Barclays Premier League Gameweek 31: Preview & Review!

What a fantastic Saturday it was in the Barclays Premier League! With 7 games played and 27 goals scored, the table had lots of changes this Saturday and this made things even tighter at the bottom of the table. Let us review you through the 7 games played on Saturday.

Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Arsenal

A London Derby always a special occasion. This time around both sides were fighting out for different reasons.  QPR needed a win to stay in touch with the likes of Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan and Arsenal had too keep up the pace to guarantee their 3rd place. Arsenal came into this game  with 7 consecutive victories in the premier league. This game started off with a high tempo and QPR were on the offensive side. QPR scored 1st through a fantastic peace of skill by Adel Taraabt to get past Thomas Vermaelen and to finish it in the right bottom corner of Woijech Szeczny’s goal. It was his 1st ever premier league goal.  But Arsenal didn’t sit back and found an equaliser through Theo Walcott. Walcott on the first attempt hit the post and it luckily pounced out to him again and he eventually scored. The winner in this game was scored from Diakite. The QPR midfielder had an outstanding game. He came up with a great finish right into the top corner giving the Arsenal goalkeeper no chance whatsoever. It was Diakite’s first ever goal for the club. QPR took all 3 points and they move upto 16th in the table. As for Arsenal, they might be in danger to lose 3rd spot. QPR now look in fantastic form beating Liverpool and Arsenal lately, They look all charged up as they face Manchester United next!

Manchester City 3-3 Sunderland

This was one of the two 6-goal thriller on Saturday. Manchester City came into this game being desperate for 3 points to keep in pace with the Champions.  Sunderland meanwhile were looking to get in the top 7 for a possible Europa league spot. It was the away side who took the lead through a strike from Sebastian Larsson. Larsson provided a beautiful finish from outside the box giving Joe Hart no chance to prevent the ball going into the Citizens net.  City then replied to Sunderland’s questions soon after they were awarded a controversial penalty. Mario Balotelli sent the ball into the net to level the scores. Then right at the stroke of half time it was Nicklas Bendtner who headed the ball into the net to put the visitors in front. The 2nd half started with a classic counter from Sunderland which ended up resulting in a goal and by that point the Black Cats were up by 3 goals to 1 against a Manchester City side who have won 15 out of 15 home games this season. We all knew Manchester City won’t give up, they never did and salvaged a point through fantastic strikes from Balottelli and Alexandre Kolorav. This draw has put City into lot’s of pressure as they need Blackburn to do some thing special against United on Monday. Sunderland would be disappointed after being going 3-1 up and drawing the game, but a point at the Etihad neverthenless.

Aston Villa 2-4 Chelsea

Villa Park, the place where Chelsea have not won in last 13 years. Chelsea needed to get 3 points  to put some pressure on 4th place Tottenham for the final champions league spot. Chelsea started the game brightly as it was Chelsea flop Fernando Torres with many chances missed 1 on 1 with the goal keeper. But it was not later than just 9 minutes into the game, It was Daniel Sturridge who sent the ball home to score his 12th goal of the season. Straight after kick off Chelsea scored again, Through Branaslav Ivanovic. The Serbian has been in great form lately in the goal-scoring stakes and Villa conceded another from a corner. It was Boys against Men certainly till the 76th minute before James Collins pulled one back for Villa. Aston Villa have not scored a single goal from corners this season so they decided to do it through a long through. 3 minutes later Villa equalised through Lihadj. He smashed the ball into the empty net to make it 2-2 of a Mark Albrighton cross. But Aston Villa then again conceded of the corner. In same fashion as the 2nd goal of Chelsea, Ivanovic scored again and put the visitors in front. This was turning out to be a classic as Villa were pushing up for the equaliser. They conceded one through a counter from Chelsea in Stoppage time. And Guess who scored? Nando! It was Fernando Torres’ first league goal since mid September. After missing several opportunities, the manager backed him and not replacing him with Drogba and the faith of the manager paid off. It was a typical Torres finish. The three points put Chelsea on course to get into the top 4.

