Tag Archives: EPL

Manchester City FC to bring League and Cup trophies to Abu Dhabi for major fan event

The English Premier League trophy and the Capital One Cup will go on display at a Manchester City FC Fanzone event in Abu Dhabi.

The club, who won both titles last season, are flying the silverware in for a live screening of the big game with Manchester United on Sunday, 2 November 2014.

The family event, on the outdoor Pitch 1 next to the tennis stadium at Zayed Sports City, starts at 4.30pm with kick-off at 5.30pm. Entry is free for all City fans living in the UAE, with pre-event registration required by emailing

At half-time a competition will be held with the lucky winner traveling to the UK for a City game later this season.

Refreshments will be available throughout the evening along with the chance to try Etihad Airways’ incredible F1 car simulator.

Manchester City FC captain Vincent Kompany said: “Fans all over the world will be watching this game and it is always hugely important to both sets of fans. Obviously we can all still remember winning both of those trophies last season and it was an amazing feeling for me personally to lift them both.”

“It’s fantastic that City fans in Abu Dhabi are getting the chance to see them in real life as they support the team in the game against United.”

City have been putting on Fanzones in Abu Dhabi for several years with more than 400 fans heading to Zayed Sports City for the final game of last season when the team landed the league title.

The club also coaches hundreds of young players every week at Zayed Sports City at the City Football School.

World Cup winning legend Patrick Vieira, who runs the Elite Development Squad at City and is a regular visitor to Abu Dhabi, added: “We have seen both the Fanzone events and City Football School in Abu Dhabi go from strength to strength over the years and taking the trophies there is a brilliant way to say thanks.”

Vincent Kompany and Manuel Pellegrini with the English Premier League Trpphy


الجزيرة الرياضية تستلم راية الدوري الانكليزي والقيادة نحو مصير غامض

Al Jazeera Sport has won the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in the Middle East and North Africa; taking over from Abu Dhabi Sports after three successful years. I have my worries and my fears out of my love for the English Premier League and I do not trust that Al Jazeera will directly be capable of matching what Abu Dhabi offered.

My article on the subject is in Arabic and it got published on some sites, one of which is Eurosport. Here is the link:


الجزيرة الرياضية تستلم راية الدوري الانكليزي والقيادة نحو مصير غامض


al jazeera sport



Fixture List for the 2013/2014 Barclays Premier League

The 380 matches for the coming season are released.

The fixture list for 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season has been released. Click the image to see them all.

CLICK TO CHECK THE FULL LIST - Fixture list for the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League

CLICK TO CHECK THE FULL LIST – Fixture list for the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League

Transfer Talk – Part 2

transfer talk - Premier League

As we continue to preview the transfers that might or might not happen in the January transfer window, and are discussing once more some other potential moves.

For part one click here.

Part 2 will cover England’s Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, and Liverpool:

Tottenham Hotspur

Figo29: The math is simple: a rich midfield and a scarcity in attack. Confirmed exclusive news by Les Ferdinand to says that Roman Pavlyuchenko will surely leave the club, if not this winter then by end of season as he “is a hard man to deal with and of a strange character.” Ferdinand also revealed that the club cannot afford Adebayor on the long term and there is no chance he stays by the end of the season. Rumor has it that Leandro Daimao is on the Spurs radar so is Nilmar. Giovani Dos Santos, Niko Kranjcar and Steven Pienaar could all leave as they are looking for regular playtime. Modric is still an uncertainty, and Manchester United will be happy to receive him.

TFS: As much as he denies it, Redknapp is a great dealer in the transfer market. Whether or not he can bolster his squad in January is another question. I do think they need re-enforcements. They’re very close to become serious title contenders, and the only two positions I believe they should improve are the left-back spot (Assou-Ekotto isn’t that great) and up front. They probably won’t buy a left-back in the January window as that isn’t a priority, but up front they need some alternatives. With Pavlyuchenko probably on his way out, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see a striker coming in. Someone with experience to support Adebayor – Amauri possibly?


