Serie A Preview: Milan v Fiorentina

Milan will play host to Fiorentina on Saturday looking to bounce back from a poor run of form.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men have slipped to 10th in the Serie A table and won just two of their last nine matches in all competitions.

Milan’s slow start means qualification for the UEFA Champions League appears unlikely, with the San Siro outfit needing to dramatically improve if they are to challenge for a top-three finish.

No side in the top 10 have leaked more than the 17 conceded by Milan, who have also been unable to find a regular source of goals in the absence of Stephan El Shaarawy (foot) and Giampaolo Pazzini (knee).

Lazio held Milan to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday, French defender Mickael Ciani scoring a 72nd-minute equaliser at San Siro.

Despite the result, Allegri expressed satisfaction at his team’s display and wants to see more of the same against Fiorentina.

“We have to keep working and putting in this sort of performance,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“The side played well in terms of technique and defending, but we lost our unity a little after the equaliser and allowed a couple of dangerous counter-attacks.

“After going 1-0 up we didn’t take some more chances, but then with this goal we were caught out after a corner and got punished.”

Milan have lost their last two home matches against Fiorentina and will once again be without Philippe Mexes, who serves the last instalment of a four-match suspension.

Fellow defenders Daniele Bonera and Matias Silvestre are also absent, but goalkeeper Christian Abbiati could return from a calf injury.

Fiorentina enter the fixture in sixth place following a 2-1 home defeat to Rafael Benitez’s Napoli on Wednesday.

That was the club’s first defeat in seven matches, ending a run of form that included a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over reigning champions Juventus.

Fiorentina have lost just one of their seven competitive away games this term and boast the league’s top scorer in Giuseppe Rossi.

The former Villarreal striker has made a superb return from a serious knee injury and already has nine goals to his name.

Argentinian defender Gonzalo Rodriguez will return from suspension for Fiorentina, while Mario Gomez and Massimo Ambrosini are doubts after they missed the Napoli defeat.

Juan Cuadrado received two yellow cards for simulation against Napoli, although Fiorentina have appealed his resulting one-game ban.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Ruddy commits future to Norwich

John Ruddy has signed a new contract with Norwich City, the Express understands.

The England international has racked up over a hundred league games for the Canaries since signing for them in 2010, having spent almost all of the previous five years on loan with no less than nine clubs.

Chelsea failed in two attempts to sign the 27 year old during the summer as they looked to bring in back up for Petr Cech.

Ruddy won his first and as yet only international cap in a 2-1 friendly victory over Italy last August, though he has been an unused substitute for Roy Hodgson’s side on nine occasions.

He has played every minute in the league under Chris Hughton so far this season, keeping three clean sheets in the process and can be backed at 12/1 to do so against Manchester City when the sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Rangel ready for ´biggest ever derby´ with Cardiff

Swansea City full-back Angel Rangel has labelled Sunday’s Welsh derby with Cardiff City the “biggest ever” between the two sides.

It will be the first time the two clubs have met in the top division of English football, with their last encounter coming in the Championship in February 2011.

Unlike many of his team-mates, Rangel, who joined Swansea in 2007, has played in numerous derbies against their fierce rivals previously, but he expects this weekend’s clash to be the most heated.

“I think it’s going to be a loud game, really intense and a lot of emotions around,” said the Spaniard.

“They (the other players) know it’s always a crazy one but they haven’t experienced it here yet.

“There is extra spice in it and it’s going to be really exciting – probably the biggest ever – and the most important thing is to win it.”

Rangel also warned his team-mates they must keep a cool head during the match and not let the intensity of the occasion get to them.

“It’s a derby and the most important thing is to stick together and enjoy it,” he added.

“Going to Cardiff is always difficult, we know that, but I don’t think it’s one you need any motivation for. We know exactly what it means to the fans and to the city.

“We have to play football and try to win it.”

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Ibrahimovic to miss Lorient clash

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of his side’s home clash against Lorient with a knee injury.

