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Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona: Mirror player ratings from the Etihad – Now have YOUR say

Barcelona took a giant step towards the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday, . Lionel Messi scored the opener for , firing home from the penalty spot after being felled by Martin Demichelis. It appeared that City would hang on to go into the second leg with just a one-goal deficit, but Dani Alves popped up late on to make it 2-0. David Anderson was especially impressed by Andres Iniesta, making him his Man of the Match. Let us know what you think below. Manchester City A spectator mostly and parried a fierce Xavi drive – Snapped away at Iniesta’s heels and got forward well – Totally committed as ever and never shirked a challenge – Had done well before conceding penalty and being dismissed – Did well against Say’s 1-0 home defeat by rivals Bristol City left them 14th in the Championship and seven points adrift of the top six after 16 matches.”Today I am leaving my beloved Bluebirds after over three years of which have been some of the best days in my long nchez before City were reduced to 10 men – Always dangerous and produced a good supply from the right – Won his tackles and distributed the ball well – Disappointed and showed just showed flashes of strength and power – Deployed on left and caught Busquets with poor challenge – Operated in the hole and had a shot saved by Valdes – Booked. Battled manfully as lone striker and let down by finishing – Looked suspect under crosses and high balls – Booked. Shot just past Hart's far post before netting second – Didn't enjoy the physical challenge of marking Negredo – Booked. Fought well against Negredo, despite height handicap – Operated as a virtual wing-back in support of Iniesta – Won the midfield battle against Toure and Fernandinment he returned to the club as caretaker boss.Solskjaer took over more than a year ago when the club sacked Jose Mourinho in the middle of last season.He went through a fantastic spell in temporary charge, which earned him the permanent job.While thho – Excellent distribution and stung Hart's hands with a drive – His through ball led to penalty and he showed great poisecontent_img – Helped Barcelona dominate possession with his neat passing – Well shepherded on the right by Clichy and Kolarov – Fouled by Demichelis for the penalty, which he converted – Who was the Man of the Match?500+ VOTES SO FAR

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Hughes’ bust up shows he has spirit, says QPR defender

Clint Hill reckons Mark Hughes’ post-match bust-up with Martin Jol shows he is up for the fight against relegation. The QPR boss brushed away his Fulham successor because he thought the Dutchman wanted to pat him on the head in a patronising gesture. And Hoops defender Hill said: “He has certainly got spirit. I was lucky to play against him a few times so I know that. He cares, like everyone elsMerih Demiral is a wanted man in England.Tuttosport says Arsenal and Manchester United are preparing to lock horns over the Turkey international.Juventus will cash in on the 21-year-old defender should a significant offer come in for the former Sassue, and doesn’t want this club to go down. He will be frustrated. “We feel the whole world is against us. We are having no luck at the moment, but we will come back on Monday and dust ourselves down.” Hill admitted “time is running out” to avoid returning to the Championship in a five-way relegation fight. And Rangers must play six of the top seven in their closing 12 fixtures. “The last three games have been massive – and we haven’t got any points,” he said. “There’s always belief. The mini-league is getting smaller during every game. There’s five teams involved and if we can finished fiid for Wilfried Zaha.Crystal Palace value the winger at £80m, double what Arsenal have offered.Sky Sports says the Gunners hope Palace will accept an offer of £40m.Speaking to Sky Sports, Zaha’s brother Judicael revealed content_imghis dreams of a move to therst or second in that league it will be a massive achievement.” QPR 0-1 Fulham: Daily Mirror match report

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Was Blackpool statue removed to stop protests against chairman Karl Oyston?

