way back into the match with a little over five minutes to half time.

A corner was whipped in by Nenad Milijas, but only partially cleared by the Arsenal defence. Stephen Hunt juggled the ball past Rosicky on the edge of the area, but his volleyed shot was deflected by Vermaelen into the path of Steven Fletcher. 

His header across the face of goal just evaded Wojciech Szczesny and crept into the Arsenal goal for a shock equaliser.

The first half played out without any more events, but the second half began with a blow for Wolves as Zubar was forced off through injury.

Arsenal were dominant in possession as they went in search of a second goal, and had claims for a penalty turned down as Laurent Koscielny's cross struck Christophe Berra on the arm.

The hosts created more and more chances as the game progressed towards the final moments, with Van Persie forcing a good save from Hennessey with a free-kick before Mertesacker's header was brilliantly stopped by the Welshman.

The game threatened to turn nasty as Alex Song was put into the book for kicking Fletcher before catching Hunt high on the shin, and Thomas Vermaelen tangled with Roger Johnson. Arsene Wenger then withdrew Song for Aaron Ramsey with time running out.

Minutes later, referee Stuart Attwell produced a red card for Milijas. The midfielder lost control of the ball and slid in one-footed with his leg on the floor, connecting with the ball and Mikel Arteta.

Arshavin almost found the top corner with a toe-poked effort with 10 minutes to go, but saw his effort slide just past the post.

Hennessey proved to be a fine last line of defence as he blocked everything coming his way, including a good chance from Vermaelen as time ticked away, and earned the draw for his team.


maandag 26 december 2011

Boxing Day Football

Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn: Maxi Rodriguez equaliser cancels out Charlie Adam own goal as Steven Gerrard returns from injury
The Scottish midfielder was unfortunate to see his attempted clearance go in but the Reds lacked cutting-edge yet again and were made to pay by Steve Kean's side

Liverpool dropped yet more points at home as they were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Blackburn Rovers.

A Charlie Adam own-goal had given Steve Kean's side an unlikely lead before Maxi Rodriguez saved a point with a second-half header.

Given Blackburn’s low confidence, it was no surprise when the hosts were the first to register a threat on goal. Luis Suarez was hauled down outside the box after a typically busy run and sent the resultant free kick just over the bar, much to the relief of Bunn.

Charlie Adam then tested the reserve keeper as his low drive from the edge of the box had him diving to his right to collect cleanly. 

Suarez then served to emphasise the hosts’ domination despite that chance. A clever Maxi ball wide found Adam Johnson, whose first-time pass released the Uruguayan only for him to hit the side-netting. Just moments later he worked more space but shot wide on his left after jinking cleverly between two defenders.

For all the Reds’ domination it remained 0-0, and Andy Carroll underlined his side’s profligacy with half an hour gone as a cross bounced kindly for him a matter of yards out. He delayed to allow Bunn to make a reaction save which denied a sure goal.

The striker almost atoned moments later as he put the ball in the back of the net from a Suarez slide across goal but his celebration was cut short as the linesman flagged to signal that the Reds’ no. 7 had been offside before supplying the assist. 

Against the run of play, Blackburn took the lead with 45 minutes on the clock. Hoilett harried Daniel Agger on the byline to win a well-earned corner, and after Pedersen delivered dangerously, Adam could do little more than shin into his own net.

The Reds had clearly seen heard some stern words at half-time and came out with increased purpose. Stewart Downing was key to this new attitude and did well to win a corner from Grant Hanley on the right-hand side. Whilst the set-piece was initially repelled, Martin Skrtel cleverly helped it back in towards Maxi, who was unmarked and headed home from close range.

The Reds sensed blood up against the frail confidence of a side bottom of the league, and it didn’t take long before they went close again with Andy Carroll heading just over.

As it happened, it took until the 65th minute and the introduction of captain Gerrard for Adam to really spark the Liverpool attack into life as the England midfielder provided much-needed urgency.

They were given a real scare, however, late on as David Dunn jinked from midfield but could not do more than poke wide under heavy pressure.

Poor finishing was ultimately to prove costly as the Reds stuttered to their sixth draw at Anfield of the season and Blackburn earned a much-needed point.

Chelsea 1-1 Fulham: Clint Dempsey cancels out Juan Mata’s opener to leave Blues’ fading title hopes in the balance
David Stockdale impresses for Martin Jol's side to as Andre Villas-Boas' winless run in London derbies continued after Stamford Bridge's Boxing Day stalemate

Clint Dempsey tapped home a well-crafted Fulham move as Martin Jol's side dented Chelsea's Premier League title aspirations.

