‘I hope Manchester City’s season doesn’t implode’ – Stuart Pearce fears for Premier League title race after Champions League exit

18 Apr

Stuart Pearce has told talkSPORT he hopes Manchester City’s season doesn’t ‘implode’ after their dramatic Champions League quarter-final defeat to Tottenham.

City crashed out of Europe in stunning fashion on Wednesday night, as Raheem Sterling saw his stoppage-time winner ruled out by VAR, which meant Spurs went through on away goals after drawing 4-4 over the two legs.

Fans were put through the wringer by their teams in a game packed with highs and lows, but eventually it was Tottenham who prevailed with three crucial goals at the Etihad.

Fernando Llorente scored the crucial goal to send Spurs through

It was a disastrous result for City manager Pep Guardiola, who was brought to the club three years ago primarily to help them lift the European Cup – his wait, and theirs, goes on.

Such a defeat has come at a pivotal time in their campaign – while hopes of a mythical quadruple are now over, a domestic treble is still on the cards.

The League Cup winners are one point behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race, but have a game in hand, and must look to win their five remaining games to beat the Reds to the crown.

They also still have a FA Cup final against Watford to look forward to on May 18.

And Pearce hopes the psychological blow of Wednesday’s roller-coaster defeat will not turn City’s campaign upside down.

“There was this talk of the quadruple, but I never felt it was possible,” said the former Citizens manager on Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“It’s just too much of an ask, there are too many games. There is no way any team in England can win the quadruple. Maybe a foreign side, but not in England with the intensity of the matches.

“I just hope their season doesn’t implode.

The Man City boss has faced taunts of ‘Fraudiola’ again after his latest European failure

“They’ve got a couple of big games coming up – Tottenham in the league and Manchester United away as well. They are tough, tough games.

“But they’ve still won the League Cup and they’re in the FA Cup final, so that isn’t bad!

“I still think they’ve had a wonderful season and if they get their hands on the Premier League…

“That will depend, I think, on how much the double-legged semi-final takes away from Liverpool.”

Listen back to Stuart Pearce on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast above!

Manchester City vs Tottenham: Fernando Llorente goal was HANDBALL and should have been disallowed, says former referee Mark Halsey

18 Apr

A former Premier League referee said VAR got it wrong and Fernando Llorente’s dramatic winning goal, which saw Tottenham dump Manchester City out of the Champions League should NOT have stood.

The Etihad Stadium was host to absolutely chaotic scenes on Wednesday night, as City and Spurs treated us to surely one of the most exhilarating ties in European football history.

There were five goals in the opening 21 minutes of the match

Fans barely had time to catch their breath during the half-time break, after a crazy first-half which saw five goals scored in a 21 minute spell.

Tottenham’s 1-0 lead from the first-leg meant that, even thought they were losing 3-2 on the night, they were heading through the semis on away goals – only for Sergio Aguero to lift the roof off the Etihad once again with a thumping strike which put City in the overall lead.

But a number of VAR decisions made for a nerve-shredding finale, with City supporters going from heartbreak, to jubilation, and back again.

Llorente scored the crucial goal – with his hip – to send Spurs through

Fans could barely believe what they were seeing when Llorente bundled the ball into the net from a corner to put Spurs back in front, but their celebrations were delayed by a long VAR check, which eventually gave the goal despite a possible handball call.

The replays are still unclear and it is likely to be a topic of debate for some time.

But the madness continued – Raheem Sterling thought he had scored his third goal of the night to wrap up the most dramatic of victories for City in stoppage-time, only for his strike to be ruled for offside after another lengthy VAR delay.

City thought they’d won it but VAR intervened

While the Tottenham team celebrated with their fans in their small corner of the ground – progressing to the last four of the European Cup for the first time since 1962 – the rest in the Etihad sat in stunned silence.

And Halsey says Pep Guardiola’s side were hard done.

“We all saw the angles the officials saw last night, but apparently, I’ve been informed there are TV angles that were never afforded to the officials last night,” the ex-referee told Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“I’ve seen an angle where, had the referee seen that angle, I’m almost certain he would have disallowed that goal last night.

“If we’ve got VAR, we’ve got to give them all the afforded angles to look at that decision.

“It’s such a massive call, but the consequence of what happened next – the ball ending up in the net – it had to be disallowed.

“If the ball doesn’t hit his arm and it just goes into his body, it just goes back straight [away from goal]. But because it’s deflected by the forearm, it’s brushed his side and gone in.