A statue of Blackpool hero Stan Mortensen has vanished from outside the stadium days before it was set to be a focal point for a protest against controversial chairman Karl Oyston. The Tangerines' boss is Public Enemy No.1 for fans after branding supporter Stephen Smith a 'l Taiwo Awoniyi this summer.The Liverpool Echo says CSKA Moscow have become the latest team to enquire about Awoniyi.The 21-year-old is a target for a number of clubs despite having never played a first-team game with the Reds due to work permit issuretard' in a text message, adding: "Enjoy the rest of your special ncontent_imgeeds day out." The FA has charged Oyston, who denies the allegations, but he faces ongoing pressure from the Blackpool faithful, urging him to quit. Some fans threw eggs and flares outside the ground earlier this month in a bitter campaign which also saw lifelong fan and pensioner Frank Knight ordered by Oyston's men to pay £20,000 in damages for alleged defamatory remarks made on his Facebook page. The footballing world came to the supporter's rescue, gathering the thousands he needed to pay. Now, Blackpool bosses, who saw their side relegated to League One earlier this month, have seemingly removed the legendary Stan Mortensen statue. Fans described the decision as 'beyond contempt.' The Blackpool Supporters Trust and the Tangerine Knights had named the statue, part paid for by fans, as a gathering point before Saturday’s lunchtime match against Huddersfield. Protesters said police warned them Oyston was set to take out a 'civil trespassing injunction' against participants with a view to taking them to court. So far, Blackpool have refused to respond to telephone calls or emails to explain the move. A statement from the Blackpool Supporters' Trust and Tangerine Knights said: "To remove the statue of someone so beloved by the fans of the club that they themselves helped pay for it, is beyond contempt. "Stan Mortensen is a hero to tens of thousands, most of whom never saw him play, he is an icon of all that is good about Blackpool FC and the community to which it belongs." Mortensen notched a hat-trick in the 1953 'Stanley Matthews' FA Cup final. Oyston, who once texted a fan, 'I am a never-ending nightmare revenge mission,', has long been at war with Blackpool fans, and in one rant to Mr Smith, told him: "'Stop texting f******, you shouldn't have ever started as you are one tiresome f***** that should spot trains not watch football. "Get a life and consider yourself banned from the stadium. You are baarcelona teen Ansu Fati has announced his international plans.Spain’s interest in him, via the RFEF, is nothing new as they’re aware Ansu is also eligible to represent Portugal. Now the player himself had made a decision.”I want to play for Spain,” Anned because I think you are a p****. "Impossible to have a meaningful conversation with such a f******* as you." Will Blackpool go even lower than League One with the Oystons in charge?3000+ VOTES SO FAR

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Manchester United to play January friendly in the Middle East in hope of raising funds

Manchester United are in talks over a ­money-spinning game in the Middle East in January as the club looks to cover the cost of failing to qualify for the Champions League, Old Trafford bosses also want to cash in on a deal for their training kit as revenue will be hit by the side’s failure to finish in the top four. Sunday People Sport understands either of the Milan sides – AC or Inter – will provide the ­opposition as they will be on their winter break in Serie A. Like United, AC and Inter both failed to qualify for Europe’s elite competition and are also ­exploring other revenue streams. Although United are expected to earn around £12million from their five-match tour of America this summer the club’s hierarchy reckon they will lose £30m from not being in the Champions League. United’s Mayfair-based ­commercial and marketing ­departments are now understood to be in overdrive to cash in on the brand in any way possible. The January game is lirton midfielder Darron Gibson is training with Salford City.The Manchester Evening News says the Ammies have no plans to offer Gibson a contract at the moment as he seeks to resurrect his career, having been without the club since leaving Wigan Athlekely to be staged in Qatar or Dubai, with the Qatari Football Federation keencontent_img to put a positive spin on their ­controversial 2022 World Cup-winning bid, which has caused a storm of protest. Gallery: Who should Man United sign this summer, who should they sell? United staged a warm weather training break at the Dubai Sports Complex earlier this year, and the club view the UAE as the perfect winter break destination. New Old Trafford boss Louis van Gaal has already been told of the plan and the Dutchman has given the go-ahead for the game. The deposed Premier League Champions are close to announcing a new main kit contract worth a ­massive £650m. A deal for the club’s ­training gear is also in the pipeline, and talks have been held with Japanese firm Uniqlo to supply kit for their Carrington ­training centre. United broke fresh ground when DHL ­sponsored the club’s training ground shirts before main ­sponsors AON took over the ­agreement as part of their naming rights of the Carrington training complex. Now United are maximising move to Napoli.The Swiss’ agent says he’d follow former Milan coach Rino Gattuso to Naples.“From January onwards, he needs to play, because Euro 2020 is coming up and Ricardo wants to be a protagonist for his country,” agent Gianluca Di Domenico t their sponsorship openings with a ruthless efficiency. And some fans believe that even selling the naming rights for Old Trafford itself is on the agenda if United face a ­prolonged spell out of the Champions League.

