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      13.08.2010 21:09
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      Here we go again!

      A rather surprising statistic is that 47% of teams of the current 92 ladder have played in the Premiership since its conception twenty years ago, the beauty of the competition and why it just gets stronger. You can't say that of cricket and rugby for flexibility. But football is in crisis and Portsmouth are the poster boys for that strife. They borrowed heavily and ran up debts to get success but evading huge tax bills in the process by all manner of loop-holes, the so-called image right payments for players the biggest dodge. When Sol Campbell took out a claim for £1.2 million pounds worth of those rights on Portsmouth the fans were in uproar. But it turns out most of that money was his salary, that way Campbell evading that 50% income tax. I think it's fair to say that if Portsmouth were doing this through a string of grubby foreign owners then so are many other clubs and if the Tax Office finally nail Portsmouth on it then the whole pack of cards could come down in the league ladder. Foreign players especially just don't want to pay the top rate 50% tax and the clubs have had to create those loop holes to keep them coming. Don't get me going on money laundering and various other nefarious activities you learn about in the game. Just four teams have sold all of their season tickets this season. ------------------------ Best bet of the day! ------------------------ 9/4 for no players to be sent off on the opening round of matches! - Who will have a good season then.... Manchester United and Chelsea have appeared in 18 of the last 20 Charity Shield Finals, dominating the FA Cup and the top two in the Premiership of late. Don't expect any surprises this year, Liverpool and Arsenal still short. Tottenham are going in the right direction under Redknapp but it seems Martin O'Neil's ego driven departure from Villa this week suggest breaking into the top four is hard enough. Manchester City could change all that and become the next Chelsea in the coming years but winning the Premiership for the first time takes time, unless you're Morinhio, of course! >>>>>>>Here are my predictions for the coming season<<<<<<<<< CHAMPIONS ***CHELSEA*** Chelsea's 2 6-0 wins were their biggest opening top flight win and rather ominous for the rest. They are now unbeaten in 56 games against the newly promoted clubs in the top league, a record stretching back ten years. I can see Chelsea consolidating their hold on the championship, especially after getting Ramirez from Brazil, a tasty attacking midfielder. Drogba and Anelka are clicking and with Chelsea off-loading the big wages of Ballack and Carvhello, Ancelotti can build his squad. They won last year because they beat the top six in the big games and they look full of goals too, scoring 20 more than United, and seven on three occasions. Their only weakness is they haven't won the Champions League, a dead weight that eventually dragged Arsenal and Wenger down in the premier league over the years... Best Bet: Chelsea/Drogba - champions and top scorer double a juicy 12/1(Corals) ---------------------------------------- Runners up - Manchester United ---------------------------------------- It will be close but you still feel United's defence isn't quite right and they still haven't filled that Ronaldo hole, the likes of Giggs and Scholes too old to guarantee the Portuguese's goals and pace, why United lost last year. If Ryan Giggs (the bizarre winner of the BBC Sports Personality Award) plays a part in 31 of the league games he will be the all-time capped premier league appearance holder, David James still number one at 573. The Mexican Hernandez could be the spark the midfield needs and you have to see Valencia only getting better but you still feel they are short. Rooney doesn't look right either and Berbatov is just too much of a stroller to take his place with the goals. Best Bet: Manchester United/Rooney - champions and top scorer double also a juicy 12/1(Corals) ------------------ 3RD - Liverpool ------------------ Roy Hodgson and Joe Cole can only be good news for Liverpool as the Benitez final year started to corrode a once great club. Torres says he is fit and ready to go (go as in playing not leaving) and Gerrard doesn't have the bottle to leave and so also ready to prove they can win silver again, although with two weeks to go in the transfer window Torres still may be tempted away for Champions League football. But if he stays and they click then Liverpool will be in the mix for top four. Best Bet: +14 in the handicap betting at 15-1 to win the Premiership! -------------------- 4th - Tottenham -------------------- Spurs opening 0-0 was the eight time in ten opening games in the Prem they have failed to win, notoriously poor starters. I love what Redknapps doing but the chairman seems to have closed the check book and so make do time, maybe one or two coming in around the transfer deadline, Robbie Keane strangely not clicking at Spurs yet. I thought they would go for Joe Cole big time but it's not to be. Dawson is maturing nicely and they need Woodgate to be fit more in that back two. He and Ledley King are hardly ever fully fit. Spurs admirable attacking ethos over the years has resulted in them having the rather unfortunate Premier League record of conceding the most goals in it. Spurs are most peoples favourite second team in the Premiership as they are mine. Their one weakness has to be Akoutto at left back. Best Bet: 10-1 to win Carling Cup ============Champions League============ ------------------ 5th - Man city ------------------ So can Mancini get them to gel as more and more star players come and go? Bellamy is out, an example of, which is odd as he was one of their better players alongside Tevez. Adebeyor brings little to the party other than selfishness. The defence is getting more organised but the midfield still in flux. Young Johnson looks a star and it will be interesting to see how Barry and Milner would pair up if it happens. They need a Frank Lampard, which Patrick Vierra anymore isn't and a somewhat strange signing. I don't want to go into why I think a Middle Eastern country's sovereign wealth fund would want to buy the team but it isn't for footballing reasons. Best Bet: 13/2 to finish in the top 3 ---------------- 6th - Arsenal ---------------- Has Wenger reached the end of his journey? We all love his football and they are one goal away from being the second highest goal scorers of all time in the premiership behind Manchester United but his teams are too small now and getting shouldered off the ball. He hasn't purchased many players this window and although Van Persie is fit Bendtner isn't and Eduardo has gone, leaving Walcott or Vela from Mexico to partner, all pacey players that don't like scoring ugly goals. Who the hell is Chamkha? Their defence is nothing like it used to be and their recent run of three broken legs in the midfield means big and burley lower down teams are now prepared to break up their fantasy football with some 'reducers', as Big Ron called them, and that enough for the Stoke and Bolton's think they can come away with a point or two at their place. Best Bit: 7-1 to be unbeaten the longest this season in the premiership (Ladbrokes). ---------------- 7th - Everton ---------------- Blackburns victory last saturday was Evertons first in 12 Premier League games, thier best run since being champions in 1986. It's the glass ceiling for David Moyes at Everton and he has nothing to prove and so presumably he is waiting for the 'big job', Sir Alex Furguson saying he is the man to take over at Old Trafford in a few years from now. They have a gorgeous midfield worthy of the top four but no real consistency up front, Saha and co always injured. They missed Lescott and Jagielka last season but still reasonably strong in front of Howard. The star men have to be Arteta and Fellini and in the middle and they should make the Europa Cup. --------------------- 8th - Aston Villa --------------------- It was very much 'mind the gap' for Martin O'Neil as he over extended his ego and mission under the American owner and the most consistent