Saturday, May 30, 2015

DFB Cup Final: Borussia Dortmund VS VFL Wolfsburg Preview

Wolfsburg have the chance to make a good season even better when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final this weekend. 

 After finishing second in the Bundesliga table they now have the chance to lift some silverware, up against a Black and Yellows side determined to wave goodbye to departing coach Jurgen Klopp in winning style. Borussia Dortmund It is easy to forget at this stage, with a cup final on the horizon and European football of sorts secured next season, that Dortmund were rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga table as recently as February.

 A 1-0 defeat against 10-man Augsburg in front of their own supporters meant that the impossible was possible - some began to question whether Klopp had taken BVB as far as he possibly could. Since those murmurs of discontent first emerged, a lot has happened - not least Dortmund going on a seven-game unbeaten run in the league to claw themselves well away from the drop zone, which culminated in last weekend's win over Werder Bremen to cement a top-seven place in the table. That victory will be remembered for a lot more than just the scoreline, though, with Klopp beginning his prolonged send-off to supporters after announcing in April that he would indeed step aside. The parting of ways may do both parties good in the long term, but the in-demand manager would love nothing more than to end his highly successful stint in North Rhine-Westphalia with another trophy.

The league position counts for little on Saturday evening, as Die Borussen look to build on their semi-final win over Bayern Munich and claim a third German Cup triumph in eight seasons. Regardless of what happens upon full time this weekend Klopp will walk away from the club with his head held high, but the only way his final season at the helm will be remembered as a true success is if he can steer his side beyond Wolfsburg in the showpiece final. 

Recent form in DFB-Pokal: LWWWWW 
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWLW 


 Wolfsburg 
 Dortmund may have been the side to offer Bayern their closest test at the top of the division in recent times, but the role of support act in the Bundesliga this term has gone to Wolfsburg. The Wolves ended the season just 10 points off the Bavarian giants, and while winning the crown never really looked probable - even if they did beat their rivals 4-1 in January to keep the title race alive - finishing best of the rest is no mean feat in itself.

It means that Champions League football is back on the agenda for Wolfsburg next season, but the mood among the fanbase may drop a little should they spurn the chance to lift silverware for the first time since their 2009 league success. 
 Worryingly for Dieter Hecking's side, they could only manage nine points from a possible 19 as they closed the season out, which means that Dortmund actually head into the Berlin final as the form side. That is largely down to striker Bas Dost's failure to maintain his form from the first half of the season. The Dutchman found the net 15 times in his opening 14 games of the campaign, but could only add a further three over the next 13 heading into Saturday's key fixture. However, with the chance of making club history by winning a first ever German Cup on the line, it is unlikely that Hecking will have to do much to motivate his players. 

 Recent form in DFB-Pokal: LWWWWW 
Recent form (all competitions): LWDWWD 

Team News 
Questions remain over the fitness of defenders Naldo and Marcel Schafer, with Wolfsburg not likely to make a decision until the day of the game. The Wolves could very well stick to the side that edged out Dortmund in the league just a fortnight ago, with Andre Schurrle - a key player all season - offering support to forward duo Ivan Perisic and Dost.

Dortmund have been further boosted heading into the game, with the news that Neven Subotic will remain at the Westfalenstadion beyond this summer. Klopp is likely to name something close to an unchanged side for the journey East, having decided against making a raft of changes in his team's final league outing. 

Borussia Dortmund possible starting lineup: Langerak; Durm, Schmelzer, Papastathopoulos, Hummels; Kehl, Mkhitaryan, Gundogan, Kagawa; Reus, Aubameyang 

Wolfsburg possible starting lineup: Benaglio; Jung, Rodriguez, Knoche, Klose; De Bruyne, Arnold, Caligiuri, Schurrle; Perisic, Dost 

Head To Head 
The Wolves will be seeking revenge, having been knocked out of this competition by BVB at the last-four stage in 2013-14. Across the last five games, Wolfsburg have won two - including the recent 2-1 victory - while Klopp's charges have also claimed two wins of their own. There was nothing to separate the pair when they met back in December, meanwhile, as Naldo's late equaliser earned the visitors a 2-2 draw at the Westfalenstadion.

Kick Off Time - 19:00HRS  
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FA Cup Final: Arsenal VS Aston Villa Preview

‎Two of England's most historic clubs will go head to head in the final of the oldest cup competition in world football this Saturday as Arsenal and Aston Villa compete for FA Cup glory at Wembley. 

The competition has seen a number of notable shocks already this season, and Villa will be looking to provide one more to prevent holders Arsenal from retaining the trophy. 
 Arsenal
Hi‎story could be made by the Gunners this weekend as they look to become the most successful team in the long and illustrious story of the FA Cup. Last year's success not only ended a nine-year trophy drought for the club as Aaron Ramsey's extra-time strike secured a comeback victory over Hull City, it also took them level with Manchester United as 11-time winners of the competition. One more victory this weekend would see them become the first team to lift the famous cup 12 times, in addition to becoming the first side to retain it since Chelsea five years ago.

 There is a personal goal on the line for manager Arsene Wenger too. He would overtake Sir Alex Ferguson as the competition's most successful manager of the modern era with what would be a sixth FA Cup winners' medal on Saturday. Villa boast a claim to that title too, with George Ramsay winning six during his time in charge of the club between 1887 and 1920, but although Wenger has played down the significance of reaching that landmark, it would certainly be another memorable achievement during what has been a successful, if sometimes tumultuous, 19-year spell at the club. The success of his managerial reign will not rest on this Saturday, but the success of Arsenal's season may do. 

 The Gunners improved on last term's fourth-place finish in the Premier League, but they ended the campaign four points worse off and once again failed to launch a serious title bid. Another FA Cup triumph will appease the 'Wenger out' brigade once again, but progress has been slow in recent years and a fresh assault on the league title is sorely needed. They ended the season with just one win from their final four games, but that came in style at the Emirates as they scored four goals in the first half on their way to a comfortable victory over West Bromwich Albion. They were less convincing in their semi-final win over Reading, needing an Adam Federici error in extra time to progress, but including penalties, the Gunners have now won 11 FA Cup games on the bounce, last losing back in February 2013.

 Recent form in FA Cup: WWWWWW 
Recent form (all competitions): DWLDDW

 Aston Villa 
For Aston Villa, Saturday has been a long time coming. It will be their first appearance in an FA Cup final for 15 years, and their trophy drought stretches back even further to 19. You have to go back to 1957, 58 years ago, for the last time they lifted this particular piece of silverware, although in the entire history of the cup only three teams have won it more often.