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Newcastle chief Mike Ashley’s Rangers takeover moves closer as Llambias ‘starts work at Scottish giants’

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has continued what appears to be a takeover of on Tuesday. British businessman Ashley, who of the voting rights of Rangers, provided £2million of funding for the financially-stricken club on Monday Wallace, who had been in the job since last November, followed financial consultant Philip Nash out of the club after he quit last week. Following Wallace's exit, former Newcastle manoud of his side’s home record.The manager feels that it has underpinned their title successes of the past two seasons.He said: “In some moments you need luck to content_imgwin games, to make a lot of points, win titles.”But we have effort and very good things, aging director Derek Llambias travelled to Glasgow to discuss a role with the 54-time Scottish champions. "I’ve been invited up here for talks with the board – I’m one of many applicants," Llambias told Sky Sports News. While he was remaining somewhat tight-lipped over his role in Glasgow, Sandy Easdale, who controls e the Premier League title sewn up.This time last season, City had long since secured the Premier League and were ready to be presented with it.However, the destination of this year’s crown is still up in the air with two games to go.City have 92 poi26 percent of Rangers' shares, said on Tuesday that Llambias is now working with the club as a consultant. "Mike's a very wealthy individual and he really does want to help the club," he said. "I would hope [it will bring stability], we’ve got to look forward now. "The fans have heard so much over so many years but I can only say we've got somebody who is interested in helping the club and we can only look at it as a positive thing." Last month, Ashley declared he had no intention of selling Newcastle for at least two years and the Scottish Football Association have asked for clarification from Rangers about his intentions. If Ashley were to take control of Rangers then he The 50-year-old hasn't been a popular figure Newcastle fans since taking over in 2007 but he has led the club to become self-sufficient. According to Ally McCoist, his involvement with Rangers is a positive one. "The news of Mike's involvement is good news," said McCoist. "I've said all along the club needs investment, so we’ve got it. Change is always a concern but I have been told that this change is moving the club forward, which is absolutely fantastic." Would Mike Ashley be good for Rangers?0+ VOTES SO FAR

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Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino backs goalkeeper Michel Vorm after howler in FA Cup loss to Leicester

Mauricio Pochettino has backed blundering keeper Michel Vorm and promised to keep him in goal at Sheffield United. Vorm's error on after the Dutch keeper allowed Jeff Schlupp to go through him. But Pochettino insists he will stick with his decision to play Vorm in the cups at Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup semi final rather than recall Hugo Lloris. Pochettino said: "This is football. He made two and Borussia Dortmund have been among those linked with City’s academy graduate. “He (Aarons) has got a wonderful future and he’s playing superbly well in the Premier League at the moment,” Edworthy told edp24.co.uk.“Ideally, they’d love to keep big saves against Leicester. His attitude is fantastic and nothing has changed. In one action he conceded a goal. "He made a mistake. . "I think it should be normal to play Michel. This is football. All games are important. He had a good performance (against Leicester)." Pochettino insists Spurs can handle the pressure and belicontent_imgeves they will go through on the into the FA Cup fourth-round with a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge.The Blues opened the scoring after six minutes through Callum Hudson-Odoi.The England international was out-of-form leading up to the clash, but added an assist toback of their slender one goal lead from the first leg. Pochettino added: "I think the pressure is the same as it was in the home game. we want to get to the final. But after the first leg we need to be careful. Though we need to play freely. We need to score. "We need to be 100 per cent focused. Our fans expect us to arrive in the final at Wembley. But we need to play better than Sheffield, show more energy than Sheffield and try to fight. "For me we need to go there thinking it is 0-0. I believe we will need to score. We have to forget about the first leg and show the mentality to win. "When I speak about being more aggressive it is in the right way. We need to fight to get on the ball and instill our game." Who'll reach the final?0+ VOTES SO FAR

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Cahill keen to avoid more Wembley blues

