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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Sun Football News - Ronaldo Out for 12 Weeks or Early Return ?

Ron's agony

CRISTIANO RONALDO has dealt Manchester United a savage blow with the news he could be out until mid-November.

United hoped their superstar winger would return by the start of October after an op on his right ankle on July 7.

But Ronaldo, 23, will not be back for another 12 WEEKS.

United boss Alex Ferguson said: “We are not putting anyone under pressure.

“You may as well wait the extra week or two to make sure that they don’t end up back in the physio room. That is important.”

Ronaldo played with pain-killing injections for the last three months of the season and through Portugal’s Euro 2008 campaign to delay any surgery.

But that made the initial problem worse and it now looks to have extended his rehabilitation period.

The winger began doing light work this week at United’s Carrington training camp.

Ferguson said: “Cristiano has been jogging all week. It is only jogging but I am quite pleased about that. The plan was to give him one month of rehab work.

“He is doing the aerobic work in the gym. He is one week into that. There is good progress.

“Being young it sometimes helps in terms of recovery and getting back quicker.

“The physios must do their job properly. There is no point rushing it.”

Ronaldo could miss 10 Premier League games plus four in the Champions League.

It is a bombshell for Fergie after persuading Ronaldo to stay and snub Real Madrid.

After 170 minutes this season, Rafa says Gerrard is tired

RAFA BENITEZ claims Steven Gerrard is TIRED just a week into the new campaign.

The Liverpool boss revealed a groin problem forced Gerro to miss a lot of pre-season training.

And Benitez says the midfielder, 28, is struggling to last the pace after playing just 170 minutes for the Reds and England.

The Spaniard said: “Steven Gerrard is a little bit tired.

“He did not train the day after the England game but he was back in training on Friday.

“He has had a problem before with his groin and he has picked up another one on the other leg.

“He has already missed 10-15 days of training.

“That is the reason he was not playing from the start against Standard Liege.

“It was clear that he could not be fully fit after that. He would be Superman, no?

“But we know that he will be better and better. At the moment our idea is to protect the player.”

Gerrard is expected to line up against Middlesbrough today.

He played only 23 minutes as a sub in the Champions League qualifier with Liege and 57 for England against the Czech Republic on Wednesday after going the distance at Sunderland last Saturday.

But Benitez insisted he had not been tempted to take Gerro out of the international friendly.

The Kop boss added: “We know how important it is for him to play for England but we are going to give him time.

“When you have players like Steven Gerrard with the qualities he has, it is important he is 100 per cent fit when you play against the top sides or in really, really massive games.

“For some other games, the quality of the player means maybe he could score three goals even if he was not 100 per cent fit.

“Hopefully we will see the best of him against Middlesbrough.”

Benitez tried to put a positive spin on his side’s unconvincing 1-0 victory over the Black Cats on the opening weekend.

He said: “A lot of games last season when we were playing well, we only won 1-0 or we dropped points.

“If you play bad and win it shows you have the mentality to be contenders and to win trophies.

“I will be happiest playing well and winning. But the three points is all that matters.

“In Spain, some managers talk rubbish and say if we play well and don’t win it doesn’t matter. Forget that! Forget it!”

Benitez admitted to having clear-the-air talks with chief executive Rick Parry after acrimony over the proposed transfer of Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

The Anfield manager said: “We had a very positive meeting. Now we want to improve the squad, working together.”

You don't worry me, Chelsea

ARSENE WENGER takes his Arsenal side to Craven Cottage tonight insisting he is not worried by the mob at the other end of the Fulham Road.

Chelsea’s 4-0 thumping of Portsmouth on the opening weekend prompted a flurry of predictions that the title was heading to Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal scraped a 1-0 win over West Brom but Gunners boss Wenger warned: “Instant judgments can change in two weeks.

“We know how we want to play football, we know how we want to behave and we believe in our quality.

“I must say Chelsea were impressive but Portsmouth were really not at their best, especially in the first half.

“They had a bad day at the office and that can happen to anybody.

“You cannot assess Chelsea on one game. Let people talk, that’s all I can say.

“Chelsea will be one of the super candidates to fight for the title but I feel we have enough to fight with them.

“We have just started the season and everybody has discounted us.

“There is more to come from my team. We have a structure and a way of playing that is very efficient and that we have mastered well so I do not see why we should not set ourselves high targets.”

New boy Mikael Silvestre is a doubt to face Fulham but Emmanuel Adebayor will start after signing a new four-year, £80,000-a-week deal on Monday.

The striker received jeers from some Gunners fans last week after speculation he wanted a move.

But Wenger insisted: “I believe it was linked with results and goalscoring.

“It was an edgy, nervous game because when you are one up your fans want to be reassured with another goal.

“He had a few opportunities to score the second goal and didn’t do it. Give him time and watch him score.

“I cannot understand their disappointment with him — his heart is with the club.

“I believe he has been unfairly treated. Why? Because when I met him many times in the summer, he had a lot of interest from many big clubs.

“But he always told me his preference was to stay.

“Maybe there was a misunderstanding at a Press conference in Austria but I know what he told me. He made sacrifices to stay.”

Robinho will be Plan B

BIG PHIL SCOLARI admits he is desperate to land Robinho — as the Brazilian would give Chelsea a Plan B.

Blues boss Scolari has tabled a bid of £28.3million for the Real Madrid strike ace and been told he can have the player for £32m.

The transfer has moved closer with Robinho admitting he wants to go to Stamford Bridge.

And Spanish giants Real last night insisted they will not stand in his way.

A club statement read: “Real Madrid would never want to retain a player against his wishes. As a result, they have no alternative but to accept his decision to rescind his contract.”

Scolari said: “I have never coached Robinho but he is different and we need a player like that — a player on the pitch who makes a difference.

“If we have only one system of play, it will be easy for our opponents. If we need to change the system, we need a different player and Robinho’s style is what we want.

“At the moment, I don’t know the situation. Real have a player and they put a price on him. I have a good squad but if I have one more player, that would be good.”

Robinho, 24, said: “It’s not my objective to continue at Real.

“I highly respect the club, players and fans who have always treated me well. But I have an offer from Chelsea which is good for me and the club.

"I dream of playing in the English league. Chelsea have a great squad and a great team. My objective is to play there.

“I’ve got nothing against Real but I hope to resolve this situation as soon as possible. It’s not about money, I simply want to leave.

“I want to be the best player in the world and that isn’t possible at Real Madrid.

“I’ve come to an end of a cycle. I’ve played three seasons at Real Madrid, I’ve given my all. I’ve scored goals, I’ve won two leagues.

“I think my time here has now come to an end.”

Scolari, preparing for Sunday’s trip to Wigan, has urged the Chelsea board to refuse AC Milan’s approach for Andriy Shevchenko.

The move now looks unlikely as Blues are demanding a fee — and Milan want him only on loan.

Scolari said: “Shevchenko has been in Milan for negotiations but I want him to stay. He is a good player.”

Scolari also advised Frank Lampard to forget the England jeers by spending some of his new £151,000- a-week wages.

The Blues boss joked: “I told him ‘You need to think about spending money’. I asked him if he was worried and he said ‘no, no’.”

Shinawatra: I'll quit City

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA has offered to quit as chairman at Manchester City.

The Eastlands owner fled Thailand where he is supposed to be facing corruption charges from his time as the country’s Prime Minister.

It has put his position in jeopardy under the Premier League’s Fit and Proper Persons Act.

Shinawatra denies all the charges but fears the controversy is affecting City and has offered to quit.

But the club’s new executive chairman Gary Cook has talked him out of it, believing they can ride the storm.

Cook said: “Dr Thaksin is embarrassed about the indignity brought on all the entities — the club, the Premier League — he never intended this.

“I didn’t realise the impact this situation would have.

“I feel it’s a little embarrassing and the owner thinks it’s embarrassing.

“Dr Thaksin has been really open about this.

“He has said to me, ‘if you need me to resign from the football club as a director, because it would serve the needs of the Premier League, then I’m fine with that as long as that doesn’t change any other thing.’

“I think there is a very loose term about what is ‘fit and proper.’ It is almost a tongue-in-cheek term that you would use for Premier League football over the last 10 years. There are plenty of unfit and improper individuals.

“But what I want to do is make sure we get it cleared up. We are restructuring the board.

“I would like to bring in some non-executive members from industry — captains of industry, who can help the football club move to its long-term vision.”

But Cook admits if the Premier League find Shinawatra is not fit and proper they will have to take him off the board.

He said: “That is one of the reasons why we would look to maybe take him off the board as a director. We’re talking about a lot of different things right now.”

Shinawatra may then have to transfer his stake in the club. Shinawatra took over a year ago for £81.6million.

Since then City have invested nearly £80m on players, although only a quarter of that has been paid.

The club are looking for extra investment as Shinawatra has had £800m of his assets frozen in Thailand and that is restricting his investment.

Cook said: “His lawyers are working through everything. We have talked about selling part of his stake to an equity partner who would come in and take a little bit of the pressure away from him so the Premier League would get more comfort out of the restructuring of the board.

“We’ve talked about so many different options. But one thing we are adamant about is not to give up the majority stakeholding.

