Saturday, 2 January 2016


Louis van Gaal told MUTV he was delighted with the quality of Manchester United's two goals in Saturday's victory over Swansea City. Here are the main points from his post-match interview with the club channel and from the press conference...

ANALYSIS OF THE MATCH: "We’ve started the new year very well. I think we played very risky, very attacking, with three defenders, but we wanted to win and scored two fantastic goals today. That’s the difference. Our [attacking tactics] were because of the quality of the opponent and the shape of the opponent. We always look to a gameplan that suits us more and also that the opponent doesn’t expect. That’s the reason – it’s not that we want to play risky football. Against Chelsea we played with a lot of space behind us and also today. But we have won and the most important thing is we have scored two fantastic goals."

FIRST HALF v SECOND HALF: "I think the first half was a better half than the second half; the difference is that we scored the goals and everyone is saying the second half is better. We scored two fantastic goals and you only win by scoring goals but, as a team, our performance in the first half was better and we didn't give any chances away in the first half."
ON MARTIAL AND ROONEY: "Martial had one goal and one assist but you could say Rooney had the same, as the run he made to the first post was very important for Martial – it gave him space to get the ball and, of course, the cross from Ashley Young was good. Wayne’s goal, with his left foot behind his other foot, was fantastic. I have said to Wayne it is your second match in a row that you are playing very well and scoring goals. It has nothing to do with the fact I left him out – that’s because he has played every game and sometimes he also needs rest."
ON ROONEY SURPASSING LAW'S UNITED GOALS TALLY: "It’s amazing, and at the age of 30 years. You have to say, of course, now we are playing much more matches but it is still a fantastic achievement. For me, it is more important that he scores now, and he scored today. I hope that it is the fantastic starting point for the team, but also him."
ON UNITED'S CHARACTER AFTER SWANSEA EQUALISED: "Of course you could see there was a little drop in the team, but they had enough courage to continue and that you have seen. We created chances again and scored the winning goal."
ON SWANSEA GOALKEEPER FABIANSKI'S 95TH-MINUTE HEADER: "It’s unbelievable when you give four minutes’ stoppage time – it’s a lot, especially when they were wasting time, not us. After our goal, of course they were in a hurry, but then it benefits them – that I don’t understand. We were lucky it was wide of our goal because it was a very good header and he was free."
ON JONES AND YOUNG SUBSTITUTIONS: "Jones is injured, more or less the same injury as before. Young has played a lot of matches in a row, so he was stiff and had to be changed. It was not voluntary, I changed them because I needed to change. With Herrera, it was because I wanted to waste time, as Swansea did all match."

Watford 1-2 Manchester City: Toure & Aguero strike late to deny Hornets

Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero both netted late goals as Manchester City came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The visitors were forced to come from behind at Vicarage Road following Aleksandar Kolarov's own goal and earned all three points thanks to two dramatic strikes.


video: Espanyol 0 - 0 Barcelona [La Liga] Highlights 2015/16

Lionel Messi and Co. could not break down a dogged home side and could lose their grip on top spot when Atletico Madrid face Levante on Saturday night


Former Wigan defender Gohouri found dead

Ivory Coast international and former Wigan defender Steve Gohouri has died at the age of 34.

The defender, who as well as representing the Latics played in the top flight in Switzerland and Germany, was reportedly found dead in the River Rhine, having gone missing before Christmas, since December 16 precisely.

Pre-Match Briefing: Crystal Palace v Chelsea – part on

The first game of 2016 is also the first against a side we have played previously in the Premier League this season. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton ring in the new…


Who will leave the Palace with honours this New Year? Chelsea’s need of points is greater than that of the hosts, but this season that has meant no guarantee of success.
The Blues completed 54 games in 2015, securing the Premier League title as well as winning the Capital One Cup by beating Tottenham Hotspur in March. Eden Hazard and Willian made the most appearances over the calendar year (51), each missing just three games, and Diego Costa scored the most goals: 14.
Chelsea’s record in the past five calendar years

