Friday, 9 March 2012

Midweek Champions League and Europa League Action, The Weekend's EPL Fixture Previews:

Midweek Champions League Last 16 Second Leg Action:


Arsenal 3 AC Milan 0 (Aggregate 3-4)
This match was played at The Emirates as The Gunners tried to overturn a 4-0 deficit against tricky Italian opposition to stay in the Champions League Knock-out Rounds...
Defender Laurent Kosicelny opened the scoring for Arsenal to give them the lead after only 7 minutes. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky doubled the lead for The Gunners to half the 4-0 result (from the first leg) to 4-2. Captain and striker Robin Van Persie gave Arsenal real hope just before half-time with a penalty to gift Arsenal a golden 3-0 scoreline. After the second half started, Milan started to play better while Chamberlain was injured, the home side lacked creativity and missed key chances. 

Defender Laurent Koscielny heads Arsenal in-front at The Emirates against AC Milan.

Striker Robin Van Persie scores from the penalty spot just before half-time to make it 3-0 on the night against AC Milan and 3-4 on aggregate.
Arsenal realise that their 3-0 win against Milan was not enough to progress through to the Last 8 of the Champions League..

Benfica 2 Zenit St Petersburg 0 (Aggregate 4-3)
Benfica narrowly beat Zenit with a 2-0 win (and a 4-3 aggregate score) to move into the Quarter Final.
Maxi Pereira 45'
Nelson Oliveira 90'.


Barcelona 7 Bayer Leverkusen 1 (Aggregate 10-2)
This match was played at the Nou Camp as Champions League defending champions Barcelona hosted a tough German Bayer Leverkusen side.
Striker Lionel Messi opened the scoring for the home side after 25 minutes after chipping the goalkeeper. He doubled the lead, just before half-time (42nd) to make it 2-0. 
Messi scored again, for his hat-trick, 4 minutes after the start of the second half. 
Substitute Tello placed the ball past the keeper low into the corner of the net in the 55th minute - with his first touch of the ball...
Lionel added ANOTHER three minutes later, before Tello doubled his personal tally to make the scoreline 6-0 in the 62nd minute. The Argentine added ANOTHER in the 84th minute to give himself 5 goals on the night. Karim Bellarabi scored a late consolation for Leverkusen but this took nothing away from the scoreline on the night.... 7-1 with an embarassing 10-2 aggregate score.
Barcelona strolled through into the Last 8, without breaking sweat on gear 3/4. This shows a message towards their rivals AC Milan, Real Madrid and Napoli that they are a dangerous force to face.

Striker Lionel Messi opens the scoring for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen after 25 minutes.
Uses great skill and knowledge to double his tally in the 42nd minute. 2-0.
Hat-trick hero: Messi delightfully lifts the ball in the air over keeper Leno, into the bottom corner of the net.
Magic Messi: Barcelona celebrate as Lionel Messi scores 5 against Bayer Leverkusen, for total domination into the Last 8.

FACT: Lionel Messi has now scored 12 goals in the Champions League this season.
FACT: Barcelona have made it to the Quarter Final of the CL, 11 times in their history now (which is the second highest total behind Manchester United).

APOEL 1 Lyon 0 (Aggregate 1-1 after full-time), (1-0 still aet) (pens 4-3)

FACT: APOEL are the first team from Cyprus to reach the Last 8 of the Champions League - in history...

Qualified teams:
AC Milan

Europa League Last 16 First Leg:


Sporting Lisbon 1 Manchester City 0
This match was played at The Estadio Jose Alvalade as Portugese side Sporting Lisbon hosted EPL leaders Manchester City. Xandao scored the only goal of the match in the 51st minute for the home side with a cheeky backheel through the legs of two defenders and into the net. 

Xandao scores the only goal of the match in the 51st minute against Manchester City.

Manchester United 2 Athletic Bilbao 3
This match was played at Old Trafford.
Striker Wayne Rooney opened the scoring after Hernandez's shot was parried towards him with a tap-in into the net. Striker Fernando Llorente equalised in the 44th minute. 

The Weekend's Fixture Previews:
This weekend is Round 28 of this season's EPL. The title race is now a two horse race between both Manchester clubs as Tottenham have lost a lot of ground over the past fortnight, losing to rivals Arsenal (5-2) and United (3-1), and are now fighting to keep 3rd place against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
This weekend sees Roberto Di Matteo take over his first EPL match in charge at Chelsea, after owner Roman Abramovich sacked £13.3million rated Andre Villas Boas last Sunday after a bad run of form.


