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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Roma Spalletti wants to avoid Chelsea in Quarter

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti wants to avoid Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Eternal City giants book their place after win over Galatico Real Madrid in the Last 16

"If I could choose, I would avoid a meeting in the next round with Chelsea," Spalletti said.

"But in any case, we will have to accept the rival that the draw will give us."

For Those Who Love Sheva - Latest News

Unsettled Andriy Shevchenko has told Chelsea supremo Roman Abramovich that he is fed up of being "undervalued" and left on the bench.
The Ukraine star striker has told the Russian billionaire Stamford Bridge owner that he will leave Stamfoidge in the summer, according to news reports in the Italian media on Monday.
Abramovich is said to have "offered little resistance" and the return of the £30million transfer flop to AC Milan - Shevchenko's former club - looks set for later this year.

The 31-year-old has been left on the bench recently, and last week - when his team-mates were preparing for last week's victory over Olympiakos - the 2006 World Cup star was plating against Reading reserves at Brentford's Griffin Park.
He has long hinted that he wants a return to Milan and last week AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi said they would welcome him back.
The Italian newspapers also revealed that Shevchenko's model wife Kirsten was due in Milan this afternoon for the second viewing of an apartment.
The new home is in the centre of the city's fashion district a stone's throw from the Cathedral and designer boutiques.

Mallorca 7-1 Recreativo Huelva HT : 5 - 1

Half Time The Score Is 5-1 and no Recreativo player was sent off thru out the game it is 11 against 11

Juan Arango smashed a hat-trick as rampant Real Mallorca hammered Recreativo Huelva on Sunday.The midfielder started the ball rolling in the 18th minute and two goals apiece for Daniel Guiza and Iglesias Valero gave the hosts a commanding lead by half-time.Arango grabbed two more goals in the space of three second-half minutes to complete the rout, reducing Marco Ruben's 40th-minute effort to a mere consolation for the visitors.The heavy defeat heightens Recreativo's relegation worries as they remain in the bottom three, while Mallorca move up to 11th.Intriguingly, the opening exchanges contained scant attacking activity before the home side burst into life after opening the scoring.It was a set-piece which proved to be Recreativo's undoing, Ariel Ibagaza's corner nodded on by Jose Carlos Nunes into the path of Arango, who headed home. Three minutes later Mallorca doubled their lead when Guiza received the ball in space on the left side of the penalty area and coolly slotted past goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino.Guiza put the hosts firmly in the driving seat in the 31st minute when he collected a pass from Iglesias Valero and placed a low shot under Sorrentino.And the contest was all but over in the 37th minute.

Ibagaza was again involved in the build up, feeding Valero inside the box who fired home.Recreativo were shell-shocked by this point but they managed to pull a goal back in the 40th minute when Jorge Carlos Martins' corner was met by Ruben, who finished from close range.Within a minute they were back to four goals behind. Guiza turned provider by releasing Valero and he calmly waited for Sorrentino to advance before rolling the ball under him.Recreativo's luck did not improve in the second half and just two minutes after the restart Guiza played in Arango who struck a firm shot into the centre of the goal.Arango completed the scoring and his hat-trick three minutes later when Ibagaza, who deserved to be on the scoresheet after an all-action display, sent him through one-on-one with Sorrentino and the midfielder finished with aplomb.Tuni Adrover had a chance to add to the already heavy scoreline in the 77th minute but his shot from the left was well saved by Sorrentino in the last of the action.

Latest Chelsea News

Chelsea's Lampard: Best I've played in years

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard believes he's enjoying some of the best form of his career.
He told the Sunday Mirror: "I think it's been one of my best seasons and it's just unfortunate that I've missed three months of it.
"Now that I'm back I feel very fresh and hungry. The game against Olympiacos was great and I want to carry that form on until the end of the season.
"I have a lot to offer. It was a bit of a rest for me even though you work very hard to get fit again.
"You come back hungry and strong and I think we have a few players like John Terry in the same boat."

Lampard happy alongside Chelsea pal Ballack

Frank Lampard insists he can play alongside Michael Ballack in Chelsea's midfield. "Our attitude towards each other is very good," Lampard told the Sunday Mirror.
"If you want to fight with another player you're only going to be unsuccessful as a group. Far from anything like that, I respect him as a top player and we get on very well.
"We've not played together a huge amount - about three games this season - but good, intelligent players can play together.
"I know the last two occasions have been very successful. We've been setting things up for each other and playing very well in the team unit."

Grant under increasing pressure at Chelsea

Avram Grant is battling to keep his job after Chelsea's humiliating FA Cup defeat at Barnsley on Saturday.
The Sun says Grant is under severe pressure for the way Chelsea crumbled in Saturday's embarrassing 1-0 defeat - just weeks after losing the Carling Cup final to Spurs.
Grant said: "I feel responsible. I never in my life have put responsibility on other people.
"I'm the manager and am responsible for everything.
"When my team loses at Barnsley there will be many negative things said about it - and I will accept it.
"We needed to win this game and we didn't do it. It's as simple as that.
"We have two major competitions left. I am concentrating on them not other things."
Grant cancelled his players' scheduled day off yesterday and hauled them in for a post-match inquest.
Israeli Grant added: "It's very sad because we'd played so well in the last week.
"It's disappointing. This team has shown that they can play good football."

Chelsea powerbrokers stunned by Grant selection

Senior Chelsea figures were stunned by Chelsea boss Avram Grant's team selection for their FA Cup elimination at Barnsley on Saturday.
The Times says neither Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, nor Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, attended the match, preferring to watch it on television. It is thought that there is some disbelief over Grant�s team selection in a competition that was seen as Chelsea�s to lose by senior figures at the club.
Coming only a fortnight after the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, Grant is under severe pressure and it has been made clear that Chelsea will have to win one of the two remaining prizes if his reign is not to come to an inglorious halt only eight months after succeeding Jos� Mourinho. Grant�s close relationship with Abramovich may result in him being moved to another role, but a new man is likely to be given the team selection duties.

Ten Cate blasts Chelsea players over leaks

Chelsea assistant coach Henk ten Cate has accused some Blues players of leaking news to the media.
The controversial 53-year-old coach used an interview in a Dutch newspaper to blast the Stamford Bridge dissenters.
Ten Cate said: "What really annoys me is that members from the squad deliberately leak stuff. The training ground should be a safe zone - especially the changing room. I have a problem with it when people from the squad deliberately leak."

Chelsea coach Ten Cate: Media gag my idea

Chelsea assistant coach Henk ten Cate has revealed it was his decision to ban him from speaking to the local media.
In an interview with De Telegraaf, the former Barcelona No2 said: "You wouldn't expect pressure from the media, given that we are doing well, but the pressure is enormous. We can't plan more than 10 games ahead because it's all about a battle for survival for us.
"One bad run of results and you're out. You just can't afford to lose here. I came to Chelsea because I was looking for peace. I wanted to work at the top level and I was looking, at the same time, for peace.<> "That was a condition for me when I came here. I didn't want to talk to the media. I refused to do it. I loved the quietness. The only obligation is that I speak to Chelsea TV, the club's TV channel."

Latest Football News

Hicks terminates DIC sale talks
Co-owner Tom Hicks has revealed he has "terminated discussions" with Dubai International Capital over their bid to buy a stake in Liverpool.

DIC, the investment arm of the Dubai government, were hoping to buy a minority stake in the club, but following lengthy discussions, Hicks has issued a statement which read: "Based on a meeting held earlier today in Dubai between my representatives and officials of Dubai International Capital LLC, as well as other recent contacts between us and them, I have decided to terminate any further discussions with DIC regarding their possible purchase of a minority stake in Kop and, in turn, in the club."
The statement continued: "DIC made it clear that if they invested in the club, they would want it to be managed by committee.
"Based on my 13 years of successful experience as an owner of professional sports teams, and based in particular on the situation at Liverpool Football Club over the past year, it is clear to me that such a committee approach would not be in the best interest of Kop, of the club or of the club's loyal and passionate supporters.
"Accordingly, I have decided to exercise my right under the Kop Football (Holdings) Limited partnership agreement to veto any sale of any portion of Kop and the Club to DIC.
"I and my colleagues and representatives will continue to explore a number of other options with regard to the ownership of Kop and the club aimed at achieving an appropriate ownership, financial and organisational structure for Kop and the club over the long term."
Talks had been taking place between DIC and Hicks about how a joint relationship would work.
Fellow American George Gillett is understood to have agreed in principle to sell 49% of his 50% stake to DIC, and the other 1% to Hicks to give the Texan a controlling interest.
DIC have accepted that Hicks will not sell his share in Liverpool in the near future, but would insist on a clause giving them first refusal to buy his stake.

