Creative Hive - projects
BEFORE I attempt to present my initial thoughts on this album, it should be noted that I am huge fan of Monch, and therefore expect a very subjective take within this review. That being said, what album review is not subjective based upon the author’s influences? It doesn’t mean that I am unable to be critical; I was personally, initially, disappointed with the beat on Haile Selassie Karate, particularly as I had heard the verse over another beat on Shade 45 and was blown away. Desire was also a slow burner for me; it took me months to appreciate the depths of the album and now it stands up as one of the most inspirational soulful hip hop records I’ve ever heard.
Monch gets a lot of stick within the industry and amongst fans for his time between albums; to me this is completely unfair. His first priority, since his Organized Konfusion days, is to always have creative control over his work. Something of course Nas failed to do following Illmatic; falling off somewhat after It Was Written attempting to fit the industry needs, before an explosive return will Stillmatic. Monch’s first solo album Internal Affairs secured his place as a heavy weight in the game. The album is an undeniable classic; story telling techniques (Behind Closed Doors, Queens, The Light), club bangers (Simon Says, Right Here), personification (Rape), and the smoothest multisyllabic rhymes (Intro, Hell), not to mention Official or The Truth with Talib Kweli and Common.
Despite the quality and critical acclaim, the album was pulled after 500,000 sales, with legal issues surrounding the Godzilla sample used on Simon Says which Monch produced. His long exile from the game until Desire was not due to his inability to produce material. Ironically, whilst attempting to rejuvenate his career, it was Simon Says that gave him a platform to connect with the fans, although this track barely reflects a fraction of the potential this man has to offer as an artist. Desire is a soulful master class, but he hardly had the autonomy to write an album like WAR or PTSD under Universal Motown, and so his delays have been that of an independent artist, waiting and bartering not just for any music, but the type which he feels will best suit his ideas. Production wise, Pharoahe needs the instrumental to tell the same story as the narrative. And in terms of features, there is no question he is very selective.
Okay, let's get down to the business of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). After several plays, I see this as Pharoahe’s most complete and coherent package to date. He describes his writing process as if he was writing a movie (scene to scene), and this translates excellently throughout PTSD. Outside of the frame work, you can play any track independently and enjoy the scene as if it was its own mini-movie, whilst the skits facilitate the album’s narrative and concept.
Pharoahe tells a harrowing story of a man losing his mind, with no job, bills to pay, and a pregnant wife; “That’ll be me with a nine losin’ my mind in Time Square,” making reference to the September 2013 incident when a man started shooting in the middle of Time Square. The track sets the scene perfectly for the album to unfold, and the beat by Polo provides the ideal back drop.
Losing My Mind ft Denaun Porter – Produced by Jesse West
Following Porter’s contribution to the cinematic Trilogy on Desire, this must have been an easy choice of collaboration for Monch with the title in mind. This song stands alone on its own merits, yet feels like it is the twin of Time2. Pharoahe’s linguistics and imagery are on full display throughout; “Who’d leave a dick in charge of a bush/ Of a colon I’m screwed, saw more war than Warsaw Poland, viewed/ An infant’s insides, outside of his body/ Inside of a place of worship, ungodly/ Outcries tears “Dear God, where are we?”
Heroin Addict – Produced by Pharoahe
This is an extended skit, over what sounds like some Jimi Hendrix type guitar riffs. After losing his mind, Pharoahe’s next character is searching for his Malboros (cigarettes) in a jamming session before singing “we’re damaged”, of course this leads up to....
Damage – Produced by Lee Stone
Pharoahe here completes his trilogy of writing from the perspective of a bullet. The bullet is far more aggressive, psychotic and in a frenzy over a sumptuous beat. The relevance of PTSD within society is again displayed as this track appears to demonstrate the type of insanity that was prevalent in the Dark Knight shootings.
BAD MF – Produced by Lee Stone
I first heard this at the Jazz Cafe. Wow, humble Pharoahe just coming out with it explicitly, “who put these pussies on top?” We rarely get this mindset from the Queens’ artist, though Pharoahe’s character here has the platform, as he is “totally intoxicated” and has “gone insane”. This track is just bad ass; beat, hooks, verses, everything. His ability to change his flow is effortlessly demonstrated as he recites, “They mad cause they can’t stop me/ cause I said fuck swag I got moxie/ Lyrically ecstasy I got that oxyyyyy -/ contin poppin they can’t cabon copy or mock me”. For me this track supersedes Simon Says, and I prefer it live.
Rapid Eye Movement ft Black Thought – Produced by Marco Polo
Track of the year. Black Thought shines all over this track, as he should; in my view these two lyricists should be in everybody’s top 5. PTSD is a continuation from the WAR album, and REM is a continuation from Assassins. With all due respect to Royce (who I expected more from), Thought came to bring the heat and delivered. Pharoahe shape-shift-spits his bullet narration into a developed “relationship” with the “ammunition” and laces this track with his usual mastery. With so much expectation on this track, I couldn’t envisage that it could possibly live up to the hype, but it does.
Scream – Produced by Chris Quelle
Lyrically undeniable, this track resembles Desire’s What It Is. An uneasy listen though over an eclectic beat, particularly in the chorus when Pharoahe screams. Still the lyricism takes centre stage as in the aforementioned What It Is. This is the one track which (at present) I’m not feeling. It does however fit the concept and continue the storyline heading into my favourite track to listen to on the album...
The Jungle – Produced by Marco Polo
I heard the first verse previously on youtube and was hoping it would be released over a good beat. The beat is great, Grazie Marco. Pharoahe adds two more verses and just completes another album highlight.
Broken Again – Produced by The Lion Share Music Group
Over a stripped beat, Pharoahe sings a sombre heart-felt hook which evokes real emotion. I am addicted to this track (check it, check it again). Pharoahe portrays a character that uses heroin, which is his saviour (heroine), before referencing the Richard Prior incident (when he caught fire after heavy usage of drugs following a traumatic childhood). We are then taken to the perspective of a rejected drug user who is deeply depressed. Another great story which stands alone yet fits naturally into the album concept.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Produced by Boogie Blind & B.A.M.
The title track was the inspiration for the album. After the vulnerable Broken Again, Pharoahe directly talks about his suicidal thoughts and struggles, as an artist who suffers from chronic asthma, and who has had no end of label issues which temporarily halted his rap career. Monch’s DJ, Boogie Blind, does a great job, and it is easy to see how this track inspired the full length project.
DREAM ft Talib Kweli – Produced by Lee Stone
The soul in Pharoahe is most prevalent in Desire. Tracks like Push and Still Standing are two of the most uplifting songs in Monch’s catalogue. DREAM stands right next to them. I was totally taken by surprise at the tone of DREAM. Instead of cash, destiny rules everything around Monch and now his “determination runs every aspect mentally,” as he has overcome his trauma and is dreaming of winning awards and being listened to by teenagers; in a bid to help them to dream. Kweli does what he did on Gorilla Monsoon and The Truth, delivering a verse that fits the structure and enhances the listen. Kweli, a huge help and mentor for Pharoahe in his independent quest, will no doubt feature at some point in the Assassins plot.
The last of Monch's final four solo albums, at this stage it is not my favourite, as it hasn’t had the time to impact me like the previous three. However, I do believe that this is his best work and most cohesive album to date. It plays like a film all the way through, and every song stands alone, worthy to make a playlist. Like DJ Kamron, I want to see Pharoahe win. His work is criminally overlooked for awards by trash. Sway said Pharoahe is winning, but Sway hadn’t heard Still Standing. When that kind of song doesn’t reach the people, Pharoahe is not winning, at least not yet! My expectations for a Monch single, feature, video, live show, or album are always unrealistic, however he always manages to deliver. Thank you Monch, PTSD delivered. 13 – Illest!!!
By: Adam Higgins
REFEREE Kevin Clancy will take charge of the 2014 Ramsdens Cup Final between Raith Rovers and Rangers, the SPFL have confirmed.
The 30-year-old, who became a Fifa official in January 2012, has been appointed to oversee the showpiece on Sunday 6 April at Hibernian’s Easter Road stadium.
Stephen Mitchell and Joseph Lawson will be the assistant referees, with Greg Aitken named as the fourth official.
Clancy was admitted to the Scottish FA list of referees in June 2005 and became a Category One official four years later.
He officiated League One champions Rangers’ 2-0 win over nearest challengers Dunfermline at Ibrox earlier this month, sending off Pars defender Danny Grainger in the second half.
The Renfrewshire-based whistler attracted criticism for his handling of a Scottish League Cup quarter-final between Inverness and Dundee United earlier this term when brandishing 13 yellow cards and sending off Nadir Ciftci for allegedly grabbing the throat of linesman Gavin Harris.
Clancy, who was the fourth official for last season’s League Cup final at Hampden Park, has never been the man in the middle for a national final before.
His stature has grown significantly this term, receiving 13 Scottish Premiership appointments and last-eight ties in both the League Cup and Scottish Cup.
Raith beat Annan Athletic 3-0 in the Ramsdens Cup semi-finals under Clancy’s stewardship back in October while the Light Blues progressed to the final with a cagey 1-0 win over Stenhousemuir.
Queen of the South lifted the Challenge Cup last year following a penalty shoot-out victory over Partick Thistle at Livingston’s Almondvale Stadium.
Rovers will be housed in the Famous Five Stand with an initial allocation of 3,500 for their first final in 20 years with Rangers fans expected to fill the rest of the 20,000 available seats.
The 16:05 kick-off will be screened live on BBC ALBA.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
CELTIC are crowned champions of Scotland for the third successive season after thumping Glasgow neighbours Partick Thistle at Firhill.
Anthony Stokes got the party started inside three minutes and Liam Henderson doubled the lead early in the second half with his first goal for the club.
Stefan Johansen drilled home four minutes later before substitute Christie Elliott replied for the Jags, who sit just two points above eleventh-placed St Mirren.
