Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Was Ferguson right all along about Chelsea?

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Chelsea gear up for an easy-looking FA Cup tie at home to Ipswich Town this weekend knowing the match will be anything but given their recent form.

The crushing 3-0 defeat to rivals Manchester United recently was just one of a string of lacklustre performances and while their struggles may come as a shock to many, United boss Alex Ferguson saw this coming some time ago.

Looking into his crystal ball last July, a month before the new Premier League season had started, Ferguson boldly stated that new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari had inherited a Chelsea squad which had already peaked and that progress was unlikely.

This season’s performances include six draws and three defeats in the league, while they were losing 1-0 at home to Stoke City last weekend before late goals gave then a 2-1 win. (more…)

Scolari is actually the calm in the Chelsea storm

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The immediate future of Chelsea, and their Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is about as clear as the fog that almost led to the postponement of their FA Cup replay at Southend United on Wednesday.

Although many insiders believe there is little real prospect of the World Cup winning coach leaving Stamford Bridge despite fans’ disgruntlement, there is plenty that needs to be put right if Chelsea are to end the season basking in the sunlight.

Vlog on the pitch – what do you make of Rafa’s mind games?

Rafa Benitez was on the attack ahead of Liverpool’s game against Stoke City but then decided to leave Robbie Keane and Fernando Torres on the bench.

The game ended in a goalless draw and on Sunday Manchester United put three past Chelsea to close the gap at the top.

Can anything now stop United?

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It’s been a great week for Alex Ferguson (as long as you ignore the League Cup).

You couldn’t pick up a British newspaper over the weekend without reading the dreaded phrase “mind games”, after Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez made his carefully prepared “outburst” about his opposite number at Old Trafford.

Robben key to Real revival

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Real Madrid have suffered a flurry of criticism in recent times for some disappointing, and expensive, forays into the transfer market (Fernando Gago and Rafael van der Vaart to name two).

But the recruitment of Arjen Robben from Chelsea for a reported 36 million euros in August 2007 seems finally to be paying off, with the Dutch winger in the form of his life.

So, Liverpool fans… Are you starting to believe?

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Liverpool seem to have got through their sticky patch and continued failures from Chelsea and Arsenal have limited the damage.

After convincing wins over Bolton and Newcastle Liverpool are clear at the top of the table and will stay there going into 2009.

Champions League draw – your views

Jose Mourinho will clash with old foe Alex Ferguson in the Champions League last 16 with holders Manchester United playing Inter Milan.

It is England v Italy twice more with Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri facing former club Chelsea while Arsenal and Roma, two teams who love to play the beautiful game, also meet.

Time for Scolari to unleash Drogba and Anelka together?

Chelsea are struggling to score goals but manager Luiz Felipe Scolari says he can’t accommodate both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba in the same team.

Scolari’s outstanding record as a coach of club and national teams means that us little people should think twice, or more, before questioning his tactics.

Vlog in the lift – Can Chelsea afford to lose Drogba?

Didier Drogba reminded Chelsea fans of his importance to their cause with a match-winning performance against Cluj in the Champions League this week, but recent reports have suggested that the controversial striker may be on his way to Inter Milan to link up with former manager Jose Mourinho.

Can Chelsea afford to let him go? Click on the video above to see Vlogonthepitch regulars Owen Wyatt and Jon Bramley have an elevated discussion. Let us know your views.

Will predictable Champions League have new winner?

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The 16 teams that reached the Champions League first knockout round were again the usual suspects expected to go through. The group stage of Europe’s premier club competition unfolded rather predictably after a few early shocks.

Ten of the teams qualified for the same stage last season while the other six include twice winners Juventus, who returned with a roar after a two-year absence, as well as former finalists Panathinaikos and Atletico Madrid.

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