Man Utd boss Ferguson made furious phone call to refs boss

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson made an angry phone call to refs boss Keith Hackett after their FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth, it has been revealed.
The Mirror says Fergie blasted Hackett following ref Martin Atkinson's failure to give a penalty when Cristiano Ronaldo was brought down in the 1-0 defeat.
But Fergie - who is set to be hit with an FA misconduct charge for his outbursts - went a step further on Saturday night by calling Hackett to deliver a fresh barrage of abuse.
He vented his anger and accused the refs' chief of allowing standards among officials to reach an all-time low following what he perceived as Atkinson's blunder which cost United their chance of the Treble.
But Hackett put Fergie in his place, informing the United boss he was not responsible for appointing officials to FA Cup matches, the responsibility falling to the FA.

Gerrard warns Liverpool to stay focused

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says there's still a long way to go in their battle clinch Champions League qualification this season.
After victory over Newcastle United, the 27-year-old told "It was a comfortable win. The lads at the back did their job with the clean sheet, and the lads up front got the goals, but credit has to go to the team because it was a team display.
"It's easy to let your mind wander ahead of the Milan game but it was important we stayed focused. It could have affected the performance, so credit to the boys for being very professional and doing the job right. Now we can focus on Inter Milan. It will be a very difficult game but we're confident we can qualify.
"We'll show them a lot of respect but, like I said, we're confident, we're playing well and we got a fantastic result against them at home. Now we need to go finish the job off."

Liverpool's Babel using Henry as inspiration

Liverpool ace Ryan Babel has revealed he's using Arsenal legend Thierry Henry as inspiration as he establishes himself on Merseyside.
"Thierry started as a left winger. Further on in his career he became a striker and real goalscorer," said the Dutchman.
"That is what I want too. I am happy to play on the wing at Liverpool but eventually I hope I can do for the team what Thierry did at Arsenal. "I met Henry for the first time with Ajax when we played Arsenal in the Champions League in 2005. It is fantastic that I was able to visit him at the end of last year for a few days in Spain."
Babel, 23, added: "I also go and see Robin van Persie a lot in London.
"He has told me how to protect myself against the tough defenders in the Premier League and in the Champions League."

Liverpool boss Benitez: Midfield now built for Gerrard

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has revealed he's released Steven Gerrard from his defensive duties in central midfield.

The Reds skipper is clearly relishing the fact two holding midfielders allow him to bomb forward.
Benitez admitted: "Stevie now has the same freedom he had as a right winger, when he came inside.
"He's enjoying it because he knows he can go forward with no problem as he has the two behind him.
"The understanding with Torres is very good. They bring the best out of each other - you could see that with the second goal.
"With the freedom he has now, and the quality going forward, he is unstoppable. His understanding with those around him is very good."
Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan is certain Gerrard's best days still lie ahead. He added: "When I used to see kids with Gerrard on the back of their shirts, I used to say to the mum and dad, 'Good role model for your kid'.
"He's not just a good player but carries the burden of responsibility in other areas very well. I am a big fan of his. And I think there's more to come, definitely. He is 27, still young and is going to get better.
"He is outstanding at the moment but his best years are still to come."

Newcastle fans turn on Ashley at Anfield

Mike Ashley was targeted by Newcastle United fans during Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Liverpool.
The Journal says Toon owner Ashley generally sits with the Newcastle fans rather than in the directors box at away games, and reports in Liverpool claim he was targeted by angry supporters on Saturday.
After the third goal a Magpies fan is said to have accused the billionaire of ruining Keegan�s chances of assembling a good team by failing to provide him with sufficient transfer funds. In a separate incident, a drunken fan allegedly lunged at Ashley.

UEFA open laser case against Lyon

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Lyon after home supporters aimed a laser at Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo during their Champions League clash at the Stade Gerland.
Portugal winger Ronaldo was dazzled by the laser before and during the first leg of the last-16 tie on February 20.
UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Committee will examine evidence in preparation for a hearing on March 20.
Lyon earned a 1-1 draw in that game but then lost the second leg 1-0 to be knocked out of the competition.

Spanish media say Primera Liga title race is over

Spanish media predicted the end of the Primera Liga title race on Monday after leaders Real Madrid went eight points clear of Barcelona at the weekend.

Real's 2-1 comeback win at home to Espanyol on Saturday, coupled with Barca's 2-1 defeat by Villarreal at the Nou Camp on Sunday, restored a healthy advantage that had been trimmed to just two points two weeks ago.
'Real Madrid escape again,' sports daily Marca said on Monday, while Mundo Deportivo wrote: 'Without (injured Lionel) Messi there is no Barca and no title race.'
Barca president Joan Laporta described Sunday's game as 'disastrous' as Villarreal played a sensible holding game, packing the midfield, breaking rapidly and effectively to a deserved win with goals from Marcos Senna and Jon Dahl Tomasson.
Villarreal are now just four points short of Barca in third place, with 11 games left in the season.
Real also went behind in their game against Espanyol at the Bernabeu, and like Barca had to endure murmurs of unrest and whistles from their fans before coming back with a goal from Gonzalo Higuain and a dubious penalty from Raul.
'It wasn't a game for the gallery,' a taciturn coach Bernd Schuster observed.
While the top two struggled it was the likes of lesser-lights Villarreal, Racing Santander, Getafe and Real Mallorca who provided the entertainment over the weekend.
Copa Del Rey semi-finalists Racing were the surprise package of the first half of the season, and have recovered from a dip in form to climb to fifth place, level on 44 points with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
The Cantabrians beat 10-man Real Betis 3-0 at home on Sunday to stay on course for a possible first appearance in a major European competition.
'Our objective from the start of the season was to avoid relegation and we have achieved that mathematically with this win. Now we can start to dream of other things,' said coach Marcelino.
Their Cup semi-final opponents Getafe made it nine games unbeaten in all competitions with a 3-0 away win over Real Murcia on Sunday, spoiling new coach Javier Clemente's first game at the helm of the hosts.
Michael Laudrup's modest side show little sign of fatigue as they chase a potential cup double. They are 2-1 up from the away leg of their UEFA Cup last-16 tie against Benfica.
Real Mallorca ended a run of five consecutive league draws with a spectacular 7-1 demolition of Recreativo Huelva, with Venezuela forward Juan Arango bagging a hat-trick in the islanders' biggest ever win in the top flight.
'It's a game every coach dreams of witnessing, but we haven't really won anything. It is still only three points,' Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano said.

FA hand Blackburn Rovers misconduct charge

Blackburn Rovers have been charged with misconduct by the Football Association as a result of their players' behaviour during the game with Newcastle United on March 1.
The FA have alleged that Rovers were guilty of 'failing to ensure that their players and/or officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion' in the match at St James' Park, which they won 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal by Matt Derbyshire.
Blackburn have until March 25 to respond to the charge.

Cesc to become Arsenal's best ever paid

Arsenal are ready to make Cesc Fabregas the highest paid player in the club's history.
After their 0-0 draw at Wigan yesterday, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger insisted Cesc would have to wait until the summer before opening new contract talks.
However, the Sunday Mirror says Gunners sources admit they will need to put Fabregas on a par with Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and John Terry as the Premier League's top earners in the £130,000-a-week bracket.
That will mean topping the biggest pay packet in Arsenal's history - the £120,000 a week paid to Thierry Henry in his final year at the club.
An Arsenal insider said: "We're aware of the situation with Cesc and we will be looking at it in the summer.
"We want to keep him at the club and are not afraid to bring him into line with other high profile players in the Premier League."
Arsenal are keen to secure Fabregas as soon as possible to stop him using a FIFA loophole to buy himself out of his current contract.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Latest Football News

FIFA to consider longer ban for Taylor

FIFA are to examine Martin Taylor's infamous foul on Eduardo to see whether the Birmingham defender's three-match ban should extended, it can be revealed.

The world governing body are to call for the Football Association to send them the disciplinary file on the incident involving Taylor, which left the Arsenal striker with a badly-broken leg.
Taylor has insisted the tackle was clumsy rather than malicious, and that has been accepted by Arsenal.
But FIFA president Sepp Blatter said his organisation have the right to ask for such files to ensure that appropriate sanctions have been issued.
Blatter, speaking in Gleneagles following a meeting of the International FA Board, said: 'We will ask for the file.
'We have now the right to ask national associations to give us the file - and if we, the authorities, feel it [the suspension] is not enough then we will come back on that.'
Blatter said the issue of 'violent attacks' needs to be looked at, adding it has even been suggested that offenders should be suspended for the same length of time as their victims are out injured.
Blatter added: 'I told the International Board that a player who is deliberately attacking another player and tries to demolish a player should be banned, and not only for three matches but temporarily banned or a life ban depending on the severity of the attack.
'Why the hell should footballers demolish each other?'