But late goals from Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons added the gloss to round off a memorable night as the Hoops secured a 45th title with seven league games to spare in the continued absence of Old Firm rivals Rangers.
It is the earliest the Scottish top flight has been secured since the Gers won on 16 March in season 1928-29.
It was business as usual for the Bhoys, who established an unassailable 26-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen after the Dons were held by Ross County on Tuesday night.
Neil Lennon, four years on from the day he took over from Tony Mowbray, won five league winners medals as a player and secured another as manager with relative ease.
The Celtic boss expected Thistle to be desperate to spoil the championship celebrations because “they are fighting for their lives” while Alan Archibald’s men had ran the runaway leaders close on two occasions this term, losing 2-1 in October before a 1-0 defeat at Celtic Park on New Year’s Day.
But with a determination to wrap up the division as soon as possible, the Hoops ran riot to make it four wins out of four since their only league defeat of the season at Pittodrie last month, scoring 16 and conceding just once.
Lennon made one change from Saturday’s 3-0 win over St Mirren, which took the Hoops past last season’s tally of 79 points, as Efe Ambrose returned in defence with Liam Henderson dropping to the bench and Charlie Mulgrew slotting into midfield.
Nir Biton and James Forrest were sidelined with groin injuries while Dutch winger Derk Boerrigter remained out with an abdomen problem.
Thistle were also one different from their 1-0 defeat to Inverness in the Highlands as Prince Buaben bolstered the midfield with striker Kris Doolan among the substitutes and former St Mirren stalwart Lee Mair overcame flu to retain his place in defence.
On-loan West Ham youngster George Moncur was again on the bench but Conrad Balatoni, Isaac Osbourne and Sean Welsh were still on the treatment table.
Following 13 games without a home win this term, the Jags were seeking a hat-trick of victories in Maryhill after beating Aberdeen and Hibernian, propelling them into eighth to ease their relegation play-off fears.
But the hosts pressed the self-destruct button inside three minutes as Celtic made the perfect start to get the title celebrations in full swing.
Advanced left-back Emilio Izaguirre cut inside onto his right foot and clipped a cross to the back post where Stokes pulled away to nod past Paul Gallacher with the freedom of the six-yard box for his 100th goal in Scottish football.
Captain Scott Brown’s curved centre was headed straight at the keeper by Leigh Griffiths and Stokes curled off target from 20 yards as the Hoops had an extra spring in their step.
A tough task for Thistle was made increasingly harder as they struggled to gain a foothold against the utterly dominant visitors, who bossed proceedings without creating chances to illustrate their superiority.
The relegation-threatened hosts finally settled after a quarter of an hour with a sustained spell of possession and were encouraged forward by their vocal supporters.
Kallum Higginbotham, with four goals in his previous five appearances, guided a free-kick into the side netting and on-loan Dundee United midfielder Chris Erskine almost stole in one-on-one with Fraser Forster after deceiving Ambrose.
Commons curled waywardly over the crossbar from a dead-ball after being knocked over just outside the box by Gabriel Piccolo while Griffiths ambitiously struck over the bar from distance as Celtic ended the first half on top.
Lennon was seemingly relaxed in his dugout seat but his side were in a precarious position at the interval and were forced into a reshuffle as a hamstring problem ended Adam Matthews’ evening prematurely with Liam Henderson entering the fray.
And the 17-year-old, a starter in the previous two games, made an instant impact by opening his Hoops account in his fourth first-team appearance.
An Izaguirre cross was dummied by both Commons and Griffiths which ran onto Henderson, who took one touch to steady himself before rifling into the bottom corner to double the lead on 49 minutes.
Celtic were in the comfort zone and soon in cruise control as Johansen ensured the champagne corks would be unscrewed before the night was out.
The Norwegian exchanged passes with Griffiths before driving into the box and drilling clinically into the net for his second goal in as many games, picking up a yellow card for his troubles as he dived into the Hoops fans housed in the Jackie Husband stand.
With two goals in four minutes, the champions had stepped up a gear but Thistle offered a decent response.
On-loan Sheffield United striker Lyle Taylor could not add to his five Thistle goals when slicing Taylor-Sinclair’s cross off target before nodding Buaben’s chipped centre into the gloves of Forster, who turned a swerving 25-yard drive from Gary Fraser around the post.
Forster, who had kept 16 clean sheets in his previous 17 games, had to stay firm to block a powerful shot from Jags full-back Stephen O’Donnell.
Buaben’s piledriver then struck the arm of Mulgrew although referee Steven McLean deemed the contact to be unintentional.
At the other end, Stokes was denied by Gallacher before the Irishman’s precise cross was tucked away by Griffiths from an offside position.
Steven Lawless replaced Higginbotham with 20 minutes to go while Beram Kayal was sent on for hamstring injury victim Mulgrew as Brown was forced to cover at right-back.
Celtic enjoyed a measure of control in the closing stages with the 2,500 away fans, singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, in fine voice.
Commons was close to adding a fourth when Henderson’s dangerous delivery was allowed to travel across the goalmouth and the Scotsman lifted over from three yards with the veteran Gallacher making the angle acute.
Another intricate move saw substitute Georgios Samaras, on for Griffiths, slide the ball into Stokes but his conversion was chalked off by the assistant referee.
And just 20 seconds later, Thistle reduced the arrears as Celtic conceded for just the 15th time in the Premiership this season.
Virgil van Dijk misjudged a downfield punt from Taylor-Sinclair and Christie Elliott, who stepped off the bench for the 17th time this term in place of Erskine, volleyed home his first goal since September in emphatic fashion.
The loss of a rare goal did not dampen Celtic’s spirit as two final flourishes capped off a resounding title-clincher, their first since the Premier League and Football League merged into the SPFL.
Samaras spun away from three Thistle players before dinking a pass to Stokes, who swivelled and planted a stunning effort into the top corner.
And top scorer Commons, the leading contender for Player of the Season, got in on the act by smashing Samaras’s pass through the legs of Gallacher for goal number 22 in the league this term.
It sparked wild scenes in the away end with several Celtic fans streaming onto the pitch before being restrained and ushered off by stewards.
The invasion denied the players the opportunity to embark on a lap of honour but will mark the achievement on their homecoming against Ross County at the weekend.
Thistle, one of five teams involved in the scrap to avoid finishing second from bottom, travel to St Johnstone and host basement club Hearts before the split.
Anthony Stokes now has six goals in his last seven appearances for Celtic.
The sides famously met back in 1969 in front of 35,867 fans at Maryhill Road in the Scottish Cup first round. Celtic had won the European Cup and Thistle were struggling in 14th (out of 18) in the league. A dramatic 3-3 draw unfurled with Thistle scoring a last-gasp equaliser through Jimmy Bone to take the tie to a replay.
Thistle have lost just four of their 12 games since their defeat at Celtic Park at the start of 2014.
Celtic have now won the last 15 meetings with the Jags, including their last nine trips to Firhill.
Thistle have just six victories to their name in the Scottish Premiership this season, Celtic have 27.
The Hoops have scored in each of their last 49 league games since a 1-0 defeat to Hibernian in December 2012.
Neil Lennon’s men have scored the opening goal in 25 league matches this term and have won them all.
Kris Commons scored his 27th goal of the season in all competitions, matching his best scoring season of 27 for Derby and Celtic in 2010-11).
Partick Thistle (4-5-1): 12 Gallacher (C), 2 O’Donnell, 15 Mair, 13 Piccolo, 3 Taylor-Sinclair, 23 Higginbotham (Lawless 70), 22 Fraser, 8 Bannigan, 10 Buaben, 28 Erskine (Elliott 63), 21 Taylor (Doolan 77).
Subs not used: 1 Fox (GK), 16 McMillan, 17 Moncur, 7 Craigen.
Goals: Elliott (85)
Celtic (4-3-1-2): 1 Forster, 2 Matthews (Henderson 45), 4 Ambrose, 5 van Dijk, 3 Izaguirre, 8 Brown (C), 25 Johansen, 21 Mulgrew (Beram Kayal 71), 15 Commons, 10 Stokes, 28 Griffiths (Samaras 77).
Subs not used: 24 Zaluska (GK), 34 O’Connell, 17 Balde, 20 Pukki.
Booked: Mulgrew (28), Johansen (54)
Goals: Stokes (3, 90+2), Henderson (49), Johansen (53), Commons (90+3)
Assists: Izaguirre 2, Griffiths, Samaras 2
Referee: Steven McLean (Scotland) – 9.5/10
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
WIGAN Athletic will hope to cement their place in the SkyBet Championship play-offs when facing Watford at the DW Stadium on Saturday (KO 15:00).
The Latics are now three points clear of Reading and Brighton in seventh and eighth respectively and have the luxury of a game in hand over the Royals to further strengthen their position.
Uwe Rosler’s men saw their eight-match winning streak in all competitions come to a dramatic end after a thrilling 3-3 draw against relegation-threatened Yeovil on Tuesday night.
They led 1-0 in the 81st minute having already missed a penalty in the first half, but five goals were shared late on, with Yeovil taking the lead before Wigan got it back, only for the Glovers to snatch a point deep into stoppage time.
Wigan, unbeaten in their last 10 home games since the beginning of December, will need to bounce back from the disappointment against the Hornets if they are to consolidate their top-six charge.
Watford have not lost any of the last seven meetings between the sides but have never won at the Latics, losing four of their six visits.
Sitting nine points behind sixth-placed Nottingham Forest with 11 games left, they are increasingly likely to be consigned to a mid-table finish.
Manager Giuseppe Sannino admitted this week his focus is on building a side for next season although his current aim would be to improve their fortunes on the road.
The Hertfordshire outfit are winless in their last 13 away outings in all competitions, with nine ending in draws.
