Archive for October, 2012

In the tone that an underworld criminal might use to refer to a fellow gangster, ‘We’ll deal with it, don’t you worry,’ were the words Sir Alex Ferguson used when referring to Rio Ferdinand, and his latest cause of controversy. The irate manager has opened a debate on whether his comments were justly or not, on a weekend when other Premier League managers supported their players who opted against promoting the Kick It Out campaign.

Opting Out: Rio choosing to ignore his manager and not wear Kick It Out t-shirt against Stoke City

Throughout his career at Old Trafford, Ferguson has been known for his man-management – the ability to deal with high profile players and the determination not to let any player become bigger than the club. His attitude has not come without trouble in the past. Stories of boots being thrown around the Manchester changing rooms have been well published. Ruud van Nistelrooy soon left United after a training ground row with Ronaldo and Roy Keane was shown the door following his criticism of younger players at the club. On the whole though, players who play for United know the score and they know the manager is not to be disrespected.

So how should, or more importantly, how will Sir Alex Ferguson react to this latest tension around the club?

Rio Ferdinand, one of a number of players who refused to support the Kick It Out campaign this weekend, is perhaps closer to the issue than anyone else. After all it was his younger brother, Anton, who was victim of racial abuse from John Terry twelve months ago, Terry who was given a minimal punishment of a four game ban this week. With recent events in Serbia with Danny Rose experiencing racial abuse when playing for England U21’s, and the cases of Patrice Evra and Anton Ferdninand over the last year, fears that this stain on the game is not completely abolished have been heavily sparked.

Club problems: A red-faced Ferguson shows his anger at Rio’s decision

So Rio’s view, along with players like Jason Roberts and Joleon Lescott, is clear, he does not feel the Kick It Out campaign is doing enough to abolish racism in football. An opinion entitled to him. The problem the defender faces is that Ferguson made it clear to Friday’s press that all players would be wearing the campaign’s t-shirts. Either a break-down in communication between manager and player has occurred, or Mr Ferdinand simply stood by his views and ignored Ferguson, either way it has left Sir Alex red-faced and Ferdinand no doubt facing disciplinary action, formal or not.If this wasn’t enough for the English defender, then a shaky performance in United’s defence would not have helped his situation. The 33-year-old was at fault for Stoke’s second goal in Saturday’s 4-2 win when he let midfielder Michael Kightly ease through the centre of Manchester United’s defence.

As well as all of this, his contact expires at the end of this season; do not expect renewal talks to be imminent.

What’s your view on the Rio/Ferguson saga? Who was right, who was wrong, and what actions should now be taken?

Written by Alfie Long. See more of his work at: pitchsidetalk.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter @pitchsidetalk
Edited by Charlie Cook @charlie_cook09
Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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In the scouting report section of the site, Liquid Football hopes to bring you the best young talent from around the World. We started off at Barcelona, with Alfie Long’s report on Jean-Marie Dongou. Our next wonderkid is Alen Halilović who plays for Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.

Below is some footage of Dinamo Zagreb’s highly rated attacking midfielder Alen Halilović. Halilović is now 16-years-old. He has represented Croatia at youth level from U 14’s up, and recently became the youngest ever Dinamo Zagreb player making his debut at 16 years and 102 days old. 10 days later he became the youngest goalscorer in the history of the league.

Alen Halilović’s likes to play in the number 10 role but he can also play on the right wing. His slight frame and long blonde hair has seen him likened to fellow Croatian Lua Modric. Dinamo academy director Romea Jozaka said: “I watched Luka at the same age and it seems to me that Alen is a step, maybe two in front of him.” He went on to describe him as “an extraordinary talent. Incredibly powerful with the ball for his age. We know that he’s been mentioned throughout Europe as the best we’ll see in the next few years in his position.”

Both Manchester clubs have reportedly visited Zagreb to keep up to date with his progress, he also spent 4 days training with the Real Madrid youth team when he was 14. This is what a Real Madrid source had to say about him: “Everyone here knows he will be a sensation. When he as the ball he is reminiscent of Lionel Messi.” He is currently continuing his education in Zagreb, but he is destined to move to a top European club soon and if the praise he has received is anything to go by then he is certainly one to watch.