“Dr Thaksin is in a political situation and a case that affects his assets, so that’s well documented. So that’s a hurdle.

“So the hurdle is, is there never going to be any more money? The challenge is, ‘Dr Thaksin, what are we going to do?’ He says, ‘Well here’s what we are going to do and here’s how we are going to do it, because this will all resolve itself. But I need some time. OK, great’.

“If I was to say to him, ‘is it true we haven’t got any money’, he’d fire me on the spot.

“The truth of it is this club is not going to go out of business. This club is not bankrupt. We’re moving forward.”

Shinawatra feels so bad about what has happened that he is avoiding Eastlands — including tomorrow, when Mark Hughes’ side clash with West Ham.

He fears the City fans would turn against him and there are real concerns about his safety as there have been attempts on his life before back in Thailand.

Cook said: “He wants to be at this ground on Sunday but he is hearing advice about being in a public space.

“People may want to come and show their support from his country but he doesn’t want to use this as a political platform. And he doesn’t want to ostracise the fans.”

Boss Hughes, meanwhile, paraded £5m signing Vincent Kompany and then promised fans: There’s more to follow.

Defender Kompany, 22, signed a four-year deal at Eastlands after completing his move from German side Hamburg.

And Hughes said: “There are more signings to come. We’re looking to bring good players in but whether we’ll do it during this window only time will tell.”

Hughes discussed plans with Shinawatra over dinner earlier this week.

He added: “It was extremely enjoyable and very positive.”

Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 Craze

CRISTIANO RONALDO has spent £150,000 on an essential item for football icons – a number plate for his motor.
It’s nice to know Premier League footballers are feeling the pinch of the credit crunch just like the rest of us.

The Man United star coughed up the huge sum for the registration CR7 – his initials and shirt number at Old Trafford.

Sadly, I was outbid for the reg I was trying to buy him to welcome him back to Britain after his summer away – P3 NIS.

The new number plate takes his spending with luxury car firm Liquid 45 to a whopping £490,000 in the past month.

A couple of weeks ago he placed an order for a black Rolls Royce Phantom – which costs a jaw-dropping £340,000.

But the number plate won’t go on the new car – it is destined for his runaround, a silver £140,000 Bentley convertible.

A source said: “Cristiano is developing an obsession with CR7. It has to be on everything he owns – cars included.

“He has been after the number plate for ages and finally got his hands on it.”

At least the new number will help ease confusion in the Carrington training ground car park. There are a lot of Bentleys lined up there after all.

The personalised reg is a “must have” item for a footballer along with a pretty-but-dim WAG, diamond earring, garish jeans, a diamond-encrusted mobile phone and a fancy car.

Ron has gone down the same road as his forerunner DAVID BECKHAM with his fascination with the famous United shirt number.

Becks has a VII tattoo, a DB7 clothing line for Marks & Spencer and would even queue at till No7 in supermarkets.

Ronaldo has his logo inscribed on a cupboard, sofa and bed cushions – matching his seven-shaped table and jewellery in his Cheshire mansion.

His swimming pool even has the No7 in a tiled mosaic.

The last time I had initials on anything I owned was at primary school, when my shirt, tie, trousers and PE kit were tagged – worth a grand total of about £60.

So is Ronaldo set for Early October return or late Mid Novemeber ? Conflicting reports coming out and if Ronaldo return in late Mid November it might all but over for Man U by then.

Ng Ghim Pheng True Blue Chelsea Fan

The shortlist for this year's UEFA European Club Footballer of the Year awards is dominated by Premier League players.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all reached the Champions League semi-finals last season, with United overcoming Chelsea on penalties in the Moscow-hosted final.

That is reflected in the shortlist, announced today by UEFA, with 17 players from the 25-strong shortlist currently playing in England's top flight.

Last year's Champions League top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool's Fernando Torres and Chelsea's Frank Lampard will all be leading contenders for the award. Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol are also in contention.

The coaches of the 16 teams which reached the knock-out stages of last year's competition will cast their votes next Thursday, at the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco.

There are also awards for goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward of the year.

The list of nominees, from which the overall winner will be selected, is:

UEFA club goalkeeper of the year: Manuel Almunia (Arsenal), Petr Cech (Chelsea), Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04), Jose Reina (Liverpool), Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United).

UEFA club defender of the year: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), John Terry (Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United).

UEFA club midfielder of the year: Michael Essien (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Paul Scholes (Manchester United).

UEFA club forward of the year: Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Fernando Torres (Liverpool).

Real ready to sell £25m Robinho
Real Madrid have revealed they are finally ready to let Robinho move to Chelsea after the Brazilian expressed his wish to leave the Bernabeu.

Robinho has cut an unhappy figure in recent weeks after he was linked with a switch to Manchester United as part of a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo.

He has been targeted by Chelsea, with the Premier League club confirming they had made an offer - believed to be in excess of £24.5million - for the gifted forward.

The Spanish champions had previously resisted all offers for Robinho, saying the 24-year-old was not for sale.

However, on Friday, Robinho reiterated his desire to leave the Bernabeu in order to link up with Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea.

Real have responded to Robinho's comments and admit they do not want to keep an unhappy player in Bernd Schuster's squad.

"Real Madrid have become aware of the declarations by the player and deeply regret their content," read a statement on the club's official website.

"Real Madrid would never want to retain a player against his wishes and as a result they have no alternative, but to accept his unilateral decision to rescind his contract if that is what the player wants."

It is unclear whether Real are now prepared to enter into negotiations with Chelsea to reach agreement on a fee for Robinho.

The other alternative is for Robinho to come to a deal with Real to terminate his contract, which has a buy-out clause of 150million euros (£120million).

Ince Rover the moon as Santa signs
Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz has ended speculation over his future by committing himself to the club and signing a new four-year deal.

The Paraguay international had been the subject of a bid from Manchester City earlier this summer as well as reported interest from several other clubs.

However, the 27-year-old has opted to pen a contract extension to tie him to Ewood Park until 2012.

After David Bentley left Rovers to join Tottenham earlier this summer Santa Cruz was also tipped to move on.

He was hugely impressive in his debut Premier League campaign after moving to Lancashire from Bayern Munich last summer with 23 goals in all competitions.

That feat led former Rovers boss Mark Hughes to attempt to take him to Manchester City recently while the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham were supposedly interested.

A statement on the club's website said: "Blackburn Rovers are delighted to announce that Roque Santa Cruz has signed a new four-year contract with the club, running through until 2012."

Rovers gambled on the skilful Paraguayan and paid Bayern less than £4million after a series of serious knee injuries wrecked his time in Bavaria.

And the move paid off as Santa Cruz - who scored in Saturday's 3-2 win at Everton - played 36 of 38 Premier League games last season.

Fergie 'losing hope' over Berba deal
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is "less optimistic" of making any signings this summer as hopes of a deal for Dimitar Berbatov fade.

Ferguson has been unusually quiet in the transfer market this year, failing to add any new faces to his double-winning squad of last season.

He has been strongly linked with a move for Tottenham's Bulgarian ace Berbatov, but appears to be making slow progress.

The Red Devils chief did admit that he continues to pursue a solitary target, without naming Berbatov as that man, but conceded that he is not confident of completing the deal before the transfer window closes on September 1.

"I am less optimistic than I was," said Ferguson, recalling that exactly a week ago he said a surprise was imminent.

"We have 11 days left before the transfer deadline and we are working at something but you never know in football.

"It may happen, it may not. If it doesn't we will carry on with what we have got."

If Ferguson fails to get the addition he is looking for, it will mean an added burden for Wayne Rooney.

The England forward has been criticised recently for spending too much time covering ground he should really leave to others.

It is an observation Fabio Capello, among others, has made. And while Ferguson is not willing to chastise the 22-year-old for what he regards as an admirable trait, he accepts it is something Rooney needs to work on.

"Wayne does too much around the pitch at the expense of what he does up front," said Ferguson.
"It is a waste of his energy to chase back to our own penalty area for instance.

"But it is not something to worry about too much. It is purely down to enthusiasm and natural energy. He just loves playing football."

In that sense, Ferguson likened Rooney to former United skipper Roy Keane.

And, like Keane, the Red Devils chief feels the Merseysider will learn with experience.

"With Keane, where the ball was, he wanted to be there," said Ferguson.

"There is nothing wrong with that enthusiasm.

"Don't forget Wayne is only 22. We hope to channel what he does.

"His natural affection for the game will help him too. He has started to identify the fact it is a weakness.

"He needs to be more involved around the edge of the box - but it is only a small correction."

Changing a mindset might be slightly harder.

For, as Rooney freely admits, standing by and watching others do the work is not in his nature.

"I am an unselfish player, I have said that many times," he said.

"I don't just judge my performance on goals, I look at assists and how I have helped the team play. That is the way my game is."

Sporting's Paim wings in for Blues
Chelsea have bolstered their attacking options by confirming the signing of Sporting Lisbon winger Fabio Paim on a season-long loan deal.

Sporting had revealed a deal was in place earlier in the week and their Premier League counterparts have now finalised the arrangement.

Paim becomes Chelsea's third signing of the summer, following fellow Portuguese duo Jose Bosingwa and Deco to Stamford Bridge.

