Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Weekend Round-up

By Danny Wright

Everton leap-frogged Liverpool into fourth place by beating Wigan 2-1 at the JJB. In truth, Everton were dominated by Steve Bruce’s strugglers and were lucky to be 2-0 ahead at the break, Marcus Bent seeing a header saved and Emile Heskey being denied by Tim Cahill’s block. Bumbling Titus Bramble did his reputation no good by setting Andy Johnson up for Everton’s opener, the clown footed defender’s pass back falling desperately short for Johnson to duly snaffle the loose ball and nut-megg Chris Kirkland. Before Wigan could recover, they were 2-0 down, Joleon Lescott tapping in unmarked at the far post after the Latics failed to clear a corner. The home side dominated thereafter, and got back into the game despite not scoring – Phil Jagielka bundling the ball over his own line from a Jason Koumas free-kick, Toffees stopper Tim Howard looking far from convincing. For all their pressure, the score stayed the same as the Toffees reach the Holy Grail of the Champions League places. Liverpool have two games in hand, but with pressure on Rafa Benetiz, nothing less than a win against Aston Villa tomorrow will do for the Reds.

If things weren’t bad enough for Liverpool, Manchester City added to their woes by also overtaking them in the standings, their 1-1 draw with West Ham enough to put the Citizens into fifth. These two sides had met just four days earlier in a FA Cup replay in what was a dour affair, with this offering only marginally better, despite Carlton Cole’s spectacular overhead kick that gave the Hammers the lead. Joe Hart did his bit to keep the hosts in the tie as Darius Vassell levelled from Martin Petrov’s centre; although City still looking formidable, you cannot help but feel they lack the dimension needed to see off teams and earn a European berth, Aston Villa and Everton looking the more likely at present.

At the league’s summit Manchester United are sitting pretty at the climax, having seen off Reading 2-0 at Madejski. The score line suggests a comfortable return for United but that was far from the truth as Reading pressed and pressed but couldn’t reap the necessary results as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched the Royals in style. Arsenal were also clinical in seeing off struggling opposition, Fulham on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat at Craven Cottage as Emmanuel Adebayor’s carbon copy headers put the Gunners into an insurmountable 2-0 lead. Tomas Rosicky compounded the defeat with a late third.

King Kevin Keegan couldn’t mark his second coming as Newcastle manager with a win, his side stuttering to a 0-0 draw at home to Bolton. On a day where the paparazzo went into overdrive and no superlative was left unspluttered to describe Keegan’s arrival, the game itself proved to be a proverbial damp squib; Jussi Jaaskelainen went untested in the Bolton goal, and it was in fact the visitor’s who nearly snatched the win, Shay Given saving late in the day to foil Jlloyd Samuel. The following is a rare sentence to appear in football writing - so saviour it for what it’s worth - and don’t adjust your monitors, but… nice one Gary Megson.

In the mid-table dogfight, Portsmouth sank Derby with ease at Fratton Park, 3-1 the final score in favour of the hosts. Derby in fact took a surprise lead, Lewin Nyatanga prodding home from close range after five minutes. Pompey inevitably responded though, Benjani’s shot and powerful header setting them on their way as they restored the lead, with the big centre-forward completing his hat-trick on the counter attack with a cool finish. The goals scored by Pompey were the first to be seen at Fratton Park for the first time in six matches (9 hours to be precise), this being a testament to how poor Derby really are.

Middlesborough dominated at Blackburn but could only come away from Lancashire with a point, 1-1 the final score. A lack of finesse in front of goal proved Boro’s downfall again, Tuncay, Wheater and Aliadiere all guilty of missing vital chances, this despite Wheater nodding his side ahead from Stuart Downing’s free kick. Matt Derbyshire ultimately punished the visitor’s lack of firepower by tapping home with fifteen minutes left.

Tottenham beat Sunderland 2-0 at the Lane to heap more misery on Roy Keane’s men. Craig Gordon kept the Blackcats in the game, his saves denying Spurs on numerous occasions, but the Scot was helpless to stop Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane’s 100th Tottenham goal condemning his side to defeat. Chelsea keep going about their (title) business quietly, beating Birmingham 1-0 at St Andrews.

In other news, Celtic are lining up a bid for Celtic £1m bid for American international goalkeeper Brad Guzman, according to the News of the World, and The People reported today that Paul Robinson is on his way to Manchester City in a £4m move.
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kirkland's Burning Ambition

By Danny Wright

Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has revealed his plans following footballer retirement – he wants to be a fire fighter.

In an interview with The Independent, the former Liverpool stopper revealed it has always been his ambition to join the fire service after his football career has finished.

"A lot of people don't actually realise what fire-fighters do," Kirkland said.

