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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Time for UEFA to revert to goal difference in Champions League

My head is hurting after all the mathematics that has been needed to work out qualification chances in the Champions League.

It is all because UEFA believes head-to-heads rather than goal difference in all group games should be the first deciding factor.

Many don't see the logic of this. Using goal difference as the first determining factor, like many domestic leagues, encourages attacking play for a start which is surely a laudable aim. Head-to-heads don't especially.

The reason head-to-heads is preferred seems to be because one team could have scored many more goals against the group whipping boys than their rivals and this is deemed an unfair advantage. Why?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Why Chelsea should keep Andre Villas-Boas

Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.

Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Does anybody actually care who captains England?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Last week, when Chelsea held a news conference to preview their Champions League match against FC Copenhagen, manager Carlo Ancelotti spent the first 20 minutes fielding questions about John Terry's re-instatement as England captain.

The Chelsea press officer finally stepped in in an attempt to steer the subject back to club football by asking if there were any questions about the forthcoming match or for fellow guest, defender Branislav Ivanovic.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Torres is a one-goal striker and a steal for Chelsea

SOCCER-EURO/Will Fernando Torres ever recapture that heady mix of fearlessness, ruthlessness and irresistible skill he showed in his first 24-goal season at Anfield?

Is £50 million enough to buy you a strike rate of a goal every 1.375 games?

You know what? It doesn't matter.

Liverpool needed a 24-goals-a-season striker but Chelsea don't. Chelsea have spent so much money for a player who can score one goal rather than 24, or to put it another way, the goal.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Liverpool sign Suarez but will he play with Torres?

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/UPDATE: Liverpool have confirmed that Torres put in a written transfer request on Friday night. The club have rejected it. Read the statement here.

Liverpool and Ajax have just announced that Luis Suarez is joining the Premier League club in a deal worth up to 26.5 million euros.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Fergie’s smile spells trouble for Premier League title rivals

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:

Lucas hints at brighter Anfield future

SOCCER-EUROPA/Lucas Leiva has often been dismissed as a mediocre battler with little or no star quality, but the much-maligned midfielder’s performance against Chelsea marked him out as an influential part of Liverpool’s recent recovery.

Few players have attracted as much ire as the combative Brazilian who was reportedly close to strolling out the Anfield exit door during the summer with a host of European also-rans touted as a possible destination.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Deja vu all over again? Soccer romantics will hope so

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:

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

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

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:

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