Faubert in shock Real Madrid switch

West Ham midfielder Julian Faubert is reportedly in talks with Spanish giant Real Madrid over a proposed loan switch deal, according to BBC Sport.

The French midfielder has been given permission to talk to Madrid by the Hammers, after failing to secure a first-team place following his £6 million move from Bordeaux.

Reports in Spain claim that Faubert has already signed with Real Madrid, moving on loan to the club until June for a fee of £1.5 million with the option of making the move permanant in the summer for 6 million euros.

However, West Ham are claiming that the deal is still in the negotiation stage with Chief Executive Scott Duxbury telling press that the midfielder does not feature in Zola’s plans for the remainder of the season.

Duxbury said: “I was first contacted by Madrid on Friday and after extensive negotiations, we have agreed in principle a deal that would see them paying us a £1.5m fee to take Julien until the end of the season.

“His long-term future would then be reviewed in the summer, with a significant transfer fee payable should Madrid want to take up their option.

“If Julien does go on loan, then we will look to quickly bring in a replacement.

“Julien has struggled to get into Gianfranco Zola’s team this season and, despite the high hopes we had for him when he joined us 18 months ago, he has not had the best of times.

“He had asked the manager about a possible move and we felt it right to let him talk to Real Madrid. If it does not happen, then we will of course welcome Julien back into the squad.

Faubert joined the Hammers in the summer of 2007 following a £6 million move from Bordeaux, but ruptured an achilles tending during a pre-season friendly that summer ruling the Frenchmen out until January. Since then he has only made 27 appearances due to continuing injury and poor form at Upton Park and was widely expected to leave during the transfer window.

Source: BBC Sport

Sat 31 January, 2009
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Premier League Predictions – United to turn the screw?

Saturday 31st January 2009

  • Arsenal v West Ham
  • Despite being much maligned, Arsenal have lost just three of their last seventeen league games. In fact, they are unbeaten in nine. The problem is, that they have drawn four of those nine. They seem to be almost entirely reliant on pieces of magic from Robin Van Persie. He badly needs his team-mates to offer him some support.

    West Ham had a really dodgy spell under Gianfranco Zola but are now unbeaten in seven games, winning six of them. They played some great stuff against Hull the other night and in Di Michele and Carlton Cole they have a strike force at the top of their game.

    This could be another difficult afternoon for the Wenger boys.

    SoccerNews prediction: 1-1

  • Aston Villa v Wigan
  • Aston Villa have opened up a five point gap to fifth placed Arsenal and ten points over sixth placed Everton. They are in a wonderful position to make a serious challenge for a Champions League place. In order to do that, they need to win games like this one.

    Wigan got a well deserved draw against Liverpool during the week to end a two game losing sequence. They may have to face their old boy Emile Heskey who will be desperate to make it two in two for his new club, but if the cameo performance by his replacement Hugo Rodallega the other night is anything to go by, Wigan might not miss the big man too much.

    The way Villa are grinding out results it is difficult to see anything than another three points for them.

    SoccerNews prediction: 2-1

  • Bolton v Tottenham
  • Two teams who got decent results in midweek but who both sit just three points above the relegation places.

    Bolton got a draw at Blackburn but have only won once in their last nine games.

    Tottenham dismissed Stoke with ease on Tuesday but they have only won three of their last twelve in all competitions.

    I suspect this one could be close but I fancy Redknapp’s men to nick it near the end.

    SoccerNews prediction: 0-1

  • Fulham v Portsmouth
  • For Fulham two league defeats in a row have brought an end to a run of nine games without losing. However, six of those games were drawn and they failed to score in four of them.

    Portsmouth are sinking. Another defeat in midweek, however unlucky Tony Adams says they were again, leaves them precariously placed just three points above the drop zone. Just two wins in twelve games in all competitions is worrying form for them.

    I suspect that Tony Adams will be looking for excuses again after this one.

    SoccerNews prediction: 2-1

  • Hull v West Brom
  • Two of the promoted clubs go into battle at the KC Stadium. West Brom are rock bottom and Hull fans everywhere must fear that they will take over that spot fairly soon unless they can rediscover whatever it was they had at the start of the season.

    Hull have lost their last six and have just one win in sixteen. That’s relegation form in anyone’s book. West Brom on the other hand have managed three wins in their last seven. Their main problem is that they have only won one game away from home and that was back in September.

