Sunday, August 20, 2006

Manchester United Fixtures 2006-2007

At last the new season is upon us and hopefully it won't end with Chelsea winning their third Premiership title in a row. They weren't that far ahead of us last time around and a simple return to our normal standard of results at Old Trafford, avoiding those frustrating home draws, would be enough for us to outdo the Russians!

This year's Premiership fixtures are currently as follows, although there will of course be all the usual changes and re-arranged dates as the season unfolds.

Fixtures

Man Utd v Fulham, 14:30 Sunday, 20 August 2006
Charlton Athletic v Man Utd, 21:00 Wednesday, 23 August 2006
Watford v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 26 August 2006
Man Utd v Tottenham Hotspur, 18:15 Saturday, 09 September 2006
Man Utd v Arsenal, 17:00 Sunday, 17 September 2006
Reading v Man Utd, 18:15 Saturday, 23 September 2006
Man Utd v Newcastle United, 16:00 Saturday, 30 September 2006
Wigan Athletic v Man Utd, 13:45 Saturday, 14 October 2006
Man Utd v Liverpool, 14:00 Sunday, 22 October 2006
Bolton Wanderers v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 28 October 2006
Man Utd v Portsmouth, 16:00 Saturday, 04 November 2006
Blackburn Rovers v Man Utd, 18:15 Saturday, 11 November 2006
Sheffield United v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 18 November 2006
Man Utd v Chelsea, 17:00 Sunday, 26 November 2006
Man Utd v Everton, 20:45 Wednesday, 29 November 2006
Middlesbrough v Man Utd, 18:15 Saturday, 02 December 2006
Man Utd v Manchester City, 13:45 Saturday, 09 December 2006
West Ham United v Man Utd, 17:00 Sunday, 17 December 2006
Aston Villa v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 23 December 2006
Man Utd v Wigan Athletic, 16:00 Tuesday, 26 December 2006
Man Utd v Reading, 16:00 Saturday, 30 December 2006
Newcastle United v Man Utd, 16:00 Monday, 01 January 2007
Man Utd v Aston Villa, 16:00 Saturday, 13 January 2007
Arsenal v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 20 January 2007
Man Utd v Watford, 21:00 Wednesday, 31 January 2007
Tottenham Hotspur v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 03 February 2007
Man Utd v Charlton Athletic, 16:00 Saturday, 10 February 2007
Fulham v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 24 February 2007
Liverpool v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 03 March 2007
Man Utd v Bolton Wanderers, 16:00 Saturday, 17 March 2007
Man Utd v Blackburn Rovers, 16:00 Saturday, 31 March 2007
Portsmouth v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 07 April 2007
Man Utd v Sheffield United, 21:00 Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Chelsea v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 14 April 2007
Man Utd v Middlesbrough, 16:00 Saturday, 21 April 2007
Everton v Man Utd, 13:00 Saturday, 28 April 2007
Manchester City v Man Utd, 16:00 Saturday, 05 May 2007
Man Utd v West Ham United, 16:00 Sunday, 13 May 2007

All match times are mainland European time not funny UK island time!

Long Hot Summer of Football

It's been a long hot Summer of football with one of the best World Cups for a long time, in footballing terms at least, providing a feast of controversy, argument and debate but, most of all, some fantastic football.

Of course it all went tragically wrong for England and the footballing genius we call Wayne Rooney




but, looking on the bright side, at least we got rid of the twin footballing liabilities of Sven Goran Eriksson



and David Beckham!



Such good news has not really been reflected back home at Old Trafford where we've seen the departure of Ruud van Nistelrooy



to rejoin Beckham at the broody giants of Spanish Football we know as Real Madrid.

We may never know what went on between Ruud and Sir Alex Ferguson



but it's long been clear that Sir Alex is definitely not the type to be afraid of cutting off his nose to spite his face.

The only great news for us long suffering Reds fans is the arrival of Michael Carrick



from Tottenham Hotspur. Carrick was brilliant in his one and only World Cup start and added a lot to the team's footballing options and could do a similar job for Manchester United. Now if we could only finalise the long overdue arrival of Owen Hargreaves,



we'd have a central midfield pairing that would do us proud!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Premiership Preview Weeks 18, 19, 20, 21

The Christmas and New Year period is always the start of the most insane period of footballing intensity as every Premiership team and supporter in the Premiership has to endure four vital matches in eight days through the holiday period. Apologies for limited coverage at this crucial turning point halfway through the season.