Gary Cahill has vowed to banish the Wembley semi-final memories that have haunted him for the past 12 months. The England defender was at the heart of a Bolton team many tipped to beat Stoke at last season's final-four stage. Instead, Cahill left the Wembley pitch dejected and devastated after a 5-0 mauling (pictured) that created mental scars which have still not healed. On Sunday, the central-back gets the chance to put the record straight as he anul the club can keep Nathan Ake for many years to come.Ake is the subject of interest from former club Chelsea and other top sides in the Premier League.And Francis is aware that he may not stick around forever, but he is hopeful they can convince hid new club Chelsea collide with London rivals Spurs under the Arch. And Cahill admitted he has a score to settle with the venue and the competition. “I’ve still got no idea what happened last year. Even now, when I look at that game I can’t say why it happened," he said. “It wasn’t that we [Bolton] froze. It was a situation, going into the game, where everything seemed to be going really well for us. “Then we got to Wembley and it was as if everybody decided to have a bad day at once. It was a freak result in a freak game. “It’s not something I’ll ever remember fondly. It hurt at the ticontent_imgme and it still hurts me now. "I’ve got a chance to put that right and I mean to take it.” Cahill may have anticipated being a first choice at Chelsea and bolstering his Euro 2012 credentials, but instead he has had to accept being part of a defensive rotation also featuring John Terry, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic. Ironically, Spurs were also keen to sign him, but Cahill has no regrets over the choice he made as he prepares himself for a 10-day, four-match run that will determine Chelsea’s campaign. After Sunday's game, Chelsea host Barcelona in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final, make a tricky trip to Arsenal and then play the second leg against Barca at the Nou Camp on Tuesday week. Cahill added: “We’re in a positive frame of mind and have had a lot of good results recently. We’re confident because we’re playing very well. “But we realise how big the next games are for us, starting on Sunday and then Wednesday – it is the defining moment of the season. “When you sign for a big club you expect to be challenging for trophies and that’s what we are doing. To be part of a team that wins trophies is fantastic and if I can pick up my first one that would be amazing. “We have two massive semi-final hurdles to get over first before we can even start thinking of that. It will be exciting for me to play and put right those feelings I still have from last year.” The match pitches two very different managers against each other. Cahill believes the understated manner of interim gaffer Roberto Di Matteo has made a difference after to.com says the Blues are vying with Italian sides Roma and Sampdoria for the 19-year-old, who is said to possess excellent vision and technical ability on the ball.Ibrahimoglu has shined for the Rapid Vienna second team this season with a string of fhe madness that enveloped the last days of the man who signed him, Andre Villas-Boas. “He is a calming manager, but he puts his points across as well and says what he feels,” said Cahill. “The lads have taken to him well. He has been in and around the set-up for a while and knows how everything works. He’s a good guy and a good manager as well. “We know Spurs are a hard team to play against. Harry is a fantastic manager and turned them into a real force, so we know it is going to be a tough game because they’ve got lots of players who can hurt you. “That’s obvious with players like Gareth Bale but both the wingers are very fast and their midfielders are superb as well. They’ve got a lot of people who can hurt us. “But we’ve got players who can hurt them as well. Fernando Torres is playing well. Since I came to the club he’s worked so hard and his general contribution to the game has been really good. “It was just the goals that were lacking but he’s started to score of late as well. If you can get Fernando Torres on good scoring form there’s not too many better about in the game.” Team news: Defensive worries for 'Arry, Terry and Cole fit for Blues Redknapp takes England hot-seat… in home dugout for Cup semi Di Matteo denies Chelsea will mug off Cup semi to focus on Barca  Two trophies in 20 years? It's about time we won one – Redknapp Di Matteo slams 'inconsistent' FA after losing Ivanovic for semi  Dan Silver's Premier League and FA Cup previews and predictions Bale fears history repeating in FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea King sweating on Wembley place – and his future at Tottenham PICTURES: Chelsea's new home kit for 2012-13 goes for gold

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Gary Lineker wants Glenn Hoddle to succeed Andre Villas-Boas as Tottenham manager

Gary Lineker wants to see Glenn Hoddle get another chance as Tottenham manager. , 53, voiced his opinion on Twitter following yesterday&apos forced off during the 2-2 draw against Champions League opponents Club Brugge.Courtois left the pitch complaining of a sore belly, though had been jeered by the home support after conceding twice.Alphonse Areola could now start for Real against Gran;s sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. The Walkers crisps-plugging former Spurppy with Mariano Diaz’s performance for victory over Villarreal.Mariano grabbed two of the goals for the 3-2 win.”Obviously he hasn’t had opportunities because he has beencontent_img injured,” Zidane said.”I’m happy for him and that he got two goals.”Vinicius Js and England striker wrote on Twitter: "AVB has been sacked by Spurs. "Would love to see Glenn Hoddle given another chance at this level. "Has a brilliant football mind." Former England boss Hoddle was previously in charge at Spurs between 2001 and 2003. He is the third favourite for the Spurs job with bookmakers at 10/1 with Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred. But another ex-England coach Fabio Capello is the odds-on fancy to succeed AVB at 8/11 with Ladbrokes.

