31 August 2012

Deadline day with Jim and Natalie LIVE

Jim and Natalie get ready for the closing stages of deadline day.

It's the final day of the transfer window, and clubs from England, Scotland and most of the other European leagues have a limited time to complete their transfer activities.

The Daily Transfer Request will be here with regular live transfer updates and opinions, right up until the window closes at 11pm.

You can contact me at any time throughout deadline day by emailing TDTR at transferrequest@live.co.uk. Don't bother sending me any spam, or you'll face the consequences.

If you want to see what happened earlier in the transfer window, click here. But now it's 7pm, so it's time to spend the night Jim White and Natalie Sawyer, as they help to count down to the deadline...

Arsenal: Out - Nicklas Bendtner.
Aston Villa: In - Christian Benteke.
Chelsea: Out - Michael Essien.
Everton: In - Bryan Oviedo.
Fulham: In - Dimitar Berbatov, Kieran Richardson. Out - Clint Dempsey.
Liverpool: Out - Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing.
Manchester City: In - Javi Garcia, Maicon, Matija Nastasic, Scott Sinclair. Out - Nigel de Jong, Roque Santa Cruz, Stefan Savic.
Manchester United: Out - Dimitar Berbatov.
Queens Park Rangers: In - Stephane Mbia. Out - Joey Barton.
Southampton: In - Gaston Ramirez.
Stoke City: In - Charlie Adam, Maurice Edu, Steven Nzonzi.
Sunderland: In - Danny Rose. Out - Kieran Richardson.
Swansea City: In - Pablo Hernandez. Out - Scott Sinclair.
Tottenham Hotspur: In - Clint Dempsey, Hugo Lloris. Out - Giovani dos Santos, Danny Rose, Rafael van der Vaart.
West Bromwich Albion: In - Goran Popov.

