Tag Archives: schwarzer

Julio Cesar: I"m staying in London, even if QPR go down

Cesar: Even if QPR are relegated, I'll be staying in London

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

15:41 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 10 April 2013

Julio Cesar has revealed he is determined to remain in London, even if QPR are relegated from the Premier League.

The talented Brazil goalkeeper was a surprise summer signing at Loftus Road and has been one of their rare transfer successes and even rarer consistent performers over the course of a disastrous season.

Such is the likelihood that QPR are to be relegated back to the Championship, Cesar has been reported as being on the verge of a move to AC Milan, whose cross-city rivals Inter he left last summer.

Classy: Julio Cesar used to be considered one of the world's best goalkeepers

Classy: Julio Cesar used to be considered one of the world's best goalkeepers

Stopping short of committing himself to QPR, however, Cesar is adamant he regardless wishes to continue to play in the Premier League and insists he has no intention of undermining his time at Inter by moving to Milan.

'I'm still an Interista in my heart,' he told Corriere della Sport. 'I’m learning a new language in London, the city is beautiful and my family is happy.

'I was certainly not treated well by Inter. I love Italy, but I’ve been won over by the environment here.'

On his knees: But even he cannot save QPR's season from disaster

On his knees: But even he cannot save QPR's season from disaster

Cesar's apparent desire to remain in London significantly limits his options if he is to remain in the Premier League but it is not unthinkable that he will secure a suitable move.

Fulham were in January interested in recruiting a new goalkeeper although Mark Schwarzer's return to form means that stance may have changed, West Ham had attempted but failed to sign Paul Robinson and the Arsenal future of Wojciech Szczesny remains uncertain.

Should Watford gain promotion to the Premier League there is also a chance he could join their growing overseas contingent but the likelihood of each remains to be seen.

QPR have second bid for Brede Hangeland rejected by Fulham

Fulham reject QPR's second bid for Hangeland as Redknapp looks to shore up defence

By
Laura Williamson

PUBLISHED:

15:05 GMT, 30 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:45 GMT, 30 January 2013

Fulham have refused an increased bid from Queens Park Rangers for captain Brede Hangeland.

Rangers are close to bringing in Christopher Samba to replace Ryan Nelsen but have still not given up their pursuit of Hangeland, 31, as Harry Redknapp looks to bring in at least one experienced Premier League defender.

Going nowhere: Fulham have rejected a second bid from QPR for Brede Hangeland

Going nowhere: Fulham have rejected a second bid from QPR for Brede Hangeland

The Norway centre half is out of contract at Craven Cottage in the summer and has so far delayed signing an extension to bring him in line with top earners such as Mark Schwarzer and Dimitar Berbatov.

Fulham, though, have so far resisted all Rangers' attempts to lure Hangeland to Loftus Road.

Tall order: Hangeland's contract is up at the end of the season

Tall order: Hangeland's contract is up at the end of the season

Manager Martin Jol said last week: 'He's our strength and we would be silly to get rid of him or sell him now.'

QPR missed out on another target as Porto defender Rolando opted to join Italian side Napoli.

Fulham 1 Swansea 2 – match report

Fulham 1 Swansea 2: Stockdale horror helps Swans prove they can cope without Michu

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UPDATED:

17:07 GMT, 29 December 2012

David Stockdale endured a nightmare recall in goal for Fulham today as he gifted Swansea victory at Craven Cottage and sucked his own side ever closer to the Barclays Premier League drop zone.

Stockdale, making his first top-flight appearance for 11 months in place of the injured Mark Schwarzer, handed late Christmas presents to Danny Graham and Jonathan de Guzman in a shocking all-round display in front of England boss Roy Hodgson.

Fulham pulled a goal back in controversial fashion in a wet and windy rally when Bryan Ruiz's shot went in off an offside Sascha Riether but it was not enough to stop them slipping a defeat which leaves them four points above the drop zone.