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Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Brendan Rodgers urges Kop stars to ‘make themselves legends’

Brendan Rodgers has told his team they can make themselves legends against Real Madrid. arrive at Anfield for Wednesday's group-stage match boasting an ­intimidating record of 22 goals in their last seven Champions’ League away games, and a mind-blowing total of 43 in their 13 matches on their way to Yet even though many of his inexperienced team have never played a game of this stature before, Rodgers reckons the massive European night at the famous old stadium provides with the perfect opportunity to write their names in history. “They can go into the game to get a result for the team and what can come from that is a legendary status,” insisted. “It’s absolutely the ch boss Eddie Howe hailed the performance of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for last night’s win at Southampton.The England under-21 international produced a stellar performance to help Cherries deliver their first ever win in an away fixture against Southase. These are the types of games that are talked about for years and years. “Steven Gerrard scored two goals in the last game against them [in 2009] and they are still talked about. These performances in the big games, if you make a big contribution, that is what the supporters remember. Who will win on Wednesday night?5000+ VOTES SO FAR “It’s going to be great for everyone. I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere in the stadium and I’m sure, like it always does, it will draw a great performance from the players. I’m very confident the great competitors we have in the team will rise to the standards set by playing Real Madrid.” Rodgers was asked what he feared more Hurricane Gonzalo – which battered the northwest on Tuesday – or , and joked that the real hurricane would be out on the pitch. But his skipper Steven Gerrard dismissed the idea of fear from his side, even at the prospect of playing the best team in the world right now. Liverpool are the only team to have played Madrid more than once in Europe and maintain a 100 per cent record against them. They have not only won their three matches against the Spanish giants in this competition, including the final in 1981, but have not even conceded a goal. Many people fear that record will be blown apart, but Gerrard insisted: “I just hope no one from the outside thinks we are merely going into these games to enjoy ourselves and settle for being in the Champions’ League, because we won’t go in worrying about the big names. “You have to embrace it and say to yourself we are a good team as well; we have good players. Real Madrid have been beaten twice this season already. It is not impossible – they do have off nights and we have a big advantage in our fans. “I am pretty confident that we can surprise and shock a few people but that is how I am. I go into games with optimism rather than fearing individuals and the opposition.” Gerrard is painfully aware that many critics – and even many of the club’s fans – fear the worst. But he said: “I can understand it, because most places Real go with their current players, and the form they are in, they are expected to win. But football is football, shocks are there, upsets happen. “Yes we understand we are the underdogs but with the atmosphere here and the players raising their game for a match like this it is possible to cause an upset. How many goals will Real Madrid score at Anfield on Wednesday?1000+ VOTES SO FAR “When big questions get asked of this team, last year when big hitters came to town, we raised our games, the fans raised theirs, and we put in some really good performances – and a performance is due now. “It wasn’t good enough at QPR everyone knows that, but I think everyone will respect that when Real Madrid come into town it is a different game to get yourself up for. “Every player in the dressing room realises if we have two or three passengers it can become embarrassing against the best side in the world who are deadly away from home. We need to be right on it.” Perhaps the person Liverpool most need a performance from is £16million summer signing Mario Balotelli, who had and has been criticised by the likes of . But when asked if he needcontent_imged to pull out of the firing line, Rodgers replied: “No, no. I don’t. It’s a game he is keen to perform in. “He scored a terrific goal in the last Champions League game here so he will be really motivated to perform well. He has got experience of performing in the big, big games and he will take that into this game.” Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Probable teams Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno; Henderson, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling, Balotelli, Coutinho. Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Rodriguez, Modric, Kroos; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo. Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Three to watch Have you seen his stats this season? He is worth three men out there. Goalscorer, creator, legend, and impossible to play against in this mood. If you really must watch anyone else, then: Has maintaer United are ready to bid big for Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff.The London Evening Standard says United are hoping to capitalise on Newcastle’s failure to tie Longstaff down to a long-term deal. They are poised to bid for the 21-year-olined his form from the World Cup and with Bale out, will be asked to provide a goal threat. With all this attacking talent on show, then someone has to man the shop at the back, and he does it with authority to stop his side being exposed on the counter. Did you know we have our very own Reds Facebook page? How Group B stands   P W D L GF GA GD Pts Real Madrid 2 2 0 0 7 2 +5 6 Basel 2 1 0 1 2 5 -3 3 Liverpool 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 3 Ludogorets 2 0 0 2 2 4 -2 0 Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Facts and stats These two sides have met three times: in the final of the European Cup 1980-81 and over two legs in the last 16 of the 2008-09 Champions League. Liverpool have won all three meetings, keeping three clean sheets in the process. The Reds are the only team with a 100% win rate against Real in the Champions League. The Bernabeu giants have failed to find the net against just two sides in the Champions League: Arsenal and Liverpool. Real Madrid’s record against English opposition is W11, D9, L10 Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won each of their last six games in Europe, scoring 18 goals and conceding only three. Real have found the net in 40 of their last 41 European games (112 goals in total, 2.73 per game on average). If Cristiano Ronaldo scores two goals on Wednesday, he will join Raul as the Champions League joint top-scorer on 71 goals. Ronaldo has scored more goals away from home than at home in the Champions League so far (35 away, 32 home, two neutral). The Portuguese superstar failed to score in five visits to Anfield as a Manchester United player, but did score in his final two appearances AGAINST Liverpool (both at Old Trafford). Mario Balotelli has been the victim of the most fouls won in this season’s Champions League, 12.

