Boro win Premier League All Stars

Middlesbrough have tonight won the Premier League All Stars 2-1 against West Ham. The competition has be running all week in the David Beckham academy arena in London and has been a huge success. Tickets were free for every night of action and the arena had bumper crowds almost every night. The teams were made up of four legends, three celebrities and three fans. Each half lasted fifteen minutes in the final with the last of each of the fifteen minutes being power plays, which meant goals counted double.

Boro won 100,000 pounds for their chosen charities after they came from behind against the Hammers. Famous actor, Geoff Bell put the Hammers in front with a splendid finish after some neat play by Tony Cottee. Craig Higgnet got Boro back in the game when he scored after an unfortunate error by the Hammers keeper. Alaistar Griffin finished the game with a goal in the final power play to send the Boro fans home happy and hand Boro the first ever Premier League All Stars shield.


Who will win the Premiership?

Over the past few eeks you may or may not have noticed that I have been running a poll as to who will win the Premiership? I would first of all like to thank everyone who voted and would encourage you to vote in my new poll.

The Results:

  1. Arsenal - 286 (votes) - 52%.
  2. Liverpool - 129 - 23%.
  3. Man United - 58 - 10%.
  4. Other - 43 - 7%.
  5. Chelsea - 28 - 5%.
Total votes: 544.

Obviously it is clear to see that many of the people that voted followed the side's starts to the season. Arsenal recieved a whopping 52% of the votes which isn't a big surprise because the start they have made is nothing short of brilliant. Liverpool recieved a very creditable 23% of the votes, which I think is probably a fair assestment of their start to the campaign.

Man United recieved 10%, mostly down to the very poor opening four games or so for them. The big surprise is, is that Other finished ahead of Chelsea in the poll. Chelsea haven't started well at all and have got rid of Mourinho so, you people clearly feel they have already blown their chances of winning a third title in four years.


Best Football Dive Ever!

I was just flicking around youtube, watching some funny football videos, when I came across this. It so funny, I just can't stop laughing at it!


Is this a sign of things to come for Chelsea?

Chelsea have today been held to a disappointing 0-0 draw against Fulham at Stamford Bridge. This was Chelsea boss, Avram Grant's second game in the league so far and he has only managed one point from a possible six on offer. There was further bad news for Grant in the game because club captain, John Terry is likely to miss the next couple of weeks after been taken off at half-time with a suspected depressed fracture of the cheekbone.

Chelsea almost went into the lead straight after the break when Saloman Kalou's header was expertly saved by Kasey Keller onto his post and wide. Fulham maybe could of nicked it near the end when Diomansy Kamara somewhat selfishly shot when Clint Dempsey was in a far better position to shot.

Throughout the game, Ukranian striker Andriy Shevchenko was booed by the home crowd. They clearly felt he had a part to play in the departure of Mourinho from the Londoners. He was substituted after 54 minutes after a woeful display from what once was one of the best strikers in Europe. Throughout the game and even after the game, Chelsea fans chanted the name of former boss Jose Mourinho, almost in protest to the Chelsea board.

Chelsea didn't play bad against Man United last week in defeat, but under Mourinho they were much more ruthless in their finishing. Under Grant, so far in the Premier League they have failed to score and have only picked up a point. Now, that is most certainly not the kind of form realistic contenders for this seasons title. I mean, Arsenal have got off to a flyer and have shown people that they are most definitely capable of winning the title, United are starting to find form and Liverpool haven't looked half bad either.

I was even thinking to myself today that although, unlikely, Chelsea may struggle to qualify for next seasons Champions League at the rate their going. With the way Sven Goran Eriksson has got his City side going, they may yet turn out to be contenders for the elusive 4th spot. I feel if they want to be serious contenders this season, Grant has to go. I'm sorry but he has to go. He was appointed only hours after the departure of Mourinho and I think the desicion was far to hasty.

Mr. Abramovich should of taken a week or two, leave Steve Clarke in temporary charge and then appoint a top class mangager like Hiddink or Van Basten. If Grant finishes the season in charge of Chelsea, I'll eat my hat. Chelsea face a daunting trip to Valencia during the week, likely to be without captain John Terry, and with a squad desperately low on confidence. Now, if they don't win that game that leaves them with one point out of six in the group and I'm not even sure they can get out of the group.


FIFA 08 Reviewed

I bought FIFA 08 yeasterday for the PS2 and I'm not sure wheter or not I like it. First of all I tought it was a very decent price being sold at 42.99 (euro) in my local HMV. I feel as though the game hasn't really progressed as I tought it would from last year's edition. I mean, they have added some new things, like being able to control the keeper from setpieces and other scenario's and they have added a couple of new stadiums like White Hart Lane and The Home Depot stadium.

I was happy to see that they have added the Irish Eircom League because I am from Ireland and go to games from the league every week. One major negative for me has been the through ball. I don't know is it just I have got much worse at it or has it changed because every time I try a through ball it seems the exact same as a normal pass. Another thing I liked about the game was that the shooting has got a lot harder because in recent all you had to do was shoot and the ball was in the back of the net.

Overall Rating: 6/10.

My Advice:
If you already have the 07 edition, I wouldn't be rushing out to buy this one.


Super City!

Manchester City have today continued their impressive start to the season by beating Newcastle 3-1 at Eastlands. Many people, including myself, taught this was a nailed on draw but an impressive Man City outfit convincingly saw off Sam Allardyce's men. The game began, with both sides creating early chances, first when City striker Emile Mpenza forced an error out of Newcastle keeper Shay Given, but unfortunately for Mpenza nothing came of it. Then Newcastle's Mark Viduka had a decent shot saved by City keeper Joe Hart who managed to parry out for a corner.

City could of taken the lead soon after, when man of the match, Elano forced a magnificent save from Given after a terrific volley. Newcastle took the lead on 29 minutes when Newcastle captain Geremi, flighted a lovely ball towards Martins who Cooley controlled and finished past the on-rushing Hart. Hart was nearly embarrassed moments after when he took a terrible touch that almost went in over his own line, but a slightly red faced Hart managed to clear just in time.

City equalised on 39 minutes when Elano played a sumptuous ball over the Newcastle defence for Ireland and he ran towards the by-line a played a lovely ball to Petrov who Cooley finished. City nearly went into the break in front but Ireland failed to put the ball past international colleague Given and so the sides went in 1-1 at the break. Almost immediately after the interval City took the lead. This came after some sloppy play from Newcastle allowed Petrov to run down the left flank and he put in a terrific ball for Mpenza, who headed in well.

It was almost 3-1 soon after when City's two central defenders wen on mad runs but unfortunately for them, Richards feel at the vital moment. But City did wrap up the win with three minutes to go when Nicky Butt gave away a needless free-kick, about 25 yards out, and Elano simply unleashed a rocket that flew into Given's top corner. He was then taken off to a rapturous reception and City closed out a magnificent win.