Swimming upstream: Swansea City's Danny Graham helped his side record another win on the road

Swimming upstream: Swansea City's Danny Graham helped his side record another win on the road

Swimming upstream: Swansea City's Danny Graham helped his side record another win on the road

MATCH FACTS

FULHAM: Stockdale; Hangeland, Briggs, Hughes, Riether; Sidwell, Karagounis, Frei (Senderos 84), Berbatov, Ruiz, Dejagah (Rodallega 76) Subs not used: Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Baird, Richardson

SWANSEA: Tremmel, Williams, Monk, Tiendalli, Rangel, Pablo (Davies 66), Dyer, Routledge (Ki 46), De Guzman, Agustien (Britton 82), Graham Subs not used: Vorm, Bartley, Britton, Shechter, Moore

Referee: Andre Marriner

Attendance: 25,700

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE, FIXTURES AND RESULTS

Swansea stayed 10 clear of danger, with Graham and De Guzman's goals proving there was life beyond injured top scorer Michu.

The punishing festive schedule seemed
to be behind both managers' decisions to ring the changes today, Fulham
making six and Swansea seven.

Each were without their first-choice keepers, with Swansea resting Michel Vorm and recalling Gerhard Tremmel.

And while they were also missing
Michu, Fulham were able to call upon the fit-again Ruiz, something that
would have been more of a relief to Dimitar Berbatov than anyone.

Berbatov may have been poking fun when exposing his 'Keep calm and pass me the ball' T-shirt in the Boxing Day draw with Southampton.

But he clearly missed the only other
player in the squad to hold a candle to him and it did not take the pair
long to rekindle their understanding today.

Frustrations: Dimitar Berbatov wasn't able to have a big enough impact from the outset

Frustrations: Dimitar Berbatov wasn't able to have a big enough impact from the outset

Frustrations: Dimitar Berbatov wasn't able to have a big enough impact from the outset

Frustrations: Dimitar Berbatov wasn't able to have a big enough impact from the outset

Indeed, Berbatov probably should have
scored in the 10th minute when he outmuscled his marker six yards out
only to volley Ruiz's corner into the ground and over the bar.

Otherwise, both teams looked like
sides on a poor run of form, Fulham having won just one in 11 and
Swansea without a victory in four league games.

So it was no surprise to see the opening goal come from a mistake in the 19th minute.

Nathan Dyer scuffed a deflected cross
from the right towards the corner of Stockdale's goal which should have
been easily pushed wide by the keeper, who was last week recalled from
his loan at Hull.

Instead, he slapped the ball straight back into danger, Graham doing well to readjust and hook the ball back into the net.

See something you like England manager Roy Hodgson was back on his old stomping ground

See something you like England manager Roy Hodgson was back on his old stomping ground

Berbatov tried to inspire an
equaliser but Kerim Frei blasted his lay-off wide from a tight angle
before Ruiz fired a free-kick just off target and volleyed another
Berbatov knockdown over the bar.

Giorgos Karagounis was booked for an ugly sliding leg sweep on Dyer that could even have drawn worse punishment.

Tremmel palmed a Ruiz curler to safety before the interval, during which Swansea sent on Ki Sung-Yueng for Wayne Routledge.

Good timing: Graham finished in style on 19 minutes to hand Swansea a surprise lead

Good timing: Graham finished in style on 19 minutes to hand Swansea a surprise lead

Good timing: Graham finished in style on 19 minutes to hand Swansea a surprise lead

Ruiz almost got the better of the motionless Swans keeper when his latest free-kick curled inches wide.

But Stockdale produced another howler
in the 52nd minute when he cleared the ball straight against Brede
Hangeland and it rebounded for Pablo Hernandez to square for De Guzman
to sidefoot home.

Tremmel showed Stockdale the way
three minutes with a decent stop from Ruiz's powerful half-volley but he
was finally beaten a minute later in controversial fashion.

Jonny on the spot: Jonathan de Guzman doubled Swansea's lead shortly after half-time

Jonny on the spot: Jonathan de Guzman doubled Swansea's lead shortly after half-time

Jonny on the spot: Jonathan de Guzman doubled Swansea's lead shortly after half-time

Berbatov headed Frei's cross against
the bar and his follow-up was blocked straight to Ruiz, whose
point-blank finish was going in but hit an offside Riether on the way.

Tremmel's appeals fell on deaf ears and suddenly it was all Fulham.

The visitors sent on Ben Davies for Hernandez in what was now driving rain at Craven Cottage.

The wet surface helped Karagounis
force a spill from Tremmel straight to Berbatov but this time the
offside flag was rightly raised as he slotted home.

Too far: Bryan Ruiz tried his luck from distance, but couldn't find a way through...