Figo29: Arsene Wenger will make up his mind on Thierry Henry soon while Hugo Rodallega and Luka Podolski are on the Frenchman’s agenda. He is looking for cover upfront while van Persie is the only survivor. With Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson, Andre Santos and Kieran Gibbs are all injured, rumor has it that Alex from Chelsea and Wayne Bridge from Manchester City are on their way to the Emirates. Arshavin and Chamakh may not last beyond the transfer window and Lassana Diarra or Lucas Biglia could help the Gunners into a Champions League spot.

TFS: Arsenal have always had the same problems in recent seasons after the New Year. Lots of injuries, some players going to the Cup of Nations, and a lack of depth in the squad. They need to add some numbers in the squad, as well as get rid of some. Coming in: talk of a Thierry Henry returning could materialize, but is that Arsenal’s solution? In the short term, with Gervinho and Chamakh off to Africa, then yes. But given that Van Persie’s only cover, Chamakh, is quite rubbish, they need someone to help him up there. Podolski has been mentioned and would be a good match for Wenger. The wing-backs are also a problem, so despite Wayne Bridge being touted for the move, I do expect Wenger to go for someone unheard of or for someone with more experience like Jan Vertonghen of Ajax who is a versatile defender. Going out: Arshavin has surely got to leave now and the previously mentioned Chamakh – both, for simply being pretty useless.


Figo29: The best signings for Liverpool are already concluded: Return of Steven Gerrard and a rejuvenated Maxi Rodriguez. However, the suspension of Luis Suarez will leave a lackluster Carroll alone, and some probable alternatives are Marouane Chamakh, Bobby Zamora, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or Amauri. In the meantime, Cheick Tioté or Sami Khedira can add some strength in the absence of Lucas, while Raul Albiol might take the advice of Xabi Alonso and join.

TFS: A striker. That’s all Liverpool need. Suarez is getting done for 8 matches. Carroll couldn’t score if his life depended on it. And Liverpool’s missed chances are akin to a midget trying to punch a 6ft5 bouncer. It’s just not happening. Given Liverpool’s recent transfer activity of signing British players, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Darren Bent joined them.

Part 3, coming soon…

Transfer Talk – Part 1

transfer talk - Premier League - 01

Few days left before Pandora’s Box is open again. Come January, the transfer window will send its billions flying all around Europe and many footballers on to new roller-coaster rides. The transfer rumors are intensifying and some deals are almost done, but won’t be unveiled until the 1st of January – or so we’re told. and have joined forces to discuss the rumors, speculations, and give a little analysis regarding the potential transfers and will both publish a series of posts regarding Europe’s biggest names.

Part 1 will cover England’s Manchester clubs and Chelsea:

Manchester United

Figo29: If I were Sir Alex, I would sign an experienced defender, a central holding midfielder and a creative midfielder. He should break all the rules and salary caps and structures to sign Wesley Sneijder. If Sneijder is still an impossible transfer, my options for the Sir are either Henrique Ganso or Adel Taarabt. As for the defensive/holding midfielders, Lassana Diarra or Sami Khedira from Real Madrid may be good loan deals, but the real deal may come in the name of Lucas Biglia. Rumor has it that his agent is already in talks with the Red Devils. On the Nicolas Gaitán news, I do not think he will sign for the team; at least not this season.

TFS: There’s always room for improvements at United. A versatile defender, on a loan perhaps, wouldn’t be a bad idea given that Vidic’s gone for the season. The same could be said about the midfield and while the calls are usually for the creative midfielder, I’d say it’s the midfield spoiler that United lack. One name comes to mind for me and I’d love to see him in United’s colors – Sheikh Tiote of Newcastle United. With Fletcher gone for a long period, not only would he provide cover there, but his arrival would definitely bring out the best in whoever plays alongside him. However, historically, Ferguson is not very active in the January transfer window – so I wouldn’t expect any signings until the summer.

Manchester City

Figo29: Mancini says he needs to sell before he buys. I guess it is one of those rare moments where he is talking sense again. Carlos Tevez, Nedum Onuoha and Wayne Bridge are on the way out, and I do not believe that Manchester City needs replacements. However, given the blank cheques by the Arab owners, Mancini will be tempted to sign someone to cover for the Toure brothers while they are away on a three week mission to win the African Cup of Nations. No one will refuse City’s call, and I will not be surprised if Gary Cahill makes a shock move to the blue side of Manchester.