    I strongly suspect that both of these teams may end up being relegated but whoever loses this one, will be amongst the favourites to do so.

    SoccerNews prediction: 0-1

  • Manchester United v Everton
  • What can you say about the form United are in? Unbeaten in eleven without conceding a goal. Five victories in a row, scoring eleven goals. Top of the table by two points and a game in hand on their rivals. Current Premier League, Champions League and World Club champions.

    Everton, however, will be no pushover. They are sixth in the league and are unbeaten in nine in all competitions. They too have a tight defence that has only conceded three goals in those nine games.

    I fancy United to get the one goal they will need to pile the pressure on Chelsea and Liverpool.

    SoccerNews prediction: 1-0

  • Middlesbrough v Blackburn
  • Middlesbrough are another team in freefall. The board of directors have given manager Gareth Southgate a vote of confidence but another defeat here might just make them reconsider. Although we all think Southgate is a good bloke and a promising young manager, eleven games without a win and a place in the drop zone is not good enough.

    Blackburn are still in trouble but they are unbeaten under Sam Allardyce and showed a spirit in their comeback from 2-0 down against Bolton to get a 2-2 draw, that wasn’t there before he arrived.

    I think Blackburn might pile on the pressure for Southgate.

    SoccerNews prediction: 0-2

  • Stoke v Manchester City
  • Stoke’s new signing James Beattie got off the mark for the club during the week as did Manchester City’s new signing Craig Bellamy. That is where the similarity ends however as Beattie’s was nothing more than a consolation in a 3-1 defeat and Bellamy’s helped City to a 2-1 win.

    Manchester City can only get better from here on in and I fully expect them to do so. Stoke are finding things a bit tougher now as teams have worked out how to play against them.

    SoccerNews prediction: 0-2

    Sunday 1st February 2009

  • Liverpool v Chelsea
  • There are a lot of ‘big games’ during a season and most of them are certainly not as important as the media try to have us all believe. However in this case, should Manchester United beat Everton, this game does become ‘must win’ for both sides.

    They may go into this game five points behind United having played the same number of games. Assuming United win their game in hand, eight points is too much of a gap.

    These two teams very often cancel each other out and with neither team performing at their best, I don’t expect this game to be any different. The only winners here are likely to be Manchester United.

    SoccerNews prediction: 0-0

  • Newcastle v Sunderland
  • Sunderland have edged to three points above Newcastle in the table whilst the Magpies are only two points above the drop zone following Wednesday’s defeat at Manchester City.

    With Sunderland in a decent run of form with only two defeats in their last seven league games, they may fancy their chances of getting a sweet derby victory at St James’ Park. Newcastle are in freefall at the moment and the early promising signs of a revival under Joe Kinnear seem to be fading. Four defeats in their last five league games have them deep in trouble again.

    I fancy Sunderland to achieve a rare double over their near neighbours.

    SoccerNews prediction: 1-2

    Sat 31 January, 2009
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    Chelsea manager slams unfair referees

    Luiz Felipe Scolari fears Chelsea’s Premier League challenge could be wrecked by referees who punish his team more than their title rivals.

    Scolari is convinced the Blues are being picked on by officials and highlighted Lee Probert’s failure to send off Mohamed Shawky after the Middlesbrough midfielder handled when he had already been booked in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at the Bridge as concrete evidence.

    The Brazilian believes the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool – who Chelsea face in a crucial clash on Sunday – get more decisions going their way at home because they put pressure on referees and make life uncomfortable for them.

    Scolari is determined to redress the balance and launched into a premeditated tirade during his press conference ahead of the Liverpool match that was surely timed to make sure Mike Riley, who referees Sunday’s showdown, won’t be influenced by the partizan atmosphere at Anfield.

    “I came here to say what I feel after 23 games,” Scolari said. “I waited 23 games to look, and maybe five times there has been a chance to give us a penalty. But I never get one. And maybe red card or yellow cards for the other team? No.

    “It is a big problem and has cost us points. Now is the time to say, think about this, look at games. Maybe in the future we’ll get a penalty.

    “It is not specific referees, but it has been a problem. In Stamford Bridge we don’t have people to pressure the referees, we give the referees all the best, my players try to help the referees during the game. For us it is one thing. For the other clubs, it’s another.

    “Perhaps they might like to pressure us more than other teams. I’ve said many times to my players not to pressure referees. I’ve said many times ‘good referees’, but sometimes they make a mistake. And, at Stamford Bridge, every time.