The 20-year-old has revealed that he is determined to make the most of his opportunity with Luiz Felipe Scolari's side.

"I am very proud," Paim told A Bola.

"I worked hard and now the opportunity has arrived to go to Chelsea. I am very happy and want to achieve my aim of becoming a great footballer.

"I feel that I have the necessary qualities. I know I have to work. This is the opportunity of a lifetime."

Ronaldo closing in on return - Fergie
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo is "a little bit ahead" of schedule in his recovery from ankle surgery.

The Red Devils winger underwent an operation earlier in the summer following the end of Portugal's Euro 2008 campaign.

He was initially ruled out for three months and Ferguson had been expecting Ronaldo to return to action at the start of October.

Ronaldo has been involved in light training with the champions this week amid reports he will be fit for the end of September.

And United boss Ferguson concedes the Footballer of the Year is slightly ahead of schedule in his quest for a first-team comeback.

"He's maybe a little bit ahead," said Ferguson on Sky Sports News.

"He's surprisingly good. He's been jogging all week, but it's only jogging, there's nothing serious about that."

But Ferguson remains cautious. He would prefer the 23-year-old to come back and stay back rather than return a week or two earlier and risk a further spell on the sidelines.

"If a player is out for a certain period there is no point rushing it," said the Red Devils boss.

"You may as well wait the extra week or two to make sure they don't suffer any setbacks.

"Sometimes the age of a player helps with their recovery.

"Cristiano may get back quicker. But we are not putting him under any pressure.

"We have to let the physios do their job properly."

But Ferguson is certainly delighted with the work Ronaldo has done so far.

"The plan was to give him one month of rehabilitation work, jogging and aerobic work in the gymnasium," he said.

"It is difficult to say with young players and long-term injury but Cristiano is making good progress."

McCarthy considering Rovers future
Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy has admitted he is "considering his future" as sitting on the substitutes' bench is "not an option" for him.

Roque Santa Cruz and Jason Roberts were preferred to McCarthy up front for Blackburn's 3-2 victory at Everton on the opening day of the season.

Manager Paul Ince has reiterated that none of his players are for sale, but McCarthy is considering his future.

The South African claims that Sunderland are interested in signing him and he believes it could be time to move on if he cannot break back into the Rovers side.

"They're not really happy times for me, but it's still all right," McCarthy told the Lancashire Telegraph.

"It's frustrating if you work hard, especially with all the rumours going on, and then you don't play.

"Sunderland's interest is very much for real and I'm looking to see in the next week what's going to happen because I'm 31 in November, so sitting on the bench or not playing is not an option for me.

"If I can't make the starting line-up at Blackburn, then I'm wasting time."

McCarthy understands that if he does stay he may have to wait for an opportunity after Roberts and Santa Cruz impressed against Everton.

He said: "The manager has made his intentions clear. He doesn't want me to go, he wants me to stay and from my point of view I respect the manager.

"I can't have any complaints - Jason was awesome at Everton and I can't see the reason why he should be taken out of the starting line-up and, obviously, Roque's fantastic as well, scoring goals.

Hot Ash worth £30m, claims O'Neill
Martin O'Neill says Ashley Young is worth £30million in the current transfer market and is confident he will soon sign a new Aston Villa deal.

O'Neill admitted he paid over the odds for Young during the January 2007 transfer window when he agreed a deal with Watford that eventually rose to £9.65million.

Now the Villa manager's determination to sign Young has been rewarded with a series of superb performances during the past 18 months.

And O'Neill is adamant Young is now worth three times what he splashed out for him and is optimistic he will sign a new deal in the next couple of weeks.

O'Neill said: "Ashley is now worth three times what we paid for him. I am inclined to exaggerate but he is priceless. He is absolutely outstanding.

"I've already said I was surprised he was not in the England squad for the midweek game (with the Czech Republic) but his time will come, no question of that. He is absolutely outstanding.

"Actually, I had better not shout out how much I think he is worth because we are in the throes of doing a new contract with him. I actually think he is worth £4million! His value has plummeted until we have got the contract sorted!

"In all seriousness, I would like to try and do that contract in the next week or two. Are we that close - yes?"

O'Neill conceded: "I still think at the time I would have preferred to have paid £5million rather than the initial £8.2million for Ashley. You had to take a gulp. It kept going up.

"But he has shown his worth. He relishes the free role we give him and his delivery of crosses, emphasised by the one headed home by John Carew for the first goal against Manchester City, is superb.

"He is a natural and we see him do that sort of thing on the training ground time and time again."

O'Neill knows Villa will have to be on their mettle when they visit Premier League new boys Stoke on Saturday.

He said: "It is their first home game. In normal circumstances you would not want to face a promoted side in their first home game. I saw them last week and I thought they were more than holding their own against Bolton until the first goal.

"They lost a bit of concentration at that time. They retrieved the second half and pulled themselves around again but, regardless of that result, for the first home game back in the big league after 21 years, the place will be buzzing.

"We've got to be able to cope with that but I am hoping, if the game settles down to a pattern, we can go and try and play but we need to go and earn the right to do that."

Potters fail with £2.5m Hyypia bid
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has reportedly turned down a £2.5million offer from Premier League new boys Stoke for veteran defender Sami Hyypia.

The Potters have signed two defenders in the past seven days - Newcastle's Abdoulaye Faye and Southampton's Andrew Davies - but Tony Pulis is still seemingly keen to shore up a backline that conceded three at Bolton last weekend.

And the man top of his list appears to be Hyypia, with the Liverpool Echo claiming he has tested Liverpool's resolve with a bid for the 34-year-old. Benitez still regards him as an important member of the squad, though, and having only recently handing the Finnish star a new deal, he has rejected City's offer.

Hyypia has Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel as competition for a centre-half spot at Anfield but it remains to be seen whether even an improved bid from the Potters would tempt Benitez to let the veteran leave.

Maloney's shock Villa confession

Shaun Maloney has confessed that Aston Villa were never the right club for him after sealing his return to Celtic.

The Scotland international failed to settle in the Midlands and spoke honestly about his time in England when being unveiled by The Bhoys on Friday, declaring that he did not want to play for Martin O'Neill's side.

"I think, at the time, I probably knew in my heart of hearts it probably wasn't the right move," he stressed.

"I don't want to disrespect the club I've just left too much but they knew in the first few months I really struggled with it.

"They were great with me, the staff in the background were great but I think, in my heart of hearts, I knew it wasn't the club I wanted to play for and now, obviously, this move has come back and I'm really happy."

O'Neill was rather more diplomatic in wishing Maloney well in The SPL.

"I'm disappointed Shaun has gone really," he stated. "I'd rather be adding to the squad than subtracting as it were.

"Shaun, I think came down and, first of all, he's been away from Glasgow for about 18 months. There was definitely a bit of homesickness early on but I think he got over that.

"Celtic came calling again and the call was too strong. I decided it was in the best interests of everyone for him to come back again."

TeamTalk, ESPN

UEFA European Club Footballer of the Year 17 out of 20 players are from Premier League and expect C.Ronaldo to win it.Next season UEFA European Club Footballer of the Year will have more mixture of players from other leagues I predict with only around 7 players from Premier League next season.

Man City and Man U can compete for the signing of Benni McCarthy he is a good quality striker or else Man U will be left only Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez in the striking department.Quite Surprise that no 1 really want to join Man U after their double last season.

Ashley Young is really a very good winger ! very fast, tricks up his sleeve, accurate crossing, able to use both foot ! Surprise to see him included in the England Squad. He is even a better player than David Bentley I would reckon.

Ng Ghim Pheng True Blue Chelsea Fan

Friday, August 22, 2008

Adidas Football Boots 2009 Range Preview - Adipure II and F50.9 Tunit

Once again Footy Boots is here to bring you up to date with the latest developments in the football boot market.

This time around it’s a heads up on what to expect from Adidas in the coming 12 months.

Adidas is looking to capitalise on the major interest that the Euro’s have sparked and continue their advance on the global football market. Germany’s quarter final win over Portugal won’t have done them any harm and they’re backing that up with some spanking new designs which are bound to cause a stir amongst players, watchers and geeks alike. Here’s what you can expect.

Adidas Predator Power Swerve

According to Adidas representatives, David Beckham will have a white/blue ClimaCool® Predator produced for him to wear while doing his stuff in the MLS with the Los Angeles Galaxy. This could be due to him wanting more of a flexible fit than his current synthetic leather after having had to quit k-leather products, more of which you can learn about via a previous Footy Boots article, ingeniously entitled: kangaroo leather football boot ban.

There will be 2 more additions to the Champions League edition Predator’s next season. It is an odd concept, but a White/Indigo/Rave Green colourway is due to be released at the beginning of the competition with a Black/Red colourway being released towards the latter stages of the tournament.

Adidas F50.9 TUNiT

The adidas F50.9 will debut in a black/electric yellow colourway and have a new design for the three stripes. At last, Adidas have finally given a player worthy of his own line a colourway. The man in question is Argentina and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. However, plans for an Adidas / Messi razor were abandoned when someone remembered that he’s not old enough to shave. A new Champions League F50.9 will be produced in a colourway to match its counterpart, the Predator Power Swerve’s. Check back here at Footy Boots soon for a look at the specially produced F50’s currently being worn in Austria and Switzerland.