The Swedish forward will miss Friday’s fixture at the Parc des Princes with the problem, as PSG go in search of a result that would extend their unbeaten league record to 23 matches.

Ibrahimovic has scored five goals in his 11 Ligue 1 appearances this season, while also starring in the UEFA Champions League.

In just three matches in Europe’s premier club competition, the 32-year-old has netted six times, but he revealed he had been battling knee pain for much of the season earlier this month.

“Bleeding in the lower part of the thigh after an injury four weeks ago led to a slight irritation of the bursae and swelling in the knee joint,” Ibrahimovic told digital app Zlatan Unplugged.

“The knee now looks completely healthy and good. Now it’s all about getting the swelling down before I can run at full speed in training.”

Ibrahimovic’s return has not gone to plan though, with PSG announcing his injury as part of their official squad list for Friday’s fixture.

He joins club captain and Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva on the French champions’ injury list.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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McManaman pens new Wigan deal

Callum McManaman has signed a contract extension with Wigan Athletic, Sky Sports understands.

The midfielder was handed his league first start by the Latics last season and was one of the clubs’ star performers as they went all the way in the FA Cup.

He was strongly linked with a move away from Wigan following their relegation to the Championship with Everton, the club where he began his youth career, considering a move.

The season before last, McManaman enjoyed a loan spell with Blackpool, where he scored two goals in fourteen games.

The 22 year old, who made his twenty-eighth league appearance for the North-West club in last night’s goalless draw with Queens Park Rangers, is now committed to the Wigan cause until 2017.

Owen Coyle’s side currently sit thirteenth in the second-tier, seven points of a top-six spot, and are priced at 11/2 to secure an immediate return to the top flight.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Yallop appointed Chicago Fire head coach

MLS outfit Chicago Fire have confirmed the appointment of Frank Yallop as head coach and director of soccer.

Yallop’s arrival comes after former head coach Frank Klopas and head of soccer operations Javier Leon left the club on Wednesday following their failure to reach the play-offs.

The former Canada international defender has previously managed his country while also enjoying stints in club football at LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.

Yallop guided San Jose to MLS Cup championships in 2001 and 2003, and was named Coach of the Year in 2001.

And in a statement on the Fire’s official website, he said: “This happened very quickly. I’m very excited about the opportunity to be joining the Fire, a great organisation and just working with (owner) Andrew (Hauptman).

“He’s the one that really pushed it and made sure we’re going in the right direction. I’m very excited to get going. I can’t wait to get to work and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”

Hauptman added that Yallop is of sufficient calibre to improve the club’s fortunes, adding that his experience will stand them in good stead.

“I’m incredibly excited to be welcoming Frank Yallop as the new head coach of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club,” he said.

“I have an enormous amount of respect for him – I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him over some time and I have a real confidence in his soccer acumen.

“I have faith in his history in building incredible team spirit with all the clubs he’s been with. He has an impressive depth of experience and that’s exactly what the club needs.”

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Ferdinand sceptical of ´SAS´ partnership

Liverpool pair Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have lots of work to do to become a special strike partnership, according to Rio Ferdinand.

The duo have made a stunning start to the 2013-14 season, scoring a combined total of 14 goals as Liverpool have surged to third in the Premier League table.

Of the five games they have played together, the Suarez and Sturridge partnership – christened the ‘SAS’ by Liverpool fans – has scored 10 times, leading to several pundits describing them as the best strikeforce in the country.

However, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand feels the pair must prove themselves over the course of the season to deserve such a title.

And although he admitted to being impressed by their form, the 34-year-old says the jury is still out.

“In this country and in football in general I think we build people up too quickly,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“That’s not to say they’re not a great partnership – they’re proven at the moment. They’re on top of their game and they’re playing very, very well. They’ve scored some great goals.

“But I think you judge partnerships over a period of time. Look at (Dwight) Yorke and (Andy) Cole, (Teddy) Sheringham and (Alan) Shearer.

“These types of partnerships aren’t developed overnight over a course of part of a season, it’s over a period of time. So I think it’s better to give these people time.”