12:00am - I think I'll end it here, on midnight. It's off to bed now, so thanks for joining myself, Jim and Natalie on transfer deadline day.
11:55pm - Southampton midfielder Dean Hammond has left the club on loan... but not for Charlton Athletic. Oh no. He's back at Brighton & Hove Albion, so one more signing for Gus Poyet!
11:50pm - Ryan McGowan has REJECTED Rangers and decided to remain at Heart of Midlothian.
11:42pm - Manchester City have signed and sealed Javi Garcia from Benfica for an initial £16million. I now just want confirmation of Moutinho's future before I wrap this up.
11:36pm - Yossi Benayoun confirms via Twitter that he is leaving Chelsea and returning to West Ham United on loan.
11:25pm - Steven Nzonzi is a Stoke City player at long last! Peter Stevenson's mob are well pleased.
11:21pm - Just waiting for Javi Garcia and Joao Moutinho now.
11:17pm - A busy transfer deadline day stretches beyond the deadline for Fulham, who have given confirmation of the signing of Wolfsburg's Iranian midfielder Ashkan Dejagah.
11:16pm - Sheffield Wednesday have made a move for Eduardo da Silva's best friend, Martin Taylor, from Watford.
11:12pm - We are still awaiting confirmation of Javi Garcia's transfer to Manchester City from Benfica. I hope City have already got some paperwork into the FA's hands.
11:10pm - AFC Bournemouth have tied up a deal for Liechtenstein goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel. Two more Portuguese players, Diogo Rosado and Nuno Henrique, are on their way to Blackburn Rovers.
11:07pm - Michael Essien has been reunited with José Mourinho after signing a loan deal with Real Madrid. The Chelsea defensive midfielder takes the place of Russia-bound former team-mate Lassana Diarra at the Bernabeu.
11:01pm - Well, Big Ben did bong, but we didn't hear it on SSN this time! And the latest news from Tottenham Hotspur is... Joao Moutinho is likely to stay at Porto.
11:00pm - Big Ben bongs, and THE TRANSFER WINDOW HAS CLOSED!
10:59pm - Brace yourselves...
10:58pm - This is how Steven Nzonzi's medical at Stoke City will probably go: "Are you breathing?" "Yes." "Sign here, Steve."
10:57pm - Michael Owen is not completely desperate to find a new club yet. As a free agent, he can move outside of the transfer window.
10:56pm - Worrying times for Liverpool. Today's transfer activities has left them with just three proper strikers - Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini and teen Adam Morgan. Could this lack of attacking depth lead to the return of Saint Michael of Owen?
10:54pm - Loan deal regarding Hibernian, who have taken Northern Ireland international defender Ryan McGivern from Manchester City for the forseeable future.
10:52pm - Wolverhampton Wanderers have loaned midfielder Adam Hamill to Huddersfield Town. North of the border, Celtic are nearing the completion of a deal for Nantes' Slovakian goalkeeper Lubos Kamenar.
10:51pm - One minute later, Queens Park Rangers confirm the signing of Cameroon defensive midfielder Stephane Mbia.
10:50pm - Ten. Minutes. Left. To. Go. Hurry. Up. Stephane. Mbia.
10:47pm - Queens Park Rangers ont confirmé Joey Barton a signé pour Marseille.
10:42pm - Stephane Mbia, you don't have much longer to go until you must complete your transfer to Queens Park Rangers.
10:40pm - Blackburn Rovers striker David Goodwillie can now fail to hit the target for Crystal Palace. He'll spend the rest of the season not hitting cows' derrieres with banjos at Selhurst Park.
10:39pm - I got 21 minutes to flow, I got 21 minutes to go, cause if you like me let me know, let me in the studio, I got 21 minutes before I got to go.
10:38pm - Stoke City's crowd of fans around Peter 'The Messiah' Stevenson won't go away. Steven Nzonzi has arrived at the club, and rumours continue that Michael Owen is next up.
10:36pm - Cardiff City have bought West Ham United's discarded striker Nicky Maynard, but they won't say how much they paid for the ex-Bristol City hotshot.
10:35pm - And unless something amazing happens within 25 minutes, Ollie's still got Matt Phillips. He's going to be a real asset as they chase promotion back to the Premier League.
10:34pm - Three signings for Blackpool: Nathan Eccleston permanently from Liverpool, Nathan Delfouneso on loan from Aston Villa, and Kirk Broadfoot from Reading. Not bad business from Ian Holloway, particularly Delfouneso.
10:31pm - I think we can now sum up the moves between Queens Park Rangers and Marseille. Stephane Mbia goes to Loftus Road for £5million, Joey Barton goes to France on a season-long loan.
10:29pm - Interestingly, Natalie has pointed out that young Tottenham striker Harry Kane was called to Spurs Lodge as Clint Dempsey completed his move to the club. Is this a suggestion that the gifted young striker could go on loan to Fulham as part of the transfer?
10:28pm - Brighton & Hove Albion's cosmopolitan army conscription continues. Next to come on board is the Basque right midfielder David Lopez from Athletic Bilbao.
10:23pm - Natalie is speaking to Birmingham City boss Lee Clark, who effectively confirms that Jack Butland will be going nowhere tonight. The lad will be very pleased to hear that.
