Alex Chick

  • Red flags at Arsenal

    In the middle of last season I was at the Emirates to watch Arsenal take on Everton. With the game drifting towards inconsequence, Alex Song lobbed the ball forward into the visitors' penalty area. Running on to it with Rolex timing, Robin van Persie leapt off the ground and, connecting on the volley with his left foot, hammered home the sweetest of winners.

    The response from the home fans to the goal of the season strike was instructive about where Arsenal stand these days. It was a wonder effort, magnificent in its daring and execution. But for many of those who pay their money to watch

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  • The Spanish flags are still fluttering in celebration, but Spain is already looking forward.

    Captain Iker Casillas and coach Vicente del Bosque were first off the plane at Madrid's massive Barajas airport on Monday afternoon after the flight from Kiev. They'd partied in a restaurant after the game, with another goalkeeper Pepe Reina again leading the celebrations. Every circus needs a clown and Reina's enthusiasm for the task makes him one of the most popular players in Spain, a country whose footballing dominance is relentless.

    It looks set to continue. Yesterday, Spain released their

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  • United must keep spending

    Manchester United's busy summer of transfer activity continues, with Ashley
    Young completing his move from Aston Villa
    .

    Phil Jones and Young have signed, and David De Gea is surely a United player
    in all but name.

    It is an impressive spree, and one that may well be enough to keep the
    Premier League trophy at Old Trafford.

    Young should provide Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez with a dependable supply of assists, especially from set pieces.

    He is coming off the best season of his career, and has developed into a
    player of real menace. He carries the ball at speed and, unlike Nani, makes
    good

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  • On a Hiddink to nothing?

    Roman Abramovich is nobody's idea of communist, but what he needs more than
    anything is a Five-Year Plan.

    The Chelsea owner's ruinous short-termism ensured Carlo Ancelotti lost his
    job for daring to finish second, just a year after winning the double.

    It also prevented the evolution of a squad now dominated by players the
    wrong side of 30.

    The spine of the team has not changed since Jose Mourinho's day - Petr Cech,
    John Terry, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba.

    All but Cech are past their peak - Lampard and Drogba are well into their
    fourth decade while injuries have robbed a

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  • Ranking Ferguson’s champions

    This season, you could hardly move for pundits reminding everyone that this is not the best team Sir Alex Ferguson has ever managed.

    Which rather raises the question - what is?

    So, with the help of some United experts, I have ranked all 12 of Ferguson's title-winning sides based on their ability, their achievement and their entertainment value.

    And with the current team a couple of days away from a Champions League final against a formidable Barcelona side, they find themselves bottom of the pile.

    Of course, this is a highly subjective process and no doubt you will disagree with the order

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  • Survival Sunday – pick your team!

    Sunday's Premier League climax should give us a
    nerve-shreddingly exciting conclusion to the relegation battle.

    Five teams are covered by one point, and two of them will be
    joining West Ham in the Championship next season.

    If you haven't worked out who to cheer for yet, here's a
    quick recap of some reasons why each of the clubs may or may not deserve your
    support.

    - - -

    Wigan Athletic v Stoke City (a) - Pos 19th; Pts 39; GD -22

    What's to like? They have an affable manager in Roberto
    Martinez, play football the right way, and have introduced us to the delights
    of Honduran and Ecuadorean

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  • Do Liverpool still need Steven Gerrard?

    As he watches Liverpool's spring revival from the sidelines, you could forgive Steven Gerrard for feeling a little nervous.

    Four months into the second coming of King Kenny, Liverpool fans are starting to think the unthinkable: Do we still need Stevie G?

    Could the man whose colossal influence has dominated Anfield for a decade really be surplus to requirements?

    It is a notion that borders on the heretical for some, but it stems from the club's remarkable upturn in fortunes without their captain.

    Gerrard has played only six of 22 games under Dalglish, and none since March 6.

    In that time,

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  • Could Reina replace Van der Sar?

    The last time Manchester United lost a top goalkeeper, it
    sent them into a kind of existential crisis from which they did not escape
    until they signed Edwin van der Sar, six years too late, in 2005.

    The quest to find the New Schmeichel encompassed
    not-good-enoughs (Bosnich, Ricardo, Carroll), past-its (Van der Gouw, Goram), a
    not-ready-yet (Tim Howard), an unmitigated disaster (Taibi) and a ciggie-puffing
    misfit (Barthez).

    Then came Van der Sar, who ticked all the boxes, and proved totally
    unperturbed by Schmeichel's legacy - he was already 34 and a huge name in his
    own right.

    Each week, we

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  • England are out of the World Cup

    So, it's Germany. It had to be. The Germans simply don't slip up in crucial World Cup group games.

    So obvious was it that they would beat Ghana and win Group D that I am actually typing this at half-time, when they are still drawing 0-0 - as things stand England will play Ghana in the second round. As if.

    There's more chance of Peter Crouch and Nicolas Anelka buying an apartment together in a Southern European city, as they preposterously do in the Pringles ad that has just flicked on to my TV screen.

    Sunday's game already has the ring of a classic, albeit a classic including Mesut Ozil

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  • Terry move a depressing blunder

    Yesterday, while revealing John Terry is to regain the
    England captaincy, Fabio Capello said one of the most depressing things I have
    heard in a long time.

    "I was really upset about what happened in Denmark, when I
    saw the players saying 'Who is the captain?' After one year of punishment, it
    was not the best moment for John Terry to see this. For that reason I need to
    make a decision - and it will be a permanent decision, not just one game."

    Capello was referring to last month's game in Copenhagen, when the
    armband passed - amid some confusion - from Frank Lampard to Ashley Cole to
    Gareth

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