Tag Archives: target

Ricky van Wolfswinkel could back out of big-money Norwich move if they go down

Van Wolfswinkle move to Norwich could be scrapped if they fail to survive

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

12:42 GMT, 17 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 17 April 2013

Norwich's swoop for Ricky van Wolfswinkel will come under serious threat if Chris Hughton's side are relegated.

The Holland international is due to join the Carrow Road club in the summer after the Canaries struck an 8.6million agreement with Sporting Lisbon.

Big money: The Dutchman agreed an 8.6million move to Carrow Road from Sporting Lisbon

Big money: The Dutchman agreed an 8.6million move to Carrow Road from Sporting Lisbon

But Sportsmail understands the forward, who is due to sign a four year deal with Norwich on July 1, has a clause in his contract that allows him to pull out of the move if the Norfolk club are relegated.

Van Wolfswinkel is a long-term target of Hughton, who will be desperate not to miss out on the 24-year-old.

After a worrying start to the season, the Canaries have managed to improve their form and currently sit in 14th place, four points off the drop zone.

But a poor end to the season could easily see them slump back into relegation trouble, which will leave Van Wolfswinkel's switch in jeopardy.

Goal machine: Van Wolfswinkel (above centre) would bring Hughton's men much-needed firepower next season, having scored just 31 goals this campaign

Goal machine: Van Wolfswinkel (above centre) would bring Hughton's men much-needed firepower next season, having scored just 31 goals this campaign

Arsenal Norwich

Back in March, the 24-year-old was impressed by Hughton during discussions and became convinced Norwich is a team with potential.

‘The club is in the middle of the table and very ambitious, this summer they will be debt free and will get on strong,’ Van Wolfswinkel told Dutch magazine Voetbal International in March.

‘I had a good talk with the manager, Chris Hughton. He was very specific about my qualities and wants to build a strong team around him. That gives good trust.

‘The plan is also to bring in an attacking midfielder and two wide players this summer. With that, Norwich can look to play in the top half of the table.’

Robert Snodgrass

Grant Holt

Lacking up top: Robert Snodgrass (left) and Grant Holt (right) have just eleven goals between them all season

Hughton, who tried to sign 6ft 1in Van Wolfswinkel in January, wants more attacking options after having to deploy Grant Holt as a lone striker this season. Norwich have scored just 31 goals in 33 games, with top scorer Robert Snodgrass having netted just six times.

‘That a club would spend so much money, in these times, shows their faith in me,’ he said.

‘I have been to Norwich to look around and spoken to the manager and chief executive over their plans for the future. I don't know much about Norwich, but the city and the club surprised me – the stadium has 25,000 (capacity) and there are 5,000 fans on a waiting list for (season) tickets on top of that which shows the status of the club.’

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists Andy Carroll will not be sold on the cheap

Rodgers insists Carroll will not leave for peanuts, but don't expect anywhere near the 'astronomical' 35m paid in the first place

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Andy Carroll will not be allowed to leave Liverpool on the cheap with Brendan Rodgers undecided whether the 35m striker is part of his plans.

The 28-year-old is currently on loan at West Ham and will sit down with Rodgers at the end of the season to discuss his Anfield future.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is keen sign Carroll on a permanent basis, while the player’s former club Newcastle are monitoring the situation.

Wanted man Carroll's future is still unsure, with his Liverpool contract running out in 2016

Wanted man Carroll's future is still unsure, with his Liverpool contract running out in 2016

Brendan Rodgers

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

Been and gone: Rodgers (left) wiants a good fee for Carroll, with Alan Pardew (right) rumoured to be interested

Although Rodgers has warned potential suitors they will have to pay the going rate for the powerful target man.

‘It’s absolutely the case that, just the same as last season, If the player does leave then it won’t be for nothing,’ Rodgers said.

‘He came here for an astronomical fee which was no fault of his own, so we will see what happens in the summer.’

Rodgers admires the robust qualities that Carroll can bring to a team, but hinted that he may struggle to accommodate a player of his type in his future vision for Liverpool.

'Astronomical': Rodgers saysthe huge fee paid for Carroll by Kenny Dalglish was not the player's fault

'Astronomical': Rodgers saysthe huge fee paid for Carroll by Kenny Dalglish was not the player's fault

‘Every player it is about the style, and how they fit into that. If you look at Luis Suarez he has flourished this season in the roaming role we have given him.

'We are a team that is set up to exploit his qualities,’ Rodgers added.

‘Likewise for other players you may have to set up in a certain way to get the best out of them.

There is no doubt Andy has qualities – some of his goals from set plays with West Ham have proven that.’

