Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Score Update August 25

August 25
FT Sunderland 0 - 2 Liverpool
37' [0 - 1] M.L. Sissoko -Liverpool
87' [0 - 2] A. Voronin -Liverpool

FT Arsenal 1 - 0 Manchester C.
80' [1 - 0] C. Fabregas -Arsenal

FT Aston Villa 2 - 1 Fulham
6' [0 - 1] C. Dempsey -Fulham
51' [1 - 1] Z. Knight (o.g.) -Aston Villa
90' [2 - 1] S. Maloney -Aston Villa

FT Bolton W. 3 - 0 Reading
32' [1 - 0] G. Speed -Bolton W
55' [2 - 0] N. Anelka -Bolton W
90' [3 - 0] D.O. Braaten -Bolton W

FT Chelsea 1 - 0 Portsmouth
31' [1 - 0] F. Lampard -Chelsea

FT Derby County 1 - 2 Birmingham C.
1' [0 - 1] C. Jerome -Birmingham C
51' [1 - 1] M. Oakley -Derby County
63' [1 - 2] C. Jerome -Birmingham C

FT West Ham U. 1 - 1 Wigan Athletic
78' [0 - 1] P. Scharner -Wigan Athletic
81' [1 - 1] L. Bowyer -West Ham U.

FT Everton 1 - 1 Blackburn R.
15' [0 - 1] R.S. Cruz -Blackburn R.
78' [1 - 1] J. McFadden -Everton

August 26
FT Middlesbrough 2 - 2 Newcastle U.
22' [0 - 1] C. N'Zogbia -Newcastle U
28' [1 - 1] Mido -Middlesbrough
77' [1 - 2] M. Viduka -Newcastle U
80' [2 - 2] J. Arca -Middlesbrough

FT Manchester U. 1 - 0 Tottenham H.
68' [1 - 0] Nani -Manchester U

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

La Liga Preview: Racing Santander - FC Barcelona

Who: Racing Santander v FC Barcelona
When: Sunday, 26th August 2007, kick-off 19:00
Where: El Sardinero, Santander


After Racing’s most successful season ever in La Liga there has been a summer of change in Cantabria. The manager, Miguel Angel Portugal, left to rejoin the Real Madrid technical staff and was replaced by former Recreativo manager Marcelino, who lead Recreativo to an excellent 8th place last season, finishing four points above Racing.

Last season’s top scorer and star player, Nikola Zigic, has also departed with several other key players from last season following him through the exit door. Ruben, who formed a solid centre back pairing with Garay, has left along with Scaloni and Balboa has returned to Real Madrid after his loan spell.

With Zigic’s exit Racing have lost their main method of attack with a high proportion of their goals last season coming from the head of the giant Serb or from his flick-ons to the diminutive Munitis. Marcelino may have to look for a new system with which to play and is said to be concerned by the clubs forays into the transfer market thus far.

The additions of Duscher, Jorge Lopez and Jordi Lopez will strengthen the midfield but an adequate replacement for Zigic remains essential. After Racing’s unexpected venture into the top half last season they look like they’ll be back to their usual relegation battle this season.


While Racing have had a difficult time in the transfer market Barcelona have been busy assembling a squad capable of regaining La Liga. With all areas strengthened and none of the big stars departing, Barça appear to have the strongest squad in the league, with a formidable starting eleven backed up by very good reserves.

The additions of Milito and Abidal to the backline coupled with the signing of Yaya Toure for the holding midfield position should make Barcelona a lot more difficult to break down. Rijkaard has an embarrassment of riches in the front five with Iniesta, Xavi, and Deco competing for the two creative midfield slots and Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Messi, Henry and Dos Santos battling it out to make up the front three.

Iniesta seems to be a certain pick as one of the creative midfielders after his excellent performances last season. Dos Santos’ excellent pre-season form will have pushed him into Rijkaard’s thoughts but he’ll have to wait for his dual nationality to be finalised before getting a look in.

Of the ‘fantastic four’ Messi is now arguably the biggest star and could be the player least affected by the rotations. Barça will be looking to get off to a strong start on Sunday in order to banish the memories of last season’s failure and send out a message to their title rivals that this season; they mean business.


The two sides have had contrasting pre-seasons with Barcelona going unbeaten while Racing have failed to pick up a victory in a 90 minute match.

Racing participated in the Peace Cup in South Korea and only picked up one point from a 0-0 draw with Seongnam and suffered defeats to Bolton and a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Guadalajara.