Suggested Release Date: October 15, 2008

Adidas adiPURE II

The new adiPURE II are very reminiscent of the current model with just a few minor touch ups. Expect another great classic boot from adidas. These are the current versions being worn at Euro 2008.

Suggested Release Date: December 2008

Adidas F50.9 TUNiT

With the recent release of the Adidas F50.8 TUNIT some of you readers may be surprised to find that the next generation of TUNITS are already surfacing on forums across the internet.

The Adidas F50.9 TUNIT is the latest model of the F50 series and can be seen here at Footy-Boots, thanks to this information from our readers.

This unique football boot is the fourth generation of the F50 concept and features both outstanding modularity and the innovative and transparent “AllesKlar” (”All Clear”) element. Top players from all over the world will be sporting the new F50.9 TUNiT football boot on the pitch, we believe, from November 2008.

F50 TUNIT Technology

Players can choose from several uppers, two different chassis, two different insoles and three stud systems.

The F50 TUNIT allows each player to customize the football boot according to both personal preferences and weather conditions. This includes choosing the colour of the upper. Prevailing weather conditions on the day of play also affect the choice of upper.

Once again Adidas have continued their tradition of keeping the TUNITs rolling off of the production line with a new design for the upper only a year after the release of the previous model the Adidas F50.8.

Man U go missing - Champions Absent from Premier League Team of the Week while Chelsea Top the lot

Every XI will be selected according to different criteria plucked from Championship Manager's extensive database of footballing statistic

This week, the men in white coats have picked the team based on their overall performance. And here it is:

1. Shay Given (Newcastle) - kept champions Manchester United at bay in their opening fixture of the new season.

2. Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea) - due to the price Chelsea paid, Bosingwa was under pressure to play well on debut. He controlled the entire right wing from an attacking full back position.

3. Stephen Warnock (Blackburn) - Played well in Blackburn's defeat of Everton. Will he join Newcastle before the transfer deadline, though?

4. David Wheater (Middlesbrough) - Scored the first goal in Boro's victory over Spurs. If he continues to play well he will win his first full England cap very soon.

5. Michael Turner (Hull) - contributed to Hull City recording a historic opening-day victory over Fulham with a solid defensive display.

6. Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle) - the Argentinian impressed on his debut against Man Utd, particularly on the ball.

7. David Dunn (Blackburn) - opened the scoring in Blackburn's win over Everton with a great goal.

8. Deco (Chelsea) - scored a fantastic goal and orchestrated all the attacking play in Chelsea's 4-0 win over Portsmouth. Barca's loss is Chelsea's gain.

9. Mikel Arteta (Everton) - unlucky to be on losing side against Blackburn. Scored a thumping free kick to beat former Spurs stopper Paul Robinson.

10. Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) - justified the decision by Villa to give him a new four-year deal by scoring a superb hat-trick against Man City. A call up to the senior England squad is surely now an inevitability.

11. Dean Ashton (West Ham) - ccored both West Ham's goals in their defeat of Wigan, and looked to be on for a hat trick before aggravating

Top performer: Chelsea's maestro Deco

Manager of the week: Luiz Felipe Scolari for starting the new season with a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of Portsmouth. Kevin Keegan is second for leaving Old Trafford with a point.

Daily Mail

Premier League Team Of The Week: Round 1
Welcome to's team of the week. After each round of the Premier League we sieve out the major performers. This week, three debutants and five Englishmen make the first eleven...


Shay Given (Newcastle): The Republic of Ireland international pulled off a string of saves to keep Manchester United at bay in their own ground. Even managed to pull of a remarkable block from a Fraizer Campbell header using his own forehead.


Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea): He has a lot to live up to after making a €30 million move, but most definitely made the perfect start, bombing up and down the right as Chelsea used their width to good effect.

Andrew O'Brien (Bolton Wanderers): Was named as the local paper's Player of the Season last term, and began the season in equally fine form as he proved a thorn in Stoke City's attempted attacks.

David Wheater (Middlesbrough): A defender in the old-school mould. Not the most elegant of players on the ball, but can tackle well, and possesses an aerial threat from set-play. Netted 'Boro's first goal with twenty minutes left on the clock after having a goal disallowed in the first half for alleged shoving.

Ashley Cole (Chelsea): Flourished under Scolari's regime, returning to his scintillating days donning the Arsenal red. Mirrored Bosingwa on the opposite flank, attacked well, and defended stubbornly.


Deco (Chelsea): What a debut. The Portuguese international was a revelation in his roaming role, pulling strings from start to finish as Portsmouth were made to look pedestrian. A fantastic and much deserved debut goal too.

Xabi Alonso (Liverpool): Came on after the break and turned Liverpool's display around, eventually setting up Fernando Torres with a precise pass. One fails to understand why Rafa Benitez has been looking to replace him with Gareth Barry all summer.

Gareth Barry (Aston Villa):
There may be a cloud over his future, but the Villa skipper has shown over the last four days that he is not going to let it affect his game. Helped set up three goals as Villa romped to a 4-2 win.

Samir Nasri (Arsenal): Was everywhere. His link-up play with Clichy was so well-rehearsed it looked as though the playmaker had been a Gunner for years, rather than weeks. Capped his debut by rounding off a typical Arsenal move with a goal in the opening three minutes.


Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa): A superb seven minute hat-trick heaped more misery on a Manchester City side already under pressure. If he can get to 20 for the season, Villa might well finish in the top five.

Dean Ashton (West Ham United): The strong centre forward scored both of West Ham goals in their victory over Wigan. The first was pure power, the second was from close range. Would have been happy to have sealed a brace within the first ten minutes, especially as it was under the watchful eye of England head coach Fabio Capello, unfortunate to have his day ruined by injury.


Bosingwa O'Brien Wheater Cole

Deco Alonso Barry Nasri

Ashton Agbonlahor

Managers: Luiz Felipe Scolari & Phil Brown, for impressive Premier League debuts.

Those Who Came Close

Joe Cole (Chelsea)
Mikel Arteta (Everton)
Danny Guthrie (Newcastle United)
Geovanni (Hull City)
Boaz Myhill (Hull City)
Michael Turner (Hull City)
Johan Djourou (Arsenal)
Jimmy Bullard (Fulham)
Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers)

Wigan v Chelsea Preview

Wigan boss Steve Bruce has Ryan Taylor available after a shin injury.
Erik Edman (knee ligament) remains on course for an October return after resuming light training this week.

Chelsea's Michael Ballack has responded well to treatment to his ankle and could figure, while fellow midfielder Michael Essien may also be fit.

Strikers Didier Drogba (knee) and Andriy Shevchenko (groin) are out but Salomon Kalou is available after returning from the Olympics.

Wigan (from): Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole, Palacios, Kapo, Heskey, Zaki, Bramble, Brown, De Ridder, Kilbane, Koumas, Taylor, Camara, Sibierski, Montrose, Nash, Pollitt.

Chelsea (from): Cech, Cudicini, Bosingwa, Belletti, Terry, Carvalho, Alex, A Cole, J Cole, Lampard, Essien, Ballack, Deco, Mikel, Anelka, Wright-Phillips, Malouda, Di Santo.

Luiz Felipe Scolari takes his new Chelsea outfit to the JJB Stadium, intent on building on the most emphatic of all Premier League victories in the opening weekend.

Chelsea are defending the Premier League's longest current unbeaten sequence of 22 matches, and are vying for a fourth consecutive away league win.

Joint top scorers with Aston Villa; both netted four goals in their opening fixture.

One of three clubs yet to concede a goal after one round of games; the others are Arsenal and Liverpool.

HESKEY has scored three Premier League goals against Chelsea in a Wigan shirt

Frank LAMPARD has scored one goal in each of his last three Premier League appearances for Chelsea against Wigan.

If on the field from the outset:-
LAMPARD will be making his 350th start for Chelsea

Wigan Athletic 0-2 Chelsea

3 November 2007 - Ref: Steve Bennett Chelsea scorers: Lampard 11, Belletti 18

bbc football

Daily Mail EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea seal Robinho deal after Kenyon makes Madrid trip

Chelsea were close to completing the signing of Robinho for £25million last night after chief executive Peter Kenyon was seen arriving in Madrid to tie up the deal.

The Brazil forward described a switch to Chelsea as his 'dream move' earlier in the summer but Real Madrid's failure to secure the services of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United had put the transfer in jeopardy.

The situation now seems to have been resolved and Luiz Felipe Scolari will be delighted to add his countryman to a list of summer signings that includes Deco and Jose Bosingwa.

Robinho's arrival will lead to the departure of Andriy Shevchenko, who has been told by Chelsea that he can return to AC Milan on a one-year loan after a disastrous spell in the Barclays Premier League.

Chelsea are prepared to take a massive financial hit on the deal, by paying Milan to take back the Ukraine striker.

Shevchenko, 31, is expected to return to the San Siro in the next 48 hours, two years after he joined Chelsea for £30m. The 2004 European Footballer of the Year will have part of his £5m-a-year contract covered by Chelsea.