Out the door: Carroll played 44 times in the Premier League for Liverpool before moving on loan to West Ham

Out the door: Carroll played 44 times in the Premier League for Liverpool before moving on loan to West Ham

David Moyes linked with Schalke manager"s job

Schalke wait to pounce for Moyes at end of season if talks over new deal at Everton falter

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 4 April 2013

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 4 April 2013

David Moyes is back at the top of Schalke’s wanted list as the German club prepare to appoint a new manager this summer — with Celtic’s Neil Lennon a strong candidate to replace the Scot if he leaves Everton.

It was thought Moyes had slipped behind Armin Veh in the Schalke running until the Eintracht Frankfurt coach signed a new deal last week.

Moyes, 49, has put off talks over a new deal until the end of the season and is keen to hear what Schalke have to offer.

In the frame: David Moyes is a Schalke target

In the frame: David Moyes is a Schalke target

Contender: Neil Lennon may replace Moyes at Everton

Contender: Neil Lennon may replace Moyes at Everton

The Bundesliga club are looking for a top European coach after installing Jens Keller on a short-term basis when they sacked Huub Stevens in December.

Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is also in the frame.

Lennon is on the verge of securing his second successive SPL title with Celtic.

But there is a growing sense that he could quit Parkhead for a new challenge this summer.

With Rangers not due to return to
Scotland’s top league until 2015 at the earliest, Lennon knows football
north of the border will not be seriously competitive for his side.

Interim boss: Schalke installed Jens Keller on a short-term basis

Interim boss: Schalke installed Jens Keller on a short-term basis

In the mix: Eintracht Frankfurt manager Armin Veh

In the mix: Eintracht Frankfurt manager Armin Veh

Having the chance to take the next step in his management career at Everton may be too good an opportunity to turn down.

Lennon’s stock has grown considerably this season, despite the lack of competition on the domestic front, thanks to Celtic’s run to the Champions League knock-out stages — which included that euphoric win over Barcelona.

Moyes' 11-year spell in charge at Goodison Park makes him the third longest-serving manager in the Premier League, but he has put off talks over a new deal until the end of the season and will wait to hear what Schalke have to offer.

The Bundesliga club are looking for a top European coach after installing Jens Keller on a short-term basis when they sacked Huub Stevens in December.

Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup live

FA CUP LIVE: Chelsea v Manchester United – the quarter-final replay as it happens from Stamford Bridge

-1907FBDC000005DC-228_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”One last push: Sir Alex Ferguson urges his side to press after Demba Ba's goal put Chelsea on course to Wembley” class=”blkBorder” />

One last push: Sir Alex Ferguson urges his side to press after Demba Ba's goal put Chelsea on course to Wembley

68min: It should be 2-0. That was a big, big miss from Hazard. He pounces on a sloppy Michael Carrick pass and drives towards goal. He drags a shot wide of De Gea's post from just inside the area. He has got to hit the target there and should really have beaten De Gea from that range.

65min: Ryan Giggs has replaced Nani now. The Portugal winger was pretty shoddy today. He offered so little and I'd love to see his pass completion stats. Ferguson won't be happy with his man, that's for sure.

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64min: Neil Ashton is glad to see Tom Cleverley subbed for Van Persie.

He adds from Stamford Bridge: 'Cleverley is sacrificed for RVP. Still not sure what Cleverley is supposed to do, yet to see him have a decent game for United or England.

'The latest chants around the ground are “Rio Ferdinand, **** off to Qatar”'

Wonder save: Petr Cech somehow kept Javier Hernandez's header out after Ba's opener

Wonder save: Petr Cech somehow kept Javier Hernandez's header out after Ba's opener

63min: Matt Barlow reports: 'United have reacted to the goal by loosening their formation. The full backs going forward with more adventure and it has created more space for Mata, Oscar and Hazard.'

61: What a save! Javier Hernandez heads from close range at Cech's goal. Somehow the goalkeeper, at full stretch, tips the ball over the bar. One of the saves of the season. Utterly sensational.

Van Persie replaces Cleverley.

Get in: Demba Ba hooks the ball into the net as Rio Ferdinand (left) chases

Get in: Demba Ba hooks the ball into the net as Rio Ferdinand (left) chases

59min: Ryan Bertrand receives Phil Dowd's second yellow card. Cynical from the left back there, as he chops down Javier Hernandez to prevent a break.

Robin van Persie has stripped off and is ready to try to turn this one round for United.

57min: Graham Poll has his view on the Chelsea goal: 'At last some action. Excellent work from assistant Andy Garratt on non-offside for Demba Ba’s goal.

'Absolutely indisputable yellow card for Cleverley for heavy challenge on Ramires.'

56min: The goal has lifted both sides and we can expect a more exciting match from here on in.

United look like they want this one and have upped the ante.

54min: Sami Mokbel believes Ferdinand was culpable for Ba's strike.

