Rams to bag Motherwell´s Porter

English Championship strugglers Derby were Saturday set to complete the signing of Motherwell striker Chris Porter, who had been in line for a move to Cardiff before the Rams expressed interest.

Derby are believed to have agreed a fee of 400,000 pounds (450,000 euros) with Motherwell.

“He’s been a terrific player for us and I told him that,” Well boss Mark McGhee told the Scottish Sun of the 25-year-old. “It’s been a pleasure having him here. He has got a great attitude, he’s a good pro and he is ambitious.

“The move’s not been fully processed yet, but we’ve agreed a deal with Derby and he’s agreed his personal terms and had his medical.”

Porter joined Motherwell from Oldham on a free transfer in July 2007 and netted 18 goals in his debut season to help his new club finish third in the league.

This season, he has hit the target nine times.

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Hammers loan Julien Faubert to Real

Real Madrid confirmed Saturday they had taken French midfielder Julien Faubert on loan to the end of the season.

Real said they had an option to buy the 25-year-old if he impresses between now and June, adding he would be officially unveiled on Monday.

Faubert, who has one French cap to date, played for Cannes and then Bordeaux before heading to East London in 2007 – but an Achilles tendon rupture kept him sidelined shortly afterwards and he has not featured this season.

West Ham said the Spaniards would pay 1.5 million euros for the loan deal while AS sports daily put a future transfer fee at six million, around two million less than they paid Bordeaux for his services.

Real boss Juande Ramos has also been tracking Wigan’s Ecuadorian star Luis Antonio Valencia.

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Beattie takes Stoke out of the relegation zone

James Beattie lifted 10-man Stoke out of the relegation zone as his first-half header clinched a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Saturday.

Tony Pulis’s side looked up against it when Rory Delap was sent off following a clash with Shaun Wright-Phillips at the Britannia Stadium.

But Beattie struck soon after Delap’s departure to end Stoke’s miserable run of 11 games without a win stretching back to November and provide a timely boost in their battle for Premier League survival.

It was a familiar story for City, who once again failed to turn their possession into goals and remain without an away win since August.

The vistors were on top for long periods and Robinho, who scored a hat-trick against Stoke earlier this season, was quickly into his stride with a delicate angled chip that almost deceived Thomas Sorensen.

Mark Hughes’ team should have taken the lead when Stephen Ireland, unmarked in yards of space, volleyed wide from the edge of the box.

A flowing move from the visitors cut through Stoke’s defence with ease midway through the half, but Robinho belied his status as City’s leading scorer with a woeful scuffed shot that trickled straight to Sorensen.

Stoke worked hard to get the visitors onto the back foot and a long throw from allowed Ryan Shawcross to get in a header that just cleared the bar.

Another trademark rocket throw from Delap brought Joe Hart into action as he rose to pluck a Shawcross back-flick from under the bar.

The match seemed to have swung in City’s favour in the 38th minute when referee Martin Atkinson sent off Delap following an ugly clash.

Wright-Phillips started the melee when he lunged in on Etherington. As Wright-Phillips moved away with the ball, Delap chased him and tripped the winger from behind, compounding the offence by appearing to kick the ball at the England winger.

Furious City players rushed to remonstrate with Delap, while Wright-Phillips appeared to kick out at Delap. Atkinson finally brought an end to the chaos by dismissing Delap, but Stoke made light of their numerical disadvantage to snatch the lead in first half stoppage time.

Matty Etherington looped a cross over from the left wing and Beattie was able to pull clear of Wayne Bridge and bury a header past Hart.

It was the first time Stoke had scored at home since late November and they were determined not to surrender the advantage.

Hughes sent on Brazilian midfielder Elano early in the second half but Stoke managed to frustrate the visitors with some resolute defending.

With Robinho an increasingly subdued figure, Craig Bellamy tried to lift City but his shot on the turn drifted wide.

City appealed for a penalty when Micah Richards fell under Andy Griffin’s challenge but Atkinson said no and Stoke survived.

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Raul admits Champions League is realistic target

Real Madrid captain Raul is looking for the goal that will take him level with the great Alfredo di Stefano as the club’s all-time leading scorer when Real travel to Numancia on Saturday.

Raul scored his 306th goal last weekend and has the chance to equal di Stefano’s mark and help Real cut Barcelona’s lead at the top to 12 points.

“At the moment maybe it is easier to win a tenth European Cup than the league when you consider that Barca’s form is not dipping,” explained Raul.

“It’s not impossible to overcome a deficit of 12 points, but if they (Barca) don’t lose points it is not going to be possible to catch them.”