team outside the top 4 is now manager-less once again. He managed two cup finals and 6th place three times in a row but seem to think he was Brian Clough with this plan to make a small tight squad play above themselves. But its 2010 Martin and you win championships with big squads and his wasn't big enough. It was buy to sell time and the Milner-Ireland thing was the final straw, a player he had only just purchased and another he wanted. I suspect an element of constructed dismissal here as USA coach Bob Bradley had booked his flight long before but the romance is over and the England job beckons as Capello plots his payoff and departure. I think Bradley would be very bad move Mr Learner. If Richard Dunne collects a red card this season he will be the most sent off player in the premierships history. Ironically, their 3-0 win at home to West Ham was their best opening result for 17 years. Best Bet: 9/2 to finish in the bottom half of the Prem. --------------------------- 9th - Birmingham City --------------------------- I was very impressed with them last year under Alex Mcliesh and they look very solid at home and at the back, the priority number one. They need a big name striker to be fair but they are also a reasonably young team and not reliant on older experienced guys on top wages. Barry Ferguson in the midfield alongside Jerome and Bowyer isn't too bad. Birmingham cant score goals at home but their defence was so good that they became the first premiership team to finish in the top half of the table by scoring less than 2o goals at home. Best Bet: Birmingham to be top placed Midlands's team in the Premiership at 6-1 ----------------- 10th - Fulham ----------------- Mark Hughes is another Chris Coleman for me and I don't think Fulham will ever have another season like last year under Hodgeson, the Europe cup final and the FA cup run great stuff. Very solid at the back they will miss Schwarzer if he goes to Arsenal as defence is their strength. But their midfield isn't too bad and if they can get Andy Johnson fit this year then mid table beckons. --------------------- 11th - Stoke City --------------------- There's no evidence that Tony Pulis can't repeat his success of the last three seasons with another solid mid table slot this year. Teams like Stoke can't risk domestic cup runs to take their eye off the ball in the premiership survival battle and that tends to improve their status in the top league every season, what we saw with Fulham and Wigan and what we will see with Birmingham, Sunderland and Wolverhampton this year. The signing of Kenwin Jones is perfect for them but a hefty fee, suggesting someone like Shawcross could be on the way out for equally big money. Thye are just huge and will dominate corners and set pieces.. Best Bit: +39 in the Handicap betting at 15-1 ------------------------------ 12th - Blackburn Rovers ------------------------------ Big Sam's first full season with them was bit flat in truth and their lack of strikers killed them like a fart at a party. I can't see much more improvement to be honest. But they do have some money and so maybe some players to come in, Samba and Givet always worth some set piece goals. Welcome investment from possible Indian owners is needed. ------------------------------ 13th - Newcastle United ------------------------------ I think they are better prepared this time and Chris Houghton well worth keeping around. They are clearly too good for the Championship and some new signings like Rodwell suggest ambition has returned. I do like Carrel up front who is big and brave and perhaps another in the Shearer role. -------------------- 14th Sunderland -------------------- Darren Bent is class and he single-handily kept them up but if they lose him they lose their premiership place. With Kenwin Jones already sold on a poor start is beckoning. Defensively it's poor although Malbranque and Richardson in there offer some skill and touch players. Andy Ried is also fit and he and Bent can hurt the top teams. But Sunderland have a woeful discplinary record witha record nine reds last year so sure to get more this year. . -------------------------- 15th - Wigan Athletic -------------------------- It's fair to say teams beginning with 'W' will continue to struggle in the premiership this year, Wigan the best of them. They have just enough style to stay up and Martinez's football to watch is always a pleasure. But they can get tonked and conceded 4 or more goals seven times last season and seven and nine against Chelsea and Spurs, respectively. They need to hold on to the talent of Figueroa and Rodellega and I also like the look of DeRidder, young McCarthy a real worker. Best Bet: Bottom at Christmas at 11-1 ------------------------------------- 16th - West Bromwich Albion ------------------------------------- The midlands clubs are yo-yo clubs and WBA are bouncing around like doll cheques in South London, West Brom having to get it right this year as the recession deepens in football. Can't say there is much to smile about other than young Brunt, a real talent. Big ask to stay up though. ----------------------------------------- 17th - Wolverhampton Wanderers ----------------------------------------- Wolves may have broken their hoodoo of winning on the opening day of the season (1999 the last time) by beating Stoke City last week but it still looks like a lack of goals will sink them. I hope they stay up but Eubanks-Blake is useless up front and Kevin Doyle up alongside him could be moving on. They just can't score and that means big pressure on the defence and so having to roll over away at the big grounds. There are one or two decent workers in the middle but it's a huge struggle yet again. ----------- 18th Bolton ---------------- Last season it took the five months to get a clean sheet but baged one on the opening day with a 0-0 with Fulham. Kevin Davies sums up Bolton's survival technique; he has committed 766 fouls, the all-time Premiership high, a leg crunching 172 fouls clear of Boatang in second place. I think it's about time they went down because of that ugly fact, always bobbing around the bottom six. dishing it out to the skill teams near the top. Bolton's fans are a problem to and quickly turn on their managers, Owen Coyle soon to be under pressure. Best Bet: Bottom by Christmas at 14-1 --------------------- 19th - West Ham --------------------- Will be fascinating to see what stunts the new owners of Gold and Sullivan pull to keep West Ham up, sure to rattle Avram Grant, if they can keep him out of Soho. They have slashed the wage bill and sacked 25% of the staff and that can't be harmonious. But they may benefit from this austerity further down the line as clubs fall by the way who haven't tackled huge wages, some clubs spending 75% or more of their revenue on player's salaries now. But if someone wants a player like Scotty Parker then they will probably sell him at the right price. The London location means they can get better players in who don't want to play up north and that may be their saving grace. Signing Beckham would be a real coup and great for the premiership. The way he is treated by England managers is disgraceful. I fully expect West Ham to implode. --------------------- 20th - Blackpool --------------------- Recent freedom of information act releases in Germany discovered that Hitler spared Blackpool from the bombers because he intended to holiday there when he won the war. Looking at Bloomfield Road I would say the Luftwaffe didn't miss the football ground. How on earth can these guys stay up, the mercurial and slightly insane Ian Holloway or not? A dreadful ground, a dodgy owner and few internationals there's just no signs of life. Teams that win the play-off finals with good grounds can survive for a season or two but not the Blackpool's. If they go straight down they join Swindon, Burnley and Barnsley as the premier leagues one season wonders. But Hollaway is great fun and to quote him: Like Blackpool, 'I look better at night!' Best Bet: Ian Holloway first to be sent off to the stand (there's only one) at 11-1! --------------------- Fantasy football! If you want to join dooyoo have a league for premierleague.com. Ask dooyoo member dididave for the code. The more the merrier.