He adds: 'Rio won’t be happy with his contribution to Demba Ba’s opener. Got caught napping for a split second and got punished. Great finish, though.'

Neil Ashton also points out that Ferdinand has never won an FA Cup, and may never get the chance should United lose today.

Meanwhile, Tom Cleverley goes into the book for a hefty tackle on Ramires.

52min: The Chelsea fans are in full voice now.

Game on: Demba Ba (left) celebrates after opening the scoring for Chelsea

Game on: Demba Ba (left) celebrates after opening the scoring for Chelsea

Neil Ashton reports they are chanting '”Rio Rio what's the score” coming from the Matthew Harding Stand.

49min: GOAL! CHELSEA 1 Man United 0

What a strike! Juan Mata lifts the ball over the United defence and Demba Ba is onto it. It looks like it's out of his reach but the striker wraps his foot around it and hooks it into the top corner. Wonderful finish.

Sportsmail's Neil Ashton describes it as a 'really special strike'. I can't disagree with that assessment. It's a sublime finish.

48min: Excellent improvisation from Demba Ba there. Ryan Bertrand puts in a speculative ball to the striker who raises a leg to flick the ball goalwards. David de Gea is wise to it and gathers well.

There's still a fizz lacking from this match at the moment. It needs a pick-me-up before this half gets going.

46min: No changes at half-time. United press early on and Phil Jones wins a free-kick on the edge of the area.

But Nani puts the ball into the Chelsea wall.

13.32: KICK-OFF: MANCHESTER UNITED RE-START THE MATCH

13.29: Chelsea have had the better of this one. Just. United never made it out of the blocks and Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez are the only two players who look like causing Chelsea any problems.

Nani has been particularly off colour. A couple of substitutions would liven this tie up.

Meanwhile, the players are back on the pitch and ready for the second half.

13.24: Surprisingly, there haven't been too many talking points so far. These two teams normally serve up thrillers when they meet but it's been anything but that in the first half. Perhaps Robin van Persie was right when he said the players would be too tired for this one.

13.18: Here's Matt Barlow's views on the first half.

'“Handbrakes on” as Arsene Wenger would say in the first half.

'Chelsea have enjoyed the territorial edge but United will not be unduly worried about that. The visitors have looked in control, Smalling and Ferdinand have been strong, and the visitors have threatened on the break.'

On your back: Oscar tries to take the ball from United full back Patrice Evra (front)

On your back: Oscar tries to take the ball from United full back Patrice Evra (front)

13.17: HALF-TIME: CHELSEA 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 0

44min: United have a pretty tenuous penalty claim as Nani goes down unde the challenge of Ryan Bertrand. Graham Poll is having none of it.

He says: 'Nani diving for a penalty and what would have been a red card for Ryan Bertrand – can’t keep him out of the headlines.'

Rivals: John Terry (right0 warms up on the bench as Rio Ferdinand walks across the pitch

Rivals: John Terry (right0 warms up on the bench as Rio Ferdinand walks across the pitch

43min: Sportsmail's Sami Mokbel is at the match too.

He's reporting that both sets of fans have behaved pretty well so far in this one. Good to see but it's a shame the game hasn't really got going yet.

Enjoying it Frank Lampard (right) and John Terry watch from the Chelsea bench during the first half

Enjoying it Frank Lampard (right) and John Terry watch from the Chelsea bench during the first half

41min: Petr Cech gets away with some suspect goalkeeping there. Javier Hernandez pulls the trigger from range and the Czech international dives to the left but ends up saving the shot with his right foot. It almost crept in.

39min: Eden Hazard looks in the mood. He pounces onto a loose ball in the United box and smashes the ball towards goal. But he's put too much on it and it whistles past the post.

38min: Graham Poll is also disappointed with Nani's behaviour.

He says: 'Why kick the ball out There was nothing wrong with Nani and he stayed down to try and prove he’d been hit.

'Hoping for a repeat of the Champions League game; a red card for Nani should help both teams and the game.'

35min: Nani is lying on the floor after a knock from John Obi Mikel. Chelsea put the ball out but Nani is straight up.

Replays show that it was barely even a tap from Mikel and an accidental one at that. Pretty poor conduct from Nani really.

35min: Matt Barlow has spotted John Terry warming up on the touchline.

'JT out to warm up and getting relentless stick from United fans.'

33min: Ramires creates an opening for Ba this time. The Brazil international slides the ball into Ba who should hit the target. Instead, he pulls his shot into the legs of Chris Smalling.

Chelsea have injected a little more urgency into their attacks now as United look stuck in second gear.

Hitting the deck: Ramires (left) and Chris Smalling of Manchester United (right) both go to ground

Hitting the deck: Ramires (left) and Chris Smalling of Manchester United (right) both go to ground

31min: Eden Hazard creates Chelsea's first scoring opportunity. The diminutive playmake wrong-foots Chris Smalling and slips the ball into Demba Ba.