TFS: The only transfers that should happen during the January window are the exits of Tevez and Bridge. If they buy any more players, it will be for marketing purposes and not to bolster the strongest squad in the league. With the Toure brothers bound for a stint away during the Cup of Nations, there’s a perception that Yaya will be missed dearly – though we often forget that Nigel De Jong, one of their best players last season, is waiting to grab his chance. I expect only outgoing transfers.


Figo29: In short, I believe they need to buy a new team around Luiz-Ramires-Torres. Yet, the January transfer window is not the ideal time to buy the ideal players, and big money transfers or big changes should wait till the Summer. Anelka already left, Alex will leave soon, and Drogba is rumored to be on his way to Anzhi Makhachkala. A dream move would bring Javier Saviola, who lost his starting 11 spot in Benfica, to Chelsea. Bolton already gave the go-ahead for talks with Gary Cahill, and Jack Rodwell is in advanced talks to join the London side. If these two join Chelsea, I will not ask for more signings before the Summer. Milos Krasic, whose agent is already talking to Chelsea, will also be a great option. Big money signings will arrive at The Bridge this Winter.

TFS: No transfer window these days goes by without some sort of activity by Roman Abramovich. With Terry’s potential racism charge on the cards, as well as Alex’s exit, a defender is a must. It has already been confirmed that discussions for Gary Cahill are at an advanced stage, so that should be done and dusted soon. Anelka’s gone to China and Drogba will be at the Cup of Nations soon – so the call for a striker is looming; but with Torres, Sturridge and Lukaku, I’d be surprised if one was signed. One defender and possibly a move for a midfielder as well are likely – with Krasic rumored to be on his way, though I don’t see why they’d add another attacking-minded midfielder, knowing they’ve got Lampard on the bench.



Part 2 will be published in the coming days.

Chelsea vs Liverpool: A Quick Match Preview

Luis Suarez and John Terry in one game. Andre Villas-Boas is not “The Special One”. Torres and Meireles, who both did the damage last season to Ancelotti’s Chelsea, face their ex-teammates. Liverpool makes a showing at Stamford Bridge as the first team to visit after the infamous 3-5 thrashing of Chelsea by Arsenal. Both teams need the points as Chelsea are now fourth with 22, and Liverpool are seventh with 19, after 11 rounds into the current season.

I am no Nostradamus, but Chelsea can win this one, and they might win big. It seems a bit of an overconfident statement, but the lineups of both teams and the motivations that Chelsea players have, give AVB’s men the edge. Liverpool are missing Steven “Red Hope” Gerrard and are not in the form of their life as they won 3 and drew 3 times in the last six games, dropping points to Swansea at home.

Chelsea's last six managers performances after 11 rounds

Andre Villas-Boas has been worse than Avram Grant so far!

Chelsea are not at their best also, but they have all the weapons to get the full 3 points. However it is all conditional to how AVB will approach the match:

Deploy Ivanovic as a right back and not Bosingwa: Bosingwa’s forward runs cost Chelsea a lot on the counter attack, and in the presence of fast red players it is not the wisest selection

David “I do not know what position I play” Luiz: AVB should give the Brazilian so-called defender clear instructions to defend more and not to attempt solo attacks. John Terry is not as good as he was five years ago and needs cover to be able to put a solid show.

Mikel: Simple. Do not include him. He is no Essien. Meireles should start.

A typical Chelsea lineup in quest to win should look like: Cech – Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole – Meireles, Ramires, Lampard – Mata – Torres and Sturridge (4-3-1-2)

However, the rumored lineup consists of: Cech – Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole – Mikel, Ramires, Lampard – Mata, Torres and Sturridge

The game will be a nervous one. Chelsea will put pressure from minute one on the Reds defence attempting to score early. Lampard will have a good day as he is one of the few players to take the pitch with high morale after his England captaincy. Cech remains a mystery this season and Suarez and co will try to capitalize on that. The bookers and pundits are mostly agreeing on a 1-1 draw, but if you have some money to lose do it my way: Chelsea 3-1 Liverpool (Torres for the hattrick?)

p.s. The game kicks-off at 16:00 GMT (20:00 Dubai Time)

Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City – Manchester is a City not United

The noisy neighbors earned themselves the respect they’ve been yearning for; at last. There would have been no better way for the citizens of Manchester to claim full authority over the city and the league table than the thrashing of Manchester United in Old Trafford by 6 goals to 1. It was like how Micah Richards described it: “It’s what dreams are made of.”