10:21pm - Benteke is just 21, which actually makes him younger than Ashley Westwood. But the Congo-born striker has more of a pedigree at a top level, having scored around one goal in every two games for Genk.
10:20pm - Paul Lambert has his man. After signing a couple of kids, the Aston Villa boss has finally snapped up a proper man in the shape of Genk's Belgium striker Christian Benteke.
10:18pm - Heart of Midlothian duo David Templeton and Ryan McGowan are speaking to Scottish Division 3 giants Rangers, who of course have just 42 minutes to go until their transfer window shuts until January 2014.
10:16pm - Hugo Lloris cost Tottenham Hotspur just £8million! How much is someone like Joe Hart worth if that's the case? No wonder English clubs go to the continent for cheaper talent.
10:10pm - Yossi Benayoun is on course for a season-long loan at his first English club, West Ham United.
10:09pm - Confirmation of a loan deal which means that Getafe striker Nicolas Fedor will spend the season with Scottish Premier League champions for the next seven years at least, Celtic.
10:04pm - Clint Dempsey has signed for Tottenham. Will Joao Moutinho complete Spurs' batch of deadline day signings?
10:00pm - One hour remaining! This final hour is where we see Jim and Natalie at their very best.
9:59pm - Clint Dempsey's Tottenham Hotspur medical is now underway, but he'd better get cracking if he's to beat the deadline.
9:57pm - Aston Villa's signing of Belgian striker Christian Benteke from Genk is imminent.
9:51pm - Yet another signing at Brighton & Hove Albion! This is striker Stephen Dobbie, who if his recent track record is anything to go by should lead Brighton to the Championship Play-Off Final.
9:49pm - How refreshing to see more of the Premier League's foreign imports learn to speak English before coming over here.
9:48pm - I was wrong a few hours ago. West Ham United DO want Yossi Benayoun on loan from Liv, er I mean Chelsea. Maybe Arsenal will try to re-sign him now, for old times sake.
9:47pm - Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra would rather play for Racing Santander in the Spanish second division than the Gers in the Scottish fourth tier. Fair enough. No problems with his loan move.
9:45pm - ...West Bromwich Albion have snapped up Macedonia left-back Goran Popov from Dinamo Kiev. This is a player whose proposed move to Stoke City collapsed a couple of weeks back. After what happened regarding Demba Ba last year, there must be something seriously wrong at Stoke.
9:44pm - ...Joey Barton is now officially an expat. He has put pen to paper on a loan deal taking him from Queens Park Rangers to Marseille for the season. And...
9:43pm - Everton have confirmed the signature of Kilmarnock's prodigious teenage striker Matthew Kennedy. Meanwhile...
9:42pm - £10million is the fee for Nastasic, which just goes to show just how more highly-rated the 19-year-old is than Savic.
9:40pm - The Super Cup ended a few minutes ago, and Atletico Madrid have won 4-1 over Chelsea. According to his Wikipedia page, Radamel Falcao is now back at Atletico.
9:39pm - Manchester City have completed a deal for the new Nemanja Vidic, aka Fiorentina centre-back Matija Nastasic. Stefan Savic goes to the Serie A side as part of the deal.
9:33pm - Clint Dempsey has arrived at Spurs Lodge! He's staying in London, and it's Tottenham Hotspur who have won the race to sign the American superstar!
9:32pm - Aston Villa have signed Crewe Alexandra's young captain Ashley Westwood, and Southampton have moved for American goalkeeper Cody Cropper.
9:31pm - Michael Essien's next destination could be, surprisingly, Real Madrid!
9:30pm - 90 minutes, the length of a standard football match, to go until the deadline is reached.
9:25pm - Another loan deal to have slipped through my fingers. Bolton Wanderers' Michael O'Halloran is now at Carlisle United.
9:22pm - Imminent transfer news concerning West Bromwich Albion.
9:20pm - Another fantastic signing for Nottingham Forest is that of striker Billy Sharp from Southampton for the rest of the season. Dark horses for promotion?
9:18pm - Chelsea score in the Super Cup. Only three more goals to get in 15 minutes.
9:17pm - Dejan Lovren is very sad. Hugo Lloris is very happy. He is now a Tottenham Hotspur.
9:16pm - How many Venezuelans have played in the SPL? Nicolas Fedor could be the first if he completes a transfer from Spanish side GETAFE! (Bless you) to Celtic.
9:14pm - Nottingham Forest have secured a loan move for Doncaster Rovers midfielder James Coppinger. I didn't expect that one.
9:12pm - Stephane Mbia has completed his medical at Queens Park Rangers. It's just a case now of completing the formalities of his transfer.
9:09pm - Fulham are on the cusp of signing Iran's Ashkan Dejagah and Belgium's Vadis Odjidja.
9:07pm - Less than two hours to go until the window is shut. Clint, Hugo, Javi, get a move on!
9:05pm - Atletico Madrid are ripping Chelsea apart. They lead the Super Cup 4-0, and even comedienne Miranda has scored!
9:03pm - Javi Garcia has arrived at Manchester City for a medical.
9:00pm - Clint, you've only got yourself to blame for what has happened today.
8:58pm - No, wait. He's issued a transfer request and is now at Accrington Stanley.
8:56pm - Falcao's Wikipedia page says that Fleetwood Town have signed him. Yeah, sure...