(15:00pm unless stated)

Bolton Wanderers vs QPR: LIVE at 12:45pm

This match will be played at The Reebok Stadium as 19th placed Bolton host 16th placed QPR in an interesting relegation battle. There is only 2 points between the teams.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle will wait to discover whether Marcos Alonso will be available for tomorrow's match. Alonso returned to Spain following the death of his grandfather, and will contact his manager today to inform him whether he is in the right frame of mind to play.
Striker Kevin Davies (knee) is fit again after a three-match absence and could be on the bench.
Striker Djibril Cisse, midfielder Samba Diakite and right-back Luke Young all return for QPR.
Cisse and Diakite come back into the fold after suspension, while defender Young is back in the squad after overcoming a hamstring injury.
Winger Adel Taarabt is a doubt with a hamstring problem, while on-loan striker Federico Macheda is unavailable due to an ankle problem. Fitz Hall trained with the squad this week but manager Mark Hughes does not believe the defender will be ready for the game.

QPR striker Bobby Zamora has scored 7 goals this season and could score tomorrow against Aston Villa..

Aston Villa vs Fulham:
This match will be played at Villa Park as 15th placed Villa host a strong 8th placed Fulham in a mid-table clash.

Alex McLeish has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match against Fulham tomorrow
Striker Darren Bent (ankle), defender Richard Dunne (collarbone) and midfielder Fabian Delph (ankle) are all long-term casualties while defender/midfielder Ciaran Clark continues to make good progress in his recovery from a knee setback but this match is too early for a comeback.
Fulham defender Aaron Hughes is an injury doubt for The Cottagers.
He has a calf problem so may miss out while fellow defenders Stephen Kelly (quad) and Zdenek Grygera (knee) are unavailable for at least the next week.
Midfielder Steve Sidwell (hernia) is two weeks away from a return, although forward Bryan Ruiz is available for the first time since the 25th of February after a virus.
FACT: Aston Villa are looking for their first home win since the 5th of November.

Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey has scored 12 goals this season.

Fulham will be looking to win away from home against a Villa side who have 3 key players on the sidelines. They will be boosted by talisman Clint Dempsey opening talks for a new contract, along with the rewarding form of loan striker Pavel Pogrebnyak. Having said this, Fulham have only won 2 away matches throughout the season.

Chelsea vs Stoke City:
This match will be played at Stamford Bridge, as caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo takes charge of his first EPL match against a tough Stoke side who have not necessarily been getting the results they deserve this season who find themselves in 9th place.

Defender John Terry is set for his first action since the match against Swansea on the 31st of January after undergoing surgery on his injured knee.
The captain has trained well all of this week.
Full-back Ashley Cole has recovered from the heel injury he sustained against West Brom last week.
Di Matteo has stated that he has a full strength squad for the match tomorrow against Stoke.
Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson is an injury doubt as he has a hamstring problem.
Winger Jermaine Pennant, whose involvement will be of serious interest after he denied this week reports he had recently been fined by The Potters for two breaches of discipline.
Midfielder Rory Delap missed the Norwich match with a hamstring complaint (along with Wilkinson) - and they both will be assessed ahead of the trip to West London.

FACT: Chelsea have only won 3 out of their last 12 matches.
FACT: Stoke have won only 4 of their last 23 away matches.

Frank Lampard: Chelsea's top goalscorer this season with 10 goals...

Sunderland vs Liverpool:
This match will come from The Stadium of Light as 12th placed Sunderland host 7th placed Liverpool. There is only 5 points between the two sides (with a 5 place difference).

Liverpool captain (and midfielder) Steven Gerrard and defender Glen Johnson are both set to return to the squad to face Sunderland tomorrow.
Gerrard sustained a minor hamstring problem on England duty against Holland, while Johnson pulled out before the friendly (against Holland), and they both missed last weekend's home defeat by Arsenal.
Defender Daniel Agger is still out injured with a cracked rib so Jamie Carragher will continue to play in central defence.
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will be without suspended midfield duo Lee Cattermole and Stephane Sessegnon.
Midfielder Cattermole starts a four-match ban after being sent off at the end of last Sunday's 1-1 derby draw at Newcastle during which Sessegnon, who will sit out three games, was given a straight red card for elbowing Cheick Tiote.
Full-back Kieran Richardson is a major doubt with a calf problem and loan signing Wayne Bridge is standing by, although John O'Shea is expected to play with a protective cast over a broken bone in his hand and fellow central defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos (heel) could return to contention, but Keiren Westwood (wrist) is still out.

Liverpool will be wanting to win against Sunderland (who are slipping out of form), to keep pressure on Newcastle and Chelsea.

Striker Luis Suarez is Liverpool's joint scorer with 6 goals.... and looks positively influenced after his recent eight match ban.

