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World Soccer views and news

Predicting the unpredictable: the Premier League title run-in

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Chelsea and Manchester United seem to want to make the Premier League title run-in as exciting as possible by dropping points in recent weeks. There’s just a point between them with three games left and you can’t get much tighter than that.

Sadly the same can’t be said for our predictions league where leader Paul Radford pretty much has the title wrapped up, but let’s see what this weekend brings.

United will not be counting their chickens at home to Champions-League chasing Spurs while Chelsea will be wary of Stoke’s long throws. Tiredness certainly comes into play at this time of the season and bizarre results abound, but at least the pair are no longer distracted by Europe.

What do you reckon? Are there more twists in the tale? Predict this weekend’s premier league fixtures and you five points for a correct score and one for a correct result. Pop your guesses in the comments and see how you do. Fixtures are below.

A revolutionary (and slightly wacky) idea to spot handballs

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I have come up with an idea that will revolutionise football. And I was sober at the time.
 
It would solve immediately the problem of knowing when players handle the ball and help referees and linesmen give the right decision every time and cut out attempts by players pleading they never handled the ball when they have — especially in the penalty area.
 
I admit its still a work in progress … but I reckon someone could invent an electro-magnetic liquid which players have to dip their arms in before kickoff. This solution, invisible, weightless, and undetectable would then dry to create a “second skin” from the points of the arm and hands the laws state constitute the areas of handball.
 
An electro-magnetic chip would then be placed in a ball, or the ball would be dipped in the same electro-magnetic fluid — and every time the two made contact … ball and arm/hand — a buzzer would sound from special loudspeakers in the stadium. The system would also be read through long-sleeved shirts and gloves.
 
Immediatly the buzzer goes off, everyone among the players, officials and fans, would know the player has handled — no argument. Naturally, goalkeepers would be exempt and the system would only be activated when the ball was in play, meaning players could still take throw-ins and pick up the ball when a whistle has been blown. 
 
The beauty of this system is that the referee can still decide whether it is accidental handball or not, or ball to hand.
 
The idea occurred to me after being at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea v Bolton last week and Spurs v Chelsea on Saturday.

After the game at Stamford Bridge, Bolton manager Owen Coyle claimed his team were denied two definite penalties after handballs by Didier Drogba and John Terry were missed by the officials. Watching the replays afterwards, he was right. They were both definite handballs.

Derby fever strikes predictions league

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SOCCER-ENGLANDWith predictions league leader Paul Radford fast closing in on the title, attention in the Premier League turns to the Manchester derby and whether Tottenham can build on their memorable victory over city rivals Arsenal against visiting leaders Chelsea.

There is a lot at stake for the two Manchester clubs. A win for United would keep their hopes of catching Chelsea alive, while City need three points to tighten their grip on fourth and a lucrative place in next season’s Champions League.

Premier League in decline or just a minor blip?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/English clubs have failed to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2003, after Arsenal were undone by a superior Barcelona side driven by the brilliant Lionel Messi and Manchester United suffered an astonishing breakdown against Bayern Munich.

They joined Premier League leaders Chelsea on the sidelines, as well as Liverpool after their exit in the group phase. The question is whether this is a shift in the balance of power or merely a blip.

Be a good egg and enter the Easter predictions league

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While the kids are looking for Easter Eggs, the Reuters soccer blog panel will be desperately seeking some points to close the gap on leader Paul Radford.

The competition is open to everyone so if you fancy predicting this weekend’s Premier League scores then put your guesses in the comments.

How did Chelsea ever let Mourinho go?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/There will be plenty of time to pick apart Chelsea’s latest Champions League failure, but for now the question on many a fan’s lips on the way out of Stamford Bridge must have been simply, “How did we ever let Jose Mourinho go?”

Mourinho is still Captain of the Bridge, it seems.

The coach’s decision to play such an attacking line-up seemed to surprise Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti never really found a way to deal with such an audacious strategy.

Will Chelsea take it easy? Our Predictions League says no

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Chelsea have a rather big home match against Inter Milan looming on Tuesday but a juicy London derby at Stamford Bridge against West Ham means the Premier League title contenders are unlikely to be stepping off the gas this Saturday.

Manchester United lead the table but Chelsea have a game in hand and ex-Hammers Frank Lampard and Joe Cole certainly won’t want to slip further behind at the weekend, especially with rampant United following the humbling of AC Milan with a home game against Europa League-weary Fulham.

Predicting another great leap forward from Arsenal

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONSNow all that Winter Sports malarkey is out of the way, we can cast all thoughts of the Couver out of our minds and get back to the serious business: the title race run-in, and the predictions league tussle that goes along with it.

Chelsea are the weekend’s main absentees, as they toil on in the FA Cup against a stoked City, so could we see another great leap forward from Arsenal?

UPDATE: Who can steal a march in the Predictions League?

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The weekend’s Premier League action was overshadowed by the terrible injury to Arsenal’s teenage Wales international Aaron Ramsey at Stoke. We wish him all the best for his recovery.

Arsene Wenger’s shocked players managed to turn their minds back to the match and their 3-1 victory moved them to within three points of leaders Chelsea and two shy of second-placed Manchester United, who again had the prolific Wayne Rooney to thank for Sunday’s 2-1 League Cup victory over Aston Villa.

Will Mourinho live to rue the Taste of England?

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There is a wonderful little shop in the centre of Milan called “Taste of England”.

It sells everything a homesick Englishman would want but Italian supermarkets don’t sell. Baked beans, rock-hard chocolate bars, Earl Grey tea.

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