The Suarez and Sturridge partnership will next be tested by Arsenal, with Liverpool travelling to the table-toppers on Saturday.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Ferdinand sceptical of ´SAS´ partnership

Liverpool pair Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have lots of work to do to become a special strike partnership, according to Rio Ferdinand.

The duo have made a stunning start to the 2013-14 season, scoring a combined total of 14 goals as Liverpool have surged to third in the Premier League table.

Of the five games they have played together, the Suarez and Sturridge partnership – christened the ‘SAS’ by Liverpool fans – has scored 10 times, leading to several pundits describing them as the best strikeforce in the country.

However, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand feels the pair must prove themselves over the course of the season to deserve such a title.

And although he admitted to being impressed by their form, the 34-year-old says the jury is still out.

“In this country and in football in general I think we build people up too quickly,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“That’s not to say they’re not a great partnership – they’re proven at the moment. They’re on top of their game and they’re playing very, very well. They’ve scored some great goals.

“But I think you judge partnerships over a period of time. Look at (Dwight) Yorke and (Andy) Cole, (Teddy) Sheringham and (Alan) Shearer.

“These types of partnerships aren’t developed overnight over a course of part of a season, it’s over a period of time. So I think it’s better to give these people time.”

The Suarez and Sturridge partnership will next be tested by Arsenal, with Liverpool travelling to the table-toppers on Saturday.

Thu 31 October, 2013
RSS Feed

Ferdinand sceptical of ´SAS´ partnership

Liverpool pair Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have lots of work to do to become a special strike partnership, according to Rio Ferdinand.

The duo have made a stunning start to the 2013-14 season, scoring a combined total of 14 goals as Liverpool have surged to third in the Premier League table.

Of the five games they have played together, the Suarez and Sturridge partnership – christened the ‘SAS’ by Liverpool fans – has scored 10 times, leading to several pundits describing them as the best strikeforce in the country.

However, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand feels the pair must prove themselves over the course of the season to deserve such a title.

And although he admitted to being impressed by their form, the 34-year-old says the jury is still out.

“In this country and in football in general I think we build people up too quickly,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“That’s not to say they’re not a great partnership – they’re proven at the moment. They’re on top of their game and they’re playing very, very well. They’ve scored some great goals.

“But I think you judge partnerships over a period of time. Look at (Dwight) Yorke and (Andy) Cole, (Teddy) Sheringham and (Alan) Shearer.

“These types of partnerships aren’t developed overnight over a course of part of a season, it’s over a period of time. So I think it’s better to give these people time.”

The Suarez and Sturridge partnership will next be tested by Arsenal, with Liverpool travelling to the table-toppers on Saturday.

Thu 31 October, 2013
RSS Feed

Ferdinand sceptical of ´SAS´ partnership

Liverpool pair Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have lots of work to do to become a special strike partnership, according to Rio Ferdinand.

The duo have made a stunning start to the 2013-14 season, scoring a combined total of 14 goals as Liverpool have surged to third in the Premier League table.

Of the five games they have played together, the Suarez and Sturridge partnership – christened the ‘SAS’ by Liverpool fans – has scored 10 times, leading to several pundits describing them as the best strikeforce in the country.

However, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand feels the pair must prove themselves over the course of the season to deserve such a title.

And although he admitted to being impressed by their form, the 34-year-old says the jury is still out.

“In this country and in football in general I think we build people up too quickly,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“That’s not to say they’re not a great partnership – they’re proven at the moment. They’re on top of their game and they’re playing very, very well. They’ve scored some great goals.

“But I think you judge partnerships over a period of time. Look at (Dwight) Yorke and (Andy) Cole, (Teddy) Sheringham and (Alan) Shearer.

“These types of partnerships aren’t developed overnight over a course of part of a season, it’s over a period of time. So I think it’s better to give these people time.”

The Suarez and Sturridge partnership will next be tested by Arsenal, with Liverpool travelling to the table-toppers on Saturday.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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