Mourinho and Wenger Renew Hostilities as Man U Face Arsenal

Nov 17, 2016 by Alex Baker

With the international break behind us, the Premier League resumes this weekend and the marquee match-up of the round is Saturday’s heavyweight clash between Manchester United and Arsenal. If either of the two teams have benefited from the international break, it’s more likely to be United.

Jose Mourinho’s side endured a tumultuous run of form, going the entire month of October without a win in the league. Their last outing, a 3-1 road win against Bob Bradley’s Swansea, helped right the ship somewhat and sent the Red Devils into the break with some confidence restored.

The Swansea win was particularly encouraging because it saw a return to the score sheet for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After a flying start to life in the Premiership, the Swedish striker had gone off the boil... Read More

Tottenham’s Harry Kane Returns for Derby with Arsenal

Nov 04, 2016 by Alex Baker

Spurs fans received good news ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s North London Derby with Arsenal Sunday with Harry Kane said to be on the verge of rejoining the squad. The England striker has been sidelined by injury since September 18 and his return could come as an enormous boost to a Spurs side that’s struggled in front of goal recently.

Neither Son Heung-Min nor Vincent Janssen has found the goal often enough for Tottenham with the North Londoners now having found the net just three times in their last six matches. They looked particularly lackluster in attack in Wednesday’s Champions League loss to Bayer Leverkusen.

Kane, who has been the team’s leading scorer the last two consecutive seasons, will hopefully be available to provide some attacking thrust as manager Mauricio... Read More

Bradley Faces Arsenal Test in First Swansea Outing

Oct 14, 2016 by Alex Baker

American manager Bob Bradley won’t be given much leeway in terms of acclimating to the Premier League with his first game in charge at Swansea City involving a trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal.

Former United States men’s national team manager Bradley made history last week when he became the first American manager ever to be put in charge of a Premier League club. Bradley is already the most globetrotting of American football coaches, having had stints managing in Norway, France and for the Egyptian national team since being let go the U.S. in the summer of 2011.

Most recently, Bradley was at Le Havre in the French second division before the call came to take charge at Swansea following the dismissal of Francesco Guidolin. But it’s no small... Read More

Arsenal Face Chelsea in London Derby Saturday

Sep 22, 2016 by Alex Baker

Arsenal will be looking for the first victory against Chelsea since 2011 as they welcome their London rivals to the Emirates on Saturday.

That torrid run of results against the Blues has seen Arsenal fail to even score a goal against Chelsea since 2013, suffer a 6-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge for Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game as Arsenal manager, and have players sent off in both outings against Chelsea last season.

However, Arsenal are the team with the momentum heading into this weekend, having won three straight in the league and earned a valuable point away at PSG in the Champions League. Chelsea on the other hand, haven’t won a Premier League match since August, having lost to Liverpool last week and drawn with Swansea earlier this month.

Both... Read More

Conte Meets Klopp as Chelsea Face Liverpool

Sep 15, 2016 by Alex Baker

Chelsea face welcome Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Friday night as Antonio Conte seeks to maintain his undefeated start to life in the Premier League. Although Chelsea dropped points in last weekend’s away fixture at Swansea City, the Blues remain one of unbeaten in the league and currently sit second behind Manchester City.

A win over Liverpool could see Conte’s side vault to the top of the table, at least temporarily. However, the 2014 champions will have to do so without captain John Terry who injured his ankle against Swansea.

That means the Italian manager will have to start David Luiz, who will be making his first appearance in Chelsea blue since he left the club two years ago.

Luiz is likely to start alongside Gary Cahill in the... Read More

Guardiola and Mourinho Renew Rivalry in Manchester Derby

Sep 09, 2016 by Alex Baker

Manchester United welcome city-rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford on Saturday in the first major derby of the new Premier League season.

The match is highly anticipated for a number of reasons; two of the most high-powered squads in European, never mind English football, two title contenders, two of the three teams that have taken full points from the first three matches, and of course the managers.