Villa's heyday came a long time ago, however, and the current crop of players will be desperate to write their own names into the history books on Saturday. Tim Sherwood achieved his primary goal of keeping the club in the division, injecting plenty of passion and heart along the way, but FA Cup glory would likely top even Premier League survival. It would turn a troublesome, worrying season into a memorable one for the Villans, in addition to raising optimism that they won't be put through the rigours of another relegation battle next term.

They don't come into the match in great form, however, with their league campaign tailing off after their survival was secured. An embarrassing 6-1 defeat to Southampton was followed up by a final-day loss at the hands of already-relegated Burnley, but those results will be long forgotten should they triumph in the capital. They go into the match as underdogs, but that will not be a new scenario for Sherwood. Indeed, it may be one that he relishes, having toppled Liverpool and ended Steven Gerrard's dreams of a fairytale goodbye in the semi-finals.

It has not been an easy route to the showpiece for the Villans, who have had to overcome three Premier League teams already, in addition to a Bournemouth side that will be joining them in the top flight next season. Much like Hull last term, Villa now find themselves just one match away from European football next season having only narrowly survived in the Premier League less than a week ago. Victory over Arsenal would see Sherwood's side qualify for the 2015-16 Europa League at the expense of Southampton.
Recent form in the FA Cup: LWWWWW 
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWLL

Team News
Arsenal will be without Danny Welbeck, scorer of the winning goal in the quarter-final victory over former club Manchester United, due to a knee injury. That leaves Wenger with one less decision to make up front, although he will likely still need to choose between first-choice striker Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, who dazzled with a hat-trick on the final day of the season. Wojciech Szczesny is expected to continue his role as the cup goalkeeper ahead of David Ospina, although Wenger refused to categorically confirm that the Pole would retain his spot. Jack Wilshere is another who impressed on a rare start against West Brom, while fit-again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a cameo appearance off the bench and is in line to feature. Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are nearing fitness themselves, but it is unlikely that they will feature having been absent since November and January respectively.

Villa, meanwhile, could be without cup goalkeeper Shay Given due to a groin injury, which would mean that Brad Guzan makes his first appearance in this season's competition. Kieran Richardson was also absent against Burnley on the final day of the league season, but he is hopeful of recovering in time to start this weekend. Nathan Baker made his first start since January against the Clarets and will be pushing for another ahead of Jores Okore at Wembley. Semi-final heroes Jack Grealish and Fabian Delph will both start in midfield alongside Tom Cleverley, who will play the final match of his loan spell with the club. Up front, Sherwood is likely to opt for Gabriel Agbonlahor partnering in-demand Christian Benteke, who has again been heavily linked with a move away and could also be playing his last Villa game. 

Arsenal possible starting lineup: Szczesny; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Coquelin, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud

Aston Villa possible starting lineup: Given; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Richardson; Cleverley, Westwood, Delph, Grealish; Agbonlahor, Benteke


Head To Head These two sides have featured in 28 and won 18 FA Cup finals between them, but they have never met each other in the showpiece of this competition. They last met in the FA Cup in the 2011-12 fourth round, when the Gunners came from two goals behind to win 3-2, just as they did in last season's final against Hull. Arsenal also had the better of things when these two met in the Premier League this season, winning 3-0 at Villa Park in September before going two better in a 5-0 triumph at the Emirates in February 

 Kick Off Time - 17:30HRS
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Friday, May 29, 2015

FIFA Election: Everything you need to know

It's Sepp Blatter vs Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in the battle for the FIFA presidency, but how does it work? Here's all you need to know Back to Sepp? Blatter is the favourite for today's vote It's the election we've all been waiting for. Sepp Blatter vs Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, old vs new, same old vs hope. FIFA has been engulfed in crisis this week after the arrest of seven officials in Switzerland and the launch of two investigations. Today is an opportunity for change, but which way will it go? All you need to know here: When is the FIFA presidential election? The vote will begin at 8.30am (UK time) this morning. The Hallenstadion Zurich is the venue, where the 209 FIFA members will descend to cast their votes. The vote is point 17 on the agenda so we could be waiting a while. We may have to wait until mid-afternoon for a result to be announced. How does it work? If either candidate wins two-thirds of support in the first vote, they become president. If neither does, it will go to a second vote where whoever gets the majority of the 209 votes - 105 or more - will become president. Watch next Sepp Blatter's speech at FIFA congress following string of arrests on officials What's the vote share? Africa - 54 votes Europe - 53 votes Asia and Australia - 46 votes North and Central America - 35 votes Oceania - 11 votes South America - 10 votes Who is in the running? Luis Figo, Michael van Praag and even David Ginola expressed their desire to challenge Sepp Blatter for the post, but in the end, only Prince Ali bin al-Hussein will contest the Swiss. FA chairman Greg Dyke has thrown his weight behind the Jordanian, who is hoping to stop Blatter from winning a fifth term. Defiant: Blatter still believes he's the man to lead FIFA from this latest crisis What is likely to happen? In short: Four. More. Years. Voting intentions suggest that while the majority of Europe will vote against Blatter, the Swiss holds huge support in Africa and beyond. UEFA chief Michel Platini revealed on Thursday that he had asked Blatter to resign in the midst of the scandal currently engulfing FIFA, but he rejected. Even if UEFA unanimously vote against Blatter, the support from Africa, South America and Asia should still be enough to see him win a majority. If there is a mass boycott, a second round of voting could be triggered. Why would there be a mass boycott? In case you have been living under a rock for the last 48 hours - FIFA is in absolute turmoil. The Swiss authorities and the FBI made 14 arrests of FIFA officials on Wednesday morning, over alleged 'rampant, systemic and deep-rooted' corruption. However, Blatter has distanced himself from the arrests, insisting they have nothing to do with him, and saying he is the right man to lead FIFA forward. "I know many people hold me responsible. I cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it," he said. What are the odds? Sepp Blatter: 1/4 Prince Ali: 5/2
Read More »

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Manchester City VS Southampton Preview

A season that started so brightly for Southampton has faded somewhat as the climax approaches but, after the ructions of last summer, most supporters would have gladly accepted seventh place if offered it at the start of the campaign. There is still a chance that Ronald Koeman’s side could rise as high as fifth if fortune favours them, while City are safe in second following Arsenal’s stalemate with Sunderland on Wednesday.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Etihad Stadium

Last season Man City 4 Southampton 1

Referee C Foy

This season G14, Y48, R5, 3.79 cards per game

Odds H 4-7 A 11-2 D 18-5


Manchester City

Subs from Caballero, Wright, Boyata, Pozo, Lampard, Sagna, Milner, Clichy, Jovetic, Mangala, Dzeko