Too far: Bryan Ruiz tried his luck from distance, but couldn't find a way through…

... but just before the hour, the Costa Rican handed his side some hope with a finish from close range

… but just before the hour, the Costa Rican handed his side some hope with a finish from close range

Fulham finally made a change of their own with just under 15 minutes remaining, Hugo Rodallega replacing Ashkan Dejagah.

Graham forced another uncomfortable save from Stockdale on the break and Kemy Agustien was booked for upending Rodallega.

Agustien was immediately withdrawn for Leon Britton, with Fulham sending on Philippe Senderos for Frei.

The home side's misery was duly complete when Berbatov sent a stoppage-time header off target.

Steven Gerrard put in a masterful performance against Fulham

Rolling back the years: Gerrard puts on a masterclass in 4-0 rout of Fulham

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 23 December 2012

It was a moment that provided a reminder of a glorious past but one which also offered a tantalising glimpse of what the future may hold.

As Steven Gerrard surged on to a perfectly weighted ball from Stewart Downing then smashed a drive inexorably past Mark Schwarzer, he gave a demonstration of the skills which have consistently set him apart and also reinforced the point that, contrary to what some of his detractors may think, he remains one of the most influential midfielders in the Barclays Premier League.

Masterclass: Gerrard (pictured) scored one, set up two and covered a whopping 6.31 miles in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Fulham

Masterclass: Gerrard (pictured) scored one and set up two in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Fulham

This was comfortably Gerrard's finest display of the campaign. Aside from providing two assists in the 4-0 demolition of Fulham, nobody ran further than the 6.31miles he covered and another example of his current well-being can be seen in the fact he has played in every minute of Liverpool's 18 Premier League games.

Gerrard only has 18 months left on his current contract but this was the type of performance that showed why – even at 32 – Liverpool can ill-afford to be without him and it left Brendan Rodgers adamant that a new deal should be drawn up for their talismanic captain.

'He was at the top of his game,' Rodgers observed after a rout which was completed by Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez.

Goal: Gerrard's goal come from a wonderful reverse pass from the rejuvenated Stewart Downing

Goal: Gerrard's goal come from a wonderful reverse pass from the rejuvenated Stewart Downing

'The mixture of his short passing and long passing was perfect, and he got his goal. I have no qualms about him whatsoever.

'He is right up there as one of the most influential midfielders in the Premier League; he's at the top in chances created, passing, possession all the important things.

'I find it incredible he can have had any criticism at all. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Stamina: The 6.31miles he covered was more than any other player on the pitch

Stamina: The whopping 6.31miles Gerrard covered was more than any other player on the pitch

'He may not be getting the goals he did five or six years ago, but that doesn't stop you influencing the game, and his influence for me – and especially once he was starting to understand what I'm looking for – has been absolutely top class, up there with the very best.

'We are improving, we are growing, and he has influenced that. He is vital to us, and I recognise that.

'I know he has 18 months left on his contract, but I would want him to go beyond that for this club and this team.

'I want him to stay beyond his current contract. There is absolutely no question about that.'

Rodgers, clearly, has never had any doubts about Gerrard but the same cannot be said of Downing, who was told last month he was free to leave in January if Liverpool received the right offer but with just eight days until the window opens, the England winger may have earned himself a reprieve.

Downing was outstanding against Fulham. Aside from creating Gerrard's goal, he got one of his own and caused havoc on the flanks with his pace and trickery.

It was particularly intriguing to see him perform like this, given that Daniel Sturridge is potentially ear-marked for Downing's role once his 12million move from Chelsea is officially ratified.

This type of performance showed why Kenny Dalglish was so desperate to spend 20million to bring him from Aston Villa.

Sturridge underwent a medical on Merseyside yesterday after several minor glitches in the deal were ironed out but Downing is in no mood to surrender his spot after describing the moment Rodgers told him he could go as being 'the kick up the ****' he needed.

Silenced: Stewart Downing silenced his critics with his first league goal for Liverpool since his 20m move from Aston Villa last August

Silenced: Stewart Downing silenced his critics with his first league goal and first league assist for Liverpool since his 20m move from Aston Villa last August

'I want to stay,' said Downing. 'I never wanted to leave but I was out of the team, I was frustrated and in that situation you have to look at something if it crops up.

'The only thing I can do is play well and make him keep me here. All I am trying to do is make him pick me for the team and stay in the team.