Everton 2-0 West Bromwich Albion

A mid-table clash between the two sides who are in fine form. Both clubs were chasing a top half finish or even a final Europa league spot as this is how tight it is in the Premier League table. This game had one goal in a half each. Everton first lead through Gareth McAuely’s Own goal. Later on in the the 2nd half it was Victor Anichebe who doubled the lead. Now with this win Everton move 7th in the table ahead of their arch-rivals Liverpool who play later today.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 Bolton Wanderers

A fantastic game at Molineux. A premier league six-pointer! This was a game of  maximum importance to both sides. Especially to Wolves who are rock bottom of the table. Terry Connor’s side couldn’t take the lead in the 1st half after numerous chances missed. It was a game that Wolves could have easily won. Wolves took the lead through Micheal Kightly’s fantastic piece of individual brilliance cutting in from the right side and smashing the ball into the far corner past Bogdan to put the home side in front. Then later in the game Mark Davies won a penalty for Bolton, the replay suggested that it was a dive from Davies but that’s how cruel football is, Martin Petrov steared home the penalty and sent a message to Stvylian Petrov asking him to Get Well Soon. With the scores level Bolton went ahead as Alonso tapped in a goal from close range after the initial header from Ngog hit the crossbar. The visitors then went 3-1 up after a goal by Davies. Then late in the game it was Matt Jarvis who pulled one back for Wolves but that wasn’t enough and now it looks quite ugly for Wolves at the moment. As the find themselves 6 point from safety.

Wigan Athletic 2-0 Stoke City

This game was of more important for Wigan than Stoke. As there are just 7 games left in the season after this matchday things look real tight at the bottom. Wigan today came through a scrappy win over Stoke. Keeping a cleansheet some how and managed to score two crucial goals.  Shaun Maloney was  as usual their best performer. Wigan scored through Alcaraz and Victor Moses.

Fulham 2-1 Norwich City

A game at Craven Cottage of least importance fro either of the side. Fulham took the lead early in the game through Dempsey. The Dempsey set it up for Duff to score the 2nd.  Noriwch had nothing much to say as they just could pull one back through Aaron Wilbraham.

Preview of Sunday’s matches

Newcastle United vs Liverpool

It is 6th vs 7th as from the start of the weekend. Newcastle and Liverpool go head to head later today at the Sports Direct Arena. Newcastle look clear favorites to win this game as Liverpool’s form has been very poor after winning the Carling Cup. It had been 5 defeats in last 6 games for Liverpool and now if they lose tomorrow they will go below Everton by the end of this gameweek. Meanwhile, Newcastle still in pursuit for the Champions league spot which is unlikely but not impossible. Whatever you say, this game will be a cracker!

Tottenham Hotspur vs Swansea City

White Hart Lane is the place for this game. An important fixture for Spurs to catch Arsenal as they saw them slipping yesterday. A win by 3 goals for Spurs would mean that they will be back to third place but their task is no easy as they face a Swansea City side who are also known as Swanselona. Swansea have had 2 defeats back to back lately but still we all know what they are capable of. In the reverse fixture it was a 1-1 draw as Rafael van Der Vaart’s goal was cancelled out late in the game by Scott Sinclair.

After a high goal scoring Saturday we are looking for the same kind of Sunday in the 2 games to be played. A Sunday of huge importance in the Champions league and Europa League spots. 

Kolkata’s premier league Soccer:IPL style league for football

Premier League Soccer is a football league which is similar to the Indian premier League(cricket) when it comes to style.

There will be team owners and bidding for players will take place.

Composition of squad for all six teams

1)Six U-21 players

2)Six from regional catchment area

3)Four foreign players(1 icon,one Asian and two over seas players)

4)Fourteen Indian players

5)Total 30 per squad

PSL will host six teams from across West Bengal –

1.Kolkata

Base price of 1 crore per year.

Owner:Camellia Group (Purchase price Rs.11.5 crore)

Coach: Peter Reid

Asian Player: Park Ji-Seung(South Korea)

Icon: Robbie Fowler

Other Purchases: Daniel Varela, Robert Egbeta

Total expenditure: $1.34 million

2.Barasat

Base price of Rs.80 lakh a year

Owner:URO INFRA REALITY INDIA LTD(Purchase price = Rs.25.12 crore)

Coach: Teitur Thodarson

Asian Player: Part Byoung-Gye

Icon Player: Hernan Crespo

Other Purchases: Christian Lara, Joaquin Botero

Total expenditure: $1.52 million

3.Durgapur

Base price of Rs.70 lakh a year

Owner:TULIP INFONET LTD(Purchase price = Rs.7.6 crore

Coach:Samson SiaSia

Icon Player: Jay-Jay Okocha

Asian player: Kim Bong Kyeom

Total expenditure: $1.16 million

4.Howrah

Base price of Rs.70 lakh a year

Owner: Syncsys Infotech Ltd(Purchase price = 9 crore)

Coach: Fernando Couto

Asian Player: Byun Yoon Chul

Icon Player: Robert Pires

Total expenditure:$1.46 million

5.Siliguri

Base price of Rs.1 Crore a year

Owner: AAJAY CONSULTANTS(Purchase price = 18 crores)

Coach: Marco Etcheverry

Asian Player: Hwang Gyu Hwan

Icon Player: Fabio Cannavaro

Total expenditure: $1.48 million

6.Haldia(Not yet sold to anyone)

This league has created history in india as far as football goes. For the first time so much money is spent on footballers. This is a good sign for Indian Football.