Following a tepid first half, Andre Villas-Boas' side took the lead through Juan Mata's curling effort before their visitors struck back in a frustrating afternoon at Stamford Bridge.

The first effort of significance would come from the visitors, as Petr Cech needed to tip Dempsey's dipping effort wide.

Jol's side would then test their hosts again, as Orlando Sa managed to make space for a shot despite being outnumbered by John Terry and David Luiz. The Portuguese striker then spurned a glorious chance to put his side ahead, before some sublime combination play between Chelsea's Spanish contingent.

Juan Mata collected the ball on the right, roughly 30 yards from goal, and cut inside before lifting a weighted pass to Torres. The former Liverpool man took the ball obligingly - controlling it on chest - before volleying at goal only to be denied by Stockdale from close-range.

Torres tester | Spaniard went close with a well-taken effort on the volley

Despite the tepid nature to the match, neither manager looked to change things during the break, and considering the start his Chelsea made to the second half, Villas-Boas will have been delighted.

After making space in the middle of the park, Mata, played to ball to Romeu who then found Ashley Cole on the left. The England left back whipped in a ball which Torres struggled to tame, but the striker pushed the ball on to Mata who curled an effort past Stockdale to put Chelsea ahead.

Fulham's first half display was far from outstanding, although Jol would have been pleased with proceedings. But Mata's strike changed the match, and the visitors looked to hit back quickly.

And that's exactly what they did. Bryan Ruiz sold Cole a dummy on the right side of the box, jinking past the full-back before hitting a low delivery across the face for Dempsey to tap home, as once again Cech looked uncomfortable with players around him.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Sturridge was replaced by Didier Drogba, who is one short of equalling Chelsea's all-time goals record held by Peter Osgood.

With the game approaching the final 10 minutes, groans of anxiety seemed to echo around Stamford Bridge, as Fulham looked to claim what would have been only their fourth point in this fixture in the Premier League.

As the hosts clocked up their eighth corner of the game, Stockdale continued to stand strong, first denying Meireles before thwarting Drogba.

Chelsea were awarded a free kick in stoppage time, and again Fulham's keeper was on hand to rescue his side. Drogba unleashed a dipping thunderbolt which Stockdale did well to tip over the bar, as Jol's side held on to claim an important point.


Man Utd   5 - 0   Wigan

Dimitar Berbatov
Berbatov was the Premier League's top goalscorer last season

Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick as Manchester United thrashed 10-man Wigan to move level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Park Ji-sung coolly slotted the hosts into an early lead before Wigan striker Conor Sammon was harshly sent off for catching Michael Carrick in the face.

Berbatov fired United 2-0 ahead and netted the third after the break with a neat turn and powerful finish.

Antonio Valencia rifled into the corner before Berbatov scored from the spot.

Wigan were enraged by referee Phil Dowd's decision to award the penalty for an Antolin Alcaraz challenge on Park which took place just outside the box.

But the scoreline did not flatter United, who have now hit 16 goals in four successive league victories to reignite their title challenge.

City's 0-0 draw at West Brom means both teams have 45 points, with City's lead on goal difference now cut to only five.

And United's victory was all the more impressive given the makeshift nature of a team depleted by illness and injuries.

Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia lined up in defence, Darron Gibson in midfield and Berbatov was handed a rare opportunity alongside Javier Hernandez up front.

For their part, Wigan came into the game off the back of impressive draws with Chelsea and Liverpool but, after conceding an early goal, their chances of getting anything out of the game were effectively ended by the dismissal of Sammon.

The striker's flailing arm caught Carrick in the face, but there appeared to be little aggressive intent in the incident.

The red card ended any chance of a contest, but in truth United had shown plenty of menace even before Park's early strike.

The goal was brilliantly created by Patrice Evra on the left, who skipped past two Wigan players and cut the ball back for Park to side-foot precisely into the net.

It was 15 minutes before Wigan enjoyed any sort of sustained possession, but when they did it prompted a great chance for Sammon.

Ronnie Stam's cross from the right was inviting for the lone striker but he inexplicably failed to get any sort of header on the ball.

United were soon back on the offensive with a Nani cross sparking mayhem in the Wigan box and Gibson, Ryan Giggs and Berbatov trying their luck from long range.

Stam remained Wigan's brightest spark, getting in behind Evra on the right and delivering a succession of crosses which Wigan's forwards were unable to make the most of.

The momentum swung back United's way as Sammon's controversial red card was swiftly followed by Berbatov's second goal in as many games.

A Gibson cross was flicked on by Hernandez to the Bulgarian, who held off Alcaraz and lashed home with his left foot.