'If I keep playing like I did against Fulham, that will happen.'

Martin Jol is moving for Standard Liege goalkeeper Sinan Bolat

EXCLUSIVE: Jol targets record-breaking keeper Bolat for 800k

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 23 December 2012

Martin Jol has moved to reinforce Fulham’s defence by agreeing a cut-price 800,000 deal for Standard Liege’s Turkey keeper Sinan Bolat.

The 24-year old, Belgian-born of Turkish parents, has been recovering from a long-term knee injury at Craven Cottage and has finally put the finishing touches to a transfer that has been under consideration for several months.

Bullet: Fulham target Sinan Bolat is the only goalkeeper to score a goal from open play in Champions League history

Bullet header: Fulham target Sinan Bolat (yellow) is the only goalkeeper to score a goal from open play in Champions League history

An integral part of the Turkey squad, Bolat is highly rated by Liege bosses and was only allowed to leave after he made it clear he had no intention of renewing a contract that runs out at the end of the season.

The Belgian club reluctantly accepted Fulham’s bid, rather than lose him for nothing in the summer, and Jol firmly believes he has recruited a keeper who is fully capable of challenging Mark Schwarzer for the number one jersey.

The Turkey international scored a late equaliiser for Standard Liege against AZ Alkmaar in 2009

The Turkey international scored a late equaliiser for Standard Liege against AZ Alkmaar in 2009

Bolat has another string to his bow after going upfield for a set-piece, in the fifth minute of injury time against AZ Alkmaar three years ago, and heading a spectacular equaliser that forced a 1-1 draw.

He is the only keeper to score a goal from open play in the history of the Champions’ League.

Talks are currently taking place over personal terms but seem sure to be a formality after Bolat made it clear he wanted to join Fulham.

Liverpool v Fulham live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Liverpool v Fulham – as it happens from Anfield

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 22 December 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to conclude Saturday's action. Just two points separate the mid-table sides as Martin Jol's outfit will aim for a repeat of their 1-0 win at the Reds in May. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Liverpool 1-0 Fulham (5.30pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel,
Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez,
Downing.
Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling,
Wisdom.

Goal: Skrtel 8.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether,
Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson,
Dejagah, Berbatov.
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega,
Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Click here for the live Premier League table

All the latest from the Championship

21min: Finally some sting from the visitors. Moments after Skrtel has another header saved at the back post, Fulham counter.

Ashkan Dejagah breaks into the box but after feeding Alex Kacaniklic, the midfielder sees his eventual shot blocked.

19min: So sluggish are Fulham that Martin Jol is on the edge of his technical area demanding his side close the ball down more. Liverpool remain as comfortable as you can be.

16min: Fulham can barely string two passes together and their problems could get worse as Sascha Riether has been limping around the pitch in the last few minutes.

13min: Excellent strike from Stewart Downing, whose 20-yard rocket is tipped behind at the near post by Mark Schwarzer.

So fine was the touch that the officials missed it and a goal kick is given.

11min: And there has been no response from Fulham who have given the Liverpool defence very little to worry about. This could be a long afternoon for the Cottagers.

8min: GOAL! LIVERPOOL 1-0 Fulham

Fulham survived the first corner but their atrocious marking is soon shown up again.

A Steven Gerrard corner finds Martin Skrtel free inside the box, who lashes home a strike to make up for his own goal in this fixture last May.

6min: Liverpool win a corner following a jinking run from Jose Enrique, but Jonjo Shelvey's cross is headed over by Daniel Agger.

3min: A quiet start with neither side looking particularly threatening on the ball so far. A decent sized crowd at Anfield also seems very quiet.

Kick-off: Away we go.

17.27: The teams are out at Anfield.

17.24: But Liverpool can move into the top half of the table and into eighth with a win today.

Fulham have 11th place to aim for with three points that would take them above the Reds.

17.21: As touched upon, both sides spectacularly crashed last weekend. Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa, while Fulham suffered the ignominy of being the first team to lose against QPR after a 2-0 defeat at Loftus Road.

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

17.18: Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers spoke to ESPN before the game:

'We have been making steady progress on and off the field. Last weekend was a big disappointment but we have worked well and will look to take three points in a difficult game.

'Joe Allen has played double the amount at this stage than last season but it's important I use him wisely, like wise with young Raheem. I have terrific players chomping at the bit and here is the opportunity for them to do well.'