"This interest has always been with me. The passion to do it has always been there, and as footballers we are idolised for kicking a ball around but fire-fighters actually make a sacrifice."

Kirkland, 26, has by no means had any easy route to the pinnacle of English football, having been rejected as by his village side to play in the sticks. However, rigorous training seasons with father Eddie on a local recreation field helped Kirkland's prospects flourish.

The hard work eventually paid off when the Barwell born stopper was snapped up by Coventry City in 1999, before moving onto Liverpool in 2001 and current club Wigan in 2006. Injuries have blighted Kirkland's career so far, limiting him to one solitary England cap in 2006 as a second half substitute against Greece.

Read the full interview with Kirkland here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rams Fail In Carroll Bid

By Danny Wright

Derby have failed to sign Rangers goalkeeper Roy Carroll.

Paul Jewell has been without first choice Stephen Bywater and has been looking to strengthen his options in the January transfer window.

The relegation bound club had touted the former West Ham keeper as a potential target, however Rangers haven't been able to bring in goalkeeping cover of their own - meaning the Rams only have Lewis Price and youngster Ben Hinchliffe on their books.

Jewell told BBC Radio Derby: "We had him here last Thursday and I thought it was done,"

"But Rangers didn't sign a keeper in time so we couldn't sign him. We'll have to look elsewhere."

Carroll has just made one start for the Gers - a CIS Insurance cup game against East Fife - this despite the 30-year-old withdrawing from a Northern Ireland squad earlier in the season to focus on "club commitments".

"Roy's gutted because he was desperate to come here, but it hasn't happened," Jewell added.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tyler To Join Tigers

By Danny Wright

Hull City are set to recruit Peterborough goalkeeper Mark Tyler on loan.

The Tigers are currently without Matt Duke, who is recovering from a tumour revomal operation, and young back-up Curtis Aspden.

That leaves Phil Brown with Boaz Myhill as his solitary stopper, so the Humberside outfit are set to bring in the 30-year-old on a month's loan with a view to a permanent deal.

Tyler has made over 500 appearances for Peterborough but has lost his place to club record signing Joe Lewis, who signed from Norwich last week for a £500,000 fee.
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Legend Banks Statue Unveiled by Pele

By Danny Wright

England goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks will have a statue erected and unveiled for him by former Brazilian star Pele.

Banks is highly regarded as England's best ever goalkeeper and pulled off one the best saves of all time in the 1970 World Cup Finals, where the Stoke man denied a goal bound Pele header.

Now it has been revealed the Brazilian will unveil the statue in the summer out side Stoke's Britannia Stadium.

Bank's represented England in their solitary 1966 World Cup triumph, and also played for Leicester City and Chesterfield before his career was cruelly cut short by a car accident.

Author Don Mullen coined the idea to commemorate the goalkeeping legend, with local artist Andrew Edwards set to make the £350,000 sculpture.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Almunia's England Intention

By Danny Wright

Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has expressed his desire to play international football, and it could be the famed England number one jersey the Gunners stopper pulls on.

The 30-year-old is yet to be capped by Spain and qualifies for UK Citizenship next year, and Almunia has frequently expressed his desire to represent the Three Lions - yet he has not ruled out playing for his native Spain.

The former Celta Vigo man has ousted Jens Lehmann as first choice keeper at the Emirates, and he told Arsenal TV:

"I would like to keep going the way I am now,"

"In the future, if Spain do not call me then I have to look after myself and try to play international duty," he added.

New manager Fabio Capello has kept his cards close to chest with regard to team selection, so the new management line-up could provide Almunia with an international berth.

With Paul Robinson out-of-form and lacking in confidence, and Scott Carson enduring a torrid debut, the next England custodian has yet to be decided by the Italian. Ben Foster is also out injured, with Chris Kirkland and Robert Green being overlooked by the previous regime.

The Mid-week Review

By Danny Wright

FA Cup replay action was on offer week as footballing fare, with cash-strapped Luton Town traveling to Liverpool for a second stab at upstaging their Premiership opponents. However, there was to be no cup fairytale as a patched up side took the field for a 5-0 beating, captain for the night Jamie Carragher marking his 500th Liverpool appearance with a clean sheet. With veteran midfielder Don Hutchinson filling in at centre back, the Hatters held firm for 44 minutes only for Ryan Babel to rattle home a powerful drive. It was all Liverpool in the second half and Steven Gerrard scored his first of three after 51 minutes with a close range header, meanwhile Sammi Hyypia added another and Gerrard side-footed home his second. Luton look bewildered and they were to be further punished by Gerrard's clinical finish, the Reds booking a fourth round tie with Havant & Waterlooville, who defeated Swansea 4-2 at West Leigh Park in a historic game for the non-leaguers.