“It had to be disallowed.

“We’ve seen some handballs given this season against defenders in the Champions League that were not deliberate, but we can’t have it both ways.

“It’s not fair for defenders being penalised when attackers are getting away with it. You’ve got to have consistency.

“Of course, next season they’ve changed the interpretation of handball, so that will automatically be ruled out.”

Listen back to Mark Halsey on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above!

Barcelona 3-0 Man United: Champions League defeat could be blessing in disguise for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, claims Darren Fletcher

17 Apr

Manchester United crashing out of the Champions League against Barcelona could be a blessing in disguise for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, former Old Trafford midfielder Steven Fletcher believes.

There was no repeat of Solskjaer’s European heroics at the Camp Nou – where the former striker famously scored an injury-time winner in the 1999 final against Bayern Munich – as United were thumped 3-0 by a Lionel Messi-inspired Barca on Tuesday night.

Barcelona stars celebrate as they down Manchester United in the Champions League

There is no time for a hangover at Old Trafford, though – a place in the Premier League’s top four is still up for grabs and, with only five games of the season remaining, a return to form is crucial.

Solskjaer’s reaction his side’s latest defeat – their fifth in seven games – was almost one of inevitability. After all, there’s only so much you can do when magician Messi is at the top of his game.

There was a huge gulf between the two sides, which was noted by the manager, who vowed to bring new players to United this summer as he looks to rebuild his squad.

And, result aside, Fletcher believes Tuesday’s game would have done Solskjaer as huge favour.

Speaking on Wednesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, the midfielder said: “Last night when you’re 3-0 down, that’s when you’re looking at the character of your players – who’s still playing, who has not given in.

“He’ll have learned probably more from that than he has from winning games.

“The challenge is down to the players now.

Man United players have been urged to play for their Old Trafford futures for the rest of the season

“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the manager, so from now until the end of the season your performances have got to reflect if you want to be part of Manchester United’s future.

“If you don’t, thanks very much. The club is too big, we’ll move on, we’ll get new players.

“That’s the challenge head for these players now.

“Everyone has got to step up now. I think it’s a test of who wants to be there.”

Listen back to Darren Fletcher on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above

Matthijs de Ligt: Premier League giants told to sign Ajax captain as he ‘absolutely made for English football’

17 Apr

Young Ajax powerhouse Matthijs de Ligt is ‘made for English football’ and the player himself is surprised no top Premier League clubs have yet registered a serious interest in him.

That’s according to Dutch football journalist Marcel van der Kraan, who joined talkSPORT on Wednesday morning to look back on Ajax’s stunning Champions League victory over Juventus.

Having dumped out defending champions Real Madrid in the last 16, the outstanding young side took another giant scalp as they booted Juve out of the quarter-finals – ending Cristiano Ronaldo’s hope of claiming a fourth straight European title.

Ajax players celebrate their win over Juventus

The Dutch outfit, whose starting line-up at the Allianz Stadium was an average age of just 24, will next face either Manchester City or Tottenham in the semis.

One of the stars of the show in Turin was 19-year-old Ajax captain De Ligt, whose thumping header from a corner sealed the 2-0 victory.

MORE: ‘The best young defender on the planet’ – Rio Ferdinand raves about Ajax ace

De Ligt has been strongly linked with a move away from Amsterdam this summer, with Barcelona and Juventus reportedly very keen on the Netherlands international.

But Van der Kraan insists the youngster would be the perfect signing for a Premier League club, saying whoever he joins will be getting ‘another Virgil van Dijk’.

Speaking on Wednesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, he said: “We think Barcelona will be knocking on the door again next week to finish another transfer. They like him. They like him a lot.

“Juventus have already tried to get him.

“The player has actually been surprised that none of the big Premier League clubs have knocked on the door with similar offers.

“I think Matthijs de Ligt is absolutely made for English football.

“He is an absolute force, he’s physically stronger than anybody in that Ajax team and the attacking power he has at corners and set pieces – the way he headed in that second goal which helped Ajax into the semi-final, it was phenomenal.

“You have another Van Dijk coming to the Premier League if you get Matthijs de Ligt.”

De Ligt wheels away in celebration after sealing a monumental win for Ajax

Ajax’s sensational Champions League run will no doubt attract plenty of suitors for their top stars this summer.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong is already on his way to Barcelona, having agreed a €75m move to the Spanish giants, and De Ligt could potentially follow him.