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        22.11.2008 20:18
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        Best League in the World !

        In my opinion the English Premier League is the best league in the world in terms of quality throughout the league and enjoyment to watch. The football in this league is great to watch, because the speed of the game is very fast and referees are more leniant on hard tackles, but softer fouls are starting to creep into the game. Hopefully, this league doesn't turn into an almost non-contact league like some of the other major leagues. The strength in depth of the premiership is increasing every season, almost entirely down to the fact that there is now extremely vast amounts of money coming into the league from TV rights. Also, the number of foreign, billionaire investors is increasing. The league is currently dominated by the 'Big Four' (Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal). These are the four teams which qualify for the Champions League almost every year. The league is generally contested by Man Utd and Chelsea each year. In the 07/08 season Arsenal were putting up a good challenge, but a horrific injury to striker Eduardo and a string of bad decisions going against them for around 6 games meant they fell away. This year it is Liverpools turn to put up a challenge. Whereas Arsenal are in somewhat of a crisis, putting there place in the top four in jeopardy. The battle for the UEFA Cup places is also exciting. The main favourites to grab these spots are usually : Aston Villa and Everton, Tottenham Hotspur. The battle at the bottom of the league usually goes right down to the wire aswell. With the smaller clubs battling to remain in the premier league. The bottom three are relegated to the English Championship. One of the big attractions of the premier league is the players. Many of the best players in the world currently play in the league, including : Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Gael Clichy, Dimitar Berbatov and many, many more. Unsurprising all the players listed above represent either Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea or Liverpool. I always look forward to watching the highlights on Match of the Day. 10/10

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          04.09.2008 13:46
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          greatest league of all time

          There are 20 clubs in the Premier League or can also be called the premiership. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides final table position. The three lowest placed teams are relegated into the Football League Championship and the top two teams from the Championship, together with the winner of play-offs involving the third to sixth placed Championship clubs, are promoted in their place. Also in the barclays premiership at the end of the 38 match season the top 4 teams qualify for the champions league although it is only the top two teams who go straight into the group phase of the tournament where as third and fourth place finishers go into the 3 round of qualifying.The third round of qualifying for the champions leagues consists of two legs one at home and one at away. However this has changed just recently as of 2008-2009 as the top 3 teams all now enter straight into the group stages where as the fourth team will still have to win the qualifying stages before entering the group stages. The fifth team finisher in the barclays premiership straight away automatically qualifies for the uefa cup where as the sixth and seventh place finishers can also qualify for the uefa cup depending on what happens in the domestic cups. The next highest finisher who does not unfortunatley qualify for uefa can enter the intertoto cup only if they had applied to enter the intertoto cup in the next season.

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            18.05.2006 21:27
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            Luis Garcia is a very good squad player.

