lundi 9 septembre 2013

United's Young doubtful for Bayern return with hand injury

  Manchester United's injury problems mounted on Saturday with winger Ashley Young doubtful for next week's Champions League return at Bayern Munich due to a damaged hand, the club said.

United, without striker Wayne Rooney who may also miss Wednesday's second leg at Bayern with a bruised toe, sent Young to hospital after he collided with Newcastle United's Massadio Haidara in a 4-0 Premier League win at St James' Park.

"He's torn ligaments in his hand," manager David Moyes was quoted as saying on United's Twitter feed.

England winger Young went off after 17 minutes and is "a major doubt" to face Bayern, with the score at 1-1 from the first leg, United said on their website
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City hitting form at right time, says Pellegrini

  Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has warned his Premier League rivals that his side are hitting their stride as the title race enters its final stretch.

Saturday's 4-1 home win over a lively Southampton side was City's fifth in their last six matches, with the other result a 1-1 draw at fourth-placed Arsenal.

The 2012 champions lie third with 70 points, two behind leaders Chelsea who beat Stoke City 3-0 on Saturday, and one adrift of Liverpool, who play West Ham United on Sunday. Crucially, however, they have matches in hand on both.

Pellegrini's side suffered shock defeats to Cardiff City and Aston Villa earlier in the season, but having shored up their defence they have not lost in the league since going down to Chelsea in early February.

They face a massive clash with Liverpool next weekend and Pellegrini said their recent form gave them confidence heading into the final matches of the season.

"The four teams have the same pressure until the end of the season - they all want to win the title," Pellegrini told the club website ( after the match.

"Everyone knows that they must win - whether they know our result or not," he said.

"We just depend on ourselves until the end of the season - it's important to continue playing the way we did in the second half because I thought it was a great performance.

"We are enjoying a very good second round of fixtures where the results are much better than the first half (of the championship).

"We've had four wins and one draw in our last five games - maybe we had low performances in the month of February but I think that now the team has come back to its best performances."

City faced a determined Southampton side who fought back from Yaya Toure's early penalty opener through a Rickie Lambert penalty.

Goals from Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko just before the break gave City breathing space before substitute Stevan Jovetic added a fourth late on.

There was controversy surrounding the second goal, with David Silva appearing to be offside in the build-up.

The decision to allow the goal infuriated Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino, but Pellegrini said the decision did not play a major role in the eventual outcome.

"I don't think that the second goal changed the game because we scored a few minutes later," the Chilean said.

"I don't think the difference was just the second goal, we won 4-1.

"If we had only won the game 1-0 maybe you can say it was an important mistake by the referee."

Pochettino clearly disagreed, saying after Saints had given their opponents a tough challenge early on, the decision swung momentum back to the hosts.

He also quibbled with the early penalty decision when Jose Fonte was adjudged to have brought down Dzeko.

"The first 45 minutes, we were superior to a team equipped to win the Premier League," he said.

"To beat a team like City, a team full of world-class players, you have to have a perfect day and have the refereeing decisions to be fair and they weren't today.

"I've just seen it (the penalty decision) on TV and I don't think you can give that after two minutes and their second goal was clearly, two metres, offside.

"That's the kind of game you play at school and when you get a bad call like that it can affect any player and it did today - it affected our players."

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Moyes wants to build momentum after Bayern improvement

  Manchester United visit Newcastle United on Saturday knowing they cannot afford the sort of regression that has too often followed improved performances in this season's Champions League.

Manager David Moyes, enduring a troubled first season in charge, was pleased with the "terrific" performance in a 1-1 draw at home to European champions Bayern Munich in the quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

But after good wins over Bayer Leverkusen (twice) and Olympiakos Piraeus in European competition, United quickly fell to earth again with a bump in the Premier League.

Soon after winning 5-0 away to Leverkusen in November, they suffered successive home defeats to Everton and Newcastle, neither of whom had won at Old Trafford for many years.

The return leg against Bayern next Wednesday is more important to United's season, but Moyes said: "The only thing we are thinking about is the Newcastle game. We have to go up there and put on a good performance and get three points, trying to build a little bit of momentum towards the end of the season. We will go there and try to do that."

Ten points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with only six League games left, United seem certain to miss out on a Champions League place next season for the first time since 1995-96.

Moyes said defenders Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans were in contention for a place against Newcastle, although Ryan Giggs is doubtful after picking up an injury in the Bayern game
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High-flying Liverpool eye return to 'perch'

 One of Alex Ferguson's avowed aims during his long reign as Manchester United manager was, famously, "to knock Liverpool off their perch" as the most successful club side in England.

When he took over at Old Trafford in November 1986, Liverpool had won the title 16 times while United had won it on seven occasions, with the last of those successes coming in 1967.

By the time he retired at the end of last season, Manchester United had two more titles than Liverpool's 18 but in an almost ironic twist, as soon as Ferguson left the stage, Liverpool are poised to steal in and claim a first league crown since 1990.

Their emphatic 4-0 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday left the Anfield crowd singing "we're gonna win the league" with real belief, and Brendan Rodgers can take his team into the final six matches with their destiny firmly in their own hands.

The victory moved Liverpool to 71 points, two ahead of Chelsea, who have played the same number of matches, and four clear of a Manchester City side that have eight fixtures remaining.

Getting over the line will not be easy but if Liverpool can stretch their current eight-match winning streak to 14, including home games against Manchester City and Chelsea, they will end their 24-year wait for a 19th title.