While Raul has iconic status at Real, Dutch winger Roysten Drenthe is finding out how demanding the fans can be after being jeered when he came on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last Sunday.

“Sunday was the worst day of my career so far,” confessed the 21-year-old Drenthe.

“I understand the fans to a certain extent because I am not playing to the same level I was before but I am trying.”

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is another Dutchman finding the going tough at Madrid and is still waiting for his first Real goal since joining from Ajax for 20 million euros in January.

Barcelona travel to face Racing Santander on Sunday targeting a ninth consecutive victory to fend off Real who have put some pressure on with five straight league wins.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta recently accused Real of using the media to try and unsettle the pacesetters with reports about Lionel Messi switching to Madrid.

Messi seems unperturbed by the rumours and scored twice in the 4-1 thrashing over Numancia last time out.

“He should be left in peace, so he can focus on training,” said coach Pep Guardiola.

“He looks better than ever. He’s the owner of his future, he just needs to know that this is his home and we’ll give him whatever help is necessary.”

Barcelona’s firepower has blown away teams this season and their three-pronged attack of Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry has scored a combined 45 goals – more than the entire Real Madrid team.

Barcelona need just two goals to make it 5,000 in the league but they are playing a Racing team that defeated high-flying Sevilla 2-0 last time out.

Serbian target-man Nikola Zigic has revitalised Racing since rejoining them on loan from Valencia and his 6ft 8in presence could cause Barcelona’s backline a few headaches.

Valencia slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Real Mallorca prompting coach Unai Emery to admit that he was to blame for the loss rather than the players.

Valencia sit fourth, four points behind Sevilla, with Emery hoping for a boost when his old side Almeria visit the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday.

Sevilla, three points behind Real, are at Sporting Gijon and Italian midfielder Enzo Maresco says his team are sometimes too worried about the threat posed by the opposition.

“You have to have respect for your opponents but it is them that have to watch out for us,” Maresca explained.

Atletico Madrid have yet to win in 2009 but are still only two points off the final Champions League spot going into Sunday’s home match with Valladolid.

Atletico coach Javier Aguirre desperately needs a win to ease the growing pressure but Uruguayan forward Diego Forlan says the players must take responsibility for the slump.

“It is the players out there on the pitch,” said Forlan. He (Aguirre) doesn’t play in the match.”

Fixtures

Saturday

Athletic Bilbao v Malaga, Numancia v Real Madrid

Sunday

Atletico Madrid v Valladolid, Real Betis v Getafe, Deportivo La Coruna v Villarreal, Espanyol v Recreativo Huelva, Racing Santander v Barcelona, Sporting Gijon v Sevilla, Valencia v Almeria, Osasuna v Real Mallorca

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Spurs blow as Defoe sidelined

Tottenham face being without striker Jermain Defoe for the rest of the season with a suspected broken bone in his foot suffered in training, The Times newspaper reported on Saturday.

A Tottenham spokesman had overnight confirmed Defoe was receiving treatment for a foot injury suffered Thursday- but it was initially thought the forward, brought back to White Hart Lane earlier this month from Portsmouth, might only be out for a month.

Instead, The Times said the metatarsal injury apeared more serious than that and the news will now fuel speculation that the Londoners, who have spent much of the season in a drop zone over which they now have just a three-point cushion, may seek to prise Robbie Keane back from Liverpool.

Irishman Keane has failed to hold down a regular place at Anfield since his summer move from Spurs for 20 million pounds and he was left out of Benitez’s squad for the FA Cup clash with Everton last Sunday.

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Manchester United to face Everton

Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United have the edge over Liverpool in the title run in as Alex Ferguson’s side look to pull away at the top of the Premier League table this weekend.

Having replaced faltering Liverpool at the summit, United will move five points clear of nearest rivals Chelsea and Liverpool if they defeat Everton at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool, who have drawn seven of their last 10 league outings, entertain Chelsea on Sunday in the biggest fixture of the weekend.

By then, Ferdinand is hoping that United, currently two points clear with a game in hand over Benitez’s side, will have opened up a significant gap at the top as they eye a third successive title.

Ferdinand believes that United’s experience of winning the Premier League will help them in the run-in.

But the England defender is taking nothing for granted. “It is easier when you have got experienced players in your camp, the likes of (Ryan) Giggs, (Paul) Scholes, players who have won the league before,” said Ferdinand.

“There is the experience in there and maybe that is the edge we have got on the other teams, that we’ve got the experience of older pros who have been there.

“But the important thing is you’ve got to get momentum.

“If you’ve got momentum going into the last few games of the season, then you are in a good position to strike then. That counts a lot.

