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How did Chelsea ever let Mourinho go?


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.

“We were the best team by far,” Mourinho told Sky. “To win here was almost a perfect performance not just by the team but by the individual players. They deserved so much this victory. Everything was superior, not just the tactics but the attitude on the pitch and Chelsea were frustrated immediately. They reacted like a team who knew the opponent was strong. They tried to go for the conflict, the long ball, the dives in the box.

“I celebrated a lot in the dressing room because it was a big victory for my team. I love Chelsea, I love this stadium and I love these people. But I’m a professional and who knows I could coach another English team and come here again.”

Will Chelsea take it easy? Our Predictions League says no


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


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?

Ramsey injury was horrific but should not be used to outlaw tackling


SOCCER-ENGLAND/Anybody who saw the pictures of Aaron Ramsey’s shattered shin will have winced in disgust but the hysterical reaction to Ryan Shawcross’s tackle that caused it has been based on emotion rather than cold analysis.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger muttered dark thoughts about how it was “no coincidence” that Ramsey, Eduardo and Abou Diaby had all suffered terrible injuries as teams tried to kick Arsenal off the pitch.

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


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.

Portsmouth have a chance to come back fighting fit


Every football fan should be delighted that Portsmouth Football Club are all set to go into administration on Friday — for all the right reasons.

Anything that will save Portsmouth from a High Court appearance when they face being wound-up by the British taxman, should be welcomed by fans not only of Portsmouth, but of every other club.

Will Mourinho live to rue the Taste of England?


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.

Is Spanish football more polarised than ever?


SOCCER-SPAIN/BARCELONA-PRESIDENTReal Madrid and Barcelona dominate European football in terms of economic might and sporting success, a study of the continent’s five major leagues has shown.

But are the Spanish giants sucking the life out of La Liga in pursuit of short-term profits and at the expense of their long term competitiveness on the football field?

UPDATE: Controversial Champions League gives way to Predictions League!


Well the fight for fourth spot in the Premier League looks like being one of the most intriguing battles in Europe as we near the latter stages of the season. Tottenham and Aston Villa won but Manchester City drew 0-0 with Liverpool in a drab game to leave it all as close as an Olympic downhill.

The Bundesliga and La Liga get more exciting thanks to Bayer Leverkusen and Cristiano Ronaldo while Inter’s lead being cut to five points has made Serie A less clear cut.

Protesting United fans need a reality check


Two European Cup finals in two years, three straight Premier League titles, a first ever win at AC Milan and yet Manchester United fans are not a happy bunch.

Before Tuesday’s 3-2 Champions League last 16 first leg win at the San Siro, a large group of United fans spent most of the afternoon swigging beer in Milan’s central square – Piazza Duomo.