Things get started with the Boxing Day games making up Week 18 which look like this:-

Monday, 26 December 2005............................. My Call
Aston Villa v Everton................................. .......Everton just
Charlton Athletic v Arsenal...............................Arsenal easily alas
Chelsea v Fulham...............................................Chelsea unfortunately
Liverpool v Newcastle United ..........................Liverpool
Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion.Manchester United
Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers ............... Looks like a draw
Portsmouth v West Ham United.......................Looks like a draw
Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers.......................Bolton easily
Tottenham Hotspur v Birmingham City..........Another win for Spurs
Wigan Athletic v Manchester City................... Wigan win


Scarcely are those games over then begins the Week 19 round of games just forty-eight hours later:

Wednesday 28th December 2005..............................My Call

Arsenal v Portsmouth...............................................Arsenal to win
Birmingham City v Manchester United..................Another Red victory
Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland.............................Blackburn to edge it
Bolton Wanderers v Middlesbrough.................... .Tight home win.........
Everton v Liverpool .................................................Looks like Liverpool
Fulham v Aston Villa.................................................I expect a draw
Manchester City v Chelsea......................................Hopefully a tie
Newcastle United v Charlton Athletic....................Much-needed home win
West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur..... Routine away win
West Ham United v Wigan Athletic........................Wigan to win



As if that wasn't enough, the football monster just won't stop and only three days later the "Week" 20 round of fixtures bring 2005 to a close with the New Year's Eve fixtures:

Saturday 31st December 2005........................My Call

Aston Villa v Arsenal.......................................Arsenal win
Charlton Athletic v West Ham United..........a draw
Chelsea v Birmingham City............................Can't see Chelsea losing
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion ............another hard day for WBA
Manchester United v Bolton Wanderers.....Narrow home win
Middlesbrough v Manchester City...............score draw
Portsmouth v Fulham ...................................a rare Pompey win
Sunderland v Everton....................................sadness for Sunderland
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United....Spurs to win a thriller
Wigan Athletic v Blackburn Rovers............ Wigan to win, just

If that wasn't enough to make any athlete's foot fall off, scarcely is the New Year started before there's the week 21 fixtures:

Monday 2nd January 2006....................................My Call

Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic.......................Points shared
Blackburn Rovers v Portsmouth..........................Blackburn to win
Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool..............................Probably the Pool
Everton v Charlton Athletic..................................Much-needed home win
Fulham v Sunderland............................................Fulham to win
Newcastle United v Middlesbrough....................Home derby win
West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa...................Home derby win
West Ham United v Chelsea.................................Hopefully home win

Tuesday 3rd January 2006

Arsenal v Manchester United............................ Red Devils must win and will

Wednesday 4th January 2006

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur............Spurs to edge a tight thriller

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Premiership Preview Week 17

The Match of the Day for this week's Premiership round isn't until Sunday, when Arsenal host Chelsea in one of the most important fixtures this season, a game that will be hugely influential on this season's title race.

Victory for Arsenal throws the title race wide open; a win for Chelsea will massively disappoint the chasing pack. With both teams having massive European matches to ponder in February, against Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively (and what thrilling prospects they are too, I can't wait!), victory will be vital to both teams' moral and self-belief. Having fallen behind in the table, Arsenal's need is greater and I'm going to call a home win.

Saturday games don't lack interest however, as Aston Villa will hope in vain to get anything from the visit of an improving Manchester United in the lunchtime game; in the afternoon, Everton v Bolton will be a fullblooded and skillful battle that could go either way but I expect Everton to pinch it; Fulham v Blackburn is another exciting prospect and I believe Blackburn are going to pick up some welcome away points.

The basement battle of Portsmouth v West Bromwich Albion, Pompey's first home game after the return of Harry Redknapp, will be a fascinating test of which of these new boys have best learned the art of Premier League survival and I believe West Brom, under former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson, are learning faster and will win.

In the other Saturday games, West Ham United entertain Newcastle United but the only thing to unite these two skillful battlers will be the tied result and Wigan Athletic should return to winning ways against a suddenly vulnerable Charlton Athletic. Manchester City stuttered last week whilst Birmingham prospered but I see nothing but role reversal today and the Sky Blues soaring to victory in the late game.

Before this week's football is brought to a close by the battle of the London titans, earlier Sunday the third London team, the increasingly impressive Tottenham Hotspur, make a visit to moody Middlesbrough, but I predict only depression for the North East of England as Spurs win in style.

This preview also appears on the mighty BlogCritics site.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Premiership Roundup Week 16

As predicted, Liverpool got this week's fixtures started with a routine 2-0 victory over Middlesborough through two goals from Fernando Morientes and yet another clean sheet; Liverpool are starting to look impressively strong on all fronts.