Overall City were the better side and were full value for their 3-1 win although at 2-1 they were a little edgy at times. The performances of both Petrov and Elano were second to none. Sven Goran Eriksson may just of pulled off two of the deals of the season in Elano and Petrov. I wasn't at all surprised that Sven dropped Kasper Schmeichal today because he has looked a little inexperienced so far this season and I tought Hart did a good job in the City goal. It was very funny to hear the City fans chanting to Joey Barton (formally of City) , "Joey whats the score, Joey, Joey whats the score".


Jol nearing the Chop?

Are Tottenham getting ready to sack Martin Jol or is it just the media trying to make the situation bigger than it is? Many papers and websites have been reporting that the Tottenham board have been lining up a package to Jol, for him to leave the club and he receive a large sum of money. Many people believe his position as Tottenham boss is untenable and that his sacking will come sooner rather than later. Jol has hit back at these people and has warned the Tottenham board that if they sacked him, it would be a mistake.

Jol told BBC Radio 5live: "The fans know how difficult it is if they change management again, they know you could easily go back for years.
"I hope people are realistic - you can get anyone in the world to come, but to do better you must finish fourth." Jol continued: "The speculation isn't a nice position to be in, but I can't do anything about it.

"The continuity is important - we were fifth two years in-a-row, I don't think anybody else could do any better. "The continuity of the club is important and we did that here with my staff over the last couple of years. "We won a lot of points, had nine wins in Europe and got back into Europe via the league, which probably didn't happen for 25 years or so. "So the fans realise and they appreciate my work and that is a good feeling."

This speculation has arisen largely down to the fact that Tottenham have got of to a dyer start to this season. The speculation began after Spurs' second straight defeat of this season to Everton and apparently Tottenham chairman David Levy was seen along with his representatives talking with Sevilla boss Juande Ramos. Now, I personally feel Jol may be on his way out, and so do the bookies making him the 8/11 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave.

Now if Jol is to leave Tottenham in the near future (which I think is about 75% certain) then would Ramos be the man to take over. My personal opinion is no. I think he still wants to stay with Sevilla and try and win the La Liga in Spain, so who would be up for the job. Well I think maybe Jurgen Klinsman would be the man to step in, despite him saying he would only be interested in managing a team in the Champions League. He has a great affection with the club and I think the Spurs fans would love him their.

So, do you think Jol will go, and if so ,who will take over the helm at Spurs?


Micah Richards: Star in the Making

Micah Richards has been impressing both fans and pundits alike for his impressive displays for both Manchester City and England this season. The 19 year old has come along way from playing for Oldham youths when he was 12. He recently scored his first international goal against Israel and has largely contributed to Manchester City's fine start to this Premier League season. He has also recently captain Man City for the first time and has said he would love to take that honour on full time.

He made his first team debut for Manchester City when he came on as a substitute during City's game against Arsenal back on October 22th 2005. He made his full debut on February 12th 2006 when City played against Charlton. During his first season at the Citizens, he won the young player of the year award at the club, putting in some impressive displays, his finest came when he scored a late winner against Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup. After that game he accidentally said "f*cking hell" during the post-match interview with the BBC interviewer Gareth Crooks and it left an embarrassed Gary Linker to mop up the mess by apologising.

Also during that season he captained the Manchester City youth cup team in the final, but they were defeated 3-2 on aggregate despite winning 2-0 on the night. During the Summer transfer window that season he was the centre of a lot of transfer speculation. City supposedly rejected a 5 million pound bid from Tottenham much to the delight of the City fans. After that he signed a new four year deal at the club to show his commitment to the club. But throughout the next season rumours still didn't go away that he was in line for a big money move to Chelsea.

Richards has always had a bit of a temper and there was one incident were he lost his temper with former City manager Stuart Pearce when he was substituted in City's 1-0 defeat to Reading. He threw his jersey in the direction of the manager and Pearce was not at all pleased about it. He also recently lost his cool when he appeared to of been elbowed in the chest by Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey and he squared up to the American international, getting booked in the process.

Lately new City boss Sven Goran Eriksson has been playing Richards at centre back and he has excelled playing alongside club captain Richard Dunne. Richards made his international debut when he was called up for a friendly game against Holland and performed exceptionally well at right back. He is now seen as a regular pick for the team although it remains to be seen will he keep his place over injured defender Gary Neville. I personally prefer see Micah playing at centre back but I guess he just wants to play football in any position.

One thing you always get with Micah Richards in a match is 110%. He is a lion heart in the City defence and there is no doubt he is a future captain of the club (that's if he stays their). I just can't wait to see how good he is when he is twenty five, twenty six years of age?


Huntelaar on the move

Ajax striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar says he is ready to leave the club at the end of the season and move to better and bigger things abroad. Huntelaar has been linked with many clubs over the past few seasons including: Man United, Man City, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Juventus, Lyon and Liverpool. These clubs will be on red alert once the season ends, to notch up one of Europe's most gifted strikers.

Some reports have already suggested that Juventus have agreed a deal in principle to sign the Dutch striker but wheter or not he does sign for the club is another question. "I feel ready for a new experience abroad," he told the Dutch press. "At the end of the season, I'll leave." I personally would love to see Huntelaar in the Premier League because I feel he has the attributes to become a Premier League great.

He is a tall and athletic striker that has scored endless amounts of goals with the club from Amsterdam but I feel it is time he tested himself in a higher league (with all due respect to Eredivisie), like Serie A or the Premier League. I would guess he would cost around 20 million euros for any club to acquire his services and I'm sure that will turn out to be great value for money for whoever buys him.


Latest twist in the Chelsea saga!

It appears today as though Man United are set to oppose to giving Chelsea boss Avram Grant some special dispensation for not having the required UEFA licence to manage a Premier League team. Grant who only took over last week hasn't got the required licence and has a twelve week period in which to get this. If he does not get this licence then Chelsea would have no other option but to replace him at the Chelsea helm. This isn't the first time United have opposed this kind of proposal from a club, they did the same when Glenn Roeder was at newcastle and the same when Gareth Southgate took over at Boro.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is understood to be a strong advocate of the qualifications. Uefa and Premier League rules require anyone wishing to manage in the top flight to hold the Uefa pro licence, which requires 240 hours of study and usually takes a year to gain. And a Premier League spokesman confirmed: "We have written to Chelsea to remind them of these requirements regarding these qualifications."

So who might replace Grant if he doesn't receive the licence? Well Marco Van Basten was seen sitting behind Roman Abramovich at the recent defeat to Man United and Fabio Capello believes Van Basten is wanted by the Londoners. Capeelo claims that Chelsea technical director Frank Arnesen put Van Basten's name forward to take over at the Blues.
"Arnesen wants van Basten to take over and has already recommended him to Abramovich," Capello is quoted as saying in The Sun. "Frank and Marco know each other well from their time in Dutch football."

Now, I'm not sure how Capello would know this information but you know what they say, there's not smoke without fire. Whilst I was watching the game on Sunday, I clearly noticed at the time that Van Basten was sitting no further than a yard away from Abramovich, so, why else would the Dutch coach be their. To see Van Der Sar, I don't think so. It will interesting to see what happens over the coming weeks and months at Chelsea, but I'll tell you something, it won't be dull.