Barcelona won every game on their usual pre-season Asian tour and also collected the inaugural Franz Beckenbauer Cup after beating Bayern Munich thanks to a wondergoal from Leo Messi.


Racing Santander

Sporting Gijon 1 - 2 Racing 16/08/2007 (friendly)

Alaves 2- 1 Racing 11/08/2007 (friendly)

Racing 0-2 Betis 17/06/2007

Real Sociedad 0-0 Racing 09/06/2007

Racing 2-3 Levante 27/05/2007

FC Barcelona

Bayern 0-1 Barcelona 15/08/2007 (friendly)

Mission Hill XI 0-4 Barcelona 11/08/2007 (friendly)

Gimnastic 1-5 Barcelona 17/06/2007

Barcelona 2-2 Espanyol 09/06/2007

Barcelona 1-0

Getafe 26/05/2007


Racing Santander

Racing have lost several players over the summer, but can at least be thankful for the fact that they are essentially injury-free. Pedro Munitis could start alone up front despite his less than prolific form last season - he was more of a supporting player - but will receive backup courtesy of a trio of attacking midfielders.

Probable Starting XI: Tono; Oriol, Garay, Marcano, Ayoze; Colsa, Duscher; Jorge Lopez, Aganzo, Oscar; Munitis

FC Barcelona

With Puyol (knee), Milito (suspension) and Edmilson (knee) all unavailable, Rijkaard will probably hand the centre back positions to Marquez and Thuram, who looks like being fit after an injury worry. Abidal and Toure should be given competitive debuts while in attack Henry may be on the bench with Ronaldinho, Eto’o and Messi poised to start. Dos Santos is still waiting to receive his Spanish passport so won’t make the squad.

Probable Starting XI: Valdes; Zambrotta, Marquez, Thuram, Abidal; Iniesta, Toure, Xavi; Messi, Eto’o, Ronaldinho.


Racing Santander - Ezequiel Garay -
The highest scorer from last season still at the club. Racing will need a towering display from Garay if they are to get anything from the game. The promising Argentinean centre back was a key factor in the Verdiblancos top 10 finish last season and is being watched by many of Europe’s top clubs. As well as keeping goals out Garay may also be Racing’s best chance of scoring with one of his free kicks or penalties.

FC Barcelona – Andres Iniesta – The creative midfielder was one of the positives form an otherwise negative season and looks to have forced himself into the starting XI after being the understudy to Xavi and Deco in previous seasons. Rijkaard will be looking to Iniesta to provide the chances for the plethora of talent up front. With Racing likely to stick plenty of men behind the ball Iniesta could be the man to unlock the defence.

PREDICTION It is difficult to see anything but an away win here with the contrasting fortunes in the transfer market and pre-season. Barça will be hoping to get an early lead to settle any early season nerves; whilst Racing will be thinking the longer they keep it goalless the more chance they have of sneaking something.
Racing Santander 0-2 FC Barcelona

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Ronaldinho: This Will Be My Best Season Ever

Ronaldinho is convinced that he will back to his best this season and is ready to put last term behind him and battle for a place in Barça's new look attack.

The Brazilian superstar was accused of looking tired last term and not performing in crucial games, as well being mixed up in off-field problems at the club.Without the burden of appearing in a major tournament and having little holiday, like last summer, Ronaldinho is well rested and ready to steer the Blaugrana back to the top.

"I'm going to make a big effort to ensure that this is my best season," the 27-year-old said.

"I'm really pleased with the way things have gone in pre-season. When you are in good physical shape, things come more easily and every day I feel more motivated."

After failing to win a major trophy last season, the behind-the-scenes problems and the effect it had on the pitch were highlighted at the end of the campaign, but Ronaldinho believes that the players are now fully focussed.

"We have talked over what we did wrong last season and we are all now working to ensure that we become a champion team again," he continued.

The arrival of four new players has increased competition for places in Frank Rijkaard's squad with the forward line being under particular pressure to perform as Thierry Henry joins Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Leo Messi in battling for a spot.

"All the players that have come to the club are experienced and are very keen to triumph here," Ronaldinho explained.

"They are all known worldwide, but they all have their feet on the ground. I think the team is well focused and more motivated than ever."

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Fabregas Strikes Late To Sink Manchester City

In an exciting encounter at the Emirates this afternoon, Arsenal left it until late on to beat Manchester City 1-0, although the visitors looked strong again.

Manchester City’s perfect run was finally halted today at the Emirates Stadium as they went down against Arsenal. The only goal of the game came late in the second half when Fabregas shot a powerful drive from close range over the City keeper Schmeichel. Prior to the kickoff Arsenal suffered another injury blow when Swiss defender Phillipe Senderos picked up an ankle knock during the warm up. This forced Arsene Wegner to start with the returning Gilberto as centre-back alongside Kolo Toure.