            Rafael Benitez signed Luis Garcia in the summer of 2004 from F.C Barcelona, Garcia finished joint leading goal scorer with 13 goals and scored some simply fantastic goals (most noteable - against Juventus in the quarter final 2004/2005 CL). So what is it about Garcia? Luis Garcia for me is seen as a squad player, he might not be starting week in week out but he is a player, that at this moment in time remains our biggest threat in attack alongside Steven Gerrard. Luis Garcia has been quite a good addition, despite being quite frustrating he has scored some very important goals for Liverpool. Barcelona wanted to hang onto the little Spaniard but Liverpool was a good choice for him. Garcia has done quite well and in my view will have an even better season next season which will be his 3rd season within the English game. All the best of luck to Luis Garcia at the World Cup this summer too. I decided to review Luis Garcia first as he is the type of player you either love or hate. He may not be the best around, he may hang onto the ball to long sometimes, but he does score important goals + Advantages Of Luis Garcia: - His movement is very good. - Scores plenty of goals - Can play left or right wing, or in behind the striker - Gives us depth + Disadvantages of Luis Garcia: - Loses the ball to much - Tries the harder things - Sometimes needs to finish better Overall I think Luis Garcia is a very good squad player. I believe that he can help Liverpool challenge for the title in the next season or possibly season after that. He loves scoring goals and very good goals indeed.

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              22.03.2004 06:53
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              ~ ~ Robbie Keane is a 23-year-old Irish striker currently playing with Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) in the English Premiership. He originally hails from the Tallaght district of West Dublin, a huge, sprawling housing estate on the west side of the city, where he is feted as one of their favourite sons. ~ ~ He started his soccer career at a young age, signing for Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) when still only 17-years-old, and immediately coming to the attention of the scouts for the Premiership teams, many of who were very keen (forgive the bad pun!) to get his signature on a transfer contract. Wolves kept the Premiership sharks at bay for nearly three years, until finally Keane was poached away by Coventry for a fee of £6 million in August of 1999. He went to Coventry with a strong pedigree, and an enviable scoring record, having found the back of the net no fewer than 24 times in 69 league games for Wolves. In his very first match at Coventry, he showed his amazing striking skills straight away, scoring both the team?s goals in a 2-0 victory over Derby County. During the 1999 ? 2000 season he added a further nine goals to his tally, scoring a total of 11 goals in 31 league matches played. ~ ~ His potential was spotted early by the coaches at the FAI, (Football association of Ireland) and he was carefully groomed and nurtured by the then Irish Youth Team manager, Brian Kerr, and was a leading member of the Irish squad that won the under-18 European Championship in the summer of 1988. He made his full international debut for the Republic of Ireland that same year against the Czech Republic in March 1998, while still only 17-years-of-age. ~ ~ At the end of the 1999-2000 Premiership season many of the larger English &# 80;remiership clubs were still very keen to sign the young striker, but it came as almost a complete surprise when one of Europe?s leading sides, Inter Milan of Italy, moved in to strike a staggering £13 million transfer deal with Coventry that took Keane to the fashion capital of Italy. Maybe it was a case of ?too much, too soon? for the Irish youngster, but whatever the underlying reason, he never really made any impact whatsoever in Serie A. He was only to score one goal for the Italian club, in a UEFA Cup match, after they had uncharacteristically tumbled out of the Champion?s League at the qualifying stages. Keane found himself a ?second-stringer? in Italy, and hardly able to even get a place on the substitute?s bench, a situation that suited neither the young striker nor Inter Milan. So it came as no great surprise when later that same season a deal was struck with Leeds United for £12 million that saw him return to the Premiership. ~ ~ Keane found the net 10 times during the 2000-2001 season with Leeds, but the following season saw him once again languishing on the substitutes bench, with Robbie Fowler, Mark Viduka, and Alan Smith gaining the regular first team spots in the Leeds forward line. Even when he did line out in the white shirts of Leeds during the 2002-2003 campaign, his hitherto golden touch in front of goal appeared to have deserted him, and he only scored three goals in 25 premiership appearances, and a total of nine for the whole season. In an otherwise dreary and bleak season, the one bright spot was his memorable hat trick against Leicester City in the Worthington Cup. ~ ~ During all this time he was still appearing regularly in the green shirt of the Republic of Ireland, the then Irish team manager, Mick McCarth y, showing his faith in the young player?s abilities despite the fact he wasn?t playing first team football at the highest level. He rewarded McCarthy?s loyalty during the qualifying rounds for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and again at the tournament proper, when he was without question one of the shining stars in what was a brave performance by Ireland in Korea and Japan. He scored a vital last-minute equaliser against the mighty Germany that kept Ireland in the competition, and again in a 3-0 victory in the final match against Saudi Arabia, that saw Ireland through to the knock out stages. He again proved his worth against Spain in the next round of the competition, again scoring a last minute equaliser from the penalty spot when all looked lost, although Ireland still lost the match in extra time. ~ ~ Keane?s star was again in the ascendancy, and Sunderland were quick of the mark, making a £8 million offer to Leeds for his services, an offer that Leeds were happy to accept. The player himself had other ideas though, and turned down the offer to move to the North East. In August of 2002, he finally moved to Tottenham for a fee in the region of £7 million and has played there ever since, becoming a regular first team player, and a firm favourite of the White Hart Lane fans. ~ ~ Robbie Keane is small for a striker, at only 5 foot 10 inches in height, but this doesn?t seem to stop him scoring goals not only with either foot, but also with his head. He?s as deadly as a snake around the penalty area, and seems to have the true striker?s knack of turning even a half chance into a goal scoring opportunity. It?s easy to spot Keane when he scores, as he performs a double somersault to celebrate a goal, which has become his trademark. Robbie Keane seems to have been around the sc ene forever, and it?s easy to forget that he is still only 23 years old, and still only maturing as a player. I fully expect this young Irish striker to be around for many more years to come, and knocking in goals at both club and international level. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © KenJ March 2004 ~~~~~~~~~~~~