What we know about him…
D.O.B – 18/06/96 (Age 16)
Nationality – Croatian
Height – 5ft 7″
Position – Attacking Midfielder (Playmaker – No. 10) – Likes to cut in from the right hand side onto his left foot.
Preferred Foot – Left
Written by Charlie Cook @charlie_cook09
Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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The first Wag Wars, came from the Emirates with the best of the wags from Arsenal. The next installment comes from Mersyside with the Everton and Liverpool WAGS battling it out. They may not be at opposite ends of the table, but  Make sure you vote in the poll.

Steven Gerrard’s wife – Alex Curran


Joe Cole’s wife – Carly Zucker


Raheem Sterling and Martin Kelly’s girlfriends


Marouane Fellaini’s girlfriend – Lara Binet

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Before each set of Premier League fixtures, I have a look at ‘BBC football expert’, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions. Every week I have the same reaction. I reckon I could do better. Season after season I complain about his ‘woeful’ tipping. Now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try to ‘beat Lawro’.

The points: 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score.


Very good week’s tipping last week. I managed to correctly predict Everton’s 3-1 victory over Southampton, Stoke’s 2-0 win over Swansea and Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with West Brom.  Check out last weeks tips to see how we both did.

Lawro got four results right, including one perfect score with a score of 4.

I managed six results right, including three perfect scores with a score of 12.

After three weeks of tipping the scores currently stand at:

Liquid Football 32-21 Lawro

Don’t forget the BETTING TIPS at the bottom of the page, we are £130 UP after 2 weeks.


Man City v Sunderland

I said it last week and I’ll say it again. Manchester City have yet to really hit their stride. I thought they would do that last week against Fulham, but they scraped a 2-1 win with a late Edin Dzeko goal. They were even more unconvincing, only just managing to nick a last minute equaliser at home to Borrussia Dortmund midweek. It says something about their performance, that Joe Hart was man of the match pulling of a number of outstanding saves to keep them in the game.

Sunderland will not be easy opponents, still unbeaten this season, although unconvincing last week in a 1-0 win over Wigan. Sunderland were the only side last season that City couldn’t beat in the league. They drew 3-3 at The Etihad and lost 1-0 at The Stadium of Light. I still see Man City shading this one, but it could be a tight game. Adam Johnson will feel he has something to prove, so expect a big performance from him.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Chelsea v Norwich

This has been a very good week for Chelsea. The win against Arsenal may not have been the cleanest of performances, but it was a fantastic result. The greatest sides find a way to win when they are not playing that well and Chelsea did exactly that. I am not suggesting they are a great side yet, but they have definitely added an attacking flare to the team in the summer. They followed the win over Arsenal with a 4-0 thumping of FC Nordsjælland in the Champions League too.

I fear for Norwich in this one, they have conceded at least 3 goals in their past 4 matches at Stamford Bridge. They were very poor in their 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool and I don’t see them picking up anything from this one either. I can’t see anything that suggests that Norwich will stay up this season. Grant Holt has again been complaining about not being picked for England, but he should really concentrate on producing for Norwich because his goals kept them up last year and he hasn’t looked anywhere near his best.

My prediction: 3-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Swansea v Reading

Swansea were a revelation at the start of the season, but they are in a bit of a rut now. They have failed to score in their last 3 Premier League games. This will be a huge game for Michael Laudrup’s Swansea to show that they weren’t just on a hot streak. Reading are the weakest of the promoted sides by the looks of it. They gave a spirited performance against Newcastle last week in drawing 2-2 with Newcastle, and if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Demba Ba they would have taken all 3 points.

In many ways this is a must win for both sides, but I see Reading taking a point which will be a better result for them than Swansea who will be expecting to win the game.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

West Brom v QPR

West Brom are the unsung heroes of the season so far. Not much has been said about them, but Steve Clarke’s side have made a great start. They have only lost once, and are sitting comfortably in 6th place. QPR on the other hand, are really struggling. Mark Hughes has had plenty of financial backing, and they should be picking up more points with the players they have. It won’t be long before he starts really feeling the pressure. West Brom have won all 3 of their home matches this season, and QPR have lost 9 of the last 10 away from home. This has home win written all over it.

My prediction: 2-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Wigan v Everton

What a start to the season for Everton. 2nd in the league behind Chelsea, they are playing very good football, and bar the loss of the monumental loss of Fellaini, finally look to have some real depth to their squad. I have been very impressed by the new signing Kevin Mirallas, very quick, can play on the wing or up front, he works hard and looks like he scores a few goals too. He is a very good foil for the brilliant Nikica Jelavic, who is a brilliant finisher.