8:55pm - I bet Dempsey wishes that Aston Villa's offer was still on the table. The Liverpool deal is dead, Tottenham Hotspur haven't made a full approach, and it looks unlikely that Dempsey will be unable to make peace with Fulham.
8:51pm - If Stoke City further bolster their midfield with Steven Nzonzi, to go with Adam and Edu, expect Wilson Palacios to join Olympiakos on loan.
8:45pm - Everton are now apparently in talks with Blackburn Rovers midfielder Steven Nzonzi. So they really do have money to spend, then!
8:42pm - Bristol City have parted company with Jamaican centre-back Damion Stewart. Hardly devastating news for Robins fans.
8:39pm - Liverpool have all but given up on signing Clint Dempsey from Fulham. Destination Tottenham Hotspur, perhaps?
8:33pm - How much is Radamel Falcao worth? A LOT! He's scored a hat-trick for Atletico Madrid, and is doing to Chelsea what Chelsea normally do to Wigan Athletic!
8:28pm - Former Celtic defender Josh Thompson has signed for Portsmouth.
8:23pm - Who fancies signing Paul Robinson? He could be leaving Blackburn Rovers now that they have signed Polish goalkeeping talent Grzegorz Sandomierski from Genk on loan.
8:21pm - Portugal defender Rolando has decided he would rather stay at Porto than sign for Queens Park Rangers. Fair do's.
8:18pm - Tottenham are still optimistic about signing Joao Moutinho from Porto. If it does happen, I'm Chairman Mao.
8:13pm - I think I've mentioned every Premier League team today except Reading. There we go.
8:11pm - If any of the big clubs want a world-class striker, they should pool together all the cash they can get and spend it on Radamel Falcao. He's just scored two Super Cup goals for Atletico Madrid against Chelsea.
8:08pm - Costa Rica left-back Bryan Oviedo has finally, FINALLY finalised his move to Everton from FC Copenhagen.
8:05pm - That might happen if Emile Heskey signs for Shrewsbury Town.
8:04pm - Jim White is so excited that you get the feeling that, one of these deadline days, he'll spontaneously combust!
7:58pm - Former Chelsea and Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra has sold his soul to the devil, by which I mean secured a move to big-spending Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.
7:56pm - Transfer news concerning Leicester City, but it's not about Jermaine Beckford or Emile Heskey. Defender Cian Bolger has been loaned to League Two's Bristol Rovers.
7:51pm - Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has said that he will allow Michael Essien to go out on loan but not to Arsenal. Hat, you're safe.
7:48pm - Napoli have announced that Edinson Cavani is staying at the club, and in extravagant style. You'll find out what I'm on about soon enough.
7:45pm - You can't accuse Nigel Adkins of being downbeat when you read what he has to say about Southampton's new man Gaston Ramirez.
7:40pm - QPR have fed SSN reporter Geraint Hughes some chips as a reward for keeping their fans informed about the Stephane Mbia situation. I wish I was in his position. I love chips. Both of the potato and the computer variety.
7:37pm - Turns out that the Roque Santa Cruz deal is a season-long loan. Why are some clubs determined to hang onto the contracts of their dead wood for as long as possible?
7:35pm - Another player exiting Manchester City, albeit temporarily, is Dedryck Boyata. Steve McClaren has seen reason to secure the Belgian defender on a six-month loan for his FC Twente team.
7:32pm - Roque Santa Cruz's time at Manchester City is over. The club have agreed a deal with Malaga for his services.
7:31pm - It's fair to say that Lyon aren't happy about the prospect of Hugo Lloris joining Spurs. Defender Dejan Lovren tweeted: "I am sad."
7:23pm - Fulham fail to sign someone shocker! Talks with Dnipro player Derek Boateng have broken down.
7:22pm - Whatever happened to Heurelho Gomes, asks Jim. Exactly. Should Hugo Lloris sign for Tottenham Hotspur tonight, his Spurs goose will have been cooked.
7:18pm - You know what, putting my hat in the microwave won't do anything to cook it. I'll put it in the oven instead.
7:17pm - I've put my hat in the microwave in case Essien does sign for Arsenal.
7:11pm - No Michael Essien in Chelsea's Super Cup squad to play Atletico Madrid. Does that mean he's moving to the north of London to play for a certain team in red and white?
7:10pm - Australian soccer fans are being spoilt. After Alessandro Del Piero signed for Sydney FC, Central Coast Mariners have announced the arrival of Nick Montgomery from Sheffield United.
7:07pm - And if I heard correctly, Everton want to sign Jack Butland from Birmingham City. I'd stay where you are, Jack. Everton might not give you the first-team football you need to develop.
7:04pm - Within the last few minutes, Southampton have completed the club-record signing of Gaston Ramirez! Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.
7:03pm - Fulham have rejected an offer from Liverpool for Clint Dempsey! He'll be a bit pussed off.
7:02pm - Jim's wearing a yellow tie, and Natalie is looking scrumptious in a similarly-coloured top.
7:00pm - They're here! With four hours to go, Jim White and Natalie Sawyer are in the Sky Sports News studio, preparing for the dying moments of this summer's transfer window.

