So Fabregas has spoke to Real Madrid

After weeks and months of speculation, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas has today admitted he has spoke with Spanish giants Real Madrid.

The Spanish international has been constantly linked with a move back to his homeland in recent months, with both Barcelona and Real Madrid keen on him.

Fabregas had this to say about the matter : "It's true the president of Real Madrid (Ramon Calderon) called me personally - we spoke on the phone,"

"But I never gave him my word that I was going to sign for Real Madrid. He asked about my progress and that was it
... It is an incredible compliment that two of the most important clubs in the world are interested in you, but I am an Arsenal player and have a contract with them until 2014."

Fabregas, 21, is still sidelined by a knee injury he picked up back in December, however the media spotlight certainly hasn't gone away from the Gunners skipper. It was alleged earlier this month that Fabregas spat at Hull City assistant manager Brian Horton in the immediate aftermath of Arsenal's 2-1 FA Cup victory over the Premier League strugglers.

Obviously Arsenal fans won't be too happy to see their most prized asset had been talking to one of Europe's elite. There is no doubt that Arsenal are a far better outfit when Fabregas is in the team and Arsene Wenger will certainly be doing his best to keep him once the summer comes. Despite what Fabregas says at the end about being under contract for another five years, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him leave the Emirates before the start of next season.

What do you think? Comments below please.


Do Liverpool really need Gareth Barry?

I ask this question after there were fresh reports in some newspapers today that Liverpool were ready to make a summer move for the Aston Villa midfielder.

Yes, after all last summer's constant speculation, Gareth Barry has once again been linked with a move to Anfield. After admitting earlier this year that he would leave Villa Park if Martin O'Neill's men didn't qualify for the Champions League this season (which now looks pretty certain), he has today been linked with a cut-price £8 million move to Merseyside.

The reason for the massive decrease in his price-tag is the fact that his contract is due to expire at the end of next season. We all know that Reds boss Rafa Benitez is a big admirer of Barry's, however does he really need another central midfield player at the club.

My personal response to that would be no.

Benitez already has three quality central midfielders to chose from in the shape of Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano. He also has the likes of Lucas and Damien Plessis if he is really stuck, so bringing Barry to the club would just be a waste of money.

There's no denying Barry is one of the best midfielders currently plying his trade in the Premier League, but is he better than the three currently filling the midfield for Liverpool at the moment? I don't think so.

What do you think? Should Benitez do all he can to bring Barry to the club or should he spend his money elsewhere? Comments below please.


England striker claims Liverpool defender deliberately kicked him

England striker Peter Crouch has today claimed Slovakia and Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel deliberately kicked him during last night's friendly at Wembley.

Crouch, who of course, used to play with Skrtel during his days at Anfield had this to say about the incident : "I went up with Skrtel. I thought he was my mate to be honest, but obviously not ... I went up with him and he kicked out and gave me a dead leg."

Crouch is now a major doubt for England's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine on Wednesday night after picking up that dead leg. As we all know, England ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in last nights match and to be honest with you, I feel Skrtel's actions may have been more out of frustration than anything.

It's a shame that such an incident has occurred but these things happen in football.


Could you imagine seeing Ronaldo in this?

This may be the new home kit of Premier League Champions Manchester United.

My first impression of the jersey was : "God, it's very plain".

After looking at it for a bit, I have grown to quite like it. I am big into originality when it comes to kit designs and I think this jersey certainly has bags of that. It will be interesting to see if this is, in fact, the finished article when it comes to United eventually revealing their home kit for the 2009/2010 season. If I was guessing, I would say it is the real thing, however only time will tell.

United winger Cristiano Ronaldo certainly seems to like the jersey.

What do you think about the jersey? Like it or hate it? Comments below please.


Is Gerrard really the best player in the Premier League? Benitez certainly thinks so

Over the last two Premier League games, there is no denying that Steven Gerrard has been head and shoulders above anyone in the league, however over the course of the season, has the 28-year old done enough to be crowned PFA Player of the Year?

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez certainly thinks so.

The Spaniard had this to say : "He would be my vote. If he can continue playing at this level, then why not? ... For me, Stevie is one of the best players in the world. To say one is the best above anyone else is difficult because there are a lot of quality players about but he is one of the best. That is clear."

His performances against Manchester United and Aston Villa respectively, were quite frankly, world class. There is no doubt that come the end of the season, when players have to vote for their Player of the Season, Gerrard will certainly be on quite a number of the ballots, however will he get enough votes to be crowned Player of the Year?

