Benitez to leave Chelsea in May
Rafael Benitez has criticized Chelsea’s decision to give him the title “interim manager” and says he will part company with the club in May.
The revelations came in a post-match interview after Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in which the Spaniard was once again a target of abuse by a section of the club’s fans.
In an outspoken rant with BBC Radio 5 live, Benitez said: “Chelsea gave me the title of interim manager, which is a massive mistake. I’m the manager.”
“The fans are not helping us. At the end of the season I will leave. They don’t have to worry about me.”
“They have to concentrate on supporting the team, that’s what they have to do. Every game they continue singing and preparing banners, they are wasting time. What they have to do is support the team.”
Benitez has been targeted by a section of the Chelsea fan ever since taking over from Roberto Di Matteo who was sacked in November, they have been unable to forgive Benitez for the rivalry he formed with the club and former Blues boss Jose Mourinho during his time at Liverpool.
EPL to have goal-line technology next season
Goal-line technology will be introduced into the English Premier League for the first time next season.
The technology was trialed at the FIFA 2012 Club World Cup and FIFA recently confirmed it is to be used in the next World Cup in Brazil.
“We’re working on the basis of having goal-line technology in place for the start of the season,” said Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson.
“All clubs will have to have the system, including those promoted.”
The EPL is understood to be in advanced talks with two providers, Hawkeye and GoalRef, which were both recently used in the FIFA Club World Cup.
League chiefs say they will choose the provider based on cost, and how easy and practical the technology is to install and use.
Foster available for England again
West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster has made himself available for international duty again, after ending a two-year sabbatical from the national team.
Foster, 29, announced in 2011 that he was retiring from international football, however, the Albion man has now made a U-turn and will now be available for next month’s World Cup qualifiers in San Marino and Montenegro.
The Former Manchester United and Birmingham keeper has five caps for England, but has not donned an England jersey since 2010.
England coach Roy Hodgson, who managed Foster at West Brom, tried to coax Foster out of retirement last summer so that he could be included in the squad for Euro 2012, but the player declined.
Foster has been in superb form recently for the Baggies, and with current England number one, Manchester City’s Joe Hart performances coming under scrutiny in recent weeks, Foster could have a chance of staking his claim to the number one spot ahead of next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Giggs signs new one year deal
Manchester United’s oldest player Ryan Giggs has signed a new one year deal.
The 39-year-old midfielder will stay with the Old Trafford club until June 2014 and complete his 23rd season as a senior player.
The former Wales international made his United debut on 2 March 1991 and has scored 168 goals in 931 appearances.
“I am feeling good, enjoying my football more than ever and, most importantly, I feel I am making a contribution to the team,” said Giggs.
“This is an exciting team to be part of, with great team spirit, and we are again pushing for trophies as we head towards the business end of the season.”
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: “Ryan is an example to us all, the way in which he has, and continues to, look after himself.”
“What can I say about Ryan that hasn’t already been said? He is a marvellous player and an exceptional human being.”
“He has fantastic energy for the game and it is wonderful to see. Ryan seems to reach a new milestone every week, and to think that he now has 23 unbroken years of league goals behind him is truly amazing in the modern-day game.”
“His form this year shows his ability and his enjoyment of the game are as strong as ever and I am absolutely delighted that he has signed a new contract.”
The new deal means Giggs will play past his 40th birthday on 29 November.
Among his honours are 12 Premier League titles and four FA Cups as well as three League Cups and two Champions League titles.
Previews and Predictions
|Fulham v Stoke||1-0||2-1|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa||2-1||3-0|
|Norwich v Everton||2-1||1-1|
|QPR v Man Utd||0-2||0-2|
|Reading v Wigan||0-3||3-2|
|West Brom v Sunderland||2-1||1-0|
|Man City v Chelsea||2-0||2-1|
|Newcastle v Southampton||4-2||3-1|
|Bradford v Swansea||0-5||1-2|
|West Ham v Tottenham||2-3||0-1|
A correct result is worth ONE point, while a correct score earns THREE points.
Last week I got EIGHT correct scores, including ONE perfect score, giving me a combined score of TEN points.
The record high score is 13-points from Week 14.
|Chelsea v West Brom||2-0|
|Everton v Reading||2-1|
|Man Utd v Norwich||2-0|
|Southampton v QPR||2-1|
|Stoke v West Ham||0-0|
|Sunderland v Fulham||1-0|
|Swansea v Newcastle||3-2|
|Wigan v Liverpool||1-2|
|Tottenham v Arsenal||1-2|
|Aston Villa v Man City||0-3|
Chelsea v West Brom
A week ago Chelsea were talking up their chances of finishing the season in second place, but a 2-0 loss away to champions Manchester City coupled with a win by Tottenham has seen the reigning European Champions drop to fourth place with Arsenal lurking only two-points behind.