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                19.09.2002 23:21
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                When Milan Baros burst into the Liverpool team last weekend (14/09/02) by scoring two goals against Bolton, not many people knew who he was. In fact, however, Baros had waited some time for his league debut. Baros was actually signed for around £3.4M from Czech side Banik Ostrava mid-way through last season. He’d already shown considerable promise in the Czech national side – scoring several times in the few games he’d played for the senior squad. Baros had made himself some reputation with those performances; he was dubbed the Ostravan Maradona and was already a target for Gerard Houllier. The presence of Baros’ Czech teammates Berger and Smicer at Anfield helped Liverpool beat off several other clubs (Juventus, Inter and Borussia Dortmund) to claim Baros’ signature – but they still needed to win an appeal for a work permit (initially he hadn’t played enough games for his country, but was given a special dispensation due to his age and talent). While the work permit appeal went on, Baros stayed at Banik Ostrava on loan – and for a time it looked the deal might be off. He finally arrived in Liverpool in December. When he came, however, it was during the Czech winter break, and Baros hadn’t played much football. He was, to tell the truth, overweight and not match fit. Although Robbie Fowler had just been sold to Leeds, Nicolas Anelka had been brought in as a temporary cover, and along with Owen, Heskey and Litmanen ahead of him, Baros’ chances were limited anyway. His prospects were further limited with the restrictions on the number of non-EU players allowed in any game – only three non-EU players can be selected in the squad for any domestic game, and Liverpool already had Jerzy Dudek, Stephane Henchoz, Vladimir Smicer and Igor Biscan already at Anfield (Berger doesn’t count I believe he’s been here long enough to have a British passport). Baros knew h is chances would be limited, and for a while languished in the reserves. It seemed difficult to see why he’d been regarded as such a prospect, because little of his promise was fulfilled at first. With Anelka ineligible for the Champions League, Baros played some part in the European campaign; but made his first appearances in the reserves against Leeds and Blackburn. His senior debut came in March 2002 against Barcelona, where he came on for Emile Heskey. In his first half-season, however, Baros showed only slightly more promise than Diego (28 games and just one penalty scored) Forlan. Some of Houllier’s management team actually thought he’d made a bad buy – particularly Jacques Creservoir who’d opposed the signing after witnessing an incident between Baros and one of his defenders when he was with the France Under-18 side. With the Czech Republic absent from the World Cup, Baros had a summer to himself, and thankfully set about reinventing himself. Over the summer, he lost quite a bit of weight, shaved his head and came back to Anfield with a desire to show what he could do. Despite the signing of Senegal’s El-Hadji Diouf, the departure of Anelka and Litmanen has given Baros some chances. He looked impressive in the pre-seaon campaign, scoring his first goal and impressing against Real Madrid (Paolo Maldini admitted to not having previously known of him, but was certainly aware of him after the game). At the start of the current (2002-3) season Liverpool have looked slightly unsure of themselves, both at the front and the back. Heskey, Diouf and Owen had been played in various combinations, but in the first five league games scored just three goals between them (Diouf’s two against Southampton and Owen’s penalty against Newcastle). Evidently in the game against Bolton, Houllier had lost his patience and, perhaps with Valencia in mind, chose to give Baros his first start – as a lo ne st riker supported by Cheyrou and Heskey from midfield. The rest, as they say, is history. Baros scored two fine goals, as well as hitting the post and forcing another good save from the Bolton keeper. After the match, all the pundits were raving about a previously unheard of character – Baros had announced his arrival. Unfortunately he hadn’t done enough to give himself a starting place against Valencia, and some seem to doubt he can play well with Owen (the two being too similar). Personally I’d like to see Owen and Baros given a chance together, being our two natural goalscorers (unlike Heskey and Diouf). If that fails, then given that Baros has already outscored Owen this season (in considerably less playing time) it could be time to give him a little run and Owen a rest(!) I’m normally wrong in my football predictions I admit – a France v Italy World Cup final anyone? Man Utd to win the League when Arsenal look like they’ll run away with it? One thing I did say in my Premiership Predictions though was that Liverpool’s success this season may depend a lot on how many goals Baros scores. I know I’ve just built him up a lot, but I stand by that – I just hope he can keep on delivering… Already an update (21/9/02): Given his home debut today against West Brom, Baros has now made it 3 goals in 2 starts (while Owen still struggles to score) Milan Baros D.O.B.: 28/10/1981 Squad no.: 5 Height: 184 cm Weight: 76kg

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                  22.01.2002 04:47
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                  Of all the players I have ever seen at Liverpool,I would say John Arne Riise is Liverpools best potential Winger for years. He has pace,Skill,the ability to take on players,and he can take his opportunities. so why is he played in defense,when at least twice in recent games,he has saved Liverpool,after Phil Thompson pushed him further forward. We have been sadly lacking in a decent supply of crosses from the wings,and anyone with half a footballing brain can see that Man utd put Ryan Giggs and Beckham in this role to provide accurate crosses to goal hungry forwards. Plus with owen being such a fast player,and the fact we have been known to play on the break tactically,surely we need pace and width to break out with him,and not has happens quite regularly,Owen is 15 yards ahead of the rest. Maybe Gerrard Houllier sees this potential in Riise,as I think he is one of Liverpools brightest prospects.