Deadline day LIVE

Will Scott Sinclair be swapping this white shirt for a light blue one?

It's the final day of the transfer window, and clubs from England, Scotland and most of the other European leagues have a limited time to complete their transfer activities.

The Daily Transfer Request will be here with regular live transfer updates and opinions, right up until the window closes at 11pm.

You can contact me at any time throughout deadline day by emailing TDTR at transferrequest@live.co.uk. Don't bother sending me any spam, or you'll face the consequences.

6:59pm - TDTR's coverage of deadline day continues here.
6:56pm - I'll wrap things up on this article now. See you in a few minutes on a new article.
6:55pm - Celtic have signed Ashdod defender Efe Ambrose on a three-year deal, the club's chief executive has just confirmed.
6:53pm - Newcastle United defender Ryan Taylor faces several months on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury. Could this prompt Alan Pardew to raid the loan market?
6:51pm - Aston Villa have agreed a £7million price for Genk striker Christian Benteke, and he's having a medical as I type this.
6:50pm - Forget Michael Owen, who wants to sign Emile Heskey? Could he return to Leicester City?
6:49pm - Dan Walker. He's not exactly Jim White, is he?
6:47pm - Queens Park Rangers striker Jay Bothroyd has started a four-month loan period at Sheffield Wednesday.
6:44pm - Clint Dempsey to Tottenham Hotspur? Paddy Power have had a flurry of bets on that, and I'll bet they refund them all if he signs for Liverpool instead.
6:40pm - Laura Robson won her match and is in the last 16 of the US Open! Who cares?
6:38pm - Robbie Savage thinks Dimitar Berbatov's move to Fulham is the best of his deadline day. £4million for a striker of Berbatov's quality? I agree with you for once, Robbie!
6:34pm - I'm surprised that we've heard nothing new about Clint Dempsey in the last few hours.
6:32pm - Here we go. Football Focus is on. It's like watching Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief when you've got Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on blu-ray.
6:25pm - I'll soon switch over to the Football Focus special programme, to see just how bad the BBC's deadline day coverage is.
6:24pm - Aston Villa are in transfer talks with Crewe Alexandra midfielder Ashley Westwood who, guess what, is another kid. While he's at it, why doesn't Paul Lambert sign up Raheem Sterling...'s children?
6:20pm - Chelsea have indeed shipped out Gael Kakuta to Vitesse Arnhem on a season-long loan.
6:18pm - It's a welcome return to Accrington Stanley for Romuald Boco, who has signed from Sligo Rovers. Wow-cher.
6:13pm - The transfer deadline in Germany has also passed, but Chelsea can still sign Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen.
6:11pm - Celtic are close to signing the Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose, but have as much chance of snaring Michael Owen as I have of winning the 100 metres in the Rio Olympics.
6:09pm - The window has now shut in Italy, where unconfirmed rumours have stated that Gaston Ramirez is now a Southampton player.
6:05pm - David Garrido will take any opportunity to mention that we're watching Sky Sports News HD. What a twit.
6:04pm - Former Liverpool liability Ryan Babel has signed for Ajax, who play Real Madrid and Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League group stages. I don't envy him.
6:00pm - Only five hours to go until you know what, and just one hour until you know who.
5:55pm - Aston Villa maintain an interest in Genk striker Christian Benteke. I'll keep you posted, of course.
5:50pm - Everton have been granted a work permit for Costa Rican international Bryan Oviedo, so you can now call him a Toffee.
5:47pm - Sorry for the delay. Just to let you know that Joao Moutinho is flying to the Algarve, not London. No Tottenham move for him.
5:36pm - Fulham's move for Brazil winger Michel Bastos is no go. Lyon have rejected Martin Jol's loan offer for the £7million-rated international.
5:28pm - Former West Ham United defender Manuel da Costa (forgotten him?) has signed a season-
long loan deal with Portuguese side Nacional.
5:24pm - At long last, Juventus have completed the signing of Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal. Shame it's only a season-long loan. I'd prefer to see the arrogant Dane leave England permanently.