United almost extended their advantage at the start of the second half, but Park's free header was directed straight at Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi.

Hernandez then had a penalty appeal turned down despite being wrestled to the ground by Maynor Figueroa.

United's sense of grievance was short-lived as Berbatov collected a pass from Valencia and fired past Al Habsi.

Valencia then made it 4-0 with a rasping drive across Al Habsi after a corner was cleared straight to Carrick.

Then came the penalty incident which presented Berbatov with the chance for his hat-trick, an invitation the Bulgarian gratefully accepted by passing the ball into the corner of the net.

Wigan never gave up but could not create a clear opportunity as United keeper Anders Lindegaard maintained his 100% Premier League clean sheet record.

Source: bbc sport

West Bromwich Albion 0 - 0 Manchester City 
 Baggies blow the title race wide open after holding City

Frustrated: Manchester City and Mario Balotelli had a difficult afternoon at The Hawthorns

Manchester City saw their two-point advantage at the top of the Barclays Premier League wiped out as they were frustrated at West Brom.
Mario Balotelli hit the bar and had a goal disallowed but City lacked their usual bite at The Hawthorns and were forced to settle for a goalless draw.
It could even have been worse for Roberto Mancini's men as Albion rose to the challenge and were unlucky when Jerome Thomas hit the post and Shane Long headed wide.
West Brom continued to pose a threat and Paul Scharner tried his luck with a low shot from 25 yards which, after a slight deflection, was turned behind by Joe Hart.
City should have taken the lead after 24 minutes when Sergio Aguero laid off for David Silva from a fine cross-field Nasri pass but the Spaniard side-footed over.
Balotelli got involved in the game when he won a free-kick outside the area and, much to his frustration, then stepped up to have a low shot deflected narrowly wide.
City then had two corners in quick succession and could have scored from the second of them when Yaya Toure put a free header wide.
City tried to pick up the tempo and Balotelli was unlucky when a Silva shot was deflected into his path and he volleyed in, only to see an offside flag raised.
West Brom threatened again on the counter-attack when Brunt found space on the left to curl in a dangerous cross for Long but Vincent Kompany slid in to make a vital interception.
Balotelli went down with a head injury after a clash with Peter Odemwingie just before the break but the Italian recovered and was soon back in the action.
Balotelli drew a foul from Olsson in a dangerous position early in the second half.
City made little from the free-kick but had a good spell of possession and Balotelli struck the top of the bar with a superb effort from 30 yards wide on the left.
West Brom may have been starved of the ball at times but looked comfortable when they had it and Kompany again got his body in the way as Odemwingie shot from 35 yards.
Long spurned a glorious chance just before the hour when City failed to clear and the ball was drilled to the back post but the Baggies striker headed wide from six yards.
City tried to show some urgency in response but Silva was unable to capitalise on some neat interplay and shot straight at Foster.
Aguero, perhaps surprised to be given onside from a Milner header, then miskicked attempting to toe-poke past Foster and Gareth McAuley cleared.
Albion had another chance from a free-kick but Brunt fired wide.
City appeared to be getting frustrated as Kolo Toure shot over and substitute Gareth Barry screwed another effort well wide.
West Brom were again unfortunate when Odemwingie teed up Thomas just outside the area and the midfielder struck a sweet shot against the foot of the post.
City changed their attack by sending on Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko and were denied with five minutes remaining when Olsson blocked from Silva.
Dzeko found space in injury time but shot well over the bar and West Brom claimed a deserved point.

Denied: Ben Foster makes a good save from David Silva

Source: mailonline

Holidays Greetings from European clubs

From Ajax

From Real Madrid

From Liverpool

From Chelsea

From Manchester City

From Barcelona

From Arsenal

From AC Milan

From Bayern Munchen

vrijdag 23 december 2011

Arsenal and Chelsea on alert as Kaka eyes Real exit

Real Madrid star Kaka is considering his future once again in a move that will reignite interest from Arsenal and Chelsea.

Kaka in action for Real Madrid against Barcelona

The devout Christian is already back in his native Brazil to celebrate Christmas with his family and he will also discuss his future, according to Spanish magazine El Confidencial.
The midfielder has suffered a miserable time at the Bernabeu thanks to injuries and has started just six league games this season under Jose Mourinho.
Arsenal failed with an audacious loan move for the 29-year-old in the summer and Chelsea have long been admirers of the World Cup winner, who has not started a La Liga game since October.
The Premier League sides could face stiff opposition from PSG, who have the playmaker's former AC Milan manager Leonardo as their director of football, and are keen to recruit more high-profile names.