Before the United game two weeks ago, the only name really being mentioned to take the award was Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic. It just goes to show you how quickly things can change in football. On one hand you have Vidic, who had a nightmare of a game before eventually being sent off and on the other hand you have Gerrard who plays incredibly well and is automatically considered by many the Player of the Season.

Personally, I would agree with Rafa that Gerrard is the best in the league at the moment and if he continues this kind of form, how could he miss out.

So will Gerrard be the man to take the award come the end of May or will it be Vidic, or anyone else for the matter, to take the award? Comments below please.


Three months now since the £32.5 million man scored a goal ... a lot has happened since then

December 28th 2008.

That was the last time Manchester City striker Robinho scored a goal for the world's richest club. Since then, a lot of things have happened.

Barack Obama became the first black president of America.

A plane landed in the Hudson River in New York.

Josef Fritzel was sentenced to life in prison.

So just what has happened to the little Brazilian?

Well since his last goal at Ewood Park back at Christmas, the 25-year old has been accused of assault, stormed out of a training camp in Tenerife to go home and celebrate his birthday and has, in turn completely destroyed the team-spirit at Eastlands.

Other than that it has been business as usual for the former Real Madrid man. Robinho has continued to frustrate his City team-mates with that horrible attitude of his. Maybe the arrival of Craig Bellamy in January has had something to do with his poor run of form.

Just weeks after Bellamy's arrival at the club, it was reported in several papers that the pair had had a bust-up following the side's 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth last month. The Welsh international denied the claims, however Robinho never said anything.

There is no doubt that Robinho is very temperamental. If things don't go his way he is always quick to spit the dummy out and that is evident in the Bellamy case.

Robinho doesn't want to be at City. Simple as that. He spends every game moaning and traipsing around the field looking completely uninterested when the ball isn't around him. As my dad would say : "He is doing everything half-heartily".


The title race is well and truely back on

That is most definitely the case after Liverpool beat Aston Villa 5-0 at Anfield this afternoon.

A Steven Gerrard hat-trick ensured Liverpool moved to within a point of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table. Following Saturday's result at Craven Cottage, Rafa Benitez' men knew a win would put them right back in the title race and thankfully for the Merseyside club, they did just that.

Many people (including myself) had questioned whether or not anyone could get even close to Sir Alex Ferguson's United just eight days ago, however since then Liverpool have gone on to record two massive victories whilst United haven't claimed a single point.

With just eight games to go now, Liverpool certainly have the momentum over United, however the men from Old Trafford do have a game in hand which could prove crucial in deciding where the title ends up come the end of May.

Although I have always maintained that United will eventually claim the title this season, I don't think Liverpool are a bad bet at 11/4 with most bookmakers. So who's your money on? Leave your comments below.

Over the past few weeks, Football Corner has been running a poll asking you, the reader, who you thought would finish 2nd in the Premier League this season (on the assumption United would finish 1st). Well now that Liverpool have forced their way back into the reckoning, we have decided to start a new poll (which can be found at the top right of the site). It asks : Who will win the Premier League this season? Place your votes now.


Newcastle heading for the Championship?

It certainly looks that way.

After yet another Premier League defeat, Newcastle United look as though they could be heading for the Championship. With just eight games to go, the Magpies currently sit 18th in the league, two points behind Blackburn in 17th and with a very tricky run-in to come, I would not be at all surprised to see them relegated.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham are all still to come for Chris Hughton's men (well, Joe Kinnear's men really). In all probability, they will take

People say Newcastle are simply 'too good to go down', however I would have to disagree with that. If you look at it on paper, yes, they are too good to go down. They have players like Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Alan Smith, who would easily walk into several sides in the league.

The situation with the manager can't be helping the players. Hughton is currently in charge whilst Kinnear recovers from heart surgery and for me, I feel the club should have appointed someone else once Kinnear became ill. Since Kinnear has left, Newcastle have won just one game. No matter what way you look at it, that is not good. It will be fascinating to see how this one pans out over the next few weeks and months.

What do you think will happen? Will Newcastle be relegated? Have your say by leaving a comment below.


City Given UEFA Cup lifeline

Shay Given proved to be the hero of the night for Manchester City as they progressed to the last eight of the UEFA Cup. The Premier League side were beaten 2-0 on the night by Danish side Aalborg, however it was City who prevailed on the night, winning 4-3 on penalties.

