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  • 1. Bleak signs for Newcastle in the North East Derby

    It’s not been a great week for Newcastle fans. The inevitable happened on Monday, when they finally sold best player Yohan Cabaye to PSG for £20 million. On Wednesday, they played out a dire 0-0 draw with Norwich, dearly missing Cabaye’s creative input and losing striker Loic Remy to a red card, which has seen him suspended for the derby. Attempts to sign Clement Grenier to replace Cabaye appear to have failed, and with only 12 hours left on the transfer clock as I write this, Mark Noble is being touted as a possibility. Oh dear. It feels like a perfect storm, and a loss to mortal enemies Sunderland for the second time this season looks very much on the cards.

  • Watching yesterday's 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City was like being caught in the driving rain that persisted throughout: not unexpected but completely unwelcome. But there were positives: numerous ones, in fact. More than I could actually fit into this article, even!

    I'm not grasping at straws, I swear.

  • Something special happened in East Manchester last Friday, something which may, in time, come to be seen as game-changing, epoch-shifting and vitally important. As Manchester City Ladies were unveiled to the press as Manchester City Women, more than a century of prejudice and disrespect was, if not completely poleaxed, then at least given a good kicking.

  • Arsenal have reportedly commenced negotiations with Schalke over the transfer of Julian Draxler and could make him their second major German signing of the season should they reach an agreement for the ultra-talented attacker. So what are they paying for?

  • There is little that this season's two Merseyside derbies haven't offered in the way of thrilling attacking football - or inadequate defending, depending on your preferred disposition. Glancing at the statistics from both games, it's evident that neither side felt the need to prioritise one facet of the game, namely defending, over the other. But in reality, the two matches conformed to incredibly different patterns.

  • Yohan Cabaye, French international midfield star, is reported to have agreed – in principle at least – to sign for France’s flagship team, Paris Saint-Germain, in a deal rumoured to be approximately £20 million, after Newcastle had blocked attempts from Roma to sign their playmaker, and rejected an initial gambit from the French capital’s Qatar-backed big-spending “galacticos.”

  • The scenes at Hull over recent weeks have certainly been ugly; Assem Allam’s desire to change the club name from Hull City to Hull Tigers went down like the proverbial lead balloon with many supporters, and the situation only worsened when Allam stated fans opposed to his ideas could ‘...die as soon as they want’, in response to the City Till We Die protest group.

  • I haven’t contributed some coverage on the Championship in a while and so, to make up for it, I’m gonna hit it and quit it by getting through all 24 teams in one go without breaking a sweat – possibly stopping for like a power bar or something around mid table.

    I like to imagine the following being said in one breath, stream of consciousness style...

  • It is fair to say that the teams at bottom of the Premier League and the top of the Championship are not that different in strength. There have been countless matches in the FA Cup, where a top division side came up short against lower league opposition. Cardiff’s trip to Bolton had the potential to turn out to be one of those FA Cup upsets. 

  • With a round of Premier League fixtures this mid-week, there was even more reason to suggest key players would be absent and fringe players would be starting for the bigger sides. Early FA Cup rounds, especially for the bigger clubs, are supposedly all about surviving; escape injuries and field as few of the first eleven as possible. A lot of clubs expect to lose, desperately try to avoid a replay, and winning the game is just a bonus. 

  • Three and a half years ago, a Malaysian business mogul bought a struggling Welsh club then in the Championship. Nobody batted an eyelid until said business mogul decided in 2012 to rebrand the club, change their colours from blue to red, and redesign their club crest from a blue badge depicting a bluebird to a red badge depicting a dragon (and a bluebird at the bottom, if you squint).

  • As ever, Chelsea have been present in this transfer window and the biggest story has seen Juan Mata complete his move from the West London club to the red side of Manchester. The two-time Fans’ Player of the Year has been used sparingly by José Mourinho in a squad that has a wealth of creative, attacking talent. But by losing the fans’ favourite and bringing in the highly-rated Mohamed Salah from Basel, has the Portuguese manager got this one right?