The Senegalese striker fires low and hard but David de Gea sticks a leg out to save well. Excellent work from Hazard.

28min: Javier Hernandez gets his first sight of goal but fails to shoot. The Mexican twists and turns away from David Luiz in the area but looks reluctant to shoot with his left foot.

The striker slips as he tries to work it back onto his right and Chelsea can bundle the ball away.

27min: Ashley Cole injury update from Matt Barlow.

'Cole disappears down the tunnel with a brief shake of his head. Is his injury another episode in the story of intricate pre-planned training programmes

'Cole has been handled carefully by club and country. He travelled with England, didn’t play against San Marino, played against Montenegro, rested against Southampton on Saturday and yet lasted only 20 minutes on a cold day with an early kick-off.'

26min: United have finally lurched into gear. Tom Cleverley is found in acres of space on the left and curls a ball into the area. Ivanovic spots it and boots it away. Much better from the visitors.

Best of enemies: Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson (left) shook hands this time

Best of enemies: Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson (left) shook hands this time

24min: Former Premier League referee Graham Poll is watching Phil Dowd's performance closely today… and the misfiring Nani.

'If Phil Dowd was performing like any number of players, in particular Nani, there would be an outrage!

'Why is it players can play like this and refs can’t put a foot wrong'

A good point well made. Nani is having a stinker so far. I'm not sure if he's found a pass yet.

21min: United waste a pretty good chance there. Ashley Cole pulls up lame when chasing Danny Welbeck, who finds Nani on the edge.

But the Portugal winger attempts an atrocious pass which is quickly cut out. Shocking.

Cole will be unable to continue, and Ryan Bertrand takes his place. Looks like a hamstring injury.

19min: You can see why Ferguson has deployed Phil Jones in the deep midfield role. He was exceptional there in the Champions League first leg against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The problem for United is that Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar drift in and out of the wide areas.

15min: Chris Smalling just put his body on the line! Eden Hazard is teed up by Demba Ba for the shot. The Belgian pulls the trigger and it hits the sliding Smalling straight in his private parts. Cue huge cheers from the Chelsea crowd, but it did the job.

In action: Danny Welbeck (left) tries to hold of the challenge from Chelsea midfielder Oscar

In action: Danny Welbeck (left) tries to hold of the challenge from Chelsea midfielder Oscar

14min: Nani hasn't really done much thus far. Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has noticed too.

He tweeted: 'Can somebody wake up Nani….!'

13min: United almost showed their prowess in attack. Welbeck burst forward on the left and almost leaves Branislav Ivanovic in his wake. But the Serbian gathers himself and marshals the England international expertly, winning the ball back for the Blues.

9min: Chelsea are having the lion's share of possession so far. United seem happy enough to sit back and settle into this one before pouncing.

We all know how quickly they can break with Welbeck and Hernandez in attack though…

7min: Matt Barlow is keeping a close eye on the fans of each club.

He reports: 'Fans trade a few chants. “Where’s your racist centre half” from United fans. John Terry songs from Chelsea end. Boos for Rio on the ball. '

5min: Chelsea have a trio of players behind Demba Ba that have buckets of flair.

Shake on it: Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole get the formalities over and done with

Shake on it: Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole get the formalities over and done with

Oscar, Mata and Hazard are a handful for any team. Oscar just turns Patrice Evra with aplomb in the United box, but Chris Smalling reads his cross to clear well.

4min: Rio Ferdinand gets his first touch of the ball at the back. A chorus of boos from the Chelsea fans.

2min: It appears Phil Jones will be playing in his adoptive role anchoring in midfield. A potential week spot for United is that Antonio Valencia will deputise at right back in Rafael's absence.

KICK-OFF: CHELSEA GET THE GAME UNDER WAY

Warming up: Manchester United's substitutes gear up for the clash

Warming up: Manchester United's substitutes gear up for the clash

12.28: Matt Barlow's take as the teams are making their way out onto the pitch.

'Teams come out and United fans sing: “Rio, Rio, Rio”.'

And yes, Benitez and Ferguson DID shake hands before kick-off.

12.22: Last time these two sides met, Sir Alex Ferguson walked straight past Rafa Benitez before the match and neglected to shake hands with the Chelsea boss. Rafa says he'll shake on it this time. Let's wait and see.

Ferguson had this to say to ITV on Rooney's injury: 'He got a groin injury playing for England and he wasn't 100 per cent yesterday. There’s no point risking a player with a groin injury.

'Hopefully he'll be ready for next Monday's game.'

12.20: Sportsmail's Matt Barlow is also at the match.

'Sleepy feel inside Stamford Bridge. None of the High Noon electricity you might have expected.