Source: bleacher report

donderdag 22 december 2011

Fernando Torres attacks Liverpool's 'lies' over transfer to Chelsea

Fernando Torres says he was lied to by Liverpool's owners before his move to Chelsea. 

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres has repeated his attack on Liverpool's conduct ahead of his transfer to Chelsea 11 months ago, claiming his old club's fans do not know the truth about the move.

Torres, talking to Spanish TV station Canal+ Liga, claimed Liverpool's owners had lied to him and broken promises before he completed the £50m move, and said he does not deserve to be a hate figure at Anfield.

Torres said: "The Liverpool fans don't know the truth about why I signed for Chelsea. The fans don't even know half of what happened. They don't know what the people in charge at Liverpool are like – they have a completely different perception of what they are like.

"They made promises that they didn't keep and I left because I realised I didn't have time to be part of a project that would take years. I have nothing against the Liverpool fans. I didn't want to leave Liverpool the way I did but the club lied. I was let down and I don't understand why the fans hate me."

Also in the interview Torres said he was confident he could rediscover his form at Chelsea, and prove he still has the quality which helped him score 56 goals in his first three Premier League seasons.

"I am going to try to be very humble and get back into the Chelsea starting line-up," he added. "My form has not been good but I am world and European champion and I deserve more respect. It's hard being on the bench but I respect the players who are playing. I'm going to support the team and get back in.

"It's true that [the Spain head coach] Vicente del Bosque is worried about me and my form for Chelsea. It's up to me to go back to being the striker I was before. If I go back to how I was a few years ago, I will again play an important role in the Spanish national team."

Source: the guardian

woensdag 21 december 2011

BREAKING NEWS: sensation on the Dutch Football

Players from AZ walked off in protest

During the game ( after 38 minutes played) between Ajax and AZ for the KNVB - Beker a support suddenly appears from nowhere behind the AZ's keeper Esteban, who reacted by kicking his attacker to the ground a couple of times, before the security took the "idiot" supporter away.

Referee Bas Nijhuis consequently showed the attacked AZ goolkeeper a straight red car for misconduct. The coach Gertjan Verbeek entered the pitch and ordered his players to leave the field and head for the dressing rooms.
Representatieves of both sides and match officials were currently in talks about whether to continue the match or not, but the coach called a strike and the game was resumed.

This is a very unusual situation and it's not yet clear what it will happen to the score (Ajax was ahead 1 goal), to the public at the Arena in Amsterdam who payed lot of money to watch this match. Or whatsoever ... 

Never a situation like that happened in the Netherlands that one of the teams walked off in protest!

What's gonna happen now? What will be the further consequences? We've got to wait ...

Liverpool sign teenager Jordan Ibe

Liverpool have completed the signing of teenage prospect Jordan Ibe from Wycombe after the two clubs reached an agreement on Tuesday.

Ibe, 16, shot to prominence this season, becoming the youngest ever player to represent Wycombe in the Football League and the youngest scorer for the Buckinghamshire club in its history.

A host of Premier League clubs were monitoring Ibe but the forward will now move to Anfield.

Wanderers manager Gary Waddock said: ''It's a fantastic move for him. He's a phenomenal talent which is why we gave him a chance to show what he can do at first-team level.

''Obviously we wanted to keep him, but we didn't want to stand in the way of an opportunity he deserves. I have no doubt in my mind that he will go on to become a big star and I will be keeping a close eye on his progress. I would like to wish him and his family all the best for the future.''

Bermondsey-born Ibe arrived at Wycombe as a 12-year-old after being released by Charlton. After two superb seasons in the club's youth team, he burst onto the scene for the first team by scoring a superb goal against Staines in a pre-season friendly this summer.

He made his senior debut in a Carling Cup clash against Colchester in August aged just 15 years and 244 years, and scored a stunning individual goal on his first ever professional start in a npower League One fixture against Sheffield Wednesday in October.

In total, Ibe made 11 first-team appearances for Wycombe.

Source: ESPN

Luis Suarez suspended for 8 matches!

Are the FA right to ban Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for eight matches after the Patrice Evra racism row?

The Football Association have handed Liverpool striker Luis Suarez an eight-match ban and a fine of £40,000 after he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

The Uruguayan was involved in a clash with the Frenchman during the match between the two sides at Anfield on October 15, with the United man pursuing a complaint after the match.

An independent regulatory commission announced on Tuesday that Evra's allegations against Suarez were proven and that the player, who denies the allegations being made against him, has two weeks to appeal against the decision and resulting punishment.

Already since the decision emerged, Liverpool have issued a robust statement saying they are very surprised and disappointed that the player has been found guilty of the allegations and have declared they will support all attempts to clear his name.