5:18pm - I'll briefly cut away from the football, because Laura Robson's taken the first set in Round 3 of the US Open against Li Na. Not as exciting as spotting Lionel Messi outside Leyton Orient's ground, but still...
5:17pm - So Sinclair, Maicon and (ahem) Wright are confirmed. Manchester City are hopeful of adding Javi Garcia, and also the Fiorentina defender Matija Nastasic, to their squad list before 11pm. Roque Santa Cruz could leave Eastlands, and Stefan Savic used as bait in the Nastasic deal, so overall it's looking like a busy day for the Citizens.
5:12pm - Good news for fans of managerless Coventry City. David McGoldrick, one of the products of Southampton's lauded youth system, has begun a loan spell from Nottingham Forest.
5:10pm - Has Nicklas Bendtner signed for Juventus yet? If not, he'd better get a move on.
5:05pm - It looks like that Peterborough United have signed the cousin of Rio and Anton Ferdinand, Kane Ferdinand, on a four-year deal from Southend United.
5:01pm - Less than an hour remains in the Italian transfer window, which begs the question. Where will Napoli striker Edinson Cavani be at the end of the day?
5:00pm - Six hours to go until the transfer window is slammed shut. Two hours until we see Jim and Natalie for the first time.
4:59pm - Now I will do those transfers that passed me by. Daryl Murphy (remember him, Sunderland fans?) has gone to Ipswich Town on loan from Celtic, Crawley Town have signed Sheffield Wednesday's Mike Jones and AFC Wimbledon have secured the short-term signing of Norwich City's young defender George Francomb.
4:56pm - Screw that, Pablo Hernandez has joined Swansea City! The Valencia winger is the latest in a line of Spanish-based players to move to Wales.
4:54pm - I'll look for some deals that have escaped me so far. Bear with me for a few minutes...
4:47pm - C'mon, somebody else confirm a transfer! Things are getting a bit stale!
4:45pm - Staying on the topic of Owen... I think Stoke City have just five recognised strikers in their ranks, and the number 10 shirt remains vacant. Possibly?
4:39pm - Michael Owen to Celtic? Sky Bet aren't ruling it out. It's now 10/1 (from 50/1) for him to pull on the green and white hoops in the SPLO1TA11TMUTN (Scottish Premier League Of One Team And Eleven That Make Up The Numbers).
4:36pm - If you're to believe his Wikipedia article, Bosko Balaban has signed for Dagenham & Redbridge. All together... PULL THE OTHER ONE!
4:29pm - As Rafael van der Vaart takes part in a press conference at his new club Hamburg, Tottenham Hotspur's keeper-elect Hugo Lloris is undergoing a medical at Spurs Lodge.
4:27pm - Maicon is now confirmed as a Manchester City defender on their website.
4:25pm - Watford aren't just a feeder club for Udinese and Granada. Hornets boss Gianfranco Zola has raided his ex-club Chelsea for the prodigious 17-year-old defender Nathaniel Chalobah, taking him on loan.
4:19pm - Oh dear. Looks like Joao Moutinho's move to Tottenham Hotspur has been delayed because of a dispute over personal terms.
4:13pm - SUPER BREAKING NEWS! AFC Bournemouth have completed the signing of Edgar Davids...
..'s cousin Lorenzo Davids on a two-year deal following his departure from German top-flight side Augsburg.
4:11pm - Could Stoke City's loss be West Bromwich Albion's gain? West Brom are in talks with the Macedonian left-back Goran Popov. The Dinamo Kiev man's proposed move to Stoke towards the start of the Premier League season collapsed at the last minute.
4:06pm - Arsenal fans are unhappy that they haven't signed anyone on deadline day. Well, Arsene Wenger is notorious for not doing anything in the last 24 hours, except this time last year, when he went mad and signed about three dozen players at once!
4:04pm - Paolo Di Canio likes Coke. Giles Coke that is, as the Swindon Town manager's signed the Sheffield Wednesday midfielder on loan, and sent Oliver Risser to Stevenage on a similarly temporary basis.
3:58pm - Hugo Lloris is now in the UK, more specifically at the Spurs training ground.
3:55pm - Down in League One, Stevenage have made a couple of new strikers their latest signings. One is the veteran journeyman Patrick Agyemang, and the other is former Atletico Madrid trainee Dani Lopez.
3:52pm - Just giving you three hours notice that, when Mr White and Ms Sawyer come on the air, I'll be switching my deadline day coverage to a new article, just to keep things as neat and tidy as possible.
