In a North London derby which might have a huge say in both these teams’ destiny this season, Tottenham and their manager Harry Redknapp have been dealt a huge blow as they will be making the trip to the Emirates Stadium without key personnel.
Tottenham’s star performers this season, Emmanuel Adebayor and Luka Modric will be absent for the crunch clash on Sunday, after the duo were ruled out due to injury and illness.
Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart and Brazilian holding midfielder Sandro are also huge doubts. Redknapp voiced his concerns ahead of the clash to the local media. He said, ”Benoit had a small operation at the start of the week so he wasn’t available (yesterday),”
“He should be fit but we will have to see with Adebayor. He did his knee on Friday morning. He twisted it. We thought he might have opened his ligament up but it’s not too bad.
“Luka had an unbelievable temperature. He was really ill this week. That left us short. Ledley King was on the bench and he wasn’t fit.”
Tottenham Hotspur’s efforts of hanging on to midfield star Luka Modric may all end in vain this summer, as the Croatian is reportedly glad at snubbing the chance to go to Chelsea, and in turn wants a move to Manchester United.
Chelsea have been long term admirers of the midfield maestro, and the Blues lodged as many as three bids last summer, in a spectacular attempt to lure the club into selling him. On the other hand, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp reminded the importance of Modric in the side, and put pressure on club chairman Daniel Levy to reject all offers.
The chairman kept his word and rejected an audacious bid for Modric last summer; however, the 26-year old has expressed his desire to win trophies in the past, and could cost Spurs, who are attempting to build a top four side, dearly.
According to sources close to Modric, the player looks at the denied Chelsea move as a blessing in disguise, but reaffirmed his desire to win silverware.
Chelsea fans breathed a sigh of relief when Daniel Sturridge scored an equalizer in the second half of the FA Cup tie against Birmingham City this weekend and saved the cup journey for a replay, and the scorer has now assured that the squad remains united and committed to be successful.
Sturridge said, “I don’t think it is a defining week for the club but hopefully we don’t get in the same situation as against Birmingham where we have to come from behind,”
“We are all together as one and we are not a divided unit. We are a family and we’ve got a good unit going here and I think maybe we will see that in the next few games.”
Talking about their UEFA Champions League clash this week against Napoli, he continued, “They have some great individuals as well as a good team but we have the same and we are not going to worry about what they have got,” added the England international.
“We have to go out there with the attitude that they have got to worry about what we have got.
“I am certainly not worried about that and we are going out there with the state of mind that we can win the game and play some good football, maybe get some more opportunities and put them away.”
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has sung a heap of praise for his side’s £35 million acquisition Andy Carroll, after the striker scored against Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup and played out a man of the match performance.
Gerrard, who also featured in the tie, spoke about the importance of the win, and said, “It’s always nice to first of all get the win and then to win convincingly, In the end we went through the gears and got better and better as the 90 minutes went on and we deserved our goals.”
“The important thing was to focus on this game. The Carling Cup final was in our minds, because we have a massive game at Wembley next week, but we want to go to Wembley again in the FA Cup so today was just as important.”
“(Carroll) has been getting better and better in training and he was our man of the match today,”
“We believe that the more we play together, the more we’ll click. We’re all good players and good players like playing with other good players. We’re all on the same wavelength now.”
“Every goal feels good, but it couldn’t get any better today with the result as well and now we’re through to the next round.
“We haven’t played many games all together, but we’ve been playing well in training and we put it into the game today.”
Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are known admirers of French side Lille’s Eden Hazard, and are thought to be preparing a summer bid to sign the playmaker but it won’t be easy as Arsenal will have to fight the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Barcelona to land the 21-year old.
This tug-of-war is set to be more exciting as Arsene Wenger’s rival Harry Redknapp, manager of Tottenham, has also admitted liking the youngster.
Tottenham are currently comfortable at third place in the league table, and are 10 points from their nearest rivals, which happen to be Arsenal, and look certain to provide Hazard with Champions League football next season, if he decides to make White Hart Lane his next destination.