17.13: Martin Jol certainly believes Fulham can win today but the Cottagers boss conceded his side may be a little short in midfield, speaking before kick-off.

The Dutchman pointed out that Dimitar Berbatov will be the key player for the west London side going forward.

17.10: Full line-ups from Anfield:

Liverpool v Fulham
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez, Downing. Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

17.05: Teenage winger Raheem Sterling is on the bench the day after signing a new long-term contract as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers makes two changes for the visit of Fulham.

Sterling and Joe Allen are both rested, as Rodgers had suggested this week, with Jose Enrique fit again after a hamstring injury and Suso making his first league appearance since being hauled off after 36 minutes against Wigan on November 17.

Fulham make three changes following last weekend's defeat at QPR with former Liverpool reserve Alex Kacaniklic recalled along with Giorgos Karagounis and Ashkan Dejagah.

17.00: I know it looks like a run-of-the-mill mid-table clash to conclude the last Saturday before Christmas but I can assure you it is much more than that.

In Liverpool v Fulham we have two sides that suffered crushing defeats for different reasons last weekend and both will be desperate for a morale boosting win going into the hectic Christmas schedule.

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Gareth Bale welcome to move to Europe as he seeks Champions League football

Bale bombshell! Welsh winger admits he fancies move abroad as he seeks Champions League

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 2 December 2012

Gareth Bale would like to play abroad in the future.

His former Tottenham team-mate Luka Modric has called for the 23-year-old winger to follow in his footsteps and move to Real Madrid to play in the Champions League.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas told Modric to focus on his own club but Bale, who will be out for one to two weeks after suffering a hamstring injury in a 3-0 win at Fulham, would one day welcome a new challenge.

Wing wizard: Gareth Bale says he has no fear about playing football abroad

Wing wizard: Gareth Bale says he has no fear about playing football abroad

The 23-year-old said: 'It would be nice to experience other leagues and other cultures. I've always said I’m not afraid to go abroad. If the times comes and a team that’s right comes and in for me, then I’ll look at it seriously. I’ll see what happens.

'Everybody wants to be playing in the Champions League. Obviously we were unfortunate not to get in there last season but the UEFA Europa League is the next best thing.

'We’ve all put 100 per cent in every game we have played, we’ve taken the competition seriously and hopefully we can win this one.'

Tottenham's win at Fulham was their third in a row in the Premier League, and moved them up into the top four.

The visitors took their time to get going, but were lethal once they did, scoring three times in the second half.

Mark Schwarzer will know he should have done better with Sandro's speculative 35-yard strike on 55 minutes, but he could do little to prevent Jermain Defoe adding two in five minutes.

Taking a tumble: Bale was booked for a second successive match for diving

Taking a tumble: Bale was booked for a second successive match for diving

Double tops: Jermain Defoe struck twice in five minutes to wrap up the win

Double tops: Jermain Defoe struck twice in five minutes to wrap up the win

Spurs joy, though, was tempered by another Bale yellow card for diving – his second in two games.

The Welshman was furious with referee Chris Foy and afterwards boss Villas-Boas defended his star man.

The 35-year-old said: 'You can’t do anything. If he has a reputation it is a little bit unfair. These last two have been unfairly given.

'It's very difficult to judge players at this pace. They are so quick that it’s not easy for them. I think he uses it as a precaution.

'There are different type of challenges. I'm not saying that all the players who challenge with Gareth are malicious. Sometimes it’s just that the action is so quick sometimes it might look like it’s not a foul when it is so it’s difficult to judge.'

Paul Robinson to reunite with Sam Allardyce at Upton Park

Keeper Robinson set to reunite with Allardyce at Upton Park

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 1 December 2012

Former England goalkeeper Paul
Robinson is set for a reunion with Sam Allardyce by returning to the
Premier League with West Ham in January.

Hammers boss Allardyce, who worked
with Robinson when he was manager at Blackburn Rovers, is set to beat
off competition from Fulham to land 33-year-old Robinson who will be
allowed to leave Ewood Park once Rovers tie up a 500,000 deal for
Tottenham's Brad Friedel.

Robinson, England's first-choice
goalkeeper at the 2006 World Cup goalkeeper in Germany, will provide
competition at Upton Park for Jussi Jaaskelainen, 37, who has shown
recent signs of fallability.