3:47pm - There'll be no return to West London for former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho. Well, Queens Park Rangers can't have them all.
3:44pm - Within the last half-hour, Manchester City have confirmed the arrival of former goalkeeper Richard Wright.
3:43pm - Hull City have made a move for Sheffield United midfielder Stephen Quinn.
3:37pm - Speak of the devil, Maicon has now completed his move to Manchester City. We just need the City website to confirm it.
3:35pm - A fresh rumour concerns Micah Richards, who could be heading out of Manchester City and signing for Newcastle United. If Maicon as expected joins City, then Richards' career at Eastlands will be pretty much toast.
3:29pm - For the first time, SSN go to their north-east reporter David Craig, who is usually very busy on deadline day, but not so much today.
3:25pm - It's been confirmed that Dimitar Berbatov is now a Fulham player. He leaves the Manchester United bench on a two-year deal.
3:20pm - Rennes have said that Yann M'Vila is definitely not going to England. Okay...
3:18pm - Lyon say that goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is flying to London, but added that they have not yet agreed a deal with Tottenham. Maybe Hugo decided to go shopping for his partner. Is there a shoe megashop near White Hart Lane?
3:13pm - SSN's Peter Stevenson is surrounded by dozens of young Stoke City fans who seem to think he's the Messiah.
3:11pm - Southampton fans, get ready to be thrilled! Nigel Adkins has confirmed that the signing of Uruguay midfielder Gaston Ramirez is "very, very close".
3:06pm - Maurice Edu has said that his transfer to Stoke City from Rangers is done.
3:05pm - Signed, sealed, delivered, he's yours, Hamburg. Rafael van der Vaart has officially left Tottenham Hotspur.
3:03pm - According to Sky's Aidan Magee, Joe Cole fancies moving abroad for a second time.
3:00pm - Heart of Midlothian, I did not mention, have got their man in Ipswich Town defender Ryan Stevenson.
2:57pm - Phil Brown's gone, and in comes Paul Merson, who immediately says that Santi Cazorla is "different, different class". Some great experts lined up by SSN.
2:55pm - Hull City midfielder Cameron Stewart is going to Burnley on loan. And for good measure, Fulham are hoping to complete their set of nationalities by buying Iran winger Ashkan Dejagah.
2:50pm - Fulham's move for Derek Boateng is on. Make that 164 nationalities at Craven Cottage.
2:49pm - Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has said that talks with Tottenham Hotspur regarding Hugo Lloris are going swimmingly: "The negotiation with the Tottenham directors has been the hardest I have ever had in 25 years."
2:45pm - I've just found out that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is very charismatic and extroverted. I've also learnt that Michael Owen is undergoing a medical at Grimsby Town.
2:40pm - A former England youth international is on the move. What can that mean? Yes, Hereford United have signed Tristan Plummer on a free transfer. Hold the back page.
2:36pm - On the subject of Martin Jol's club, a helicopter has landed at the Fulham training ground. Does this mean they've signed President Obama or the Queen?
2:32pm - Benfica have accepted a £24million bid from Manchester City for Javi Garcia.
2:30pm - I think Martin Jol likes deadline day. Rumour has it is that he is about to swoop for Brazilian international Michel Bastos, taking the number of nationalities represented in his squad to 163.
2:25pm - Everton sign Bryan Oviedo from FC Copenhagen!
2:18pm - I've not mentioned Southampton's deal for Bologna and Uruguay winger Gaston Ramirez yet. If that gets the green light, that'd set pulses racing on the south coast.
2:16pm - Crystal Palace have wrapped up a deal for Ipswich Town defender Damien Delaney.
2:09pm - Stoke are closing in on the signing of Blackburn Rovers' Steven Nzonzi after being rebuffed in their attempts to sign Liverpool's Jordan Henderson. I know which player I'd prefer to have, and it's not the Englishman.
2:03pm - Stoke City and Norwich City fans will recognise Portsmouth's newest recruit, who is midfielder Darel Russell.
2:01pm - Good news: Kirsty Gallacher is now in the studio. Bad news: so is David Garrido.
2:00pm - Nine hours left until the window shuts, but only five until Jim and Natalie are on the air!