Luton's preparation for the clash was marred by manager Kevin Blackwell's resignation, who is still fuming at the sale of players behind his back. The former Leeds man accused the owners of having "the morals of a back alley cat" and Blackwell has set a provisional date of February 9th for his departure. Things have looked up slightly though for the London club, a consortium lead by television presenter Nick Owen agreeing to buy the relegation-threatened club. It was also revealed today League One outfit Bournemouth are in finical peril, reports on the club officials website saying they intend to appoint administrators to help lift the burden of a £4m dent. Should the Cherries go into administration a 10 point penalty deduction would be incurred.

On a more positive note there was good news for League Two side Bury on Tuesday night, who felled Championship side Norwich 2-1 at Gigg Lane. A defensive mix up allowed journeyman defender Ben Futcher to side-foot home, and talisman Andy Bishop was on hand to double the advantage with a smart finish. Warhorse Dion Dublin reduced the arrears for the Canaries, and fellow veteran Gary Doherty couldn't connect to a teasing cross, as the Shakers held on for a historic win. They now travel to Southampton in the Fourth Round.

Newcastle welcomed new manager Kevin Keegan with a resounding 4-1 over Stoke at Saint James Park. Having stuttered against Tony Pulis' Championship side in the first leg, Newcastle responded in the perfect fashion, Michael Owen opening the scoring from close range. Claudio Cacapa headed home for 2-0 and James Milner and Damien Duff completed the rout. Liam Lawerence was on the score sheet for the Potters, his 20-yard-strike coming after Emre's dismissal for a lunge on visiting skipper John Eustace.

Tottenham defeated Reading at the Madejski on Tuesday night, Robbie Keane's solitary goal enough to see off an under strength Royals side. The decisive goal came after 15 minutes, Keane stabbing home Younes Kaboul's rebounded effort. Spurs could have added to their lead, by were twice denied by the acrobatics of stand-in keeper Adam Federici. In the other all Premiership tie, Manchester City beat West Ham thanks to Elano's header 18 minutes from time.

West Brom and Charlton played out an entertaining replay which was decided on penalty, the hosts progressing 4-3 from the spot after a 2-2 draw in normal time. The Baggies had raced into a two goal lead from Roman Bednar and James Morrison but Darren Ambrose and Chris Dickson took the game to extra time. Dean Kiely thwarted Zheng Zi's effort, and Bednar won the tie with his coolly-taken effort.

Three of Tuesday's ties fell foul to the weather, but League One rivals Millwall were able to defeat Walsall 2-1 at the New Den, Ben May and Gary Alexander doing enough to see off the Saddlers. An individual effort from Simon Johnson saw off Tranmere for Hereford, 1-0 the score at Edgar Street.

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New glove launch @

By Martin Sanders

Today myself and are pleased to be able to bring you a brand new Exclusive.

We have had made limited numbers of the Sells Adhesion Ultra Wrap (SubZero) in junior sizes. Now available for the 1st time in sizes 6 & 7 is the only place to buy this glove in junior sizes. prides itself in being the UK's best and only stop for junior goalkeepers. Over the past 4 years myself and the team have worked closely with major brands as well as parents and junior keepers to bring you gloves which you want. During 2008 myself and the team will be working closely with you the customers to know what you want to see from the major brands. Any comments and ideas please email me at all your feed-back is welcome.

The Sells Adhesion Ultra Wrap (SubZero) has become one of our best selling Sells glove styles of the season so far.

The gloves offers the young junior keeper a 4mm Adhesion Ultra Latex palm for optimal grip in wet conditions. The backhand has embossed latex with icebloc lining for cold conditions with a roll finger cut a wrap over thumb this gloves looks set to be one of the best junior gloves of 2008

Ward In Border Move

By Danny Wright

Sunderland goalkeeper Darren Ward has been linked with a move to Scottish club Rangers.

Reports in today's Daily Express say the SPL giants are lining up a move for the Welsh stopper.

Ward signed for Sunderland in August 2006 after being released by Norwich and helped the Black Cats to promotion to the Premiership, where he made his top flight debut last December in a 1-0 win over Derby.

The 33-year-old had displaced club record signing Craig Gordon as Roy Keane's number one, but has since lost his place to the Scottish incumbent.

Transfer speculation: Robert Green to Tottenham Hotspur ?