The two teams took the field with Manchester City leading United by two points. Pundits, fans, and the world were expecting a tight game (although I disagreed earlier and mentioned it will be humiliating for either side). What happened on the field was totally amusing. Manchester City held their nerves and were organized in the back trying to take charge of the game gradually. Judging Mancini’s starting lineup, the inclusion of Milner instead of De Jong raised some questions about the Italian’s intentions. De Jong was also spotted frustrated sitting on the bench. Yet, with the display that Milner put on the day Mancini was hailed as a genius. He opted for a more attacking formation with Milner rather than a defensive one with De Jong.

Manchester City’s growing confidence into the game was directly translated into their first chance and first goal. Silva, City’s messiah, cut United’s right flank and provided a ball back to the edge of the area where Balotelli threaded a pinpoint sidefoot into De Gea’s net. The first half ended 1-0 for the citizens and both teams’ dressing rooms were filled with mixed emotions. Then came Evans red card at the beginning of the second half and Manchester United were doomed.

Balotelli Why Always me?

It will always be you, until you stop collecting traffic fines and setting houses on fire, refrain from dealing with the mafia and using your iPad during games, and many other million reasons.

Manchester United held their nerves for the first 15 minutes of the second half after the Evans incident but couldn’t hold on more. Balotelli scored the second and Aguero the third. Fletcher reduced the damage on minute 81 but City scored 3 more goals in the dying minutes of the game; thanks to a Dzeko brace and a Silva trademark. (You can find here a minute by minute report on the match)

Now, what really happened in the Manchesteer Derby? What went wrong? Is Manchester City that powerful? Is money triumphing over history? Well, here are the thoughts and comments:

  • A “derby” has no rules – hold your horses and don’t start celebrating Manchester City’s league title yet
  • Balotelli has proven to be an opportunist with capabilities of being a great – he jumped into the front line when Tevez was done
  • Ferdinand is way past his best – Capello is proving right
  • Anderson is not a Scholes – and certainly not a Keane
  • Evra should concentrate more on captaining the team and defending his flank better – and forget about the media outburst and racism claims
  • Mancini is growing up – even his quotes are maturing “United are still one yard above us and we can only change this if we win the title”
  • Sir Alex may change his mind and spend some money in January – he admitted “It was a bad day, our worst ever day”
  • Manchester City fans may now start attending upcoming games with passion – no need for phone messages to beg them to attend (check the audio in this link)
  • Manchester United still need that missing piece in the middle – if they were thinking of “glory glory…” by the end of May 2012
  • Money can buy titles and build teams – ask Chelsea and question Wenger
  • England has a real chance in Euro 2012 – Capello is the luckiest coach to finally see players like Richards and Milner flourishing just in time
  • The English Premier League proves once more it is the best in the world – Arsenal vs Manchester? Need more to say?

I can go on and on with thoughts and lose myself into useless analysis because what has been done is done. Manchester is now a City not United. The only match I want to watch in the coming days is that of Aldershot Town F.C. in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 against Manchester United. I know that Sir Alex will field his “B-Team” for such an encounter but I want to see the anger of the United players translated into another feast of football and goals.

Full Time Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City

Spot the difference between the two images

Manchester United vs Manchester City – Sunday’s Match to Watch

Before money, before Sky Sports, and before Etihad, Manchester was a city united. Then there was the EPL. Like it or not, love it or hate it, the English Premier League has been the best evolving league across Europe and the world for some good time. But for a newbie like Mario Balotelli to claim that “soon United v City will be the biggest derby in the world,” a whole new level of football richness is to be debated.

Manchester United will host Manchester City on Sunday, October 23, 2011, in the Old Trafford. The game will kick off at 12:30 GMT (16:30 Dubai Time). For merely the geographical location of both clubs, the match is dubbed “The Battle of Manchester.” For footballing reasons, and for this game in specific, at this moment in time, I have to agree with Balotelli’s second quote: “Maybe now, City v United is a better football match than Milan v Inter. If I was sat at home and could watch one of the two, I think I’d watch United v City.”

