Moyes seeking City scalp

Everton manager David Moyes is hopeful his side can continue their strong record against Manchester City when they meet on Saturday.

The Toffees have won eight of their past 10 games against City, although Roberto Mancini’s men have not lost at home in 36 games since a defeat to the Merseyside club in December 2010.

However, Moyes is looking to draw confidence from the side’s past achievements against the Premier League champions to grind out a positive result.

“I think we’ve had some good performances (against City),” Moyes told the club’s official website.

“I don’t know if they’re up there with the best in my time here but I think we’ve done quite well when we’ve played them and we’ll try to do that again.

“They’re up at the top of the league just behind Manchester United. I think by their standards, they’ve maybe not played as well as they can but I think their points total has been very good.”

Ahead of the clash, Moyes has been boosted by the return of Darron Gibson after a three-month absence with a thigh injury.

The boss is delighted with the midfielder’s recovery, but has stressed the physical condition of his squad is far from perfect after playing Arsenal on Wednesday.

He said: “We were pleased to have him (Gibson) back. We’ve been short of numbers and we’ve missed him.

“We just hope he’s fine with his injury and he’s recovered well enough. We’re just really getting the players through recovery as quick as we can. They put in a big effort against Arsenal and we know we have to put in another big effort on Saturday.”

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Allardyce dismisses Benitez history

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce insists his clashes with Rafa Benitez are now ‘water under the bridge’ ahead their rendezvous on Saturday.

Allardyce was in charge of Blackburn when he engaged in a series of public confrontations with the then-Liverpool manager Benitez.

However, the Hammers boss insists any problems are now in the past and adds he is focused solely on the game ahead, as they prepare to welcome Benitez’s Chelsea to Upton Park for their London derby.

“It was a long time ago, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and I am just looking forward to the game,” Allardyce told reporters.

“I don’t want to jump into that scenario, I am a bit bigger than that, I don’t want to go tit for tat.

“All I do is look to compete at a level going against not just Chelsea, but also against a man who has a real good record, to see if we can upset them.”

Ahead of the derby, Allardyce believes Benitez’s Chelsea side are still a dangerous prospect and does not want to let a run of just two wins in 10 fool him.

“In the last two games they have not conceded a goal,” he added. “At the heart of every good side is producing a clean sheet.

“Rafa has already sorted out what was a problem under former manager Roberto Di Matteo, and now they have got a couple of clean sheets in a row, so it will not be long before they can turn that into a victory if they continue to defend like that.

“It will be more difficult to break Chelsea down than it would have been, chances will be few and far between.”

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Jol doesn´t rue Dempsey departure

Fulham boss Martin Jol insists he has ‘no regrets’ over Clint Dempsey’s summer departure to Tottenham.

The USA international was the club’s top goalscorer last season with 23 goals in all competitions, but a desire to regularly play in Europe prompted a move to White Hart Lane on the final day of the transfer window.

And, ahead of Dempsey’s return to Craven Cottage with his Spurs team-mates for the Premier League clash on Saturday, Jol has said he has no lingering regrets over the transfer saga and respects the American’s decision to leave.

“We did everything we could do so there are no regrets,” Jol told reporters.

“He wanted to be appreciated financially and he wanted a bigger club, a Champions League club, and that is what he probably got with Spurs.

“Even when I said in my last conversation with him that I loved him, it was not good enough to keep him here. If you feel appreciated, you would like maybe to stay at Fulham so there is a contradiction there.

“I think he felt loved but he still wanted to move, but of course I understand what he means.”

Jol went on to suggest Dempsey’s mind was made up about leaving Craven Cottage as soon as he returned for pre-season training in July, with Liverpool heavy touted as his initial destination.

“From the first day he came back from holiday he didn’t want to play here. He wanted to move so of course you can force the issue and then come up with things,” Jol said.

“But hopefully he will get over it and hopefully he will feel loved at Spurs.”

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Handanovic insists Milan motivated

Samir Handanovic has played down suggestions Inter Milan’s poor form is due to a lack of hunger.

The Nerazzurri have lost two and drawn one of their past three matches in Serie A, prompting talk their title tilt is already beginning to fade just three months into the season.

However, the Slovenia goalkeeper – a summer arrival from Udinese – has reassured frustrated supporters by insisting there is no crisis at the Giuseppe Meazza.