Doubtful None

Injured Fernando (knock), Nasri (groin, both Aug)

Suspended None

Form LWWWWW

Discipline Y78 R2

Leading scorer Agüero 25

Southampton
Subs from K Davis, Cropper, Yoshida, Gardos, Targett, Schneiderlin, Djuricic, McCarthy, Reed, Gallagher

Doubtful Schneiderlin (knee)

Injured Forster (knee), Mayuka (groin), Rodriguez (match fitness), Tadic (groin, all Aug)

Suspended None

Form WLDLLW

Discipline Y56 R3

Leading scorer Pellè 12

Read More »

Newcastle United VS West Ham United Preview

It is a little over seven years since Newcastle sacked Sam Allardyce. Now, on what seems virtually certain to be his final game in charge of the visitors, he can possibly help push his old club into the Championship. If John Carver has been heartened to learn that West Ham’s players were all given most of this week off, his team’s recent record of does not inspire confidence. After collecting a solitary point from their past 10 games Newcastle really are in crisis.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue St James’ Park

Last season West Ham 0 Newcastle 0

Live Sky Sports 3

Referee M Atkinson

This season G31, Y124, R7, 4.2 cards per game

Odds H 4-5 A 15-4 D 31-10

Newcastle United

Subs from Woodman, R Taylor, Anita, Gutiérrez, Aarons, De Jong, Gouffran, Ameobi, Obertan, Satka, Rivière

Doubtful De Jong (thigh)

Injured Elliot (thigh), Haïdara (knee), S Taylor (achilles), Tioté (knee, all Aug)

Suspended None

Form LLLLDL

Discipline Y70 R7

Leading scorer Cissé 11

West Ham United
Subs from Jaaskelainen, Spiegel, Lee, O’Brien, Tomkins, Oxford, Amalfitano, Cullen, Poyet, Nolan, Jarvis

Doubtful Tomkins (shoulder)

Injured Carroll (knee), Collins (hamstring), Demel (calf), Sakho (thigh, all Aug)

Suspended None

Form DLDWLL

Discipline Y66 R2

Leading scorer Sakho 10
Read More »

Everton VS Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Mauricio Pochettino will end his first season as Tottenham manager with a fifth-placed finish should his team win at Everton and Liverpool lose at Stoke, who beat Spurs comfortably on their last away outing. For Roberto Martínez, the aim is to hold on to a place in the top half after a difficult season and, possibly, give Sylvain Distin a more fitting end to a fine Everton career having frozen the veteran defender out of his plans since January. Aaron Lennon is ineligible to face his parent club.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Goodison Park

Last season Everton 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Referee J Moss

This season G29, Y111, R8, 4.1 cards per game

Odds H 7-5 A 2-1 D 13-5

Everton

Subs from Robles, Griffiths, Garbutt, Besic, Koné, Naismith, McGeady, Distin, Browning, Atsu, Lundstram

Doubtful Distin (illness)

Injured Alcaraz (calf), Baines (ankle), Gibson (foot), Hibbert (knee), Oviedo (foot), Pienaar (muscle fatigue, all Aug)

Suspended None

Ineligible Lennon (terms of loan)

Form DWWLLW

Discipline Y66 R2

Leading scorer Lukaku 10

Tottenham Hotspur
Subs from Friedel, Vorm, Walker, Kaboul, Chiriches, Paulinho, Soldado, Yedlin, Townsend, Dembélé, Capoue, Stambouli, Ceballos, Veljkovic

Doubtful Vorm (illness), Walker (ankle)

Injured Davies (shoulder, Aug)

Suspended None

Unavailable Adebayor (compassionate leave)

Form LWDLLW

Discipline Y78 R4

Leading scorer Kane 20
Read More »

Aston Villa VS Burnley Preview

Tim Sherwood could be forgiven for having an eye, or possibly even both eyes, on next week’s FA Cup final against Arsenal. But even though Aston Villa’s top-flight place is safe and already-relegated Burnley are heading to Villa Park, he has vowed not to rest players. The visitors, with little but pride to play for, could still suffer the ignominy of finishing bottom if Queens Park Rangers can avoid defeat at Leicester.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Villa Park

Last season n/a

Referee M Jones

This season G20, Y57, R5, 3.1 cards per game

Odds H 11-10 A 14-5 D 13-5

Aston Villa

Subs from Guzan, Sinclair, Sánchez, Agbonlahor, Weimann, Cole, Baker, Lowton, Cissokho, Gil, Robinson

Doubtful None

Injured Okore (knee, 30 May), Richardson (calf, 30 May), Clark (knee, Aug), Kozak (broken leg, unknown)

Suspended None

Form DWLWWL

Discipline Y72 R7

Leading scorer Benteke 13

Burnley
Subs from Gilks, Ward, Keane, Reid, Sordell, Jutkiewicz, Wallace, Cisak, Lafferty, O’Neill, Taylor, U lvestad

Doubtful None

Injured Long (knee), Marney (knee, both Aug)

Suspended None

Form LLLLWD

Discipline Y63 R2

Leading scorer Ings 10
Read More »

Leicester City VS Queens Park Rangers Preview

After guiding Leicester City to safety, Nigel Pearson will want to end the season with a seventh home win and a 14th-place finish after being bottom of the Premier League just six weeks ago. For Chris Ramsey it is a chance for Queens Park Rangers to bow out of the top flight with pride and they could even claw their way up to 19th if they manage to better Burnley’s result at Aston Villa

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue King Power Stadium

Last season Leicester 1 QPR 0 (Championship)

Referee M Oliver

This season G27, Y96, R5, 3.74 cards per game

Odds H 8-13 A 5-1 D 7-2

Leicester City

Subs from Hamer, Schwarzer, De Laet, Konchesky, Drinkwater, Hammond, Upson, Lawrence, Moore, Knockaert

Doubtful None

Injured Nugent (calf, Aug), James (knee, Dec)

Suspended Simpson (club sanction)

Form WWLWWD

Discipline Y50 R4

Leading scorer Ulloa 10

Queens Park Rangers
Subs from Murphy, Isla, Sutherland, Furlong, Zamora, Hoilett, Kranjcar, Wright-Phillips, Doughty, Mitchell, Comley

Doubtful Isla (knee), Zamora (hip)

Injured Caulker (hand), Faurlín (knee), Green (concussion), Taarabt (match fitness), Traoré (match fitness), Vargas (knee), Zárate (knee, all Aug)

Suspended None

Unavailable Sandro (visa issue), Ferdinand (compassionate leave)

Form DLDLLW

Discipline Y77 R3

Leading scorer Austin 17

Read More »