The game is a must watch. One simple reason to watch it is the fact that Manchester City is now leading the English league table and Manchester United is second. The difference is two points and United can go top if they win the game. Another reason is the fact that no better game will be kicking off at the same time.

Stars predict

It seems no one has faith in the City or Mancini, so don't blame Tevez anymore! (Clockwise from top left: Berthold, Gullit, Desailly, Stromberg, Kamark, Joao Pinto, Sacchi - source:

Facts and results, and history too, are in the favor of Manchester United. And while we are in week 9 of the 2011/2012 season, Manchester City has not played against all the elite teams in the league yet. They only met Tottenham Hotspur and are still to face Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea. The United game is a real challenge for Roberto Mancini to prove his worthiness at a club hungry for success.

Performance wise, Manchester United has not played their best football in the last couple of weeks, while the “Citizens” just claimed their first victory in the Champions League; a victory that might blind them heading into the match.

I will hopefully watch the game because Mancini still did not convince me as a manager and as a man capable of leading a team fully loaded with money and stars. The world seems united for this match and the predictions and odds are all in Sir Alex Ferguson’s favor, yet, and for my personal reasons, I see a humiliating loss for either sides. It will not, hopefully, end with a one goal or by a one goal difference. You can check any of these links to read more facts and analysis about the game: PreviewBBC Sport PreviewThe Sun Report

p.s. A worthy mention ahead of this clash is Carlos Tevez. He is the only person who managed to streamline emotions of hate and unite opinions in a city divided between red and blue.

This is not intended to be a factual analysis,
but merely a couple of thoughts on a lame Saturday

A Letter to Sir Alex; on the Wembley Final

Dear Sir Alex Ferguson;

I used to watch your Manchester United when you brought King Eric in. I actually used to enjoy doing that. I believe his flying Kung Fu kick is football history because it was different.

In 1999, I supported your team in the Camp Nou Final. I almost had a heart attack until Solskjaer scored that winner.

Let’s put it this way: I don’t love your team, but you are what the modern history of the English Premier League is all about.

Confused? Me too!

Let’s try again.

Dear Sir Alex:

I support Barcelona and it will hurt if Barcelona doesn’t win on May 28, 2011, in Wembley.

I need to respect you. I do fear you. I want you to step away from the cup, please.

Kind Regards,

A Hopeful Barcelona Fanatic

Old Wembley Stadium

Wembley was good in 1992, hope the new one treats Barcelona the same

Barclays Trophy Tour and Somethings

Football is finally back this weekend. After a good break, and good is in the sense of long, the national leagues return to action. The Milan derby is the highlight of this weekend and it will be played on Saturday, April 02 with AC Milan at home.

Well, all the qualifiers and the friend-lies have caused the same casualty to most of the clubs: fatigue and injuries. To the fans, or at least to myself, they caused boredom.

While waiting, I gathered some scattered news and I had the honor to be with the Barclays Premier League Trophy in a privileged two hour session (photos below).


Would you make up your mind, please?

1- Juan Roman Riquelme had a moment of magic to earn his team the second win of the season. Yes, you read well; TWO WINS ONLY for the mighty Boca Juniors!

2- Paulo Henrique Ganso, the new Kaká and the most needed creative attacking midfielder nowadays. Well, Kaká is not dead yet, so hold your horses.

3- World Cup 2014 will have goal line technology, or at least that’s what Sepp Blatter is promoting for his election campaign.

4- Paolo Maldini is facing some allegations regarding taxes. Rubbish I say, it’s Il Capitano!

5- Sergio Batista believes that Messi is better than Maradona. Fact check: Even Messi says that Diego is unique.

6- Scott Parker is set to get a pay rise on top of his £70,000 weekly wage given that the team avoids relegation.

7- David Villa is Spain’s all-time scorer after 6 years of international football. That’s a relief! We had to endure 10 years of Raul’s supremacy.

8- Owen Hargreaves; enough said. I salute his soul for wanting to go on. With a fresh injury he has now completed six minutes of action only since September 2008.


Three parts aside

Handle with care


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