Dusan Tadic only arrived from Southampton last summer but could well be on the move again having so far claimed 32 goals and provided 20 assists this season, while Hakim Ziyech, Donny van de Beek and David Neres could also be poached by top sides.

Tadic has been on fire for Ajax this season

And Van der Kraan admits it’s highly likely Ajax’s young team will be pillaged.

“We expect half the team will go,” he added.

“It’s unavoidable. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

“The Ajax academy will just have to be like a conveyor belt of talent. They already have players ready in the under-19s.”

Listen back to Marcel van der Kraan on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above

Jarrell Miller: ‘Anthony Joshua’s title fight WILL go ahead – it would be great if it was against Dillian Whyte’, says Gareth A Davies

17 Apr

Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title fight in New York will go ahead, despite the news that opponent Jarrell Miller has failed a drugs test.

That’s according to talkSPORT’s boxing correspondent Gareth A Davies, who is hoping a bout with British rival and talkSPORT.com columnist Dillian Whyte will now be back on the table.

Dillian Whyte wants another shot at Anthony Joshua

Joshua and Miller’s fight on June 1 at Madison Square Garden is now in serious doubt.

It was announced in the early hours of Wednesday morning the American had tested positive for GW1516 (a metabolic modulator also known as cardarine and endurobol) in a VADA test taken March 20.

If upheld by the New York State Athletic Commission, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has six weeks to find a new opponent, having confirmed the British star will continue his preparation for a fight on that date.

Speaking to the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Davies shared the latest news from across the pond.

Jarrell Miller has failed a drugs test six weeks before the biggest fight of his career

“It’s so strange,” he told talkSPORT.

“These two fighters signed up with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association and Miller tests positive six weeks before earning £7million – easily the best pay day of his career.

“This was the guy who was accusing Joshua of being a drugs cheat in the early build-up to this fight!

“It’s such a disaster.

“I’ve spoken to Eddie Hearn and the New York State Athletic Division is the governing body who will take control over this and they will make a decision based to the defence Jarrell Miller and his team put forward in the next couple of days.

“Otherwise they’ve got to find an opponent in six weeks.

MORE: Three heavyweights offer themselves for AJ’s next fight after Miller drug shock

“It would be lovely to have Dillian Whyte now, the aborted fight at Wembley that was meant to be on April 13, but who knows who it will be.

“DAZN and Sky want the fight to go ahead, the promoter does and the boxer does, so they’ve got six weeks to find an active heavyweight.”

Shay Given on his viral reaction to Mohamed Salah’s wondergoal against Chelsea – ‘I would have saved it!’

16 Apr

Shay Given has told talkSPORT he was stitched up by his TV colleagues after a clip of his hilarious reaction to Mohamed Salah’s wondergoal against Chelsea became a viral sensation on social media.

And he cheekily insisted he would have saved the Liverpool’s ace’s superb strike had he been in goal!

While fellow pundits Ian Wright and Steve McManaman went wild over Salah’s sensational goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over the Blues on Sunday, Given didn’t look all that bothered!

He apparently had more important things to focus on – his dinner.

It appears there’s a reason Shay Given’s nickname is ‘The Horse’

The former Manchester City goalkeeper was caught on camera giving the action the briefest of glimpses before continuing to tuck in to his Sunday lunch… and the clip soon went viral.

The original post has been retweeted over 8,000 times and has over 41,000 likes.

Given was invited onto Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast to explain his reaction.

The ex-City man admitted he was gutted Chelsea couldn’t do his former club a favour in the Premier League title race – and also revealed he’d been totally set up by his TV co-workers!

“We were totally off air, so the producer has stitched me up at the end of the show,” said the former Republic of Ireland international

“He’s said to us, ‘we’ve just got a little clip to show you before we’re finished for the day’.

“So I’m sitting there quite relaxed thinking, ‘what it’s going to be?’, and it’s me munching down a Sunday roast!

Salah wowed Anfield with his brilliant long-range strike – but not Shay Given!

“I had my Man City head on. Ian Wright and Steve McManaman were going mad because it was as special goal, but I felt maybe Chelsea could have taken a point or two off Liverpool for my old club.

“Once Salah hit that strike I thought, ‘oh that’s it, they’re not losing now’, so it was back to my food!

“My nickname is ‘The Horse’ and the nosebag was back on as soon as the ball hit the net.

