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Who ate all the pies

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79494592.jpgFootball is a team game, but it’s amazing how much of an effect one individual can have on his ten team-mates. Witness Jimmy Bullard’s match-winning performance for Fulham against Aston Villa at Craven Cottage yesterday afternoon. His return from a long-term injury has lifted everyone at the club; it’s no coincidence that Fulham struggled in Bullard’s absence.

La Liga table-toppers Real Madrid suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat at Almeria allowing Barcelona to reduce their lead to six points. Barca almost blew their golden opportunity though, and only a Xavi goal two minutes from time secured victory at home to Osasuna.

Francesco Totti floats like a butterfly and stings like a mildly irritating nettle. The frustrated Roma skipper was desperate to retrieve the ball from Siena’s former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger during his side’s 3-0 defeat. He unleashed this barrage of punches at Manninger, which (if you watch carefully) actually causes the Austrian international to blink at one point.

Jimmy Bullard – Welcome back, Jimmy. The Fulham man marked his return from 16 months out injured with a match-winning free-kick against Aston Villa.

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the announcement of Fabio Capello’s first England squad is the exclusion of a certain international brand name – but there are also a few faces that made it into the squad that we didn’t expect to see.


The Fiendish Friday Quiz

February 1st, 2008

1. Career path Piacenza, S.C. Leffe, Hellas Verona, Piacenza, Parma, Atalanta, Juventus, AC Milan (current) 2. True or false? Chelsea’s stadium, Stamford Bridge, is not located in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea 3. Picture round Who’s having a laugh? 4. Team-mates Dan Petrescu, Mark Hughes, Kevin Keegan and Eyal Berkovic have all played […]

Out-of-sorts Marseille thrashed Caen 6-1 to show they might finally be ready to start the season. A Djibril Cisse hat-trick, a Mathieu Valbuena brace and (simple maths dictates) a solitary goal from Samir Nasri gave Marseille victory, although Caen took the lead just two minutes into the match. Caen remain three places about ninth-placed Marseille in the table, which probably helps to explain just how bad L’OM have been so far this campaign.

Thierry Henry and Carles ‘scary face’ Puyol celebrate Henry’s match-winning goal during the Copa del Rey match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal at the Camp Nou Stadium on 31 January 31, 2008. Barca won the tie 1-0 on aggregate and progress to the semi finals. Lionel Messi had a second-half penalty (wrongly awarded after Bojan […]

Earlier, I posted the 10 best signings in the Jan. transfer window. Here are the 10 worst… 1. Jari Litmanen (to Fulham) What is ‘Woy’ Hodgson on? Litmanen is almost 37, without a club (until now), and I strongly doubt if he’s ready for a full-on relegation scrap. He may give Fulham fans 10 minutes […]

Here’s how I see the best bits of business conducted in the January transfer window…
1. Jermain Defoe (Spurs to Portsmouth) Did Spurs sell the wrong striker? I think they should have kept Defoe and ditched Darren Bent, but Juande Ramos is a successful football manager, and I am not, so I’ll trust him on this one. Defoe is a terrific addition to a deceptively strong Pompey squad.
2. Alan Hutton (Rangers to Spurs) Some Scottish grit is just what Tottenham’s defence needed. Hutton offers that, and more – he has been compared with Cafu, Brazil’s Duracell bunny, and loves to bomb forward. At 23 he can only get better.
3. Nicolas Anelka (Bolton to Chelsea) I wasn’t sure how Anelka would find life at Stamford Bridge – does he play his best surrounded by stars or journeymen? – but he looks happy there, so far anyway. There’s no doubting Anelka’s class. Defenders will not look forward to the prospect of facing an Anelka/Drogba strike force.
4. Manucho (Petro Luanda to Man Utd) Based on his dynamic performances for Angola at the Africa Cup of Nations, Fergie (or his scouts) has unearthed another star of the future. Manucho is a tall, rangy striker with enough skill to play out wide. He’s being shipped out to Panathinaikos for the rest of the season to gain experience. One to watch.