Hull City VS Manchester United Preview

On the final day of the season six years ago Hull lost 1-0 to Manchester United and still survived. This time they have to win and hope Newcastle don’t defeat West Ham. United have secured a Champions League place so will be a touch relaxed no matter how professional they attempt to be. This could give Hull the chance to pull off the required victory – then it is all about what occurs on Tyneside.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue KC Stadium

Last season Hull 2 Man Utd 3

Live Sky Sports 1

Referee L Probert

This season G6, Y22, R2, 4.0 cards per game

Odds H 23-10 A 5-4 D 11-4


Hull City

Subs from Jakupovic, McGregor, Bruce, Figueroa, Rosenior, Robertson, Aluko, Sagbo, Hernández, Dudgeon

Doubtful None

Injured Davies (thigh), Diamé (knee), Ramírez (hamstring), Snodgrass (knee, all Aug)

Suspended Livermore (club sanction)

Form LWWLLL

Discipline Y72 R6

Leading scorer Jelavic 8

Manchester Utd
Subs from De Gea, Lindegaard, Evans, Vermijl, Thorpe, Blackett, Lingard, Falcao, Januzaj, McNair, Roho, Wilson, Di María, Da Silva

Doubtful Da Silva (rib), De Gea (hamstring)

Injured Carrick (calf), Shaw (face, both Aug)

Suspended None

Unavailable Pereira (international duty)

Form WLLLWD

Discipline Y64 R4

Leading scorer Rooney 12
Read More »

Arsenal VS West Bromwich Albion Preview

Arsène Wenger has spoken of a season of progress and while Arsenal supporters are grateful not to be sweating on a top-four place on the final day, they are also rather miffed at three successive home games without scoring that do not bode too well for next Saturday’s FA Cup final. Tony Pulis’s Albion, safe and having just mauled the champions 3-0, will be out to make that four.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Emirates Stadium

Last season Arsenal 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

Referee M Clattenburg

This season G27, Y93, R3, 3.5 cards per game

Odds H 2-5 A 17-2 D 9-2
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
 Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion: probable starters in bold, contenders in light. Photograph: Guardian
Arsenal
Subs from Martínez, Szczesny, Diaby, Gabriel, Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott, Monreal, Flamini, Chambers, Gnabry

Doubtful None

Injured Debuchy (hamstring, 30 May), Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring, 30 May), Welbeck (knee, 30 May), Arteta (ankle, Aug)

Suspended None

Form WDWLDD

Discipline Y68 R2

Leading scorer Sánchez 16

West Bromwich Albion
Subs from Rose, Wisdom, Baird, Nabi, Gardner, Ideye, Anichebe, Sessègnon, Davidson, Pocognoli, Mulumbu, Gamboa

Doubtful None

Injured Foster (knee, Oct)

Suspended None

Form LWDWDW

Discipline Y64 R3

Leading scorer Berahino 14
Read More »

Crystal Palace VS Swansea City Preview

Swansea find themselves in the odd position of having literally nothing to play for on the last day of the season – they cannot catch Southampton above them and cannot be overtaken by Stoke, who trail them by five points. Palace could still sneak into the top 10 if they win and other results go their way which would be quite an achievement given their situation when Alan Pardew arrived in January.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Selhurst Park

Last season Crystal Palace 0 Swansea City 2

Referee C Pawson

This season G20, Y69, R7, 3.8 cards per game

Odds H 13-10 A 12-5 D 13-5

Crystal Palace
Subs from Speroni, Kettings, Kelly, Mariappa, Hangeland, Ledley, Boateng, Sanogo, Gayle, Guedioura, Ameobi, Mutch, Lee, Kaikai, Murray, Campbell

Doubtful Ledley (hip)

Injured Thomas (thigh, Aug)

Suspended None

Form WLLLLW

Discipline Y64 R4

Leading scorer Murray 7

Swansea City
Subs from Tremmel, Grimes, Cork, Barrow, Emnes, Bartley, Tiendalli, Richards, Fulton, Lucas, Sheehan

Doubtful None

Injured Amat (foot), Carroll (ankle), Ki (knee), Naughton (ankle), Oliveira (ankle), Routledge (ankle, all Aug)

Suspended None

Form DLWWWL

Discipline Y51 R5

Leading scorer Ki 8
Read More »

Chelsea VS Sunderland Preview

These sides have met their season’s objectives, which should transform Stamford Bridge into something of a celebration. Dick Advocaat’s achievement in retaining Sunderland’s top flight status should be lauded. José Mourinho, the manager of the season, would have preferred to have hoisted the silverware after the victory over Crystal Palace earlier this month but will still savour the moment as he flings more youngsters into the fray to gain experience. He pinpointed the 5-3 defeat at Tottenham on New Year’s Day as psychologically important for his team. They have not looked back since.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Stamford Bridge

Last season Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2

Live Sky One

Referee L Mason

This season G24, Y68, R5, 3.04 cards per game

Odds H 4-11 A 11-1 D 9-2

Chelsea


Subs from Blackman, Courtois, Aké, Filipe Luís, Christensen, Mikel, Solanke, Brown, Boga, Cuadrado, Drogba

Doubtful Cech (calf), Drogba (calf), Hazard (dental)

Injured Oscar (thigh), Ramires (kidney), Zouma (knee, all Aug)

Suspended Fàbregas (one match)

Form WDWWDL

Discipline Y72 R4

Leading scorer Costa 19

Sunderland
Subs from Pickford, Réveillère, Agnew, Vergini, Johnson, Giaccherini, Buckley, Graham, Watmore, Robson, Honeyman

Doubtful Graham (ankle)

Injured Bridcutt (knee), Brown (knee), Gómez (knee), Pantilimon (knee, all Aug)

Suspended None

Form LDWWDD

Discipline Y94 R2

Leading scorer Wickham 5
Read More »

Stoke City VS Liverpool Preview

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool will secure a place in next season’s Europa League group stage if they beat Stoke in what will be Steven Gerrard’s 710th and final appearance for the club. Stoke are guaranteed a top-half finish for the second season in a row and have already surpassed their highest Premier League points tally, but Mark Hughes will not want to end the season with a defeat.