Wigan are in 16th place, and I suspect that if they finish the league season there they will be happy. This season like every other is about staying up. Even though Wigan put in a good performance away to Sunderland, I still think Everton will be too strong. It will be pretty tight.

My prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

West Ham v Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has had many opponents during his time at Arsenal, but ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce may just be one of the toughest. His record in home matches against Arsenal is 5-3-4, which is unlikely to have been bettered by many. It is as much the style of football that his teams play, as opposed to tactical nous. Arsenal used to dread trips to The Reebok Stadium to meet ‘Big Sam’s’ Bolton and he has created a similar side at Upton Park. Marshalled by the  consistently dangerous Kevin Nolan, West Ham provide threats in every supposed area of Arsenal weakness. The return of Andy Carroll will also worry Arsenal, he has caused them many problems in the past.

Arsenal have not had a good week. They were poor against Chelsea last weekend. In a game that they would have gone into feeling very confident, they looked lackluster and they gifted Chelsea two goals. They were second rate against Olympiakos too, despite coming out 3-1 winers. They have started to look shaky at the back and their weakness in defending set pieces and corners will be a real concern against West Ham. Steve Bould will have worked hard during the week getting the defence up to scratch, but they conceded another header against Olympiako and that will be a worry. Per Mertesacker should be reintroduced in place of Koscielny and they will need his experience and organisation as well as his height at the back. Giroud could well be key on the weekend, both up front and at the back defending set plays. Expect him to start.

This is a very tough game to pick as Arsenal have the quality to produce enough chances to beat West Ham regardless of defensive frailties. I can see it going either way, but I am going to go for an upset. Nolan will relish the opportunity and I think he and Carroll will lead West Ham to an unlikely victory.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1


Southampton v Fulham

I was really pleased for Southampton when they got their first win of the season against Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago, but it was back down to earth with a bump last week as Everton beat them 3-1 pretty comfortably. Gaston Ramirez scored first but it was all Everton for the rest of the game and they really could have scored more than 3 in the end. One thing that Southampton offer is goals, whether for against, I think this could be a high scoring game. Fulham have been a touch inconsistent, but they were unlucky not to get a point against Man City last weekend and Mladen Petric and Bryan Ruiz look to be forming a good partnership. Southampton will be hoping to get all 3 points at home especially as Fulham are still missing Dimitar Berbatov and I can see them doing that.

My prediction: 3-2

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Liverpool v Stoke

Liverpool seem to be taking one step forward then two steps back. As much as Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed with the loss against Udinese, his main focus will be on the league and that was evident as Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard were on the bench for the Europa League tie. I may sound like a broken record, but Liverpool are going nowhere until they can find a consistent goalscorer. Suarez scored a brilliant hat-trick against Norwich last week, but he is infuriatingly inconsistent in front of goal. This will be a tricky game as Stoke will look to frustrate Liverpool and they will need to be at their best in front of goal to break down Tony Pulis’ side. I can see Liverpool winning, but I think it may be a nervy one.

My prediction: 1-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Tottenham v Aston Villa

Spurs recorded their first win in 23 years at Old Trafford last week. Remarkably they only had 26% possession yet still came away with the points. They look very dangerous on the break, and they attack with a lot of pace. Aston Villa will be looking to not give Spurs as much space to play in, they will be sitting deeper and they may well find it harder to break a team down at White Hart Lane, as they have showed so far with disappointing draws at home to QPR and Norwich. I still think Tottenham will be too strong for Villa though and I think if they can break the deadlock early then they could run out comfortable winners.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Newcastle v Man Utd

This is going to be a cracking game. Man Utd have a glittering attack with Wayne Rooney back, joining Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, but their defence looks very brittle. Nemanja Vidic is a huge loss and Rio Ferdinand looks to be on his last legs. He was very vulnerable when left defending against the pace of Gareth Bale, and Newcastle will be hoping that Hatem Ben Arfa will get a chance to run at him too. Demba Ba looks to be in brilliant form once again, and I think Newcastle will cause Man U a lot of problems.

Although United lost last weekend against Spurs, they did manage to control 74% of the possession, and if van Persie had had his shooting boots on they could have come out on top. He missed a number of glorious chances to at least get Man U level. I am going for another upset in this one though, Newcastle got a very imressive 3-0 victory over Bordeaux on Thursday night and with Demba Ba firing they could nick a victory. However, they will have to keep RvP quiet, as anything can happen when he is on the pitch.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1


We suggest putting £10 on each choice at betfair. Our First goalscorer bet on Steven Fletcher won last week at 4/1, leaving us £40 up for the week and £130 up overall.