The club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich met Milan counterpart Silvio Berlusconi to discuss the deal in Sardinia last week, and Silvano Ramaccioni, a director of the Italian club, confirmed: 'There really isn't much more to be done. We are close to the end of the deal.'

Shevchenko on verge of Milan move

Shevchenko has long been linked with a move back to Milan
Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko is close to securing a return to AC Milan, according to one of their directors.

The 31-year-old Ukrainian has endured two disappointing years in England since his £30m move from Milan.

Milan director Silvano Ramaccioni said: "We are close to the end of the deal and I hope these little things that have to be fulfilled are done soon."

Shevchenko is AC Milan's second-most prolific goalscorer of all-time with 127 goals from 208 games.

An initial one year loan deal was reportedly discussed when Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi met Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in Sardinia last Thursday.

The Italian press claim the deal will be finalised on Thursday or at the latest 24 hours later and Ramaccioni agrees.

"Shevchenko in the Rossoneri shirt - there really isn't much more to be done," he told Italian radio station Radio Goal.

"I would be extremely delighted if Shevchenko returns to Milan and I am ready to embrace the Ukraine champion again, for us it's about a return home."

Reports: Shevchenko To Milan Collapses
There are reports emerging from Italy that Andriy Shevchenko’s move back to Milan has collapsed after Chelsea refused to release the player on loan.

The Rossoneri have been searching for a first striker all summer, and it had seemed as though former hero Shevchenko was on the verge of a move back to San Siro.

The basis of a one-year loan move, with Chelsea contributing part of the Ukrainian’s wages, had supposedly already been agreed upon.

The Corriere dello Sport claimed this morning that Milan transfer chief Adriano Galliani was to travel to Monte Carlo today to dine with Shevchenko and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon.

There they would tie up the last details of the deal, before the transfer would be officially signed, sealed and delivered tomorrow, with Sheva arriving in Milan on Sunday or Monday.

However, according to reports just emerging from Italy, the transfer has now collapsed after Chelsea refused to release the player on loan, with an option to make the move permanent.

The Londoners have made it clear to Milan that they will only offload Shevchenko if Milan buy him outright. The Rossoneri will not consider such a proposal, and if these reports are true, it now seems as if Sheva’s hopes of re-joining the Diavoli have all but disappeared.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

EPL season 2007-08 Opta Stats


1002 - There have been more goals scored in the Premier League this season than in any campaign since 2003/04.

Portsmouth beat Reading 7-4 to set a new record for goals scored in a Premier League game – 11.

Middlesbrough set a new club record victory in the Premier League with an 8-1 win, while it was Man City’s record defeat in the competition.

Fulham set a new record of 33 Premier League games away from home without a win.

Tottenham dropped 33 points from winning positions his season, equalling a Premier League record held by Chelsea 1995-96 and Wimbledon 1999-2000

Man City won more points against the “big four” teams than anyone else outside the elite four - 7.

Derby went 777 minutes without a goal overall – the second longest run in Premier League history after Crystal Palace (836 minutes) in 1994-95. The Rams ended the run by scoring at Old Trafford.

There have been 15 hat-tricks this season, five more than in the previous two seasons added together.

Derby have gone 32 Premier League games without a victory, a record.

Derby set a record for the lowest points (11) and for goals scored (20) in Premier League history.

Chelsea - No Premier League side ever mustered 85 points (in a 20-team division) and not won the title.

Bolton were the only team not to be shown a red card this season.

Sunderland conceded more penalties than any other team, nine.

Spurs hit the woodwork 15 times this season, more than any other top-flight side.

White Hart Lane saw more Premier League goals than any other ground this season, 80.

33% of the goals United conceded this season were headers – the highest proportion in the top flight.

Blackburn picked up more points from losing positions than any other side this season – 23.

Blackburn, Chelsea and Fulham had six players sent off – the joint-most.

Blackburn conceded more fouls (583) than any other team.

United fired in the most shots (547) while Derby mustered the fewest (288).

Spurs scored more goals from substitutes (13) than any other team.

Aston Villa scored the most headed goals (16).

Spurs conceded the most headed goals (15).

Arsenal scored 27 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches – more than any other side.

Chelsea and Man Utd kept 21 clean sheets each – a joint-league high.

Liverpool allowed their opponents just 90 shots on target against them – a league low.

Middlesbrough scored 53% of their goals in the first half – the highest percentage of any team.

Reading netted 76% of their goals in the second half – the highest proportion in the top flight.

Everton conceded 70% of their goals in the second half – the worst proportion.

West Ham shipped 5*% of all goals conceded in the opening 45 minutes of matches – the worst percentage in the Premier League.

12 different nationalities scored for Arsenal –the most in the league.

41 of Villa’s goals were netted by Englishmen – the most in the division.

The gap between top and bottom of 76 points equals the 38-game league record set in 2005-06.

Going into the last day of the season, Everton were the only team who had not been awarded a penalty, but they got one and scored it against Newcastle.

Wigan were caught offside more often than any other team – 137 times.

Spurs were fouled 536 times – more than any other side.

Arsenal had the best passing accuracy, completing 83% of their passes.

Birmingham had the worst passing accuracy completing just 64% of their distribution.

Arsenal conceded the fewest headed goals (3) this season.

22% of Everton’s goals came from defenders, the highest proportion of any back line.


21 of Fernando Torres’ 24 league goals have come at Anfield.

Torres broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 23 goals by a foreign player in his debut season.

Cesc Fabregas has set up 17 goals this season – the third-highest tally of assists (Henry 20 in 2002-03, Lampard 18 in 2004-05) in a single Premier League campaign since 1996 when Opta began recording data.

Cristiano Ronaldo became only the fifth player ever to score 30+ Premier League goals in a single season – Shearer, Phillips, Andy Cole & Henry are the others.

City’s Stephen Kelly is the only outfield player in the Premier League to have played every minute of every game this season but did not hit a single shot in 3420 mins of action.

Papa Bouba Diop had more shots without scoring than any other player this season, 55.

John Carew committed the most fouls (100) ending Kevin Davies’ reign as the foul-king – the Bolton man has committed the most in the last four seasons, but this campaign saw him finish second behind the Norwegian.

Ronaldo fired in 176 shots – the most in the Premier League.

Cesc Fabregas attempted the most passes (2526) and created the most chances (112).

The most-fouled player was David Bentley (90).

Nicky Butt picked up 13 yellow cards in the league – a divisional high.

Richard Dunne, Sulley Muntari and Ryan Nelsen were all red carded twice in 2007-08.

Reading’s Marcus Hahnemann conceded the most goals (66) but also made the most saves (152).

Elano was the most subbed player in the Premier League being brought off 23 times.

Marlon Harewood and Shane Long were the most used subs, both coming on 22 times in 2007-08.

Roque Santa Cruz scored eight headed goals – more than any other player.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored 24 goals in this his third Premier League season – the same number as Thierry Henry scored in his third league campaign with the Gunners.

Edwin van der Sar had the best saves to shots ratio of all first choice keepers, stopping 80% of accurate shots on target.

262 different players scored this season.


Eight teams parted company from the managers with whom they started the campaign.

Seven of those teams finished in the bottom half of the table.

Sir Alex Ferguson won his 10th Premier League title in 16 seasons.


Three of Arsenal’s five domestic defeats occurred with Howard Webb as the referee.

Manchester United have lost three and drawn one of their last four Premier League games with Mark Clattenburg as the ref.

Mark Clattenburg had only dismissed three players in three seasons as a top-flight official before sending off eight this season alone.

Rob Styles awarded the most penalties – 11.

Mike Dean awarded the most red cards - 11


Total shots attempted

Ronaldo 131
Adebayor 104
Torres 96
Gerrard 89
Rooney 85
Bentley 83
Berbatov 82
Tevez 82
Carew 80
Santa Cruz 77

Number of times hit woodwork

Bentley 4
Berbatov 4
Gerrard 4
Rooney 4
Ashton 3
Downing 3
Fabregas 3
Giggs 3
Hunt 3
Keane 3
Ronaldo 3


Fabregas 17
Young 14
Barry 10
Kalou 10
Rooney 10
Bentley 9
Berbatov 9
Elano 9
Nani 9
Shorey 9

Total passes and passing accuracy

Fabregas 2318 81.06%
Clichy 1975 83.19%
Flamini 1710 86.55%
Gerrard 1652 77.66%
Butt 1630 75.03%
Scholes 1592 89.70%
Carrick 1585 83.22%
Hleb 1552 82.73%
Ferdinand 1546 84.80%
Neville 1533 72.47%

Crosses and corners attempted and crosses and corners accuracy

Bentley 416 25.72%
Downing 383 25.07%
Young 340 26.76%
Arteta 299 26.42%
Shorey 293 26.62%
Diouf 289 22.15%
Petrov 279 24.37%
Giggs 222 23.42%
Gerrard 219 27.40%
Davies 217 24.88%

Tackles attempted and tackle success rate

Reo-Coker 178 79.78%
Mascherano 165 75.76%
Malbranque 158 75.95%
Muamba 156 76.28%
Butt 151 71.52%
Clichy 150 80.67%
Warnock 130 76.92%
McCann 117 65.81%
Brown 116 81.03%
Brown 112 68.75%