FA to review Fergie blast at match officials

The Football Association are to review Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's comments about referee Martin Atkinson after his side's 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth in the FA Cup yesterday.
Ferguson was also highly critical of referees boss Keith Hackett for his apparent lack of action in dealing with underperforming officials.
'Managers get sacked because of things like that and he's going to referee a game next week,' said Ferguson yesterday.
'He (Hackett) is not doing his job properly and he needs to be assessed.
'I'm assessed as a manager, players are assessed, referees should be assessed properly by the right people. That performance should not be accepted by our game.'
A spokesman for the FA said: 'We are aware of the comments and will be giving them consideration.'
Should any action be taken against Ferguson and he is found guilty he would be fined rather receive a touchline ban.
United were aggrieved that Atkinson failed to give a penalty for Sylvain Distin's challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo.
But Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp said: 'I didn't think it [Distin on Ronaldo] was a penalty. I don't think we made a bad tackle during the game.
'There was only one bad tackle - and that was made by a Manchester United player (Wayne Rooney was booked for a feet off the ground lunge at Niko Kranjcar).
'I thought he [the referee] got it bang on. If it was a penalty I would be the first to say `we got away with that one'.
'I think Ronaldo pushed it too far and I didn't see anything wrong with the challenge.
'Our penalty (Tomasz Kuszczak bringing down Milan Baros) was a banker penalty.'
Following Ferguson's comments, the Professional Game Match Officials Board released a statement which confirmed Hackett's role in selecting referees.
A spokesperson for the PGMO told PA Sport: 'This is clearly a matter for the Football Association.
'However, as a point of information, Keith Hackett has no responsibility for the selection of match officials for FA Cup games.'

Friday, March 07, 2008

Latest Chelsea News

Grant enjoying Chelsea pressure

Avram Grant is relishing the pressure that comes with guiding Chelsea towards success - even if it means upsetting members of his squad.

Against Tottenham in the Carling Cup final it was Michael Ballack and Joe Cole who missed out, while Didier Drogba was rested at the weekend in the Premier League.
It is this competition for places that Grant feels will keep Chelsea in the hunt for three trophies this season.
"Any player that is in the squad expects to play," he said.
"I don't want to be with a squad where players don't want to play. We are a big squad with good players.
"Only 11 can play - I checked, to play with more, but they don't allow it.
"Any formation or 11 I pick, there will be big players on the bench.
"The bench is very important for us, and also the players not in the squad. This is life in a big club."
Keeping the squad happy is a problem Grant is mastering.
"Life in football today is a lot of pressure," he added.
"I think it is good - because when you are in a big club it pushes you always to achieve the best things.
"I think it is good pressure. I like it, personally."
However, Grant was lost for words to describe what failure against Olympiacos would mean - with the Greek champions earning a goalless draw in the first leg of the last-16 clash.
"If we will not qualify ..... I don't know the word, I think you know it better than me," he said.
England midfielder Cole, meanwhile, has bought into the idea of the whole squad needing to be utilised during the season.
"For me, my job is to play for Chelsea when selected and play as well as I can," said Cole.
"I don't pay attention to any of the drama surrounding this football club. My job is to perform as well as I can, and that's what I'll do.
"I think that applies for every big club - Manchester United, Arsenal - all the top clubs in England have big player left out.
"As footballers, you are responsible for one thing and one thing only - and that's your performance. That is regardless of everything on and off the pitch.
"I hope I play, and all I'm concerned with is 'can I help Chelsea get a result?"'

Jose still loves Blues but wants to 'kill' them

Jose Mourinho has warned Chelsea he is out to 'kill' them when he returns to management.

The former Blues boss reiterated his love for the club he managed for more than three years before his sensational departure in September.
But he is desperate to meet them in Champions League combat next season and knock them out of Europe.
'I hope to play them next season in the Champions League,' said the Portuguese, speaking in Valencia at the official global launch of MiCoach.
'If I play them in the Champions League, I want to go there and kill them - that's my message.'
Mourinho was replaced by Avram Grant, who had originally been brought to Stamford Bridge as director of football.
He refused to express an opinion on his successor, saying: 'I feel nothing for him, I feel everything for the club, but not for him personally.
'I still feel Chelsea is a part of me, I'll have Chelsea in my heart forever.
'I left and for five months you couldn't get a bad word from me in relation to the club and you cannot do it in the future too.'
Mourinho's departure was shrouded in mystery, with the build-up dominated by rumours of a falling out with billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.
But he revealed he and the Russian had kept in contact and were on good terms.
'I think it was last week that I spoke with people from the club,' he said.
'I was speaking with Mr Abramovich and (chief executive) Peter Kenyon because we still keep in touch.
'I was telling them I wish them always good, I wish them always to succeed, I wish them always to win.'

Berlusconi wants Sheva to replace Ronaldo

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has reiterated his desire to take Andriy Shevchenko back to the San Siro this summer, describing him as the 'ideal choice' to replace the injured Ronaldo.

Brazil striker Ronaldo is likely to be sidelined until November after undergoing surgery on ruptured knee ligaments in Paris last month.
And Berlusconi believes Chelsea's former Milan favourite Shevchenko can fill the void.
He said: 'I think regularly about Shevchenko and I often speak to him.
'The fans would understand that this would be the ideal choice for us. He is a player who is ready to help and for us that would be the ideal solution.
'I don't think that (Chelsea owner Roman) Abramovich will have a problem in letting him go.'
Shevchenko became Milan's second all-time leading goalscorer in a glorious seven-year spell which ended in the summer of 2006 when he joined Chelsea for £30million.
However, he has failed to shine at Stamford Bridge, although his record of 20 goals in 68 appearances is still respectable.

Milan Can Have Sheva For €10m – Report
AC Milan seem increasingly likely to re-sign Andriy Shevchenko, and can buy him for €10m, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Many people have painted Milan's exit from the Champions League on Tuesday night as the end of an era, and it is clear that the club needs to make some reinforcements in the summer. The primary position that needs strengthening is up-front, and yesterday President Silvio Berlusconi declared that he wanted to bring back Chelsea’s Andriy Shevchenko to San Siro. “I regularly hear from Andriy,” the former Italian prime minister revealed. “And I believe that Roman Abramovich will have no difficulties letting him go. “The fans should understand that it would be the right choice. Andriy is a personable player and represents the best solution for us.” Shevchenko had seven glorious years with Milan, until he moved to Chelsea for €45m in 2006. The move has not worked out well however, and the Gazzetta says that the 31-year-old will be allowed to rejoin his former club if Milan come up with €10m.

Liverpool Latest Takeover News

Fans group still plan Reds takeover
Share Liverpool FC insists DIC's offer to buy out the Anfield club will not prevent them pushing forward with their own takeover bid.

The fans' organisation hope to attract 100,000 people willing to invest £5,000 each to run Liverpool along similar lines to other member-run sides such as Barcelona.
The initiative's founder, Dr Rogan Taylor said: "We will continue to monitor this situation but it won't lessen the effort and commitment we are putting into our serious and robust proposal.
"We would like to see the fans have a full and proper say in the running of their club. We are ready to talk to the owners about making that a reality.
"I strongly believe that Share Liverpool FC will have a significant role to play - we have strong momentum and fans are joining by the hundreds on a daily basis."
Meanwhile Dubai International Capital are awaiting developments following their latest attempt to take over the club.
DIC - the investment arm of the Dubai government - on Tuesday made a £400million offer to buy out American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
With Hicks having indicated a strong desire to retain his 50% stake, the key to the balance of power would appear to rest with Gillett.
Selling his share to DIC would net him a £25million profit on his investment but Hicks, who is believed to have first option, could also buy him out to take total control.
Hicks has not formally rejected DIC's offer but a source close to the Texan say his position remains as entrenched as ever.
Hicks is only interesting in dealing with parties which would allow him to retain the majority shareholding.
Yet should Gillett choose to work with DIC, who have no interest in joint control with Hicks, the club could be left in a difficult position with opposing parties owning each half.
Whether or not it would come to that, however, is doubtful as sources close to DIC, Hicks and Gillett have suggested a deal must be worked out soon.
The American pair face a difficult short-term future following their recent refinancing of the funds they used to buy the club 13 months ago.
That package loaded £105million of debt onto the club, of which £60million is earmarked to kickstart the club's new stadium development.
It is also anticipated that they will soon need to return to the banks to ask for a further £300million in loans to cover the rest of the project in Stanley Park.
It is believed DIC turned their attention to Gillett after finding Hicks an immovable object in negotiations.
"It's no secret that we have been in discussions with the current owners," said DIC chief executive Sameer Al-Ansari.
"It's not easy because the owners are in dreamland about valuations at the moment."
Al-Ansari later clarified that one of the club's owners "had come out of dreamland", without giving further details, although it seems unlikely he was referring to Hicks.
Should Gillett decide to sell, it is thought Hicks would have 90 days to exercise his option to buy.
Hicks has already said it is "premature" to say he has already raised the money with loans from American business colleagues.
DIC may have to accept that Hicks cannot sell at the moment because he is raising money in the US by floating his entire sports empire - Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers and Liverpool.
Fans offer cautious welcome to takeover

Liverpool fans have given a cautious welcome to Dubai International Capital's takeover bid, urging their American owners to accept the offer.