Kick-off Sunday 3pm

Venue Britannia Stadium

Last season Stoke City 3 Liverpool 5

Referee A Taylor

This season G29, Y109, R5, 3.93 cards per game

Odds H 13-5 A 6-5 D 13-5

Stoke City

Subs from Butland, Sorensen, Wilson, Bardsley, Muniesa, Ireland, Palacios, Odemwingie, Adam, Sidwell, Teixeira, Crouch, Ward, Shenton

Doubtful Ireland (back), Moses (hamstring)

Injured Krkic (knee, Sep)

Suspended None

Form DWDLWD

Discipline Y79 R1

Leading scorer Diouf 9

Liverpool
Subs from Jones, Ward, Johnson, Lambert, Balotelli, Touré, Markovic, Manquillo, Borini, Sinclair, Brannagan, Lucas, Allen

Doubtful Balotelli (foot)

Injured José Enrique (knee), Sakho (hamstring, both Aug), Flanagan (knee), Sturridge (hip, both Oct)

Suspended None

Form WDLWDL

Discipline Y65 R3

Leading scorer Gerrard 8
Read More »

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Barcelona prepare £50m bid for Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has emerged as a £50m target for Barcelona, according to reports.

Barcelona are currently under a transfer embargo which prevents them from signing in players in 2015, but they have still been linked with a number of high-profile names in recent months.

Xavi's departure in the summer will create space in the squad for a midfielder, and The Sun claims that the Spanish champions are ready to approach Arsenal with a tempting offer.

The report suggests that Barcelona scouts have already watched the 24-year-old 10 times this season, but it remains unclear whether FIFA will allow the club to enter the transfer market this summer.

Ramsey still has four years remaining on his current deal with Arsenal.
Read More »

Friday, May 22, 2015

Klopp dismisses Fenerbahce rumors

Borussia Dortmund head coach Jurgen Klopp has dismissed reports that he was considering an offer to join Fenerbahce this summer.

Klopp will leave Dortmund at the end of the season after seven years in charge, and he was reported to have travelled to Turkey earlier this week for negotiations with Fenerbahce.

However, Klopp, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, claims that the suggestion he was in Istanbul was nothing more than a rumour.

"You don't have to believe every dumbass who tweets something," he told reporters on Thursday. "I wasn't in Istanbul. Every bit of me is here."

Klopp's final Bundesliga game in charge will be against Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon.
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Al Sadd: 'Xavi will lead us to glory'

Al Sadd technical director Mohamed Ghanem Al Ali believes that Barcelona midfielder Xavi will guide the Qatari club to glory.

The veteran midfielder, 35, will leave Catalunya after a trophy-laden 17 years at Camp Nou in the summer.

Real Madrid legend Raul also had a spell with the Doha-based club until 2012 until 2014, winning two trophies, and Al Ali hopes to see Xavi have a similar impact.

"Xavi is a great player and one of football's legends," he told the club's website. "He has great experience, which will have a huge effect on our players, especially the young ones.

"Signing Xavi came from the club's philosophy to sign experienced players who can help the young players a lot on and off the pitch.

"That is what happened when former Real Madrid player Raul came here. We hope Xavi can help us to win the AFC Champions league for the third time in the club's history."

Xavi has won La Liga on seven occasions along with three Champions League titles and two Copa del Reys.
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Rafael Benitez wants Real Madrid job

Rafael Benitez "would be truly happy" to take over at Real Madrid this summer, according to his agent Manuel Garcia Quilon.

The 55-year-old, who is out of contract at current club Napoli at the end of the season, has been strongly linked with replacing Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu.

Quilon revealed that no talks have yet taken place, contrary to previous reports, although he confirmed that two-time La Liga winning manager Benitez would be open to moving back to Spain.

"Rafa was a Real Madrid player, he is from Madrid and was a coach of their B Team, so I doubt anyone would be unhappy with that history," he told Spanish TV channel Cuatro. "I am not inside his head but I think he would be truly happy to manage Real Madrid one day."

Benitez guided Valencia to the La Liga title in both 2001-02 and 2003-04, while also making a name for himself as an expert on the European stage.

Meanwhile, Ancelotti's uncertain future is expected to be resolved in the coming weeks, with the Italian on the brink of being shown the exit due to an underwhelming trophyless campaign.
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Arsenal close to completing double Cech and Schneiderlin signing

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is close to completing moves for Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, according to a report.

The 33-year-old Czech has started just 14 games in all competitions for the Blues this season after Thibaut Courtois returned from his loan at Atletico Madrid to become number one under Jose Mourinho.

Meanwhile the 25-year-old Frenchman was linked with a move away from St Mary's last summer, but due to a flurry of departures, the coastal club refused to sanction a transfer.

According to The Secret Footballer, an insider within the game rumoured to be Dave Kitson, Cech's move to the Emirates is "pretty much done", while Schneiderlin will join in the summer transfer window.

I've been told that Morgan Schneiderlin will sign for Arsenal, but not until the summer transfer window. #AFC

— Secret Footballer (@TSF) January 7, 2015

Also, Petr Cech to Arsenal is pretty much done with the keeper desperate to leave Chelsea.

— Secret Footballer (@TSF) May 19, 2015

Arsenal appear set to finish the current Premier League season in third place.
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Tottenham join Everton in battle to sign Jonny Evans

Tottenham Hotspur will compete with Everton for the signature of Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, according to reports.

Injuries and suspensions, as well as competition from Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Paddy McNair, have limited Evans to just 17 appearances this season.

It has also been reported that Louis van Gaal is eager to add at least one more central defender to his squad this summer, which has resulted in speculation that the centre-back will be made available for transfer.

With Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz reportedly set to leave Everton in the summer, manager Roberto Martinez is said to be keen on the Red Devils veteran defender, but the Manchester Evening News claims that Spurs will attempt to bring him to White Hart Lane.

Evans has won three Premier League titles, two League Cups and one Club World Cup with United.
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Juventus join Lamela pursuit

Juventus have reportedly joined the race to sign Tottenham Hotspur attacker Erik Lamela ahead of the summer transfer window.

Lamela has struggled to deliver his best form on a consistent basis since joining Spurs from Roma for a club-record fee in the summer of 2013.

Atletico Madrid are believed to be interested in the Argentine, but the Daily Mail claims that Juventus are considering making an offer as they believe he could be a valuable source of creativity behind their strikers.

The 23-year-old has often been linked with a return to Italy due to his success with Roma, and both the Giallorossi and Fiorentina have previously been rumoured to be interested in his services.

Reports earlier this week suggested that Mauricio Pochettino was eager to keep Lamela at White Hart Lane.
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Klopp dismisses Fenerbahce rumors

Borussia Dortmund head coach Jurgen Klopp has dismissed reports that he was considering an offer to join Fenerbahce this summer.

Klopp will leave Dortmund at the end of the season after seven years in charge, and he was reported to have travelled to Turkey earlier this week for negotiations with Fenerbahce.

However, Klopp, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, claims that the suggestion he was in Istanbul was nothing more than a rumour.

"You don't have to believe every dumbass who tweets something," he told reporters on Thursday. "I wasn't in Istanbul. Every bit of me is here."