Eighteen minutes into the game the home side were forced to make another change as Bacary Sagna, who was injured in a collision with team-mate Mathieu Flamini, was replaced by Denilson.

In spite of this Arsenal then dominated most of the first half but failed to find the crucial breakthrough. City’s best chance of the half came for Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov whose powerful shot whistled past Manuel Almunia’s post.

City came out in the second half with a lot more purpose. Some inspired defending by captain Richard Dunn and man-of-the-moment Micah Richards kept Aresnal at bay whereas their attackers enjoyed some decent possession upfront.

Another big moment in the game came when just ahead of the hour mark Arsenal were awarded a penalty as Richards was rightly adjudged to have brought down Aliaksandre Hleb in the area. Van Persie stepped up to take the spot kick but his poor placed shot was brilliantly saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Minutes later the young City keeper denied Arsenal again when he tipped over a long range effort from Fabregas. With fifteen minutes remaining, both managers made changes as Eduardo was introduced for Manu Adabyor for Arsenal whereas Eriksson brought on Rolando Bianchi for Emile Mpenza for the visitors.

With ten minutes remaining on the clock, Arsenal’s relentless efforts were finally rewarded. Fabregas scored from a tight angle to give Arsenal a deserved lead.

City tried to hit back but it was too little and too late from Eriksson’s side as Arsenal held onto the lead to claim their second victory of the season.

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Liverpool Win Well At Sunderland

Liverpool have produced a clinical performance to claim a 2-0 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and it could have been a bigger victory after a very one-sided affair.

A first half strike from Mohammed Sissoko, his first goal in a Liverpool shirt, broke the deadlock in an otherwise patchy first half, while Voronin finally killed off Sunderland's threat with a deserved second goal late on in the match. However, it could have been more had it not been for an impressive performance by goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

After collecting four points in their first two Premiership matches Roy Keane's side have been reminded just what a tough challenge they face in staying in the top flight with back-to-back defeats. Liverpool on the other hand will be delighted with their start to the campaign as they look to lay down their credentials as title contenders.

Liverpool went into the game without skipper Steven Gerrard, while veteran defender Sami Hyypia started at the back, but the Finns afternoon did not last as long as expected as he broke his nose in a challenge with Darryl Murphy. Hyypia was not impressed with the Sunderland player, but it did seem to be a genuine clash that ended his match despite the best attempts of the Reds medical staff.

There was later to be more injury concern for Benitez as fellow centre-back Jamie Carragher has to be withdrawn and was taken to hospital with a possible broken rib.

Despite the defensive interruptions there was little to worry Liverpool and their goalkeeper Jose Reina in the first half bar one opportunity that almost opened up for Michael Chopra, but the striker, who has started his Sunderland career well, could not get the ball under his control.

At the other end Liverpool had their new look attackers in full force as winger Ryan Babel featured along with new striker Fernando Torres and Voronin and there seems hope of an early partnership forming between the Ukrainian and Spaniard, although Babel's display was rather inconspicuous.

The opening goal came at a time when neither team were playing nice football and Liverpool were looking unsure on how they were going to break down a Sunderland side that were fully committed. However, they did find a way through with a Gerrard style effort by the player playing in Gerrad's position, but long-range efforts were certainly not known to be in Sissoko's repertoire. The midfielder thundered a low effort past Gordon, who managed to get a hand on the effort, after the ball was laid back by Voronin after Torres had failed to control a ball into the box.

Torres had a promising yet frustrating afternoon as he was denied by Gordon on at least three occasions while other opportunities went begging. The best of them all came late on in the first half as the Scottish keeper did well to keep out a diving header that perhaps should have been converted by the £20m man.

The signing from Atletico Madrid did deliver an unselfish pass to Voronin to seal the victory in the 86th minute, which was also a relief for the former Bayer Leverkusen player, who had also been denied by Gordon, again after good work from Torres.

Roy Keane may start to get concerned after a second successive convincing defeat, but his team worked so hard this afternoon and they will not face many teams as potent as Liverpool this season.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

News Update

Robben And Heinze To Miss Madrid Derby .Arjen Robben and Gabriel Heinze will play no part in Real Madrid's opening day fixture against Atlético after signing for the club on Thursday.

The duo will watch their new team play from the stands as coach Bernd Schuster does not believe that either of them is up to the level that he requires.

