Sunday, October 25, 2009

BPL Match Preview- Liverpool vs. Manchester United

United have the chance to open a 10-point gap on the side who pushed them closest in last season's title race.

With four successive defeats in all competitions, Liverpool are enduring their worst run for 22 years. A fifth reverse in a row would be their worst sequence since 1953.

Liverpool beat Manchester United home and away in the league last season and will be looking for a similarly inspired performance. A Wes Brown own-goal and a Ryan Babel strike handed Liverpool the Anfield victory after Carlos Tevez had given United an early lead.

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will give his injured trio of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson every chance to prove their fitness. Gerrard is the biggest concern of the groin injury victims but he received treatment on Friday, and that will continue right up until the Anfield match.

Torres and Johnson are much closer to being confirmed in the starting line-up ahead of the match but winger Albert Riera (hamstring) and defenders Martin Kelly (ankle) and Sotirios Kyrgiakos (knee) are out and midfielder Alberto Aquilani - who played for the reserves on Wednesday - will not be considered for the Liverpool squad.

Manchester United Team News

Michael Owen may get another start as Wayne Rooney remains a doubt for the Manchester United squad. The United striker has been out with a calf injury since England's World Cup qualifier in Ukraine a fortnight ago. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful the former Everton star will be fit to feature on Merseyside but admits it is far from certain.

Veteran Ryan Giggs is poised to return after suffering a knock in last week's defeat of Bolton Wanderers and Patrice Evra has overcome a heel problem. Darren Fletcher (groin) is another doubt while Park Ji-Sung (knee) is set for a couple of weeks on the sidelines.

Wayne Rooney- The United striker picked up an injury while on England duty

Friday, October 16, 2009

BPL Match Preview- Manchester United vs. Bolton Wanderers

After slipping up at home to Sunderland, Manchester United will be keen to keep up the pressure on Chelsea.

The Red Devils have won eight of their last nine Premier League meetings with Bolton who won at Old Trafford two seasons in 2001/02 and 2002/03 but have since lost on their last six visits.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men are unbeaten in nine in all competitions, winning eight of those matches. Bolton are unbeaten in five in all competitions but have kept just three clean sheets in their last 33 Barclays Premier League outings.

Manchester United Team News

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will wait for the return of Dimitar Berbatov from Bulgaria before finalising his line-up.

Wayne Rooney (calf) is definitely out of the United squad while there are also doubts over Darren Fletcher but Michael Owen returns after a groin problem and Edwin van der Sar will make his first appearance of the season after suffering two broken fingers during a pre-season trip to Munich.

Bolton Wanderers Team News

Sam Ricketts is Bolton manager Gary Megson's only fresh injury concern. The defender is a doubt after pulling out of Wales' World Cup qualifiers with an ankle problem.

Johan Elmander returns to the Wanderers attack after missing the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur with a hamstring injury.

Sean Davis and Joey O'Brien are both long-term absentees with knee problems.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Manchester United 4 - 3 Manchester City

Michael Owen stole the show in a derby for the ages as Manchester United defeated Manchester City 4-3 and demonstrated why the team from Old Trafford remain the city's dominant force.

We came wondering about Carlos Tevez, we prepared to sing the praises of Darren Fletcher, then a City draw and United's shocking defensive errors. In the end, we were talking about Owen.

In the fifth minute of stoppage-time, when England's fourth highest scorer had been shunted so far down the list of talking points he was not even worth a mention, the substitute strode onto Ryan Giggs' precise pass, looked up and calmly found the bottom right corner.

Sir Alex Ferguson danced, Mark Hughes looked punch drunk. One of the most eagerly awaited Manchester derbies had become one of the most dramatic.

Hughes was sick, angrily asking how referee Martin Atkinson had managed to come up with so much additional time. He, more than anyone, knows what United can do with it.

It left the rest rather superfluous.

For the record, United led three times but on each occasion were pegged back thanks to their own idiotic mistakes. Carlos Tevez left the field laughing. But only because Anderson was winding him up.

Sir Alex Ferguson has put forward a rather disparaging assessment of Tevez's time at Old Trafford, highlighting why he did not feel the Argentina star was worth the £25million United eventually offered to pay.

Yet the Scot's assessment centred around Tevez's goals output.

No-one could ever quibble at his work-rate. It was one of the reasons that made him such a hero among the Old Trafford faithful and why the City fans were so quick to acknowledge talent beyond the obvious humour of signing a player Ferguson was urged time and again last season to sign up.

That knowledge left Ben Foster with no excuse for the truly abysmal error of judgement that gifted City their equaliser.

Even Joleon Lescott turned away in disappointment as his long pass bounced into no man's land. Foster clearly felt it would eventually run into the area, which was a debatable point in itself.

Eventually, Foster realised more urgent action was required as Tevez stormed in, just as he should have expected.

Any chance of redemption disappeared as Tevez nicked the ball away from Foster's grasp as he tried to reach the safety of his area, and slipped a pass to Gareth Barry which the England midfielder gleefully swept home.

