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Archives for March 2011

Ramsey has chance to shine against Wilshere

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 10:53 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

So how do Wales cope against England without the injured Gareth Bale? The answer for former Wales midfielder Robbie Savage is a simple one.

"If I was Wales manager Gary Speed I would ring up Ryan Giggs and get him to play for one game only," he says. "It would give everybody a lift because the whole nation is feeling down at the minute."

It sounds like a sign of desperation but sums up the mood of losing arguably the Premier League's most exciting talent only days before the Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff.

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Luiz shows Man City the way forward

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 00:25 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

At Stamford Bridge

When Chelsea captured Fernando Torres and David Luiz in the January transfer window it seemed obvious who was signed to score goals and who was signed to bolster their defence.

Fortunately during Sunday's 2-0 crucial victory over Manchester City, it was Luiz who did both.

As Torres's goal drought stretched to seven appearances, defender Luiz popped up to score a decisive header and take his tally to two goals in five games.

But what really made him stand out at Stamford Bridge was his ability to stop City's attacks and get Chelsea moving forward. The key to this is his capacity for intercepting the ball.

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Man Utd centre-backs face crucial test

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 11:30 UK time, Friday, 18 March 2011

Think of title-winning teams and you can easily recall the centre-back partnerships involved: Hansen-Lawrenson, Bruce-Pallister, Terry-Carvalho.

The problem for Manchester United is their current centre-half duo - Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic - are both injured at a time when the Premier League race is reaching its climax.

In their places, manager Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to call on Wes Brown and Chris Smalling against Bolton on Saturday as he did against Marseille on Tuesday. The pair have chalked up only six starts in the same team, with Brown often playing at right-back, and only two at the heart of United's defence.

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Real aiming to break Lyon record

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 18:08 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Real Madrid may approach the second leg of their last 16 Champions League tie against Lyon as favourites but there will also be a sense of trepidation ahead of Wednesday's game.

The Spanish side have the upper hand after drawing 1-1 at the Stade de Gerland three weeks ago yet they will be mindful of the aggregate victory that the Ligue One team recorded against them at the same stage of the competition last season.

That result was achieved thanks to a 1-0 win in France and a 1-1 draw in Madrid and continued a remarkable record that together with this season's encounter, means Lyon are now unbeaten in seven matches against the nine-time European Cup winners.

It also sustained a run in which Real have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League since 2004.

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Ba offers Stoke a glimpse of what they missed

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 13:04 UK time, Friday, 11 March 2011

Of Stoke's out-and-out strikers, John Carew is the only one to have scored since their FA Cup third round draw with Cardiff way back on 8 January.

That may give Potters boss Tony Pulis food for thought ahead of his team's cup quarter-final at home to West Ham on Sunday, especially as Hammers forward Demba Ba looked like he would join Stoke in January before failing a medical.

Since then Stoke's loss has certainly been West Ham's gain as the Senegalese striker has inspired his new team to greater heights, putting them within touching distance of a return to Wembley for manager Avram Grant and boosting their Premier League survival hopes no end.

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Milan plan to take game to Tottenham

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Chris Bevan | 09:17 UK time, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

He has spent the last 18 years playing for the world's biggest clubs in the top echelons of the European game, so these days it is safe to say it takes something special to surprise AC Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf.

But even the 34-year-old Dutchman was taken aback by the pace of Tottenham's Aaron Lennon - or "the man on the motorbike" as he calls him - when their teams fought out an electric first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

It was a typically rapid raid down the right by Lennon that led to Peter Crouch scoring the only goal of an intriguing encounter at the San Siro on 15 February, giving Spurs a crucial advantage in their quest for a quarter-final place.

"I told Lennon that the police would stop him for speeding," Seedorf said with a smile. "I told him he was not allowed to go this fast."

Lennon's pace was only one sub-plot of an absorbing match that demonstrated the tactical flexibility of Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri. But the England winger could again have a big role to play when the sides do battle in Wednesday's return leg at White Hart Lane.

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Man Utd's open midfield allows Suarez to probe

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 00:37 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

There is an argument to be made that Liverpool's resounding victory over Manchester United on Sunday - a win that further complicated the Premier League title race - was made in the Netherlands.

Reds strikers Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez were the architects of the 3-1 win at Anfield - and both players came to England from the Dutch top flight, from Feyenoord and Ajax respectively.

Netherlands international Kuyt and Uruguayan Suarez are very different players but the way they combined at Anfield will give Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish hope for his own title plans next season.

Perhaps it is too soon to judge Suarez, who joined Liverpool in the January transfer window having scored 49 goals in 48 games for Ajax last season. However, his overall performance in the win over United showed that he is much more than just a goalscorer.

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