The Chelsea Weekend Interview: Eden Hazard

In our first interview of 2016, the official Chelsea website catches up with Eden Hazard, who talks about making a difference, adaptability and looking forward…
The importance of versatility in the modern game cannot be underestimated, and there are few players in Europe right now capable of operating in as many positions as Eden Hazard.
In the absence of a recognised striker Hazard, more naturally a winger, started Monday’s game against Manchester United up front, the third occasion he has done so in the space of a month.
Just as he did in the draw away at Tottenham at the end of November, the Belgian produced a commendable performance at Old Trafford as he attempted to link the play, bring his team-mates into the game and offer a goalscoring threat.
The Belgian was at his creative best in the second half when he put Pedro through on goal with a marvellous piece of play, only for the Spaniard to be thwarted by a good David De Gea save.
As he sits down with the club’s official website at Cobham, the 24-year-old reflects on his display.
‘It was good,’ says Hazard. ‘I just want to be on the pitch, it doesn’t matter if I’m on the left, right, in the ‘number 10’ or as a striker. When we don’t have a striker I can help the team out. I just try to do my job and against United I think I did my job.
‘We were unlucky not to score a goal. The result could have been better but that’s football, a draw at Old Trafford is good. Now we play Crystal Palace and we want to start the second half of the season well, we need to start winning games.’
"If the second half of the season goes well we can win two trophies."


Hazard has enjoyed huge success since moving to Stamford Bridge playing predominantly as a left winger, but there have also been occasions when he has been asked to play on the opposite flank or in a more central role just off the main striker, including memorably on his debut at Wigan in 2012 when he was instrumental in a 2-0 victory.
When given the task of leading the line in recent weeks he has met the challenge head on and, in terms of his responsibilities and objectives very little has changed, according to the player himself.
‘I prefer to play on the left wing but if I have to play up front, why not?’ he says. ‘It just means I need to come a bit deeper to get the ball at my feet but I enjoy it.
‘It’s the same, my job is always to try to make the difference. When I play as a striker it’s important for me to get into the box when crosses come in and try to get across to the front post.’
The year 2015 was a tale of two parts for the Blues, with the wonderfully successful first half preceding a far more disappointing, not to mention unexpected, second.
Having now gone three matches without defeat, the side will attempt to get 2016 off to the best possible start when we play our first game of the New Year at Crystal Palace tomorrow.
‘It’s a tough place to go, we won there last season but it’s always difficult,’ Hazard says. ‘It’s a London derby and it will be a good game for us to win.
‘We know they have good players; they defend very well and they can play on the counter attack and keep the ball well. We just need to be fully concentrated and hopefully we can win the game.
‘If I can score my first goal of the season it would be very good but obviously the most important thing for us is to win the game.’
One man who will not be lining up against us tomorrow is the suspended Yohan Cabaye, who played alongside Hazard at Lille. The Frenchman has been one of the Eagles’ most influential performers this campaign, which has come as no surprise to his former team-mate.
‘He’s a fantastic player; he can control the midfield on his own, he can take free-kicks and he’s a good passer of the ball,’ explains Hazard.
‘He can really make a difference. It’s unfortunate for them he’s not available but very good for us. It’s not just Cabaye, though, they have a lot of quality.’
Any match between the two teams is sure to bring back fond memories for Hazard after he scored the goal against Palace which secured the Premier League title last May. That fixture was one of 54 matches we played during 2015 in all competitions and Hazard, along withWillian, featured in all but three, the highest number within the squad.

Eden Hazard scores his championship-winning goal against Crystal Palace last May

Despite the fact we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory with regards to the Premier League table, there is still a lot to play for between now and the end of the season.
Our FA Cup campaign begins next week when we welcome Scunthorpe United to Stamford Bridge, while in February the Blues will lock horns with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League for the third consecutive year.
‘We are in a good way right now, we just need to start winning more games to bring the confidence back and create more positivity,’ Hazard explains.
‘If the second half of the season goes well we can win two trophies so we just want to take it game by game, we don’t want to look too far into the future. It’s just about winning as many matches as possible.’

video: Manchester United 2 - 1 Swansea City [Premier League] Highlights 2015/16

A superb goal from Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Swansea at Old Trafford, bringing to an end a run of eight games without a win.