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                    02.01.2002 19:24
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                    I have a particularly low opinion of Nicolas Anelka. When I heard that Liverpool had signed him I was initially upset - until that is, I heard that it was on loan with the possibility of buying. Anelka, for those who don't know was picked up for peanuts by Arsenal and was arguably the catalyst who won them the double with many superb goals. Having done so he proceeded to get into a strop over personal terms and left Arsenal in a manner which suggested that he was a money grabbing spoiled little boy. He was picked up by Real Madrid, making Arsenal a tidy profit and proceeded to do exactly the same type of thing; behaving like a petulant schoolboy to the disgust of the fans. He returned home to France and after a bright start, faded and has spent much time on the bench. It was from there that Houllier rescued him. Houllier's stroke of genius has been that he has taken him on loan. Despite his recent poor form it is a gamble worth taking as at his best he is one of the best strikers in the world. Ian Botham summed it up as "form is temporary, class in permanent". I believe that Anelka is a class player suffering a loss of form. If I prove to be wrong then we will have paid his wages for half a season and will send him packing. If I am right, he will score a hatful of goals and bring silverware to Anfield. Although so far he has been unimpressive (he missed two chances at West Ham that I could have put in!) it will just take 1 goal to release the floodgates. But even better - if he does turn into a stroppy little git once again, we won't have invested millions in him and we'll say thanks and goodbye - Milan Baros is waiting in the wings! If he has matured a little however then welcome aboard - at current prices 17 million for a classy 22 year old striker is certainly not unreasonable. So there are three possible outcomes: 1) He's crap - in which case we haven't paid good money for him. 2) He's great but stroppy - in which case he scores lots of goals 'til May and we haven't paid good money for him. 3) He's great and decides that he's prepared to stick around - in which case he and Michael Owen form the best striking partnership since Dalglish and Rush and we'll be happy to pay good money for him. Sounds like we come up trumps any way!

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                      24.10.2001 08:51

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                      Liverpool have got an excellent squad of players and I think that they are now a team that can compete with Man United for the premiership title. Below is my opinion of their best 11: Goalkeeper – Sander Westerveld Although Liverpool have just signed 2 new goalkeepers, I still think that Westerveld is their best keeper. He is a good shot stopper and a valuable team member, and I honestly do not see why Liverpool have spent about 13 million pounds on 2 goalkeepers that are not really needed. Right Back – Markus Babbel Markus Babbel is one of the best right backs currently in the premiership. He scored quite a few times in his first season at Liverpool, last season, and was a valuable member of the squad in their treble cup-winning season. He is about 30 years old, but he is still a great player. Centre Back – Sami Hyypia Sami Hyypia is one of the best centre backs in the premiership, without a doubt. He is a great defender and a player that many teams would want in theirs. He was voted one of the best defenders last season and I just admire his talent. He has also scored quite a few times for Liverpool. Centre Back – Stephane Henchoz Stephane Henchoz is not as good as Hyypia, but he is still a good player and he seems to be a really good partner for Hyypia. He is a good tackler, although I do like his handling abilities with the ball. Left Back – Jamie Carragher Jamie Carragher is a decent player and is another Liverpool player who is always picked to play for England, when available. He can play in defence and midfield and I think he is a really good passer and tacker. Right Midfielder – Gary McAllister Gary McAllister is about 36 now, but last season he was inspirational in helping Liverpool to win 3 cups. He scored quite a lot of goals and he showed that he is still a great player at the age of 36. He is a great passer of the ball and his awareness of other players is pretty impressive. Centre Midfielder – Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard is an awesome player and his goal he scored against German on Saturday was brilliant. He is a great tackler; a great passer and he can also score goals. Basically, he is a player nearly every team in the world would have and he is capable of becoming one of the best midfielders in the world. He is still a young player too so he has quite a lot of years to play at the top level. Centre Midfielder – Dietmar Hamann Dieter Hamann is a really good player. He is a good passer and tackler and can also hit shots from long range. His accuracy in his long shots is also pretty impressive. I know for sure that he will be wanting to forget about Germany’s game with England on Saturday, as he didn’t play too well and Germany were stuffed. Left Midfielder – Nicky Barmby Nicky Barmby doesn’t seem to be playing much football lately, but I still think he is a really god player and definitely one of Liverpool’s best midfielders. He can score goals and he is a good passer. He is also quite fast and a useful member of the squad. Striker – Michael Owen Michael Owen is currently in the best form of his life. He is scoring goals and playing like he has never before. He has already scored about 10 goals this season, including the 3 goals he scored against Germany on Saturday. This was his first England hat trick and one that he should feel very proud of. He is a fantastic young player and I think he will go on to become one of the best footballers ever in the game. Striker – Emile Heskey Emile Heskey signed for Liverpool, from Leicester City, about 2 years ago, and he seems to keep on getting better and better. At Leicester, he was a decent striker but he didn’t seem to score many goals for them. Since joining Liverpool, he has s cored quite a lot of goals and he has become a much better player. He is a valuable member of the squad and is also a regular for England, which he deserves to be as he has shown what he is capable of over the past couple of years.

