x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Your team by team guide to the Premier League


Barcelona have apparently given up their quest to lure the Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas back to Spain. The Primera Liga's leading club attempted to sign the Spanish midfielder last summer, but Arsenal refused to do business. Ahead of the two sides' meeting in the Champions League later this month, Raul Sanllehi, Barcelona's director of football, told Sky Sports: "Right now, everything is dead regarding a transfer. Cesc is a great Catalan player. He played for us as a kid and he will be welcome back at Barcelona for the Champions League match."


Aston Villa

Ashley Young is hoping to cement his place in the England squad after scoring his first international goal in Wednesday's 2-1 friendly win against Denmark. The Aston Villa winger, whose teammate Darren Bent had scored earlier, came off the bench to grab the decisive goal in Copenhagen and he said: "For it to be the winner and my first goal for England makes it even more special. I think I did well and what I want to do now is keep getting in these squads and establish myself." Young will hope to keep up his good form tomorrow when Villa visit Blackpool.


Birmingham City

Sebastian Larsson is determined to battle to keep Birmingham in the Premier League even though he is still confused over the club's actions in the transfer window last month. Birmingham had said that the Swedish international was not for sale, then accepted an offer from Newcastle, though the deal fell through. He told sportbladet: "When the club change their mind five times it feels strange and maybe not so good. I have said all along that I'm happy where I am. The lads are terrific here. I have always got along with the fans very well so I do my best for them."


Blackburn Rovers

Having tried and failed to sign Ronaldinho, it has been revealed Blackburn Rovers also made an unsuccessful bid for another Brazilian in the shape of Luis Fabiano. Rovers officials met with their Sevilla counterparts regarding the 30-year-old striker, but a deal failed to be agreed before the close of the transfer window. "We did talk with Sevilla about Fabiano," a Rovers club spokesperson told The Lancashire Evening Telegraph. "It was after we did not sign Ronaldinho, but we are not interested in signing Fabiano now. We want to sign a young striker. But there are no plans for transfers now. We still have more time."



Charlie Adam has denied that his much-talked-about move to Liverpool - that fell through on the last day of the transfer window - has affected his form. The midfielder had been expected to leave Blackpool, but the deal to Liverpool did not materialise, and a last-minute approach from Tottenham Hotspur also failed to bring a move. But the 25-year-old Scot told Sky Sports: "There was interest but that's gone now and I have to just focus on going back to the club now and try to keep Blackpool in the [Premier] League and that's what I want to do. It's not affected me - I just love getting on the pitch and playing."


Bolton Wanderers

Johan Elmander has done nothing to calm rumours of a possible move away from Bolton. The Swedish forward has scored nine goals this season, but with his contract due to end in the summer, Bolton are in danger of losing him for nothing unless they can get their record £8.2 million (Dh48.4m) signing to agree a new deal. Elmander told The Bolton News: "They had a chance to do something earlier and I do my job on the pitch. It might be a little bit cocky but I have been dealing with speculation since I was 16 or 17, so it doesn't mean anything to me. Now I focus on what I know and do not let anything else get in the way."



Branislav Ivanovic has signed a new five-and-a-half-year contract which will keep the Serbian defender at Stamford Bridge until the summer of 2016. Ivanovic, who arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008, told the Chelsea website: "It is good news for me, it is a very big step in my career and I want to give my maximum and try to help Chelsea win a lot more trophies. These things take a little time but my first vision was always to stay with Chelsea. There were not a lot of problems because I wanted to stay, the club wanted me to stay and I want to thank everyone who helped with the deal, I am very happy with that."



Jack Rodwell, the Everton midfielder, will be sidelined for a month with a groin injury.The 19-year-old lasted just 12 minutes of England's Under-21 friendly defeat against Italy on Tuesday before he was substituted with the injury. He underwent assessment at the club's Finch Farm training ground yesterday and last night used Twitter to suggest he would be out for "four to six weeks". The club's website confirmd they expected to be without the teenager for a month. The Merseyside club picked up their first win in four games against Blackpool last Saturday and will be looking to build on that at Bolton on Sunday.



Mark Hughes has credited part of Fulham's recent renaissance to the inspired form of Danny Murphy, the team captain. The London side have moved clear of the relegation zone since the festive period and have reached the FA Cup fifth round. Hughes told his club's website: "I'm sure when the season comes to a close, Danny can be proud of what he's achieved this year, in terms of his consistency." Murphy, 33, recently signed a new deal that will keep him at Craven Cottage until 2012, and Hughes added: "He's a fit guy and looks after himself, which is really important." Fulham play host to Chelsea tomorrow.



Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, is hopeful of having Steven Gerrard, his captain, available at the weekend despite the midfielder missing England's friendly victory over Denmark with a groin injury. The 30-year-old withdrew from Fabio Capello's squad after Sunday's win at Chelsea in order to have treatment all week. Dalglish would like to have Gerrard available for tomorrow's visit of Wigan as his side look for a fifth successive victory, but he will not decide until closer to kick off. "It's only Thursday so we'll find out when we get nearer the weekend - obviously we hope he will be [fit]," Dalglish said yesterday.