All in all, City were lucky to go through on the night. Mark Hughes' side looked truly awful for all 120 minutes of the game and there is no doubt they will need to improve of tonight's display if they want to go all the way to Istanbul.

The performance of Brazilian striker Robinho was particularly poor. The former Real Madrid man looked disinterested from the off and it came as no surprise to me to see him substituted at the beginning of extra-time.


Has Cesc Fabregas just lost a whole heap of fans?

It's got everyone in football talking. Did Cesc Fabregas spit at Hull City assistant manager Brian Horton?

The alleged incident occurred just after Arsenal had booked their place in the last 4 of the FA Cup with a 2-1 victory over Phil Brown's Hull.

Fabregas, who of course wasn't playing in the match due to his long-term knee injury, has been accused of spitting at Horton, who was walking down the tunnel at the time. The Spanish international has categorically denied the accusation by saying : "I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing?"

Fabregas' comments came after Brown had this to say : "I was there and I witnessed it, he spat at my assistant manager down the tunnel ... That is their club captain, hopefully he is proud of himself. He spat at his feet."

I have to say I was shocked to hear Brown make such allegations after the match. He was clearly upset that his side had missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and maybe he made the allegations in the heat of the moment, however seeing Hull's chairman and indeed Horton say what they have today makes me think it might be true. I have always admired Fabregas, simply because I feel he is an incredible talent, however if it is proved that he did, in fact spit at Horton, he would certainly lose a lot of respect from myself and I'm guessing a lot of you reading this.

What do you think? Comments below please.


From Barca to Ipswich via Spurs ... where did it all go wrong for Gio?

Where did it all go wrong for Giovani Dos Santos?

Less than 12 months ago, the Mexican international scored a hat-trick in Barcelona's final game of the 2007/2008 La Liga season. Now, Dos Santos finds himself at Portman Road, with Championship side Ipswich.

To say the 19-year old spent an unsuccessful time at White Hart Lane would be a massive understatement. Tottenham signed Dos Santos for a fee which could eventually rise to £8.6 million, however Harry Redknapp rarely played the attacking midfielder and decided earlier this month to loan him out to Jim Magilton's Ipswich.

Dos Santos made his debut for the Tractor Boys on Saturday, when coming on as a second-half substitute in the side's 1-0 win over Reading. So where on earth did it all go wrong for the player who was considered by many to be the next big thing during his time at Barca?

I suspect it was the move to Spurs that killed his career. He should have just stayed at the Camp Nou, developed his game there and then maybe moved to the greatest league in the world, the Premier League. What do you think? Comments below please.


Draw does little to help either Boro or Pompey in their quest for survival

As the old saying goes, it was a six-pointer at the Riverside this afternoon and unfortunately for both sides, the game ended in a draw.

Yes, both Middlesbrough and Portsmouth remain right, slap bang in the middle of a relegation dog fight after they drew 1-1 this afternoon. It's a three points which Gareth Southgate or Paul Hart could have really used right now, however both will have to be satisfied with a single point after the hosts came from a goal down to leave the visitors to contemplate what might have been.

Boro now face an uphill task to maintain their Premier League status with just nine games to go. They currently sit 19th in the league, two points behind Pompey in 17th and with difficult trips to Stoke City and Bolton coming up next, it would take a brave man to predict Boro will survive.

Meanwhile, Pompey also have a massive fight on their hands to stay up this season, with the south coast club only evading the relegation zone on goal difference. They, too have a difficult fixtures coming up with the likes of Everton and Arsenal still to visit Fratton Park in the run-in.

There is no doubt both sides will be there or there abouts come the end of May, but who do you think will eventually be relegated? Here are my selections and I would like to see who you think will go down (Just copy and paste my format and then leave it as a comment)

18. Middlesbrough
19. Stoke City
20. West Brom


It was an incredible result alright, but has Liverpool's victory done anything to stop United cruising to the title?

I think not.

What do you think? Manchester United and Liverpool fans, I am keen to hear what you have to say about today's game and what implications it may have on the final destination of this season's Premier League title. Comments below please.


Manchester City for the UEFA Cup?

With one foot already in the quarter-finals after an impressive 2-0 home win over Danish side Aalborg, why can't Manchester City go on to lift the UEFA Cup this season?