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Flat in attack, error-prone at the back… familiar failings come back to haunt Arsenal once more

You might have thought Arsene Wenger would have chosen a different route home. But as theia’s offer for Dejan Lovren.Calciomercato.com says Roma have agreed personal terms with Lovren over a one-year loan deal with an obligation to buy next summer.Roma will eventually have to fork out £23m for the defender, who turns 31 next year.Lovren r inconsistent season and defensive frailties tripped them up yet again. Ten months ago, Wenger was left humiliated after Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 and the Frenchman was pictured falling over as he went to board a trai is moving for Chelsea midfielder Willian.The 30-year-old appears to be edging closer to the exit door at Stamford Bridge as his contract continues to wind down.Willian is free to negotiate a pre-contract deal with foreign clubs from January 1, with n at Lime Street station. Arsenal decided to let the train take the strain again on Sunday and the journey back to London would have only been mildly less frustrating for Wenger. Wenger’s men got a point from Anfield this time but to concede an equaliser in the seventh minute of injury time made it feel like a defeat for Arsenal even if Liverpool, Arsenal just do not seem to be able to get any sort of momentum this season and they are now four points off top four going into Christmas facing yet another scrap for a Champions League place in the New Year. Arsenal were unconvincing yet again and the statistics tell their own story. Liverpool had 27 attempts, Arsenal managed just seven and had just 36.5 per cent possession which is their lowest in a game since Opta stats began. That surely shows that Liverpool dominated, Arsenal didn’t play particularly well and yet, after getting themselves within touching distance of an away win, it was incredibly sloppy to throw it away. Obviously it came from a set piece. Arsenal’s defending has been so poor from free-kicks and corners this season that they always look vulnerable. In went Adam Lallana’s corner, Calum Chambers lost his man and Martin Skrtel, bandaged head and all, powered in an unstoppable header into the far corner. It wasn’t just Chambers either. Arsenal look weak defensively and they never fill you with a confidence that they can keep a clean sheet. They make fundamental errors in every single game. Back to square one for Arsenal. All their earlier hard work undone but the frustrations of the entire season were right there in one moment: they let another chance slip away with more sloppy play. Unless they find some sort of rhythm or a better balance in their team, Arsenal will not be able to make up ground on West Ham and Southampton in the annual battle for fourth. That’s what it has come down to Wenger. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are over the hill and away into the distance. Now Arsenal are trying to make up ground on two teams who are traditionally stuck in mid-table. Maybe that’s an indication of where Arsenal’s form and performances have been this season. And in the first half, Arsenal were as bad as they have been this season. They looked flat, unable to string two passes together and they looked vulnerable in defence. That possession stat is incredibly telling because Wenger’s philosophy has always been about the passing game and yet every ball was bouncing back from their forwards. The front three ofcontent_img Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck should be electric, full of pace, goals and dynamism. But they could not get into the game in the opening half and, rather typically, Welbeck and Giroud contrived to unwittingly play a part in Philippe Coutinho’s opening goal just before half-time. Welbeck’s clumsy pass bounced straight back off Giroud, Jordan Henderson pounced and fed Coutinho who was given too much time and space by Mathieu Debuchy to work an opening and fire home in off a post. Arsenal at least showed character to fight back. Debuchy headed them level in first half stoppage time and Giroud’s 64th minute goal to make it 2-1 was at least a bit more of a typical flowing move after good work by Kieran Gibbs and Santi Cazorla. Arsenal have some wonderful attacking players but can’t seem to find a balance between attack and defence to help them score goals and keep clean sheets in equal measure. Did Arsenal deserve anything from that game?500+ VOTES SO FAR

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Eu are ya? Croatia’s 23-man Euro 2012 squad picture special

Introducing the players upon whose ester City boss Pep Guardiola has spoken 24 points from 20 games it’s fair to say that Arsenal have struggled this season. The squad is in need of a major overhaul, but unfortunately, that wcontent_imgon’t be possible until the end of the season.For now, Mikel Arteta can look to bolster a few areas oof the Anfield effect that helped Liverpool win the Champions League title last season.City were dumped out of the Champions League by the Reds in 2018 and Guardiola’s former club Barcelona also suffered humilshoulders a nation's hopes will rest come the big kick-off on Friday, June 8.