Madrid's coach could now draft in Royston Drenthe to play at left-back as Miguel Torres has been ruled out after failing to recover from a knock.

Drenthe played his first game in midfield for Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup last weekend against Sevilla.

Heinze admitted that he may not be ready to play after being given an extended break by his former club Manchester United as he appeared in the Copa América at the end of last season.

The Argentinian was then unable to train with the Red Devils as he unsuccessfully attempted to force through a move to Liverpool.

Robben explained in his first press conference in Madrid that he was still feeling the affects of an operation that underwent last year and would need to rediscover his best level.

There was some good news for Schuster as Iker Casillas has recovered from a knee injury in time to play, while Sergio Ramos is also available after overcoming a foot problem.

United Deny Making Any Approach For Berbatov .After a day of claims and rumours that Manchester United had made a bid for Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov, the Premier League champions have denied making any offer for the Bulgarian.

Dimitar Berbatov's agent had earlier claimed that United had made an enquiry for the Bulgarian international, and that Tottenham would make a decision over his future next week.

Spurs manager Martin Jol admitted earlier on Friday that he had rejected an approach for Berbatov from an unnamed club - and insisted that the player was going nowhere.

But United have made it clear that any offer made had not come them.

"Manchester United is linked with many players in every transfer window," United chief executive David Gill told the club's official website.

He added: "The club has categorically not made a bid for Dimitar Berbatov."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that earlier in this current transfer window he failed in a bid to buy a striker - and now he concedes that he is unlikely to sign any new players before the window closes again next week.

"We made an inquiry about a striker not so long ago. The club concerned would not sell and it remains that way," Ferguson told XFM.

"With a week to the transfer deadline, it would be impossible to get anyone else in now."

Earlier, Berbatov's agent Emil Dantchev told Bulgaria's Darik Radio: "We had a 90-minute meeting with Tottenham's chairman Daniel Levy and sporting director Damien Comolli.

"They informed us that there's a query from Manchester United about the possibility of Berbatov joining them.

"They told us they will have a meeting in the next day or two to decide his future."

Berbatov scored 22 goals during the 2006-07 season - his first at Tottenham after joining them from Bayer Leverkusen for £10.9m

And earlier this year, Jol insisted that the 26-year-old captain of Bulgaria would not be sold, although unsubstantiated reports this week claimed that the Dutch manager had fallen out with his star player after having substituted him in the opening match at Sunderland.

But Dantchev told BBC Sport: "I can tell you for sure that there is not a problem."

And Jol added on Friday: "Berbatov loves me. If he is playing well he gets all the praise and if he is not doing well I have to tell him.

"I had one approach and I said 'I'd rather die than sell him'."

Ronaldo was controversially sent off against Portsmouth last week after an alleged head-butt on Richard Hughes.

TV replays and Hughes himself suggest that there was little in the incident, however Ronaldo received the red card, and the three-match ban that came along with it.

As a result the Portugal international was absent for United’ 1-0 defeat at the hands of rivals Manchester City on Sunday, a result that meant the club had managed to accumulate just two points from their first three games.

The fleet-footed 22-yar-old admits that he has become frustrated with the situation, but is sure United can turn around their form.

"I'm feeling sad not being able to play," Ronaldo told the Daily Mirror.

"It is so frustrating, particularly when we are not able to win right now.

"But I'm optimistic and I have confidence in United, even though the beginning of the season is bad.

"But the situation will change soon and we will be positive."

Contrary to reports emanating from Argentina, Gabriel Heinze has not yet signed for Real Madrid, and will instead appeal against a Premier League decision not to sanction his move to Liverpool.

Yesterday a Premier League arbitration panel ruled that United were within the laws of the game to refuse Heinze his desired move to Liverpool.

Using a letter received from United as evidence, the Argentinean stated that he was told that he could join any club offering the £6.8million asking price.

Liverpool duly offered the full amount, however United were adamant that the player would not join a close rival, a decision that prompted the left-back to seek legal advice.

The arbitration panel ruled that as the letter did not specify a certain club, it did not represent a legally binding document.

Heinze will now appeal against the decision and will be buoyed by the news that the Premier League will allow him to switch clubs after the transfer window closes even if he is unsuccessful in the appeal.

"My fight is for freedom to negotiate with any club," Heinze told the Daily Mail.

"United never wanted me to leave for one of the big clubs, but this anti-Liverpool clause is incredible."

Speaking about speculation linking him to clubs like Lyon, Real Madrid and AC Milan, the Argentina international admitted his future was still up in the air.

"I still don't have a clear future," Heinze added.