Thats why you start Torres, Rafa

Fernando Torres tonight scored a magnificent hat-trick to put his side into the fourth round of the League Cup. The Merseysiders beat fellow Premier League side Reading 4-2 at the Madjeski with Yossi Benayoun getting Liverpool's other goal. Fernando Torres hasn't started in either of Liverpool's last two Premier League games and Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has come in for some just criticism. Torres has now bagged six goals in six games but some feel that tally may be a lot higher if it weren't for Benitez "resting" him.

Torres got his first goal in the 50th minute when he slipped the ball past Reading keeper Federici after he was sent through on goal by Sebastian Leto. He next goal came when second half substitute, John Arne Riise set him up with a good ball and he duly finished. And he completed the hat-trick when club captain Steven Gerrard played a lovely ball through the Reading defence and he Cooley turned the keeper and slotted home to finished a great night for him, which saw him take home the match ball.

Overall Torres looked a cut above the rest creating numerous chances and in my view he was targeted by the Reading players. The amount of times he was taking down by players in blue and white was amazing. I just hope to god that Benitez gives Torres a full game on Saturday when they face Wigan at the JJB stadium. What was Rafa thinking by not playing him in their last few games?


Bad news for Chelsea

Chelsea'a appeal against the red card of Jon Obi Mikel in their 2-0 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday has failed. Mikel, in my eyes, was harshly shown a straight red card when he made a rash but not dangerous tackle on Patrice Evra during the game on Sunday. Apparently Fifa does not allow cards to be downgraded so Chelsea could only have won the appeal if they had proved that no action at all should have been taken against their player. Chelsea boss Avram Grant said he was " disappointed and surprised".

"One of the things I teach my players and even my children is that when you make a mistake you can admit it," he said. "I can promise if I make a mistake I will tell you. It has happened to all of us - nobody is perfect.
"The referee made a mistake - he made three mistakes - but one of them he could correct and he didn't do it, so I am very disappointed. "On Sunday, the referee affected the result with three bad decisions. Our players were very disappointed but I like their reaction. If I saw something wrong, it was the decisions of the referee."

John Terry may also be banned for an incident in the game on Sunday. Whilst David Dean was sending off Mikel, Terry was seen trying to grab the card from the grasp of Dean's hand. His actions have been mentioned in Dean's match report and Terry may face punishment. I have to say I feel the decision not to rescind the red card of Mikel's is stupid but I do feel Chelsea have adequate cover for him in midfield. I did see the incident with Terry but I'm not sure wheter it deserves possible punishment.


Villa rocked by Carew injury

Aston Villa have today been rocked by the news that John Carew will face up to six weeks on the sidelines after sustaining knee ligament damage. Carew only score his first goal of the season on Sunday in his sides 2-0 home win against Everton but this has prevented him from adding to that tally in the near future. Villa manager Martin O'Neill told the official club website : "We're looking at four to six weeks out - it's a blow because he is a key player. "We play Tottenham and West Ham before an international fortnight so from that standpoint he could have missed more."

Carew, who signed for the club last January put in several fine displays already this season for Norway but hasn't managed to find the same kind of form at club level. Carew is not renound for his goal scoring but he has a hell of a work rate.
"You can do an awful lot of work as a centre-forward outside the penalty area, but you're there to get goals and he's off the mark now. "Suddenly, all that good work he has done for us, that seemingly has gone unnoticed, he'll start to think now that there is a bit of justice."

Obviously terrible news for Villa because Carew is such a threat when he is in top form. His performance on Sunday against Everton was very good and I think Villa are going to miss his tall figure up front throughout the coming weeks. He has linked up well with Agbonlahor in recent weeks and Villa's good start this season is no small part down to them.


Owen injured .... again

Michael Owen has once again got injured. The Newcastle striker was playing in his sides 3-1 win at home to West Ham when he was taken off a half time due to an injured groin, which he supposedly picked up in Newcastle's defeat to derby on Monday. Owen has only returned from a lengthy spell on the treatment table last season and this news is bound to rock both Newcastle and himself. He is set to have a second scan on the injured groin tomorrow to asses the damage, but it is feared he may have to spend more time on the sidelines.

"We will probably scan it again, have another specialist opinion and then see where we go from there," said Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce.
"Even though the first scan was clear, there's a persistent area which is causing him a problem," he added. Owen has only just returned from a terrific run of form for England which saw him score three times in their two qualifiers against both Israel and Russia.

Allardyce insists that if Owen is to go under the knife, it will happen immediately."We will look after Michael Owen's interests more than anybody else's," said Allardyce. "He is our most expensive asset, so we must not go on any longer than we need to, we must address the injury straight away."

Terrible news for both Newcastle and England because England have two crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers coming up in October and he is now likely to miss both. I feel more for Owen himself, because he has just come off the back of some good form for England, but this news is likely prevent him from trying to find some form for the Magpies. I think Micheal Owen must feel like the most unluckiest man in the world right now!


United defeat resolute Chelsea

Manchester United have today beaten Chelsea 2-0 at Old Trafford with the visitors finishing the game with only ten men. This was Chelsea manager Avrim Grant's first game in charge of the Londoners, but despite the defeat Chelsea played well without ever really threatening Edwin Van Der Sar's goal. The game started with many pundits predicting a victory for United due to recent departure of Jose Mourinho from Chelsea. The game started with both sides passing the ball well, but neither side managed to make a clear cut chance for themselves.

The first chance of the game came when United striker Wayne Rooney curled a lovely shot towards the Chelsea goal that looked destined for the back of the net, but Chelsea keeper Petr Cech made a magnificent save to keep the sides level. United may of been given a penalty soon after when Evra collected a ball from the defence only to be impeded by Joe Cole but the penalty wasn't given, much to the annoyance of the United players.

The turning point of the whole game came when Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel, was harshly sent off for a tackle that probably only warranted a yellow. I think the reason for the tackle was Mikel took a heavy touch and that lead to his over eagerness to get the ball back, and in doing so he fouled Evra. The ref indicated 2 minutes of stoppage time in the first half, but United scored after 47:30 when Ryan Giggs played an exquisite ball with the outside of his left foot that met the head of Tevez who headed in his first United goal.

The second half turned out to be a cagey affair with most of the play in the midfield, but Chelsea may feel aggrieved for the fact that Rooney possibly should of received his marching orders for a tackle on Cole, after already receiving a yellow. Chelsea hopes of grabbing a point from the game were ended when Louis Saha was adjudged to of been fouled by Tal Ben Haim in the box, and the Frenchman powered the ball straight into Cech's goal from the penalty spot.

I have to say I was surprised how well Chelsea played when they went down to ten men because it's never easy chasing a deficit with only ten men. Although Chelsea defending resolutely, they nothing to convince me that they will score many goals this season without their hit man Didier Drogba. Shevchenko looked decent in spells but failed to impress overall, being substituted after an hour. United performed well and Sir Alex will be delighted with the goal for Tevez because I feel he may go and do what he did when he got his first goal for West Ham last season.