'Kerry Dixon has just presented Frank Lampard with an award for becoming the second Chelsea player to 200 goals for the club. Sure it will warm up.'

12.18: I'm going to have to disagree with Robin van Persie's prediction for this game. The Dutchman believes the players will be too drained from the weekend's schedule to put on a show to remember.

He bemoaned the fixture pile-up ahead of the replay and said: 'These games are just too close to each other.

'People have to realise they can’t expect a great game of football because it is not possible.

'Normally on the second day your muscles are quite bad, but now we have to play at this certain time.

'It is a shame but we can’t do anything about it because there are Champions League games in midweek and Chelsea are still in the Europa League.'

12.14: Further confirmation of Rooney's injury from Neil Ashton at the stadium.

'Rooney is out with a groin injury picked up on England duty.

'United hope he will be back for Monday's game with City, or Sunday's semi-final at Wembley if they make it there.'

12.07: The crowd reaction to Ferdinand will be under the spotlight this afternoon.

Rio's brother Anton was the player Chelsea's John Terry racially abused during last season's game against QPR. Which resulted in a four-game ban for the centre half, who rigorously denied any wrongdoing and was cleared of criminal charges for the on-pitch incident.

12.06: Sportsmail's Neil Ashton is at Stamford Bridge for this one, and he's got some news from the stadium.

He says: 'Teams read out, lot of boos for Rio Ferdinand from Chelsea fans. Still 20 minutes until kick off.'

12.01: Phil Jones will deputise at right back this afternoon for United, after Rafael limped off after just half and hour against Sunderland on Saturday.

Nemanja Vidic is also out of Ferguson's side. He looked in some discomfort at the beginning of the Sunderland game when he was clutching his back. That said, Ferguson has opted for a pretty hefty overhaul of his squad.

12.00: Both of these teams will be looking to improve on their weekend performances. Although United beat a poor Sunderland side, they looked lethargic at times and only won by the most narrow margin.

Chelsea on the other hand were beaten at St Mary's by Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton side.

11.55: Rooney update: Sir Alex Ferguson has told ITV that the striker has picked up a groin injury while on international duty with England.

That would explain why he is out of today's clash, and why he wasn't in the squad for United's victory against Sunderland.

Now the good news for United fans Rooney should be okay to play against Manchester City in next week's derby.

11.52: Gary Cahill is still out with a knee injury for Chelsea, but John Terry will start on the bench today instead of Brazilian defender David Luiz.

11.50: Although there will be no Wayne Rooney this afternoon, this Chelsea back four won't be resting on their laurels.

Javier Hernandez has scored a remarkable six goals in his previous seven appearances against Chelsea.

11.44: Undoubtedly the biggest shock of the line-ups is that Wayne Rooney has not made Sir Alex Ferguson's squad. We're not sure whether he's injured or whether Sir Alex has decided to drop him for a big game like he did against Real Madrid. But watch this space for updates.

Six changes by Chelsea and seven by Manchester United from the Premier League fixtures this weekend.

11.43: Manchester United team: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Nani; Hernandez, Welbeck

Subs: Giggs, Lindegaard, Young, van Persie, Powell, Kagawa, Vermijl

11.36: Chelsea starting XI: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Ba

Subs: Turnbull, Terry, Benayoun, Bertrand, Moses, Lampard, Torres

11.34: The winners will book their place in the semi-finals, where Manchester City wait after beating Barnsley at the Etihad. United are hoping to keep their hopes of a League/Cup double alive, whereas interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez is desperate to deliver a trophy to Blues owner Roman Abramovich. The FA Cup and Europa League are the only two competitions Chelsea can hope to prevail in.

11.30: Good morning, good morning. Is there a better way to spend your Bank Holiday Monday than following coverage of two Premier League giants going head to head in the FA Cup quarter-final

Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney's goals were cancelled out in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford by second-half goals from Ramires and Eden Hazard, who forced this afternoon's replay.

And Sir Alex Ferguson believes Chelsea even deserved to win the game, claiming his side were tired and emotional after their Champions League defeat by Real Madrid.

Ferguson said: '‘I thought we were lucky to be honest with you (in the first leg),’ Ferguson told United’s official website, manutd.com.

In transit: Robin van Persie and his team-mates travelled by train yesterday from Manchester Piccadilly

In transit: Robin van Persie and his team-mates travelled by train yesterday from Manchester Piccadilly

‘I thought that tiredness had got into the team and, from a comfortable position for the first 20 minutes, you could see the signs when we started to give the ball away just before half-time. That is a definite sign of tiredness.

‘The tiredness came, possibly, from the emotional intensity of the Real Madrid game and also the way we lost it. I think that affected two or three players. In the second half in particular there was no doubt that Tom Cleverley’s and our two full-backs’ [Rafael and Patrice Evra] legs had gone.