Barclays Premier league preview: Matchday 2

Last week the Premier league was back with us after 83 days of waiting for kick-off! And now we look set for another set of games in the Barclays Premier league. Its Matchday 2!

Sunderland vs Newcastle United

This weekend will kick off at the Stadium of light. And what a game in prospect with us. Both teams started their season with a draw. Newcastle drawing at home versus Arsenal. Meanwhile,Sunderland drew against Liverpool at anfield. Both will be keen to taste their first victory soon.

Key Players:

Sunderland-Asamoah Gyan! Gyan would be looking to get in form and score as many goals as possible this season.

Newcastle United-Joey Barton! we all know this guy can get a red card at any time in the game. Alan Pardew will be keen to keep him cool and not loose his head.

Arsenal vs Liverpool

What a huge game this is. With just the second week up an running we look to one of the hottest game in the premier league.

Both these teams drew their games on the opening day. Both would be looking to get a win and get the three much needed points. It is a very difficult season coming for these two teams. Arsenal will be missing Gervinho after his antics against Newcastle United. Liverpool look set to start with the same team that started at anfield on Saturday against Sunderland.

Key Players:

Arsenal-Robin Van Persie! We all know that he has got a fantastic left foot. He can score goals out of nothing.

Liverpool-Luiz Suarez! Suarez scored against Sunderland and would be looking to carry on the same kind of form against Arsenal.

Aston Villa vs Blackburn Rovers

Aston Villa has won seven of its last ten encounters against Blackburn, including wins in six out of seven home games. Blackburn’s achieved one win at home, and one away, during the same period, while only one match ended in a draw. Blackburn’s last away game against Aston Villa ended in a 1-0 defeat for the away team.

Key Players:

Aston Villa-Charles N’zogbia! He will look to start his Aston Villa career with a bang. He is important for the team to complete the void of Stewart Downing.

Blackburn Rovers-David Dunn! Dunn can score goals out of nothing and he can be important to his side by scoring some cracking goals.

Everton vs Queesns Park Rangers

Everton’s season finally gets underway when they host newly promoted QPR at Goodison Park in the Premier League on Saturday.

 

After a lengthy off-season, Everton fans were disappointed when their scheduled trip to North London to face Tottenham was postponed due to the London riots.

 

The week off has given manager David Moyes more time to work out his preferred XI and also gave him a chance to run the rule over QPR, who made the worst possible start to their Premier League campaign.

 

Neil Warnock’s side were not only thumped 4-0 by Bolton at home on the opening day, but they also lost midfielder Keiron Dyer (ankle) to injury while defender Matt Hill was given a straight red card for headbutting Bolton’s Martin Petrov.

 

Those absences will hurt Warnock, who is already operating on a tight squad, with QPR desperately needing additions in midfield and defence.

 

And although his side will be desperate to atone for the opening day horror show, they will not find it easy against an Everton side raring to go.

Key Players:

Everton-Tim Cahill! Cahill is Everton’s playmaker. We need to see how he fares with the season underway with everton.

QPR-Adel Tarrabat! Tarrabat has an fantastic season last year in the Championship. He didn’t get to show much last weekend. This weekend he will try to show what Spurs let go!

Swansea City vs Wigan Atheletic

 

The first English Premier League match to ever be staged in Wales will take place on Saturday when Swansea City host Wigan Athletic.

The historic occasion will be held at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea look to win their first points of their maiden Premier League campaign.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were smashed 4-0 by Manchester City on Monday, but they will not be the only side to be on the wrong end of a result against Roberto Mancini’s big-spenders.

The perfect chance to bounce back comes on Saturday and with a noisy home following cheering them on, the Swans will fancy their chances of getting all three points.

Wigan started their season against another promoted side, and although they took an early lead, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Norwich City at the DW Stadium.

Roberto Martinez’s team are one of the favourites to be relegated this season and they have not appeared to replace Charles N’Zogbia – who left for Aston Villa for nine-and-a-half-million pounds – properly.