Their last victory away from Vicarage Road came against Huddersfield on 5 October, just a week after beating Wigan 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
Like many teams in the middle cluster of the division, Watford have suffered from inconsistency with two defeats, two wins and a draw from their last five league games.
Wigan are undefeated in nine games, a run of form bettered only by league leaders Leicester, and will be aiming to return to winning ways against the Hornets, who they last beat in the League Cup in October 2005.
Three points could move them to within a point of fourth-placed QPR, who travel to Middlesbrough.
Quays News Match Prediction: Wigan Athletic 2-0 Watford
Wigan will be much-fancied to bounce back after their midweek disappointment against Yeovil and might be pitched against the ideal opponents. The Hornets have not been at their best of late and are without an away win in five months so confidence of gaining a result may be low. The Latics have won eight of the last nine and unbeaten at home in three months. A home-banker is on the cards.
Jack Collison could make his Wigan debut after joining on loan from West Ham on Tuesday until the end of the season, watching the 3-3 draw against Yeovil from the stands.
James Perch came off injured in that game after clashing with team-mate Callum McManaman and Rosler admitted the ex-Nottingham Forest defender is doubtful.
Should he miss out, Perch would join midfield trio Ben Watson (broken leg), Chris McCann (knee) and Roger Espinoza (hernia) on the sidelines, along with central defender Leon Barnett (hamstring).
Winger Shaun Maloney (hip) and club captain Gary Caldwell (Achilles) played 76 minutes for the development squad on Tuesday but, after such lengthy absences, may need a full 90 minutes before coming back into the first-team picture.
Watford will again be without Mathias Ranegie as the Swedish striker serves the second game of a three-match ban for his red card against Doncaster.
Fellow forward Fernando Forestieri could also miss out with the toe injury which forced him to watch last weekend's 3-0 victory over Barnsley from the sidelines.
Lewis McGugan made his comeback from a thigh problem in that game and could retain his place.
Wigan Athletic: Carson (GK), Al-Habsi (GK), Kiernan, Rogne, Boyce, Barnett, Ivan Ramis, Juan Carlos Garcia, Crainey, Beausejour, Perch, McEachran, Espinoza, McArthur, McClean, Jordi Gomez, McManaman, Powell, Maynard, Fortune, Waghorn.
Watford: Almunia (GK), Bond (GK), Doyley, Cassetti, Nosworthy, Tozser, Hoban, Pudil, Brown, Hall, Angella, Belkalem, Ekstrand, Faraoni, Battocchio, Murray, Anya, Abdi, Iriney, Diakite, Merkel, McGugan, Fabbrini, Deeney, Forestieri, Park Chu-Young.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
MANCHESTER United will face holders Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals while Chelsea have been drawn against Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain.
Spanish champions Barcelona take on La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid take on last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund.
United must overcome last season's winners over two legs next month to keep alive their chances of winning a trophy in David Moyes’s first season in charge.
The two sides have plenty of recent history in the competition, with United triumphing in the 1999 Champions League final when late goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham won the trophy for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Bayern beat United on away goals in the 2009-10 quarter-finals, ending the English club's hopes of reaching a third successive final.
“I’ve got us to the quarter-final and now the aim is to get to the semi-final,” the former Everton boss told his press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to West Ham.
Moyes will take solace from the fact that the only two clubs who have prevented Bayern from winning at home this season were both English – Manchester City won 3-2 at the Allianz Arena in the group stages while Arsenal achieved a 1-1 draw in the last round.
Since the final in Barcelona 15 years ago, United have won just one of their subsequent six European encounters with Munich but skipper Phillip Lahm says Bayern are not paying attention to that record or the fact the Red Devils currently sit seventh domestically.
“We can't allow Manchester United's current position in the Premier League table or history affect our mindset for this,” the German international said.
“We'll travel to Manchester to play attacking football and score goals. I don't think it matters if you play the away leg first. The most important thing will be to score goals in the away leg.”
The Champions League is the only trophy realistically still available to United whereas Pep Guardiola’s Bayern have been in destructive form this term and are still unbeaten in the league, winning every home match in the Bundesliga.
Winger Arjen Robben said he is relishing the tie against United, stating that Moyes’s side “aren’t in great shape” at the moment.
The 30-year-old told Bayern's official website: “The best thing about Manchester is the atmosphere. All of us are in the game for the chance of playing in an atmosphere like that.
“Old Trafford is very special indeed and we should enjoy it. The fans are a 12th man for Manchester United. Obviously they're struggling in the Premier League this season but that counts for nothing in the Champions League.
“We have to be up for it from the start. United aren't in great shape but they're still a top team.”
United’s club secretary John Alexander said after the draw was made by former Chelsea and Inter Milan forward Luis Figo in Nyon, Switzerland: “It's an exciting tie. Bayern are a fantastic side, but we have to take heart from our performance the other night against Olympiakos.
“Our staff are very thorough and will have done their homework and will be prepared for Bayern. If we can keep them quiet in the first leg and get an advantage then we're more than capable of stealing an away goal.”
After discovering their opponents, Bayern executive board member Andreas Jung said: “I suppose we have to accept we are favourites but we will not underestimate United. In two games anything is possible, so we have to focus and carry our form through.
“It's tough at this stage of the competition regardless of how you get. United are not doing well at the moment, but over two legs anything can happen.
“Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are magnificent players, don't forget. This is always going to be a difficult occasion, United are still there, so let's not underestimate them.”
Defender Dante insists the Bavarians need to be on their guard when facing United, with the first leg taking place at Old Trafford in just 11 days’ time.
“Robin van Persie is a world-class striker, but we have no need to fear United,” adds the 30-year-old Brazil international.
“We're ready for them. We'll need to be awake right from the start in Manchester. The atmosphere there is intimidating. They have plenty of experience in the squad, and world-class individuals. We have to be on our guard.”
Bayern share the record for Champions League final defeats, having ended up on the losing side five times along with Benfica and Juventus.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are up against opponents who have joined European football's wealthy elite since the only previous meetings between the clubs in the 2004/05 season.
“It's a massive game. We have a good balance between young and experienced players and, in our eye, the top coach in the world,” the Blues’ chief executive Ron Gourlay said.
“We have a top quality side but we know we'll be playing a Paris St-Germain side that has some big individual players.”
Defending champions PSG, with Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in tow, are eight points clear of second-place Monaco in the French top-flight.
Mourinho’s men will travel to the Parc Des Princes for the first leg before the return in West London a week later.
Elsewhere Real Madrid have the added motivation of avenging their aggregate semi-final defeat to Dortmund last term.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Spanish league leaders, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in blistering form, brushed aside Schalke 9-2 on aggregate in the last 16 and now face German opposition again after being drawn against Dortmund.
Barca and Atletico, separated by just a solitary point with ten league games remaining, lock horns after three drawn meetings already this season.
The Catalan giants were held to a goalless stalemate in their recent meeting at the Vicente Calderon in January, and goalkeeper Victor Valdes hailed Atletico’s intensity.
Madrid, second in La Liga, claimed a comfortable 5-1 aggregate win against seven-time European champions AC Milan in the last 16.
“They are a team that presses with an intensity in the same style as their coach and I compliment everything that they are doing," the Spaniard declared ahead of the El Clasico with Real Madrid.
The first legs will be played on 1-2 April, with the return matches on 8-9 April with the semi-finals later in the month and the final on May 24 at Benfica’s Estadio Da Luz in Lisbon.
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund
Paris St Germain vs Chelsea
Manchester United vs Bayern Munich
Most European Cup and Champions League wins
13 - Spain
12 - Italy, England
7 - Germany
6 - Netherlands
4 - Portugal
Champions League top scorers 2013-14
13 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
10 - Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain)
8 - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
7 - Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
6 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 21 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
SAMUEL Eto’o and Gary Cahill scored first-half goals as Chelsea made light work of Turkish giants Galatasaray to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.
The build-up was dominated by the first return of prodigal son Didier Drogba to Stamford Bridge but Roberto Mancini’s side were hopelessly beaten in the second leg of their last 16 tie.
Eto’o fired home after four minutes and Cahill pounced after skipper John Terry’s header was parried by keeper Fernando Muslera.
Galatasaray recovered from a poor start in the first leg to draw 1-1 but offered no fighting spirit and were well-beaten by the Premier League leaders, who responded efficiently after the weekend’s surprise defeat by Aston Villa.
Jose Mourinho described the result in Istanbul as “dangerous” and will be pleased with the manner that his side cantered to victory without moving out of second gear.
More to follow.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
MANCHESTER United overturned a two-goal deficit to reach the Champions League quarter-finals as Robin van Persie’s hat-trick secured an aggregate victory over Olympiakos.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, United needed a monumental performance and showed strength in adversity to produce a stirring response from Sunday’s disappointing 3-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Van Persie eased the pressure on boss David Moyes, which intensified in the build-up, with his first European treble before being stretchered off late on with an apparent knee injury.
The Dutch striker netted from the penalty spot after being knocked over by Jose Holebas, converted Wayne Rooney’s low cross before half-time and scored the decisive third with a drilled free-kick.
But goalkeeper David De Gea also made a vital contribution in the first half, pulling off a double save to deny David Fuster and Alejandro Dominguez.
United, with the help of a masterful display from 40-year-old Ryan Giggs, join Chelsea in the last eight and will discover their opponents once the draw is made on Friday.
The Red Devils had failed to score in three of their previous five games including the abject display in Athens three weeks ago but kept up their 100% home record in the competition this term as their chances of silverware remain alive despite being outsiders to lift the trophy in May.
Newly-crowned Greek champions Olympiakos, chasing their first Champions League quarter-final appearance since 1999, stuck to manager Michel’s promise to attack but were fighting against history having lost every game played on English soil.
More to follow.