'That was [due to] emotions. The way full-backs are, they put so much energy into getting forward but they found it difficult getting back.'

Destination Wembley: Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the original tie at Manchester United

Destination Wembley: Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the original tie at Manchester United

Sunderland v Manchester United live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Sunderland v Manchester United – as it happens from the Stadium of Light

By
Alex Horlock

PUBLISHED:

04:00 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:13 GMT, 30 March 2013

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Sunderland host Manchester United at the Stadium of Light to kick-off the weekend's action. Sir Alex Ferguson has set the target for his side, who are likely to regain the Premier League title, to reach the record mark of 95 points ahead of the trip to the North East.

By contrast Martin O'Neill's team have been sucked into the battle against relegation and will be desperate to pick up a positive result following a run of just three points from their last 21 available.

SUNDERLAND v MAN UNITED

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose, Johnson, Gardner, N'Diaye, McClean, Sessegnon, Graham

Subs: Westwood, Larsson, Wickham, Kilgallon, Colback, Mangane, Mandron

Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie.

Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Evans, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Powell.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

12.11: In the little green box on the right are the full line-ups for this afternoon's match. Rooney, Ferdinand and Giggs aren't even on the bench as Nani, Danny Welbeck and Nick Powell are Ferguson's attacking options, should he need them.

12.07: That said, by Robin van Persie's remarkably high standards, he's going through something of a barren spell. He hasn't scored for United since United's 2-0 win over Everton on February 10. I wouldn't rule him out of getting back to scoring ways domestically today, though. He scored three times in Holland's two international matches during the break…

11.56: Sir Alex obviously has one eye on Monday's FA Cup replay against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He's starting top goalscorer Robin van Persie but is without Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney in attack. Instead Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa will have to create the openings for the Dutchman from the off.

Stephane Sessegnon was an injury doubt for Sunderland, but he makes the starting XI for Martin O'Neill. There's no time like the present if misfiring new boy Danny Graham is to get off the mark. He hasn't found the back of the net since leaving Swansea for the Stadium of Light in January.

11.55: And Manchester United's team: De Gea, Rafael, Buttner, Smalling, Vidic, Carrick, Valencia, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie

11.54: Here is Sunderland's starting XI: Mignolet, Bardsley, Rose, O'Shea, Bramble, N'Diaye, Gardner, McClean, Johnson, Sessegnon, Graham

Pain: Manchester United saw the title snatched from their grasp at the Stadium of Light last season

Pain: Manchester United saw the title snatched from their grasp at the Stadium of Light last season

11.51: Early team news. United will be without Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs this afternoon. Full teams to follow.

11.45: Good morning one and all. We're an hour away from kick-off in this one and Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping to be heading back to Manchester with his side 18 points clear of rivals City at the top.

Last time United were here in the Premier League it was the final day of the season. Phil Jones, Sir Alex and Co were on the pitch after the 1-0 victory over the Black Cats, applauding the travelling fans and believing they had won the club's 20th league crown. We all know what happened back at the Etihad though, when Sergio Aguero wriggled clear in the QPR box to hit the title-winning goal for City.

United's players will remember that. And now that they are on course to win the league, their players will be keen to avenge the Sunderland fans who performed City's trademark Poznan celebration after City clinched the title last May.

Comfortable winners: United cruised to a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford earlier in the season

Comfortable winners: United cruised to a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford earlier in the season

Everton target Alvaro Negredo says he will play in England

Sooner or later I will be playing in England! Everton target Negredo encourages bids

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

07:15 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:15 GMT, 25 March 2013

Everton will be encouraged by the news that 13million rated Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo is open to a move to England.

David Moyes tried to procure the striker in the summer but could not match the La Liga side's valuation of their Spain international.

The 27-year-old hitman who has 15 goals
in 26 league games this season, claims that he likes English football and he
will play in the country at some point.

One day: Alvaro Negredo wants a move to England and Everton are interested in him

One day: Alvaro Negredo wants a move to England and Everton are interested in him

'It is a league that I like and sooner or later I will play in it,' he said.

'President Jose Maria del Nido received some offers in January, but decided not to consider them.

'We’ll see what is going to happen in the future.'

Bad times: Negredo could not help as Spain stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Finland

Bad times: Negredo could not help as Spain stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Finland

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel joins Norwich City

Hughton hails 8.5m Van Wolfswinkel capture as Norwich strengthen frontline

By
Steve Martyn

PUBLISHED:

23:53 GMT, 22 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:57 GMT, 23 March 2013

Norwich City are to smash their club
record transfer fee with the 8.5million signing of sought-after Holland
striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon.

The 6ft 1in Van Wolfswinkel has agreed a four-year contract following three days of negotiations between the clubs.