Manchester City

Carlos Tevez, the Manchester City striker, has said he will not be bothered by any negative reaction towards him from Manchester United supporters when he lines up at Old Trafford tomorrow. The Argentine striker has proven unpopular with United fans since leaving in the summer of 2009 to join City, but he told The Daily Mirror: "I don't care if people boo me. It doesn't bother me and I'm not worried about going there. There was much booing last year, but I understand. As a supporter, you will defend your club and I play for the opposing team now. I'm a professional footballer and being booed is a price I must pay sometimes."


Manchester United

Darren Fletcher is confident that he and his Manchester United teammates will raise their game tomorrow when they play host to Manchester City. The Scottish midfielder said that playing against their title rivals in the coming weeks will bring the best out of the league leaders. "This is when the big games come, the matches that ultimately win you trophies," he said. "We enjoy big games here and this club is all about performing and rising to those challenges. We've got to go to Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal and we play Manchester City this weekend. We know all of that lies ahead of us."


Newcastle United

Newcastle have confirmed the signing of Shefki Kuqi, the Finland international striker, until the end of the season. The 34-year-old, who was a free agent after his contract with Swansea, the Championship side, was terminated by mutual consent last month, could go straight into the squad for tomorrow's trip to Blackburn, one of his former clubs. He has been brought in for cover as, after selling Andy Carroll to Liverpool and with Shola Ameobi out injured, Newcastle are short on striking options. Alan Pardew, the manager, said: "Shefki is a good, honest pro who will give us a strong physical presence from the bench."


Stoke City

Asmir Begovic may be loved in Stoke this season for his excellent displays in goal, but the Bosnian will not be expecting such a warm welcome next time he goes back to his homeland. Begovic has upset Safet Susic, the Bosnia coach, after declining to play in Wednesday's friendly with Mexico, apparently so he could concentrate on keeping his first team place with Stoke. This is the second time Begovic has failed to join up with the squad after being called up and Susic said: "We will do everything that needs to be done when it comes to this case. After doing this for a second time, it will not be overlooked again."



Bolo Zenden has demanded that his teammates do not lose heart despite losing their last two games. Sunderland led early on against Chelsea before losing 4-2 at the Stadium of Light earlier this month, and then went down to a last minute winner in a 3-2 defeat at Stoke last weekend. But Zenden, the Dutch midfielder, told his club's website: "We need to stay positive and keep in our minds the work we've done. It's up to us to react after the Stoke game and keep doing the good things we've been doing." Sunderland entertain Tottenham tomorrow and will again be without the injured Danny Welbeck.


Tottenham Hotspur

Michael Dawson expects a rough ride tomorrow from a Sunderland side he believes will be pushing hard to close in on fifth spot. Tottenham currently hold that place, with Sunderland two places back and seven points adrift. But the central defender told his club's website that the chance to close to four points of them will push Sunderland on. He said: "That gives them a real incentive, but that incentive is there for us as well. We need to keep picking up points to stay on the tails of the top four. It's always a difficult place to go. I'm sure the atmosphere will be great as always and we'll be prepared for another tough away game."


West Bromwich Albion

Chris Hughton, the former Newcastle United manager, is set to take over the hot-seat at The Hawthorns. Sources close to the club suggest he will be in place by the weekend, though Roy Hodgson, the sacked Liverpool boss, and Sam Allardyce, the former Blackburn Rovers manager, have also been linked with the vacancy. Hughton, the 52-year-old former Republic of Ireland international, may be in charge for the home game against West Ham United tomorrow. Italian coach Roberto Di Matteo was by West Brom sacked last Sunday with reserve team manager Michael Appleton being placed in charge on a caretaker basis.


West Ham United

The 14-strong board of the Olympic Park Legacy Company is today expected to vote in favour of West Ham's bid to take over the new Olympic Stadium. The decision will then be referred to ministers and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, but it is thought unlikely that they will challenge the recommendation of West Ham as the new occupants. Tottenham Hotspur, the north London club also interested in taking over the Stratford stadium after the 2012 Olympic Games, may launch a judicial review of the selection process if their bid officially fails today.


Wigan Athletic

Roberto Martinez is hoping James McCarthy will be fit to face Liverpool tomorrow as doubts continue over the midfielder's international allegiance. McCarthy, 20, sat out the Republic of Ireland's game with Wales on Tuesday as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. There is speculation the Glasgow-born player - who qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather - could yet switch sides, but Martinez, the Wigan boss, said that he genuinely had not been fit for Tuesday. He said: "He needed to have some treatment and regenerate just to be ready for Saturday."



Mick McCarthy has admitted he has been handling Jamie O'Hara with care since he arrived on loan from Tottenham. The midfielder has not had much time on the pitch this season, and McCarthy admitted he feared tiredness would get the 24-year-old sent off in last week's 2-1 win over Manchester United. McCarthy told The Shropshire Star: "The players are never going to say, 'gaffer I'm knackered, I'm coming off' but I decided he was coming off because he started stretching for things and we didn't need him doing that. He's a bit like the rest of them, he's a very willing lad."