    “Away from home, no problem. Give me the statistics. Have we had any penalties until now? Only one. The other teams? 10, 12. Any players red card against my team? No.”

    Scolari’s anger at the situation boiled over in a row with Middlesbrough assistant manager Malcolm Crosby after the Chelsea boss had waved an imaginary card at Probert in an attempt to tell the referee to send off Shawky.

    The pair clashed on the touchline and didn’t shake hands at full-time but Scolari was unrepentent as he revealed the full extent of his paranoia at the perceived bias against his team.

    “Yes, I suggested (that Shawky be sent off) It’s normal. If that was my player, it’s a red card,” Scolari said.

    “Two yellows is a red card for my players. But not for other players. It’s time to change.

    “I need to help my players more than before because now I know many more things about things in England.

    “All the clubs who come to Stamford Bridge make 20, 50 or 60 fouls and don’t get cards, red cards. Nothing.

    “They only stop the ball, kill the game. Red card. Finish. It’s not a good example for people. But, when they kill my team, it’s good for me.”

    Sat 31 January, 2009
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    Rangers can´t afford slips, warns Papac

    Sasa Papac says Rangers must continue their winning ways if they are to clinch a domestic treble this season.

    The Bosnian defender has been an integral part of Walter Smith’s side which sit second in the Scottish Premier League, four points behind Celtic and he played as the Ibrox club clinched a place in the Scottish League Cup final on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Falkirk.

    As Rangers prepare to take on Dundee United in the league on Saturday the left-back says the Gers can’t afford to drop many more points if they are to catch their Old Firm rivals at the top of the table.

    “Every trophy is important and we want to win every available one,” Papac said.

    “There are three trophies available to Rangers and so we will give everything we can to challenge as strongly as possible for all three. We cannot afford to drop any points if we can help it.

    “But we go into the Dundee United league game in very good shape with confidence high and that is very important.

    “If you look at the Falkirk game we created many chances and it could have been more and, of course, we kept a clean sheet.

    “That is not easy in games as important as a semi-final when the other team are giving everything to make the final as well.”

    With strikers Kris Boyd, Nacho Novo and Kenny Miller all in goal-scoring form, Papac has no doubt that Rangers have the firepower to blast their way to domestic dominance.

    Papac said: “We have four or five great strikers and you never know who will start and that is great as it keeps everyone very sharp.”

    On Sunday, Old Firm rivals Celtic, who will meet Rangers in the League Cup final, travel north to take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

    The game marks Terry Buthcher’s first match in charge of the bottom placed club and the former Rangers player will want a win to try and overtake Falkirk.

    Hoops manager Gordon Strachan has no fresh injury worries after his side were taken to extra-time and penalties by Dundee United on Wednesday in the League Cup semi-final.

    In Saturday’s other games, Falkirk take on Aberdeen looking for their first league win in ten matches.

    The Dons are high in confidence after last weekend’s draw against Rangers coming straight after their defeat of Celtic.

    Hamilton host Hearts at New Douglas Park with both sides looking for their fourth straight win in the league.

    Motherwell travel to Edinburgh to take on Hibernian at Easter Road. A win would see Motherwell leapfrog into sixth place.

    St Mirren host Kilmarnock for the first ever game at the new Greenhill Road stadium after the club left Love Street.

    The Paisley side will be desperate to get off to a winning start at their new ground while Killie haven’t won in four league games.

    Fixtures (1500GMT, unless otherwise stated)

    Saturday

    Falkirk v Aberdeen, Hamilton v Hearts, Hibernian v Motherwell, Rangers v Dundee United, St Mirren v Kilmarnock (1230)

    Sunday

    Inverness CT v Celtic (1400)

    Sat 31 January, 2009
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    Gunners backs to the wall

    Robin van Persie’s last minute midweek equaliser kept Arsenal’s spirits up, but Arsene Wenger knows nothing less than victory against West Ham will maintain his side’s recent momentum.

    Van Persie’s late strike at Everton may have yielded only one point, but it saved the the Gunners from a defeat that would have wrecked their morale and extended their unbeaten run in the league to nine matches.

    After the dressing room strife that threatened to undermine Arsenal’s season before the turn of the year, the fightback at Goodison Park provided a convincing indication that harmony has been restored in the dressing room.

    With Wenger’s side currently way back in fifth spot, eight points adrift of leaders Manchester United, who also have a game in hand, Arsenal’s immediate task is to make up the five points that separate them from in-form Aston Villa and climb back into the top four.