The 24-year-old, a one-time transfer
target for Liverpool and Tottenham, will arrive at Carrow Road on July 1
after seeing out the season with the Portuguese club.

On the move: Norwich City have signed Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (centre)

On the move: Norwich City have signed Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (centre)

Norwich manager Chris Hughton said: 'Ricky's profile is a perfect fit for us – he's young, ambitious and a proven goalscorer.

'He has an excellent goalscoring pedigree and he is very keen to continue his personal progression and play in England.

'He's already an exciting talent but he still has more development as a player ahead of him.

'I'm delighted we have been able to agree a deal with Sporting Lisbon and with Ricky.

'Now we look forward to welcoming him to the squad in July, once all of the paperwork gets sorted out.'

Great name: Van Wolfswinkel has scored 13 goals in Portugal this term

Great name: Van Wolfswinkel has scored 13 goals in Portugal this term

Van Wolfswinkel has so far scored 82 goals in 188 appearances for Sporting and his Dutch sides Utrecht and Vitesse Arnhem.

He netted 25 goals for Sporting last season and has added another 14 so far in the current campaign.

Sporting were reluctant sellers but massive club debts have forced them to part with their prized forward.

Van Wolfswinkel's only senior cap for Holland came in August 2010 for a friendly against Ukraine.

His arrival easily beats Norwich's
previous record transfer fee, the 5.5m paid to Tottenham for Cameroon
central defender Sebastien Bassong last summer.

Arsenal suffer a blow as their target David Villa is offered a new Barcelona contract

Arsenal blow as target Villa will be offered new Barcelona deal

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

13:42 GMT, 17 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:06 GMT, 18 March 2013

Arsenal could miss out on signing David Villa after Barcelona have offered him a new contract.

The striker is due to be a free agent in 14 months time, with several English clubs sniffing around to see if they can get him for a reduced price.

However, Barcelona feel he still has a very important role at the club and staying in Spain may be his best chance of competing for a place in the national side.

Natural: David Villa scored in Barcelona's 4-0 win against AC Milan

Natural: David Villa scored in Barcelona's 4-0 win against AC Milan

Arsenal's striking problems have been well documented of late, with Arsene Wenger allowing Theo Walcott some time up front before switching back to Olivier Giroud for the most recent games.

Forward Marouane Chamakh is currently on-loan at West Ham after failing to convince his manager that he has much of a future at the club.

As for Villa, Spain's record goalscorer has been out of favour at the Nou Campafter returning at the start of the season from eight months out with a broken leg.

Rival: Alexis Sanchez is Villa's biggest competition in the team

Rival: Alexis Sanchez is Villa's biggest competition in the team

The 31-year-old joined Barcelona from Valencia in 2010 for a fee of 35million, and is reportedly on a deal worth 7m a year.

If first-team football is what Villa wants, then he may wait until the summer and consider his future before signing any new contract.

Record: Villa is Spain's top goalscorer with 53 goals in 86 games

Record: Villa is Spain's top goalscorer with 53 goals in 86 games

Mario Balotelli scores as Milan beat Genoa 2-0

A booking within 30 seconds of coming on and a second-half goal… just another day at the office for Balotelli at Milan

By
Sunni Upal

PUBLISHED:

22:40 GMT, 8 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:59 GMT, 9 March 2013

Mario Balotelli came off the bench fire 10-man AC Milan to a 2-0 win at Genoa in a crazy Serie A match for the former Manchester City striker on Friday.

The Italian was booked within 30 seconds of coming off the bench in the first half to replace the injured Giampaolo Pazzini, who had just given Milan the lead.

Balotelli then latched onto Cristian Zapata's pass to fire home the second goal with an hour played.

Scroll down for video…

On target: Mario Balotelli scored Milan's second goal in their 2-0 win at Genoa

On target: Mario Balotelli scored Milan's second goal in their 2-0 win at Genoa

Regular: Balotelli scored for the fifth time in as many games since his move to Milan

Regular: Balotelli scored for the fifth time in as many games since his move to Milan

It was Balotelli's fifth goal in as many matches since joining Milan. The former City forward was making his first appearance since the Milan derby two weeks ago.

Former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini was also booked for diving as he tried to win a penalty in the second half.

Blow: Balotelli replaced the injured Giampaolo Pazzini, who earlier gave Milan the lead

Blow: Balotelli replaced the injured Giampaolo Pazzini, who earlier gave Milan the lead

Eventful: The former City striker was booked just 30 seconds after coming off the bench

Eventful: The former City striker was booked just 30 seconds after coming off the bench

Milan came under extreme pressure after
Kevin Constant was sent off in the 65th minute for lashing out at Genoa
defender Cesare Bovo, but their defence held firm as they strengthened their grip on third place in Serie A ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Barcelona.