Pep Guardiola versus Jose Mourinho, a rivalry that has its roots from the time when the two were at Barcelona together, came to fruition during the period when Pep was managing Barça and Jose was at Real Madrid, and has now been transplanted to the Premier League.

The world’s two greatest managers in charge of two clubs in Manchester, one of which... Read More

Last-minute Deals Aplenty as Transfer Window Nears Close

Aug 30, 2016 by Alex Baker

The transfer window will slam shut at midnight on Wednesday and clubs across Europe are scrambling to nail down last minute targets or move on unwanted players. Here are a few of the deals that have, or could go down in the last week of the transfer window.

Barcelona sign Alcacer from Valencia
Barcelona’s protracted search for a striker to provide cover for Luis Suarez looks at last to have been brought to a conclusion as the Catalan outfit announced the signing of Paco Alcacer from Valencia. The 23-year-old, who scored 43 goals across two separate spells at Valencia, has joined Barça on a five-year deal and has a 100 million euro buyout clause in his contract.

More ins and outs at Arsenal
Just as Arsenal have secured a... Read More

Manchester City’s Kompany Set to Return in Two Weeks

Jan 26, 2016 by Alex Baker

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is set for an earlier-than-expected return to action, according to City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

“I don’t think Vincent will be out for six weeks – he will return in a couple of weeks,” Pellegrini told Manchester City’s official website ahead of City’s Capital One Cup semi-final against Everton Wednesday.

Along with Arsenal and Leicester City, Man City has emerged as a favorite to lift the Barclays Premier League title this season, but much may depend on how soon Kompany returns to the lineup.

While City has probably the finest striker in the Premier League in Sergio Aguero, the Citizens’ defense has been suspect at times this season, particularly without Kompany to martial them. With the big Belgian in the lineup, City has conceded just... Read More

Pique: ‘Barcelona (and Real Madrid) would struggle in Stoke’

Nov 12, 2015 by Alex Baker

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has concurred the view first put forth by football pundit Andy Gray: that Barcelona would struggle on a cold, rainy night in Stoke.

Pique, who won the Premier League in 2008 during his one season with Manchester United, told the Daily Telegraph that the Premier League might prove tougher than expected for Barça and archrivals Real Madrid.

“I think that if Barcelona or Real Madrid goes to the Premier League then the first year of playing there, there is no chance of winning it,” Pique said.

“If you go to Stoke, or other types of teams, then it will be really tough. It’s a debate – we could spend hours on it. If Manchester United or Chelsea go to Spain then the same.... Read More

Arsenal Looks to Maintain Winning Ways Against Sheffield Wednesday

Oct 26, 2015 by Alex Baker

Flying high in the Premier League, Arsenal got their Champions League campaign back on track with a win against Bayern Munich at the Emirates on Tuesday. Next up for Arsene Wenger’s men is a Capital One Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Tuesday.

The Gunners’ stars have come up big in a recent spate of victories against Manchester United, Bayern, and most recently Everton. But in order to avoid burning out the likes of Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Wenger will likely choose to rotate his squad against Wednesday.

After netting a brace in Arsenal’s previous Capital One Cup outing against Tottenham, Mathieu Flamini is almost sure to get a run out in midfield. Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell is also likely to see some action... Read More

PSG, Roma and Chelsea Among Clubs Targeting Conte

Oct 14, 2015 by Alex Castle

Antonio Conte is reportedly on the radar of a number of Europe’s top clubs, with Roma, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea all reportedly interested in the Italy boss. Conte led Juventus to three consecutive Serie A titles before assuming the role of national team manager for the Azzurri.

This week, Conte further fueled speculations that he would take on the manager job at Roma following Euro 2016.

“I’ve had the pleasure of living in Rome more often this year as national team coach and I’ve got to say I’ve found it really good. I’m very serene because of this,” Conte told RAI television.

But Conte refused to be drawn on rumors that Roma had already contacted him about succeeding Rudi Garcia. “Roma have got to be very serene because... Read More

Arsenal Must Sign a Striker

Aug 31, 2015 by Alex Baker

With mere hours remaining in the summer transfer window, the writing is clearly on the wall that if there’s one area of the pitch Arsenal needs to reinforce, it’s at striker.