First Goalscorer: Demba Ba – Newcastle v Man U at 7/1 on betfair.

Accumulator: Southampton, West Brom, Tottenham and Liverpool at 9/1 on betfair.

Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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We suggest putting £10 on each choice at betfair. Our First goalscorer bet on Steven Fletcher won last week at 4/1, leaving us £40 up for the week and £130 up overall.

First Goalscorer: 

Newcastle’s Demba Ba is in fantastic form. He scored two goals against Reading last week including this sumptuous volley. The United defence without Vidic has looked weak, and I am hoping Ba will be able to exploit that.

Demba Ba – Newcastle v Man U at 7/1 on betfair.


Southampton although soundly beaten are a good side, expect them to pick up the points in a tough game against Fulham. The loss of Berbatov is a big one though, so I think the saints will come through. West Brom have won their first 3 games at home this season, and QPR have lost 9 of the last 10 away from home. Sounds like a no brainer to me. Spurs got a brilliant win at Old Trafford and both they and Liverpool look to have turned a corner of sorts and I think they will both win at home to Villa and Stoke Odds of 9 to 1 on the four is not bad if you ask me.

Southampton, West Brom, Tottenham and Liverpool at 9/1 on betfair.

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Liverpool’s resounding win against Norwich City last weekend was supposed to be a catalyst for change, the fixture that ended a terribly unlucky start to the season and start to the Brendan Rodgers project at Anfield. The word project perfectly fitting because of the long term nature of the task that faces him. In his first few months in charge, noticeable changes have taken place. Rodgers wants to implement a style of play which proved so effective at Swansea, but to achieve this, a revamp is a must. Out with the old and in with the new has been the running theme over the summer in Merseyside.

Long road ahead: Rodgers at the start of his journey at Liverpool

Players like Andy Caroll and Charlie Adam, who were brought in during Kenny Dalglish’s period in charge, have been axed as the new manager seeks to bring in the right footballers for what he is trying to achieve. Changes to any team will always mean a time of transition, it will inevitably mean an unsettled time as new players adjust to their new environment. Having said this, no one would have predicted such an unsettled start to Liverpool’s campaign. Before the weekend just gone, they had played five Premier League games, losing three and without recording a win. Performances have not been bad, but luck has been far from them, as Rodgers continues to reiterate.

A 5-2 win at Carrow Road on Saturday changed that and finally gave Liverpool the domestic win they deserved, after harsh results against ManCity, Arsenal and Man United. It seemed their luck had changed and their season had re-started. Udinese did not read the script though, ahead of their Europa League fixture with the Reds on Thursday. In particular, their striker Di Natalie who’s class and experience lent a hard lesson to an experimental Liverpool team. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard took their places on the bench before the game – a decision by the manager that will no doubt be argued by many – nevertheless it was a Liverpool team which included quality and more significantly a team of players keen to impress. The first half saw Liverpool boss Udinese in front of an ignited Kop crowd. A 23rd minute goal for Jonjo Shelvey was the first of what could and maybe should have been a few first half goals for Liverpool, who failed to capitalise on their neat play. Their luck worsened within a minute after the break when the timeless classic that is Di Natalie stepped up to equalise for the visitors. Further pressure and unconvincing defending led to a second for Udinese via the headed own goal of Sebastien Coates on the 70th minute mark, and a third two minutes later from Giovanni Pasquale.

Period of transition: Rodgers has had to deal with the problems left by the Dalglish campaign before initiating his own plan

The result proved the hangover from Dalglish’s time in charge remains. The fact is it may not be a physical problem anymore than it is a psychological issue that Liverpool are not winning games that they should. They have often been without luck already this season but that will not hold up for very long with the Merseyside faithful. The issue may be a lacking winning mentality that has been left to linger like a bad smell over Anfield, a problem that Rodgers will need time to fix.

The question is, how long will he have before criticism is directed at him and the lack of luck excuse is no longer in place? Sitting 14th in the league as they go into the third month of the season, Rodgers will know results must pick up soon.

Written by Alfie Long. See more of his work at: pitchsidetalk.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter @pitchsidetalk
Edited by Charlie Cook @charlie_cook09
Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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Thierry Henry

Adel Taarabt

Andrija Zivkovic

Martin Jiranek

Demba Ba

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