Bad times: Paul Robinson after relegation was confirmed for Blackburn

Bad times: Paul Robinson after relegation was confirmed for Blackburn

Robinson has been waiting for a chance to return to the Premier League after being relegated with Rovers last season.

Fulham are seeking a replacement for veteran Mark Schwarzer but Allardyce is firmly in pole position having worked well with Robinson in the past.

Tottenham knocked back a request from Blackburn to sign Friedel on loan last week but the veteran American is likely to push for a move in January as his first-team opportunities at White Hart Lane get harder following the arrival of French No1 Hugo Lloris.

Blackburn will give 41-year-old Friedel a coaching role at the club in addition to regular first-team football until their England under-20 international Jake Kean is ready to take the step up.

Robinson has been at the top of English football for nearly 15 years after coming to prominence at Leeds United where he faced Barcelona in the Champions League as a tenager.

Looking for cover: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce

Looking for cover: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce

He went on to play for Spurs and Blackburn and won 41 England caps, keeping David James out of the side when Sven Goran Eriksson was manager.

Two other international goalkeepers could also be on the move next month. Norway No1 Rune Jarstein, who could be in goal for his country at the next World Cup in Brazil, is close to securing a deal with Steve Bruce to join Hull City.

And Aston Villa's Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given is on a list of players that manager Paul Lambert is willing to sell to reduce the wage bill at Villa Park.

Given retired from international football after Euro 2012 to concentrate on his club football but has since been replaced in the Villa team by Brad Guzan.

Lambert is looking to rebuild Villa and will also listen to offers for Richard Dunne, Stephen Warnock, Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia.

Paul Scholes is 38 – can he play on?

Scholes is 38… but can he join Sheringham and Strachan in exclusive '40s club'

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UPDATED:

01:05 GMT, 17 November 2012

Paul Scholes celebrated his 38th birthday on Friday as he continues to flourish in the Manchester United midfield.

The former England international came out of retirement earlier this year and remains a key component of Sir Alex Ferguson's side, albeit on a bit-part basis.

But few outfield players lace up their boots in the Premier League into their 40s – only Gordon Strachan and Teddy Sheringham to be precise. Can Scholes carry on for another two more years

Back where it started: Paul Scholes made his Manchester United debut against Port Vale in September 1994

Back where it started: Paul Scholes made his Manchester United debut against Port Vale in September 1994

Paul Scholes factfile

Born: 16 November 1974, Salford

Man United debut: 21 September 1994, v Port Vale, League Cup (scores two goals)

Man United honours: 10 Premier League titles; three FA Cups; two League Cups; five Community Shields; two Champions League titles

England caps (goals): 66 (14)

At 38, Scholes is in good company with a host of players having made it that far, including Bryan Robson, his current United team-mate Ryan Giggs and Mark Hughes.

Of course, goalkeepers are a different story. John Burridge is the oldest player to appear in the top flight at 43 while Brad Friedel is still going strong at 41.

Ferguson meanwhile is in no rush to sort out Scholes' United future but the chances of him carrying on has not been completely dismissed.

Happy days: Scholes has helped United to a string of trophies during his time at Old Trafford

Happy days: Scholes has helped United to a string of trophies during his time at Old Trafford

Current old guard

Brad Friedel (Tottenham) 41

Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) 40

Ryan Giggs (Man United) 38

Brynjar Gunnarsson (Reading) 37

Rory Delap (Stoke City) 36

Ian Harte (Reading) 35

'It is not a time to make a judgment on that,' said Ferguson. 'Paul will know himself.

'He still has the desire to play. That has not stopped.

'He is still the best passer of the ball in the country. It is amazing.

'He has had one or two injuries over the years, quit last summer and came back.

'He made a fantastic contribution in the second half of the season and I just think he should keep doing what he is doing. He will sort the rest out himself.'

He's back! Scholes came out of retirement in January this year against rivals Manchester City

He's back! Scholes came out of retirement in January this year against rivals Manchester City

Fellow midfielder Michael Carrick – set to make the 400th league appearance of his career this weekend – believes Scholes has had a major effect on him.

'It is fantastic to play with Paul Scholes,' Carrick told the club's official website.

'He is a genius. We all know what he can do. A lot of them you simply cannot teach.