“It is only normal that you can’t always be at your best over the course of an entire season,” Handanovic told Inter’s official website.

“There is bound to be a dip in results. We haven’t lost our hunger after our winning sequence.”

Prior to their dip in results, Milan had put together a run of 10 straight wins in all competitions between late September and early November, including victories over arch-rivals AC Milan and reigning champions Juventus.

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Prediction: Manchester City vs Everton

30th November 2012

Manchester City remained just one point behind rivals Manchester United with a hard-fought victory over Wigan, but the Citizens are now in for another difficult task. Everton arrive at Etihad Stadium on the back of a good showing against Arsenal, hoping to put a dent into City’s title hopes.

Even if they remain a target of media criticism, Manchester City remain just one point adrift of leaders United and are unbeaten in 14 Premier League games. The reality is they are still not playing as a team and score most of the goals thanks to an individual quality of their star players, but as long as they keep winning, Roberto Mancini will be safe. The Citizens did well to escape DW Stadium with three points in midweek, with Mario Balotelli finally scoring his first Premier League goal of the season, and James Milner killing the game off with a beautiful strike. The England international was unlucky to pick up a hamstring injury in the process, meaning he is now doubtful for the Everton clash. Gael Clichy, Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards are not yet ready to return, while Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri could return to the starting line-up.

Having enjoyed a remarkable start to the Premiership campaign, Everton were always going to suffer a dip in form, and it appears that is exactly what is happening at the moment. In all fairness, the Toffees continued to produce decent performances, but their results are nowhere near good enough. The reality is Everton have won just one of their eight league games, which is a terrible record for a team supposedly fighting for a top 4 finish. Having failed to record a win at home against Norwich and Arsenal, the Toffees cannot really expect to be the first team this season to inflict a defeat upon the reigning Premier League champions. There have been more bad news for David Moyes, with both Nikica Jelavic and Leighton Baines picking up injuries against Arsenal, with the duo now doubtful for the City clash. Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Victor Anichebe also face fitness tests.

Conclusion

Having won all but one Premier League game at Etihad, Manchester City have got to be considered favourites in this game, especially given Everton’s latest form. The Toffees are clearly on the downtrend at the moment and with so many players not at 100%, they look destined for defeat at Etihad.

Verdict: Home win Manchester City (1)

Best Odds: 11/20

Bookmaker: BetVictor

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Houston relaxed approaching final, says Davis

Houston Dynamo captain Brad Davis said his side are relaxed ahead of their MLS Cup final clash with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.

The Dynamo booked their spot in the season decider courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate triumph over DC United in their Eastern Conference final.

Davis said the team are working hard, but he is keen for the players to enjoy the occasion at the Home Depot Centre on Saturday.

“I think the most important thing is to keep it the same, you don’t want to change too much,” he said.

“What we’ve been doing has been working so far and the guys are light-hearted, confident and having a good time.

“The MLS Cup is what you fight for all year long, what you put all the hard work into. You go through all the ups and downs so this week you try and soak it all in and have fun.

“We’re light-hearted but we still work extremely hard and we’re preparing the same way. Guys take practice very seriously but you’ve got to have a bit of fun and soak in the environment because it is a fun time right now.”

The Dynamo are seeking revenge after losing last season’s showpiece to the same opposition.

Landon Donovan’s 71st-minute strike was enough to separate the two sides and hand the Galaxy their third MLS Cup title.

“One of the fortunate things is that this club has been there before,” the 31-year-old said. “We’ve been through it and one of the things I say to the guys that haven’t had the opportunity is soak it all in.

“This is a fun time and what we’ve worked hard for all year.

“When that game comes we’ve got a great group of guys that’ll be ready to play the game but have some fun too, try and keep it laid-back and enjoy the atmosphere because it’s a great one.

“It’s the best atmosphere and can be the best feeling in the world if you get to raise that trophy at the end of the game.”

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Ianni, Rimando claim MLS honours

Seattle’s Patrick Ianni and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando have taken out the MLS’ goal and save of the year awards respectively.

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando, 33, produced a reaction stop on Kei Kamara’s bullet header in Salt Lake’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on April 14, and it was voted by fans as the best save of the season.

Rimando, who had another two saves in the top four, held out Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon for the honour.

Ianni, meanwhile, earned goal of the season honours for his stunning volley in the Sounders’ 1-1 draw – coincidentally, also against Sporting Kansas City – in their 1-1 draw on June 20.