“I think I would have caught it, myself!”

Listen back to Shay Given on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above!

Watford 0-1 Arsenal: ‘Troy Deeney DESERVED red card and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang winner is Goal of the Season’, claims Dean Saunders

16 Apr

Dean Saunders believes Troy Deeney deserved to be sent off during Watford’s narrow, and some would say unjust, defeat to Arsenal on Monday night.

The talkSPORT pundit also believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s winner should be Goal of the Season, and is better than Liverpool star Mohamed Salah’s wonderstrike against Chelsea.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates his goal against Watford

Arsenal scraped a 1-0 win over the ten-man Hornets thanks to Aubameyang’s fortuitous goal – the ball ending up in the net after he blocked a clearance from Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Watford endured a nightmare start, going a goal and a man down with just 11 minutes on the clock as their captain, Deeney, was shown a straight red card for an apparent elbow on Lucas Torreira.

The hosts recovered and were the better team for the remaining of the clash but the Gunners managed to hold on by the skin of their teeth, with goalkeeper Berd Leno making a series of crucial saves.

Deeney was sent off after just 11 minutes

Deeney’s sending off sparked a huge debate on social media. Referee Craig Pawson didn’t actually see the incident, he was notified of the contact between the Watford skipper and Torreira by his linesman.

Replays showed very little indication of intent, but Pawson had obviously heard enough to make up his mind.

The striker clearly disagreed with the decision, exchanging angry words with Unai Emery as he left the pitch, and many, including Watford boss Javi Gracia, were left scratching their heads at the call.

But Saunders insists it was the right decision and believes officials may have been on the lookout for trouble from the Watford captain, after his comments about Arsenal’s apparent ‘lack of cojones’ 18 months ago.

“I think it was a red card,” Saunders said on Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“I was trying to look at reasons not to give him a red card… but he meant to leave a bit on him, leave an elbow on him.

“I think the referee would have seen what he said [about Arsenal] and thought if Troy Deeney starts putting himself about, we’re going to stamp it out early.”

The former Wales striker also hailed Aubameyang for his match-winning goal, and dubbed it his Goal of the Season.

Liverpool ace Mo Salah sent jaws dropping on Sunday for his brilliant long-range ‘thunderbolt’ against Chelsea, which some hailed as one of best they had seen so far this term.

Salah wowed Anfield with his brilliant long-range goal against Chelsea on Sunday

But Saunders says the Arsenal star’s goal against Watford was better, for his sheer effort and determination.

“Aubameyang’s goal – and this is going to sound stupid – but that’s Goal of the Season, for me,” he added.

“You look at Salah’s goal and you think, ‘how can that be better?’ But Aubameyang has chased a lost cause, he’s closed down Ben Foster and turned it into a goal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang challenges Ben Foster for the goal

“Personally, being a striker and coaching strikers, I enjoyed that goal more than Salah’s. He didn’t have to do it, it’s effort and determination.

“He’s made a goal out of absolutely nothing and won Arsenal the game.”

Adrian Durham is a secret Arsenal fan, reveals Ray Parlour on talkSPORT – ‘He loves the Gunners, really!’

15 Apr

Adrian Durham has been outed as a secret Arsenal fan by Gunners legend Ray Parlour.

While talkSPORT custom ‘The Daily Arsenal’ is no more, the Drivetime host is still famed for frequent rants against the north London club.

The last ever Daily Arsenal!
Adrian Durham at the Emirates in an Arsenal shirt

Adrian has been known to pick apart pretty much everything going on at the Emirates Stadium, from the hierarchy, to the managers, players and even their fans, not to mention the club’s continued wait for a Premier League title (15 years, by the way).

He even recently claimed the Gunners have committed the ‘biggest mistake in Premier League history’ by allowing Aaron Ramsey to sign for Juventus in a free transfer.

However, it appears his unhealthy obsession with slamming Arsenal is only an act – as, in reality, he ‘loves’ the club.

Well, that’s according to The Romford Pele anyway…

Chelsea transfer news: Selling Eden Hazard for £100m THIS SUMMER would be ‘great business’ for Blues, says former star Mario Melchiot

15 Apr

Chelsea have been urged to sell star player Eden Hazard THIS SUMMER.

Former Blues defender Mario Melchiot has warned the club against keeping the Belgian forward for another year, only to lose him for nothing when his contract expires.