Not for the first time in recent weeks, supporters are expected to express their dissent towards the regime of George Gillett and Tom Hicks during tonight's Barclays Premier League match with West Ham.
Neil Atkinson, spokesperson for the Liverpool Supporters Union `Spirit of Shankly', told the Daily Telegraph: 'Should DIC make their way into the club, they should be welcomed with caution - they may or may not have the best interests of the club at heart.'
Atkinson listed a number of perceived injustices by the current Liverpool owners - including delays in the construction of a new stadium and holding talks with Jurgen Klinsmann - before adding: '(DIC chief executive Sameer) al-Ansari talks about Tom Hicks' valuation of the club being `in dreamland'. Mr Hicks is further in dreamland if he thinks he will ever be accepted at LFC.
'If he tries to grin and bear it then it emphasises what we already know - he's only in it for one reason: the money and the money alone.
'I'm sure Liverpool supporters will make their feelings known at the West Ham game - let Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett go now with their profit.
'Let us start again with new owners, keep our eyes open and work with them within our heritage and tradition.'
Gillett considering DIC offer

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett is still considering an offer from Dubai International Capital to buy his 50% stake in the club.
That was the end product of late-night talks in London yesterday between Gillett's lawyers and DIC negotiators, led by Amanda Staveley, the former girlfriend of Prince Andrew who has emerged as a key mover in the takeover saga.
Staveley, 34, has been reporting directly to DIC chief executive Sameer Al Ansari and Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
And DIC's stance on the current impasse is to allow Gillett and fellow owner Tom Hicks time to assess the situation.
Reports this morning suggested Gillett had last night rejected an offer for his own shares, as it under-valued them.
However, although DIC have made it clear their offer was final, it has been left on the table and has not been dismissed by Gillett.
It is believed that the American co-owners - neither of whom can currently sell without the other's say-so - will try to discover if they can get a better offer for their holding, but DIC believe they will not discover any other takers which would probably bring the pair back to the negotiating table.
Discussions between advisors are ongoing, which means that by the end of the week there will be further talks to end the current impasse.
DIC believe the key to the talks could be when Gillett and Hicks try to raise a further £300million to build the club's new Stanley Park stadium.
The trouble they had with a £350million re-financing package in January means there are doubts over whether they could find a bank willing to give them more cash.
Hicks is still working on finances of his own to raise enough money to buy-out Gillett's stake. But even if he manages that, DIC believe he will still find it increasingly tough to finance Liverpool's new stadium and the transfer requirements of manager Rafael Benitez.

Latest Footy News

Ferguson planning to retire in three years?

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that that he may step down in three years' time. By then Britain's most decorated boss will have spent 25 years at the helm at Old Trafford.
Ferguson has won 18 trophies after arriving at the club in November 1986 from Aberdeen - and remains anxious for more.
United are still in line for the treble for the first time since 1999 and face Portsmouth in the FA Cup tomorrow.
They are also aiming to retain their league title and have already booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League this week after beating Lyon.
Ferguson had initially planned to retire in 2005, only to change his mind.
That decision was vindicated as he rebuilt his side, going on to claim last season's Premier League crown.
Ferguson believes it will be time go when he is 69.
'I'm getting beyond the future now,' he told French radio.
'I still have a lot of passion. I'm still happy. But I'm 66 now - maybe three years more, then I'll finish.'
Ferguson said it was too soon to mark out his successor. But he added: 'I have a great assistant in Carlos Queiroz. He will come into the reckoning.
'But we have owners and a chief executive who will choose the new man in three years' time.'

Maldini may postpone retirement for a season

Paolo Maldini may reconsider his decision to retire at the end of the season, the AC Milan captain said on Thursday.

'I'm being pushed to play another year. Three months ago I was very unfit but now I am better,' the 39-year-old defender told Sky television. 'I like this sport, I like training.'
Milan's elimination by Arsenal in Tuesday's Champions League last 16 tie had looked like Maldini's last European match.
The one-club man, one of Milan's few good players on Tuesday, had been desperate to play in a record ninth European Cup final and pick up a sixth winners' medal.
Club president Silvio Berlusconi and chief executive Adriano Galliani want him to play another season and Maldini, who started his Milan career in 1985, is tempted.
'(They) are pushing me to continue for another year. We will see,' he said.

Blatter urges clampdown on leg-breaking tackles

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for a major clampdown on players guilty of dangerous tackles - and the managers who encourage them.

Blatter believes reckless challenges are one of the biggest scourges of the modern game and insists there should be harsh penalties for the perpetrators, including criminal charges where necessary.
'Dangerous tackling is one of the most important issues in football at the moment,' Blatter told The Times. 'Players who do this kind of thing intentionally should be banned from the game.'
He added: 'Attacking somebody is criminal, whether it happens on a football pitch or elsewhere. It is a crime and should be treated as such.'
Blatter, who is to push for tougher refereeing ahead of Euro 2008, insists managers are often as guilty as the players who dive into challenges.
'The mechanism where this happens today is obvious,' he said. 'The pressure on the coach or manager to win is such that he encourages his players to go for victory at any cost.
'There is no microphone in the dressing-room, so he says, 'go, go, go'. Until when? Until the point where the referee intervenes.'
Blatter also reiterated his opposition to the Premier League's floundering plan for a 39th game, insisting he would not soften his stance.
'It is impossible that they can persuade me of this,' he said. 'They cannot do it.
'It is not only me who is against this, it is others, too. I represent the family of football and I will bring this to the Congress of Fifa if necessary.'

Beckham in 'perfect shape' for England return

Fit-again David Beckham is fully confident he can earn his 100th England cap in the friendly with France on March 26.

Beckham was left out of new manager Fabio Capello's squad for his first game in charge of the national side, a 2-1 victory over Switzerland, due to a lack of match fitness.
But the Italian hinted yesterday he expects the 32-year-old to be in contention to face Raymond Domenech's side in Paris, although he will assess Beckham in action prior to that when the Los Angeles Galaxy face FC Dallas in a pre-season game on March 15.
And Beckham, in Hong Kong for Galaxy's third game of a three-match Asian Tour, believes there will be no doubts about his sharpness, insisting that the decision will be purely down to form.
'Fitness-wise, I'll be perfect,' he said. 'But it's about performing and hopefully I'll do that.'
Beckham insisted he was relaxed over his England future despite his initial exclusion, after being reassured by Capello he would be in the frame for the France encounter, and is also confident he can extend his international career well beyond the Paris friendly.
'That's what he (Capello) said to me. I knew that from the conversation I had with him,' he added.
'He said that once I'm back playing and if I'm fit, and I'm playing well enough, then he'll pick me. With the first game after he took charge, I hadn't played any games and he explained that to me. I've played three games so far now and got through them all.
'I believe I can play for my country for a good few more years yet, that's just me being honest. I believe that I can still play at that level.
'The standard is slightly different in the US but it's not as low as everybody thinks. We've got some very good teams and very good players and we play some really good football so we'll just have to wait and see.
'But I believe I can play for my country for a good few years.'
If Beckham does join Peter Shilton, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright as only the fifth player to pass the century mark for England, he admitted it will be one of the proudest moments of a career that has seen him claim titles in England and Spain along with the Champions League.
'Reaching 100 games and reaching 100 caps is very special,' he said.
'Being a proud Englishmen, it's something that I've always wanted to do since I was a young boy. I've always wanted to play for my country, I've always wanted to captain my country and I've always wanted to reach 100 games because there's not many players that have done that.
'It would be a proud moment if I did that but at the moment I'm working hard on my fitness and working hard with the Galaxy and if i get the 100th cap then great. But we'll just have to wait and see.'

No date for retirement, insists Ferguson

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is refusing to put a timescale on when he will step down as manager.

