Sunday, December 19, 2010

Match preview - Mon 20th Dec

Match preview - Mon 20th Dec

A look ahead to Monday's fixture in the Barclays Premier League.

The latest round of Barclays Premier League fixtures comes to an exciting end as Manchester City host Everton.
The two clubs are currently experiencing very different fortunes as they go into the final match before Christmas.
Man City v Everton
Manchester City have not lost in their last seven Barclays Premier League outings while Everton have gone seven without a win.
However David Moyes' men are unbeaten in their last six away matches, drawing their last four road trips.
These sides last met at Eastlands in March, when goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta gave the visiting Toffees a solid 2-0 win.

Barclays Premier League fixture
Click on the fixture below to view the match preview
Manchester City v Everton (Referee: Peter Walton)

Berbatov scoops Barclays award

Dimitar Berbatov has been presented with the Barclays Golden Boot '10-goal' landmark award.

The Bulgarian was presented with the award ahead of this weekend's crucial Chelsea v Manchester United fixture after becoming the first player in the Barclays Premier League to hit double figures in the 2010/11 season.
Berbatov started the season in great form with a goal in Manchester United's opening day victory against Newcastle United, before finding the net in consecutive matches at home to West Ham United and away to Everton. He then claimed a hat-trick in a 3-2 win against rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.
five goals
Berbatov reached the '10-goal' landmark after scoring an amazing five goals in the Red Devils' 7-1 home win over Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers.
The striker joins a list of just three other Barclays Premier League players - Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Jermain Defoe to have scored five goals in a single match.

Blackburn Rovers 1 West Ham United 1

Blackburn Rovers 1
West Ham United 1
Scorer: Nelsen (50)
Scorer: Stanislas (77)
Attendance: 21,934 FT (16:53)


Substitute Junior Stanislas earned West Ham United a priceless point with a 78th-minute equaliser at Ewood Park to deny Blackburn Rovers caretaker manager Steve Kean a win in his first match in charge.
With West Ham manager Avram Grant enduring another week of speculation about his future, it was an important match for both managers, and it was Blackburn who made the breakthrough in the 51st minute thanks to the scrappiest of goals from Ryan Nelsen.
Defeat would certainly have been harsh on the visitors, who were easily the more creative side, and they got their reward when Stanislas fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
The point was not enough to lift West Ham off the bottom of the table but they did close to within two points of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Staff at Ewood Park had spent all morning clearing the pitch, stands and surrounding areas of snow and their efforts were rewarded as the match was the only one of the scheduled 3pm kick-offs in the Barclays Premier League to go ahead.
Grant was forced into a change in goal after Robert Green underwent a minor operation to remove a cyst earlier this week, meaning a West Ham debut for 23-year-old Belgian Ruud Boffin.
It was the first time Green had failed to start a league match for the Hammers for almost four years, and Grant's problems continued to mount before kick-off as Valon Behrami, who had been a doubt, was replaced by Jonathan Spector at the 11th hour.
The first half was quiet, with Blackburn's bright start petering out and West Ham managing only sporadic bursts forward.
The first decent opening did not arrive until the 41st minute as Luis Boa Morte played in Frederic Piquionne on the left of the area but the striker fired his effort towards the near post and into the side-netting.

work space
West Ham were by then looking quite dangerous and moments later it was Boa Morte on the end of a through-ball. This time he did find the target, forcing Paul Robinson into a good block.
Half-time came at the right time for Rovers, who had a new energy about them in the second half and soon gained the lead.
A shot from the lively Mame Biram Diouf was deflected behind by James Tomkins and, from the resulting corner, the ball was cleared to Brett Emerton wide on the right.
The Australian did brilliantly to work space for a cross, which caused havoc in the West Ham penalty area. Poor defending saw the ball drop to Benjani Mwaruwari three yards out only for the striker to completely miss his kick.
Waiting was Nelsen, though, and, after his first effort was superbly saved by Boffin, the Rovers captain forced the ball inside the right post off his thigh.

