Posts Tagged ‘ Manchester City ’

News In Brief: Keith Barry Predicts Mary-Lou May Join The Jam Tarters

The only surviving picture from earlier this year when Mary-Lou and Gerry got stuck on a fence (Image:belfasttelegraph.co.uk)

The only surviving picture from earlier this year when Mary-Lou and Gerry got stuck on a fence (Image:belfasttelegraph.co.uk)

 

NIB opens this week by wondering if Mary-Lou is still in the Dáil? What craic! Staging a sit in (if you didn’t see it, where were you?) so everyone else could have a long weekend, good girl Mary Lou! It’s not the first time she’s got stuck somewhere though, on a press outing with her Dear Leader Gerry she previously got stuck on a fence. Then there was the “swing incident”, the Henry Street Penneys Protest and the reports this time last year she’d positioned herself on a seat in an industrial estate in Swords, although strangely Sinn Fein deny that one. Most recent reports in the popular press have hinted Martin O’Neill is eyeing Mary-Lou for Ireland’s upcoming match, that’s if she’ll leave Leinster House. Continue reading

Martinez Denies Coleman Transfer Reports

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Everton manager Roberto Martinez has refuted claims that Manchester United are in advanced talks to sign Ireland defender Seamus Coleman.

The former Sligo Rovers right back has enjoyed a great season, scoring seven goals in the process.

Former Blues manager David Moyes is reportedly interested in bringing the 25-year-old to Old Trafford in the summer but Martinez revealed that he has never discussed the player’s availability with anyone. Continue reading

A Look At The Premier League Title Race

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This past weekend was relatively quiet on the Irish football front, with the only significant headline being that Linfield were eliminated from Irish Cup contention by Ballymena in a 2-1 match (you can read the match report at the Belfast Newsletter). But looking across the water it was a very busy and very significant weekend for the English Premier League. A few unexpected results have potentially shaken up the race at the top, so here’s a quick review of the impact matches from Week 25. Continue reading

Premier League Fixtures Released

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From Wikicommons, user: russavia.

With just 59 days to go until first kick-off, the fixture list for the 2013/14 season of the Barclays Premier League has been released, and whatever computer the League uses to draw the fixtures clearly hasn’t lost its mischievous side. Manchester United’s new manager David Moyes looks to have his work cut out for him; his side will face Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in their first five games. The clash with Chelsea will be the Scotsman’s first game in charge at Old Trafford and is a mouth-watering prospect considering it will be José Mourinho’s first return to Manchester as a Premier League manager, and Moyes’ first real test at United’s helm.

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Ronaldo Uncertainty Continues

Ronaldo vs Chelsea 2006. Source: Ray Booysen, Flickr

The saga of Cristiano Ronaldo has continued to rumble on, the latest ‘development’ being that the forward has confirmed on Facebook that any currently circulating news regarding his signing of an extension to his current contract is untrue. “All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false,” he said via the social networking site.

Many media outlets have taken this as a sign that Manchester United are once more in the running to secure the Portuguese star’s signature for the second time. Apparently the money is there (if not in United’s coffers then certainly in Nike’s, who would be undoubtedly happy to see one of the world’s most marketable players in their shirt), the history is is there and of course, the need is certainly there too.

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German Football Announces Itself With A Bang

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What have they been putting in the water in Germany this week, and where can we get our hands on some of that clearly magical substance?

It’s been another funny old week in European football. During Bayern Munich’s 4-0 humbling of Barcelona on Tuesday night, one of the commentators on TV3 said something to the effect that of all those who would be delighted with the Catalan’s rude awakening, chief amongst them would surely be Real Madrid. Fast forward 24 hours and Los Blancos and their supporters are undoubtedly a little quieter, having been on the receiving end of a 4-1 hiding of their own. It’s hard to believe that the two defeated Spanish sides are home to the top two players in the world.

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Bale Fighting To Face Manchester City

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Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas will certainly be considering playing Welsh winger Gareth Bale in Sunday’s big face off against Manchester City.