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                      20.09.2001 00:36
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                      Liverpool have got an excellent squad of players and I think that they are now a team that can compete with Man United for the premiership title. Below is my opinion of their best 11: Goalkeeper – Sander Westerveld Although Liverpool have just signed 2 new goalkeepers, I still think that Westerveld is their best keeper. He is a good shot stopper and a valuable team member, and I honestly do not see why Liverpool have spent about 13 million pounds on 2 goalkeepers that are not really needed. Right Back – Markus Babbel Markus Babbel is one of the best right backs currently in the premiership. He scored quite a few times in his first season at Liverpool, last season, and was a valuable member of the squad in their treble cup-winning season. He is about 30 years old, but he is still a great player. Centre Back – Sami Hyypia Sami Hyypia is one of the best centre backs in the premiership, without a doubt. He is a great defender and a player that many teams would want in theirs. He was voted one of the best defenders last season and I just admire his talent. He has also scored quite a few times for Liverpool. Centre Back – Stephane Henchoz Stephane Henchoz is not as good as Hyypia, but he is still a good player and he seems to be a really good partner for Hyypia. He is a good tackler, although I do like his handling abilities with the ball. Left Back – Jamie Carragher Jamie Carragher is a decent player and is another Liverpool player who is always picked to play for England, when available. He can play in defence and midfield and I think he is a really good passer and tacker. Right Midfielder – Gary McAllister Gary McAllister is about 36 now, but last season he was inspirational in helping Liverpool to win 3 cups. He scored quite a lot of goals and he showed that he is still a great player at the age of 36. He is a great passer of the ball and his awareness of other players is pretty impressive. Centre Midfielder – Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard is an awesome player and his goal he scored against German on Saturday was brilliant. He is a great tackler; a great passer and he can also score goals. Basically, he is a player nearly every team in the world would have and he is capable of becoming one of the best midfielders in the world. He is still a young player too so he has quite a lot of years to play at the top level. Centre Midfielder – Dietmar Hamann Dieter Hamann is a really good player. He is a good passer and tackler and can also hit shots from long range. His accuracy in his long shots is also pretty impressive. I know for sure that he will be wanting to forget about Germany’s game with England on Saturday, as he didn’t play too well and Germany were stuffed. Left Midfielder – Nicky Barmby Nicky Barmby doesn’t seem to be playing much football lately, but I still think he is a really god player and definitely one of Liverpool’s best midfielders. He can score goals and he is a good passer. He is also quite fast and a useful member of the squad. Striker – Michael Owen Michael Owen is currently in the best form of his life. He is scoring goals and playing like he has never before. He has already scored about 10 goals this season, including the 3 goals he scored against Germany on Saturday. This was his first England hat trick and one that he should feel very proud of. He is a fantastic young player and I think he will go on to become one of the best footballers ever in the game. Striker – Emile Heskey Emile Heskey signed for Liverpool, from Leicester City, about 2 years ago, and he seems to keep on getting better and better. At Leicester, he was a decent striker but he didn’t seem to score many goals for them. Since joining Liverpool, he has s cored quite a lot of goals and he has become a much better player. He is a valuable member of the squad and is also a regular for England, which he deserves to be as he has shown what he is capable of over the past couple of years.

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                        04.09.2001 06:09
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                        Liverpool have got an excellent squad of players and I think that they are now a team that can compete with Man United for the premiership title. Below is my opinion of their best 11: Goalkeeper – Sander Westerveld Although Liverpool have just signed 2 new goalkeepers, I still think that Westerveld is their best keeper. He is a good shot stopper and a valuable team member, and I honestly do not see why Liverpool have spent about 13 million pounds on 2 goalkeepers that are not really needed. Right Back – Markus Babbel Markus Babbel is one of the best right backs currently in the premiership. He scored quite a few times in his first season at Liverpool, last season, and was a valuable member of the squad in their treble cup-winning season. He is about 30 years old, but he is still a great player. Centre Back – Sami Hyypia Sami Hyypia is one of the best centre backs in the premiership, without a doubt. He is a great defender and a player that many teams would want in theirs. He was voted one of the best defenders last season and I just admire his talent. He has also scored quite a few times for Liverpool. Centre Back – Stephane Henchoz Stephane Henchoz is not as good as Hyypia, but he is still a good player and he seems to be a really good partner for Hyypia. He is a good tackler, although I do like his handling abilities with the ball. Left Back – Jamie Carragher Jamie Carragher is a decent player and is another Liverpool player who is always picked to play for England, when available. He can play in defence and midfield and I think he is a really good passer and tacker. Right Midfielder – Gary McAllister Gary McAllister is about 36 now, but last season he was inspirational in helping Liverpool to win 3 cups. He scored quite a lot of goals and he showed that he is still a great player at the age of 36. He is a great passer of the ball and his awareness of other players is pretty impressive. Centre Midfielder – Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard is an awesome player and his goal he scored against German on Saturday was brilliant. He is a great tackler; a great passer and he can also score goals. Basically, he is a player nearly every team in the world would have and he is capable of becoming one of the best midfielders in the world. He is still a young player too so he has quite a lot of years to play at the top level. Centre Midfielder – Dietmar Hamann Dieter Hamann is a really good player. He is a good passer and tackler and can also hit shots from long range. His accuracy in his long shots is also pretty impressive. I know for sure that he will be wanting to forget about Germany’s game with England on Saturday, as he didn’t play too well and Germany were stuffed. Left Midfielder – Nicky Barmby Nicky Barmby doesn’t seem to be playing much football lately, but I still think he is a really god player and definitely one of Liverpool’s best midfielders. He can score goals and he is a good passer. He is also quite fast and a useful member of the squad. Striker – Michael Owen Michael Owen is currently in the best form of his life. He is scoring goals and playing like he has never before. He has already scored about 10 goals this season, including the 3 goals he scored against Germany on Saturday. This was his first England hat trick and one that he should feel very proud of. He is a fantastic young player and I think he will go on to become one of the best footballers ever in the game. Striker – Emile Heskey Emile Heskey signed for Liverpool, from Leicester City, about 2 years ago, and he seems to keep on getting better and better. At Leicester, he was a decent striker but he didn’t seem to score many goals for them. Since joining Liverpool, he has s cored quite a lot of goals and he has become a much better player. He is a valuable member of the squad and is also a regular for England, which he deserves to be as he has shown what he is capable of over the past couple of years.