Redknapp too admitted the possibility of landing the Belgian next season, and spoke highly of Hazard. He said, “Hazard is a player that we have spoken about,”
“He is a player who is definitely on our list.
“We spoke about him a few weeks ago. We started talking about possibly getting him in then.”
Arsenal are struggling to hold onto the fourth and last European spot, as they tussle against Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle, and the Gunners are also set to end another season without any silverware, and it would not surprise many if Hazard chooses Tottenham over Arsenal, looking at the current scenario at the Emirates Stadium.
Former Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit has initiated an attack on the club’s current young squad, and believes that manager Arsene Wenger needs to show the door to the ones not crossing levels in terms of performance.
Petit, who was known for his partnership with French compatriot Patrick Viera in the heart of the Arsenal midfield, said, “We shouldn’t hesitate to talk about the end of the cycle. Regardless of age, we have to look seriously at certain players. Right now,
“Certain young players haven’t done enough to justify the confidence that Arsene has in them. Walcott – somehow he’s going to have to reach the next stage. It’s been years that he’s been at the same level.
“Ramsey, against Milan, I got the impression it was his (twin) brother on the pitch. In the way they behave, in their body language, we see they’re not there anymore.
“You have to send out a strong signal. You have to say to Arshavin, and to Rosicky: ‘Gentlemen, thank you, but goodbye’. And soon.
“What’s needed is five or six players of real stature, great experience. Players who are 27 – 30 years old at most.
“Players with technical qualities, obviously, but also strong character. A group of guys who refuse to accept defeat, who inspire confidence in the rest of the team.”
Arsenal are set to increase their wage cap, which currently stands at £100,000 a week, which will enable them to retain Dutchman Robin van Persie, as well as offer more lucrative deals to top players, in a bid to finally end their trophy drought.
Arsenal look set for a seventh successive year without any success at the Emirates Stadium after they were knocked out of the FA Cup following a 2-0 defeat against Sunderland, which was their only realistic chance of silverware this season.
Arsenal Board have finally accepted that a change in philosophy is needed, and that they have to spend big like fellow Premier League sides Manchester City and Chelsea to achieve success.
Arsenal had suffered last season by sticking to their frugal policy as they lost Samir Nasri who signed for Manchester City and now is thought to be earning £200,000 a week.
Arsenal also reportedly have a massive £57 million from the summer sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and with the wage cap now being lifted, the Gunners look poised to break the bank and make mega signings in the summer like long-term targets Eden Hazard and Mario Gotze.
Portsmouth’s young center-back Sam Magri has earned a trial with English giants Liverpool, and will be negotiating a permanent move if he manages to impress the Premier League side.
The England youth international has been an ever present figure in the U-17 national team, and was a part of the team that travelled to Mexico for the World Cup last summer.
It is reported that the defender will be training at Melwood the entire week, and will be featuring for Liverpool against their fierce Merseyside rivals Everton on Friday.
His performances for the Portsmouth reserves have caught the eye of Liverpool, who have agreed to give Magri a trial to watch him from close quarters.
If he manages to impress them, Liverpool would be looking to bring the bright prospect on board.
He himself confirmed the news on his official account on social networking website Twitter. He tweeted, “Just to put everything to bed. Its true in what everyone is saying involving mee”
It is being said that Chelsea’s match against Napoli in the UEFA Champions League is the last chance that manager Andre Villas-Boas is going to get to prove his mettle to owner Roman Abramovic, after a string of poor performances from the London club has tested the patience of the owner to the very limit.
Chelsea produced a below par performance against Birmingham City yesterday, and needed Sturridge’s goal to salvage a 1-1 draw, and save them the embarrassment of bowing out early in the tournament, which is their only likely chance of winning any silverware this season.
Villas-Boas had reiterated a few weeks ago that he had the full backing of Abramovic, despite results not going Chelsea’s way. The Portugese has lost his players’ backing, and now looks to lose the owner’s faith as well, if things do not improve at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea fans too want a new manager re-instated, and they made their feelings very clear by relentlessly booing Villas-Boas during the Birmingham match.
The mid-week clash against Napoli is a do-or-die clash, where he will have to get out a positive result against he Italian side, or else face the axe.