Number of saves made and saves to shots ratio

Hahnemann 152 69.72%
James 138 79.31%
Taylor 134 71.28%
Friedel 123 71.93%
Green 116 69.88%
Hart 107 75.89%
Kirkland 101 67.33%
Howard 89 74.79%
Schwarzer 88 65.19%
Niemi 85 68.55%

Shots without a goal

Papa Bouba Diop 46
John Arne Riise 36
Gary O’Neil 31
Luis Boa Morte 26
Manuel Fernandes 24

Fouls without a card

Dean Ashton 55
Mikael Forssell 33
Lucas 32
Mark Viduka 27
Peter Crouch 23

Percentage of goals involved in

Cristiano Ronaldo 47%
Roque Santa Cruz 47%
Fernando Torres 42%
Elano 39%
Emmanuel Adebayor 37%

Minutes without a foul lost

Michael Johnson 191
Lewin Nyatanga 180
Daniel Braaten 143
Danny Simpson 128
David Cotterill 100

Minutes without a foul won

Ian Harte 306
Ledley King 294
Rade Prica 206
Emiliano Insua 205
Kelvin Etuhu 203

Minutes without a shot

Stephen Kelly 3420
Jonathan Woodgate 1376
Sun Jihai 803
Daniel Gabbidon 766
Elliot Omozusi 689

Minutes per goal scored

Cristiano Ronaldo 88.6
Fernando Torres 105.9
Emmanuel Adebayor 122.2
Yakubu 144.4
Benjamin Mwaruwari 153.3

Minutes per goal conceded

Roy Carroll 33.2
Stephen Bywater 39.5
Shay Given 44.0
Paul Robinson 47.9
Antti Niemi 50.8

Minutes per save

Roy Carroll 20.0
Joe Hart 21.9
Marcus Hahnemann 22.5
David James 22.8
Maik Taylor 22.8

Minutes per discplinary point

Carlton Cole 16.9
Alan Smith 21.2
Kevin Davies 21.2
John Carew 22.3
André Stéphane Bikey 22.4

Minutes per chance created

Francesc Fabregas 25.5
Steven Gerrard 27.3
Ryan Giggs 30.6
Nani 30.7
Florent Malouda 31.8

Minutes per shot

Cristiano Ronaldo 21.0
Wayne Rooney 25.7
Fernando Torres 26.5
Dean Ashton 27.7
Emmanuel Adebayor 28.2

Minutes per foul lost

Carlton Cole 22.3
John Carew 25.7
Kevin Davies 27.9
Tim Cahill 27.9
Luis Boa Morte 28.6

Minutes per foul won

Mikel Arteta 28.8
Alan Hutton 28.9
Cristiano Ronaldo 31.2
Kevin Davies 31.9
Luis Boa Morte 33.1

Minutes per offside

Marcus Bent 43.2
Emmanuel Adebayor 44.4
Dean Ashton 50.4
Nicolas Anelka 57.5
Emile Heskey 59.6

Minutes per tackle

Javier Mascherano 13.1
Gavin McCann 17.2
Nigel Reo-Coker 17.5
Wilson Palacios 17.6
Steed Malbranque 18.0

Minutes per pass

Paul Scholes 1.16
Francesc Fabregas 1.23
Michael Carrick 1.39
Frank Lampard 1.42
John Obi Mikel 1.44

Minutes per cross

David Bentley 8.0
Mikel Arteta 8.2
Nolberto Solano 8.8
Stewart Downing 8.9
El Hadji Diouf 9.2

Shots with none on target

Vedran Corluka 7
Graeme Murty 5
Steve Sidwell 5
Henri Camara 4
Claude Davis 4

Shots with none off target

Jlloyd Samuel 4
Steve Finnan 2
Danny Simpson 2
Glen Johnson 1
Nuno Valente 1

Percentage of team assists

Francesc Fabregas 23%
Simon Davies 22%
Nicky Shorey 21%
Elano 21%
Ashley Young 20%

Goals scored per game

Cristiano Ronaldo 0.91
Fernando Torres 0.73
Emmanuel Adebayor 0.67
Nicolas Anelka 0.56
Benjamin Mwaruwari 0.52

Goals conceded per game

Roy Carroll 2.71
Stephen Bywater 2.28
Shay Given 1.95
Paul Robinson 1.88
Antti Niemi 1.77

Saves per game

Roy Carroll 4.50
Joe Hart 4.12
Marcus Hahnemann 4.00
David James 3.94
Maik Taylor 3.94

Disciplinary points per game

Kevin Davies 3.91
Tim Cahill 3.67
Carlton Cole 3.61
John Carew 3.59
Papa Bouba Diop 3.48

Chances created per game

Francesc Fabregas 3.50
Steven Gerrard 3.06
Mikel Arteta 2.54
David Bentley 2.43
Ryan Giggs 2.35

Shots per game

Cristiano Ronaldo 3.85
Wayne Rooney 3.15
Fernando Torres 2.91
Emmanuel Adebayor 2.89
Steven Gerrard 2.62

Fouls lost per game

John Carew 3.13
Tim Cahill 3.00
Kevin Davies 2.97
Carlton Cole 2.74
Papa Bouba Diop 2.64

Fouls won per game

Mikel Arteta 3.04
Alan Hutton 3.00
Kevin Davies 2.59
Cristiano Ronaldo 2.59
David Bentley 2.43

Offsides per game

Emmanuel Adebayor 1.83
Marcus Bent 1.74
Nicolas Anelka 1.56
Dimitar Berbatov 1.25
Emile Heskey 1.25

Tackles per game

Javier Mascherano 6.60
Nigel Reo-Coker 4.94
Wilson Palacios 4.94
Nicky Butt 4.31
Steed Malbranque 4.27

Passes per game

Francesc Fabregas 72.44
Paul Scholes 66.33
Frank Lampard 57.42
Mathieu Flamini 57.00
Javier Mascherano 53.72

Crosses per game

David Bentley 11.24
Mikel Arteta 10.68
Stewart Downing 10.08
Ashley Young 9.19
El Hadji Diouf 8.50


Appearances - 12 players - 38
Substitution on - Marlon Harewood, Shane Long - 22
Substitution off - Elano - 23
Passes in own half - Rio Ferdinand - 912
Passes in opposition half - Francesc Fabregas - 1690
Dribbles attempted - Cristiano Ronaldo - 191
Clearances - Martin Laursen - 739
Blocks - Richard Dunne - 37
Interceptions - Gaël Clichy - 136
Fouls conceded - John Carew - 100
Fouls won - David Bentley - 90
Offsides - Emmanuel Adebayor - 66
Yellow cards - Nicky Butt - 13
Red cards - Richard Dunne, Sulley Ali Muntari, Ryan Nelsen - 2


Goals to shots ratio

Aston Villa 17.57%
Arsenal 15.64%
Tottenham Hotspur 15.53%
Everton 15.24%
Manchester United 14.63%
Birmingham City 14.60%
Chelsea 14.32%
Manchester City 13.93%
Newcastle United 12.53%
Liverpool 12.52%
Reading 12.35%
Middlesbrough 12.25%
Blackburn Rovers 11.88%
Portsmouth 11.68%
West Ham United 10.97%
Bolton Wanderers 10.62%
Fulham 10.35%
Sunderland 10.06%
Wigan Athletic 9.37%
Derby County 6.94%

Shooting accuracy

Manchester United 47.53%
Everton 46.81%
Tottenham Hotspur 46.12%
Birmingham City 45.40%
Aston Villa 44.80%
Manchester City 44.27%
Arsenal 43.97%
Bolton Wanderers 43.95%
Blackburn Rovers 43.94%
Chelsea 43.83%
Middlesbrough 43.02%
Newcastle United 42.90%
Fulham 41.96%
Derby County 40.28%
Liverpool 40.00%
West Ham United 39.95%
Reading 39.76%
Portsmouth 38.93%
Wigan Athletic 38.84%
Sunderland 38.27%

Hit the woodwork

Tottenham Hotspur 15
Manchester United 14
West Ham United 13
Arsenal 12
Bolton Wanderers 12
Liverpool 12
Blackburn Rovers 11
Middlesbrough 11
Chelsea 9
Reading 9
Wigan Athletic 9
Newcastle United 8
Aston Villa 7
Birmingham City 6
Portsmouth 6
Derby County 5
Fulham 5
Sunderland 5
Manchester City 4
Everton 3

Penalties taken and penalties scored

Manchester United 8 6
Aston Villa 7 6
Blackburn Rovers 7 5
Chelsea 7 7
Portsmouth 7 4
Tottenham Hotspur 7 4
Arsenal 6 5
Birmingham City 6 6
Liverpool 5 5
Wigan Athletic 5 4
Newcastle United 4 4
Reading 4 2
Fulham 3 2
Bolton Wanderers 2 0
Manchester City 2 2
Middlesbrough 2 2
Sunderland 2 1
West Ham United 2 2
Derby County 1 0
Everton 1 1