FACT: Sunderland have only beaten Liverpool once out of the last 10 matches.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Blackburn Rovers:
This match will be played at Molienuex as 18th placed Wolves host 17th placed Blackburn

Wolves skipper and defender Roger Johnson is included in the squad for Saturday's home Barclays Premier League clash with Blackburn after being disciplined for being in an unfit condition to train on Monday.
Johnson, dropped for the past two games, and on-loan Tottenham defender Sebastien Bassong, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, are in contention after the 5-0 defeat at Fulham last weekend.
Midfielder David Davis, recalled from a loan spell at Chesterfield, is included in the squad as a possible replacement for Karl Henry who is side-lined with a hamstring injury.
Fellow midfielder Dave Edwards resumed training yesterday after two weeks out with a knee injury while top scorer Steven Fletcher has recovered from illness.
Blackburn manager Steve Kean has extra defensive options at his disposal, with both Gael Givet and Jason Lowe returning from suspension.
It is unlikely the duo will break into the Scot's starting line-up, though, with both short of match practice.
One man who could start at Molineux is David Dunn, with the midfielder having come off the bench against Aston Villa last week to score the equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur: LIVE at 17:30pm

Aaron Lennon is unavailable for Tottenham's game at Everton on Saturday after suffering a hamstring injury against Stevenage on Wednesday.
Toffees boss David Moyes claims Louis Saha won't play against his old club due to a gentleman's agreement between Harry Redknapp and himself while Michael Dawson is out for the rest of the season after rupturing ankle ligaments in midweek.
William Gallas has fully recovered from a calf injury and is available but Ledley King (knee) will have a late test and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) is out.
Manager David Moyes has virtually a fully-fit squad - but a number of players are lacking match sharpness.
Defender Phil Jagielka, forward Victor Anichebe and midfielder Leon Osman all played for the reserves in midweek but are among those in need of pitch time.
Midfielder Darron Gibson (knee) is a few weeks from fitness while on-loan Steven Pienaar is ineligible against his parent club.


West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United: LIVE at 14:00pm

Chris Smalling is Manchester United's major fitness doubt ahead of Sunday's Premier League encounter with West Brom at Old Trafford.
Smalling re-opened a head wound originally sustained on England duty during Thursday night's Europa League defeat to Athletic Bilbao and will need to be assessed to ensure there is no possibility of a repeat.
Midfielder Tom Cleverley is set to be involved after recovering from an ankle injury, whilst it is also anticipated Paul Scholes will play some part after being rested for the Bilbao defeat.
West Brom captain Chris Brunt is in contention for his first start in two months, after recovering from a broken foot.
The Northern Ireland international would be a ready-made replacement for fellow midfielder Jerome Thomas, who is struggling to overcome a hamstring injury which has dogged him in recent weeks.
With right-back Steven Reid already ruled out with an ankle problem, head coach Roy Hodgson is hoping Billy Jones will have shaken off a leg injury to replace him. If he is still ruled out, Gabriel Tamas is likely to deputise.

Swansea City vs Manchester City: LIVE at 14:00pm

Manchester City will be without captain Vincent Kompany for Sunday's Barclays Premier League trip to Swansea.
The Belgium defender suffered a calf injury in Thursday night's Europa League loss at Sporting Lisbon and the club are yet to learn the full extent of the damage.
Fellow defenders Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott should be fit but another, right-back Pablo Zabaleta (hamstring), remains sidelined and striker Carlos Tevez is still short of match-fitness.
Swansea will be without suspended winger Nathan Dyer.
Dyer is beginning a three-match ban following his red card in last weekend's win at Wigan, so Wayne Routledge will be handed the starting role on the right flank, while defender Ashley Williams should be fit despite a stomach bug.
Andrea Orlandi is closing in on a return from a hamstring tear but is not available to face City, while Kemy Agustien is likely to miss the rest of the season after ankle surgery.

Norwich City vs Wigan Athletic: LIVE at 16:00pm

Wigan midfielder David Jones will be out of action for two weeks with a knee injury.
It means Jones will miss Sunday's trip to Norwich as the Barclays Premier League's bottom club look to get their season back on track after last weekend's horror show against Swansea.
Mike Pollitt is out for four weeks with a shoulder problem but Victor Moses, Mohamed Diame and Hugo Rodallega are all expected to return to the Latics' line-up after starting the latest defeat on the bench.
Norwich will again be without defenders Daniel Ayala (hamstring) and Marc Tierney (groin).
England under-21 centre-back Ryan Bennett is in contention after being an unused substitute during the defeat at Stoke, where fit-again midfielder Jonny Howson made his first appearance since signing from Leeds.
Striker James Vaughan (hamstring) is still not available.


Arsenal vs Newcastle United: LIVE at 20:00pm

Brazil full-back Andre Santos could return to the Arsenal squad for Monday night's Barclays Premier League clash against Newcastle after recovering from a broken ankle.
Midfielder Mikel Arteta is available having been rested for the midweek Champions League win over AC Milan because of a blow to the head at Liverpool, while Wales captain Aaron Ramsey (ankle) should also be involved.
Yossi Benayoun has been out with a virus, while there were no other fresh injuries from midweek. Abou Diaby (hamstring), defender Francis Coquelin (hamstring), centre-back Per Mertesacker (ankle) and midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) remain sidelined.
Newcastle striker Peter Lovenkrands is definitely out and could miss the rest of the season after he suffered a suspected ruptured thigh muscle.
Alan Pardew otherwise has no fresh injury concerns, with Shola Ameobi having recovered from the bout of illness which limited him to the substitutes' bench last weekend, and has just long-term absentees Leon Best and Sammy Ameobi (both knee), Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) still missing.

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