By Adam Higgins
By: Adam Higgins
ALL Premier League, Football League, Conference and FA Cup matches taking place on the weekend of 11-14 April will kick-off seven minutes later than originally scheduled, as a mark of respect and remembrance for those who lost their lives at Hillsborough.
The FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, at which the disaster took place on 15th April 1989, was ended six minutes after kick-off, at 3:06pm.
In the Premier League, Football League, and Football Conference, matches due to kick-off at 3pm on Saturday 12 April will now kick off at 3:07pm, with the minute before kick-off (3:06pm to 3:07pm) seeing a period of silence observed at all stadia.
The first FA Cup semi-final on Saturday 12 April between Wigan Athletic and Arsenal will now kick-off at 5.07pm with a minute of silence between 5:06pm and 5:07pm.
The following day, Sunday 13 April, will see Hull City v Sheffield United begin at 4.07pm with a minute of silence between 4:06pm and 4:07pm.
Fixtures kicking-off at other times on Friday 11, Saturday 12, Sunday 13 and Monday 14 April will observe the same etiquette.
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 21 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
The Dons last tasted glory in the same competition back in 1996 while the Highlanders, in their first appearance in the final, seek the first major trophy of their history.
Manager Derek McInnes, who signed a new contract extension on Friday along with assistant Tony Docherty, will lead the Dons out at Celtic Park in their first national showpiece for 14 years since their 4-0 Scottish Cup defeat to Rangers at Hampden Park.
Inverness, in the year of their 20th anniversary, were beaten semi-finalists last season but will be hoping to mark the occasion on Sunday with a memorable victory.
Boss John Hughes, who took over from Terry Butcher in December, could write himself in the Caley Thistle history books if he can mastermind a way past the in-form Pittodrie club.
Overriding favourites Aberdeen are on course for a cup double having set up a Scottish Cup semi-final with St Johnstone after a 1-0 win over Championship side Dumbarton last weekend.
The five-time winners survived an early red card shown to Joe Shaughnessy to secure a 2-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park in the quarter-finals before a 4-0 thumping over Tommy Wright’s Saints in the last four.
The Highlanders received a bye to the third round, where a solitary strike from Billy McKay saw off Championship leaders Dundee at Dens Park.
A last-minute header from Ross Draper in extra time settled a controversial quarter-final against Dundee United, who saw Nadir Ciftci sent off for grabbing the throat of an assistant referee, at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium in October.
After a 2-2 draw against Hearts after an additional 30 minutes, Caley Thistle survived the dismissals of Gary Warren and Josh Meekings to triumph on penalties in a thrilling semi-final at Easter Road.
The two sides, sitting in the top six of the Scottish Premiership, have met three times already in the league this term with the Dons holding the upper hand thus far.
Second-placed Aberdeen, who are currently 21 points behind leaders Celtic but only three ahead of Motherwell in third, claimed a 1-0 home win in late September courtesy of substitute Scott Vernon as Caley Thistle’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end.
Former Falkirk and Hibernian boss Hughes was condemned to defeat in his first home game in charge after a pulsating contest in December as Aberdeen, holding a 4-0 lead at half-time, held off a second-half fightback to win 4-3 in the Highlands.
But a first goal for the club for Danny Williams was enough to earn Inverness a deserved victory at Pittodrie in January.
An in-form Aberdeen have had the entire week to prepare at their St Andrews base as they chase a seventh win in eight games in all competitions.
But on-loan Oldham striker Adam Rooney, who has scored six goals in eight games since joining in January, is taking nothing for granted ahead of taking on his former employers.
“It is really important that you don't get carried away because that's when you tend to drop your standards and that's when you get caught,” said the 25-year-old, who netted 44 times in 103 Caley Thistle appearances before moving north of the border in 2011.
“You saw that against Partick Thistle a couple of weeks back. We had been on a good run, we were going well, but we had a bit of an off-day.
“We didn't perform the way we were capable of, so it was a bit of a wake-up call. The gaffer is always on at us, saying that regardless of who we play, we have to give 100 per cent.
“And every player has to do that because if you don't, that's when you can lose the games. So he will be on at us to make sure we don't lose our concentration.
“If we do that and we all stick to the game plan, work as hard as we are capable of, then hopefully that will be enough to win the game.”
But prior to the heavy losses, Caley Thistle, who clinched their highest ever league finish last term in fourth place, went six games unbeaten in all competitions.
And captain Richie Foran believes winning the cup would be an ‘added bonus’ following the club’s remarkable rise in recent years.
“I have played in the highest league in Scotland for seven years and an added bonus would be to win the cup.
“All the players believe we can do it. No-one else is really giving us a chance.
“We are very relaxed about it. I don't think the Aberdeen players will be as relaxed as we are having the pressure of 40,000 supporters coming to watch them.
The 33-year-old added: “It's a game we go into with a smile on our faces and what will be, will be.”
Inverness gaffer Hughes played in the 2002 League Cup final for Ayr and led Falkirk to the 2009 Scottish Cup final as a manager, with both games ending in defeat to Rangers, and hopes his wisdom will stand the players in good stead.
“I can only pass on my experience, being there as a player and a manager - play the game, don't get caught up in the occasion, control your emotions and don't leave anything on the pitch. If we do that, hopefully we will bring the cup back to Inverness,” he said.
Celtic’s 60,000-capacity stadium stages the 68th League Cup final as Hampden prepares to host the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
The action will be screened live on BBC Scotland and is available in High Definition, kicking off at 2:30pm on Sunday, 16 March.
Aberdeen and Inverness have met twice in the League Cup with the Dons winning 3-0 in 1998 and 4-1 in 2007.
The two sides have met 34 times in the past in all competitions, with Aberdeen winning 18 and Inverness just eight. However Inverness have won five of the past nine encounters.
Inverness are in their first major cup final but have played in three Challenge Cup finals in the past, winning one and losing two.
Aberdeen have won 12 of their 27 major domestic cup finals but have won five of the seven against sides other than Rangers or Celtic.
Ten of Aberdeen’s last 11 wins have been by a one-goal margin with the only exception being their 4-0 victory over St Johnstone in last month’s semi-final.
Inverness have kept five clean sheets in their last eight matches but conceded 12 goals in the other three games.
Aberdeen winger Peter Pawlett is expected to be fit after missing last weekend’s Scottish Cup clash with Dumbarton with a hip injury.
Left-back Clark Robertson, however, is still absent with a calf problem.
Otherwise, McInnes has a full squad to select from with Andrew Considine set to continue at left-back with Mark Reynolds partnering Russell Anderson in central defence.
Caley Thistle will be without the influential Gary Warren following his sending-off against Hearts in the semi-final.
But fellow centre-back Josh Meekings will be available for selection after his red card in the same game was overturned by the SFA.
Boss John Hughes shuffled the pack in midweek against Hibs with Nick Ross, Danny Devine, Danny Williams, Liam Polworth and Carl Tremarco all handed starts.
Midfielders Marley Watkins and Greg Tansey served their suspensions in midweek and return to the squad, along with Ross Draper.
Aberdeen: Langfield (GK), Weaver (GK), Rogers (GK), Logan, Shaughnessy, Anderson (C), Considine, Tate, Reynolds, McKenna, Hayes, Robson, Jack, Low, Murray, Flood, Storie, Pawlett, McGinn, Smith, Zola, Vernon, Rooney, McManus.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle: Esson (GK), Brill (GK), Raven, Meekings, Cooper, Devine, G Shinnie, Tremarco, Williams, Polworth, Watkins, Tansey, Draper, Foran (C), Doran, Ross, Vincent, Evans, Christie, Greenhalgh, Pepper, McKay.
Referee: Steven McLean (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Andrew McWilliam (Scotland) and Douglas Ross (Scotland)
Fourth Official: John Beaton (Scotland)
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 14 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
Winning 2-0 from the first leg at the Emirates, Bastian Schweinsteiger increased the aggregate lead for the runaway Bundesliga leaders on 55 minutes.
But Lukas Podolski nudged off Phillip Lahm to fire an emphatic equaliser for the Gunners two minutes later against his former employers.
Munich substitute Thomas Mueller was denied from the penalty spot by Lukasz Fabianski late on after Arjen Robben was tripped by Laurent Koscielny.
Despite failing to claim a fourteenth straight victory in all competitions, Pep Guardiola’s side, who are unbeaten in 49 top-flight matches, were worthy winners over two legs to book their place in the quarter-finals.
Arsene Wenger’s men won 2-0 at the Allianz Arena twelve months ago only to be knocked out on away goals.
But emulating that impressive victory proved too difficult against the Bavarians, who secured a record 16th straight league win against Wolfsburg on Saturday to go 20 points clear at the top.
The damage was ultimately done three weeks ago in the first leg when Mesut Ozil’s missed penalty and Woijech Szczesny’s red card proved costly.
The European exit leaves Arsenal with two more opportunities to end their nine-year wait for silverware this term with an FA Cup semi-final against Wigan looming next month while their title chances are still alive, sitting seven points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Wenger was without the suspended Szczesny therefore Lukasz Fabianski, who began Saturday’s quarter-final win over Everton, continued in goal.
With Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal both injured, Thomas Vermaelen started at left-back with Koscielny returning after a 10-day absence with a tight hamstring while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was preferred to Mathieu Flamini in midfield.
Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby and Kim Kallstrom were all sidelined, leaving a shortage of options as only six substitutes were named after Japanese international Ryo Miyaichi flew out with the rest of the squad but was ineligible to play.
Guardiola, a winner of the Champions League with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, named five changes from the side that scored five goals in 17 second-half minutes to trounce Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thiago Alcantara, Mario Gotze and Mario Mandzukic replaced Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos - who all drop to the bench - while Xherdan Shaqiri was not involved.
Frank Ribery retained his starting role after recovering from buttock surgery but Holger Badstuber remained out with a long-term knee problem despite returning to training recently.