West Ham 2-0 Liverpool

The Hammers start 2016 with a win and climb to 5th in the #BPL table
Shots: 18-23
Pass accuracy: 67%-78%
Clearances: 59-20
Possession:  44%-56%

Man Utd 2 - Swansea 1
WAYNE ROONEY might just have bought Louis van Gaal some breathing space at Manchester United with only his third Premier League goal of the season. Anthony Martial opened the scoring for United, giving them the lead just after the restart with a headed finish from an Ashley Young cross.
Swansea then managed to pull one pack through Gylfi Sigurdsson, but it wasn’t to stay level pegging for long as Rooney popped up with a late winner.
The goal, Rooney’s 188th in the Premier League, sees him move above Denis Law as United’s second-highest goalscorer and eases the pressure on Van Gaal.
It all seemed to be going well for the Red Devils after Martial popped up with the opener on a day that wasn’t exactly raining goals.
The Frenchman headed home a Young cross from the left hand side, giving United a 1-0 lead on 46 minutes.
But they failed to capitalise on their early lead in the second half and were pegged back by the Swans courtesy of Sigurdsson.
The midfielder scored a header on 69 minutes from the centre of the box following a cross from Modou Barrow, who had been running riot down the wing for Swansea.
Then followed a period of concerted pressure from the Swans mainly coming through Barrow who had been brought on for Leon Britton.
However, parity wasn’t to last as Rooney popped up with a landmark goal on 76 minutes – making him the second highest Premier League goalscorer behind Alan Shearer.

FULL-TIME  Leicester 0-0 Bournemouth. Riyad Mahrez misses from the spot as 10-man Cherries claim a point 


Arsenal 1 - 0 Newcastle United
Koscielny 72'

Norwich City 1-0 Southampton
Tettey 76'

Sunderland 3-1 Aston Villa
van Aanholt 30' - Carles Gil 64'
Defoe 72' 90'2'

West Brom 2 - 1 Stoke City
Sessegnon 61'     Walters 80'
Evans 90'3'

West Ham United 2 - 0 Liverpool
Antonio 10'
Carroll 55'

Espanyol 0-0 Barcelona: Champions held in goalless derby

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both hit the woodwork as Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw against Espanyol that gives Atletico Madrid the opportunity to take sole ownership of top spot in La Liga.

I recently posted urging the catalan not to start 2016 in the manner Real Madrid started 2015 after a splendid 2014 but its like my advice fell on deaf ears.

But does the Club World Cup truly has a curse? because most of its Champions usually struggle after winning the title.

No place for Suárez in France Football's Dream XI

Spain's La Liga nearly pulled off a clean sweep in the Dream Team which was today published online by 'France Football'. The Team of the Year boasts no less than seven players plying their trade in the top-flight of Spanish football. Rather unsurprisingly, there are places for Ballon d'Or finalists Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
Despite the non-inclusion of Uruguyuan striker Luis Suárez, Barcelona are still the best represented team, with Dani Alves, and the only Spaniard to make the cut,Andrés Iniesta, both included.
Sevilla's Polish midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, and Atlético Madrid centre-back Diego Godín make up the remainder of the La Liga contingency. The starting XI is completed by Italy and Juventus pair Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini, Bayern Munich's Austrian left-back David Alaba and Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne (who starred for both Wolfsburg and Manchester City during 2015).
Do you agree with this line up?

Neymar takes home Brazillian Award Again

Neymar keeps bringing home the trophies, this time being awarded for his individual performances. The Brazilian Barcelona forward has won the Samba d'Or Award for the second year running, in recognition for being the best Brazilian player on the European scene.
The Barça boy sailed to victory, picking up 37.87% of the votes, with more than 200,000 internet users taking part in the voting.
With 13.3% of the votes cast, Bayern player Douglas Costa came in second and Inter midfielder Felipe Melo third with 9.39%.