Hiddink not interested in Chelsea job

Guus Hiddink has ruled himself out of the running to become the manager at Chelsea after he was linked with the post following Mourinho's departure on Wednesday night. A number of high profiled managers were linked to take over from Mourinho at the Blues but Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich employed former Israel coach Avram Grant almost straight after the shock departure Mourinho. Many people still think the appointment of Avram Grant won't last long and that Mr. Abramovich will be forced to go out and a employ at top manager, but Hiddink insists it won't be him.

Hiddink has said that he is completely committed to managing Russia through the Euro 2008 qualifying group and on into the tournament next summer, although he did admit that he had talked with Abramovich after the recent Euro qualifier between England and Russia in Wembley. "Roman Abramovich and I met again around the England match, we had good talks and discussions," Hiddink told the Mail on Sunday.

"I always get on well with Roman, but I am not going to give away all the details from that meeting. "The Chelsea situation is something I won't touch right now. I am concentrating on the Russian national team. "We have to qualify and I know Roman finds that very important too at this time." I personally would of loved to see how Hiddink would of managed in the Premier League.

I hope in the future another top team in the Premier League becomes available and he decides to manage their because I really admire his style of management. I think the hasty appointment by Chelsea on Thursday was ridiculous and I feel that they maybe should of waited a week or so and let the dust settle of the Mourinho departure and then assess the situation because now they have appointed Grant, I'm not sure they can be serious about winning the title this season.


Fantasy Premier League

I would just like to let readers know that I have set up a fantasy football league on the official premier league website. If you have a team or would like to make a team feel free to join the league. And don't worry if don't already have a team you can register for free on the website, just follow the simple instructions.

The code is : 29120-209110.


Six goal thriller at the Cottage

Fulham and Manchester City have played out a six goal thriller at Craven Cottage this evening. Arguably game of the season so far, both sides had chances to win the game but in the end it finished 3 a piece. City went into the game in 2nd place whilst Fulham were sitting in 17th place in the Premier League. City have been exceeding expectations this season under Sven Goran Eriksson whilst Fulham haven't quite being doing so great. City dominated possesion in the early stages but rarely tested Niemi in the Fulham goal. Fulham opened the scoring when Hameur Bouzza broke down the left and whipped in a glorious ball which was met by the head of Simon Davies who provided a cushioned header into the City net.

City started to look unsettled and began giving away sloppy possession until, one of the many signings by Sven in the summer, Martin Petrov broke down the left after a ball from Michael Johnson and didn't stop running. He switched inside and played a tame shot towards goal but it went through the legs of a Fulham defender and perhaps keeper Anti Niemi should of dealt better with the effort, but it went over his arm and into the Fulham net. Straight after the break Fulham regained the lead after Hameur Bouzza stroke an unstoppable free-kick from the edge of the City box.

But as Fulham have done on so many occasions this season, they let in straight after when Petrov had a shot saved by Niemi only for the ball to break to the head of Emile Mpenza who duly obliged with the finish. City took the lead for the first time on the hour mark after a good one two between Elano and Petrov, which let in Petrov to score a quality volley from 10 yards that flew into Niemi's net. Fulham boss , Lawrie Sanchez brought on two new signings with twenty minutes to go and it paid dividends. He brought on both Seol Ki Hiyeon and Danny Murphy who scored the equaliser for Fulham.

Murphy collected a ball from the cross of Seol's and he found himself in acres of space in the City box. He calmly slotted home past City keeper Kasper Schmeichel to give the Cottagers a deserved point. Fulham pressed for the last 15 minutes or so but couldn't find the seventh goal and so it ended 3-3 at Craven Cottage. A terrific game of football that neither side deserved to lose. Both players gave their all and it was a thrilling game to watch.


Rafa asked for it !

Liverpool have today dropped two precious points at home to Premier League newcomers Birmingham. It was a match that was, to put it bluntly, crap. Although Liverpool dominated for long spells in the match they failed to capitalise on any of their chances. I have to say that Rafa Benitez was asking for that result buy not starting 26 million pound hit man for the second Premier League game running because when the Spanish striker came on he looked far superior to any other Liverpool striker.

The first chance of the match fell to Norwegian full back, John Arne Riise but his shot went straight across the face of goal and he had another chance soon after but it went high and wide and not at all handsome. Birmingham midfielder Borja Oubina was stretchered off after ten minutes when he appeared to of picked up a serious knee injury that may keep him out for some time. Former Brum man Jermaine Pennant had a 20 yard shot turned over by City keeper Maik Taylor.

Torres finally got a chance to show why Benitez spent so much on him in the summer on the hour mark but in my view it is never easy to stamp your mark on a game when you are introduced with a half hour left. Torres nearly put Liverpool in the lead with a quater of an hour to go when his bicycle kick flew just over the bar after a splendid cross by Pennant. Birmingham rarely ventured outside their own half but with ten minutes to go new signing Gary O'Connor had a rush a blood to the head when striking a terrible shot wide of the Liverpool goal.

Liverpool had a chance late on to spare Benitez's blushes but Stephen Kelly made a superb last ditch tackle to prevent Crouch after a lovely flick by Torres. I would be very annoyed tonight if I were a Liverpool fan because the decision by Rafa to leave out Torres was ... idiotic. I mean the kid has only started the season and Benitez is already resting him when I'm sure he just wants to play and score goals. When a manager spends 26 million pounds on a top class striker you expect him to play every game, but such is Benitez's rotation policy he is left red faced tonight. But credit to Birmingham, they had a game plan and they stuck to it.


City starlet set to sign on

Manchester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is set to sign a four deal at the club were he has made an impressive impact so far this season. The son of former United legend Peter, Kasper has cemented the number one spot at the club after keeping four clean sheets in his opening six games. He made his senior debut for the club in the opening game of the season away to West Ham were City won 2-0 but Kasper may not have had this early success if it weren't for Joe Hart injuring himself the night before the game.

Kasper finest display so far came in the derby win over United last month when City won 1-0 with a string of excellent saves being made by the young Dane. It was rumoured at the start of the season that Kasper may of had to go out on loan to get regular first team football this year but he has managed to force his way into Sven's plans, although Sven has admitted that some of his positional play has been suspect at times.

"Kasper's agent has been at Carrington for talks and he is very close to signing a new deal. I'm very happy with him," Eriksson said. "He is another one from the academy we are signing up on a long-term basis. That's good for the club. "Some of his decision-making has not always been right but you expect that from a 20-year-old. "The fact is he has kept four clean sheets out of six and you can't argue with that." Eriksson was believed to be on the look out for a new goalie at the beginning of the season after Andreas Issaksson was laid off with a lengthy injury but the Swede never went and bought one due to Kasper's displays.

I believe this is terrific news for the club because the lad is only 20 years old and is bound to get better with age. Kasper is only one in a long line of City players to of signed new deals with the club since Sven arrived and I think that shows that Sven is really thinking about the future for this young side. I have been very impressed at the rapid progress of Kasper but I still think he needs a bit more work to become as good as his dad.