“We love the pressure of playing in big pressure games but everyone would tell you they’d rather win it by 10-20 points but it doesn’t happen like that.

“You never get anything easy in life but you’ve got to work hard and we know that.”

Everton’s Australian international Tim Cahill heads for Old Trafford eyeing another century of goals after notching his 100th career strike in midweek.

Cahill reached the landmark when he opened the scoring against Arsenal in midweek although David Moyes’s side had to settle for a point after Robin Van Persie scored a last minute equaliser for the Gunners.

Everton go into their toughest fixture of the campaign unbeaten in nine games and with an FA Cup replay against neighbours Liverpool to follow next Wednesday.

Yet Belgium international Marouane Fellaini believes that Everton’s recent good form will help them get a result at Old Trafford.

“It was awful to give the goal away on Wednesday and we are so disappointed,” said Fellaini.

“But we’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us. We are a good side — we have shown that on many occasions — and we are capable of going to Old Trafford to get a good result.

“It is never easy when you go to a place like that but this is a chance for us to show what we are made of and I’m sure the boys want to put things right.

“We proved what we can do against Arsenal, so why can’t we play the same way in Manchester? We hope to win but the main thing is to keep working hard.”

Sat 31 January, 2009
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N´Zogbia gets Wigan move in swap deal

French wideman Charles N’Zogbia on Saturday appeared to have successfully engineered a move away from relegation-haunted Newcastle after the club agreed to a swap deal with Wigan for defender Ryan Taylor, the BBC reported.

N’Zogbia, 22, vowed Thursday he would never play for Newcastle again under Joe Kinnear, accusing the latter of insulting him by apparently forgetting his name in a television interview.

Kinnear appeared to forget N’Zogbia’s surname during a television interview on Wednesday night, twice calling him “Insomnia” before finally settling for “Charlie”.

N’Zogbia’s agent Franck Peslerbe told The Times newspaper the player would be “very angry” at Kinnear’s treatment of him, adding: “It is clear that Charles will feel that he has no future at the club.”

N’Zogbia joined Newcastle in 2004 from French club Le Havre but last season had suggested he wanted a move to Arsenal.

Taylor, 24, was out of contract at Wigan in the summer.

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Datolo proud of Napoli move

Argentine star Jesus Datolo admits he is ‘proud of his choice’ to join Italian side Napoli.

Napoli have officially completed the £6m signing of the Boca Juniors star, who arrived in Milan last night.

“I am so proud of this choice,” said Datolo. “I have not yet spoken to [Diego Armando] Maradona, but I did speak with [Ezequiel] Lavezzi and [German] Denis.

“They told me all about Napoli and its passionate fans. I am very happy, as I’m going to play for the team that had Maradona.

“I hope to wear this shirt as I make it into the Argentina squad. I cannot wait to get on the field.”

The 24-year-old midfielder will be presented to the fans will be presented to the fans today.

[Source: Tuttosport]

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Anelka hails United manager

Chelsea ace Nicolas Anelka believes Sir Alex Ferguson is the difference between them and Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

Anelka is impressed with the way Ferguson is working at Old Trafford.

The France international told The Sun: “United don’t have a notably better or more complete squad than Chelsea or Liverpool.

“But Ferguson is so smart and so impressive.

“He keeps spotting and signing precisely the right players to complement what he already has and give balance to his squad.

“Then, what is massively important and difficult, Ferguson somehow teaches them to understand and demonstrate the special spirit of his club.

“He has been there doing it for a long time. But he keeps on succeeding.”

[Source: The Sun]

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Lampard could have quit Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has admitted that he is ready to quit Stamford Bridge in the summer.

The England international was strongly linked with a move to Italian giants Inter Milan.

“Last season, I was in a daze, I couldn’t think of anything else and, strangely, that makes it easier to play because you have a one track mind, no highs and lows,” said Lampard to the Daily Mail.

“At one time last summer I was looking to move.

“I just couldn’t accept the idea of playing at Chelsea without looking up and seeing Mum in the stand. Even now it is a huge gap in my life and very hard to handle.

“There were a lot of things that we used to do together, go to Harrods for tea, go to a certain restaurant, so suddenly there were shops I couldn’t walk into, all sorts of things from which I needed to get away. I thought: ‘I can’t live like this; I’ve got to leave London’.

“That wasn’t the answer, though.

“No disrespect to Inter Milan, they are a great club and everybody knows what I think of Jose Mourinho, but if I had gone it would have been for the wrong reasons. It would have been because of Mum.”

[Source: Daily Mail]

Sat 31 January, 2009
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