Milan now have 51 points, two behind second-placed Napoli and four ahead of Inter Milan and Lazio.

VIDEO: Watch Mario Balotelli's clinical finish against Genoa

Derby 1 Chelsea 2: Alex Kiwomya"s late strike sends holders into FA Youth Cup semi-final

Derby 1 Chelsea 2: Kiwomya's late strike sends holders into FA Youth Cup semi-finals

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

02:06 GMT, 9 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:08 GMT, 9 March 2013

Chelsea's defence of the FA Youth Cup remains alive after they negotiated a tricky quarter-final assignment at Derby County thanks to Alex Kiwomya's late strike.

The Blues were matched all the way by a talented Derby side but eventually prevailed when Kiwomya, nephew of former Arsenal player Chris, found the bottom corner with a sweet drive on 82 minutes.

Extra time looked likely as Derby, who claimed a Premier League scalp in Manchester City in the last round, sniffed another when the excellent Mason Bennett equalised Lewis Baker's 16th minute penalty.

Traget man: Chelsea's Jeremie Boga has an effort on goal

Traget man: Chelsea's Jeremie Boga has an effort on goal

But when Kiwomya received a through ball from substitute Charlie Colkett, he spun and fired beyond Rams goalkeeper Ross Etheridge to kill their hopes.

The win means Chelsea will face either Hull City or Liverpool in the last four as they seek to emulate last year's success.

Chelsea took the lead in controversial circumstances just after the quarter-hour – Reece Mitchell burst through the heart of the Derby defence and was clattered by Etheridge inside the box.

The keeper was fortunate not to be sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, referee Chris Sarginson showing mercy with just a yellow card.

Lewis Baker wasn't so sympathetic, however, finding the bottom corner with a textbook penalty while Mitchell hobbled off.

The Premier League side should have added to their lead as they controlled the first half, and Alex Kiwomya was guilty of missing two golden opportunities within a minute of each other.

Goal-den boy: Alex Kiwomya celebrates his strike

Goal-den boy: Alex Kiwomya celebrates his strike

First, neat interplay between Baker and Jeremie Boga on the edge of the box teed Kiwomya up 12 yards out, but he somehow missed the target.

On Chelsea's next break, the front man was presented with an even easier chance by Baker, but his powerful shot directly in front of goal was blocked by Etheridge.

And there was nearly a sting in the tale when Bennett rose above Alex Davey to head an Andrew Dales cross against the post in the second minute of stoppage time.

It was their best effort of a first half in which they struggled to keep the ball for any length of time.

Jamie Hanson, goalscoring hero in the victories over Ipswich Town and Manchester City in the last two rounds, curled a vicious free-kick over the bar, but other sights of goal had been few and far between.

The hosts were energised by the half-time break and 16-year-old Bennett, the club's youngest first team debutant and goalscorer, and an England Under 17 starlet, began to show his class.

He warmed the hands of Mitchell Beeney with a hit from 30 yards and then scored the equaliser on 55 minutes – although whether he meant it only he knows.

Blues brothers: Chelsea are through to semi-finals

Blues brothers: Chelsea are through to semi-finals

Tearing down the left side after robbing Fankaty Dabo of the ball, Bennett cut inside and surely intended to pick out a teammate in the centre with a low ball. It took a deflection off a Chelsea foot, however, and left Beeney helpless.

With his next touch of the ball, Bennett crossed for Andrew Dales inside the box. The midfielder unleashed a powerful effort which cannoned back off the crossbar.

But when Kiwomya struck it was a decisive blow, Derby unable to respond despite the encouragement of a 4,000-strong crowd.

In fact, Chelsea could have added to their lead in stoppage time when Jeremie Boga's lopping shot struck the top of the crossbar.

With the last kick of the game, Hanson was nearly Derby's hero again but his free-kick on the left clipped the top of the bar.

Blues brothers: Chelsea are through to semi-finals

Darren Wassall, Derby youth team coach, said: 'On the balance of the second half chances and play, then certainly we could have taken it to extra time.

'We said to the lads at half time you've seen how the crowd have got up in the last five minutes of the half and that's without scoring. So if you do score, this 4,000 crowd will be right behind you.

'When we equalised and when Mason went through, we had a real lively 20 minutes after the break. We had hit the bar and had a couple of chances we easily could have scored from. That's when we were in the ascendancy and that's when we should have taken advantage of that situation.

'Chelsea have got unlimited resources and they've got a lot of qualities – they played some great stuff, but so did we. We gave them a real fight. We competed against them for 95 minutes and I'm very proud of all the players.'

Wassall singled out Bennett for special praise: 'He was almost unplayable tonight for 20 minutes early in that second half. He scored the goal and caused havoc. It's all about progression into the first team and we're delighted with his performance tonight.'