Ferguson indicated in an interview with French radio that he would bow out in three years.
However he played down the situation in his media briefing before the FA Cup match against Portsmouth tomorrow at Old Trafford.
He said: 'It is something I have said quite a bit. If your health is good and you are enjoying your job, it could be two or three years.
'I am not going to pigeon-hole myself on that one.
'It could be four years, it could be tomorrow. It is impossible to put a time limit on something like this.'
Britain's most decorated boss will have spent 25 years at the helm at Old Trafford, should he retire in 2011.
Ferguson has won 18 trophies after arriving at the club in November 1986 from Aberdeen - and remains anxious for more.
United are still in line for the treble for the first time since 1999 and are odds-on to defeat Portsmouth.
They are also aiming to retain their league title and have already booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League this week after beating Lyon.
Ferguson had initially planned to retire in 2005, only to change his mind.
That decision was vindicated as he rebuilt his side, going on to claim last season's Premier League crown.
'I'm getting beyond the future now, ' Ferguson told a French radio station. 'I still have a lot of passion. I'm still happy. But I'm 66 now - maybe three years more, then I'll finish.'
Ferguson said it was too soon to mark out his successor.
But he added: 'I have a great assistant in Carlos Queiroz. He will come into the reckoning.
'But we have owners and a chief executive who will choose the new man in three years' time.'
Ferguson can speak some French as well as a bit of Portuguese and has been putting his new language skills into practice.
'I enjoy speaking to Patrice Evra, Louis Saha and Mikael Silvestre because it helps improve my French, ' he told Red View.
'Portuguese is also quite prominent here and I am picking up a few words along the way.
'Carlos (Queiroz) can speak Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French and's very handy.
'The joke around here is that in the dressing room the second language is English.'

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Latest Footy News

Rooney pledges never to play abroad

Wayne Rooney has expressed his love of English football and believes he will never play abroad.
The England forward is in his third year with Manchester United and is chasing the treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup after the 1-0 defeat of Lyon took his side into the quarter-finals in Europe.
Rather than look to test himself in Serie A or the Primera Liga, however, Rooney insists he is happy at home and believes the Premier League eclipses all domestic competitions.
The 22-year-old said: 'The English game has improved so much in the past few seasons.
'We have proved we have the best league in the world which is why we attract the best players in the world.
'It is down to other English players if they decide to play abroad but, for me, English football is the best.
'I love playing here and I'm pretty sure that will never change.'

Real count cost of another European flop

Real Madrid's worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday when they exited the Champions League at the first knockout round for the fourth year in succession. The nine-times champions were ruthlessly exposed by a high-quality Roma side who beat them 2-1 at the Bernabeu, completing a 4-2 aggregate victory that will have major repercussions at a club that measures success in terms of European trophies.
'We didn't have that magic we've shown on other nights,' said skipper Raul, whose 61st Champions League goal was to no avail.
'It's a very heavy blow, a really big disappointment because the Champions League was one of our big objectives this season and now we are out of it.
'We were the better side in the first leg, but we came back with a very dangerous result and we weren't able to impose ourselves on opponents who showed themselves to be a very good team. We struggled to create any scoring chances.'
Real were simply not as sharp, as hungry or as skilful as Roma and although they can point to the sending off of Portugal centre-back Pepe as the turning point in the tie, the defeat revealed more serious weaknesses.
The absence of leading striker Ruud van Nistelrooy through injury exposed the team's lack of alternatives up front, while the midfield once again looked short of pace and ideas.
At the back Pepe gave further evidence of poor judgement in picking up two needless bookings, while his fellow defenders struggled to deal with Roma's sharp passing and running off the ball.
'We lacked intensity and tension, maybe because we were worried about their counter-attacks,' said centre-back Fabio Cannavaro.
'We weren't direct enough and we didn't win back the ball enough.'
Only two weeks ago, club president Ramon Calderon was talking up his side's chances of a European and domestic double, saying that the squad was the 'best in the world' and the team was 'playing like a machine.' Last night he was forced to change his tune.
'This is clearly a failure,' he said. 'When the season ends we will have to sit down and analyse the situation and if there are chances of strengthening the squad we will take them.'
Out of the King's Cup and out of Europe, Real's only hope of silverware lies in the league, where they are still five points clear at the top, but the team's recent form suggests that even that goal could be under threat.
Fabio Capello was sacked after delivering the league title and nothing else. Bernd Schuster can now do no better than the Italian.

Capello opens door for Beckhmam's century

Fabio Capello has confirmed David Beckham is 'in contention' to earn his 100th England cap against France this month and insists the former captain can be confident of achieving the landmark. Beckham missed the recent friendly at home to Switzerland due to a lack of match fitness but hopes to play his first England game under new manager Capello when they travel to Paris on March 26.
And Capello, speaking to England fans yesterday, admitted the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder can be confident of playing at the Stade de France.
'Yes,' he said. 'Los Angeles Galaxy play in Dallas on March 14 and (assistant manager) Franco Baldini or I will go to see him and assess his fitness.
'He is in contention for France. We will check on him in Dallas and then we will decide whether he will be fit for that squad. He will get his 100th cap if he is fit and in form.
'I know Beckham very well from Real Madrid and I hope David will play the 100th game and get that cap.
'I understand from reading his last interview that at this moment his fitness isn't good and I will phone him because I want to know exactly what he thinks about his fitness.'

Jose: Back in Italy or Spain, then England

Jose Mourinho hopes to return to soccer management next year in either Italy or Spain, the former Chelsea coach has said.
The Portuguese tactician added that he wants to go back to England before finishing his coaching career as Portugal's national team boss.
'Now no, I am studying,' the 45-year-old told Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if he wanted to return to coaching. 'From next year however, yes.'
He was sacked by Chelsea in September after a disagreement with club chiefs despite winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups in three years at Stamford Bridge.
'Italy or Spain,' Mourinho said when asked about his future. 'Afterwards I want to go back to England and finally be national coach of Portugal.'
The colourful if controversial coach, who turned down the chance of managing England in December, has been linked in the media with Barcelona and AC Milan, whose respective coaches Frank Rijkaard and Carlo Ancelotti are under pressure.
Holders Milan were dumped out of the Champions League by Arsenal in the last 16 on Tuesday after the Premier League leaders won their second leg 2-0 at San Siro.
'I respect Milan and Ancelotti but Arsenal deserved to qualify over the two games,' added Mourinho, who won the European Cup with Porto in 2004.
There has been further speculation that Mourinho may be in line for the Inter Milan job despite Roberto Mancini guiding this season's leaders to the Serie A title last term. Mourinho played down the talk but said he admired Inter owner Massimo Moratti.
'I respect him very much as a person that loves football and his club deeply,' he said. 'However I have never talked with him.'

Latest Chelsea News

Chelsea stroll marred by worries over Cech

Chelsea cruised into the quarter-finals of the Champions League by defeating Olympiacos but the evening was soured by news of an ankle injury to Petr Cech.
The 25-year-old goalkeeper was not involved in the 3-0 win over the Greeks and is expected to have a scan today to determine the extent of the problem he picked up in training.
'We hope it won't be for long,' said Chelsea boss Avram Grant.
Carlo Cudicini, Cech's deputy, had a fairly straightforward return to action as Chelsea joined Arsenal and Manchester United in the last eight of Europe's elite club competition.

Michael Ballack headed in an early opener to establish a lead after the first-leg stalemate, then Frank Lampard tapped in a second and Salomon Kalou added a third just after the break.
It was only when the result was settled that Cudicini was called into action, while Fernando Belluschi also hit the crossbar for the visitors late on.
Although Olympiacos were woeful, Chelsea's result was another response after the recent Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham.
'I have confidence in my team,' said Grant. 'From day one I have had full confidence in the team, even though most of the people didn't believe we would have a good year.
'So far it has been a good development and that pleases me more than the results.

'We know it was a bad day in the League Cup final. We were only team from the big four to make the final. We showed since then character and good attitude. That is what is important. It's what I like.'
Lampard was upset after picking up a second-half booking for diving, and he protested his innocence after the final whistle.
'He (the referee) said it was because I threw my arms up,' Lampard said on Sky Sports. 'I was asking for a penalty but I don't mind not being given a penalty.
'But to call me a diver, that's not the way I play and it's unfortunate because it puts me on a yellow.'

Lampard is now relishing the prospect of all four English teams being in the quarter-finals, providing Liverpool protect their 2-0 lead over Inter Milan next week
He added: 'What will be will be. If all four of us go through - and Liverpool are in a good position - there will be a great chance of an all-English match.
'It's obviously great for England if we're all in there but if we draw one we will have to deal with it.'

Chelsea captain John Terry dedicated the victory to Frank Steer, from the club's backroom staff, whose mother has passed away

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

BPL Midweek Preview - Liverpool Vs West Ham



Steve Finnan's groin problem will keep him out again, but Alvaro Arbeloa may start in place of Skrtel, allowing Carragher to return to his preferred position of centre-back. Peter Crouch and Yossi Benayoun are pushing for recalls - we'll have to see whether Benítez sticks closely to the XI used at Bolton or opts to rotate with Newcastle and Inter in mind. Pennant, Agger and Voronin are still injured.