They are now the bookies favourites for the competition (4/1 with Football Corner's good friend Paddy Power), yet I have heard very few people mention them as serious contenders for the trophy. Before the tournament started, all the talk was about the likes of AC Milan and Valencia who were considered shoe-ins to lift the trophy come May considering their previous Champions League experience.

Well, both of those sides are out now, and a side as good as Man City should be looking to take full advantage.

Many people have claimed that City haven't got a hope of winning it if they keep performing so badly away from Eastlands and I would tend to agree with that, however some of City's results in Europe have been tremendous this season. The 2-0 away win over Bundesliga side Schalke certainly stands out and I think if Mark Hughes' men can perform like that whenever they leave the country, they will have few problems.

If you look at it on paper, City definitely have a squad capable of winning the tournament. They have Shay Given in goal, who is undoubtedly one of the best keepers in Europe at the moment. The ever reliable pairing of Vincent Kompany and Stephen Ireland in the centre of midfield. And finally, a partnership up front which most Champions League sides would love in Craig Bellamy and Robinho.

So why can't City go all the way to Istanbul this year and win the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club's history? Comments below please.


Arsenal progress after epic penalty shoot-out

Arsenal have tonight progressed to the last eight of the Champions League after they beat Italian side AS Roma 7-6 on penalties. Arsene Wenger's men lost 1-0 in normal time, which meant the game went to extra-time due to the Gunners 1-0 win at the Emirates a fortnight ago. After a goalless extra-time, Arsenal's penalty takers held their nerve before Max Tonetto's effort sailed over the bar which meant the Premier League side progress.

Arsenal now become the fourth English team through to next Friday's draw for the quarter-finals. Share your thoughts on tonight's game by leaving a comment below.


Fergie Master Minds United's safe passage into last eight of the Champions League

On the day that Ruby Walsh steered Master Minded to Queen Mother success at Cheltenham, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson guided his side into the last eight of the Champions League.

The Champions League Champions saw off Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan 2-0 at Old Trafford, which was more the enough to see them through after a goalless draw in Italy a fortnight ago. Goals from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo ensured United kept alive their dreams of an unprecedented quintuple.

In truth, United's progress never looked in doubt apart from a ten minute spell before the break when Inter had several chances to put the ball beyond Edwin Van Der Sar in the United goal. The biggest dissappointment of the night for me was how bad Zlatan Ibrahimovic played.

I must admit, I don't watch that much Serie A football so I don't know if this is the case every weekend, but the Swedish international was truely awful. Every pass he made went astray, every shot he took went miles wide. What did you make of United's performance tonight? Leave your comments below.


Bayern beat Sporting 12-1 on aggregate

Crazy .........


If only Liverpool could do that in the Premier League

No two ways about it, Liverpool were outstanding.

In the end, Rafa Benitez' men ran out 4-0 winners over Spanish giants Real Madrid at Anfield this evening, 5-0 on aggregate, to comfortably progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Liverpool simply destroyed the side that currently sit 2nd in La Liga, which begs the question, why can't they beat sides like Middlesbrough in the Premier League?

On the night, Liverpool played so well, they made a good side look ... well crap to be honest. Fernando Torres one of his finest displays in a Liverpool shirt against the side he locked horns with so many times during his days at Atletico Madrid.

If Liverpool were to perform anything like they did this evening, I could honestly see them taking something from Old Trafford on Saturday, when they face the Champions elect Manchester United however I think it will be a long time before we see another performance of that calibre from the Merseyside club. What do you think? Leave your comments below.


Now that was more like the Arsenal of old

Ok it was only Championship side Burnley, but today's performance from Arsenal was simply outstanding.

Arsene Wenger's men ran out 3-0 winners at the Emirates this afternoon, but in truth in could have been six or seven. Arsenal have come in for a lot of stick lately (most of it deserved) however today's display will have gone a long way to quietening their biggest critics.

All three goals were superb. Carlos Vela's sublime dink over Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal to open the scoring followed by Eduardo's stunning volley just after the break summed the Gunners up today. Emmanuel Eboue even got in on the act with a powerful finish from all of 16-yards to ensure Arsenal's safe passage through to the quarter-final's of the FA Cup.

We all know that Arsenal have lacked that killer instinct up front this season, so I was really impressed to see them stick three past a side who have done remarkably well this season. Even with several first team players rested for the game today, Wenger's side looked great in every aspect of their play. I for one, hope that they can carry this kind of form into their next game, which will undoubtedly be a stiffer test against Roma on Wednesday evening.