Not England, Not Portugal, but were to next for Mourinho?

Jose Mourinho has tonight confirmed that his next step in managment will not be in England or Portugal. He said " I would like to come back to England in future, but my next step will not be here". Asked wheter or not he would be interested in taking the Portugal job after current boss Phill Scolari he said " I am not interested in the Portuguese national job and I am not interested in managing in Portugal". Bookmakers had made Mourinho 1/2 favourite for the Portugal job to be his next but this statement has ended that speculation but it has increased rumours that he may be on his way to Spain.

In his first television interview since his departure from Chelsea on Wednesday he said " I would like to go and learn a new language, maybe Italian or German... My English is fine, my Spanish is fine and my French is fine". I don't know about you but, I am starting to like Mourinho post Chelsea because during his time at the Londoners I never really warmed to his arrogance.

This interview has fuelled speculation that Mourinho may be on his way to Spanish side Barcelona because he used to work with the club as an interpreter for Bobby Robson and I also feel the current Barca boss Frank Rijkaard has failed to get the very best out of players like Eto'o, Messi and Ronaldinho (who has come in for some recent criticism). Although the Dutchman has won the La Liga with the club and the Champions League they failed to live up to expectations last season and I feel he may be sent packing by the Barca board. I would love to see how Mourinho would do if he had the opportunity to manage the Spanish giants.


What next for Chelsea?

What next for Chelsea? Well I can see a lot of their top players leaving after the departure of their former manager Jose Mourinho. The have employed Avrim Grant, who in my view, will most definitely not be able to fill the gap left behind by Mourinho. He has only ever managed clubs in Israel and has had a brief spell at Portsmouth working with Harry Redknapp. I thought it was a wasted opportunity for Chelsea when Mourinho left, for them to go out and get a top class manager like Capello, Hiddink or Scolari but they haven't done so.

I think the appointment may lead to several players wanting to leave and possibly join whatever side Mourinho takes over (if it is a club not a country). Frank Lampard wasn't even sure if he would stay at Chelsea when Mourinho was their and I think there is a fat chance he will stay their now Grant has been appointed. Another key player, Didier Drogba has made it clear that he is extremely unhappy at the departure of Mourinho and says he won't push himself from getting back from an knee injury to play under Grant at Chelsea.

Many other players have expressed their sadness and I expect that when the season ends and Chelsea have once again failed to win the Champions League(which Mr. Abramovich demanded for Mourinho) then their will a massive influx of departures at Stamford Bridge. I feel that Mr. Abramovich may regret the decision to "part company" with Mourinho once he finds his side trophy less come the end of the season.


Six of the best for Spurs

Tottenham have tonight beaten Anorthosis Famagusta 6-1 in the first leg of their first round UEFA Cup tie. Tottenham showed the kind of form that has eluded them thus far in the Premier League this season by scoring six of the best. The pressure was on Spurs boss Martin Jol going into this game but it appears as though he has eased some of that. The first goal came after just five minutes when one of Martin Jol's summer recruits Younnes Kaboul headed home from a Tom Huddlestone corner. It took them another half hour to add to this when Michael Dawson finished after receiving a header from Chimbonda.

It only took three more minutes for Spurs to bag a third when captain Robbie Keane places a lovely shot past the keeper from the edge of the box. And just a minute later they added a fourth when 16 million pound hit man Darren Bent manages to squeeze a shot in from a tight angle. Then out of form striker Jermaine Defoe scored an exquisite chip from the edge of the area to put his side 5-0 up. But the next goal was scored by the away side when their was some poor defending in the box by Spurs and Anton Zlogar finished well.

Jermaine Defoe really staked his case for a place in the team by doubling his tally for the night when he scored an absolute cracker from 25 yards. After receiving the ball from Huddlestone he managed to shift it from under his feet and unleash an unstoppable blast to all but ensure Tottenham's passage into the next round. Martin Jol will be delighted with the victory because their was speculation before the game that he may be sacked and that former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was to be appointed as Spurs boss.


Cesc Fabregas : Best player in the World?

Is Cecs Fabregas the best player in the world? Well I'm sure a large majority of fans in England at the moment would agree with me. The 20 year old Spaniard is playing out of his skin at the minute and is already being tipped to emulate the feet of Cristiano Ronaldo last year by winning both the young player and player of the year awards. Signed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger back in 2003 from Spanish giants Barcelona, very few people had heard of the name Francesc Fabregas. But many people trusted Wenger that this boy would be good after the previous examples of the likes of Theirry Henry and Patrick Vieira.

He made his debut for the Gunners on October 2003 when they faced Rotherham United in the League Cup at Highbury. He became Arsenal's youngest ever player in doing so at just 16 years and 177 days. He later became Arsenal's youngest ever goalscorer when scoring from close range during the 5-1 hammering of Wolves in the League Cup. It wasn't until the 2004-2005 season did he make his Premiership debut due to an injury to then club captain Patrick Vieira. He made an immediate impact by scoring in one of his first games in the league against Blackburn.

In the Champions League he became the second youngest goalscorer when scoring in Arsenal's 5-1 win over Rosenborg. When Vieira departed after that season that gave Fabregas a chance to grab a first team spot which he duly took. He went on to make 49 appearances in all competitions in that seasons impressing both fans and pundits alike. He was the centre of a lot of transfer speculation that summer because of these excellent displays and a lot of the talk was that he was going to move back to his native Spain and either join Real Madrid or his former side Barcelona.

He latter signed a massive eight year deal with the club to show his commitment to Arsenal and that ended the speculation over his future. Although the 2006-2007 season turned out to be trophy less for Arsenal, Fabregas emerged as one of the shining lights of the season. He was named in the 2006 UEFA team of the year for his efforts in getting his side to the final. He was nominated for both the PFA Players Player of the year and the PFA Young player of the year awards. He was also voted Arsenal's player of the year last year, with a whooping 60% of the votes.

He has began this season in incredible style and has already bagged six goals in all competitions and has notched up numerous amounts of assits. In the majority of matches he has played this season he has taken the Man of the Match awards with his sublime performances in the centre of midfield for the Gunners. Now I do realise that I may be getting a little carried away with myself by saying he is the best player in the world but I believe, from the performances I have seen from the player over the past two years or so he has the potential to become the best player in the world.

So my question is, at the moment is Cesc Fabregas the best player in the world?


The Special One Leaves

Love him or hate him he was the Special One. Jose Mourinho has today left his post as Chelsea boss after a lackluster start to the Premier League. The official term being used is that he left due to "Mutual Consent", but the question is did he jump or was he pushed. In my view he was pushed by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. It was no secret that the pair never got on and that looks to of lost Mourinho the job. During Mourinho's term at Chelsea he won two consecutive Premier League's and won one FA Cup and two League Cup's.

The news broke at about half one this morning after Mourinho had attended the release of the Chelsea DVD "Blue Revolution" but he had a face that said he wasn't going to be their much longer. I couldn't believe the news when I heard it. I mean they haven't exactly started terribly to this new season but I always felt that the relationship between Mourinho and Abramovich was bound to crack sooner or later.