Likely XI (4-2-3-1): Reina - Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Aurélio - Mascherano, Alonso - Kuyt, Gerrard, Babel - Torres

West Ham

Julien Faubert took a knock at the weekend and it doubtful for the Anfield trip. Nobby Solano may start on the right instead. The Hammers’ injury list remains lengthy: Craig Bellamy misses the return to his former club, while Bowyer, Parker and Etherington are also sidelined. Alan Curbishley refused to criticise his players after the Chelsea game and should keep faith with most, though Dean Ashton may get a recall.

Likely XI (4-4-1-1): Green – Neill, Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney – Solano, Mullins, Noble, Ljungberg – Boa Morte – Ashton


Liverpool – Dirk Kuyt
As is always the way with Liverpool we can’t be totally sure he’ll play, but nobody can deny that Dirk Kuyt has upped his game in recent weeks. The Dutchman could never be accused of laziness – it’s clear he always tries hard – but he appears have become that much more clinical in recent outings.
Goals against Barnsley and then against Inter have boosted his confidence, as has a more regular run in the side, and by hitting the bar at Bolton he indirectly set-up Liverpool’s second goal. If Liverpool struggle to find the net early everybody will be looking to Torres, but Kuyt has a chance to prove he can deliver important goals too.

West Ham – Freddie Ljungberg
The Swede played a prominent role in a few smash-and-grab Anfield victories during his time with Arsenal. His West Ham career hasn’t taken off in the desired manner yet, partly due to injury, but Ljungberg nevertheless bagged his first goal of the season against Birmingham a few weeks back and – after failing to do so on Saturday – will seek to prove he’s still useful against big-name opposition.

Liverpool still have some tough fixtures to come and consequently need to put together a run of results now. Home win.

Liverpool 2-0 West Ham United

Champions League Round Of 16 Preview - Chelsea Vs Olympiakos



The Blues are in the midst of a sequence of four successive games in four different competitions - Carling Cup, Premier League, Champions League and, next weekend, FA Cup quarter-final against Championship side Barnsley, so Grant is having to pick and choose players for each match in an attempt to get the best out of his squad.Lampard's red card at the weekend will not affect his participation against Olympiakos, but Michael Essien is one card away from a suspension in this competition.Andriy Shevchenko's back injury has kept him out of most of the action since Christmas, but although fit again he was obliged to play for the reserves against Reading on Monday night. His performance was described by the Chelsea website as 'low key' as the Blues' second-string lost 2-1.Otherwise, Grant should have a more or less full complement of players from which to select his starting eleven on Wednesday.

Last Starting XI (v West Ham): Čech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, A. Cole, Ballack, Makelele (Alex 84), Lampard, Kalou (Malouda 75), Anelka, J. Cole (Essien 69)

Squad Named For Champions League Matches

Goalkeepers - 1 Petr Cech, 23 Carlo Cudicini, 40 Hilário

Defenders - 3 Ashley Cole, 6 Ricardo Carvalho, 18 Wayne Bridge, 20 Paulo Ferreira, 22 Tal Ben Haim, 26 John Terry, 33 Alex, 35 Juliano Belletti, 41 Sam Hutchinson

Midfielders - 4 Claude Makelele, 5 Michael Essien, 8 Frank Lampard, 10 Joe Cole, 12 John Obi Mikel, 13 Michael Ballack, 15 Florent Malouda, 24 Shaun Wright-Phillips. 42 Lee Sawyer

Forwards - 7 Andriy Shevchenko, 11 Didier Drogba, 21 Salomon Kalou, 39 Nicolas Anelka.


Lemonis has to contend with a number of injuries within his squad. Lomana LuaLua came back from a foot injury at the weekend, only to dislocate his shoulder and be ruled out for six more weeks. Luciano Galletti (thigh), Vassilis Torosidis (knee), Raúl Bravo (achilles) and Didier Domi (thigh) are all still out, but Michalis Konstantinou, who had been out with a groin problem, returned a week ago, while Cristián Raúl Ledesma was back at the weekend following a thigh injury.

Last Starting XI (v Asteras Tripolis): Sifakis, Leonardo (M Konstantinou 85), Júlio César, Pantos, Żewłakow, Stoltidis, Mendrinos (Belluschi 69), Ledesma (Šišić 56), P. Djordjević, Kovačević, LuaLua.

Squad Named For Champions League Matches

Goalkeepers - 1 Leonidas Panagopoulos, 71 Antonios Nikopolidis, 87 Michalis Sifakis

Defenders - 2 Christos Patsatzoglou, 3 Didier Domi, 4 Leonardo, 5 Júlio César, 14 Michal Zewlakow, 15 Raúl Bravo, 18 Paraskevas Antzas, 30 Anastasios Pantos, 5 Vassilis Torosidis

Midfielders - 6 Ieroklis Stoltidis, 11 Predrag Djordjevic, 19 Konstantinos Mendrinos, 22 Konstantinos Mitroglou, 25 Fernando Belluschi, 28 Cristián Raúl Ledesma, 77 Mirnes Šišic

Forwards - 7 Luciano Galletti, 9 Darko Kovacevic, 10 Leonel Núñez, 20 Lefteris Matsoukas, 23 Michalis Konstantinou, 32 Lomana LuaLua.


Chelsea Petr Cech: Undoubtedly one of the world's top goalkeepers, Cech is normally the epitome of reliability, but high profile errors against Arsenal in the Premier League and Tottenham in the Carling Cup final led to goals for Chelsea's opponents, who won both games. However, the Czech Republic international, who recovered from a depressed fracture of the skull last season and has worn a protective head guard ever since, looked back to his best against West Ham at the weekend, and will be determined to preserve Chelsea's superb defensive record in this competition by keeping another clean-sheet., mindful that Olympiakos must score to win.

Olympiakos Antonios Nikopolidis: Cech's counterpart in the Olympiakos side, Nikopolidis is set to become the Greek footballer with the most Uefa Champions League appearances to his name. Wednesday should see him play his 53rd game in the competition. He has featured in all seven of his team's games this season, and been on the pitch for all 630 minutes. Since joining the club in the summer of 2004, Nikopolidis he has missed just five Super League matches. Against PAOK on 23rd February, his save from Sérgio Conceição's penalty made him only the second Olympiakos goalkeeper to save three successive penalties in one season. Nikopolidis, 36, has now saved seven spot-kicks in his Olympiakos career, equalling a record set by Savas Tsanaktsis in the 1961-62 season.

PREDICTION - Olympiakos are an altogether tougher prospect in the Champions League this season, particularly away from home, and Lemonis's side can be expected to give Chelsea a stern examination at Stamford Bridge. But the Blues boast a formidable home record, and are particularly keen to shove the accusation that they have 'bottled it' in the big matches this season back down their critics' throats. With a full squad eager to prove a point and maintain the treble quest, Chelsea should win.

Chelsea 2-0 Olympiakos

Champions League Round Of 16 Preview - Real Madrid - Roma


Real Madrid

Unfortunately Schuster will have to do without a whole host of key players once again as the Madrid injury list continues to grow. As mentioned earlier, Robben is the latest casualty. Van Nistelrooy will remain on the sidelines with an ankle injury, although Guti could potentially return, and take up an advanced role just behind Raul and Robinho.Pepe may be called upon this week to replace the suspended Sergio Ramos; however it will be tough for the Madrid defender as he has just returned from a torn calf muscle that kept him out of action for two months. Metzelder still has another two months to overcome an injury to his foot, which he is currently undergoing rehabilitation work for; whilst fringe player Javier Saviola is also still out with a sprained knee and ankle. Finally, Wesley Sneijder is out for another two weeks as he is still recovering from a fractured rib he suffered in training. In some positive news for Madrid, Robinho’s little cameo on the weekend, which produced two goals, is a good indicator that he has fully recovered from his torn abdominal muscle. In the absence of Van Nistelrooy and Robben, and despite his lack of match fitness, he should play from the start. Thankfully Cannavaro successfully managed to get through 74 minutes of action against Recreativo at the weekend, meaning that he is well and truly over the knock that he picked up against Getafe.


As mentioned earlier, Spalletti has a near full strength squad at his disposal, with the exception of right-back Marco Cassetti, who is out with a shoulder injury. Panucci will start at right-back, with Tonetto on the left. Juan, Mexes, De Rossi, Pizarro and Perrotta were all rested on the weekend, and thus the Giallorossi will be fresh and raring to go this week.Juan and Mancini have both fully recovered from injury and are definite starters at the Bernabéu, whilst Spalletti will most likely opt to start Giuly alongside Perrotta and Mancini, in place of the out of form Taddei, in the three man attacking line-up behind Totti.