    But with Wenger inching closer towards a deal for Zenit St Petersburg play-maker Andrei Arshavin and Croatian striker Eduardo nearing full fitness, the manager is confident his side can improve during the final 15 games of the league campaign.

    England forward Theo Walcott should also be back soon after a dislocated shoulder while Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky is targeting a return in late March.

    But if Arsenal can stage a late rally during the closing months, the manager’s insistence that Arsenal are close to challenging at home and in Europe will appear more justified.

    French midfielder Abou Diaby echoed his manager’s sentiments after the Everton draw.

    “We are not going to let up until the end of the season,” he said. “We are going to try to get points in every game and won’t give up.

    “We are very focused on our games. Of course, Aston Villa have been fantastic and are in front of us, but we are really focused on our job and what is most important is what we are doing on the pitch.”

    Arsenal’s cause hasn’t been helped by the loss of Mikael Silvestre for a further two to three weeks after the former Manchester United defender suffered a setback in his recovery from a thigh injury.

    While Wenger admits he will make some changes for the visit of Gianfranco Zola’s side, he will keep disruption to a minimum.

    “I will change things a little bit because we play (an FA Cup fourth round replay against Cardiff) on Tuesday but this game against West Ham is very important to us,” the manager said.

    “I will make changes but I don’t want to disrupt the side too much.”

    Arsenal face a West Ham side who have been rejuvenated since a difficult run in December and now stand in eighth place after a run of four wins in the last five league games.

    The loss of Craig Bellamy to Manchester City has not affected the progress of Zola’s side with Italian forward David Di Michele stepping into the side and fellow striker Carlton Cole equalling Tony Cottee’s club record of scoring in five successive league games.

    Zola broke the club’s transfer record this week when he spent nine million pounds on Brescia’s German striker Savio Nsereko but the 19-year-old is expected to be restricted to a place on the substitutes bench.

    Sat 31 January, 2009
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    Palacios reveals fears for kidnapped brother

    Wilson Palacios has revealed how football has helped him cope with his fears for his kidnapped brother Edwin, who may have no idea about the player’s recent switch to Tottenham.

    The Honduras international moved to the White Hart Lane club from Wigan in a 14-million-pound deal last week but his family’s ongoing anguish over the fate of 16-year-old Edwin has cast a shadow over his achievement in establishing himself in England.

    Edwin was snatched in October 2007 and a ransom demanded from the Palacios family after Wilson signed for Birmingham City – his first English club.

    His performances at the Midlands club and then with Wigan have established the 24-year-old as one of the outstanding midfielders in the top-flight and persuaded Spurs manager Harry Redknapp to spend big to acquire his services.

    But the family have been unable to share in that success.

    And Palacios – whose mother made an impassioned plea for the release of her youngest son on Honduran television last week – admits football has provided a release from dwelling on his brother’s plight.

    And he desperately hopes Edwin has somehow learned of his move to one of the Premier League highest profile clubs

    “It is very difficult but the way to do it is to carry on concentrating on playing football,” said the midfielder. “But I speak to my mother every morning. We know what’s happening and we are confident it will all come to a positive conclusion.

    “I don’t know if he knows I have signed for Tottenham. Of course I hope he does know.”

    Palacios will make his Spurs debut against Bolton Wanderers and the player is hoping the rest of his family will finally be able to come over to see him play in England some time soon.

    He added: “My mother’s not had a chance to come over and see me in England because of what’s happened to my brother, but she’ll be coming over soon to give her a break from it all.”

    Away from his personal trauma, Palacios is helping forge a path for Latin American players to make their way to the Premier League and at Wigan he played with fellow Honduran Maynor Figueroa and Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia.

    And the player is convinced that having learnt his trade back home at Deportivo Olimpia, there are many more quality players capable of making the move to Europe’s strongest leagues.

    “There have always been some excellent players in Honduras,” he added. “But I think what has happened in the past is people have thought because it’s Honduras in Central America, maybe they can’t cut it here in the biggest leagues in Europe.

    “There are certainly a lot more players like me in Honduras.”

    Palacios’s move to Spurs marks a remarkable turnaround since he was first invited for a trial at Spurs’ local rivals Arsenal 18 months ago, only to be rejected by Arsene Wenger because of the number of midfielders then in the Arsenal squad.