Bale has been out of the team since he was injured 15 days ago playing against Basle in the Europa League. Though initially feared he could have to sit out the rest of the season sitting on the sideline, the 23-year old has been back training with the first team for the past few days and could be fit again for the game on Sunday. “I am pretty confident [that Bale will be fit],” said AVB. “He’s made good progress from the beginning of the week to be training with the team so I think he will [be] definitely up for selection.”

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Manchester United Shouldn’t Celebrate Just Yet

Sir-Alex-FergusonAs Mark Halsey blew the whistle at Old Trafford on Sunday evening fans and journalists alike busied themselves with a proclamation concerning the end of Manchester City’s brief reign as champions of the Premier League. On the face of things, it’s hard to disagree. After all, United are 12 points clear at the top with Sir Alex Ferguson determined not to lose the title to the noisy neighbours for a second year in a row. And with Robin Van Persie still firing on all cylinders and continually proving that his last year at Arsenal was by no means the peak of his career, alongside the bolstering effect of Nemanja Vidic’s return at the back, it’s difficult to argue. If the momentum is with any team, it is with United. Continue reading

The Top Five Football Moments of 2012

twSo December 21st came and went, the earth didn’t fold in on itself and the world didn’t end, though if you are an Aston Villa fan, one could be forgiven for thinking that way. But for the rest of us the planet has stubbornly continued to spin and instead of humanity’s untimely doom we look forward to another year of football – hopefully as full of surprises, ecstatic triumphs and memorable moments as its predecessor. And so, in no particular order –

5. Lionel Messi surpasses Gerard Muller

Messi finishes 2012 with a remarkable haul of 91 goals, in the process breaking the 40-year-old record of Gerd Muller who in 1972 scored 85 goals in the calendar year. What can you say about Messi that hasn’t already been repeated infinitely by thousands of misty eyed fans and pundits? This is yet another boundary smashed by the young Argentinean; one which will surely add another stumbling block to the path of Cristiano Ronaldo as he keeps chasing his Barcelona rival for the as yet elusive title of the best player in the world.

4. Manchester City become noisier neighbours

Despite the fact that they had hundreds of millions sunk into the club since their wealthy Arab owners took over, silverware was still proving somewhat elusive for the blue half of Manchester, particularly the Premier League crown which would, amongst other things, force their rivals at Old Trafford to finally reset their infamous banner, counting the years since City last won a trophy. The 2011 FA Cup triumph was only the beginning and City battled hard to take the throne from United, and due to a combination of resilience, a remarkable collapse from the red half of Manchester and some serious last day drama courtesy of a late winner from Sergio Aguero against QPR, the trophy which had eluded the club since 1968 was finally back in their hands.

3. Fabrice Muamba unites football

Everyone’s heart went out to the former Bolton player when he suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed during the first half of a cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Bolton’s club doctor later revealed the severity of the situation; Muamba’s heart having stopped for 78 minutes. But two weeks later, pictures emerged of the player sitting up in hospital smiling. Though all Muamba wanted to do was get back on the pitch and start playing again, it wasn’t to be and on the 15th of August 2012 he announced he was retiring from the game, based on the advice of his medical staff. What we can all remember, however, is the reaction from fans and players alike all around the world; an immediate and immense outpouring of concern for the player which united football on a truly global scale.

2. Abramovich’s dream comes true

2012 was a year for big wins under somewhat surprising conditions, as Manchester City proved in early May and Chelsea highlighted not too long after. The latter stage of the blues’ journey to the Champions League final was quite impressive; beating Barcelona is no easy feat and Chelsea formed a wall around their goal as solid as concrete. Skip forward to the Allianz Arena on the 19th of May 2012 and their opponents were an impressive Bayern Munich side, on home turf, in the Champions League final. Bayern had control for much of the match and it appeared as if it was going to be just another one of those days for the blues, Muller taking the lead in the 83rd minute. Against the run of play, Didier Drogba scored just five minutes later, taking the game first into extra time, then to penalties, where all of Bayern’s hard work was undone, missing two key penalties and handing the initiative back to Chelsea as Drogba, taking his final touch for Chelsea, sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way to finally seal Roman Abramovich’s dreams of European glory.