This news has put the future's of many key players at Chelsea under threat. The future of Frank Lampard has been under intense speculation over the past few months because he has yet to agree a new contract with the club and in my view he may now move on. Chelsea play one of their toughest games of the season on Sunday, Man United away, and I think this news may be to United's adavantage.

Chelsea have moved quickly to replace Mourinho by appointing former Israel coach Avram Grant. Now in my view I think that this is a step back for Chelsea because they had the option to go out and get a world class manager like Capello or Hiddink but they have decided to go for Grant. I think most Chelsea fans will be upset by the news and this has seriously dented their hopes of adding a third title in four years.

So what next for the special one, well I have heard a sneaky rumour that Mourinho likes it in London and wants to keep his kids in school their, so he may be travelling across London to Tottenham to replace the under pressure Spurs manager Martin Jol. In my view that would be a terrific move for both Tottenham and indeed Mourinho himself.


Poor night for British sides

It has turned out to be a largely disappointing night for the three British sides taking part in the first round of group matches in the Champions League. Both Chelsea and Liverpool drew 1-1 against Rosenbourg and Porto respectively and Celtic were defeated 2-0 at the hands of Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk. Celtic started terribly by conceding a goal after just five minutes when Evaeyerson Brandao scores a fine goal from the edge of the area. The start got worse for Strachan's men when Shakhtar doubled their lead when Italian striker Cristiano Lucarelli headed home from Razvan's cross. Celtic never really got into the game after that and lost 2-0.

Liverpool travelled to Porto on the back of a disappointing result at Pompey at the weekend, hoping to get off to a flyer in the competition in which they finished runner's up last year. They found themselves one goal down after Lucho Gonzalez converted from the spot after Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina brought down Tarik Sektioui. Liverpool equalised soon after when Dirk Kuyt headed home Finnan's free-kick and that is how the game finished, with Jermaine Pennant being sent off for the Reds.

If you listened to any pundit you would of though Chelsea would of been on top of Group B after this game against Rosenborg but that has not turned out to be the case. Rosenborg took a surprise lead after twenty minutes when Mikka Koppinen headed past Chelsea keeper Petr Cech. But Chelsea managed to score an equaliser after the break when out of form, Andriy Shevcheko finishes off Florent Malouda's cross and Chelsea attacked for the rest of the game but to no avail.

I was really surprised by the Chelsea result and I'm sure Mr. Abramovich won't be too happy about that. They attacked and they attacked but unfortunately they couldn't break the resolute Rosenbourg defence. Liverpool's result wasn't too much of a surprise but the manner in which the game was played was poor. It was a dull lifeless game and I don't think either side deserved to win. It was a poor start from Celtic and they were never, realistically ever going to be able to come back from that.


Takeover looms for Arsenal?

It appears as though Arsenal may be the next, in a long line of clubs to be taken over after Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov and his company, Red and White Holdings have increased their stake in the North London club to 21 per cent. Red and White Holdings have now become the second largest shareholders in the club behind Danny Fiszman, who has 24 per cent. Usmanov first bought into the club when he purchased 14.65 per cent of former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein's stake for a total of 75 million pounds.

He set up the company (Red and White Holdings) alongside fellow investor Farhad Moshiri specifically to hold equity in the club. David Dein is the chairman of the company and is said to be keen to get back into the club after he left when he advised Arsenal to listen to an offer for the club from American businessman Stan Kroenke which caused differences between the board.

I believe if Arsenal are to bridge the gap between themselves and the likes of Chelsea and Man United then they will need to take this investment seriously. It is clear for all to see that Arsenal have certainly not shown the same ambition as the likes of United and Liverpool this summer and I think that if they were to get funding for Arsenal boss Wenger to splash out in the transfer market then they would be a major threat in the league, but as it is ,they will be lucky to at best finish top 3.

I understand that Arsenal have made a terrific start to the season, but I feel that they may fall away as the season progresses due to the lack of strength in depth in the squad. I feel that foreign investment is key to Arsenal becoming possibly, the biggest club in the country. So many clubs in the league have done this and the results can be seen for themselves.


Arsenal pile the pressure on Jol

Arsenal have today put further pressure on Tottenham boss Martin Jol when they beat them 3-1 in today's North London derby. The Spurs boss was the centre of intense speculation in the summer after Tottenham chairman David Levy and other Spurs personal were seen talking to Sevilla boss Juande Ramos. Many people taught after their first two games this season that the Dutchman was on his way but the board and him seemed to of resolved that situation but todays defeat has heap further pressure on Jol.

Tottenham took the lead early in the derby when one of Jol's recruits in the summer, Gareth Bale strook a sumptuos free kick from 25 yards past Manuel Almunia. Arsenal equalised when Cesc Fabregas crossed a lovely ball and Emmanuel Adebayor head home past Paul Robinson. It appeared as though the game was going to end in a draw, but Cesc Fabregas scored the winner with just ten minutes to go when the Spaniard scored an unbelievable goal from 40 yards to cap of a great individual performance.

Arsenal weren't finished their and they put the result beyond all doubt when Adebayor doubled his account for the day when he struck a sweet volley past Robinson. The score line probably flattered Arsenal in truth because Tottenham should of really killed off the game in the first half. Jol said after the game: "We should have killed them off but we didn't take our chances. "We should have scored to go 2-0 up and then conceded from a set-piece but at 1-1 we had a good opportunity and then at 2-1 down we had two good chances. "We took the game to them and created chances. But they were clinical and that was the difference."

I think that this defeat has really pilled pressure on the Dutchman but I think that the board should probably give him at least a dozen or so more games to try and redeem himself. Tottenham were tipped to break into the elusive top four this season but from the start they have made it is pretty hard to see that happening now. Although it is early in the season, I would be worried if I was a Spurs fan right now because they would wanna get their skates on if they are to qualify for UEFA this season.


City duo bag awards

Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson and City defender Micah Richards have both been rewarded for City's fine start to the Premier League season. Eriksson bagged the manager of the month award in what is his first month in the Premier League. City posted nine points out of a possible twelve in August with victories over arch rivals United the highlight. Eriksson took over earlier this Summer and has made an immediate impact by signing no fewer than eight players the majority of which have made terrific first impressions.

City defender Micah Richards bagged the player of the month award for his fine displays in all four of his games in August. He earned man of the match performances in two out of the four games, the pick of which was his amazing performance against Man United. He has also scored his first goal for England recently when scoring against Isreal in their 3-0 win. Richards has played most of his club football at centre back this season, but in recent seasons was used on the right hand side of defence, a change that looks to of payed of for Sven.

In my view both of the recipients have really deserved the awards. Many pundits thought that Sven would be lucky to get even five points from the opening twelve but he has proved other wise. The way in which he has integrated the new players into the City side has been phenomenal. The award to Richards is completely just because the player has played magnificent this season and long may it continue. He has kept out strikers like Tevez and Bellamy so far this season and has linked up very well with City captain Richard Dunne.