By Martin Sanders

New Spurs manger Juande Ramos is on the hunt for a new keeper and it has emerged that Robert Green of West Ham who wears the brand new Sells Adhesion Ultra Wrap Aqua which is now on sale at has become a £6million target for the london club to replace Paul Robinson. The England hopeful has been doing well at West Ham and certainly looks like the most likely option for Fabio Capello when he names his England squad in early Febuary for his 1st game as England manger.
Over the past two seasons he’s seen off the competition of Roy Caroll and, away from too much pressure, he’s been putting in a series of solid displays. Ramos has had Green watched over the last month and is now deciding whether to test the Hammers’ resolve with a bid which could be made later this week. The two keepers have had contrasting seasons with Robbo who has been wearing the Nike T90 Gunn Cut being dropped by both England and Tottenham, Green has been outstanding this season. Green, 27 signed a new deal last year and sources tell us he is happy at Upton Park.
Hammers boss Curbishley will pull out all the stops to keep him after being made aware of interest by other clubs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tigers Duke in Tumour Op

By Danny Wright

Hull City goalkeeper Matt Duke has had a testicular tumour removed.

The 30-year-old recently discovered the tumour and is recuperating following the surgery, and the former Burton Albion man is awaiting test results which are due this week.

Duke signed a contract extension earlier this season keeping him at the KC Stadium till 2010, having been Phil Brown's first choice keeper ahead of Boaz Myhill on Humberside, however a recent injury has kept him out of the side.

Hull chairman Paul Duffen posted a message on the club's official website informing Tigers supporters of the news and wishing the stopper a speedy recovery.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Weekend Round-up

By Danny Wright

Manchester United compounded a sorry week for Newcastle by thumping the Magpies 6-0 at Old Trafford, all the goals coming in the second half. Wing-wizard Ronaldo was the architect to the visitor’s downfall, his hat-trick helping United to establish a lead before Carlos Tevez bagged a brace and Rio Ferdinand (sic) sealed the win. To make things worse for Newcastle, they had Alan Smith sent off for a late bout of much-needed dissent. The thrashing comes as a much needed wake-up call for Toon fans - their lofty ambitions and sky-high expectations proving pivotal in the dismissal of another unfortunate manager.

No wonder Harry Redknapp turned the job down, yet he was still in the North East on Sunday – to see his Portsmouth side succumb to a 2-0 defeat at Sunderland, Kieran Richardson’s brace (sic) sinking hapless Pompey. Elsewhere at the bottom, Wigan defeated bottom club Derby 1-0 at Pride Park, Antoine Sibierski the scorer, meanwhile Roy Hodgson’s Fulham reign went from bad to worse as they were sunk by West Ham, 2-1 the final result. The Cottagers now lie five points behind 17th place Wigan in 19th, with Derby even further behind the Latics with just 7 points amassed from 22 games.

Reading remain in the relegation quagmire, despite lying in 13th, losing 3-1 at Aston Villa. John Carew and Martin Lauren headed home from set-plays to effectively end the contest 55 minutes in, with Carew notching his second late in the day. James Harper responded for the Royals, but it was scant consolation. Middlesborough dropped two points in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the Riverside; however it will be the home side who will be happier with the result, ‘under-pressure’ manager Gareth Southgate getting his tactics right to unsettle the Reds and take the lead through George Boateng. Liverpool were able to escape with a point though, Fernando Torres’ great strike almost busting the net as the Reds title hopes faded further still.

Birmingham picked up an unlikely point away at high-flying Arsenal, Gary O’Connor’s deflected header proving decisive in thwarting the potential champions. Arsene Wenger’s men looked like they would win at a canter, but the Blues had other ideas as Maik Taylor twice thwarted the Gunners with good saves. Even a controversial penalty – scored by Emmanuel Adebayor – couldn’t keep Alex McLeish’s men down.

Jason Roberts’ last minute winner cruelly denied struggling Bolton a point against local rivals Blackburn at the Reebok. The Trotters began life without talisman Nikolas Anelka and looked lacklustre in a game of few chances and even less quality, however skipper Kevin Nolan – unbelievably jeered by his own supporters – answered the calls for some class when he volleyed home a superb strike to give his side the lead. Christopher Samba’s header caught Jussi Jaaskelainen in no mans land for the equaliser, with super sup Roberts on hand to fashion a last minute solo effort to earn a 2-1 win.

Anelka’s new club Chelsea had no such trouble dispatching Tottenham at the Bridge, Julio Belletti’s humdinger of a shot finding the top corner of the net, with Shaun Wright-Phillips firing in the winner. ‘Le Sulk’ made a cameo appearance, rattling the bar and forcing Radek Cerny into a smart save.

Everton’s David Moyes marked his tenth anniversary in football management with a 1-0 win over Manchester City, Joleon Lescott making amends for his howler at Chelsea in mid-week with the winner to send the Toffees into fifth. Liverpool will be looking over their shoulder nervously – Everton, Aston Villa and City all on equal points as the ‘lesser’ clubs vie for a Champions League berth.