Spurning at least two high-profile opportunities to score against Newcastle United on Saturday, Theo Walcott blew his big chance to convince Arsene Wenger that he’s got what it takes to lead the line for the Gunners. Coming on as a sub with around 20 minutes remaining, Olivier Giroud also failed to impress, and Alexis Sanchez continues to drift through matches without making much of an impact.

Despite sitting in sixth place and having taken seven points out of a possible 12, Arsenal has only scored one goal this season: Giroud’s acrobatic strike in last week’s 2-1 win over Crystal... Read More

Mario Balotelli Returns to AC Milan on Loan

Aug 25, 2015 by Alex Baker

Mario Balotelli’s ill-fated spell at Liverpool appears to have come to an end, as it was revealed Tuesday that the player has rejoined AC Milan on a season-long loan. Having already passed his medical at the club where he spent one previous season and that he supported growing up, Balotelli is expected to start training with his new teammates immediately and could be in the lineup to face Empoli this weekend.

The move is somewhat surprising, given the nature of Balotelli’s exit from Milan 12 months ago when then- coach Pippo Inzaghi said Milan would gain “team spirit and hunger” with Balotelli gone.

But one year can be a long time in footballing terms. With Milan in the process of retooling its team, club owner Silvio Berlusconi has been... Read More

Pedro on Verge of Joining Chelsea as United Deal Crumbles

Aug 19, 2015 by Alex Baker

How quickly things change in football. On Tuesday morning, Barcelona winger Pedro was edging steadily closer toward a move to Manchester United that has been agonizingly drawn out in the press for most of the summer. Twenty-four hours later and the want-away forward is apparently on the verge of signing with Chelsea instead.

According to reports coming out of England and Spain, Jose Mourinho’s team will complete the signing of the 28-year-old within the next 24 hours. Chelsea and Barça struck the deal late on Tuesday night, only days after Man U vice-chairman Ed Woodward had flown to Spain to discuss terms with the player and the Catalan club. However, United apparently never officially moved to trigger the €30m buy-out clause in Pedro’s contract, but Chelsea did, and Read More

Chelsea’s Mourinho Should Focus on His Team, Not the Doctor

Aug 12, 2015 by Alex Baker

The new Premier League campaign is barely a week old and already Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has launched his first conspiracy theory of the season, and it’s not referees or the English FA that the Portuguese gaffer is pointing a finger at. This time, it’s the club’s doctor.

In the wake of Chelsea’s surprising 2-2 draw with Swansea City on opening day, Mourinho has rounded on Chelsea’s first team doctor, Eva Carneiro. The Special One’s ire stems from a stoppage time incident in which the referee waved Carneiro and team physio Jon Fearn onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard. According to Mourinho, the two should have been able to somehow ascertain from the sidelines that Hazard was in no real need of attention, despite the referee waving them on.... Read More

Gunners on Alert After Higuain Rejects Napoli Deal

Aug 05, 2015 by Alex Baker

Gonzalo Higuain has been offered a new deal from Napoli but plans to reject it, according to the player’s agent and brother, Nicolas Higuain. The news has, according to reports in England, cleared the way for Arsenal to sign the player, who came very close to joining the North London outfit two years ago.

One report in Italy claimed that the Gunners had already made a bid upwards of $60 million for the striker that was rejected by Napoli. And while Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentis has maintained that the former Real Madrid man is not currently for sale, he also admitted that if a club did come along that was willing to pay his $100 million release clause, Higuain would be allowed to leave.

Higuain’s current contract,... Read More

Arsenal Look the Real Deal in Shield Win Over Chelsea

Aug 03, 2015 by Alex Baker

Yes, it’s only preseason, a glorified friendly as they say. But still, far better to be on the winning side of the annual Community Shield that pits the Premier League winner against the FA Cup holder. And as Arsenal emerged from Sunday’s clash as deserving 1-0 winner against Chelsea, pundits around the world of football could be heard quietly shuffling the decks on their preseason predictions.