Klopp's final Bundesliga game in charge will be against Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon.
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'sign Cech if De Gea leaves' - Scholes

The Red Devils legend believes that the Czech Republic international could have a similar impact to Edwin van der Sar at Old Trafford if he replaces the 24-year-old

Manchester United should sign Chelse's Petr Cech if David De Gea leaves to join Real Madrid, according to Red Devils legend Paul Scholes.

The Spanish side have identified De Gea - who will soon enter the final year of his current contract with United and has so far declined to sign an extension - as the ideal replacement for Iker Casillas and have issued the 24-year-old an ultimatum to persuade him to join this year.

Cech, meanwhile, is ready to leave Stamford Bridge after being displaced as Chelsea No.1 by Thibaut Courtois this season and his agent, Viktor Kolar, on Tuesday revealed that his client would be open to joining United or Arsenal.

Scholes sees Cech as the outstanding available candidate to replace De Gea should he depart and believes the 33-year-old could have a similar impact at Old Trafford as Dutch goalkeeping great Edwin van der Sar.

"If De Gea does go, United should sign Petr Cech," Scholes wrote in his column for the Independent. 

"I remember the effect Edwin van der Sar had on the club when he arrived in 2005. United had struggled since Peter Schmeichel to find a really commanding goalkeeper. Fabien Barthez was the closest we got.

"Edwin came ready-made. He was a Champions League winner, he had four years’ Premier League experience with Fulham, and in the end our manager got six extremely successful years out of him.

"Edwin was almost 35 when he joined United. Cech has only just turned 33. He could potentially play another six years for United.

"There would be no concern about having to give him time to play his way into the position or the demands that the Premier League makes of a goalkeeper new to the country. United won’t want to lose De Gea but there is a solution in the offing."
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Liverpool to offload Lucas Leiva

Liverpool have reportedly made Lucas Leiva available for transfer as they plan for another busy summer in the transfer market.

The Brazilian midfielder was a target for Inter Milan in January, but Brendan Rodgers blocked his move to San Siro as the club did not have a replacement available in their unsuccessful bid for Champions League football.

However, Lucas could now be on his way out of Anfield as the club's officials make plans to bring in James Milner when his Manchester City contract expires next month, according to The Mirror.

Milner's versatility means that he could play out wide or in a central position, and Lucas is expected to be given the green light to move to Inter should Liverpool complete a deal for the England international.

Joe Allen has often been selected ahead of Lucas this season, while Emre Can remains an option in midfield after spending most of his debut season in defence.
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Ander Herrera: 'I can only get better'

Ander Herrera has told Manchester United fans that he is expecting to make further strides next season.

The Spaniard, a £30m summer signing from Athletic Bilbao, has netted eight goals during his maiden season at Old Trafford.

"It's been a tough season, a lot of change at the club and a lot of change in the squad, but I'm happy with my development," he told The Mirror.

"Of course I have to keep improving and keep going, but eight goals for a midfielder is a good stat.

"I'm an ambitious player so I want to keep improving. There are 25 players in the squad and I have to fight a lot if I want to play."

Herrera has started 21 games in all competitions this season.
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Giroud blasts "dull" Thierry Henry

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has hit back at Thierry Henry's "dull" criticism of him last month.

The club's record goalscorer Henry suggested that the 28-year-old was not "top quality" and doubted his ability to fire the Gunners to Premier League glory next term.

Giroud had been in fine form prior to his fellow Frenchman's comments but has failed to find the net in the four games since the damning assessment.

"I heard he was saying too many dull things. That was a bomb and it had its desired effect," he told L'Equipe.

"It was surprising to hear him take apart the team. I say 'team' because it wasn't just me, it was the spine. I think he's wrong.

"I didn't enjoy hearing it. Coming from an ex-France and Arsenal striker, it's a shame. It was a bit easy for him to say that after Chelsea game. We were doing well, unbeaten in 10, my stats were good. It hurt my pride."

Giroud has netted 18 goals from 32 games in all competitions.
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Ancelotti set for the sack at Madrid

Saturday's game will be the Italian coach's final one in charge of the Bernabeu club after a disappointing season, with the Napoli coach interested in replacing him

Real Madrid’s fixture against Getafe on Saturday will be Carlo Ancelotti’s last in charge of the team, as he is set to be sacked at the end of the season, with Napoli boss Rafael Benitez the favourite to replace him.
The future of the Italian coach, who has guided the Blancos to success in the Champions League, Club World Cup, Copa del Rey and Uefa Super Cup since taking over in summer 2013, has come under immense scrutiny in recent months.
Their Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Juventus followed by their failure to win La Liga and an early exit in the Copa del Rey has brought the board to the conclusion that a change is needed.
While the club have not confirmed to Ancelotti that he will be relieved of his duties come the conclusion of the campaign, he has been informed that they are searching for “another kind of coach".
The former Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan boss is understood to appreciate that the club would feel justified to sack him after a campaign without a major title - other than the Club World Cup - and is quite happy with his time at the Bernabeu.
The 55-year-old has been heavily linked with a return to Milan in recent weeks, but it is not an option he is seriously considering at present and it is believed he could go on a sabbatical until a top job opens up for him.
Expected to leave Napoli at the end of the campaign, Benitez is currently top of the list of candidates to take the Italian's role. The Spaniard has a fan in Madrid general manager Jose Angel Sanchez and is a coach Florentino Perez has previously considered for the job.
Some figures at the capital club believe the hiring of Benitez is a done deal, but his representatives insisted there has been no contact from Madrid and he is not exploring his options until the Serie A season finishes on May 31. However, his agent Manuel Garcia-Quilon told Spanish TV channel Cuatro that the coach "will surely be interested in coaching Madrid".
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Liverpool reject Manchester United approach for Sterling

Liverpool have reportedly rejected an approach from Manchester United for Raheem Sterling as the race for his services heats up ahead of the transfer window.

It was reported earlier this week that Sterling had decided to inform the club he wanted to leave in the summer, and he was immediately linked with both Manchester City and Chelsea.

However, The Telegraph claims that United are also interested in the England international, but Liverpool were quick to knock back the approach from their fierce rivals.

Liverpool have made it clear that they are keen to keep Sterling beyond this summer, despite suggestions that he will not sign a new contract, but it is unclear whether they would be more welcoming to an offer from another club.

No player has moved directly between the two clubs since 1964.
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Benitez 'to reject West Ham for Real Madrid move'

Rafael Benitez will reportedly turn down any approach from West Ham United to take over as manager this summer, and will instead hold out for the Real Madrid job.

The Spaniard was seen as one of the leading contenders to replace Sam Allardyce at Upton Park, should the Hammers opt to sack their boss of four years in the coming weeks.