The afternoon games produced two major surprises as West Brom showed signs of adapting to the Premiership as they overturned the from guide and my prediction to beat an offcolour Manchester City 2-0. Meanwhile, I got it right with Newcastle, who edged visitors Arsenal 1-0 to stem the Gunners' recovery.

The other matches pretty much ran to form as Birmingham edged towards safety with a narrow 1-0 win over Fulham; Blackburn versus West Ham produced all the thrills I expected but Blackburn confounded my call, just winning 3-2; Aston Villa also fooled me, forcing a 1-1 draw at Bolton, with both goals coming in the last ten minutes; Charlton took my advice and stopped their losing streak with a unexciting 2-0 win; and Chelsea produced another steady if a little dull performance to beat Wigan 1-0 through another goal from captain John Terry.

Sunday's game was a personal vindication for Everton's ex Red, Phil Neville, who ran the game for the Blues and fully deserved his Man-of-the-Match award in the Theatre of Dreams as Manchester United were almost overwhelmed but held on for a frustrating 1-1 draw, despite my predictable victory prediction.

I did much better with the Monday night game, correctly calling a confident Tottenham victory, as the Spurs marred the return of Harry Redknapp as Portsmouth manager, brushing them aside 3 - 1. My score for the weekend a respectable if unexciting 6 out of 10. The current full Premiership League Table is on the Premier League website.

This roundup is cross-posted on the mighty BlogCritics site.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Premiership Preview Week 16

After all the recent excitements and distractions of Champions League football and the World Cup 2006 draw, it's back to the no less heady bread and butter of domestic Premiership football.

For the second week in a row, Liverpool get the football festival started with the lunchtime visit of Middlesbrough and I predict a routine home win.

Saturday's five afternoon games offer a mixed bag:-

Birmingham City will be looking to return to some kind of form for the visit of Fulham and I believe they will, to record a rare victory; Blackburn Rovers versus West Ham United should be a great match but I see it ending even; Bolton Wanderers should prove too strong for an improving though still weak Aston Villa; Charlton Athletic have been stumbling lately and if Sunderland have any hope of escaping the yawning pit of relegation, they've got to beat teams like this but I can't see it, a draw at best but probably another home win.

Match of the day is easily Chelsea v Wigan Athletic and, although most people outside West London would welcome it, I can't see the Northern lads going home with any points. Last but not least, West Bromwich Albion will put up a very strong fight against visitors Manchester City but ultimately be overwhelmed.

The late game is another potential thriller as Newcastle United, the hard men of England lead by Shearer and Owen, take on the continental charmers of Arsenal. I foresee fast paced attacking football, a ferocious midfield battle and a narrow victory for the Geordies.

The Sunday match is bound to produce fireworks as Manchester United host near neighbours Everton. Let's hope United's Wayne Rooney and Everton's Phil Neville both remember they don't play for their former clubs anymore. This is probably going to be the best game of the weekend and I expect the Red Devils to put recent disasters behind them and run out clear winners.

The Monday night match sees the resurgent Tottenham Hotspur host Portsmouth, who will be hoping the return of manager Harry Redknapp will bring a turn of fortune. It may well do that, but not this weekend as Spurs keep their drive for Europe rolling.

Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup 2006 Groups

So here we are, watching the draw for the group stage of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The 32 teams that have qualified for the finals of one of the world's greatest sporting celebrations are just moments away from learning who their three group opponents will be. The global interest is noticeably slowing the internet as people like me log on to the FIFA website and a host of others to watch the draw happen live.

The worthy survivors of the long qualification process are gathered in Liepzig to witness for themselves the whole show - and show is exactly what it is, with FIFA wheeling out past greats like Franz Beckenbauer and Pele and the whole shebang being hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum and television personality Reinhold Beckmann.

GROUP A: Germany, Ecuador, Poland, Costa Rica.

GROUP B: England, Paraguay, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago.
GROUP C: Argentina, Ivory Coast, Holland, Serbia & Montenegro
GROUP D: Mexico, Angola, Portugal, Iran.
GROUP E: Italy, Ghana, Czech Republic, USA.
GROUP F: Brazil, Australia, Croatia, Japan.
GROUP G: France, Togo, Switzerland, South Korea.
GROUP H: Spain, Tunisia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia.


Germany v Costa Rica will open the games on 9th June 2006.

This special About Manchester United newsflash is cross-posted to BlogCritics Sports.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Premiership Roundup Week 15

Despite the deteriorating English Winter weather there was some fantastic football played in the Premiership this first December weekend.

First match of the weekend continued the steady progress of Rafa Benitez' Liverpool, who saw off the sadly fading Wigan 3-0 for an easy victory in which Scouse striker Peter Crouch finally broke his scoring duck and took the West Coast boys surfing up to third place.

