Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Could Pardew take Champions League spot and England job from Redknapp?

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By Phil O’Connor

Unheralded and unpopular when he took over at Newcastle United, Alan Pardew has led them into the upper reaches of the English Premier League, and within touching distance of a Champions League place.

The question is whether he can beat Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Redknapp to fourth spot and the last Premier League place in football’s top club competition – and make himself a contender for the England manager’s job at the same time.

Pardew replaced Chris Hughton at the helm of Newcastle in December 2010. It wasn’t an easy task; Hughton, popular with players and fans alike, had brought the Geordies back to the Premier League on a shoestring following the ignominy of relegation.

Selling striker Andy Carroll didn’t help his cause, but this season has seen Pardew’s side climb almost unnoticed and return to the heights they enjoyed under Bobby Robson.

Arsenal finally tackling their problems

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By Phil O’Connor

Perhaps stung by criticism from the likes of Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit, Arsenal’s stunning 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur was built not just on pretty passing but on solid tackling too.

Viera and Petit provided the steel in midfield for Wenger’s first great Arsenal side, and both have recently been critical of their slide towards mid-table mediocrity.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Thursday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONSGareth Bale. The dashing Welsh winger primed to scare the living daylights out of England on Saturday. Injured. Did anyone else hear that collective sigh of relief from England fans today?

But what about Tottenham Hotspur fans. Are you worried your star man’s recent struggles with injury could hamper your club’s Champions League quarter-final chances against Real Madrid?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Friday – Champions League draw special

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SOCCER-EUROPA/Well well well. Now the Champions League really is wide open..

So here's that quarter-final draw again:

Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea v Manchester United

Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk

Inter Milan v Schalke 04

As Gary Lineker put it, there will be an English team in the semi-finals, but could Tottenham make it two sides? Real are certainly not invincible.

Now, before taking a look at all the domestic leagues over the weekend, a recap of Thursday's highlights from the Europa League. Quite a night of upsets.

West Ham given Olympic stadium nod but can soccer co-exist with track and field?

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OLYMPICS-LONDON/STADIUMSo now we know: Premier League soccer club West Ham United will take over the Olympic Stadium in London following the 2012 Games, assuming there are no late objections from the British government or the city’s mayor.

The decision will be greeted with relief by many fans of the rival bidders Tottenham Hotspur for one simple reason — soccer does not generally co-exist very well with athletics.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Beckham’s value is his values

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SOCCER-MLS/Harry Redknapp does not need a right-sided midfield player and, with the depth of talent regularly available on his bench, he hardly needs to bolster his squad with a three-month loan signing.

Yet he, and several other Premier League managers, are trying to secure the services of 35-year-old David Beckham.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League podcast – 4

Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Martyn Herman for a look at the week's Champions League matches. Will Real Madrid be too much for AC Milan? Our panel seems to think so.

Listen!

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League podcast, episode 3

This week the podcast panel discuss the clash of European aristocracy at the Bernabeu, where nine-times winners Real Madrid host seven-tiems champions AC Milan, plus the Wayne Rooney saga and the plight of Liverpool.

Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Toby Davis

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League, matchday 1 – live

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Join us for updates on the Champions League:

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

North London derby offers little hope to prediction paupers (UPDATE)