Percentage of passes that were long

Reading 21.08%
Birmingham City 20.87%
Middlesbrough 19.19%
Wigan Athletic 18.45%
Derby County 18.45%
Fulham 18.37%
Bolton Wanderers 18.24%
Portsmouth 17.81%
Sunderland 17.63%
Newcastle United 17.37%
Aston Villa 17.33%
Everton 17.27%
West Ham United 17.19%
Liverpool 16.88%
Blackburn Rovers 16.71%
Tottenham Hotspur 15.70%
Manchester City 15.12%
Manchester United 13.86%
Chelsea 12.48%
Arsenal 10.33%

Total fouls conceded

Blackburn Rovers 583
Middlesbrough 562
West Ham United 562
Aston Villa 559
Bolton Wanderers 548
Derby County 548
Birmingham City 546
Portsmouth 541
Wigan Athletic 527
Sunderland 517
Everton 494
Fulham 493
Reading 492
Newcastle United 483
Chelsea 478
Liverpool 465
Manchester City 427
Manchester United 425
Tottenham Hotspur 410
Arsenal 407

Total fouls won

Tottenham Hotspur 536
Blackburn Rovers 535
Everton 532
Bolton Wanderers 514
Aston Villa 511
West Ham United 500
Chelsea 488
Manchester United 483
Newcastle United 480
Wigan Athletic 477
Arsenal 458
Portsmouth 445
Manchester City 444
Sunderland 444
Middlesbrough 442
Reading 441
Liverpool 434
Fulham 425
Birmingham City 424
Derby County 421

Opposition shots on target allowed

Liverpool 90
Chelsea 121
Arsenal 128
Manchester United 130
Everton 132
Aston Villa 147
Middlesbrough 157
Sunderland 159
Wigan Athletic 161
Tottenham Hotspur 172
West Ham United 174
Bolton Wanderers 175
Blackburn Rovers 177
Portsmouth 191
Newcastle United 192
Manchester City 200
Fulham 202
Birmingham City 214
Reading 223
Derby County 236

Players used

Derby County 36
Fulham 33
Bolton Wanderers 31
Sunderland 31
Middlesbrough 30
Tottenham Hotspur 30
Birmingham City 28
Manchester City 28
Portsmouth 28
West Ham United 28
Arsenal 27
Chelsea 27
Newcastle United 27
Wigan Athletic 27
Reading 26
Liverpool 25
Manchester United 25
Everton 23
Aston Villa 22
Blackburn Rovers 22

Players with five or more goals

Chelsea 7
Aston Villa 6
Arsenal 5
Birmingham City 4
Everton 4
Fulham 4
Liverpool 4
Manchester United 4
Middlesbrough 4
Reading 4
Blackburn Rovers 3
Manchester City 3
Newcastle United 3
Portsmouth 3
Tottenham Hotspur 3
Bolton Wanderers 2
Sunderland 2
West Ham United 1
Wigan Athletic 1
Derby County 0

Players with at least one assist

Liverpool 19
Arsenal 18
Everton 18
Manchester United 17
Chelsea 16
Portsmouth 15
Birmingham City 13
Newcastle United 13
Reading 13
Aston Villa 12
Tottenham Hotspur 12
West Ham United 12
Derby County 11
Fulham 11
Manchester City 11
Sunderland 11
Wigan Athletic 11
Bolton Wanderers 10
Middlesbrough 10
Blackburn Rovers 9

Saturday, August 16, 2008

English Premier League Final Standings Prediction

Big Four yet again

Champions - Chelsea
2nd - Man U
3rd - Arsenal
4th - Liverpool

Relegation Dog fight

18th - Wigan
19th - Hull
20th - Stoke

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Frank Lampard: Chelsea for Life

Frank Lampard pledged to give Chelsea “the best five years of my career” last night after signing a £33million five-year contract that makes him the highest-paid 30-year-old in domestic history.

The Chelsea midfield player should achieve his wish of finishing his career at Stamford Bridge thanks to an innovative deal in which his wages will continue to rise from their present level of £121,000 a week to a peak of £140,000 in the third year of his contract, before being reduced in the final two years.

Lampard's contract negotiations have been ongoing for more than 2 years, although the delay has not proved too costly because, having turned 30 in June, it is the most lucrative deal signed by a Premier League player of his age. Talks reached an impasse this summer over the length of the contract, as revealed by The Times, but a solution was reached this week after compromise on both sides, with Lampard being given an extra year on reduced terms.

John Terry's £135,000 a week remains the highest at the club, but Lampard's contract has an equivalent value over its full term.

"I spent a lot of time with my family, thought thoroughly about what I wanted to do, and now I've come back for pre-season, we've had a few conversations in the last couple of weeks, particularly since I've been back from China,” said Lampard.

"I've had seven fantastic years here so far and now I have the potential to hopefully have another five fantastic years and finish my career here. Whether that is five years or more I don't know, but that is me happy and staying here at Chelsea."

“I wanted to sign a five-year deal because, having just turned 30, I feel I've got more than five years left in me,” he said. “I pride myself on my fitness and my training and I feel these will be the best five years of my career to come.

"I see it as my final big contract and I will play out my days at Chelsea," he told Chelsea TV.

"I want to finish my career at Chelsea.

"It is something I've said many times and, after signing this contract, I am very happy and positive I will finish as a player here."

"I've had seven great seasons here and now I can have many more."

“I set out to improve every year as a player. I feel as fit as I've ever felt and I train as hard as I've ever trained. This contract will take me to 34 and if you look around there are a lot of top professionals playing, like Ryan Giggs, offering a lot to their club both on the pitch and off it. And I certainly feel that I can do that in a big way.”

Lampard has spoken of a desire to play abroad - he was tempted with the idea of a reunion with José Mourinho at Inter Milan - but credited his team-mates for convincing him to stay, particularly the support shown to him after the death of his mother in April. Chelsea's determination to keep him also played its part, with the club rejecting two bids, one of about £9.5million, from Inter last month.

“I think it helped coming back, training at Chelsea, seeing my team-mates, seeing the manager, feeling comfortable among the lads,” Lampard said. “The Man United game and what they did there was a big thing. I sat and watched that game with my family and when they removed their shirts [dedicating the victory to his mother] it was a very emotional moment. I will never forget it. I can't speak highly enough of the lads and what they did. John [Terry] as a captain creates that kind of spirit and the others follow because they are all great lads.

“When you go to your mum's funeral, you don't expect all the players to go there; you might expect a representative from the club. I had all the lads there. And that's something that goes beyond football and shows you what real friendships are.”

Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, hailed Lampard's deal, but warned Didier Drogba and Joe Cole that they would have to wait until next year for new contracts. “It could well be our best signing this summer,” Kenyon said. “I think it's important because it makes a statement about us keeping our best players.

“Didier and Joe Cole have two years to go. Both those contracts and discussions have been put on the shelf and will be revisited next year.”

'Deco Is Awesome' Says Terry

Chelsea captain John Terry has hailed new boy Deco's 'awesome' talent, and believes he will make a great impact this season.

At the end of June Chelsea signed Deco for £8million from Barcelona on a three year deal. The new number 20 is a two-time Champions League winner, once with a Jose Mourinho managed FC Porto, and once with Barcelona.

It is this European winning mentality that has seen him arrive in London, as Chelsea attempt another campaign in Europe's premier competition.

Chelsea's captain John Terry has further talked up Deco's arrival, he is quoted in Metro as saying: "The manager has made some great signings. I never realised before how good Deco is," he further expained "I played against him four or five times in the past and he's probably one of the best I've ever trained with or played against."

Regarding the strengths of the Brazil-born Portuguese international, he said: "He looks awesome. He has a great touch, opens up defences, and can pass the ball." On the aspect of his play that he admires most, Terry added "He gets stuck in as well, which I like about him."

"He makes it look so easy and is a class act. When you see him day-in day-out you realise how determined he is."

On his motivations for switching allegiances to a club that Barcelona have built up a European rivalry with in recent seasons, the Chelsea skipper stated that "things haven't gone too well for him over the last couple of years and he wants to prove himself. There's no better place to do that than at Chelsea."

Deco is not the only Portuguese international to join the Chelsea ranks this summer, Jose Bosingwa was the first signing of the summer in the pre-Scolari era.

Bosingwa recovery helps Scolari’s masterplan

Luiz Felipe Scolari received some good news yesterday in the run-up to Chelsea’s opening Barclays Premier League match against Portsmouth when José Bosingwa returned to training after three weeks out with a thigh injury. The Portugal right back has not played since limping off 20 minutes into his debut against Ghangzhou Pharmaceutical in China last month, but has an outside chance of being fit to face Harry Redknapp’s side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Bosingwa was signed for £16.1 million from FC Porto before Scolari was appointed in June, but has already become integral to the new manager’s plans. In an attempt to shoehorn Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and Deco into midfield, the Brazilian is planning to start the season with a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation, which relies on the full backs to provide width in attack.

Bosingwa is the most attacking full back at the club and is likely to flourish in such a system, while Ashley Cole can also look forward to being given more licence to go forward after his natural instincts were stymied by José Mourinho and Avram Grant. Essien missed training with a knock yesterday, but is expected to have recovered by the weekend.

