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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Who can Arsenal actually buy?

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With Cesc Fabregas gone and Samir Nasri possibly on the move too, there is a lot of gloom around Arsenal at the moment and Saturday's 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool did nothing to help the mood.

Arsenal fans are for the first time questioning the stewardship of Arsene Wenger and have demanded some top signings to prevent yet another trophyless season.

But who could Arsenal actually bring in? Would a really top player want to go to a club resembling a sinking ship? The Gunners also don't have the same financial clout as Manchester City, United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even Liverpool nowadays. (The Italian clubs are worse off though).

Valencia winger Juan Mata seems destined for Chelsea after Arsenal's initial interest but even he is not the wow signing Arsenal fans want to ease the pain of Fabregas going back to Barca.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Arsenal can do it this time says Nasri

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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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Fergie’s smile spells trouble for Premier League title rivals

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/When Alex Ferguson declares he is happy with his squad for the season remainder, it is time for Manchester United’s Premier League title rivals to start worrying.

The busy Christmas and New Year period is often important in the Premier League, as fringe players are called upon to help negotiate a sea of fixtures which put managers under increasing pressure.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Deja vu all over again? Soccer romantics will hope so

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/FULHAM-HUGHES‘Plus ca change’ was the defining refrain of the Premier League’s opening weekend, but football fans tired of the established order will hope déjà vu is lurking round the corner for Manchester United and Chelsea.

Neither the champions nor the runners-up broke sweat as they strolled to opening victories that pointed ominously to another two-horse race for the Premier League title.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

We predict the worst … you show us how it’s done

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPIt seems like ages since we last managed a proper weekend programme*  but at last, here we are, with an all-singing, all-dancing snow-free extravaganza, with the dubious attraction of Arsenal v Man Utd's traditional handbags at 10 paces highly competitive fixture being shown in 3D at select boozers across the land.

Below you will find the Reuters Soccer Blog standings and predictions for the week but remember, we'd like you to join in as well. If you're a newcomer, you get 10 points for correctly predicting the exact score from the weekend's Premier League game, or two for getting the right result. (If you've been with us for a while, it's five points and one point).

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Wayne Rooney is flying right at you!

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FRANCE/Beer and football go together like, well, beer and anything else, but add in a pair of plastic stereoscopic spectacles plus the inevitability of someone taking a camera phone picture of you looking ridiculous and I can see the combination wearing a bit thin.

Still, I'm sure there'll be plenty of people happy to give it a try on Sunday when the Premier League goes all Avatar on us.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What if “ludicrous” Premier League ends with same top four?

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/We've had some knockabout fun in the Premier League this season, no question, but for all those eager for a change to the established order the table is taking on an all too familiar look.

Best Premier league season ever? It looked like we were heading that way, thanks to Liverpool's flabbergastingly bad form, United's post-Portuguese predicament, Chelsea's baffling inconsistency and Arsenal's eerie ability to conjure defeats and draws from matches they should have walked. William Hill even announced that the series of upsets involving the Big Four had helped them restore their profit margins at the expense of punters.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Score predictions come out of the freezer

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BRITAIN/Last week's snow-show in all but three of the games means there's been very little movement on the scores front, at least here at Reuters Soccer Blog Towers.

Premier League grounds may be as sludgy as Dutch pea soup  but at least they're fit for purpose once more and as long as the thaw continues we should get a full programme again this weekend. About time too. Here are the weekend's games:

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

UPDATE: A New Year, a new chance to show your prediction skills

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPThe good news is, if you missed the midweek fixtures you've hardly been scathed, with one of the two games called off and the other a 3-2 thriller that no one predicted.

So let's start 2010 as we mean to go on with your predictions for the Premier League matches this weekend. Read on after the break for the rules if you're a newbie, and if not ... well, you know what to do.

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