Martinez will be hoping that 20-year-old Nigerian-born winger Victor Moses can offer the same threat and although he impressed against Norwich, they are big shoes to fill.

A lack of goals is also a concern with Wigan’s set-up, with last season’s top scorer Hugo Rodallega netting just nine times in 36 appearances.

The match takes on extra significance for Martinez, who was Swansea manager for three seasons, leading them to promotion and the League One title in 2008-09.

“From a personal point of view it’s been a fantastic summer with Wigan staying up and Swansea going up,” Martinez said.

“But it’s what Swansea deserves. The club has been working hard on and off the field for the last few seasons and deserve to reap the rewards.”

He continued: “Everyone linked with Swansea should feel proud of what the club has achieved and I’m sure it’s the start of something special.”

Martinez has no injury concerns while Swansea are just missing defender Gary Monk from their first-choice side.

That means that both sides will be at virtual full-strength, with the encounter expected to shed light on what is sure to be a fascinating battle for survival at the end of the season.

Key Players:

Swansea City-Scott Sinclair! He’s got speed. Just couldn’t show out his skills  against Manchester City. He can score goals and be very dangerous.

Wigan Atheletic-Ben Watson-He’s been the heart of the midfield and we rate him as the key player for Wigan this weekend.

Chelsea vs West Bromwich Albion

 

Andre Villas-Boas must decide whether Hilario or Ross Turnbull will start his first home game in charge of Chelsea.

Villas-Boas this week lost undisputed number one Petr Cech (knee) for up to four weeks, meaning a change in goal for the visit of the Baggies to west London.

Romelu Lukaku could make his debut but the game comes too soon for fellow new boy Oriol Romeu, while David Luiz (thigh) remains out, Daniel Sturridge suspended, and Michael Essien long-term injured.

Albion have a major doubt over striker Peter Odemwingie while winger Jerome Thomas will definitely miss the game.

The pair sat out last weekend’s opening match of the season against Manchester United and Odemwingie is battling to shake off an ankle injury while Thomas has hip and thigh problems.

Odemwingie is closer to fitness than Thomas but still faces a race against time and he will be assessed if he comes through training unscathed.

Right-back Steven Reid, who was forced off with a leg injury against United, is fit.

Central defender Gareth McAuley, who has been struggling with illness, could be on the bench against the Blues after coming through a midweek reserve game.

Key Players

Chelsea-Fernando Torres! He looked sharp against Stoke City and looks set to score goals for Chelsea after a disastrous start to his Chelsea career.

West Bromwich Albion-Shane Long! Long scored against Man United on the opening weekend. He looks set for a good back-up for Peter odemwingie. With odemwingie doubtful for this game we fancy Long will be the key for West Brom.

Norwich City vs Stoke City

 

English Premier League football returns to Carrow Road on Sunday as Norwich City host Stoke City.

The stadium lasted hosted a top-flight match on May 7, 2005, when Norwich beat Birmingham City 1-0, though the result could not help them stave off relegation.

Just two seasons ago, the club was in League One. But under the tutelage of Paul Lambert, the Canaries have risen through the English football pyramid, remarkably winning successive promotions to gain a place in the Premier League once more.

And they showed they might just have enough quality to stay up this season, after a 1-1 opening day draw against Wigan Athletic in which they were forced to come from behind.

But Wigan are also expected to struggle this season, and how Norwich deal with the physical test Stoke are likely to offer will shed light on just how realistic their survival hopes are.

Stoke also started their season with a point, but theirs was more impressive as they held Chelsea to a scoreless draw.

Defenders Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth coped admirably with the considerable attacking options at Chelsea’s disposal and the pair will fancy their chances of keeping another clean sheet on Sunday.

Shawcross was reportedly the subject of a 10 million-pound offer from Liverpool during the week, but Stoke manager Tony Pulis has stated his desire to keep the former Manchester United defender at the club.

Pulis will be troubled when selecting his side, especially with the match coming just three days after a trip to Switzerland to face FC Thun in a Europa League play-off clash.

Injury concerns over wingers Matthew Etherington (arm) and Jermaine Pennant (thigh) could force Pulis into changes, while Rory Delap (hamstring) is certain to miss out.

Key Players:

Norwich City-Hoolhan! The most important player for Norwich. He can really score some goals to bring smiles on the faces of the Norwich fans. We rate him as the key player for Norwich City.

Stoke City-Jermaine Pennant! Pennant has been looking in sensational form. He can bring in some assists for goals.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Fulham

Wolverhampton Wanderers will look to make it two wins from as many matches when they host Fulham at Molineux on Sunday.