Only one team has ever won 14 successive top flight matches - Arsenal in 2002 - which is perhaps why Rodgers, who has been playing down their chances all season, walked into his news conference following the Spurs match, and unprompted, said: "No, we can't!" before anyone had even asked him if they could.

Following Chelsea's shock 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on Saturday, manager Jose Mourinho said the Londoners were out of the title race and although their chances suffered a massive blow at Selhurst Park, they are still very much involved.

City also lost ground following a 1-1 draw at Arsenal, but like Liverpool, they remain the masters of their destiny.
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Carroll inflicts hammer blow on sorry Sunderland

England international Andy Carroll scored one goal and laid on another as West Ham United piled on the relegation woes for Sunderland with a 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light on Monday.

The former Newcastle United striker enjoyed his return to his native North East after grabbing a trademark goal in the ninth minute, rising high at the far post to powerfully head in a left-wing corner.

Sunderland were unlucky not to be given a first-half penalty when visiting midfielder Kevin Nolan brushed the ball away with his elbow on the edge of the area.

Carroll then set up West Ham's second goal five minutes after the interval when he chested the ball down for Mohamed Diame and the Senegalese's deflected shot from 18 metres beat goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Gus Poyet's Sunderland perked up with the introduction of Adam Johnson and the substitute gave them hope when he curled a delightful left-foot shot into the top corner of the net with 25 minutes to go.

West Ham, though, held on for a victory that left them 11th in the Premier League with 37 points and effectively banished all fears of relegation for Sam Allardyce's men.

Sunderland remained second from bottom on 25 points, four points from safety with eight matches left to play this season.

"Scoring against Sunderland is a special feeling but the three points for the team are more important," Carroll told Sky Sports television.

"All the lads are positive about staying up and I think we should be safe now."

Poyet was disappointed referee Howard Webb did not award the first-half penalty.

"Howard was in a good position and you need to ask him why he didn't give it," said Uruguayan Poyet. "It was clear, it was deliberate, he tried to play the ball with his hand.

"The idea for us now is not to give up. We still have a chance and we're going to keep going until the end."
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Ominous Liverpool hit the front after Spurs demolition

 Liverpool outclassed Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday to surge to the top of the Premier League table and raise hopes of a first English title for 24 years.

An eighth successive victory for Brendan Rodgers's team lifted them two points clear of Chelsea with a much better goal difference and four ahead of Manchester City, who have two games in hand.

Liverpool will be champions if they win their six remaining games as City and Chelsea, who both dropped points on Saturday, still have to visit Anfield.

On a good day for Merseyside and a bad one for London sides, Liverpool's neighbours Everton won 3-1 at bottom club Fulham, taking them further ahead of sixth-placed Tottenham and keeping the pressure on Arsenal for the fourth Champions League place.

Liverpool have not won the English title since 1990, two years before the Premier League began. Having won 5-0 at Spurs in December, which led to the sacking of Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, they dominated from the start again.

It took only two minutes for the first of many defensive errors by the visitors, when Glen Johnson was allowed to cross from the right and force an own goal by Younes Kaboul.

Luis Suarez doubled the lead in the 25th minute with his 29th goal of the season, all in the League. That broke the Liverpool club record for a Premier League campaign, set by Robbie Fowler in 1995-96.

The Uruguayan's tally is all the more remarkable because he missed the first five games because of a long suspension for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

Watched by former Liverpool goalscoring heroes Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and Ian St John, Suarez almost got his 30th goal before half-time, Hugo Lloris just turning his header on to a post.

In the second half Brazilian Philippe Coutinho ran from just inside the Spurs half to score the third goal from 20 metres area and England midfielder Jordan Henderson's long free kick went straight in for the fourth.
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Rodgers stays grounded as Liverpool's title charge gains pace

  Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to join with supporters in growing excited about his team's prospects of winning a first Premier League title, despite going to the top of the table on Sunday.

Yet he did admit that it had been another impressive performance in crushing Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 for an eighth successive league victory.

"To perform like we did right from the first whistle was immense and I'm very proud of the team," he said.

"We don't feel the pressure, we're very confident in how we play. You can see the confidence in how the players pass the ball, the movement and the intensity.

"It was a wonderful team performance. We've shown flexibility in the way we play, we flipped back to 4-3-3 today and everybody knows their job."

Liverpool won the last of their 18 top-flight titles in 1990, when it was known as the First Division, but have never finished top of the pile since it was re-branded as the Premier League.

With six games remaining, they are two points clear of Chelsea in second and four ahead of third-place Manchester City, who have played two matches fewer.

Both their title rivals still have to visit Anfield in the run-in, where Liverpool have lost once all season.

Rodgers said he was looking no further than the next game, however, away to West Ham United next Sunday.

"We can only concentrate on ourselves and our next task is to analyse West Ham. The main thing is just to prepare the team and see how far it takes us."

Midfielder Jordan Henderson was equally matter-of-fact, saying: "We all dream of winning the Premier League one day and we've got a chance but at the same time we've just got to focus on the next game and see where we are at the end of the season."

Tottenham are sixth in the table, eight points adrift of north London rivals Arsenal in fourth.

Spurs manager Tim Sherwood admitted that their chances of finishing in the top four have virtually disappeared and that their record against the leading teams - seven defeats in eight matches - shows why.

"Perhaps it is a belief thing," he said. "A lot of these teams are better than us. The game today was pretty much finished after two mistakes early on and we were beaten by the better side."
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