decent opening
It was tough luck on the rookie goalkeeper, who did all he could but was let down by the men in front of him. Grant responded by bringing on Carlton Cole and Stanislas for Pablo Barrera and Spector, while for Rovers injury saw Christopher Samba replaced by Phil Jones.
Cole was immediately involved, appealing unsuccessfully for a penalty after a challenge by Gael Givet and then poking his shot wide under pressure from Jones following good work by Kieron Dyer.
That proved to be the last involvement for Jones, though, as he limped off barely 10 minutes after coming on, with teenager Grant Hanley given his chance by Kean.
The Hammers created another decent opening moments later, Piquionne heading Stanislas' corner over the bar.
They certainly deserved an equaliser, and 12 minutes from time they got one.
Scott Parker, so often at the heart of West Ham's best moments, drove into the box and Givet could only divert the ball into the path of Stanislas, who smashed his shot into the far right corner.
Blackburn had been poor but they upped their level again and thought they had gone straight back in front only for David Dunn to be denied by an offside flag.
Both sides pushed for a winner and Morten Gamst Pedersen almost caught out Boffin with an audacious 40-yard free-kick, while the Norwegian had the final chance with another set-piece from the edge of the area but sent his shot just the wrong side of the far left post.

Sunderland 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

Sunderland 1
Bolton Wanderers 0
Scorer: Welbeck (32)
Attendance: 35,101 FT (14:40)


Danny Welbeck's fifth goal of the season saw Sunderland leapfrog Barclays Premier League surprise package Bolton Wanderers and strengthen their claims on Europe.
The striker, on loan from Manchester United, stooped to head home from close range after Jussi Jaaskelainen had turned away Darren Bent's 32nd-minute shot.
However, keeper Craig Gordon had to pull off a superb 45th-minute save to deny defender Zat Knight an equaliser.
Victory saw the Black Cats climb above the visitors into sixth place to cement their excellent start to the season as they gave a crowd of 35,101 something to cheer on a bitterly cold Wearside afternoon.
They might have won more comfortably had Welbeck's 70th-minute effort crept inside the post rather than coming off the outside of it, but they were good value for the points as they tamed Owen Coyle's high-flying side.
Bolton lost 4-0 at the Stadium of Light last season on an afternoon when Steve Bruce's men ended a 14-match wait for a Barclays Premier League win, and although the contest was much closer this time around, they rarely looked like emerging with anything to show for their efforts as they slipped to just a second defeat in eight outings.
Bruce had admitted after last weekend's drab 0-0 draw at Fulham that the visiting supporters might have been better off spending the day Christmas shopping, and he was in no mood to witness a repeat on home soil.
But with Wanderers heading for Wearside sitting in sixth place, one ahead of their hosts, he knew they would have to be at their best to get something from the match.

low drive
The sides largely cancelled each other out during the opening half-hour with the visitors enjoying slightly the better of what chances there were.
Martin Petrov warmed the returning Gordon's hands with a seventh-minute snapshot, but the £9m man had to be at his best to deny Wanderers two minutes later.
Matthew Taylor managed to forced his way past Nedum Onuoha on the left to pull the ball back from the goal-line, and Kevin Davies seemed certain to score until the Scotland international blocked his low drive with a foot.
Darren Bent was guilty of a bad miss at the other end four minutes later with he and strike-partner Asamoah Gyan seeing little of the ball.
However, as the half-hour mark came and went, Sunderland stepped up a gear despite the loss of central defender John Mensah to an ankle injury, and to good effect.
It took a fine save from Jaaskelainen to keep out Gyan's 31st-minute shot after it clipped Gary Cahill on its way towards goal after Lee Cattermole had played the striker in over the top.
But the respite was short-lived and Sunderland took the lead seconds later.
Bent did well to control a deep cross beyond the far post and although the keeper parried his shot, Welbeck arrived right on cue to head the rebound home.