Wolves started their English Premier League campaign off in style, with a 2-1 away win at Blackburn on Saturday giving fans of the club hope for the new season.

They were forced to come from behind in the victory and if Mick McCarthy’s side can gain enough points on the road, they should avoid relegation.

Scottish forward Steven Fletcher was on the scoresheet in the win, heading in a first-half equaliser.

A six million-pound signing from Burnley in June 2010, Fletcher now has six goals in his last seven Premier League matches.

If he can show the same form he did at the end of last season, then he will cause many problems for defenders across the league.

But Wolves face a side who have already played seven competitive matches this season, with Fulham’s Europa League qualifying campaign beginning on June 30.

They are match-fit and were perhaps unlucky to only get a point out of their home fixture against Aston Villa, which finished in a scoreless draw.

The heroics of Villa shot-stopper Shay Given certainly helped in that result, but Martin Jol’s side will be keen to atone for that by hitting the back of the net in the Midlands.

Fulham will have to back up from a Europa League qualifier against Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on Thursday, and the short space of time between the two matches may play into Wolves’ favour.

The visitors will miss Simon Davies (knee) and Diomansy Kamara (back) through injury while Wolves are only without Adlene Guedioura (ankle) for the clash.

How Fulham respond after Thursday’s match will be crucial in the outcome of this clash, with Wolves sure to rise to the occasion if their opponents are even slightly off the boil.

Key Players:

Wolverhampton Wanderers-Matt Jarvis! He has been in sensational form. He looks like the most important player in this Wolves side.

Fulham-Danny Murphy! Their Captain sensation is ofcourse, the player to watch out for.

Bolton Wanderers vs Manchester City

 

Manchester City’s bid to win their first ever English Premier League title will face their first real hurdle at Bolton on Sunday.

City opened their season against Swansea City on Monday, and Roberto Mancini’s side cruised to a 4-0 win against the newcomers.

Much of the attention surrounded new signing Sergio Aguero’s performance. The Argentine netting a double after coming off the bench, with one of his strikes particularly eye-catching.

David Silva was also terrific, but City’s first real challenge comes on the road at the Reebok Stadium.

There they will face a Bolton Wanderers side who are coming off a 4-0 success of their own, with Owen Coyle’s men spoiling QPR’s Premier League return at Loftus Road.

Defender Gary Cahill scored a wonderful goal in that victory and has been the subject of interest from Arsenal, while Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic was also on the scoresheet.

Bolton lost Johan Elmander on a free transfer to Galatasaray and saw Daniel Sturridge return to Chelsea when his loan-deal expired during the off-season, meaning the club are short on strike power.

That means Klasnic’s season will be crucial and he needs to form an effective partnership with Kevin Davies if Bolton are to remain clear of the wrong end of the table.

Wanderers will face a much sterner test against Manchester City than what QPR could offer, and they will need to be at their best at the back to keep the likes of Aguero, Silva and Edin Dzeko quiet.

City have no real injury concerns and can attack the game at full-strength, while Bolton are without several regulars, with broken-leg victims Tyrone Mears and Lee Chung-Yong out for some time.

Stuart Holden and Sean Davis (knee) will also both miss the Wanderers, while defender Sam Ricketts is some chance to return from calf injury.

Despite the differences in quality between the two squads, winning away in the Premier League is not easy and Mancini’s men will need to be at least close to their best to make it two wins from as many matches.

Key Players:

Bolton Wanderers-Kevin Davies! Davies is an important part of Bolton’s midfield. We rate him as the key to this game.

Manchester City-Sergio Aguero! Its hust has to be him. What a debut he had. Scoring two and setting up one. He looks like a real contendor for the Golden Boot and he should start against Bolton on Sunday.

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United has won seven of its last ten encounters with the Spurs, drawing the remaining three fixtures. The Red Devils have won every one of their home fixtures against Tottenham during this period.

Tottenham’s most recent visit to Old Trafford produced a 2-0 win to the home team.

Manchester United has got its season off to a very strong start, with five consecutive wins to show for its last five fixtures. Their opening Premiership fixture was a tense affair, with Man United having to pull the winning goal out of the bag in the last moments of their match against Wigan.

United has put away a whopping 17 goals in its last five matches. Defence has been weak by the club’s own high standards, with 5 goals conceded during this period.