Scots on the Brink

Last night Scotland recorded one of the most impressive wins in World football in years by beating fellow Group B hopefuls France in the Parc des Princes. They secured the win when Everton striker James McFadden unleashed an almighty blast from all of 35 yards. This heroic result has left Scotland top of the group ahead of both France and Italy and with only three games to play ,many Scots are dreaming that maybe they might just finally end the long wait to qualify for a major tournament. At the beginning of this qualifying for Euro 2008, I looked at the groups and thought that Scotland would be lucky to finish fourth in it because they faced side like France, Italy and the Ukraine all good sides.

If I remember correctly it wasn't that long ago that scotland were, in most people's eyes crap but ever since they got rid of the likes of Berti Vogts and appointed Walter Smith and more recently Alex McCleish that they have started looking like a side that can qualify for the European championships and the World Cups. With no disrespect, Scotland have no really good players but what they have is spirit. They have players that are willing to fight for any cause wheter it be against the Faroes or the French the battle.

Like I said before, I didn't give Scotland a hope of qualifying for next summers tournament but from what they've shown me, it has made me think again. When Scotland defeated France last October it made the footballing world sit up but everyone just expected that this was a one off and that they just got lucky, but last nights win against France proved that this wasn't a fluke and that Scotland really ought to be taken seriously.

I do understand that Scotland still face an uphill task in qualifying from this group but they are in a terrific position now to go and progress from this victory. They face a tricky tie against Ukraine in October before playing Georgia away and then finally back to Hampden to play, what could be the key match of the whole qualifying, against Italy. Now, I fully expect them to beat Georgia but I do think the Ukraine match will be harder but hopefully by the end of those two games they won't need to beat the World champions to progress to Euro 2008.


Injury boost for United

Manchester United have today been boosted by the news that two of their first team regulars are both close to a comeback. Both Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney are likely to return to the United team in the next fortnight. Wayne Rooeny is likely to make an earlier return than thought after he was expected to be out for two months after fracturing a bone in his left foot during United's first game of the season at home to Reading. But it appears as though he could even be back for this weekends match away to former club Everton although he is not expected to start.

United have been desperate for Rooney to return to the squad because they have only managed to score three goals all season. Tevez has failed to make an immediate impact and Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo has been absent with a three game suspension. The possible early return for Rooney has got Tevez excited : "It will be a great experience to play alongside Wayne Rooney - it is something I am very excited about," he said.

Also, United captain Gary Neville is hoping to return within the next fortnight. The England right-back has been out injured since early March when he injured his ankle against Bolton. A thigh injury halted has comeback but now it looks as though his comeback could be sooner rather than later.

"I probably did a bit too much, I was a bit over-excited getting back and I just felt my thigh a little bit," he told MUTV. "It's frustrating. "Hopefully in the next week or two I'll be back and I hope to be playing games in the next couple of weeks definitely. "Because I've been out for such a long time I think the Everton game is going to be too soon, I think it will probably be after that."

This news couldn't of come a minute sooner for United because they have lacked creativity in recent weeks and it cannot continue if they really want to defend their title. I am really excited about the possibility of a Tevez and Rooney partnership. If Tevez can reproduce some of his latter West Ham form and Rooney play like his usual self then it should be something to admire. The news about Neville is also great for United because Neville gives you something that no other player at United gives them and that's stability.


Blown Chances

Ireland have blown two precious points tonight in the qualifying for the European Championships next summer. Ireland drew 2-2 away to Slovakia but in truth, the men in green and white really should of taken all three points. Optimism was high in Bratislava as Ireland took to the field being cheered on by 8,000 Irish fans who occupied two thirds of the 12,000 crowd. Ireland knew that if they were to have a chance of qualifying for next summers tournament then they would need to collect at least four points out of a possible six available from these two games against Czech Republic and Slovakia and Ireland got off to the best possible start when Manchester City midfielder, Stephen Ireland slotted away Kevin Kilbane's cross after just 7 minutes.

But Slovakia levelled after 36 minutes when Maros Kimpl headed passed Ireland keeper Shay Given to put the home side back on level terms. After the interval Slovakia were rewarded with a guilt edge chance but only for Marek Mintal to head wide. After Kevin Doyle scored midway through the second half it appeared as though Ireland would get the three points and travel to Czech Republic with spirits high but they got complacent. Doyle nearly wrapped it up soon after but the Slovakian keeper got down well to deny the striker.

Ireland boss Stev Staunton, made some pathetic changes which in my mind led to the side conceding late on in injury time. Staunton brought on Darren Gibson and Johnathan Douglas for Aidean McGeady and Stephen Ireland, changes which for me were rubbish. Both players were sloppy and wasted possession and in the end that's what lost us the three points. Marek Cech equalised for the hosts late into injury time when a long ball was flicked on by man of the macth Richard Dunne only to fall into the path of the Slovakia left back who slotted home past Given.

This result has all but ended Ireland's hopes of qualifying because I cannot see a side that wastes as much possession as Ireland did tonight to go on and beat the Czech Republic on Wednesday. When Ireland won both of their internationals back in March, against Wales and Slovakia, I thought to myself that I would give Staunton another chance but after seeing the side perform like they did tonight I'm have finally lost patience. I also saw somewhere tonight that Staunton was trying to take the positives out of this performances but frankly there were none.


Wenger set to sign on

Arsene Wenger is set to end all speculation about his future by signing a new three year deal that will keep him at Arsenal until 2010. The Frenchman had been the centre of intense speculation all summer as to where he would be next year with Real Madrid chiefs seeming to be keen on him but it is though that Wenger will end all of these rumours by signing the deal on Friday. Wenger and Arsenal have been discussing the details of the deal all summer and it appears as though he is staying.

When former Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein , left in April it sparked much talk that Wenger may follow his good friend out the exit door at Arsenal. The pair are said to have a close relationship but Wenger numerously insisted that Dein had nothing to do with the delay in the signing of the contract. Arsenal also lost Theirry Henry to Barcelona during the summer and some felt if they had of lost Wenger too, then there hopes for a title this season were dead.

This news is a massive boost to all Arsenal fans out there and in deed the Arsenal board. I believe that this is great news for the club and lets hope it spurs the players on to make a real fist of it this season. Arsene has repeatably stated his ambition to integrate his current batch of youngsters at the club into the first team and so far this season they are doing him proud. I was in doubt he would sign the deal and now he has done so I expect big things from Arsenal this season.


Shevchenko left baffled by Chelsea snub

Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko says he is unsure why Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho isn't playing him. The Ukrainian striker went under the knife at the back end of last season to fix a hernia problem but Chelsea say he is still recovering from the injury and that is the reason why he isn't playing. Now, that statement may of looked true if it weren't for the fact that Shevchenko scored in a recent charity match in Ukraine this week.

"I don't know why Mourinho isn't playing me - I don't understand it," said the Ukrainian.
"But I'm not worried. I will just wait for my chance to come." The player, who cost Chelsea 3o million pounds, had, all in all, a largely disappointing season last year scoring just 14 goals in 51 matches, with the majority of those coming against lower league sides.