However, Sky Sport Italia claims that Benitez, who is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season, is not interested in the West Ham job.

It is also suggested that the former Liverpool and Chelsea manager is favourite to replace under pressure Carlo Ancelotti at Madrid, after the Italian failed to land any silverware this term.

Allardyce's own future is expected to be resolved during a board meeting next Monday.


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"Join Arsenal" - Thierry Henry tells Raheem Sterling

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has admitted that he would love to see wantaway Liverpool star Raheem Sterling join his former club this summer.

Sterling, 20, is expected to leave Anfield after being booed at the Reds' end-of-season awards recently, having reportedly told the club that he wants to leave.

The Gunners, along with Manchester City, have been linked with a move for the London-born winger, and Henry hopes to see him in the North of the capital come September.

"He's a great product for Liverpool and he's going to be a great product for England," the Frenchman told Sky Sports News.

"I would be more than happy to see him play for Arsenal but he's still a Liverpool player. We all know he's a Londoner, and we know Arsene [Wenger] is interested in him."

Sterling has another two years on his Liverpool contract.
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Pochettino to keep Lamela

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino has reportedly made it clear that he wants to keep Erik Lamela at the club.

Lamela has struggled to find his best form since joining Spurs for a club-record fee in the summer of 2013, and Atletico Madrid were recently linked with a move for the Argentine.

However, The Mirror claims that Pochettino believes the attacking midfielder has a future at the club and he has told chairman Daniel Levy he does not want to see him sold.

Much of the club's business this summer is likely to involve the departures of players who joined in 2013, with Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Roberto Soldado among the players expected to leave White Hart Lane.

Spurs finish the season against Everton on Sunday afternoon.
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Xavi confirms Barcelona departure at the end of the season

Xavi has announced that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season following an illustrious 17-year career.

The Spaniard, who has won 23 trophies during his time at the Camp Nou, has confirmed that he will join Qatari outfit Al Sadd on a short-term deal.

In today's press conference, the 35-year-old said: "The decision is definitive yet difficult. I'm happy to have stayed at Barca this year. It was tough to make a decision. I want to thank the fans. They've been great to me."

Xavi, who has expressed an interest to return to the Spanish giants in some capacity one day in the future, has won eight league titles and three Champions League trophies with Barca.

The midfielder made his senior debut in 1998 and has gone on to make more than 750 appearances and become one of the most influential players at the club in the last decade.

Xavi could add two more trophies to his list of achievements as the Copa del Rey final and Champions League final are due to be his last games for the club.
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Chelsea want Walcott or Chamberlain in Cech deal

Arsenal have reportedly been told that they must offer either Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea if they are to land Petr Cech this summer.

The Blues stopper will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season following 11 years' service, having slipped down the pecking order since Thibaut Courtois returned from his Atletico Madrid loan spell.

Cech's agent Viktor Kolar revealed earlier this week that Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are all in the running to land the Czech's signature, although The Sun claims that the Gunners remain favourites.

However, the same report also suggests that the North London club will have to part company with Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Jose Mourinho said to be keen on adding some width to his side.

"Arsene Wenger wants a top keeper from us," a Chelsea source told the publication. "Well, in exchange we want Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain.

"They may not be in the Arsenal team but we are convinced Jose Mourinho could make them into top players again."

Cech has one more year left to run on his current deal.
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Arjen Robben close in on new Bayern Munich deal

Arjen Robben has hinted that he could sign a new contract with Bayern Munich.

The Dutchman was the key man in Pep Guardiola's side for much of the season before injury prevented him from facing Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

Robben currently has two years remaining on his deal at the Allianz Arena, but he believes that an extension is a possibility.

"Maybe I will stay here longer than 2017. I missed some time due to my injuries and that will be added at the end. Maybe I can play for four or five more years. I am optimistic," he told reporters.

Bayern finish the season against Mainz 05 on Saturday afternoon.
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'£35m or nothing for Lacazette' - Lyon warn Manchester City and PSG

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has warned that Alexandre Lacazette's suitors need to cough up a minimum £35m in order to sign the striker this summer.

The 23-year-old has emerged as one of Europe's hottest hitmen after netting 27 times in 33 Ligue 1 outings this season, resulting in speculation linking him to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

"We will do everything within our powers to hold on to Alexandre," he told Canal+. "You never have any certainties in football, but we are determined to keep him here.

"A transfer fee of €50m [£35m] would not be enough for an attacker like him. He is priceless.

"PSG? I have never spoken with Nasser Al Khelaifi about Alexandre. And I never get the impression PSG want him whenever I speak with Laurent Blanc."

The France international has another three years to run on his contract at Stade de Gerland.
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Manchester United to use Ryan Giggs to lure Gareth Bale

Manchester United are reportedly using assistant manager Ryan Giggs to help persuade Gareth Bale to move to Old Trafford this summer following a disappointing season at Real Madrid.

The 25-year-old is coming to the end of his second season at the Bernabeu, but rumours suggest that the player wants to leave already.

Bale became the most expensive footballer in history when Real paid Tottenham Hotspur £85m for his services in the summer of 2013.

This season, Bale has struggled to get the majority of supporters on side and due to a dip in form, there are suggestions that the La Liga giants will sell if they can recoup some of their investment.

According to Spanish newspaper AS, United are prepared to spend big money on Bale and they have called on the player's fellow Welshman Giggs to help convince him that Old Trafford is the right place for him.

The report also claims that Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett met Real president Florentino Perez on Wednesday to discuss his client's future.
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Liverpool's Alberto Moreno admits he loves the Europa League

Liverpool full-back Alberto Moreno has insisted that players should want to compete in the Europa League rather than avoid it.

There is somewhat of a stigma attached to the second-tiered European competition as many clubs feel that the hectic schedule and travel demands affect the domestic side of their seasons.

Liverpool are expected to qualify for the group stages of the tournament as they are currently fifth in the Premier League table with one game left to play, and Moreno insists that he will play in the competition with pride.

Moreno won the trophy with former club Sevilla last season when they sealed a 4-2 victory on penalties over Benfica in Turin.

"I'm a big fan of the Europa League," Moreno told the Liverpool Echo. "You know I can go home and look at my medal in my trophy cabinet at home which I've already won, I love it.

"For any player and any fan, winning any trophy, not least at a European level, is absolutely something positive. We always want to win trophies, let's face it, and I enjoyed it when we won."

Liverpool's final game of the season is away to Stoke City on Sunday.
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Otamendi agrees to join Manchester United

Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi has reportedly agreed a deal to join Manchester United when the transfer window opens in the summer.