Tottenham Hotspur meanwhile has had mixed fortunes in recent weeks and is yet to start its season thanks to the postponement of its opening match against Everton due to the recent riots in the area. The Spurs have won three, drawn one and lost one of their last five matches, which included a short tour to South Africa.

Tottenham’s strikers have been in solid form, putting away 9 goals in five games. Defence is keeping its head above water with 5 goals conceded in the same period.

Key Players:

Manchester United-Wayne Rooney! He scored on the opening weekend and he is no doubt the man to watch out for this weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur-Rafael Van Der Vaart! Van Der Vaart looked in fine form against Hearts in Spurs Europa league clash. With his experience he holds the key for Tottenham.

So,Here we are. An exciting weekend coming your way. We expect plently of goals and i hope you enjoyed Firstain’s Premier League Preview!



Manchester United declared world’s most valuable team

With 11 Premier League titles, 11 FA Cups, 4 League Cups (Carling Cups), and 3 Champions League crowns already to their name, England’s most successful team, Manchester United, have been voted by Forbes as the most valuable team in the world. For the seventh year running.

Forbes ranked United on top of the pile for the seventh time in as many years, estimating its worth at 1.86 billion US dollars (£1.12 billion). Real Madrid came in second with £900 million and Arsenal third with £700 million.

Incidentally, the top 3 have all been the same during the last seven years!

German giants Bayern Munich jumped up to 4th in the list with the Catalans (Barcelona) dropping a place to 5th. AC Milan are the highest-placed Italian side on the list in sixth place, with Juventus in eighth and Inter Milan tenth.

Premier League sides Chelsea (£400 million) [seventh] and Liverpool (£332 million) [ninth] round up the top 10.

Beckham highest-paid player

England’s ex-Manchester United midfielder, David Beckham, continued to dominate the list of highest-paid players thanks to recent endorsement deals with Pepsi and Electronic Arts. His earnings last year were estimated at 40 million US dollars (£24 million).

Cristiano Ronaldo (£23 million) and Lionel Messi (£19 million) finished behind Becks at 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

The full lists will be published in Forbes magazine’s May 9 issue.

UEFA Champions League Quarter Final draw announced: Chelsea to meet Man United, Spurs face Madrid

Manchester United and Chelsea will face each other in the Champions League quarter-finals after being drawn in a rematch of their 2008 European final.

Premier League leaders United, who beat the Blues on penalties in Moscow three years ago, will enjoy home advantage in the second leg against the defending English league champions.

Tottenham were handed a glamorous but daunting clash against Real Madrid. However, they will take on the Spanish giants at White Hart Lane in the second match.

Favourites Barcelona, who conquered Arsenal in the last round, were handed one of the two supposedly easier draws and will take on Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk while defending champions Inter Milan will face German side Schalke 04.

The semi-finals were also drawn today and the winner of the Chelsea-United clash will meet Inter or Schalke in the last four, with the winning English side at home second.

Should Spurs come through against Madrid, they will be at home first against Barca or Shakhtar.

While Chelsea are reigning champions in England, rivals United currently lead them by nine points in the Barclays Premier League and have history on their side in the competition.

The Blues have never won the Champions League, despite owner Roman Abramovich’s best efforts. The closest they came was in Russia in 2008 when United edged them over 120 minutes and penalties, having drawn 1-1 in normal time at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Spurs, winners against AC Milan in the last 16, face a tough task on paper against the record nine-time winners Real Madrid.

However, Jose Mourinho’s Spanish aristocrats have not picked up the trophy since 2002 and are regarded as some way short of their rivals Barca on current form.

The quarter-final first legs will be played on April 5 and 6 and the return matches the following week on April 12 and 13.

The semi-final first legs take place on April 26 and 27 with the second legs on May 3 and 4, with the final at Wembley on Saturday, May 28.

Should they beat Schalke, Inter would represent a tough test in the last four for Chelsea or United. While they are without Mourinho, who led them to glory in the tournament last season, they are back in form since Leonardo replaced Rafael Benitez recently.

Schalke this week sacked Felix Magath despite his significant achievement in guiding them to this stage, appointing former Hoffenheim boss Ralf Rangnick as his successor.

Shakhtar are perennial Champions League stalwarts and are not to be taken lightly, especially as favourites Barca have injury problems as well as a Spanish league title race and domestic cup final to contend with.

Former Inter, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Portugal star Luis Figo, now retired and an ambassador for Inter, was pleased to see the Italians paired with Schalke.

“It’s a good draw for us,” he told Eurosport. “We’re going to be playing Schalke, who are obviously going through a difficult time at the moment.