He has also been linked with a move back to his former club AC Milan but they were unwilling to pay the sort of money Chelsea wanted. Another former club, Dynamo Kiev, are also said to be interested in the player with a loan move their preferred option.

In my view Chelsea should just come out to the press and tell the truth, that the fact they aren't playing him isn't down to an injury, but the fact that he isn't good enough. The player has failed horribly since joining the Londoners and I'm not surprised that Jose isn't picking him in his team because there is no way that Shevchenko deserves to get in ahead of the likes of Malouda, Drogba etc,.


Empty seats at League games

It has come to my attention that in recent seasons, the amount of Premier League stadiums that regularly fail to fill their grounds for the usual league match at the weekend. I accept that not all stadiums fall under this debate but the majority of them do. Take Middlebrough's Riverside stadium as an example. The stadium was opened in 1995 with a capacity of 35,100. Now, I have watched many matches (all be it on telly) from this ground and I have noticed that every time I have watched them that their has been a large majority of the ground empty. From seeing this, I was shocked to hear that there is provisional planning permission in place to expand the 35,100 to 42,000 if required.

It appears to me as though the average attendances have steadily been decreasing at Premier League games as the seasons have gone by and I think that the reason for this is that the cost of tickets have risen and people just aren't willing to pay that kind of money week in and week out to see their side play. I also think that another factor is that the quality at some of the Premier League games of the recent past haven't been up to scratch and people have had enough.

I have also noticed a steady rise in the price of tickets for Premier League matches. Many fans aren't happy at the fact that when the English Premier League announced a new television rights deal, the money went straight into inflating players wages instead of fans and now they are deciding to boycott attending their teams games. Despite the fact that the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal still sell-out every week, the majority of other Premier League stadiums are half-empty.

What annoys me is the fact that lots of clubs nowadays are announcing plans to extend their stadiums when their not even sure if they will fill them. I would rather see clubs spend money on more important matters like grass routs and such. I was watching the Coventry V. Preston match at the weekend and I was shocked to see that a side that are leading the Championship could only manage to fill 17,551 seats in a stadium that holds 32,500.

Now Coventry only moved in to this new stadium a couple of seasons ago and they can only half fill it, which begs the question, why the hell did they bother spending all that money on a brand new stadium when they could of put it to a lot more use somewhere else? They may aswell of stayed at Highfield Road and got bumper crowds in every week and get a good atmosphere going instead of moving to a huge stadium that they will probably never fill.


Carson key to McClaren's hopes

It has become increasingly apparent that in the last few years England have never found a good enough replacement for David Seaman who retired nearly five years ago from international football. They have tried keepers like Green, Robinson, Kirkland and James but all of whom have failed to cement the no.1 jersey for England.

Paul Robinson's recent performances for both club and country have been nothing short of embarrassing, making a catalogue of errors in many games but England boss Steve McClaren always seems to start him.

They have tried David James in the past, who always seems to perform brilliantly when playing for club but when it comes to the international stage he is always prone to a howler now and then. The likes of Robert Green and Chris Kirkland have never really been given long enough stints in goals for England and have never really impressed McClaren during these short stints.

The one player that I think has never really been given a go at full international level, but has proved himself to be a superb keeper in average Premiership sides is Scott Carson who is currently on loan at Aston Villa from Liverpool. The keeper has played for England at under-21 level but hasn't ever got a full game in a competitive match for England and I think if Steve McClaren had any doubts (which he should) over picking either James or Robinson, he should look no further than Carson.

The 22 year old who began his carrer at Leeds, impressed last year whilst playing on loan at Charlton who were eventually relagated but he has yet to get a look in at Liverpool in recent seasons. The player joined Aston Villa on loan at the start of this season and yesterday kept a clean sheet against the mighty Chelsea. So in conclusion. I believe that if England are to progress into the finals of next Summer's Euro 2008 then they should play Carson in goal.


Goal of the Month: August

This Month's goal of the month award has to go Charles N'Zogbia for his cracker against Boro (26/08/07)


Arsenal... Better or Worse without Henry

I have heard a lot of people talking about this matter in recent days and it is a very valid point. Are Arsenal really better without one of Europe's top striker's or not. Well, Arsenal have started the season in superb fashion with 3 wins and 1 draw and are looking like a team that may yet challenge for the title. When Henry left earlier in the Summer, people questioned if Arsenal could realistically compete with both Chelsea and United at the top of the table. Henry had played for the club for 8 seasons and in my view 1 season too many.

Before the start of last season Henry had decided to commit to the Gunners and to captain the side into a new era, with the whole new stadium thing, but he had been the centre of a lot of speculation throughout the close season. During last season Henry was plagued by injury and only played in half as many games as he would of liked. The fact that he didn't play much is why I feel, he decided to move to Barcelona this Summer and leave the club that meant so much to him.

Henry was always said to be one of the nice guys at Arsenal, helping the younger players to develop into the first team squad but since he has left the younger players seem to have come out of their shell and started to express themselves on the pitch by playing some sumptuous football.

I was listening to the views of Jamie Redknapp on Sky Sports this evening, and he made a very valid point that whenever Henry was playing last season, the younger players always seemed to try and pass to Henry as if he would get annoyed at them if they didn't. No one can doubt that Henry was one of the best players in the world whilst at Arsenal but I feel as though Arsenal are probably better off without him and have now got a much better team spirit since he departed.


Liverpool for the Title?

After a cracking start to this season Premiership, many people have been asking themselves, will this be the year that Liverpool finally challenge for top honours in the league. Over the past few years it has become increasingly apparent that Liverpool have been under achieving in the Premiership but perhaps over achieving in the Champions League by winning it in 2005 and finishing runners up in 2007.

It was no secret that Liverpool were on the look out for investors to try and bolster their squad and now that they have received this, they now look a threat. Liverpool fans weren't happy with just finishing third every season and having a good cup run here and there, they wanted the team to deliver in the league. Ever since Tom Hicks and George Gillet took over earlier this year it has been all change, with the club spending big on and off the pitch.

They have spent nearly 50 million pounds on new players and have also put up plans for a new state of the art stadium which can only be good for the club. The players they have signed all look very capable of performing in the Premiership and can hopefully give them a better chance of competing for top honours. The signing of Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid earlier in the summer sen out a message to both Chelsea and United that they were a force to be reckoned with this season and so it has proved in the first few games.

They have also signed Ryan Babel, who performed so highly at the European under-21 championships, but is he ready for the challenge that awaits? Also, Andrey Voronin who performed very well whilst playing for Bayern Laverkusen and in my view was one of the best bits of business of the summer costing Bentiez nothing.

They have picked up ten points from a possible twelve but perhaps should still have a 100% record this season if it hadn't of been for Rob Styles who gave a controversial penalty to Chelsea when they visited Anfield a couple of weeks ago. The performances against Derby and Sunderland were very impressive even if they were against newly premoted sides. They definitely have depth in numbers and if they can keep up this early season form then why shouldn't they challenge both Chelsea and United for the title?