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******Monday morning update, by Kevin Fylan: This was the weekend that the Reuters Soccer Blog panel struck back. Mark Meadows managed a stonking 22 points from the 10 games, the first time we've really had a score to shout about. Can anyone beat that? Leader Patrick Johnston got a solid 13, while Neil Maidment has made a great leap forward with 18. In any other week, Neil...******Remember, you bag five points for getting the score spot on, and just one if you got the result right but the wrong score. Here's our updated league table. Where do you stand?******Reuters Soccer Blog panel: Patrick Johnston 105, Mitch Phillips 89, Paul Radford 87, Mike Collett 76, Simon Evans 74, Mark Meadows 72, Kevin Fylan 71, Miles Evans 70, Julien Pretot 69, Neil Maidment 62, Asia Sports Desk 53, Justin Palmer 38, Martyn Herman 20, Sonia Oxley 10 (plus belated bonus from last week, =15)******Original post from Friday: It's that time of the week again. Yes time to humiliate ourselves by hopelessly trying to guess which Liverpool side will turn up, how many players will be out with swine flu and whether Dimitar Berbatov will actually resemble the good player he is supposed to be.******Apart from Mitch Phillips, who downright cheated, last weekend's Premier League predictions contest was a sad tale of woe for all and this time it looks just as tricky.******Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur is always a feisty affair, just ask any North Londoner (not that there will be many on the pitch). ******Even avid Spurs fans (you know who you are) would be hard pressed to deny that Arsenal play the most beautiful football in England but Tottenham are seriously threatening to break into that top four this term and what better way to show your worth that to win away at the Gunners.******The derby will be our double pointer for this week. Remember one point for the correct result and a massive five for the correct score.******Below are the running scores for our not-so-expert panel at Reuters Soccer Blog Heights followed by this weekend's fixtures and our predictions. Please play along in the comments and see if you can rival our top contributors like Chipking, Sean and maid.******Playing Saturday:******Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur: Patrick Johnston 5-2, Mitch Phillips 2-2, Paul Radford 2-0, Simon Evans 1-2, Mike Collett 2-3, Kevin Fylan 2-4, Miles Evans 3-1, Julien Pretot 3-1, Mark Meadows 1-1, Asia Sports Desk 3-1, Neil Maidment 2-1, Justin Palmer 2-2, Martyn Herman 3-1, Soxley 2-2******Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea: Patrick Johnston 1-2, Mitch Phillips 1-1, Paul Radford 0-3, Simon Evans 1-2, Mike Collett 0-2, Kevin Fylan 1-2, Miles Evans 2-2, Julien Pretot 0-2, Mark Meadows 1-2, Asia Sports Desk 1-3, Neil Maidment 0-2, Justin Palmer 1-1, Martyn Herman 0-2, Soxley 0-2******Burnley v Hull City: Patrick Johnston 2-0, Mitch Phillips 2-1, Paul Radford 2-0, Simon Evans 3-2, Mike Collett 4-1, Kevin Fylan 2-1, Miles Evans 1-1, Julien Pretot 1-1, Mark Meadows 2-0, Asia Sports Desk 1-2, Neil Maidment 2-0, Justin Palmer 1-1, Martyn Herman 2-1, Soxley 1-1 ******Everton v Aston Villa: Patrick Johnston 1-1, Mitch Phillips 1-1, Paul Radford 1-2, Simon Evans 1-2, Mike Collett 1-2, Kevin Fylan 1-0, Miles Evans 2-2, Julien Pretot 1-1, Mark Meadows1-1, Asia Sports Desk 1-2, Neil Maidment 1-1, Justin Palmer 2-0, Martyn Herman 2-2, Soxley 1-1            ******Fulham v Liverpool: Patrick Johnston 1-0, Mitch Phillips 2-2, Paul Radford 1-2, Simon Evans 0-1, Mike Collett 1-2, Kevin Fylan 2-1, Miles Evans 0-1, Julien Pretot 1-2, Mark Meadows 1-1, Asia Sports Desk 1-4, Neil Maidment 1-2, Justin Palmer 2-3, Martyn Herman 2-1, Soxley 0-2            ******Portsmouth v Wigan Athletic: Patrick Johnston 1-1, Mitch Phillips 2-0, Paul Radford 1-2, Simon Evans 2-2, Mike Collett 2-1, Kevin Fylan 0-1, Miles Evans 1-2, Julien Pretot 1-0, Mark Meadows 0-0, Asia Sports Desk 0-1, Neil Maidment 1-2, Justin Palmer 0-0, Martyn Herman 1-1, Soxley 0-1         ******Stoke City v Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patrick Johnston 3-0, Mitch Phillips 2-0, Paul Radford 2-0, Simon Evans 2-1, Mike Collett 1-1, Kevin Fylan 2-0, Miles Evans 4-1, Julien Pretot 2-1, Mark Meadows 1-1, Asia Sports Desk 1-1, Neil Maidment 3-1, Justin Palmer 3-1, Martyn Herman 0-0, Soxley 0-0******Sunderland v West Ham United: Patrick Johnston 2-1, Mitch Phillips 2-0, Paul Radford 3-1, Simon Evans 2-1, Mike Collett 3-1, Kevin Fylan 0-0, Miles Evans 1-2, Julien Pretot 2-0, Mark Meadows 2-2, Asia Sports Desk 1-1, Neil Maidment 2-2, Justin Palmer 0-1, Martyn Herman 1-2, Soxley 3-2******Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers: Patrick Johnston 2-1, Mitch Phillips 3-1, Paul Radford 1-0, Simon Evans 5-0, Mike Collett 3-0, Kevin Fylan 4-0, Miles Evans 2-0, Julien Pretot 4-0, Mark Meadows 2-0, Asia Sports Desk 3-0, Neil Maidment 3-0, Justin Palmer 3-0, Martyn Herman 1-0, Soxley 2-1          ******Playing on Sunday:*** Birmingham City v Manchester City: Patrick Johnston 0-1, Mitch Phillips 2-1, Paul Radford 0-3, Simon Evans 0-2, Mike Collett 1-1, Kevin Fylan 1-2, Miles Evans 1-2, Julien Pretot 2-2, Mark Meadows 1-2, Asia Sports Desk 0-3, Neil Maidment 1-3, Justin Palmer 1-2, Martyn Herman 0-3, Soxley 1-2******PHOTO: Robbie Keane (L) of Tottenham Hotspur is tackled by Arsenal's Bacary Sagna during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane in London February 8, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

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