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Confident Ferguson sets sights on last 16

Sir Alex Ferguson has backed his "big-game" players to save Manchester United from an embarrassing Champions League exit. Oliver Holt column: Why Untouchable Fergie has earned his free pass should United crash out of the Champions League United need a point away to Swiss champions Basel on Wednesday after stumbling through the group stage in unconvincing fashion, with two wins and three draws – two of them at Old Trafford. Ferguson believes the experience of high-profile players such as Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will see him into the last 16. United have lost just once away from home in Europe since their semi-final defeat to AC Milan in 2007 and Ferguson said he had no doubt his players would get the job done. The last time United exited at the group stage was in 2005, when they lost 2-1 away to Benfica. Ferguson feels his current side is older and wiser than the '05 version of the Reds, with a stronger collective mentality. "We have to rely on the experience of the last few years away from home," he said. "That's is the record we're taking into the game. "That record helps us, there's no question about that. Hopefully that will apply itself in this game. "I don't think the pressure will affect us, particularly if you look at the number of big games these players play in. "Every season for the last few years these players have been involved in finals, semi-finals and quarter-finals, as well as big games in the Premier League. "So they have that experience of playing in big games all the time and this is exactly the same situation. It's another big game for them." Despite Ferguson's bullish stance, the United boss knows his side are in for a tough night against Basel, who came from 2-0 down at Old Trafford in September to lead 3-2, only to be denied a famous win by a 90th-minute Ashley Young equaliser. The Scot identified the uncharacteristic "complacency" his players showed in that game as the reason for their current predicament. He acknowledged the point theaximin insists there should be no long-term issues with his hamstring.However, United will continue to manage his training schedule to ensure the troublesome injury which disrupted his season does not re-occur.For his part, the winger says fans shouly salvaged through Young's last-gasp header had effectively kept them alive in the tournament. "There was obvious complacency in the game when we went 2-0 up," said Ferguson. "We had a lot of chances in the first half, but Basel also missed two good chances in the first half. "It was a strange game in that respect. Fortunately, we managed to wake up late in the game to get a result which has maybe rescued us in this section." Fergie bristled when it was put to him that United, who have scored just once in each of their last seven Premier League games, have been struggling for form. But deep down the United boss knows his team have been nowhere near their best this term and that tonight is all about hauling themselves over the line to the last 16, so they can re-focus on trying to close the five-point lead Mancontent_imgchester City have over them in the title race. "You say we're not doing well, but we're second in the Premier League and we're at a stage where we could be qualifying for the next phase of the Champions League," countered Ferguson. "I think we've had to contend with quite a few injuries this season, which hasn't been helpful, but we have a strong squad and that squad will see us through, without question. "We're suffering from the casualness in the game against Basel. That's the one game you could really criticise us for. It's the only one. "There was nothing wrong with the tactics against Basel at Old Trafford, it was the complacency that caused us the problem. "We got very wasteful with the chances we had. We could have been out of sight but we showed a lack of discipline in the second half and that cost us the extra two points. "But we've done our job against Galati, played well [away to]  Benfica to draw and we were very unlucky in the home game against them. "We could have scored four or five goals in that game. It was a good European game, but we should have won. So it's not been all bad." Ferguson's midfield options have been squeezed, with Michael Carrick suspended and Anderson and Tom Cleverley both injured. Striker Javier Hernandez is missing too, out for three to five weeks with an ankle injury suffered in Saturday's win at Aston Villa. But Fergie remained upbeat and said: "We have a strong squad. We have players who are versatile and who can adapt to a lot of different positions. "That's the value of having these types of players. We hwhat he wants from their next group of signings.There has already been a number of players linked with a move to Anfield and Klopp has provided an insight into what can be expected for those who move to Merseyside.“When a new player is coming in, Iave quite a few like that. "Phil Jones played in midfield at Villa and Ryan Giggs is available, as is Darren Fletcher. "We have some options and that's the value of having players who are adaptable and versatile." Rooney's focused on beating Basel not his ban appeal – Fergie Phil Jones: We're Man United – we eat pressure for breakfast!  United didn't take us seriously last time claims Basel's captain What are the odds Manchester United end up playing Thursday nights on Channel 5? Derek McGovern's Bets of the Day

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Patrice Evra insists Manchester United boss David Moyes has not lost the dressing room