Arsenal took an early lead in Munich on their last visit a year ago and were seeking another riprawing start but Bayern made the more accomplished opening.
Bastian Schweinsteiger powered forward and tested Fabianski with a fearsome long-range drive inside three minutes.
At the other end, a promising burst from Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought to a halt by Dante, who picked up a yellow card which rules him out of the quarter-final first leg.
The Gunners gradually settled into their shape but were utterly dominated in possession as Bayern patiently progressed forward.
Robben sidefooted into the ground and over the crossbar when afforded space in the box after David Alaba released Ribery to deliver from the left.
The hosts had the ball in the net on 26 minutes when Javi Martinez steered Robben’s free-kick into the roof of the net but the Spaniard was correctly flagged offside.
The pressure continued to build on Arsenal, who struggled to offer an attacking intent on the counter in the first half.
Adventurous full-back Alaba pinged a right-footer wide of the left-hand post from the edge of the box before Robben’s path to goal was blocked by Laurent Koscielny.
However, Oxlade-Chamberlain was a dangerous outlet with his pace and willingness to draw defenders out of position which gave Wenger plenty of encouragement.
Olivier Giroud leaped superbly to guide Mesut Ozil’s corner towards goal and brought a cushioned save out of Manuel Neuer.
But the main threat of breaking the deadlock came from Bayern, who have averaged three goals per game in the Bundesliga this term with 72 in 24 games.
Mario Mandzukic hung in the air to head over captain Phillip Lahm’s centre from 12 yards and Mario Gotze produced a smart stop from Fabianski with a snapshot volley after Bacary Sagna’s poor defensive header fell into his path on the stroke of half-time.
Having lacked ambition and invention in the opening 45 minutes, Wenger opted for a surprise change at the interval as Tomas Rosicky replaced the anonymous Ozil in midfield.
The German international was withdrawn with a tight hamstring and the enforced switch gave the eye-catching Oxlade-Chamberlain more of a license to roam.
But it was opposite number Robben who expressed his ability to isolate the Gunners defence which could have earned Bayern a penalty five minutes after the break.
The Dutch winger skipped away from Thomas Vermaelen to gain access to the 18-yard box and went over under the close attention of Koscielny.
His theatrical tumble, though, did not fool referee Svein Oddvar Moen as the Norwegian ambulance driver waved away the appeals.
However, Bayern were seemingly home and hosed in the 55th minute when Ribery skilfully got away from Sagna and kept his composure to pick out Schweinsteiger.
The 29-year-old took one touch to control before clipping over Fabianski from six yards, having found a small pocket of space, for his first goal since October.
A despondent Arsenal, in the last sixteen of the competition for the fourteenth successive year, were in deep peril.
But a positive Wenger urged his side from the technical area and within the space of two minutes, the tie was back in the balance.
Latching onto a return pass from Giroud, Podolski shrugged off Lahm on the corner of the box yet no foul was given and the German strolled forward before smashing into the roof of the net at the near post to level matters on the night.
His first European goal in 13 months swung the momentum in favour of the Gunners as the seemingly invincible Bayern were suddenly rattled.
Oxlade-Chamberlain called Neuer into action and Rosicky was inches away from freeing Giroud through the middle.
Guardiola introduced Kroos, who admitted his interest in a Premier League move this week, for Gotze just before the hour mark in a bid to re-establish a degree of calmness.
Schweinsteiger fired harmlessly into orbit with team-mates screaming for a pass as the intriguing contest became stretched from end to end.
Mandzukic should have done better when bringing down Thiago Alcantara’s accurate cross with the goal gaping but Fabianski was alive to read the situation and smother at the Croatian’s feet.
The inexperienced Serge Gnabry entered the fray in place of booked skipper Arteta in a bold alteration from Wenger with 13 minutes remaining.
The Gunners were much-improved after restoring parity but after a nervy spell, Bayern regained control as Fabianski denied Robben from 20 yards.
Mathieu Flamini got a late run-out with the courageous Oxlade-Chamberlain taking his leave while Ribery received a standing ovation when withdrawn for Thomas Mueller six minutes from time.
With the outcome all but decided, the match fizzled out at a slow tempo with Bayern content in keeping possession to frustrate their English opponents.
Their aggregate lead could have been increased in the first minute of stoppage time from the penalty spot when Koscielny was harshly adjudged to have tripped Robben.
But just like Ozil at the Emirates three weeks ago, Mueller could not capitalise as his casual spotkick was brilliantly kept out by Fabianski.
The Pole bravely palmed the loose ball away as it spun on the goalline with Robben sliding in for the rebound yet despite the late miss and a brave effort on the night, the Gunners’ fate was ultimately sealed in the first leg defeat in north London.
As their European hopes are over for another season, wounded neighbours Tottenham offer the next challenge for Wenger’s troops in the Premier League in Sunday’s derby at White Hart Lane as their difficult month continues.
Bayern will turn their attention to claiming a 23rd Bundesliga title, which could be sealed by the end of the point, with 10 games left to play.
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): 1 Neuer, 21 Lahm (C), 4 Dante, 8 Javi Martinez, 27 Alaba, 6 Thiago Alcantara, 31 Schweinsteiger, 10 Robben, 19 Gotze (Kroos 59), 7 Ribery (Mueller 84), 9 Mandzukic.
Subs not used: 22 Starke (GK), 5 van Buyten, 17 Boateng, 13 Rafinha, 14 Pizarro.
Booked: Dante (8), Javi Martinez (79)
Goals: Schweinsteiger (54)
Missed penalty: Mueller (90+1)
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): 21 Fabianski, 3 Sagna, 4 Mertesacker, 6 Koscielny, 5 Vermaelen, 8 Arteta (C) (Gnabry 77), 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Flamini 84), 19 Santi Cazorla, 11 Ozil (Rosicky 45), 9 Podolski, 12 Giroud.
Subs not used: 13 Viviano (GK), 25 Jenkinson, 45 Hayden.
Booked: Podolski (26), Arteta (28), Vermaelen (82)
Goals: Podolski (57)
Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway) – 8/10
Bayern have registered in each of their last 61 league games, a Bundesliga record, and in each of their past 55 matches in all competitions – since last season’s last 16 second leg against Arsenal.
Lukas Podolski played for Bayern between 2006 and 2009, scoring 15 goals in 71 games, and was on the winning side only once in 10 appearances against them for FC Cologne.
Arsenal have now won three and drawn three on their last six trips to Germany. Their record away to Bundesliga sides now reads five wins, five draws and five defeats. Their overall home and away record against German clubs stands at 14 wins, six draws and 10 losses.
Bayern’s record at home to English teams is 10 wins, six draws and three defeats while overall it stands at 16 wins, 15 draws and 12 defeats.
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has conceded just three goals in 2014 in all competitions.
Arsenal have scored a total of 11 goals in their last 14 Champions League knockout games away from home.
Bayern Munich had won their previous six Champions League games in the knockout stages, scoring 15 and conceding just once.
The Gunners last won at this stage of the competition in 2010 when recovering from a 2-1 first-leg defeat at Porto to win 5-0 at the Emirates. That was their third successive victory in the round of 16.
Arsenal have lost just two of their last nine Champions League away matches (including qualifying).
The Gunners have won by at least two clear goals in away CL knockout games on only two occasions (AC Milan in 2008 and Bayern Munich in 2013).
Bayern have lost just one of their last six appearances in the Champions League last 16, which came against Inter Milan in 2011.
Arsenal have only kept three clean sheets in their last 28 away games in the Champions League.
Bayern have won 11 of their last 13 Champions League games, with their only other failure coming in a 3-2 home defeat to Manchester City on December 10.
Lukas Podolski has scored in both of his Champions League appearances against Bayern Munich.
BAYERN MUNICH EUROPEAN RECORD:
(UEFA Champions League unless indicated otherwise)
2010/11: round of 16
2007/08: UEFA Cup semi-finals
2005/06: round of 16
2003/04: round of 16
ARSENAL EUROPEAN RECORD:
(UEFA Champions League unless indicated otherwise)
2013/14: round of 16
2012/13: round of 16
2011/12: round of 16
2010/11: round of 16
2006/07: round of 16
2004/05: round of 16
Wenger's trophy drought
2012-13: League - 5th; Champions League - last 16; FA Cup - 5th round; League Cup - 5th round
2011-12: League - 3rd; Champions League - last 16; FA Cup - 5th round; League Cup - 5th round
2010-11: League - 4th; Champions League - last 16; FA Cup - quarter-finalists; League Cup - finalists
2009-10: League - 3rd: Champions League - quarter-finalists; FA Cup - 4th round; League Cup - 5th round
2008-09: League - 4th; Champions League - semi-finalists; FA Cup - semi-finalists; League Cup - fifth round
2007-08: League - 3rd; Champions League - quarter-finalists; FA Cup - 5th round; League Cup - semi-finalists
2006-07: League - 4th; Champions League - last 16; FA Cup - 5th round; League Cup - runners-up
2005-06: League - 4th; Champions League - runners-up; FA Cup - 4th round; League Cup - semi-finalists
2004-05: League - 2nd; Champions League - last 16; FA Cup - winners; League Cup - 5th round
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 11 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
ARSENAL midfielder Mesut Ozil is facing "at least a few weeks" out after injuring his hamstring in Tuesday's Champions League exit at Bayern Munich.
The German international was withdrawn at half-time in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena, which saw them lose 3-1 on aggregate.
Ozil, the club’s record £42.5 million signing from Real Madrid last summer, will have a scan on Wednesday to reveal the extent of the damage.
But Gunners boss Arsene Wenger confirmed the 25-year-old would be out for the Premier League trip to north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday.
Arsenal will be hoping the injury to Ozil is not too serious, having already lost England midfielder Jack Wilshere for at least six weeks with a foot injury.
Ozil is one of Germany’s key players with Joachim Loew’s men set to launch their World Cup campaign against Portugal on June 16.