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Fri 30 November, 2012
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Ianni, Rimando claim MLS honours

Seattle’s Patrick Ianni and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando have taken out the MLS’ goal and save of the year awards respectively.

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando, 33, produced a reaction stop on Kei Kamara’s bullet header in Salt Lake’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on April 14, and it was voted by fans as the best save of the season.

Rimando, who had another two saves in the top four, held out Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon for the honour.

Ianni, meanwhile, earned goal of the season honours for his stunning volley in the Sounders’ 1-1 draw – coincidentally, also against Sporting Kansas City – in their 1-1 draw on June 20.

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Fri 30 November, 2012
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Buffon nears new deal; Modric urges Bale to join Real Madrid

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is close to signing a new deal with the Turin giants, while insisting that he does not think about a future at another club, Sky Sports understands.

Buffon, 34, is under contract at the Juventus Stadium until next summer, but an extension between the two parties in the coming weeks is all but inevitable.

Nonetheless, the Italy international did concede that he has not ruled out a possible move abroad after revealing that the only Serie A club he would consider playing for is his boyhood club Parma.

“A month ago, I met with the president Agnelli and we found a draft agreement for a new contract,” Buffon told La Nazione.

“We’ll formalise everything soon. There are no money problems. At my age they know my value and what I can still give.

“A future at another club? I don’t think about it. Maybe at the end of my career I could evaluate an experience abroad.

“In Italy, the only club that I would consider is Parma, the team which launched me in the great game of football.”

Buffon has started 12 of Juventus’ 14 Serie A matches this season, keeping four clean sheets for the Italian table-toppers.

Juve are scheduled to host Torino in the Turin city derby tomorrow, with the hosts at the top of the table and the visitors in 14th-place despite conceding an average of one goal per game and having a positive goal difference (+1).

Expect a low-scoring clash between the bitter Turin rivals, with Juve winning by the slimmest of margins. 1-0 Bianconeri.

Modric urges Bale to join Real Madrid

Real Madrid attacking midfielder Luka Modric has called for former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Gareth Bale to join him at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu if he wishes to fulfill UEFA Champions League aspirations, Sky Sports reports.

Bale, 23, was on scintillating form in Spurs’ 2-1 win over Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, fueling speculation that he may be set to leave North London for Madrid in the near future.

The Wales international winger has already bagged 10 goals and four assists in 25 appearances for club and country this term, including six goals in 14 starts in the Premier League.

“We used to talk and I know he wants to play Champions League football every season and has a big dream of winning the Champions League,” revealed Modric.

“Madrid would be a great club for him to achieve his dreams. I play with Ronaldo here at Madrid and the way he just runs with the ball with such confidence and defenders back off him is exactly the same as Gareth.

“To have them both in the same team would be unstoppable.”

Expect Andre Villas-Boas to showcase Bale when Spurs visit Craven Cottage to take on Fulham tomorrow, which surely means another win for the Portuguese boss.

Fri 30 November, 2012
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Vilanova unconcerned by Madrid derby

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is unworried by how rivals Real Madrid fare against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The La Liga leaders face Athletic Bilbao prior to the Madrid derby and could briefly hold a six-point advantage over Atletico.

Pep Guardiola’s former assistant said he had no intention of watching the important derby clash and urged his players to focus on their encounter against Bilbao.

“I have to attend my media conference and then have some supper. I have no intention of seeing (the derby) or following it,” Vilanova told reporters.

“Whether they (Real Madrid) are 14 or 16 points behind us is not important, they will not give up. I do not bother myself with that and neither should the players.”

Marcelo Bielsa’s Bilbao have struggled this season and sit 14th in the league having failed to win their past two domestic matches.

But Vilanova warned his side they needed to concentrate, particularly with star striker Fernando Llorente a constant threat.

“My players know that Marcelo Bielsa’s teams exert much pressure and we’ll need to work. They’ve lost key players, but that does not make them any less dangerous,” he said.

“The quality Llorente has is important, but he’s had contractual problems. He has the ability to play for any big team in Europe.”

Two Barcelona players, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, are among the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or and Vilanova hopes the award goes to one of them.

“I hope that one of the two wins. It depends on the votes but whoever wins it will be fair,” he said.

Fri 30 November, 2012
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