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Soccer Break Tuesday

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/After Chelsea’s vintage performance in a 3-1 win at Blackpool, Tuesday’s edition will start with a look at Fernando Torres.

Poor old Torres. He’s undoubtedly a classy player, but one who seems to be feeling the burden of expectation that has fallen on him after his British transfer record fee of £50 million in January.

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway said before the match he didn’t think Torres was worth the money. What do you think? And how about Chelsea’s title chances? Win their game in hand and the Londoners would sit six points behind leaders Manchester United.

Without any further ado, there is a game involving Barcelona and Arsenal later on Tuesday. Champions League, last 16, second leg. Club football does not get any bigger than this.

Arsenal can do it this time says Nasri

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/

Confident talk from Arsenal playmaker Samir Nasri in a piece by Mike Collett today, looking ahead to the second leg of the Gunners Champions League clash with Barcelona in the Nou Camp:

“We approached the game differently this year. Last year we were a little scared of Barcelona because they are fantastic and play amazing football and we were surprised how good they were.

Van Persie to miss Barca clash…Arsenal’s chances gone?

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Arsenal hitman Robin van Persie injured himself while scoring against Birmingham City in the League Cup final on Sunday and will now miss his team’s last 16 second leg clash against Barcelona on March 8. Not good news for the Gunners.

However, beat Leyton Orient in the FA Cup on Wednesday to set up a quarter-final with Manchester United, and keep the pressure up on their great rivals in the Premier League who have just lost to Chelsea, and there are still honours to be won.

Thierry Henry interview

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/


Former Arsenal, Barcelona and France striker Thierry Henry is loving life in the United States and wants to see New York Red Bulls develop identity as an attractive passing football team but he also hankers after an eventual return to Arsenal in some role in the future.

The following is the full transcript of interview by Simon Evans with Henry after pre-season training with the Red Bulls in Fort Lauderdale this weekend. Shortly before the interview began at the team’s hotel Henry was approached by an American guest who recognised him from a documentary film about racism in sport but who then asked the Frenchman for his name.

Arsenal fans must keep their faith in Wenger

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Mike Collett in London on why Arsenal fans should back their manager

SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPArsene Wenger is the most successful manager Arsenal have ever had, but unhappy fans have very short memories and incredible as it may seem, some Arsenal supporters were calling for his head on Monday.

Irate listeners to radio phone-ins and message boards posters vented their frustrations at Arsenal’s failure to end their six-year trophy drought after they lost 2-1 to underdogs Birmingham City in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

Soccer Break – Monday edition

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPHello and welcome to Reuters Soccer Blog’s new daily digest where we’ll recommend some of the best stories on the internet for you to read over morning coffee/afternoon tea/cocktails (depending on your time zone).

Where better to start with a look at Birmingham City’s last-gasp win over Arsenal in the England’s League Cup final, the drama of which is depicted in our photo of the 89th minute goal that left the north Londoners still yearning to end that trophy drought.

Barcelona beset by injuries at crucial stage

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SOCCER-SPAIN/Like many of Europe’s biggest clubs, Barcelona find themselves at a crucial point of the season, with their hopes in two of the three competitions they are contesting in the balance.

Worryingly for fans, Pep Guardiola’s side have been hit by a rash of niggling injuries to key players at a highly inconvenient moment.

Forget the “purists” – Barcelona’s passing has an end game

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Having previously confessed to the heresy of being largely bored by the style of Spain’s “beautifully crafted” triumphs in the European championship and World Cup I went along to the Emirates on Wednesday fully primed to observe another dose of “football for the purist” guaranteed to keep me safely in my seat.

However, even with six of the World Cup-winning side in their side, Barcelona are not Spain and, to my delight, I saw a display of passing with purpose rather than the all-too-familiar passing to go nowhere and there were plenty of “on your feet” moments as they ripped holes in Arsenal’s defence.

Will Arsenal get past Barca at the Nou Camp?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Arsenal did a lot of things right in Wednesday’s fine 2-1 comeback win over Barcelona, not least finishing more clinically than their La Liga visitors, but it would be a big surprise if Barca were as generous in the return leg on March 8.

World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who netted all four goals in a 4-1 demolition at the Nou Camp last season to give Barca a 6-3 aggregate victory, missed at least two golden chances at The Emirates and Spain forward Pedro was also guilty of profligacy.

Champions League returns — can anyone stop Barcelona?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/BUSQUETSHow we’ve missed the Champions League. It’s nine weeks since the line-up for the last 16 was completed and a couple of months since the draw offered up a handful of belting ties, including Inter Milan v Bayern Munich in a repeat of last season’s final.

We’ll have to wait a week for that one, with the more leisurely format these days meaning we see just two matches a night. This week, we can look forward to AC Milan v Tottenham and Valencia v Schalke on Tuesday, with Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk and Arsenal v Barcelona on Wednesday.

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