“We have to make a scan tomorrow to see how bad it is but he is out for at least a few weeks,” Wenger told reporters.
Ozil apologised to fans on Facebook after missing a penalty in the first leg of the last 16 tie at the Emirates Stadium, as Arsenal went on to lose 2-0 with goalkeeper Woijech Szczesny also sent off.
Holders Bayern took the lead in the second leg in Munich through Bastian Schweinsteiger but were pegged back two minutes later by Lukas Podolski.
Thomas Mueller saw a late spotkick brilliantly saved by Lukasz Fabianski but the draw saw Pep Guardiola’s men progress to the quarter-finals on aggregate.
It leaves the Gunners with just two more trophy opportunities this term with Wenger’s men sitting seven points behind Chelsea in the domestic title race and face Wigan in the FA Cup semi-finals.
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 12 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
ALBION Rovers are set to play twice in just over 48 hours after their Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Rangers was confirmed for March 17.
The Wee Rovers drew 1-1 with Ally McCoist's men at Ibrox on Sunday and they will take on the Scottish League One leaders at Hamilton's New Douglas Park next Monday with a 7.45pm kick off.
The Coatbridge side are set to net £250,000 in total from the two matches with the replay to also be shown live on Sky Sports.
Albion Rovers play Queen’s Park on Saturday in Scottish League Two with a 3pm kick off before locking horns the Light Blues two days later.
Rangers, meanwhile, will be faced with four matches in the space of eight days.
After drawing with Rovers on Sunday, the Gers can clinch the League One Title with victory over Airdrieonians on Wednesday.
They meet second-placed Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday before taking to the field for Monday's cup showdown.
In the original tie, Ciaran Donnelly opened the scoring in Govan in the first half for James Ward’s side before a controversial Bilel Mohsni equaliser was allowed to stand.
The winner of the replay will face Premiership side Dundee United in the semi-final at Ibrox next month.
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 11 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
The 2014/15 Scottish Premiership season will kick on Saturday August 9, a week later than the 2013/14 season did.
This season’s fixtures got underway on the first weekend of the month, spread between Friday, August 2, Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4.
St Johnstone took on Hearts and Motherwell travelled to Hibernian on the Sunday.
Next season will start a week later, giving players returning from the World Cup extra recuperation time.
As many as 11 of the current Scottish Premiership players could be part of proceedings in Brazil.
Champions Celtic have announced that they will face Bayer Leverkusen on August 2, but this will be a pre-season fixture, rather than Celtic opting to exercise their right to postpone a fixture in the second week of the campaign.
Fixtures for the opening weekend of the campaign are likely to be released in mid-June.
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 11 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
RANGERS manager Ally McCoist believes the decision to allow his side’s crucial yet controversial equaliser against Albion Rovers was right.
The struggling League Two side withstood heavy pressure from the Gers after Ciaran Donnelly’s surprise first-half opener at Ibrox.
But with 13 minutes remaining, the hosts drew level when Bilel Mohsni threw himself at a David Templeton cross and glanced the ball over the line, despite bundling goalkeeper Neil Parry over in the process.
Referee John Beaton allowed the goal, which took the quarter-final to a replay at New Douglas Park, to stand as Albion protested and fans looked around in bewilderment.
And a relieved McCoist backed the official’s call whilst insisting the Gers deserved to have another crack at the Cliftonhill side.
“If you look at Mohsni when he jumps he hasn’t got any idea where the goalkeeper is, it hits his head and it goes in. It’s a goal for me,” the 51-year-old told the club’s official website.
“I think the easy decision for the referee would have been to award a free-kick. I haven’t seen it again but I thought he was very brave to give the correct decision and obviously we are relieved we are still in the cup.
“For 70-odd minutes we weren’t going to be in the cup but we kept going and got the goal so the main feeling right now is relief.
“Albion Rovers defended very, very well but on pressure we certainly deserved to take something out of the game.
“We had massive amounts of possession which we knew we would have but we lacked a little bit of urgency in the final third of the park.
“Our deliveries into the box in the first half, particularly from the right, were also too high. I thought Templeton was putting in better deliveries, lower with better trajectory and they had a bit of pace on them.
“We just lacked a bit of urgency overall today but we now have another game where we have an opportunity to get into the semi-finals which is fantastic because for long periods after the goal there was an anticipation and a sense it might not come, but we got it.
“I’ve had a look at the draw obviously but I think it would be totally wild of me to have the audacity to look forward to a home tie against Dundee United.
“We’ve now got an opportunity to win the league championship on Wednesday and then another game before we can think about the replay.”
McCoist moved Mohsni further forward with quarter of an hour remaining after introducing French right-back Sebastian Faure in place of striker Jon Daly.
And the tactical switch paid dividends as former Southend centre-back Mohsni played his part in the decisive equaliser.
“Effectively we just felt the big fella would cause a bit of havoc in the nicest possible way. He’s played in that position before, as has Lee McCulloch.
“So we just thought he would give us a goalscoring threat and indeed he had a header at the back post which could have got the winner for us,” the Gers boss added.
When asked if the result was ‘embarrassing’ for Rangers, McCoist replied: “It doesn’t matter if I think it’s harsh or not I think it is disrespectful to Albion Rovers who knocked Motherwell out of the Cup.
“As I keep saying I think people are maybe getting carried away with where our club is at this moment in time and the team.
“I think it’s highly disrespectful of people to say that and I’m certainly not going to say it.”
McCoist was pleased with the response against James Ward’s defiant Wee Rovers, who defended solidly throughout, having trailed at the interval.
He said: “It was very important the players didn’t go into a shell and start panicking in fear of not getting a goal.
“We had to reassure the boys they had to be brave and keep taking the ball in difficult areas and trying to get us free-kicks and fouls higher up the park.
“I thought they did that and nobody went into any shell. They kept going and I think we at least deserve another crack at Albion Rovers.”
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 10 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
A DUBIOUS equaliser spared the blushes of an abject Rangers as heroic Albion Rovers held on for a richly deserved draw in their Scottish Cup quarter-final tie at Ibrox.
The struggling League Two outfit produced a remarkable backs-to-the-wall performance to earn a lucrative money-spinning replay, to be played at Hamilton’s New Douglas Park on March 18.
Ciaran Donnelly gave the Wee Rovers a shock lead inside 13 minutes and they remained defiant, with goalkeeper Neil Parry preserving their lead on several occasions.
But the Gers controversially levelled in the final quarter of an hour when Parry appeared to have been fouled by Bilel Mohsni, who competed for David Templeton’s cross.
Rangers were unchanged from their last-gasp 1-0 win over East Fife at New Bayfield last weekend as vice-captain Lee Wallace overcame fatigue which forced the 26-year-old to miss two training sessions at Auchenhowie this week to start at left-back.
Chris Hegarty, Kyle Hutton, Nicky Clark and Ross Perry were still unable to return to the matchday squad after long-term injury while Lewis MacLeod was again nursing a virus.
The Wee Rovers were unchanged from the side that saw off Stenhousemuir and Motherwell in the previous two rounds as Marc McGuigan and Gary Phillips supported frontman Chris Dallas in a rigid 4-5-1 set-up.
Albion almost had the start of their wildest dreams inside 58 seconds when a half-hearted tackle from Bilel Mohsni allowed Chris Dallas to cut back for Liam Cusack, who guided his right-foot shot inches wide of the post from 20 yards.
The Gers, who dominated possession, did not take long to impose their superiority by laying siege to the Rovers goal.
Jon Daly, with seven goals in his previous seven Scottish Cup ties, glanced a David Templeton centre off target in the tenth minute.
But Albion held firm to withstand the onslaught, restricting the Gers to few opportunities in the opening exchanges.
And daring to the dream, the League Two outfit stunned Ibrox into silence by taking the lead on 13 minutes.
McGuigan’s corner was steered dangerously across his own goalmouth by Gers captain Lee McCulloch and Ciaran Donnelly was in the right place at the right time to stab home from close range.
The defender, on his 312th appearance for the club over a nine-year stay, peeled away in celebration towards the 1,100 travelling supporters from Coatbridge.
It was the first goal the Light Blues had conceded in the competition as one of the biggest upsets of the season was firmly on the cards.
Rangers inevitably responded with waves of attacking pressure but with no quality or penetration in the final third, the visitors were able to comfortably repel the danger.
Templeton’s 10 yard header from a Shiels delivery dropped harmlessly onto the roof of the net before Wee Rovers keeper Neil Parry smothered a miscued Nicky Law effort.
Albion’s hopes of holding onto the lead took a blow as striker Dallas could not recover from the after-effects of an aerial challenge with Ian Black and was replaced by former Hibernian trainee David Crawford, who made his first appearance since returning from a groin strain.
Parry, who faced the Gers four times last term with Queen’s Park, was an assured presence between the sticks for Albion as he aided the defence by commanding his penalty area superbly.
The East Kilbride-based stopper made a fine reflex save to thwart a powerful Daly header but the former Dundee United striker was flagged offside from an excellent centre by Law.
Ward watched on pensively in the technical area but Albion, the first fourth-tier side to reach this stage of the competition since Peterhead in 2001, grew in confidence as the tension around the stadium increased.
Russell and Donnelly picked up yellow cards in the space of two minutes to halt any Gers momentum during a scrappy spell.
Parry made a crucial intervention at the feet of Law from an inviting cross by Richard Foster down the right hand side and Templeton crashed a 25-yard shot narrowly over the crossbar.
In a frantic ending to the first half, Shiels was denied by the extended frame of part-time taxman Parry and Templeton had another effort blocked courageously by Ross Dunlop.
Yet the Wee Rovers, who have claimed just two wins on the road this term with the last coming in September, bravely held their own to lead at half-time.