Golden oldies: Scholes with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and team-mate Ryan Giggs

Golden oldies: Scholes with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and team-mate Ryan Giggs

'You can learn and take things from his game, as I have done since I have been here. Whether he realises or not, he has helped me enormously just by watching him and taking things in.

'But there are some things only he can do. It is fabulous to play with him. I have enjoyed it immensely since I came here.'

Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to find killer touch

Wenger wants Arsenal to find killer touch after 'fragile' defensive display against Fulham

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UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 11 November 2012

Manager Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal must learn how to close out games again after witnessing another 'fragile' defensive display in the Barclays Premier League 3-3 draw against Fulham.

For the second time in a week, the Gunners blew a 2-0 advantage, this time allowing the Cottagers to recover and then lead after early goals from Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski had put the hosts in command.

Although Giroud quickly levelled to set up a rousing final 20 minutes, the Gunners – who eventually drew 2-2 in their Champions League tie at Schalke – were unable to fashion a winner, with Mikel Arteta seeing his stoppage-time penalty saved by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Killer touch: Mikel Arteta missed a last-minute penalty which would have sealed the win for Arsenal

Killer touch: Mikel Arteta missed a last-minute penalty which would have sealed the win for Arsenal

Wenger knows such costly lapses in concentration at the back must be eradicated if his side are to keep within striking distance of the top four.

'We were defensively fragile, were not cautious enough at 2-0 and we let them back into the game because we lacked urgency,' the Arsenal manager said.

'We showed magnificent spirit in the second half, but the team has to learn to deal better with this kind of situation.

'There are good ingredients in this team, a good spirit, but we need a bit more defensively when we are leading the game.'

Wenger added: 'At the moment, we do not get the points we want. Of course, we now do not have to waste any more time, but I still feel there is good potential in our side.'

Arsenal will have little time to attempt to rectify their defensive shortcomings ahead of next weekend's north London derby at home to Tottenham as nearly all of the first-team squad will be away on international duty.

England forward Theo Walcott, however, is a doubt for the friendly in Sweden after coming off with an injury to his buttock muscles.

Wenger said: 'We have just to keep working, but it will be difficult now this week because everybody goes away.

'What I can do is pray that everybody comes back in good health.'

One positive for Arsenal in the past few weeks has been the development of Giroud.

The France forward, signed from Montpellier in a 13million deal over the summer, now has four goals in as many appearances for the Gunners.

Struggle: Arsenal could not snatch all three points over Fulham at the Emirates Stadium

Struggle: Arsenal could not snatch all three points over Fulham at the Emirates Stadium

Struggle: Arsenal could not snatch all three points over Fulham at the Emirates Stadium

Wenger said: 'Giroud had presence and won the long balls. He is dangerous and starts to have belief in what he is doing.'

Had Giroud elected to take the stoppage-time spot-kick himself, the 26-year-old could well have ended up with the matchball.

Wenger, though, was happy enough with the Arteta's decision.

'We have penalty takers designated, there is no rule that says if you have scored two, you will score a penalty,' said Wenger.

'Giroud had missed a penalty in the League Cup, so you know it can happen to anybody – there are not many players who have never missed when they take them.'

Despite Arsenal's shortcomings at the back, Fulham also deserved something from the game, if for nothing other than their cavalier approach after falling behind.

Haunted: Former Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov scored two goals for Fulham

Haunted: Former Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov scored two goals for Fulham

Strike duo Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz proved a handful all afternoon, with the Bulgarian nodding home with an unmarked header at a corner to begin the fightback on 29 minutes.

Fulham – who are now unbeaten in five – were level through a well-executed strike by Alex Kacaniklic.

Berbatov then kept his cool to stroke the ball past Vito Mannone on 67 minutes after Arteta had pushed over Ruiz, and the Cottagers led 3-2 before Giroud's header soon levelled things up again.

Following the award of a controversial penalty deep into four minutes of stoppage-time after referee Phil Dowd ruled Sascha Riether had handled Andrey Arshavin's cross, Fulham looked like they would be heading back to west London empty handed.

Schwarzer – once a transfer target for Arsenal – secured a well-deserved share of the spoils when he got down to his left and turned Arteta's kick behind.

Centre-half Brede Hangeland told www.fulhamfc.com: 'We showed a lot of character.

'We want to attack teams and score goals, but as a consequence we are a bit more vulnerable and are conceding more goals.

'But I suppose as long as we keep picking up points, we will crack on and do as best we can.'