Share your views on Arsenal's performance today by leaving a comment below.


Jose Mourinho : I'm certainly good enough to replace Sir Alex at Old Trafford

There is only one man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford and thankfully, that man has admitted he would be interested in the job when it becomes available.

Yes, former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has today failed to rule out the possibility of one day joining Manchester United, claiming he would certainly be good enough to do so. Ever since his departure from the Premier League back in 2007, Mourinho has never hidden his desire to someday return to the country were he is now more commonly known as The Special One.

The Portuguese native had this to say on the matter : "If you want me to rule out ever being Manchester United manager I can’t. Special clubs need special managers so in theory it could work, but nobody knows what the future is in football."

"The England national team wanted me as coach and that is the biggest job in England, so I am sure when Sir Alex retires they will look at the best managers in the world and I certainly fall into that category."

One thing you can definitely take from these comments is the fact that Mourinho certainly hasn't lost any of his self-confidence. Love him or loath him, you can't deny that the Premier League hasn't really been the same without him over the past 18 months or so and I think the sooner he comes back, the better. I do feel it will be some time before he has any chance of taking over at United because Fergie isn't thinking about to retiring just yet and why would he with his side unbelievably playing so well.


Wenger isn't going anywhere

"I am contracted until 2011 and until 2011 I do not envisage to go anywhere else."

That was the message from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after he was asked about the possibility of him leaving the Emirates. It was reported in several papers this morning that Manchester City were lining up a summer move for Wenger, who has seen his side drift out of contention for major honours this season, however the Frenchman has now stated his desire to stay in North London.

"I have never allowed anyone to question my commitment to this club, in the good and in the bad times, that has not changed in my mind ... They (Manchester City) have a very good manager in Mark Hughes. He is doing a good job. They have to keep confidence in him."

Tuesday's 3-1 victory over West Brom saw Arsenal close the gap to just three points on 4th placed Aston Villa and for me, I feel it's only a matter of time before the Gunners catch Martin O'Neill's men. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that he is a cracking manager and I personally think Arsenal would struggle without him so I'm sure the large majority of fans will be delighted to se these comments.

What do you think about this news? Happy, sad, not sure? Leave your comments below.


So Cristiano Ronaldo will still be a Man United player next season

That's the opinion of our readers anyway. Yes, after just over a week of voting, you, the reader, have voted that Cristiano Ronaldo will still be a Manchester United player when the 2009/2010 season starts.

The Portuguese international has been strongly linked with a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid in recent months, despite the 24-year old claiming he is happy in Manchester. Here is a full result of the poll :

Manchester United - 25 votes (41%)
Real Madrid - 22 votes (36%)
Manchester City - 7 votes (11%)
Other - 6 votes (10%)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted and I would encourage all of you to vote in our latest poll (which can be found on the top right of the site). The poll asks : Who will finish 2nd in the Premier League this season? Get voting now.


Aston Villa beginning to show signs of nerves

Aston Villa have done remarkably well this season no matter what way you look at it. Martin O'Neill's men currently sit 4th in the Premier League, six points ahead of Arsenal in 5th who are considered by many as there only challenger for that final Champions League spot.

Before the season started, few would have predicted that Villa would be lying just ten points off the top of the table at the beginning of March. Some of their results this season have been simply outstanding. The 2-0 victory over Arsene Wenger's Arsenal certainly springs to mind, however as well as they have done, they still aren't guaranteed 4th spot.

Their last two Premier League results have been disappointing to say the least. The 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea and more recently, the 2-2 draw with Stoke City at Villa Park has left people questioning their ability to stay in the top 4.

It was very interesting to hear what O'Neill had to say after Sunday's defeat against Stoke (the game in which his side conceded two late goals to basically hand Tony Pulis' side a point). "With five minutes to go you should be able to see a game out. For the first time today I thought there was a degree of overconfidence about us." I have always been a fan of Martin's and I was happy to see that he said this. He didn't talk any crap like the majority of managers in England do, he simply gave his honest opinion of his side's performance on the day.

With just 11 games to go, it is obviously vital that Villa don't drop any more stupid points like they did yesterday. It will be intriguing to see how Villa react to Sunday's result when they travel to Manchester City on Wednesday, who are certainly no push-overs at home. I for one hope Villa do manage to hold onto that final Champions League spot, however I think they will find it very difficult to do so if Arsenal manage to put together a run of form between now and May.