Nadal beats Ferrer in first Tennis Tournament of 2016

Rafael Nadal sealed his place in the final at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship with a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 win over David Ferrer, after two hours and 23 minutes out of court.
Despite it being an exhibition tournament aimed at preparing for the ATP Tour, Nadal and Ferrer both brought their A game and left it all out on the court as if they were actually playing for a title.
Nadal, who, since the last Asian tour has been working on his footwork in order to improve how he strikes the ball, was on much better form than at the beginning of 2015 when he first lost to Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi and then Michael Berrer in Doha.
Nadal with face Milos Raonic in Saturday's final after the Canadian beat Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 7-5 in the other semi-final.

CR7 La Liga Top Scorer of 2015

Cristiano Ronaldo has ended 2015 as he began it, scoring goals, becoming La Liga's top scorer this calendar year, with a total of 37, three more than his nearest and greatest rival, Leo Messi.
The Portuguese forward scored 23 goals from January to June, adding another 14 to his tally between August and December. Messi, meanwhile, racked up 28 in the first half of the year, but only bagged six in the second, the Argentine unquestionably having been hampered by the knee injury he picked up in late September against UD Las Palmas, which kept him away from the pitch for two months.
Luis Suárez comes in third on the list of top scorers for 2015. The Uruguayan has put away a total of 30 goals, 15 of which have come at the start of this 2015-16 season.
His Brazilian teammate, Neymar takes fourth place in this annual ranking, tied on 25 with Atlético's Antoine Griezmann, who has emerged as a brilliant marksman.

Oblak, safest pair of hands

As for goalkeepers, Atlético Madrid's Jan Oblak has conceded the fewest number of goals in 2015, with only 14 getting past him over the course of the 356 days. Barcelona's goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo comes in a close second.

Sporting Events To Watch In 2016

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The 31st summer Olympic Games take place from 5th to 21st August. Usain Bolt heads the list of world-class athletes taking part.
Football: The France European Championship.

Reigning champions Spain will be keen to defend the title they won in Kiev four years ago. For the first time in the competition's history there will be 24 teams competing for the title between 10th June and 10th July.
Football: The Champions League final in Milan.

The San Siro will host the Champions League final on 28th May with Barcelona hoping to make history as the first team to ever win back-to-back titles. The Europa League final is scheduled to be played in Basel on 18th May.
Football: The United States are hosting the centennial Copa America.

Neymar's Brazil and Messi's Argentina will take part, from 5th to 26th June, in the CONMEBOL's centennial tournament.

Rafa Job in Valencia Hand

Real Madrid boss, Rafa Benítez, goes into the game against Valencia fully aware that a poor result against his former club could spell the end of his reign at the Bernabéu. If that were to happen, it would not be the first time that a result against Valencia has cost him his job.
Back during the 1995/96 campaign, Benítez was in charge at Valladolid when a disastrous 5-2 home defeat against Valencia - on 24th January 1996 - saw the Spaniard lose his job.
Benítez, who went on to spend three seasons at Valencia - and win two league titles and a UEFA Cup - between 2001/02 and 2003/04, returns to the Mestalla, where he has yet to win there as a visiting coach, almost twelve years later.
Benítez's track record from two trips to the Mestalla stands at one defeat and one draw. The defeat came in the 1995/96 season when Valladolid lost there 1-0. He led Extremadura to an impressive 1-1 draw on his second visit in the 1998/99 campaign.

Ighalo plays down Watford exit talk

In-form Watford striker Odion Ighalo insists that he has no intention of departing Vicarage Road during the January transfer window.

The Nigeria international forward has attracted attention for his scoring record in 2015, the best in England, but insists that he will not be distracted by transfer talk.

Barclays Premier League Halftime Results

1:45 PM FT West Ham United 2 Liverpool 0

4:00 PM - Arsenal 0 Newcastle United 0

4:00 PM - Leicester City 0 AFC Bournemouth 0

4:00 PM - Manchester United 0 Swansea City 0

4:00 PM - Norwich City 0 Southampton 0

4:00 PM - Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 0

4:00 PM - West Bromwich Albion 0 Stoke City 0