"I have not spoken with Lyon because I believed my option was Liverpool.

"I would like a solution. Not playing would be a negative for me and also for the club."

Injury Scare For Van Der Sar

United have made a slow start to the Premiership campaign, bagging just two points from three games. The squad has been ravished by injuries, particularly in attack, with Wayne Rooney out for seven weeks and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Luis Saha also missing the start of the season.

The latest injury worry concerns van der Sar who was involved in a collision with Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt during training with the Dutch national team.

The keeper needed immediate treatment to his foot and is now a doubt for Holland’s match against Switzerland on Wednesday.

"Edwin had a pain in his foot and we will put some ice on it," Holland manager Marco van Bastern said last night.

"We will see what the reaction is, but if it is wrong then we will have to call up another goalkeeper."

The full extent of the damage is not yet known however van der Sar may not feature in United’s crucial Premiership match against Tottenham on Sunday.

Alternatives are also thin on the ground. Preferred second-choice keeper Ben Foster is still four months from full fitness after surgery on a cruciate knee ligament. That means Tomasz Kuszczak could make his first start since May, with untested reserve keeper Tom Heaton taking his place on the bench.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

England - Premier League Score

August 14
FT Tottenham H. 1 - 3 Everton
3' [0 - 1] J. Lescott -Everton
26' [1 - 1] A. Gardner -Tottenham H
37' [1 - 2] L. Osman -Everton
45' [1 - 3] A. Stubbs -Everton

August 15
FT Birmingham C. 2 - 2 Sunderland
28' [1 - 0] P. McShane (o.g.) -Birmingham C
75' [1 - 1] M. Chopra -Sunderland
82' [2 - 1] G. O'Connor -Birmingham C
90' [2 - 2] S. John -Sunderland

FT Fulham 2 - 1 Bolton W.
12' [0 - 1] H. Helguson -Bolton W
23' [1 - 1] D. Healy -Fulham
26' [2 - 1] A. Smertin -Fulham

Postp. Liverpool ? - ? West Ham U.

FT Manchester C. 1 - 0 Derby County
43' [1 - 0] M. Johnson -Manchester C

Postp. Newcastle U. ? - ? Arsenal

FT Portsmouth 1 - 1 Manchester U.
15' [0 - 1] P. Scholes -Manchester U
53' [1 - 1] B. Mwaruwari -Portsmouth

Postp. Blackburn R. ? - ? Aston Villa

FT Reading 1 - 2 Chelsea
30' [1 - 0] A. Bikey -Reading
47' [1 - 1] F. Lampard -Chelsea
50' [1 - 2] D. Drogba -Chelsea

FT Wigan Athletic 1 - 0 Middlesbrough
[1 - 0] A. Sibierski -Wigan Athletic

August 18
FT Portsmouth 3 - 1 Bolton W.
12' [0 - 1] N. Anelka -Bolton W
16' [1 - 1] N. Kanu -Portsmouth
30' [2 - 1] J. Utaka -Portsmouth
88' [3 - 1] M. Taylor (pen.) -Portsmouth

FT Birmingham C. 0 - 1 West Ham U.
70' [0 - 1] M. Noble (pen.) -West Ham U

FT Fulham 1 - 2 Middlesbrough
16' [1 - 0] B. McBride -Fulham
55' [1 - 1] Mido -Middlesbrough
88' [1 - 2] L. Cattermole -Middlesbrough

FT Reading 1 - 0 Everton
44' [1 - 0] S. Hunt -Reading

FT Tottenham H. 4 - 0 Derby County
2' [1 - 0] S. Malbranque -Tottenham H
6' [2 - 0] S. Malbranque -Tottenham H
14' [3 - 0] J. Jenas -Tottenham H
80' [4 - 0] D. Bent -Tottenham H

FT Wigan Athletic 3 - 0 Sunderland
19' [1 - 0] E. Heskey -Wigan Athletic
62' [2 - 0] D. Landzaat (pen.) -Wigan Athletic
69' [3 - 0] A. Sibierski (pen.) -Wigan Athletic

FT Newcastle U. 0 - 0 Aston Villa

August 19
FT Manchester C. 1 - 0 Manchester U.
31' [1 - 0] D.M. Geovanni -Manchester C

FT Blackburn R. 1 - 1 Arsenal
18' [0 - 1] R.v. Persie -Arsenal
72' [1 - 1] D. Dunn -Blackburn R

FT Liverpool 1 - 1 Chelsea
16' [1 - 0] F. Torres -Liverpool
62' [1 - 1] F. Lampard (pen.) -Chelsea

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