Scolari has told his players that their priority this season should be to regain the Premier League title from Manchester United, but Deco insists that they can win the Champions League as well. And the Portugal international should know, having lifted the trophy with FC Porto and Barcelona and he hopes to complete a remarkable hat-trick with Chelsea.

“Of course I’d love to win the Champions League with Chelsea,” Deco said. “Everyone here wants to win titles and that’s why I chose the club. I truly believe that what I see at Chelsea is a lot of quality and I think we have everything necessary to win the Champions League and also the Premier League again, too.

“I could have just stayed at Barcelona. I had two years left of a very good contract and it’s a lovely, sunny place to live, but I wanted new challenges and new objectives. For me it was so important to go to a place where I could still have the challenge to win things. I believe this Chelsea team is very strong and I believe we can make history by finally winning the Champions League. I still have the will to win more titles which is why I came here.”

Chelsea chief Kenyon admits Real Madrid's Robinho still on radar

Chelsea chief Peter Kenyon admits they're not giving up on landing Real Madrid winger Robinho.
The Brazil forward would bolster the options of boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, who can now be certain of Frank Lampard being in his midfield after 18 months of contract stalemate ended in the England international signing a five-year deal.

On the possibility of signing Robinho, Kenyon said: "It is continuing. Hopefully not for as long as the speculation about Frank.

"We've still got a few days left of the window and hopefully we'll get a result."

Source:,, TimesOnline, Telegraph, Guardian, Tribalfootball

Berbatov on brink of £28m move to Old Trafford

Manchester United are believed to be on the brink of signing Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Spurs have been holding out for a fee in the region of £38million for their star striker, but it is thought they have now reached agreement with the Premier League champions on a £28million deal. Spurs are closing in on a replacement signing and have also been boosted by the form of striker Darren Bent who has hit 13 goals in pre-season.

The Bulgarian has been tracked by United for months and their conduct had angered the White Hart Lane club, who believe the Red Devils were pursuing a public transfer campaign. United were reported to the FA by Spurs but it is likely any deal would see this complaint withdrawn.

Reports suggest the 27-year-old could be a United player by the time the Premier League kicks off this weekend, with some claiming he was at United's Carrington training ground for talks on Tuesday.

Berbatov has made no secret of his desire to move to Old Trafford, something which has frustrated bosses at Spurs who felt he should have shown more loyalty, and he has been criticised for his lack of application since returning from the summer break. It will come as a second blow in a matter of weeks after Robbie Keane insisted to be given permission to move to Liverpool.

Zenit St Petersburg forward Andrei Arshavin and Spartak Moscow star Roman Pavlyuchenko both remain at the top of coach Juande Ramos' wanted list, and the sale of Berbatov could free up enough funds for the Russian strike pair to be reunited in north London. West Ham United striker Dean Ashton - reportedly told to shed pounds by England coach Fabio Capello - has also been tracked, but a move for David Villa would appear to be doomed to failure.

Berbatov has scored 27 Premier League goals in 63 starts since moving from Bayer Leverkusen but his time at the club has been dogged by transfer rumours and questions over his commitment.

United, meanwhile, have apparently failed with a bid for Valencia's attacking midfielder David Silva - according to the player's agent.

'Manchester United made an offer for David Silva, but this has been turned down by Valencia,' Julio Llorente said. 'Silva doesn't want to play in England because he is happy at Valencia.

'His family are settled and if he was to move it would only be to another Spanish club, like Real Madrid or Barcelona. David Silva will start the new season at Valencia.'

Valencia president Vicente Soriano echoed the sentiment, insisting to Spanish sports tabloid, Marca: 'I can assure you that Villa and Silva will continue this season at Valencia.'

Kenyon hopeful of Robinho coup

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has sealed the future of Frank Lampard and is hopeful of now getting Robinho to sign at Stamford Bridge.

Real Madrid have turned down an offer from Chelsea for 24-year-old Robinho but Kenyon believes they can still sign him before the end of the transfer window.

The Brazil forward would bolster the options of boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, who can now be certain of Lampard being in his midfield after 18 months of contract stalemate ended in the England international signing a five-year deal.

On the possibility of signing Robinho, Kenyon said: 'It is continuing. Hopefully not for as long as the speculation about Frank.

'We've still got a few days left of the window and hopefully we'll get a result.'

Lampard was pushing for a five-year deal rather than four and is among the club's top earners with his new deal.

Kenyon added: 'This announcement is a massive boost and comes at the best possible time to give us a boost going into the next season.

'There is a great sense that it is done for the next five years and we don't have to concentrate our efforts on it anymore. It certainly sees Frank seeing out his playing career at Chelsea. The speculation has been around for the past 18 months.

'While we had approaches from Inter Milan we were never going to sell Frank, Chelsea are not going to sell their best players and Frank certainly comes into that category.

'We were just delighted that following the talks we could finalise this pretty quickly. It's something at the end of the day that we always wanted to achieve and I think Frank obviously wanted to achieve it.'

Silva agrees improved deal

David Silva has agreed an improved five-year contract with Valencia, the Primera Liga club announced on Wednesday night.

Silva has been the subject of intense transfer speculation recently, with European champions Manchester United and Barcelona among the clubs reportedly trailing the 22-year-old attacking midfielder.

However, Valencia have moved to try and end the speculation by agreeing new terms on the Spanish international's existing contract, which runs out in 2013.

'This is a new contract with Valencia with different conditions,' Silva's agent Julio Llorente confirmed.

Terry: Ronaldo and United have 'peaked'

Chelsea captain John Terry has suggested that Manchester United do not have the capacity to better last season's performances and that the double winners have reached their peak.

Having beaten the Blues to the Premier League title and the Champions League trophy, United are in good shape to mount another assault on both competitions, but while Terry insists Chelsea can only grow stronger he is adamant United - including their 42-goal hero Cristiano Ronaldo - are unable to rescale the heights of their remarkable double.

'I think Sir Alex realises we weren't too far away from United when they were at the very top of their game,' said the Blues skipper.

'I don't think United have another level to go to. They had a lot of players in their team who have been at the peak of their form for the last two years.

'Rio Ferdinand has been awesome for the last two years and Cristiano Ronaldo was unbelievable - I don't think you'll see that again.'

Ronaldo's stunning goal haul underpinned United's trophy bid and led to Real Madrid's summer pursuit of the Portuguese winger, but Terry is confident that Chelsea's new recruits can match the Red Devils this season.

'I think we can close the gap because Man Utd were at the very top of their game last season. I'm taking nothing away from them because they've been unbelievable over the past two years, but we've been very close to them and we had injuries and a change of manager.'

Terry has been impressed with Chelsea's business in the transfer window under new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and believes a good start is key to wrestling the title from United.

'The new manager has come in and made a few changes. He's made some great signings. Deco looks awesome so I'm excited to see him play,'' he said.

'We need to start well and get off to a flyer, just keep winning.

'Man Utd have a few tough games early on. Liverpool have made some good signings and will be stronger this year. We need to focus.

'We have a good home record and if we can continue that and get off to a good start we'll be all right.''

Source: Soccernet

Monday, August 11, 2008

Community Shield: Man U 0 - 0 Portsmouth AET : 3 - 1(penalties) Tevez stamped on me - Hreidarsson

Portsmouth defender Hermann Hreidarsson accused Carlos Tevez of stamping on him during Sunday's Community Shield clash at Wembley.

Tevez thought he should have had a spot-kick in normal time at Wembley when Hreidarsson grabbed his legs in the penalty area, although the Portsmouth left-back insists he was reacting to the United player trampling on him.

The incident ended with Tevez grabbing Hreidarsson's throat, although referee Peter Walton waved play on and took no action against either player.

Hreidarsson, after United had won 3-1 on penalties, said: "I was down and he stamped on me. I thought he could have avoided me, there was no need for it.

"That was why I reacted and why I grabbed his leg.",16368,2483_3962785,00.html

Stamping and grabbing oppoenent throat and got away scott free ? This is not football. Tevez should really have gotten a red card for that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Peeved Madrid To Sue Ronaldo?

Peeved Madrid To Sue Ronaldo?
Reports from the English and Spanish media indicate that Real Madrid are seeking a massive pay-out from Cristiano Ronaldo following the winger's decision to stay at Manchester United...

According to News of the World, los Merengues are demanding £17million from Ronaldo after he recently announced that he would not be moving to the La Liga giants this summer.

The Portuguese superstar seemed a certainty to leave Old Trafford after ignoring Sir Alex Ferguson's messages while at EURO 2008 and reiterating his life-long desire to ply his trade at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But the United boss has repeatedly insisted that his prize attacker will be going nowhere, and that indeed seems to be the case after the two met for crunch talks earlier in the week.

However, the matter is not done and dusted just yet, as Madrid are now claiming that the 23-year-old agreed terms with them and had a clause inserted in his contract that entitled the Spanish champions to a hefty sum of compensation.

The continental press reports that Real president Ramon Calderon will only forego the fee if an agreement is struck that will see Ronaldo head to los Blancos next summer.

Such an outcome remains highly unlikely, however, given relations between the two clubs have disintegrated throughout the saga.