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                          11.08.2001 20:04
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                          Vegard Heggem, the 26 year old from Trondheim, Norway was the very first signing to be brough in by the Roy Evans - Gerrard Houiller partnership. Heggem has only scored 3 first team goals at his time at Liverpool Football Club but the goals he did score we amazing. He may have been a defender but he could make excelent runs up the right wing. I rated Heggen very highly and he was one of my favourite players for Liverpool at that time. However, Heggem has been very unlucky with injurys. He was struck by an injury while playing for Norway in both World Cup 98 and the European Championship. And also last season in Liverpool's most successful season since the eighty's. Now with new talent like Sami Hyypia, Stephen Honchoz, Marcus Babble in the defensive line and also Danny Murphy, vladimer Smicer, Hamman and both Patrick Berger and Jamie Redknapp returning from injury to play in the midfield is there any hope for the 26 year old? I would hope that he does get back on the squad. If he does not fit into Houiller's plans he will be out as we saw what happened to Ziege! Should He Stay? My Opinion: Yes, Hopefully What I think: Uncertian

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                            02.08.2001 01:28
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                            Gary MacAllister was arguably Liverpool's player of last season. Eyebrows were raised when Gerhard Houiller plucked the 35 year old Scot from the Coventry midfield and handed him a key role in his rebuilt Liverpool midfield. MacAllister had recently been booed out of the Scotland team by a small band of supporters and many thought his career was coming to an end. He proved to be the bargain of the summer, however, as Liverpool snapped him up under freedom of contract and then watched as MacAllister scored some crucial goals such as the dramatic last minute winner against Everton in a 3-2 win at Goodison Park and the deciding penalty in the 1-0 UEFA Cup win against Spanish giants Barcelona. And then there was his free-kick in the final against Alaves which was turned into his own net by Geli to hand Liverpool their third cup of the season. MacAllister has proved his doubters on and an international recall could be on the cards for him. He proved a pivotal part of the Liverpool midfield last year, slotting in nicely alongside the likes of Didi Hamman and Nick Barmby. MacAllister has also proved useful in the development of Steven Gerrard, a highly talented youngster but one who is struggling to cope with the increasing number of games in English football. The rotation system provided Gary with the idea number of games and he replied with blistering form. MacAlliser is blessed with tremendous passing ability and he has set up many a goal with his precision through balls for the pace of Michael Owen and crosses for Emile Heskey. He is deadly from set pieces as he showed on various occasions last season but there is much more to his game than that. He adds experience to the Liverpool team and that is something which proved vital as they romped their way to not one, but three trophies last season. This season could be MacAllister's last at Liverpool, but who would bet against him extending his stay on Merseyside if he can continue the form he showed last season, form which was enough to make him a fan favourite at Anfield.

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                              30.05.2001 01:21
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                              After a shaky start to his Liverpool career, he really has started to prove what a quality goalkeeper he is with a string of impressive performances since January 2001. He will probably be one of the first to admit that he hadn't shown what he could do up to this point. Became a but of a hero after his penalty shoot-out heroics against Birmingham (Feb 2001), and his reputation has improved since 'that' save in the FA Cup Final. If he can start next season as he's just finished this one, every one of his critics will be made to eat their words. Vital Statistics: Date of Birth: 23/10/1974 Squad number: 1 Height: 6'2 Weight: 13st 8lb (86kg) 1st team games: 100 1st team goals: 0 International caps: 6 International goals: 0 (Stats correct up to and including 19/5/01)

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                                17.05.2001 19:23
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                                First and foremost, I am not a Liverpool fan. However, I do appreciate a good player. Sami Hyppia, throughout this season has been the driving force behind Liverpools cup dominance. His solid displays at the back, sometimes rescuing his team by clearing the ball at the last possible second, have made the current Liverpool side one of the most difficult teams to beat in the Premiership. In my opinion, Sami Hyppia is the best central defender currently playing in the English Premier League. His flawlessly consistant displays earn him the title from me over other such defenders as Jaap Stam of Manchester Utd, and Tony Adams/Martin Keown of Arsenal. In the air, he is dominant. He is a big tall bloke, and he gets off the ground amazingly for a man of his size. On the ground, his timing is excellent. He is unafraid to go in for 50/50's, and always seems to be around at the right time if Stepháne Henchoz (His team mate at the back) dives in and misses (something that happens quite often in my view). He is comfortable on the ball, and can distribute play from the back well. To round up, Sami Hyppia would grace any team that I managed, and both Liverpool fans, and football fans in general should thank him for his great performance this season...Well done Sami!

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