  • 1) The Coventry City Protest

    Odds are Coventry City are facing a hiding to nothing when they make the journey to the Emirates on Friday night, but they are using the televised game as an opportunity to air their grievances. Due to a dispute between its owners and local council, the Sky Blues are currently playing home games 35 miles away from their city, in Northampton. At 35 minutes, fans will hold up signs saying ‘why?’, to signify that 35 mile trek. Then at 61 minutes, they’ll hold up a sign saying ‘when?’.  Coventry fans have had it hard over the past decade, and this might get their story seen by a few more eyes.

  • Ever since Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea back in 2003, the footballing landscape in England changed forever. Here was a model for other billionaires to latch on to; buy a football club, invest your money in good players and new talent, watch your club achieve untold success and bask in the adoration of millions of fans worldwide.

  • If there has been one story floating around Newcastle United for the past year or so, it is that Yohan Cabaye is on his way out of St. James' Park for a club that can provide him Champions League football, with Paris St. Germain, Manchester United and Arsenal all mooted destinations. But would it be beneficial to the Toon to sell their star man? Let's delve deeper.

  • Unusual, I know, but to start, cast your mind back in time. Back to the end of the 2011/2012 season, when beaverish defending and a strike force that had both Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba in imperious form led Newcastle to a 5th-place finish in the Barclays Premier League, and also into the Europa League. However, these impressive league statistics and entrance into Europe were to come back to haunt the Toon Army.

  • It was over. Finally. Massimiliano Allegri had been relieved of his position as manager. As one, every Rossonero around the world heaved a sigh of utmost relief. Fresh off a devastating 4-3 loss to 18th placed (at the time) Sassuolo, in which Milan’s defence were put to shame by the fresh-faced 19 year old, Domenico Berardi, the worldwide contingent of Milan tifosi could see light at the end of the horribly long dark tunnel they have been forced to endure this season.

  • Five months of shattered dreams and crushed optimism came to a head when a 10 man Tottenham Hotspur conceded five against a rampant Liverpool and Luis Suarez. The high line deployed against one of the quickest attacks in the league even after a sending off may have contributed; the lack of a single shot on target at home stung like a shotgun wound submerged into the Black Sea.

  • Edgar Davids brought end to his infamous stay at Barnet this weekend after he and the club came to a mutual agreement to his release. The former Ajax and Juventus star was sent off three times this season, and complained that referees were 'making an example' of him, but in the end he decided to leave altogether, rather than quit playing. But in the grand scheme of things, did this little experiment really help the club do anything?

  • Liverpool have been smacked in the face by yet another knee injury to Brazilian anchor man Lucas Leiva, leaving the Reds threadbare in the central midfield department. Whilst captain Steven Gerrard has been deployed in a deeper role of late, and Joe Allen is back to full fitness, Brendan Rodgers will be keen to strengthen a key area of the pitch, and I've identified five players who could do just that.

     

  • Chelsea hosted Manchester United in a game that was quite the opposite of the reverse fixture at the beginning of the season. José Mourinho was less cautious in this game, and decided to field a team that could stifle Manchester United, and beat them by using their individual qualities in attack. On the other hand, David Moyes made some questionable decisions, and United were punished for the same shortcomings they have had all season. 

  • In a season that manager Jose Mourinho wrote off as a learning curve for his new-look side, Chelsea are not doing too badly. Third in the league at the time of writing, into the knockout phase of the Champions League as group winner and with The Blues’ raft of midfield talent starting to prove their worth, The Special One hasn’t had too much to complain about.

  •  

    We may only be 21 matches in, but already this 22nd Premier League season is being heralded by all and sundry as the best ever. Better than 2003/04, when Arsenal’s Invincibles achieved the impossible and went through a whole season undefeated; better than 1998/99, with United’s treble-winning triumph; better even than 2011/12, when Sergio Agüero wrested the title from the red to the blue half of Manchester with practically the last kick of the game.

  • 1)    Moyes must win against top opposition

     

    Outside of a win against Arsenal, United’s record against the rest of the top half is appalling, with losses to Man City, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle, and draws against Chelsea and Southampton. This results in five points from an available 24 against sides in the top nine, something that has to dramatically improve if they are to challenge for a top four place.