Eden Hazard’s days in a Chelsea shirt appear to be numbered

Hazard’s current deal is set to expire next summer and he has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid.

And Melchiot believes selling him to the Spanish giants for £100million this summer would be ‘great business’ for the London club.

Speaking on Monday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, the former centre-back said: “Keeping him for another year and letting him go for free? That would be bad business.

“As a fan, all along I want to keep Hazard until the last minute. But as a business it would not be a smart move to hold onto him.

“You don’t want to let anybody walk out for free.

“If you can get a lot of money for him… he’s on his last year and still has a value of around £100m. If they can get that for him, it would be great.”

Hazard was Chelsea’s only bright spark as the Blues suffered a 2-0 defeat to Premier League title challengers Liverpool on Sunday.

Many saw the result as the final nail in the coffin for Hazard’s long-term future at the club.

Hazard had two really good chances to score against Liverpool – including one shot which hit the post

And Melchiot admits it’s no surprise the Belgian flyer would want to trade Chelsea for a star-studded Real Madrid team.

“Hazard’s future at the club is very simple,” he added, “this kid wants to play the best and wants to play with the best.


talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here's what's coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2...

  • Barcelona vs Manchester United (Tuesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Juventus vs Ajax (Tuesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Porto vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Napoli vs Arsenal (Thursday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forest (Friday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Leeds vs Wigan (Friday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sunderland vs Doncaster (Friday, 5:15pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Norwich vs Sheffield Wednesday (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Newcastle vs Southampton (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Accrington Stanley vs Luton (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Everton vs Manchester United (Sunday, 1:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Cardiff vs Liverpool (Sunday, 4pm) – talkSPORT

“It’s great being the best player in a team, but you want to make sure you’re playing amongst players who can help you succeed and bring you to the next level.

“I’m not saying the current Chelsea players are not good… but are they good enough to keep him excited?

“That’s why Real Madrid is so interesting for him and that’s why he might have already made his mind up.”

‘This is the Liverpool of old!’ – Vinnie Jones tips Reds to beat Manchester City to Premier League title

15 Apr

Vinnie Jones has hailed Liverpool for their ‘Rolls-Royce’ performance against Chelsea and firmly believes the Reds will beat Manchester City to the Premier League title.

Jurgen Klopp’s side issued the perfect response to City’s earlier 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace by beating Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield – with Mohamed Salah scoring a stunning ‘thunderbolt’ goal – to reclaim their two point lead at the top of the table.

Liverpool have now come through the two biggest tests of their run-in – beating Chelsea and Tottenham – and now have just four games remaining as they aim for a first league win in 29 years.

DROUGHT OVER – After going eight games without a goal, Mo Salah has now scored in back-to-back Premier League matches

Cruelly, though, the title race is out of their hands.

City still have a game in hand and five wins from their final five games will see the trophy stay in Manchester after the Etihad club’s success last season.

However, Pep Guardiola’s side do have a tougher run-in, with back-to-back crunch clashes against Spurs and red rivals Man United.

And famous football hard-man Jones believes Liverpool may just edge it.

Premier League title run-ins...

  • Manchester City: Tottenham (home), Man United (away), Burnley (away), Leicester (home), Brighton (away).

  • Liverpool: Cardiff (away), Huddersfield (home), Newcastle (away), Wolves (home).

“They look in winning form – they look like the Liverpool of old,” the former Chelsea defender told Monday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“They dominated that game [against Chelsea]. I just thought Liverpool were Rolls-Royce, I really did.

“A few games to go and Mo Salah scores a goal like that – he’s just going to be unstoppable.

“They’ve got an easier run-in now. Man City have got Man United and Tottenham and they’re going to be humdingers. Man United funnily enough could really decide who wins the title!

“It’s going to go to the wire, it’s going to go all the way and I have a funny feeling Man United might have a big say.”

Anfield was rocking on Sunday as Liverpool overcame the side who famously toppled their title challenge in 2014, and Klopp – on his 200th game as Reds manager – was loving it.

The German boss ran over to the Kop after the final whistle and enthusiastically fist-pumped towards the jubilant fans.

It was an amazing scene from one of the game’s most vivacious characters, But Jones admits he may have celebrated too soon.

He continued: “I think Jurgen Klopp was celebrating a bit too much at the end of the game, fist pumping the crowd  – that could be a real kick in the Niagara’s at the end of the season.”

Listen back to Vinnie Jones on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above!