Paul Parker

  • Stoke can crash City party

    The decision to stage the FA Cup final less than half an hour after Manchester United could clinch the title is totally disrespectful to both Manchester City and Stoke City.

    There is no good reason why this weekend's Premier League games could not all be played on Sunday, with the Cup final getting the day to itself that it merits.

    These great old clubs deserve better than to have their day in the sun spoilt.

    City certainly won't be happy to be sharing the limelight with their neighbours, especially given the long wait they have had to pick up a trophy. There is a risk that City's moment of

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  • Wigan no match for champions Chelsea

    MATCH OF THE WEEKEND: Chelsea v Wigan

    Forget about any more upsets this season, Chelsea will be crowned champions on Sunday.

    We've all heard Wigan's battle cries this week, and how they are looking forward to springing an upset, but I'm not convinced it can happen.

    We all know how poorly Wigan travel against the big sides and surely they will come up short against the biggest of them all.

    There's no way Chelsea will let it slip now, especially considering their home form.

    Yes, they've had a few blips away from home - not least at Wigan - but at Stamford Bridge I really can't see their

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  • Cole swoop a big gamble

    Liverpool are taking a big risk in signing Joe Cole.

    Surely there is a good reason why Chelsea deemed him unworthy of £90,000-a-week wages. Why would he be available on a free transfer if he is the player Liverpool are hoping he is?

    There must be a reason why a succession of managers, including Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello, have refused to regularly pick him in their teams.

    It might be his injuries. Or it might be his erratic form. Chelsea have said it was his wage demands, but I can't imagine how they cannot afford to pay him while Liverpool can.

    Whatever the basis for his exit, Chelsea

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  • City and Villa battling for fifth

    GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Manchester City v Aston Villa

    This match is the first of two key fixtures in the battle for fourth place at Eastlands. After this match, which fifth-placed Villa go into a point ahead of City but having played a game more, it's Tottenham's turn to travel to Manchester.

    This fixture is a hard one to call, but to be honest I'm not sure either of them deserve to finish fourth. If Tottenham go on to secure a Champions League play-off place, then that will feel like the right outcome to me.

    Villa's problem over the last few seasons is that, just as everyone starts to believe in

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  • Depleted Spurs risk KO at DW

    Match of the weekend: West Ham United v Manchester United

    Despite United's exemplary recent record in the league - they have scored 10 without reply over the course of their last three league meetings - they were hammered 4-0 when they visited Upton Park back in November.

    That was a Carling Cup fixture, and United fielded a particularly weakened side, but they will travel to East London on Saturday with lots of injuries in defence and with one eye on their European meeting with Chelsea on Wednesday.

    West Ham have really got their act together in the last few weeks, losing just one of their

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  • Chelsea pose biggest threat to United

    MATCH OF THE WEEKEND: Chelsea v West Ham United

    This is a match upon which so much hinges at both ends of the table. Chelsea have emerged as the most credible challengers to leaders Manchester United over the past few games, taking 16 points from their last six games compared to the eight Arsenal have accrued in the same period.

    The champions are the best hope for those who do not want to simply wait around for United to cross the line.

    With Fernando Torres dropped to the bench for the past few league games, Chelsea have reverted to Didier Drogba spearheading their 4-3-3, which has served

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  • Table-top clash has makings of a classic

    GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Manchester United v Chelsea

    This match at Old Trafford is beautifully timed. The defending champions going to the league leaders three games before the end of the season and, almost certainly, to the winner the spoils. This is a proper game.

    Chelsea are on real title-winning form, steaming through the back end of the season with eight wins from their last nine games. United, three points clear at the top, are preparing for a Champions League final. It promises to be a fitting end to what has been a topsy-turvy season.

    It could, of course, have all been so different. Had

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  • Delap is Stoke’s Beckham

    Some people may have a problem with Rory Delap's long throw-ins, but I'm certainly not one of them.

    His prodigious flings from the touchline deep into enemy territory have already caused havoc in many a defence this season, not least against Arsenal when both of Stoke's goals came from his throws.

    It's a fantastic asset to have, and one which Stoke boss Tony Pulis is quite rightly capitalising on.

    Stoke have even started playing for throws-ins, knowing full well that they stand a good chance - an even better one than from a corner - of scoring.

    Indeed, it can't be too long before opposition

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  • Shut up and play, Ronaldo

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United need to stop
    complaining about his supposedly rough treatment.

    In the midweek Champions League game against Villarreal
    there was one bad tackle - for which Joan Capdevila was sent off - but nothing
    new.

    Ability always triumphs over brawn, particularly in the
    modern game when you're not allowed to be too physical.

    If anything he should take it as a compliment. All this
    moaning doesn't say much about him as a person. He should be able to stand up
    for himself instead of rolling around complaining, then getting Sir Alex to say
    something after the game.

    He

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  • Ronaldo exit a relief

    Real Madrid's £80 million bid for Cristiano Ronaldo has come as something of a relief.

    With the proposal lodged so early in the summer, thankfully we will all be spared another long, drawn-out transfer saga like the one we were subjected to this time last year.

    And this time around, there will be a deal at the end of it. Real have said they expect the move to be finalised in the coming days and there is no reason why that shouldn't happen. After all, they wouldn't bid such a massive amount for a player only to let a deal fall through on personal terms.

    Eighty million pounds represents good

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