The Gers upped the ante from the outset in the second period with McCulloch, twice a Scottish Cup winner and the only survivor of their 2009 triumph, going close with a curler in the box from Mohsni’s knockdown and Black pinged a 20-yarder into Parry’s midriff in the opening two minutes.
Daly lashed hopelessly off target when presented with a clear sighting of the Albion goal, which lived an extremely charmed life.
The hosts racked up the chances with Parry denying Daly again from Wallace’s cutback before Alan Reid scrambled the danger clear as the embattled League Two side, under immense and relentless pressure, were determined to hold on.
With the traffic flowing in one direction, Templeton checked inside of Reid to bend a swerving effort inches wide and Fraser Aird headed off target.
The home faithful began to grow restless as passes went astray and openings were wasted to the frustration of Ally McCoist.
The Light Blues boss introduced Andy Little, without a goal in his previous 16 appearances, for his Northern Ireland team-mate Shiels after 63 minutes.
Templeton met Aird’s delivery to hook a volley against the top of the crossbar as the equaliser appeared to be getting closer just as the Glasgow rain began to pour.
The visitors were given an almighty let-off when Michael Dunlop poked the ball inches past his own post from a threatening Aird delivery.
Albion’s Liam Cusack flashed a 25-yard effort wide of the target after a mistake from Moshni but sustained cramp in the process and was soon replaced by Dominic Kennedy – a recent signing from English non-league side Workington Town.
Russell also came off suffering from tiredness as supermarket worker Josh Flood entered the fray while Daly was surprisingly withdrawn for the arrival of right-back Sebastian Faure.
Parry was again up to the task to tip over a 30-yard ranger from centre-back Mohsni, who moved up front, as Rangers continued to toil.
But to their relief, they found an equaliser 13 minutes from time albeit with swathes of controversy as the valiant Albion rearguard were finally breached.
Templeton’s deep cross was attacked by Mohsni with Parry also challenging to claim the ball, which ended up in the net.
The Wee Rovers players appealed vehemently for a foul on the keeper to referee John Beaton, who allowed the goal to stand, while fourth official Stephen Finnie was on the receiving end of boss Ward’s complaints in the dugout.
Rangers, who have scored 20 times in the final ten minutes of matches this term, committed more men forward in search of a winner with Aird slicing horribly off target from 18 yards and Mohsni diving to head a Templeton cross wide at the back stick.
McCulloch and Templeton brought comfortable saves from Parry and Mohsni nodded over in their persistent pursuit of a late recovery operation.
But after a breathless five minutes of stoppage time, Albion clung on to avoid defeat against the Gers for the first time since 1935.
The Rangers FC (4-4-1-1): 1 Bell, 2 Foster, 3 Mohsni, 6 McCulloch (C), 5 Wallace, 4 Aird, 8 Black, 11 Law, 7 Templeton, 10 Shiels (Little 63), 9 Daly (Faure 75).
Subs not used: 16 Simonsen (GK), 19 Emilson Cribari, 18 Smith, 14 Peralta, 15 Crawford.
Booked: Black (37)
Goals: Mohsni (78)
Albion Rovers (4-5-1): 1 Parry, 2 Reid, 3 Ross Dunlop, 6 Michael Dunlop, 5 Donnelly, 9 McGuigan, 4 Russell (Flood 75), 8 Chaplain (C), 7 Cusack (Kennedy 69), 11 Phillips, 10 Dallas (Crawford 21).
Subs not used: 17 McGinley (GK), 15 Walker, 16 Innes, 19 Tiffney.
Booked: Russell (34), Donnelly (36), Parry (83), Flood (89)
Goals: Donnelly (13)
Referee: John Beaton (Scotland) – 7/10
By: Adam Higgins
Jordan Rhodes struck for the first time since New Year’s Day to give Rovers a first-half lead before hitting the post early after the break.
The Clarets seized control thereafter with captain Jason Shackell heading home an equaliser from substitute Ross Wallace’s free-kick.
And with eleven minutes remaining, top scorer Danny Ings rattled home his 20th league goal of the campaign to secure their first victory over Rovers since April 1979.
Sean Dyche’s men are now eight points clear of third-placed Derby, who were surprisingly beaten by Millwall on Saturday, and moved to within five points of leaders Leicester in the Championship.
Extending their unbeaten league run to 12 matches, high-flying Burnley will be hugely confident of a first Premier League return in four years.
Tenth-placed Rovers suffered only their second defeat in seven league games and missed out on the chance to close the gap on the play-offs to three points.
Last weekend’s 4-0 defeat by fellow Lancashire neighbours Bolton ended a five-game unbeaten run and saw Gary Bowyer’s men slip six points adrift of sixth-placed Wigan.
Bowyer reacted with five changes as David Dunn, with three goals in his previous three outings against Burnley, and influential captain Grant Hanley, who withdrew from the Scotland squad to face Poland in midweek, returned from injury.
With Matt Kilgallon ruled out with a groin problem, England Under-21 international Michael Keane made his debut after signing on loan from Manchester United while Corry Evans was passed fit for his first start since October.
On-loan Leeds forward Luke Varney made his home debut and Liam Feeney, the 27-year-old who was at Bolton earlier in the campaign, was among the substitutes after joining from Millwall until the rest of the season on Friday.
But January signing Tom Cairney and forward Josh King were still sidelined along with midfielders Ben Marshall and Dickson Etuhu.
Morale was high in the Burnley camp after back-to-back victories over promotion rivals Derby and Nottingham Forest.
Former Watford boss Dyche, 42, fielded the same starting line-up for the eighth successive game with five starters maintaining their ever-present records this term.
The 102nd competitive meeting between the sides was merely 30 seconds old before being abruptly halted in bizarre circumstances as the chicken, a signature of the protests against Blackburn owners the Venkys, made a re-appearance.
Prompting a stoppage of over a minute, it was eventually chased off the pitch by stewards and play was able to resume against the backdrop of a vibrant atmosphere.
Rovers made a bright start with Jordan Rhodes cushioning a header towards goal from a Luke Varney cross which Tom Heaton parried away and gathered at the second attempt.
But the Clarets thought they had taken the lead in the seventh minute when Sam Vokes slid in to turn home a scuffed effort from Scott Arfield although the flag was raised for a tight offside decision.
The spectacle opened up with Burnley gradually gaining a foothold, settling into their passing rhythm and applying pressure on the Rovers defence.
Kieran Trippier supplied two delicious crosses, one flashed off target by top scorer Danny Ings before Arfield, with five league goals this term, pulled away at the back post to loop a header onto the roof of the net.
Ings dragged across the face of goal and wide of the target after Michael Kightly chased down Tommy Spurr as the Clarets pressed high up the pitch.
At the other end, Varney curled off target from the edge of the box after cutting inside of Michael Duff – making his seventh East Lancashire derby appearance.
Rhodes then found space in between the lines but struck tamely into the gloves of goalkeeper Heaton with Jason Shackell in close proximity before lashing another effort harmlessly wide following a poor clearance from Duff.
The Scotland international had gone eight appearances without scoring, the worst run of his career, and having given the Clarets several warning signs, he eventually punished them to end his long goal drought with a moment of real quality.
The 23-year-old controlled Jason Lowe’s cross before shifting away from Shackell and firing superbly into the bottom left-hand corner.
His 17th league goal of the season gave Rovers the crucial breakthrough on 24 minutes but with confidence brimming in the home camp, the Clarets did not lie down.
The visitors, who taunted their 20-point gap over their rivals with a private aircraft message flying over the stadium, responded by penning Blackburn back into their own half with Rovers forced to retreat deeper to protect their slender lead.
The hosts battled well to frustrate their counterparts throughout an evenly-contested first period but almost gifted Burnley an equaliser six minutes before the break.
A poor back-pass from Craig Conway presented Ings with a clean run at goal but the striker, without a goal in his previous four appearances, was denied by Paul Robinson who stood firm to make the block before the rebound was miscued wide.
Rovers could have established a two-goal cushion going into the dressing room had Ben Mee not been in the right place to clear a flicked effort from Lowe off the line.
Inevitably, Burnley came out all guns blazing in the second half with a greater level of urgency and saw their half-hearted cries for a penalty waved away.
Ings latched onto a lofted Kightly pass and went down when tussling with Michael Keane but Premier League official Mike Dean, in charge of his third East Lancashire derby, ignored the claims.
The Clarets’ top scorer was causing problems for Keane and Rovers skipper Hanley and had another effort deflected into the gloves of Robinson.
But with both sides committed to full-blooded attack, Rovers almost gave themselves clear daylight in the 55th minute.
Former Rovers loanee David Jones was dispossessed by derby veteran David Dunn, who slipped in Rhodes and the former Huddersfield frontman hit the base of the left-hand post with a low shot from the edge of the box.
Dyche introduced Ashley Barnes and Ross Wallace in place of Vokes and Kightly midway through the half as the Clarets continued to rally with Rovers adopting an attacking approach as the best form of defence.
Dunn made way for the arrival of debutant Liam Feeney twenty minutes from time and the on-loan Millwall midfielder made his presence felt immediately, picking up a yellow card for a high challenge on Marney which could have resulted in red.
Fourth official Phil Dowd acted as peacemaker to separate the two managers amid a minor fracare in the technical area but it was Dyche who was celebrating as Burnley drew level on 73 minutes.
Wallace sent a teasing free-kick into the penalty area and skipper Shackell, who scored at Ewood Park twelve months ago, climbed bravely above Robinson in the six-yard box to head home his second league goal of the season.
And as Burnley cranked up the intensity, the dramatic turnaround was complete six minutes later.
Barnes’s deep centre was insufficiently cleared by Hanley and Wallace poked the ball into the path of Ings, who calmly slotted home from 12 yards via the clip of the heels of the keeper.
Bowyer immediately sent on French forward Rudy Gestede, a starter in the previous seven league games, as Varney was withdrawn.