Real Madrid (4-3-3)Casillas; Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze, Torres; Diarra, Gago, Baptista; Guti Robinho, Raul.

Roma (4-2-3-1)Doni; Panucci, Juan, Mexes, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Giuly, Perrotta, Mancini; Totti.


Real Madrid – Robinho: His exceptional comeback could not have come at a better time, as he is a necessity for his side this week. With so many crucial players out of action for Madrid, Robinho must perform, score, and do all he can to ensure that his team succeed. The fact that he did not play the first leg may have its advantages for he and his side, and so, the Brazilian maestro has ninety minutes at the Bernabéu this week to utilize his pace, creativity and quality to ensure his side do not crash out at this stage for the fourth consecutive season.

Roma – Francesco Totti: Totti has been simply brilliant in recent times, and with another wonder strike against Parma at the weekend, he is slowly regaining the brilliance that saw him emerge as the top scorer in Europe last season. As he did at this stage last year in France against Lyon, Totti will be expected to lead from the front this week, as Roma face one of the most daunting trips in European football. When Totti plays well, Roma play well: thus if Roma can reproduce the form that has allowed them to be so successful in recent times, a shock at the Bernabéu may be on the cards.


This will be a thrilling contest between two quality sides. Despite the fact that Real are decimated by injury, there is still plenty of quality present to get the job done. When a side contains the likes of Casillas in goal, Cannavaro, Heinze and Pepe in defence, and an attacking duo in Raul and Robinho, defeating them is not an easy thing to do.Having said that, Roma are in arguably their best form of the season, and due to their lack of injuries and suspensions, they seem a more team-based unit at the moment. It will be a highly competitive contest, and with Madrid needing to score, goals will certainly come.It is extremely tough to pick a winner in this second leg, and so to not sit on the fence, I feel that the plethora of injuries in the Madrid camp at the moment, and the form that the Giallorossi are currently in, will be too much for El Real to handle. Roma to net the winner at the death.

Real Madrid 1-2 Roma

Latest Chelsea News

Juve Declare Lampard Interest

Juventus will go for Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard in the summer judging by comments made by director Gianluca Pessotto.

The Bianconeri have been monitoring the progress of Lampard for some time, with boss Claudio Ranieri keen to reunite with the player he signed for Chelsea from West Ham United in 2001. The England midfielder has previously expressed an interest in playing abroad, with Barcelona also a rumoured destination, and he is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal at Stamford Bridge.
With 14 months left on his Chelsea contract, Lampard could move for as little as £6m this summer. “He is an excellent player," commented Juve director Pessotto. "I feel we will be able to buy players of his class in the summer.” New ChallengeHaving won everything on offer in the English domestic game it is thought that Lampard now believes the time is right to try his luck elsewhere, with Juve's likely return to the Champions League a key factor.

Grant Wary Of The 'C' Word

Crisis has been a word that might have come out too early in Avram Grant's stint as Chelsea manager, but he admitted that it would be nothing but were the Blues to be dumped out of the Champions League.
Until ten days ago, Chelsea were in the race for four titles, and it is somewhat surprising that Grant has been slammed after only his third defeat of the season - in the Carling Cup final to Tottenham.Given, his big match credentials should come under scrutiny, but to castigate him for a defeat in his first game, and then narrow defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham, does seem a bit rushed.That, however, will change if Chelsea fail to defeat Olympiacos at Stamford Bridge tonight, and the former Israel coach is well aware. A Champions League exit at this stage is simply not on for the Blues.
"If we do not qualify, I think you know the word better than me," he said on the eve of the game.If things go according to the form book, that should not happen, and he was understandably worries about complacency."You know that it is our target to succeed in the Champions League but it's a very tough game at home before we go through.," he warned. It's important for us to ensure we don't concede. "We drew 1-1 at home to Rosenborg and if that happens, we're out. So it's important to score but it's important to keep a clean sheet."
"We haven't been to a final [Carling Cup] and as a good team that wants to be bigger, we need to be in a final of the Champions League. It's not easy because there are a lot of good clubs, but it is our priority."“We attacked in the first game and they defended with all their players,” he continued. "Every game, we want to attack, so it will be the same tomorrow. And I don't think it will be a draw. "But defence is important. We know their record away and they always score. It will be a hard game, but we are at home.”

Cole: Confidence Is Finally Back

Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole says the mood in the Blues camp is better than it's been in a long time. The squad are fully focused and determined to beat Olympiacos at the Bridge tonight

Chelsea have a fully fit squad and competition for places is as tough as anywhere in Europe, but that gives Cole plenty of reason to believe this side can beat Olympiacos and go all the way in the Champions League and other competitions. After being benched for the Carling Cup final, the England international admitted his relief to be back playing against West Ham at the weekend - not that being a substitute fazes him. "It is the same at Manchester United and Arsenal – big clubs have big players who are left out from time to time," said Cole, who scored Chelsea's second goal in an impressive 4-0 win at Upton Park on Saturday. "As a footballer you have responsibility for one thing and one thing only, and that's your own performance. My job is to play as well as I can for Chelsea when selected, and I don't pay any attention to any of the dramas that surround this club."
Confidence Is Back
Speaking of the West Ham win, Cole said it did wonders for the side's confidence and was the perfect way to silence critics after a series of average displays reached a head with the 2-1 Carling Cup final defeat to Spurs. "We had a dip in form leading up to the final and that culminated in a poor performance," admitted Chelsea's No10. "But that's in the past and we are only focusing on Olympiacos and playing well. Confidence is high and all the players are fit, which is the first time that has happened in a long while. It's a great moment for this club and we are ready to build some good form."
No Title Preference
And for the moment, the Champions League match tonight is all that matters to Cole, despite the Blues still being in the hunt for the league and FA Cup. "A club like Chelsea have to be fighting for everything," he explained. "You can't pick and choose at this level and on Wednesday all we will be concerned with is fighting to get in the last eight of the Champions League."

CL Preview - Milan Vs Arsenal

AC Milan
Ancelotti has a whole host of injuries to deal with in the lead-up to this match, including the fitness of Dutch veteran Clarence Seedorf, who picked up a muscular injury against Lazio at the weekend. He is rated as having a 50/50 chance of playing; however the early signs are not promising. As mentioned earlier, if he is to miss out, Inzaghi and Pato will start up front together. Also in the Lazio match, both Emerson and Jankulovski succumbed to injury, and are certain to miss the second leg. There are doubts still lingering over the fitness of star central defender Nesta, and more importantly over the FIFA World Player of the year, Kaka, however both are expected to recover in time.
Wenger practically has a full strength squad at his disposal for this second leg, obviously with the exception of Eduardo, who horrifically had his leg broken in the match against Birmingham just over a week ago. It is yet to be confirmed whether or not Kolo Toure will take his place in the starting line-up, as he is still battling the injury he sustained the last time these two sides met. If he fails to recover in time, Senderos will be given a start once again, however following his average performance at the weekend, the Arsenal fans will certainly be hoping for a speedy Toure recovery. Robin Van Persie, meanwhile, has been judged as ready to join the squad by Arsene Wenger, but the coach is reluctant to risk starting the youngster.
AC Milan (4-3-1-2) Kalac; Oddo, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Ambrosini, Pirlo; Gattuso; Kaka; Pato, Inzaghi
Arsenal (4-4-2) Almunia; Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy; Hleb, Fabregas, Diaby, Flamini; Walcott, Adebayor
Due to his lack of input in the first leg, Kaka will without doubt be looking to make amends for that performance, and what better opportunity to have, than to do so in front of the Milan fans at the San Siro. He has been struggling in recent times with an ongoing knee problem, however, regardless of the pain he feels Tuesday night, Kaka is certain to take his place in the starting line-up, and likely to have a major impact on proceedings. Mark my words, he will either score on the night, or do something magical to produce a goal for his side.
Arsenal – Emmanuel Adebayor
Adebayor was his side’s most dangerous attacking player in the first leg, and was extremely unlucky not to come away with a goal or two in that match. He has another ninety minutes to do so in Milan, however in very different circumstances. He has been a goal scoring machine this season, and the Gunners will need something special from him this week, if they are to obtain a good enough result against the Rossoneri to progress to the next phase of the competition.
What a match this will be. Two of the world’s best sides, locking horns at one of the greatest stadiums in Europe, in front of a capacity crowd, with the score line locked at 0-0 for now. Who will come out on top – will it be the experience of Milan or the youth of Arsenal? That is definitely a difficult question to answer. However, in my opinion, the degree of difficulty aligned with defeating Milan at the San Siro will be too much for the youth of Arsenal to handle. Following a frantic start to proceedings, the game will slowly begin to settle, and the stage will be set for Kaka to net his twelfth goal of the season in all competitions, midway through the second half. Milan to progress to the quarter finals of the competition, leaving their English opponents to ponder what could have been.
Milan 1-0 Arsenal

CL Preview - Man U Vs Lyon

Manchester United
United are still missing long term casualties Gary Neville, Mikael Silvestre and Ben Foster. Otherwise, Sir Alex will field his strongest side. That means a return to the starting line up for Vidic, Giggs, Rooney and Ronaldo.Home coach Sir Alex Ferguson will look for a balanced midfield performance, although it's clear from the probable selection of Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney that he has no intention of sitting back. Probable Team: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Scholes, Hargreaves, Ronaldo, Giggs; Tevez, Rooney.