“But of course, all the teams in the quarter-finals are good teams and Schalke will be no different. But overall we’ve got to be happy and in terms of styles of play,.their game will suit us.

“We respect them of course, but we believe if we play to the best of our ability, we will win.”

UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals Draw

  • Real Madrid vs Tottenham Hotspur
  • Chelsea vs Manchester United
  • Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Inter Milan vs Schalke

Quarter-final fixture dates

  • First leg: 5/6 April 2011
  • Second Leg: 12/13 April 2011

Semi-finals Draw

  • Real Madrid/Tottenham Hotspur VS Barcelona/Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Chelsea/Manchester United VS Inter Milan/Schalke

Semi-final fixture dates

  • First leg: 26/27 April 2011
  • Second leg: 3/4 May 2011

UEFA Champions League Final date

  • 28 May 2011

Indian poultry giant “Venky’s” to complete Blackburn Rovers’ takeover within 30 days

The takeover of English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers by Indian poultry giant Venky’s is expected to be completed within the next month. The deal with the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group should see Blackburn become the first Barclays Premier League club to be bought by an Indian company.

Venky’s chairperson Anuradha J Desai said in a statement: “We expect to be the first Indian company to acquire a Premier League team and we are particularly delighted that the team is Blackburn Rovers, with whom we believe we have many shared values and ambitions.”

Blackburn chairman John Williams added: “A series of meetings, including discussions with the Premier League, have followed an extensive due diligence process.

“Both parties are hopeful that the transaction will be completed in November.”

Venky’s have been one of a number of companies who have gone through the process of due diligence and inspected the club’s accounts.

The Jack Walker Trust put Blackburn up for sale two years ago in the hope of attracting buyers willing to invest in the club, but Venky’s is the first company to have satisfied club chiefs about their future intentions.

It is believed that international sports agency Kentaro, which specialises in selling international TV rights to football, could also be involved in the new ownership structure.

Venky’s were the third Indian company to have considered a takeover following businessmen Saurin Shah and Ahsan Ali Syed, whose moves for the club failed to materialise into anything concrete.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has warned that investment is vitally needed.

Allardyce said last week: “I think it’s necessary there is a conclusion because it does leave the club in limbo.

“Investment is needed in every football club and recently that investment has dried up because the club is up for the sale and the Trust wanted to move it on.

“If it goes on any longer and you don’t get any investment it becomes a very dangerous and precarious situation. It needs investment to stay in this league, never mind achieving success.”

Venky’s are established as Asia’s largest poultry group and have an annual turnover of £1billion, last year recording a profit of £118million.

The group is now run by the founder’s 47-year-old daughter Anuradha Desai, who recently told Business Line of her approach to business, saying: “You have to invest in building up relationships with people, give them the freedom to work towards goals and when you spend time with them and understand them, they are ready to put in their best for you, be it man or woman.

“You can’t hold a stick and frighten anybody into working for you.

“Instead, if you sit with them and work with them, you can be assured of results.”

Via EspnStar

Spurs confirm Van Der Vaart deal for €11 million

The news has come in that Rafael van der Vaart’s move to White Hart Lane with Tottenham has gone through, despite some late technical issues reported earlier.

The Dutchman had been deemed surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeu and with the window about to latch shut, Spurs’ manager Harry Redknapp was able to pull off a fabulous deal.

The Premier League said in a statement: “The Premier League can confirm the transfer of Rafael van der Vaart’s registration from Real Madrid to Tottenham Hotspur.”

It is not the first time the Premier League have assessed whether a transfer has been completed before the deadline.

In February 2009, they took a day to sanction Andrei Arshavin’s move to Arsenal.

A year earlier, Manchester City were unable to formally announce the signing of Benjani Mwaruwari’s from Portsmouth for almost a week due to a wrangle over whether the paperwork had been submitted before the deadline.

Tottenham announced: “We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement with Real Madrid for the transfer of Rafael van der Vaart.”

Van der Vaart himself was ecstatic with his move.

“Four years at Spurs, for €11 million, I can hardly believe it myself,” Van der Vaart told De Telegraaf. “It’s a pity I cannot now play against Ajax in the Champions League but I will get to face FC Twente.”

The speed of a deal came as a surprise to the player, who said: “The interest from Tottenham came very quick and I did not have much time to think. But I want to play football again and if possible every week, with a beautiful club. I ‘m totally happy.”

Van der Vaart has played in Netherlands, Germany and Spain and is now looking forward to a new chapter in his career.