1. Glory for the Bhoys

It’s not really surprising that Barcelona feature, in one way or another, three times in this list. But once again (sorry Barcelona) it is to highlight the impressive nature of any team which manages to beat their particular brand of flowing football. Mankind loves nothing better than an underdog. It’s why countless films are full of lesser people rising up and overcoming the odds stacked against them, why on shows like Survivor those who seem unlikely to win often receive a lion’s share of the support. These are people we can relate to, people like us, on our level, and we love them for trying for a share of the spoils. Football is no different. Which is why, when Celtic faced off against Barcelona, so many of us were silently or not so silently willing the Bhoys on. The stage had been set perfectly. Their first meeting with the Catalans in October had ended in a 2-1 defeat; Celtic had played with fire and heart, having taken the lead in the 18th minute through Samaras, though an equaliser on the stroke of half time and a late, late goal from Jordi Alba broke Scottish hearts. And in early November they faced Barcelona once more, a day after celebrating their 125th anniversary, and still hurting from a defeat in which they gave so much and took so little. The result, now, is emblazoned in history. But for a 91st minute Messi goal which briefly threatened another bitter disappointment, Celtic were 1-0 up and looking quite equal to arguably the greatest club team in the world, taking everything which was being thrown at them with verve and aplomb, and looking every bit as threatening each time they took their chance to break. And then, from a Fraser Forster kickout, that next bit of European magic happened, as Xavi missed his attempt at putting the ball back in Celtic’s half, as 18-year-old Tony Watt latched on to the ball and fired his way into the back of Victor Valdes’ net and Celtic’s history books. The stuff of legend.

*As with any football list there will be much arguing over what was and wasn’t included and why in particular this list is so very wrong. Please not this is a list rather than the list. Though 100 per cent correct all the same.

Away Teams to Perform This Weekend

Gareth Bale Aston Villa v Tottenham HotspurI allowed myself to be convinced by someone (who shall remain nameless but is my only brother) that Liverpool would win against Stoke on Stephen’s Day. I assure you I will not be listening to his dilettantish advice again and to make up for this pathetic blip, I have picked out some value bets and moulded them together to form another beautiful big odds accumulator.

At this stage, everybody is getting sick of the Benitez’s boo boys at Stamford Bridge. Obviously Roberto di Matteo was harshly treated but is it Rafa’s fault that the club is being run by a megalomaniac? I for one am glad that he has reformed the Chelsea side, David Luiz’s move away from the back four can only be positive and his footballing ability is slowly being nurtured in a defensive midfield role. He was quite impressive in his suffocation of Wes Hoolahan against Norwich and I think he could have a similar effect on the lively Steven Pienaar this weekend when his side face Everton. Strong at the back and equally impressive up front recently, Chelsea should record an away victory and are priced at 6/4 to do so.

Tottenham looked sensational on the break against Aston Villa on Wednesday with Gareth Bale in especially good form. They face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the early game on Saturday and hopefully they will kick off our accumulator, we’re going to back them at evens to come out on top.  The home side have been on some sort of a road to recovery with 3 wins in their last 4 outings, having beaten QPR, Southampton and remarkably Man City. However, Tottenham have had tasted success on the road many times this season and I fancy them to overrun their hosts and they are favourably priced to do so.

To complete the accumulator I’ve picked out Southampton to pull off a draw against Stoke at the Britannia. The home side, who have not lost on their own patch yet this season, will be weakened without their suspended captain Ryan Shawcross and right-back Geoff Cameron. Their skipper has been indispensable to the team this season, essential in holding their water-tight defence together with Robert Huth. He will be sorely missed as Stoke come up against Southampton’s danger man Rickie Lambert. I fancy the away side to earn a welcome point against draw-specialists Stoke, whose defensive absentees should not be underestimated. The draw is available at 5/2 and cranks up the overall odds of our big odds Accumulator to 16/1.