  • Germany has an inexplicable ability to produce top talent one after the other, with exciting youngsters popping up on a regular basis. Players like Mario Götze, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Andre Schürrle can almost be seen as the previous generation of talent; despite being only 21, 21 and 23 years of age respectively. In recent times, new talents have emerged and are ready to set the world alight – Leon Goretzka, Matthias Ginter, Erik Durm, Timo Horn, Jonas Hofmann and Emre Can are but a few. Regardless of how highly these youngsters are rated, the performances of late of a particular young man are getting some highly deserved attention.

  • With Jermain Defoe’s impending move from Tottenham to MLS side Toronto FC I thought it would be a good idea to put together a bit of a fact file, because let’s face it, I don’t know anything about them and neither do you! So let's take a look...

  • Liverpool's 5-3 victory over Stoke City on Sunday put to bed a hideous record that had seen the Reds fail to record a single league victory at the Britannia Stadium previously. It also lifted Brendan Rodgers' team back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League, ensuring that six of the top seven all won, with Villa due to play Swansea City on Monday night.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as George reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Murray reviews the year that was.

  • 1)      Redemption for Wenger

    Losing to Aston Villa on the first day of the season caused a lot of Arsenal fans to descend into panic and despair. They thought this might be the season where everything falls to pieces, after threatening to for the last couple of years. Instead, it’s been the season they rejoined the title-chasing elite, and a win against a Villa team currently in disarray at Villa Park would put to bed a couple of demons born out of that first day and fully confirm that they are for real.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Rishi reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Aman reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Kai reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Farhat reviews the year that was.

  • With the dust still settling from Sunderland’s shock 2-1 victory over Manchester United at the Stadium of Light, and Manchester City’s 6-0 thrashing of West Ham at the Etihad, the first full week of January 2014 has proved to us that the League Cup can still bring with it plenty of drama, surprises and most of all great football.

  • In the not too distant future...

    The silence was unnerving; Kevin didn't want to be here at all. He glanced around at his men, aimlessly roaming the sodden ground, uncertain if any of them would survive the ensuing battle. He wondered if he could escape without them noticing, but surely they would recognize a lack of leadership, and capitulate far easier than expected.

  • As the year comes to a close, it's time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Emma reviews the year that was. 

  • As the year comes to a close, it’s time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Matty reviews the year that was. 

  • As the year comes to a close, it’s time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Lizzi reviews the year that was. 

  • As the year comes to a close, its time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Ben reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, its time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Louis reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, it’s time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Matt reviews the year that was.

     

  • It did not take long for Jose Mourinho to make his first signing after returning to Chelsea, following news that Bayer Leverkusen winger Andre Schurrle would be joining the Europa League champions for a fee of around £19m. The 22-year old adds yet more attacking firepower to a team that is already blessed with brilliant forward players such as Eden Hazard and the sumptuous Juan Mata. But just what exactly will he offer the team and his new manager? In short, a lot.

  • Diego da Silva Costa, the Brazilian Spaniard who has been burdened with the responsibility of filling the void that Radamel Falcao left at Atletico Madrid when he departed for France in the summer. Liverpool showed a major interest in the forward during the last transfer window and some reports suggested that The Reds had met the release clause in his contract of around £20m but he stayed put in Madrid. More recently, given his more than impressive start to the current campaign, Arsenal is the latest Premier League club to be linked heavily with the striker with Chelsea also keeping tabs. So what is it about Diego Costa that is attracting the big clubs?

  • As the year comes to a close, its time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Dan Lloyd reviews the year that was.

  • As the year comes to a close, its time for Ballsy Banter's finest to tell you who they think has made 2013 their own in the Ballsy D'or. Who was the best player? Who scored the greatest goal? Who are we sick of hearing about? All these questions and more as Johnny reviews the year that was.

  • Edin Džeko’s 66th minute winner against Crystal Palace last Saturday marked a milestone for the player and his club; the strike was the Bosnian’s 50th goal in a City shirt. Since arriving three years ago in the January 2011 transfer window from Wolfsburg, Džeko has been one of those players who frustrates and delights in equal measure. All City fans know what he’s capable of, but the striker rarely appears to fulfil his potential.

                          

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