The suggestion that captain Cris, out since last August with knee trouble, could be poised to take his place at centre half might not be just kidology. The defender started against Lille at the weekend, part of strong line-up that Perrin sent out to do battle against a team in mid-table. Benzema played an hour and Govou and Juninho for less than 80 minutes. Bodmer was preferred in midfield to Källström who was held back along with Grosso.Lyon report no injuries after the Ligue 1 match and Perrin will in all likelihood look to start with the same side that was three minutes from victory over United last month, although Hatem Ben Arfa could take part. Benzema should move up front after angrily playing out of position in that Lille encounter.

Probable Team: Coupet; Réveillère, Squillaci, Boumsong, Grosso; Clerc, Toulalan, Juninho, Källström, Govou/Ben Arfa; Benzema.

PLAYERS TO WATCH Rooney (Manchester United): Before his October injury, Rooney didn’t miss when offered a sight of goal. Since his return, the England forward has not been quite so unerring but has shown his usual commitment to the cause, to the point where he delights the crowd by tracking back to his own penalty area to dispossess an opponent. Ferguson will demand the player does his best work in front of Coupet’s goal. If the manager’s instructions are heeded, United will qualify.

Benzema (Lyon): Lyon’s striker Benzema claims all the headlines with his scoring prowess the key to French success could lie with the ability of Benzema to triumph in the contest against United defence. The player was extraordinary to get a wonderful goal against united,
PREDICTION - A European night at Old Trafford. An evenly poised game. The chance of European glory 50years after Munich. Can there be any other outcome but the continuance of United’s Treble quest?

United 2 -0 Lyon

Premier League Latest News

Premier League defend rising ticket prices

The Premier League have dismissed claims by fans' representative Malcolm Clarke that rising costs may drive supporters away after a survey found the average follower of a Premier League spent £1,331 watching their side in 2007.
Research by Virgin Money, who polled 2,000 fans across the country, showed supporters across all divisions spent around £1,080 on tickets, merchandise, programmes, food, alcohol and travel while one in eight Premier League fans fork out £3,000 on match tickets alone.
According to these figures, the cost of attending matches has risen by 9.28% in the last two years while the consumer price index - a measure of inflation - has increased by just 4.9% with the costs of tickets, petrol and replica shirts the main reasons behind the increase.

While some clubs have frozen the costs of tickets in response to falling crowds and the Football League have introduced initiatives to encourage youngsters to attend games cheaply, some top flight sides have increased match-day prices.
Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, criticised this move saying: 'We applaud those clubs taking action to bring down ticket prices.
'We also welcome the Football League's `Fans of the Future' initiative.
'However, these clubs, particularly in the Premier League, who have put them up this season like Manchester United, Spurs and West Ham United should hang their heads in shame.
'With the huge new broadcasting deal what possible excuse can there be for making football even more unaffordable.

'In the 1991/2 season the cheapest seat at Arsenal was £10. In today's money that is £15.44 or £16.70 adjusted for rising wages.
'The cheapest seat at Arsenal this season is £32. That goes up to a whopping £46 for the big European and derby matches as well as United and Liverpool.
'How can football possibly justify more than doubling ticket prices in real terms at a time when the game is swimming in television money?
'A time will come soon when football will look around at all the empty spaces in the stands and ask itself, `Where did they all go?' That is a real worry.'

While a Premier League spokesman would not comment on the survey, he responded to criticism of ticket prices by insisting the vast majority of clubs offer affordable tickets which has led to the top flight enjoying the highest average attendance for 57 years of over 36,000.
He said: 'Clubs work very hard to ensure there are affordable tickets made available. Last season 17 clubs froze or reduced ticket prices and fans are voting with their feet.
'This season we are recording the highest top flight attendances for 57 years. It is up 5% on last year and the average attendance through the course of the Premier League has gone up 65% .

'Fans want to watch games in safe stadia which requires investment and fans want to see the best players play for their team which again requires investment.'
Fans of Premier League sides spent on average £251 more for tickets and match-day essentials in 2007 than followers of Football League clubs with the former forking out on average £614 on tickets and £358 on travel in comparison to £474 and £286 for the latter.

Gallas: Walcott's No Rooney But United Arrogant

Arsenal captain William Gallas has lashed out at teammate Theo Walcott in an interview, branding his football 'predictable'. The defender also discussed leading out the Gunners, the race for titles and the arrogance of Manchester United.
Arsenal youngster Theo Walcott could be a truly great player, reckons Gunners defender William Gallas. But the captain has echoed the sentiments of manager Arsene Wenger in saying that he's disappointment with the striker's speed of development. Walcott, says Gallas, is not Wayne Rooney yet. Work Harder, Play Better“I think Theo Walcott can be the new Wayne Rooney but he has to change his style of play," the Frenchman told GQ Magazine. “He must work hard in training because everyone knows where he will run with the ball. "He goes on his right foot - so he must work to come on the inside on his left foot. He must be less predictable and more focused. He can also take too long on the ball. Veteran Support"I hope for him he does because he have great potential," added the defender, who offered to lend support to Walcott and the other Arsenal youngsters.
“I’m not their father, they make me feel young but I do try to talk to them," said the 30-year-old. “One young player asked me about an expensive car he wanted and I said ‘save your money, look after your family and then think about cars’. "When I started playing, I saved my money to buy a nice house for my family. But now these young players all want a BMW or Ferrari when they are still only 17 or 18. They don’t have to work as hard as I did. It might not be their fault but it is wrong.” Captain GallasThe departure of Thierry Henry freed up the role of Arsenal captain, which Gallas has taken on. But speaking of the appointment, Gallas stressed he wasn't fazed - he's had years of learning from some of the best. "When I was at Chelsea John Terry was captain and I’ve learned from him, from Marcel Desailly and from Patrick Vieira," commented the Frenchman. "When the chance came at Arsenal I was ready. I tell the players that what I do comes from experience. I don’t think about my performances now, I think about the other players and when they don’t do something right, I tell them. I prefer to have a quiet word with them on the pitch and then speak to them properly after the game.”
Arrogant United.And despite faltering in recent weeks and letting the gap at the top of the Premiership slip to one point, Gallas still believes it will be extremely tough for Manchester United to overhaul his side. Indeed the French defender branded Sir Alex Ferguson's side 'arrogant', something he feels plays into Arsenal's hands. "This Arsenal squad can win things and I know that it will be difficult for Manchester United to win because they have to play us and Chelsea again," he commented. "They are a strong team, with lots of experienced players but sometimes they think they are too good. Too arrogant. It can make you complacent and we understand that problem.
Desire To Win"We know we have to score goals and be strong in defence. I’d like to be in my living room when I am old with a trophy next to me and say that I won that," continued Gallas. "I have spent my life proving people wrong and it has made me tougher as a person and as a player. I have cried sometimes but bad things make me work harder. I want to win everything.” And as far as the Premiership and Champions League go, Gallas believes the Gunners can win both this year. "The mentality we had last season has gone. All our players just want to win - and we know how.” Arsenal take on AC Milan at San Siro tonight in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. A 0-0 draw in the first leg means that a win or score draw will see the Gunners prevail, while a defeat will send them out.
Hicks And Gillet Turn Down Bid; DIC Say Talks Ongoing

The latest news from deep in the corridors of Anfield is that co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have turned down a £400m bid from Dubai Investment Capital (DIC) for Liverpool FC, but DIC have been quick to point out that talks are ongoing...
It transpired this afternoon that the pair had apparently dismissed a £400m bid for the Anfield side, with rumours then circulating that the American duo were to be given a strict deadline of mere hours.However, DIC spokesperson Jehad Saleh states that any talk of a "take it or leave it" bid to expire by midnight was completely false.He told the press, "No figures have been mentioned [to the public], and talks are ongoing."No timeline has been set on the talks.
"The two parties had been deep in negotiation once before, but the Houston-based pair were accused by DIC of being in "dreamland" with regards to their valuation of the club.Since then, they have apparently found more common ground with the Dubai suitors, but talks, as they say, are ongoing.There have also been rumblings that Hicks is looking to buy Gillett out of his share in the club, but such discussions remain in their early stages.