Patrice Evra claims all the Manchester United players content_imgare behind Moyes is feeling the pressure at Old Trafford following United's With United well off the pace in the race for a Champions League place, their season will be over if they do not turn round the last 16 tie in next month's second leg. Evra claims United's struggles are no surprise because Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement last year was such a big sea change at the club. and says he still loves the club, regardless of where they are in the table. The French defender told Monaco radio station RMC: "There was a big change, it had to be digested. Nobody likes change. The team played under Alex Ferguson for more than 26 years. "We're behind the new manager. We&Solskjaer says Juan Mata trusted Fred to take a late free-kick against Manchester City on Wednesday night.United needed one goal to send the Carabao Cup semi-final to penalties and had a good chance to score when Harry Maguire was fouled 20 yards froapos;re going to do all we can to qualify for the next Champions League. Whether I win trophies or we're of the table, my love for the club wilat Southampton was their first away from home in the Premier League since March.Reid told the Guardian: “It is a struggle. I was at the Man City game recently and some people were clapping. We got beat 3-1. Standards have slipped.“Manchester Cityl not change." Should United sack David Moyes?18000+ VOTES SO FAR

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Nice Guy XI: Just because

"Yeah, he's a bloody great guy." Imagine a team so nice, they lose every game by way of a last minute own goal. Imagine a team so nice, the only yellow card the entire team gets is when a striker takes his shirt off… because he spots an old lady shivering on a cold, wet Tuesday night in Stoke. We have assembled that te a move for Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena.Milan are in negotiations for Barca defender Jean-Clair Tobido and Mundo Deportivo says they’ve also asked for Alena.The midfielder is available for loan and keen on a move in search for first team footbaam, this is Nice Guy XI… Head Coach – Miguel Herrera What a nice and young man. Goalkeeper – Edwin van der Sar Quite possibly the nicest man alive. Defender – Angel Rangel A really nice bloke. Defender – Marcel Desailly Just an all-round decent guy. Defender – Laurent Koscielny Quite literally saved an accordion factoin Vincent Kompany has declared themselves the best team in the world after winning the FA Cup.It is the first time in history an English team has won the men’s domestic treble – the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.City have now lifted five ofry from bankruptcy. Defender – Javier Zanetti (Captain) So nice he makes the Pope look like a monster in comparison. Defensive Mid – Xabi Alonso Great guy. Really top character. Defensive Mid – David Luiz Charitable, smiley, he's probably the bad boy of this team. Central Mid – Juninho He's so nice, that he came back to professional football and scored the goal that saved Brazilian team Ituano from relegation. Attacking mid – Juan Mata Signs off his blog posts with "hugs". Attaccontent_imgking mid – Kaka Lovely chap. Striker – Gianfranco Zola Not a bad bone in his body. If you enjoyed this article about nice guys, you might enjoy our

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Frank Lampard enjoying the feeling of having qualified – unlike Ronaldo, Zlatan and Ribery

Frank Lampard admits England can enjoy this week without any pressure for World Cup qualification. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribery all face the nerves of a play-off to see if they can reach next summer’s finals in Brazil. But Roy Hodgson’s men have made it easy for themselves and they can relish their without needing to get a result to get to the World Cup. It is a refreshing change for Lampard, 35, but insists that they cannot take it easy against Joachim Low’s side. Lampard said: “We will enjoy the feeling. We won’t take our focus off though. I think every individual now has a chance. “The manager watches every game going and it’s exciting times. “World Cups are a real pinnacle of a career, to have a chance to stake your claim otribute to Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.Now with Paris FC, Menez helped France win the U17 World Cup alongside Benzema in 2004.He told Foot Mercato: “Of course, we can only admire his career. “With 10 years at Real Madrid, very few players have n the world stage… from the young to old players, and we have to use that as a carrot at the end of the season.” Lampard also believes coming through ahead of next summer. “It is great position for the manager because a couple of years ago there were questions about where the youngsters were, and we have watched them step up,” he added. “The young boys are coming in without any fear and they are adding something to the squad.” Lampard was given an honorary cap (above) against Chile after joining the centurion club and still hopes to be involved against Germany. It was in the 2010 World Cup ured for Liverpool U23 in their 3-3 draw with Anderlecht.The midfielder is available from the Reds and is interesting Brentford and Reading.Shamal George also featured in goal for Liverpool with the keeper another due to depart.Ejaria, Tom Clayton anwhen his “goal” crossed the line but was not given and yet it forced FIFA into using video tcontent_imgechnology. He added: “If there is one small positive, it is that it has changed the game.”