Morocco fans fuming from their country’s African Cup of Nations elimination have hacked into the tournament’s official website. The Ghana 2008 website’s fixture page now features three Moroccan-themed images and a message which reads: “Because of your STUPID Arbitration,You Got Punished By Moroccan Hackers, Revenge Token for The Lions.”

This goal for Serie D outfit Venafro might not have come on the world stage as some of his father’s best efforts, but Diego’s bastard offspring still knows how to find the net. The Argentinian legend initially disputed the paternity of his Italian-born son but the DNA evidence shows he is, and this video makes it conclusive!

Yesterday’s bore-fest of a transfer deadline day could be the last of its kind. Now everyday is transfer deadline day! That is a slight exaggeration, but a landmark ruling by the Court of Arbitration of Sport yesterday has changed the face of football completely. While the nation was busy keeping tabs on Grzegorz Rasiak’s switch from Southampton to Bolton, the Court ruled that former Hearts player Andy Webster could buy out his contract and move to Wigan Athletic.

With Liverpool losing to West Ham last night, that all-important fourth place spot is looking further away than ever for Benitez’s boys – they are now languishing in seventh with Everton in the final Champions League spot.
All those fans who protesting to keep Rafa in a job might be wishing they had never put those banners together now. And, by the look of this picture, the pressure seems to be taking its toll on the beleaguered manager.

With only a few hours left before the transfer window closes for the rest of the season, it’s time to take stock of some of the mid-season signings that have been made to either strengthen a title challenge or stave off relegation.

I have to agree with Ronaldo that his free-kick against Pompey last night is the best goal he’s ever scored (watch it here). It’s rare to see a ball struck so viciously, so accurately and so purely. Here’s a video compilation of 10 of his best goals. None of them is as good as the […]

By Lee Coan, Editor, Chelsea Pies It’s been a strange couple of weeks at Chelsea, what with the Africa Cups of Nations, injuries and heart ache (‘Don’t leave me Cheryl! I slipped and it fell in her! Don’t leave meeeeeee!’). Avram Grant has barely had eleven players to pick. And when you consider that one […]

Put yourself in Fabio Capello’s hand-stitched leather shoes… comfortable, no? Now choose your England squad, starting with three goalkeepers (click the three you want): surveys – Take Our Poll

Master Ronaldo isn’t the only one with magic in his boots… 1. Roberto Carlos, Brazil vs France Still the greatest free-kick I’ve ever seen, even if it was a glorious fluke.

It looks as if David Beckham will have to wait a little longer to reach the 100th cap milestone he’s been chasing as The Daily Mail reports that Fabio Capello has decided not include him in his first England squad.

We reckon Brazil’s championship is definitely the funniest league in the world. There is always something crazy going on in the Campeonato Paulista, and this example is no exception. Cruzeiro goalie is still grieving the fact that his side have just gone 3-0 down safe in the knowledge that he can see the ball in the back of his net. Unfortunately, the Atletico Mineiro players and even his own team-mates had resumed action with a different ball. Oops!

I had a good laugh when I read the news that Liverpool fans are set to launch a plan to buy their club from George Gillett and Tom Hicks. A group calling itself Share Liverpool FC wants to recruit 100,000 fans from around the world, with the aim of raising £500m to purchase the club […]

Inter Milan failed to win for the first time in nine matches as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Udinese. They remain undefeated in Serie A, although the slip-up allowed second-placed Roma to close the gap to five points. The club from the capital picked up three points in their match at home to Palermo. Mancini grabbed the only goal of the game.

Another dose of lookalike looniness from the warped mind of Chringle. More shit lookalikes

West Ham 1-0 Liverpool An injury-time penalty by Mark Noble denied Liverpool a point that they didn’t deserve anyway. West Ham had the best chances, whereas Liverpool looked flat, as if their players were painfully aware that any chance of winning the league had disappeared several weeks ago. Rafa Benitez’s team are now 17 points behind both Man Utd and Arsenal. Fourth place is the best they can hope for now, and even that is no certainty.
Man of the match Mark Noble. On this form, the England U21 star must be close to a full England call-up.
Photo Getty Images