The mistake was made worse by the knowledge Foster had already received one warning, when he got his wires crossed with Nemanja Vidic and allowed Tevez to half-block a long punt downfield.

Foster might have genuine hopes of becoming United's number one goalkeeper and going to the World Cup. In one moment of madness, he might have blown them.

An errant Wayne Rooney backheel might not have been of the same magnitude but its consequences were almost equally dire for United.

Kolo Toure strode onto the loose ball and fed Tevez for the opportunity to score a goal that would have left Ferguson distraught and humiliated in equal measure.

Tevez thought his shot was going in. To his frustration - and Ferguson's relief, it bounced to safety off the post.

It had all looked so different 43 minutes earlier.

United made a bright start, with Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov looking particularly threatening, when Shaun Wright-Phillips let Patrice Evra run free at a quickly-taken Ryan Giggs throw-in.

Evra fed Rooney, who had the strength to wriggle past Toure and Nigel de Jong before prodding home from close range.

At that point, the noise was deafening. If anything, the volume had gone even further up the scale at the end of a awesome first seven minutes of the second half as United got their noses in front, only to be pegged back once more.

Fletcher did the damage for Ferguson's team, rising above Barry to power home a Giggs' curling cross.

Yet, just as the hosts looked set to take control, with Park Ji-sung and Giggs going close, Craig Bellamy thundered home an equaliser.

Bellamy had been buzzing around in his inimitable manner, but there was no doubting the stamp of class on his 20-yard strike as he collected Tevez's short pass, cut inside John O'Shea and drilled into the top right corner. This time Foster was blameless.

But there was so much drama still to come. Fletcher thought he had won it as he powered home a second header, again from a Giggs cross, 10 minutes from time. Yet the suicidal tendencies in United ranks had not gone away.

Rio Ferdinand attempted an idle chip a minute from time, but found Barry instead. Barry released Bellamy, who ran 60 yards before tucking past Foster.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Match Preview- Besiktas vs Manchester United

Manchester United look to get of to a winning start in their opening Champions League match as they face Turkish champions Besiktas.

United will look to get back to winning ways in the UEFA Champions League, having lost the final in Rome last year to a dominant Barcelona side. United come off a strong win against Tottenham at White Hart Lane over the weekend, coming from a goal down to win 3-1. Wayne Rooney will look to continue on his amazing goal-scoring streak.

Besiktas on the other hand return to the Champions League, having played the now revamped UEFA Cup last year. Even here they failed to make it past the group stages. Besiktas' recent form is awful, culminating in a three-goal defeat to Galatasaray at the weekend.

Besiktas Team News
Besiktas will look to Nihat Kahveci for goals following his return to the Besiktas squad after seven largely fruitful years in Spain with Real Sociedad and Villarreal.

The hosts' only injury concern is defender Ibrahim Toraman (heel).

Manchester United Team News
Paul Scholes' one match ban for the red-card received over the weekend leaves him ineligible for the Manchester Derby over the coming weekend. He will therefore probably find himself in the starting 11 for the opening match of the Champions League season.

Rio Ferdinand should keep his place in the squad after he came through the full 90 minutes at Tottenham on Saturday unscathed, while John O'Shea has shown no effects of his recent calf injury and could start also.

Michael Carrick, Nani and Park Ji-Sung are all pushing for a place in the starting line-up, but goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar (hand), Gabriel Obertan (back), Rafael (shoulder) and Owen Hargreaves (knees) remain sidelined.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Match Preview- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United

Tottenham hope to maintain their 100% start to the season when Manchester United visit White Hart Lane.

Spurs have drawn their last two league matches at home to Manchester United, but have not beaten the Red Devils in 16 league fixtures since 2001. Harry Redknapp's men have not kept a clean sheet in their last six outings but they have won their last eight at home, their best ever run in the Premier League.

However the champions have won 11 and lost only one of their last 13 league matches and will look to Wayne Rooney who has scored four in four against Tottenham.

Wayne Rooner: The United Striker's scored 4 goals in 4 matches against the Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur Team News

Niko Kranjcar is in the Tottenham squad following his deadline-day move from Portsmouth. Ledley King will need a final check on his groin injury, while Luka Modric, Michael Dawson, Jonathan Woodgate and Gareth Bale miss out at White Hart Lane.

Jermaine Jenas (calf) and Heurelho Gomes (groin) are back in the squad and Sebastien Bassong is available despite a slight knock picked up while on international duty.

Manchester United Team News

Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville are both in contention for Manchester United's trip to Tottenham on Saturday after training during the week while Neville played a match with the reserves.

Sir Alex Ferguson may start Antonio Valencia on the bench as the Ecuador winger has had a long journey back from international duty in Bolivia.

John O'Shea is missing from the Manchester United squad after suffering a calf injury on i duty while keeper Edwin van der Sar's broken thumb will keep him out for another month.