United are believed to be preparing for a busy summer of transfer activity, and bringing a central defender to the club is expected to be a priority for Louis van Gaal, who has not settled on a regular defensive pairing this season.

According to Argentine newspaper Diario Ole, Otamendi has agreed terms with the club and an announcement from the two sides should arrive after the Copa America.

Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels was previously rumoured to be United's top defensive target, but reports have suggested that he will stay in Germany for at least another season.
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Koke: 'I want to be Atletico's Steven Gerrard'

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke has admitted that he wants to build a legacy at the club, much like Steven Gerrard at Liverpool.

The Spaniard has been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United in recent months, but the 22-year-old has made no secret of his desire to stay at the Vicente Calderon.

The midfielder made his senior debut in 2009 after coming through the ranks at Atletico, and Koke is hopeful that he can mirror the loyalty that Gerrard has shown to Liverpool.

"I have a contract with Atletico, I want to accomplish things and I am happy here," FourFourTwo magazine quotes Koke as saying. "Of course I'd like to be Atleti's Gerrard."

Gerrard, who joined Liverpool when he was eight years old, will leave Liverpool this summer to join MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.
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Manchester City consider £20m Saido Berahino bid

Manchester City are reportedly planning to launch a bid for West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino this summer.

The former Premier League champions are believed to be keen to strengthen the number of homegrown talent among their ranks.

An approach for Berahino has been mooted in recent weeks, and according to the Daily Star, City are going to test West Brom's resolve with a £20m offer.

The England Under-21 international, who has reportedly been offered a new deal at The Hawthorns, claimed in February that he wants to one day move to a bigger club.

City have also been linked with Liverpool star Raheem Sterling, who is believed to be considering leaving Anfield this summer.
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Mourinho denies Real rumors

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho denies reports Real Madrid have offered him a return

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has rejected reports that Real Madrid recently offered him the chance to return to the Bernabeu as Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

The Portuguese coach, who left Madrid in 2013 following a three-year spell at the club, is believed to have recently been contacted by the Spanish giants.

Ancelotti remains in charge at the Bernabeu, but due to the club's failure to beat Barcelona to the La Liga title and their Champions League semi-final exit, there have been rumblings that the Italian will be sacked.

Mourinho has confirmed that he has spoken to Real president Florentino Perez, but has insisted that the conversation was centred around the club's basketball team, not about a possible return to the Bernabeu.

"It is not true [that he sounded me out]," Mourinho told Marca. "The reality is that I called the president to congratulate him on the the title won by the basketball section of the club.

"I know all too well what this success means for him, for Jose Angel Sanchez and Javi Coll. That is why I was so pleased and I wanted to congratulate him."

Mourinho guided Chelsea to the Premier League title earlier this month when they had three games to spare.
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Unsettled Cristiano Ronaldo hands Manchester United huge transfer boost

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is unsettled at the Bernabeu following a trophy less campaign and wants a move away, according to a report.

The three-time world player of the year is said to be seeking a return to former club Manchester United, who have been repeatedly linked with the Portuguese ace over the past couple of summers.

Spanish publication Marca claims that Ronaldo, who has also been tipped with a switch to Paris Saint-Germain, is disappointed to have gone a whole campaign without winning any silverware, despite another stellar personal campaign.

It is suggested that United have now been put on red alert, and could potentially make a big-money approach at the end of the season.

The Red Devils have also been strongly linked with a move for another Madrid forward in Gareth Bale.

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Michael Zorc: 'Mats Hummels will stay at Borussia Dortmund'

Mats Hummels has rejected the chance to join Manchester United in favor staying at Manchester United, according to club sporting director Michael Zorc. 

United were believed to be preparing an official move for the German defender after months of speculation as they bid to improve their defensive options ahead of a return to the Champions league.

However, Zorc claims that Hummels will still be at Dortmund next season as the Bundesliga club prepare for the arrival of Thomas Tuchel, who will replace outgoing boss Jurgen Klopp in the summer.

"It made sense that Mats was thinking about his future, but I always pointed out that we plan [for the future] with him," he told Kicker, who have reported that Hummels told Zorc he will stay for at least another season.

Reports have suggested that United are close to completing a deal to sign Valencia's Nicolas Otamendi as their search for a central defender continues.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Juventus VS Lazio Preview

After wrapping up a fourth consecutive league title and reaching the Champions League final, the Bianconeri have their sights set on the Coppa Italia

Juventus meet Lazio in Wednesday's Coppa Italia final, looking to complete a domestic double and secure the second part of a historic treble.

With a fourth successive Serie A title comfortably in the bag, Juve could be forgiven for focusing on next month's Champions League final against Barcelona.

But first, Massimiliano Allegri's side must turn their attentions to tasting glory in the Coppa for the first time in 20 years.

In 1995, Juve defeated Parma 3-0 over two legs to lift the trophy for the ninth time, but since that success the Turin giants have just three losing final appearances to show for their efforts.

Lazio, meanwhile, have won the Coppa five times in the intervening period, most recently in 2013 when Senad Lulic's goal saw off fierce rivals Roma 1-0.

Stefano Pioii's men are third in Serie A and look well placed to at least return to the Champions League qualifiers, with next weekend's derby with Roma looking likely to decide who takes the second automatic spot behind Juve.

Their form of late has been mixed, with just two wins from their past six league outings, although Saturday's 1-0 win at Sampdoria was a timely boost ahead of meeting Juve at their home ground, Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

"We go into the Coppa Italia final, we deserved our place there," Pioli said. "We'll be facing the best side in Italy, one of the best in Europe, but we earned the final and want to play it.

"Juve are extra motivated by targeting the treble. Clearly we need the so-called perfect game, we are in Rome in front of our fans, so we'll give it our best.

"We have the final we were dreaming of. It can be such a big event that it could affect Serie A, so we have to keep focused."

Lazio reached the showpiece with a 2-1 aggregate success over Napoli, while Juve advanced after seeing off Fiorentina 4-2 over two legs.

Alvaro Morata was sent off during the second leg of that semi-final, meaning he will miss Wednesday's game, but the Spaniard believes his team-mates can add to their haul of silverware this season.

"I'm sorry that I won't be able to be there, but it's always like that for me - I'm never happy when I don't play," said Morata, who scored in both legs of Juve's Champions League semi-final win over his former club Real Madrid.

"I'm convinced, however, that my team-mates will give it their all to win the cup. The team always wants to win, just like the boss tells us. It doesn't matter who plays."

Aside from Morata's suspension, Allegri has no new injury worries, while Lazio have concerns over Lucas Biglia, who missed the victory over Samp with a knee problem.

Kick Off Time - 19:45HRS
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