In the later games, two of the North West's most unpredictable teams swapped roles with Blackburn tamely surrendering home advantage to an unusually sharp Everton 0-2; Lancashire neighbours Bolton Wanderers played to their full potential and sent a subdued Arsenal home on the wrong end of a 2-0 beating; leaders Chelsea maintained their ten point lead at the top with an unconvincing 1-0 home victory against Middlesborough; Newcastle failed to take advantage of the troubled Aston Villa, drawing 1-1; Spurs just shaded a thrilling match with bottom of the table Sunderland, winning 3-2 whilst basement cases West Brom and Fulham tottered to a sterile 0-0 draw.

The last game of the day produced the (George) best football, as a newly confident Manchester United, probably due to the fact they've started playing 4-4-2 again, brushed aside managerless Portsmouth 3-0, thanks to goals from Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Sunday's game produced a feast of goals as Manchester City swamped hosts Charlton Athletic 2-5 with former Red Devil Andy Cole scoring twice for City to consolidate their place in the top half of the table.

Monday night in Birmingham, never an enticing prospect, became all the worse for the home team as visitors West Ham proved too strong and determined, running out 1-2 victors.

There we have it for Week 15, no change at the top of the table but everything's still all to play for; Chelsea have got to drop some more points soon, right?

American sports are so dull, with no relegation to worry about, that the Yanks get as much fun predicting the results as they do from the matches themselves so I thought I just might point out that my predictions for this weekend's results were correct in six out of ten games this weekend!

Click there for the latest Premier League Table.

This roundup also appears here on the mighty BlogCritics site.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Premiership Preview Week 15

There are some cracking matches in store in the Premiership this first weekend of December 2005, starting with the Saturday lunchtime match when the gathering force that is Liverpool should prove to strong for fading visitors Wigan Athletic.

The traditional three o'clock games feature a fistful of fiery fixtures which I predict will see a stuttering Blackburn Rovers being just too strong for underperforming Everton; Bolton Wanderers will do well to hold visitors Arsenal to a draw; barring an earthquake in West London it's hard to see leaders Chelsea failing to beat an unpredictable Middlesbrough; Newcastle United versus Aston Villa could go either way as both these struggling teams look to build some momentum but I expect Newcastle to take all three points; if Tottenham Hotspur are serious about their European aspirations, they'll treat the visit of bottom placed Sunderland as a chance for some serious goalscoring; meanwhile in the basement battle of the weekend, West Bromwich Albion will confirm their recent improvement against Fulham and will go above them in the table if they win by 3 goals or more. The most emotional match of the day will be in the North West as a grieving Manchester United will look to mark the funeral of George Best this morning with a stylish victory against currently managerless Portsmouth.

The Sunday fixture offers the prospect of a feast of attacking football as the positive minded teams of Charlton Athletic and Manchester City collide in East London and I suspect The Sky Blues will head home the happier.

This week's games are wrapped up with the Monday night game between the seriously underperforming Birmingham City and a sparkling West Ham United, who should take all three points.

This article is cross-posted on BlogCritics.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Premiership Roundup Week 14

On a weekend in which almost every ground in the country marked the sad passing of football legend George Best on Friday 25th November, some stirringly exciting football served as a fitting marker to his memory.



....................the late, great GEORGE BEST


Saturday saw Arsenal, as predicted, prove too strong for Blackburn Rovers and were worth their 3-0 victory. Aston Villa did very well to earn their second consecutive victory and hand visitors Charlton Athletic their second consecutive defeat; Manchester City should have beaten Liverpool but stuttered again and lost 0-1; whilst Sunderland lost the basement battle with Birmingham 0-1 and are starting to look doomed already.

The game of the day saw Wigan Athletic fall from second place, just being shaded 1-2 by an invigorated Tottenham Hotspur, whilst runaway leaders Chelsea had an easy evening's work brushing aside managerless Portsmouth 0-2.

Sunday offered a veritable marathon of football spanning almost six hours, starting with Everton v Newcastle United, which most years you'd fancy Everton to win and indeed they did, turning round their recent poor run with a 1-0 win over the subdued Geordies. Fulham were impressive against Bolton Wanderers, winning 2-1 thanks to two goals from American striker Brian McBride.

Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough were severely tested by Bryan Robson's West Bromwich Albion and were relieved to finish 2-2. Manchester United's moving appearance at West Ham ended happily for the Red Devils, winning 1-2 thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney and John O'Shea after going behind in the first minute.

A good weekend for Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Everton but bad news for Wigan, Bolton, Man City, West Ham and Charlton, who all tumble down the current Premiership League table.

This roundup is cross-posted here on the mighty BlogCritics site.