red card
Cahill found his way into referee Chris Foy's notebook for a 34th-minute challenge from behind on Bent, and he was soon followed by Cattermole, but the Bolton defender was very nearly instrumental in dragging his side back into the match on the stroke of half-time.
He got up well at the far post to head Taylor's corner back across goal, and Knight seemed certain to score until Gordon somehow managed to turn the ball over the crossbar.
Cattermole enjoyed some good fortune four minutes after the restart when, having been booked before the break for a foul on Stuart Holden, he escaped a second and his third red card of the season for a late challenge on Johan Elmander.
The Bolton striker tested Gordon with a 52nd-minute snapshot, but Sunderland might have increased their lead seconds later when Welbeck met Jordan Henderson's free-kick with a downward header which Jaaskelainen claimed just before Gyan could get to it.
They came agonisingly close to a second goal with 20 minutes remaining as the visitors started to wilt.
Bent miscontrolled Henderson's cross with just Jaaskelainen to beat, but the ball ran to Gyan, who looked up before pulling it back for the fast arriving Welbeck.
The 20-year-old opened up his body to slide a side-footed shot across the keeper towards the far post, but saw the ball clip the outside of the upright and drop wide.
Bolton might have snatched a point four minutes from time when the ball dropped to Cahill 15 yards out, but his goalbound effort was well blocked by Anton Ferdinand with Sunderland refusing to release their grip on the points.
Substitute Bolo Zenden might have increased their lead at the death, but headed wide from Henderson's cross, but Ivan Klasnic was guilty of a worse miss in stoppage time as the visitors' hopes faded.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hodgson hoping for Gerrard return

Hodgson hoping for Gerrard return 

 

Roy Hodgson is hoping Steven Gerrard can start training with a view to making his comeback at Fulham this week.

The Reds skipper has been absent since injuring a hamstring on 17th November in England's friendly defeat to France. The match against Fulham was earmarked as a likely date for his return and that remains the case, although Hodgson will insist he gets some training under his belt beforehand.
"Steven's on track for the weekend," Hodgson said. "He's worked very hard to get back and Steven and Jamie Carragher are the type who hate not playing. Steven has been determined to get back as quickly as possible and the physios are happy with him and he feels quite good." Hodgson is adamant he won't take any risks with his star man, however.

big question
"The big question when a player has a hamstring injury or a slight pull is when do you actually say he is totally fit and give him the go-ahead to play? We have to be careful there is no risk of the injury reoccurring and I am in the hands to some extent of the sports science people as to when he can come back," said Hodgson.
"I take their word for it and I can't really push the subject because I would be devastated if we brought him back too early, but he still hopes he will be fit to play some part in the game against Fulham and so am I."
Gerrard will definitely not come into contention for Wednesday night's Europa League match against FC Utrecht at Anfield.
"We are training on Tuesday, Wednesday is a day off for those who won't be playing against Utrecht and if he is going to start the game against Fulham I definitely want him back training with us on Thursday, that's for sure," he added.
"That's the deadline but I am still hopeful he can take some part in our training on Tuesday."

Blackburn know who they want

Blackburn know who they want

Co-owner Venkatesh Rao has confirmed Blackburn Rovers have identified who they want to succeed Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce was surprisingly sacked as manager on Monday just weeks after the Ewood Park outfit's takeover by Asian poultry giants Venky's.
Rao has defended the club's decision to part company with their manager despite the club's steady campaign to date.
The Rovers chief says the change at the helm is designed to help move the club forward, both on and off the pitch. Rao has confirmed the club has spoken to another chairman about who they want to replace Allardyce, although he insists they need more time to finalise the situation.

other people
"We've not got anything against anybody. This is just to improve the club and go forward," he said.
"There's nothing against Mr Sam, all the best to him. This is basically to improve the management and the club.
"It's (the new manager) in the pipeline. It's too early to mention today. We'll come back to you as fast as possible.
"We've been talking to the chairman who is there and other people. We have a target in mind.
"I can't tell you right away. Please give us some time.
"We are looking forward for the best for the fans. This is for their benefit. We are concerned about the fans."