“I am excited about playing in England. Whether it suits my style remains to be seen, but I think a good footballer can adapt and I am very proud of this transfer.”

Van der Vaart helped Holland reach this summer’s World Cup final but struggled to establish himself at Real after joining them two years ago.

The midfielder came through the ranks at Ajax and won two league titles before moving to Hamburg in 2005.

He was the Bundesliga side’s leading scorer in his first season and went on to captain them before joining Real. He has won 83 caps for Holland, scoring 16 goals and representing his country at two European Championships and two World Cups.

The midfielder technically becomes Redknapp’s second deadline-day signing.

Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa finally completed his season-long loan move Spartak Moscow yesterday afternoon, with the north Londoners thought to have an option to make the deal permanent.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp last night revealed he was alerted to the availability of Holland star Van de Vaart just two hours before the window closed at 6pm.

Redknapp claimed the 27-year-old had been set to join Bayern Munich for £18million on Monday but the move broke down.

He said on Sky Sports News: “We are waiting to see if it has all gone through and we are hoping it has.

“It’s something to do with clearance.

“I think he was going to Bayern Munich yesterday for £18million and suddenly he became much cheaper.

“They let me know around 4pm that he was available for £8million and, for that money, he is a top player who will definitely improve us.

“The fee has come crashing down because the deadline is so close.

“He’s a great passer of the ball, he’s a top footballer, he will join in here and be a big plus for us.”

Madrid claimed they had met the deadline for the transfer of Van der Vaart and also denied Redknapp’s assertion the player was subject of an £18million bid from Bayern.

Sporting director Miguel Pardeza told his club’s official website, www.realmadrid.com: “Real Madrid met all the deadlines regarding the transfer of Van der Vaart.

“It’s now up to the Premier League to accept the signing so that we can make it official.

“It is absolutely false that Real Madrid received a 21million euro offer from Bayern Munich for Van der Vaart.

“In fact, the German team never showed an interest to sign the player, so the allegations made in England have greatly surprised us.”

Source: EspnStar

Airtricity League XI 1-7 Manchester United (Full Highlights)

What a start at the Lansdowne Road Stadium! The first match on the new ground was a treat to everyone, including the ground staff, as the world witnessed a demolishing performance by Manchester United.

The Red Devils beat minnows Airtricity League XI 7-1 in front of a packed stadium to prepare pretty decently for the upcoming Barclays Premier League season opener against Newcastle on August 16th. They face Chelsea in the Community Shield though before that game on Sunday, August 8.

Enjoy the goals below

David Silva joins Manchester City

Manchester City have completed the £24m transfer of Spain international winger David Silva from Valencia.

Silva, 24, had a medical on Wednesday before signing a four-year contract at City, where he hopes to earn Champions League qualification next season.

“I will be happy if at the end we are in the Champions League – or if we win a trophy,” he told the club’s website.

“My first target is to get into the team, and then to fight for the league and the other competitions.”

Silva becomes City manager Roberto Mancini’s third signing of the summer following the arrivals of Hamburg’s German international defender Jerome Boateng and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona as the big-spending Blues resume their quest to establish themselves among the Premier League’s elite.

“Roberto Mancini and [chief executive] Garry Cook have told me we are building a very good team with some of the best players in the world and we are going to fight for honours,” added the Spaniard.

Silva will not join up with his new team-mates until after he returns from a holiday in the Canary Islands following his World Cup campaign with newly-crowned champions Spain.

Silva fell out of favour with Spain boss Del Bosque at this summer's World Cup

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Football Roundup: Scholes’ 100th saves ManUtd’s blushes; Arsenal move to joint 2nd; Pompey advance to semis of FA Cup; Roma-Milan cancel each other out; Barca drop points; Real get dramatic come-from-behind win

Paul Scholes
Scholes got the decisive goal, his 100th in the premier league, to take United to the summit

Paul Scholes was the Saviour for Manchester United as the Red Devils edged past a determined Wolves  thanks to a 100th League goal for the veteran Englishman. Although United have moved to the top of the league temporarily, it was no where near a satisfying performance from the reigning champions.

Arsenal also kept pace with the leaders, winning 3-1 against 2nd from bottom Burnley, but made hard work of the win. And injury to influential captain Francesc Fabregas will not help their cause either.

Continue reading “Football Roundup: Scholes’ 100th saves ManUtd’s blushes; Arsenal move to joint 2nd; Pompey advance to semis of FA Cup; Roma-Milan cancel each other out; Barca drop points; Real get dramatic come-from-behind win”