Again, preseason friendlies are rarely an accurate predictor of what’s to come, and Chelsea remains the clear favorite to retain the Premier League title. But in light of Arsenal’s performance against them Saturday and Manchester City’s thumping at the hands of Stuttgart the day before, it’s increasingly looking like the Gunners might be Chelsea’s biggest rivals in the coming season.

Arsene Wenger’s side appears... Read More

Can Falcao Regain His Powers at Chelsea?

Jul 29, 2015 by Alex Baker

In a recent interview with ESPNFC, Jose Mourinho said he was “scared” when Radamel Falcao joined Manchester United on loan last season. The Chelsea boss professed himself to be a longtime admirer of the Colombian striker, who he called a “predator in the box.” Falcao was indeed prolific in his time with Porto in the Portuguese Liga and later at Atletico Madrid, where he established himself as one of the finest strikers in the world.

He’s struggled, though, ever since tearing his cruciate ligament in a French Cup match with Monaco in early 2014. His season-long loan to Man United yielded a paltry four goals in 26 Premier League appearances, leading many to wonder if the injury to his ACL had brought about an early demise.

But Mourinho has... Read More

Casillas, De Gea, Real Madrid Saga Sees Keepers Take Center Stage

Jul 10, 2015 by Alex Baker

While it’s usually the big name attackers making all the transfer story headlines, this summer it’s been goalkeepers taking up column inches in Spanish and English papers. First, Peter Cech was hailed as the signing that could transform Arsenal from perennial fourth-place finishers into legitimate Premier League contenders. And now with Iker Casillas on the verge of leaving Real Madrid to join Porto, the stage is set for the next phase of what’s in danger of becoming the longest and most protracted goalkeeping transfer saga in football history: bringing David De Gea to Real Madrid from Manchester United.

Negotiations in the Casillas deal nearly broke down on Thursday night. However both parties reportedly reached an agreement on Friday morning, under which Madrid will pay part of Casillas salary to assure... Read More

Arsenal Target Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette

May 26, 2015 by Alex Baker

Olympique Lyonnais may have fallen short in their effort to overhaul Paris Saint-Germain in the French title race, but striker Alexandre Lacazette’s 27 goals in 31 appearances saw the Lyon man claim top scorer honors in Ligue 1 for the season. The 23-year-old is now reported to be on the radar of several top clubs around Europe. With Arsenal, PSG, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich all said to be interested in him, the Lacazette saga could be one to watch this summer.

Twelve months ago, Lacazette was relatively unknown outside of France, failing even to earn a call-up for the French squad for the 2014 World Cup. Having spent his entire career at Lyon, Lacazette has only managed to break into double digits on the season once before. Part of Lacazette’s... Read More

Arsenal Draw With United But Still Need to Improve

May 18, 2015 by Alex Baker

It was something of a mixed bag for Arsenal against Manchester United Sunday. Yes, the Londoners came away from Old Trafford with a point, keeping them in-line for a third-place finish and automatic Champions League qualification next season. The draw also saw Arsenal maintain their good record against the top sides, which is much improved from last season. And while the resulting point suits them, apart from the excellent Aaron Ramsey, Arsene Wenger’s team looked rather flat against United.

It’s been a long season and the Gunners’ best players this term have all faded somewhat in recent matches, seemingly exhausted by the campaign. Alexis Sanchez had an anonymous match against United, as did Olivier Giroud. Mesut Ozil provided a few moments of inspiration and some excellent service on set-pieces. But... Read More

Four Teams that Could Challenge Chelsea Next Season

May 13, 2015 by Alex Baker

Although it took them until last week’s meeting with Crystal Palace to officially seal the deal, Chelsea were the only real contender in the Premier League title race for most of this season. While some have criticized the quality of the football Jose Mourinho’s side played, there was little doubt over the course of the season that the Londoners would be crowned champions come May.

With a team stacked with talent, the shrewdest manager in world football, and a winning transfer policy, Chelsea are already favorites to retain the title next season. Will anyone be capable of seriously challenging them? Maybe. Let’s take a look at the teams who could give Chelsea a run for their money, and what they need to do in order to do so.

Manchester... Read More

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