    The Honduran retains good friends at the Emirates – in particular Cesc Fabregas – and admits he even has an Arsenal shirt amongst his collection which may not go down too well with some at White Hart Lane.

    But Palacios insists his first priority is Tottenham and helping lift the club away from the relegation zone and back into the top of half of the table.

    He said: “Harry Redknapp didn’t have to sell the club to me. Everybody knows it’s a big club that’s normally in the top half of the table and our first job is to get the team moving back up the table.”

    Sat 31 January, 2009
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    Ferguson backs Ronaldo to break 20-goal barrier

    Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Cristiano Ronaldo to break the 20-goal barrier for a third successive season.

    The Portuguese star, who racked up 42 last time round as United romped to a Premier League and Champions League double, has 13 to his name so far.

    “People are saying Cristiano has not had a good season but he has got 13 goals and 11 assists,” said Ferguson.

    “If you dismiss last season altogether they would be saying it is incredible for a winger to score 13 at this stage. I am absolutely certain he will end up with over 20 again.”

    Ferguson added that it was impossible for Ronaldo, now one of the most heavily-marked players in the Premier League, to repeat his “miracle season” of 2007/2008 when he was also named world player of the year.

    “It’s hard to replicate a season like that but I am not sure that Cristiano understood it was a miracle season,” said the United manager.

    “He had the belief it was normal for him and I think he just expected to carry on. But one of the situations he had to face was that this year couldn’t be as good as last season.

    “Now he has started to come to terms with the whole thing, we will see more goals from him.”

    Ronaldo suffered an ankle injury at the start of the season and was at the centre of a long-running controversy caused by Real Madrid’s attentions.

    Sat 31 January, 2009
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    Hamburg stun champions Bayern

    A first-half header from Hamburg’s Croatian striker Mladen Petric put his side top of the Bundesliga table on Friday and inflicted a shock 1-0 defeat on defending champions Bayern Munich.

    On the first day of the second-half of the German league season, following the six-week winter break, Bayern suffered only their third defeat of the season having been humbled by Werder Bremen and Hanover last year.

    Petric’s goal puts Hamburg a point clear at the top of the table with previous leaders Hoffenheim in action on Saturday.

    Hamburg, coached by former Spurs boss Martin Jol, were without banned Croatian striker Ivica Olic who was sent off for fighting in a friendly with Hoffenheim earlier this month, while Bayern were bouyed by their 5-1 German Cup win over Stuttgart in midweek.

    Hamburg made the brighter start when winger Piotr Trochowski hit the post after just six minutes having beaten Bayern goalkeeper Michael Rensing.

    Munich looked to have taken the lead when striker Luca Toni hit the back of the net just after the half-hour mark, having held off his marker, but a linesman’s raised flag ruled the goal off-side.

    The home side got the breakthrough they thoroughly deserved when Czech Republic midfielder David Jarolim drove his shot in from 35 yards out.

    Rensing parried the attempt, but Mladen Petric pounced on the loose ball and headed past the stranded Bayern goalkeeper on 44 minutes to give the home side the lead.

    Bayern responded immediately and Toni’s header was driven wide of the post and Hamburg were 1-0 up at half-time.

    Both sides squadered chances to score, but the best chance fell to Toni when his forward partner Miroslav Klose set up a clear chance, but the Italian could not connect with the ball.

    With less than ten minutes to go, Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost and defender Jerome Boateng somehow combined to deny Klose at point-blank range.

    Fri 30 January, 2009
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    Owen out for six weeks

    Struggling Newcastle confirmed on Friday that England international striker Michael Owen will be sidelined for up to six weeks with ankle ligament damage.

    Owen, who had scored 10 goals this season, limped off after just 19 minutes of Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City at St James’ Park.

    “It’s a big blow and the injuries are mounting up,” Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear told the club website.

    “Joey Barton is also missing for about 10 weeks but we have to soldier on and put out the best team we can.”

    Fri 30 January, 2009
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    Panathinaikos sign Poland international Wawrzyniak

    Panathinaikos have signed Polish international defender Jakub Wawrzyniak from Legia Warsaw, the Greek club announced on Friday.

    The Athens-based club did not reveal the financial details of the deal, but press reports say the transfer was worth 1.5 million euros.

    Wawrzyniak, 26, who has 14 caps for Poland, has also played for Polish clubs Widzew Lodz (2005-2007), Swit Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki (2004) and Blekitni Stargard Szczecinski (2003).

    Fri 30 January, 2009
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