The Blues had a blistering start to the season, but have been indifferent ever since the sacking of coach Roberto Di Matteo. Interim coach Rafa Benitez has tried his best to steady the ship, but the fans have never got behind him and it seems increasingly as if the players are not either.
West Brom are having a terrific season, and got a superb 0-2 away win at Liverpool recently. The Baggies may have stuttered a bit in recent months after starting the season so well, but they are still a tough team and play good soccer.
However, they will be without Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, who scored twice in their last outing to Sunderland, as he is on loan from Chelsea and thus ineligible to play.
Chelsea were beaten by West Brom earlier in the season, but I cannot see that happening again even with all the shenanigans and rants going on at Chelsea at the moment. West Brom will not make it easy, but I am still going for a comfortable Chelsea win.
Everton v Reading
Everton form has dipped recently in the EPL, and they look as if they have run out of steam after bursting out the blocks.
The Toffees had a tremendous start to the season and have been in contention for a Champions League spot since the first week of the season. However, they went without a win during the whole of February and it now seems unlikely they can achieve a spot in either the Champions League or Europa League.
But Everton are still in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, and I would not bet against them going all the way in the world’s oldest cup competition.
Reading, meanwhile, are still in the relegation zone and were easily beaten by Wigan. The Royals had been on a good run up until last week, with a series of heroic last minutes winners, however, it’s back to reality now and if they do not start picking up points soon they face the prospect of drifting into the abyss.
But Goodison Park is one of the hardest places to go in the EPL and I think Reading would do well to leave with a point to their name.
Man Utd v Norwich
Norwich beat United 1-0 earlier in the season and will head into Saturday’s game full of confidence after recording a good win against Everton last week.
The Canaries have a good record against United in recent years, and I expect them to give it a real go at Old Trafford.
Manchester United, meanwhile, are 12-points clear at the top of the table and look on course to record 20th league title. The Red Devils may have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid, but I do not think that will have too much of an effect on how they line up against the Canaries.
United have been in this position many times over the years, and think they will want to keep on winning to crush any hope Man City have of retaining their title.
I expect Norwich to give a good account of themselves, but a tidy and professionally display from United should see them take this one.
Wigan v Liverpool
Wigan got a good win against Reading last week, and their performance was perhaps even better than their win.
The Latics are the most unpredictable team in the EPL, blending great-unexpected wins with seriously poor losses. However, come what may you can always count on them to put in a good run of game just before the end of the season and perform an escape act that even Harry Houdini would be proud of.
Liverpool bounced back from defeat by thrashing Swansea 5-0 at home, and should be fresh for this clash having not had a game last week. But the Reds do not have the best of records at DW stadium, and in fact have not recorded a win there since 2007.
Nevertheless, I am predicting Liverpool to just edge this one with Suarez providing the inspiration.
Tottenham v Arsenal
This used to be just an ordinary London derby like all the others, but then in 1913 Arsenal upped their roots and moved to north London and that is when this rivalry really started.
For years Tottenham have played second fiddle to their more illustrious neighbors, but in recent years they have closed the gap and in February last year it looked as if Spurs might finally overtake Arsenal as top dog in north London.
With 34-minutes played Spurs were two goals up and ten points ahead of their bitter rivals, but Arsenal somehow came back to thrash them 5-2 and eventually overtook them into third place in the EPL.
Arsenal also won 5-2 earlier in the season, again coming from behind, and need a win away on Sunday if they want to remain ‘numero uno’ in north London. However, they are up against a strong Tottenham side that is in great form at present.
Spurs won every one of their EPL games in February and the main reason for that was the sensational form of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has scored eight goals in his last six games for the north Londoners and is being widely touted as the best player in the world on current form.
Arsenal are currently sitting just outside the Champions League spot, two-points behind Chelsea and four-points behind Tottenham, and know a win would give them a great chance of securing a place in next year’s Champions League.
Spurs are the inform team, but I’m not sure if they have completely shaken their inferiority complex yet and that is why I’m going for an Arsenal win.
Aston Villa v Man City
Manchester City got a vital 2-0 win against Chelsea last week and look certain to secure a top two finish. However, the Champions still hold hopes of retaining their EPL crown and if leaders Manchester United happen to slip up you can be sure they will be ready to pounce.
Meanwhile, things could not be much worse for Aston Villa, the Villains remain in the relegation zone and have only won once in 2013. There seems to always be an unlucky story for the Villains, but that is what seems to happen when you are rooted to the bottom of the table, so they just have to get on with it.
A City win here seems a sure bet, but then again I said that when they travelled to Southampton and they ended up losing 3-1. However, Villa are not playing well and not as good a side as the Saints and that is why I’ll go with a comfortable City win.