Northern Ireland international Corry Evans fired waywardly over the top from Conway’s lay-off and Lowe produced a fine tip-over from Heaton with a fizzing long-range drive.
Gestede twice headed into the midriff of the keeper and Hanley pulled a shot wide on the turn during four minutes of stoppage time as Rovers fought for an equaliser.
But the hosts were resigned to their fate as Burnley’s agonising wait for derby glory finally came to an end to the delight of their ecstatic 4,500 strong away support.
MANAGER AND PLAYER REACTION:
Blackburn Rovers manager Gary Bowyer: “We're hugely disappointed to have lost. I thought it was harsh, but in football it is fine margins. Jordan Rhodes goes through one on one and hits the post. We are disappointed with the two goals we have conceded. My criticism of the side is that we have conceded two goals and the manner of the two goals. They [Burnley] are second in the league - you think they will get automatic promotion. That is what comes from having a settled squad like they do. It is something we have been working to and working very hard. My lads have to keep going. We have go again. People will probably write us off, but that is not the right thing to do. It is important we finish as strongly as we possibly can.”
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): 1 Robinson, 27 Henley, 5 Hanley (C), 16 Keane, 3 Spurr, 32 Conway, 6 Lowe, 29 Evans, 15 Varney (Gestede 81), 8 Dunn (Feeney 71), 11 Rhodes.
Subs not used: 13 Eastwood (GK), 2 Kane, 14 Marcus Olsson, 17 Williamson, 19 Taylor.
Booked: Varney (55), Feeney (71)
Goals: Rhodes (24)
Burnley (4-4-2): 1 Heaton, 2 Trippier, 4 Duff, 5 Shackell (C), 6 Mee, 19 Kightly (Wallace 68), 8 Marney, 14 Jones, 37 Arfield, 9 Vokes (Barnes 68), 10 Ings.
Subs not used: 12 Cisak (GK), 15 Edgar, 28 Long, 11 Stanislas, 26 Treacy.
Booked: Arfield (74)
Goals: Shackell (73), Ings (79)
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral) – 9/10
Burnley have used just 22 different players in the Championship so far this season, the fewest in the division.
It was only the second time that Blackburn have lost in 14 Championship games in which they have taken the lead, winning 11 and drawing one after losing 2-1 to Wigan at the DW Stadium.
The Clarets have conceded only 27 league goals so far this season, only QPR (26) have shipped fewer in the Championship.
Burnley are now unbeaten in their last six away games in the Championship, winning three.
Blackburn lost for only the second time in 11 home games in all competitions after a 3-2 defeat to Birmingham in the Championship in late December.
STRIKE PARTNERSHIPS IN ENGLISH FOOTBALL:
Sturridge and Suarez (Liverpool) – 42 goals
Ings and Vokes (Burnley) – 37 goals
Nugent and Vardy (Leicester) – 30 goals
Clarke and Wilson (Coventry) – 29 goals
Lisbie and Mooney (Leyton Orient) – 28 goals
MIKE DEAN THE MAN IN CHARGE:
The 42-year-old Premier League referee from the Wirral took charge of his third East Lancashire derby having overseen the goalless FA Cup fifth round draw in February 2005 and a 1-0 Premier League win for Rovers in March 2010, both at Turf Moor.
Dean has given 89 yellow cards and five red cards in 26 games in all competitions this term.
It is the tenth time he has refereed Burnley since the start of the 2007/08 season.
Dean booked Jerome Thomas for diving and awarded Palace a penalty, sending off Chico Flores for an offence which appeared to occur outside the box in Crystal Palace’s 1-1 draw at Swansea last Sunday.
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 9 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
CHELSEA captain John Terry has maintained his stance that he will not come out of international retirement to play for England at this summer’s World Cup.
Terry has started all but one of the Blues’ 29 Premier League games this term and has forged a solid partnership with Gary Cahill at the heart of the defence.
With England lacking in defensive leadership following Rio Ferdinand’s exclusion from the set-up, widespread speculation has linked the 33-year-old with a recall to the squad for Brazil.
However Terry, who quit the Three Lions in September 2012 in the wake of the racism row with Anton Ferdinand, insists his own England career is over and team-mate Cahill is the main man for his country.
“My days are gone and it is down to Gary and the young boys to push on for our country," he told Sky Sports after Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
“He seems to get better every day. He is great in the air and reads it well, he is quick and he is the man for England going forward and has been excellent for Chelsea.
“We have struck up a great relationship, since he came from Bolton not only on the pitch but off it too. We do love playing together and he made his debut for England with me.
“But a lot went on with myself and England. I love playing for my country, and I was very proud to do that and captain my country twice. Unfortunately things have changed and moved on, and I am concentrating on playing well and hopefully keeping us top of the league.”
‘City are the favourites’
Terry lined up alongside Cahill in the thrashing of ten-man Spurs, which extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points, but echoed the thoughts of manager Jose Mourinho that Manchester City remain the title favourites.
“I think we all agree – Manchester City are the strongest side, they've shown that in games they performed in, and they've got games in hand as well,” the Blues skipper declared.
“It's great to have the points on the board at the moment, but for sure they've got a bigger and better squad, a lot of firepower up front.
“They have a game in the week against Barcelona. If they go out [of the Champions League], it only strengthens their chances.
“All we can do is keep winning our home games and at times we're not playing at our best but we're still grinding out results - and that's very much like the old Mourinho teams.”
The Lilywhites bossed possession in the first period and restricted Chelsea to few opportunities but Terry pointed to the introduction of Oscar at the interval in place of Frank Lampard as the key tactical switch.
“It was not easy, first half. I thought Tottenham had a game plan to stop us playing out from the back which worked.
"The manager made a change at half-time and second half generally we were a lot better. The tempo was a lot better,” he added.
Samuel Eto’o, an Eden Hazard penalty and a late double from substitute Demba Ba maintained Chelsea’s unbeaten home record this term.
John Terry International Record
Made debut vs Serbia and Montenegro in June 2003
78 caps and six goals for England
Captained country 34 times
? DID YOU KNOW
John Terry and Gary Cahill have kept 11 clean sheets in 20 Premier League starts together in central defence for Chelsea this season.
The Blues have conceded just 22 league goals so far this term, the fewest in the division.
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 8 March 2014
By: Adam Higgins
TIM Sherwood launched a scathing attack on his Tottenham team after their second-half ‘capitulation’ against Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Head coach Sherwood bemoaned ‘a lack of characters’ and said the players ‘need to show a bit more gut’ following their thumping 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
“Obviously with the first goal, anyone can slip and it’s a bad error but the second one the penalty and the sending off has gone against us unfortunately and the game is over after that. It still doesn’t legislate for the capitulation, I can’t have that.
When asked what led to the collapse, Sherwood declared: “Lack of characters, too many of them too nice with each other, need to show a bit more gut and not wanna be someone’s mate all the time.
“It can’t always be me having a pop at them, they need to drag it out of each other. It hurts me. I am not going to forget about this before we hit the motorway, some might.”
Spurs, without a win away to the Blues in 27 attempts since 1990, performed well in the first half but were undone by defensive lapses in the second period which began in the 56th minute.
Samuel Eto’o pounced on a defensive slip from Jan Vertonghen before Younes Kaboul was sent off for bringing down the Chelsea striker in the box as Eden Hazard converted the spotkick.
Substitute Demba Ba scored twice late on, capitalising on Sandro tripping up and a wild backwards header from Kyle Walker.
The Lilywhites, who have now lost five of their six games against top-four clubs this season, remain fifth in the table, four points behind Manchester City who have three games in hand.
And Sherwood insisted they have no chance of finishing in the top four if they cannot beat the top sides, admitting those at the club thinking about Champions League qualification need to ‘wake up’.
“You can’t finish in the top four if you can’t beat the top teams. It isn’t going to happen. Yes [it has happened too often this season]. [We are] miles away unless you beat the top teams,” the former Blackburn captain told Sky Sports after the game.
“You are reliant on rolling over, with respect, the smaller sides all the time and it can’t always happen like that.
“We’ve done alright in patches. There has been too many blips. If you are going to finish where you want to finish. They are talking about fourth, everyone at the club talks about fourth, wake up.”
The turning point came just before the hour mark when Eto’o theatrically went to ground under marginal contact from Kaboul, who conceded a penalty and was sent off by referee Michael Oliver.
“It’s not a penalty and then it’s not a sending off. The game is finished after that,” Sherwood insisted.
“I’ve looked at it again, I can’t see why he has given a penalty. When you play here, it’s a tough decision. The referees have got a really tough job but we can’t hide behind that.
“That’ll be two and that’s a sending off and that’s the game over but we’ve still conceded another two goals after that. We’ve got to be professional about it.
“We’ve got to stop this capitulating we keep showing. We’ve done it against the big teams far too often. It's not good enough,” he told Match of the Day’s Steve Wilson.
With Kaboul set to miss three games and captain Michael Dawson limping off, Spurs will be short of defensive options in the coming weeks but Sherwood said they must cope in their absence.
“Michael has done his hamstring which is disappointing. Obviously Younes will miss some games now so yes we will have to go with what we have got and rotate our squad about.”
Spurs face Portuguese high-flyers Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday night before the North London derby with Arsenal at White Hart Lane next Sunday.
And the 45-year-old boss has demanded a response in the coming days, particularly for the supporters, but questioned whether he could maintain his faith in certain players.
“It’s onto the next, that’s the nature of the game. There’s a few I’d count on, others I wouldn’t.
“We’ve got a game on Thursday in the Europa League, they come thick and fast and we have to get out there and produce a performance. We owe it to the fans who were fantastic here today for us. We let them down again on a big occasion.”
SPURS UNDER SHERWOOD
(In all competitions):
Played – 17
Won – 9
Drawn – 2
Lost – 6
By Adam Higgins
Last updated: 8 March 2014