1:53pm - Another player is leaving Spurs. Real Mallorca have had a bid accepted for their forgotten forward Giovani dos Santos.
1:48pm - Arsenal have now sent Park Chu-Young to Celta Vigo for the remainder of the season.
1:43pm - Rafael van der Vaart's return to Hamburg is almost sewn up. He just needs to pass a medical.
1:40pm - Now the main questions are: What colour tie will Jim wear, and what attire will Natalie look gorgeous in tonight?
1:39pm - The King has arrived! Sir Jim White has entered the Sky Sports News studios! Five and a half hours to go until he and Lady Natalie Sawyer are on the air!
1:37pm - Tottenham, I forgot to mention, have agreed a fee of £22million for Porto's Joao Moutinho.
1:33pm - Gareth Bale will be looking forward to playing Manchester City this season, because Inter Milan say they've agreed to sell the full-back Maicon to City.
1:31pm - Can somebody tell me why Phil Brown is now an SSN pundit?
1:30pm - As far as a Tottenham deal for Lyon and France keeper Hugo Lloris is concerned... there are conflicting reports. Some say a fee's been agreed, some say it hasn't.
1:25pm - Leicester City have terminated the contract of defender Tom Kennedy. Big wow.
1:18pm - Jermaine Jenas' move from Tottenham Hotspur to Sunderland is... dead in the water. He won't be seen on Wearside.
1:16pm - Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu has arrived in Stoke City as he looks set to join Charlie Adam in signing for the Potters.
1:11pm - Malaga have confirmed that they are in talks with Manchester City waste of money Roque Santa Cruz. I forgot that he was still a City player.
1:07pm - Unlike Liverpool, West Ham United DO NOT want to re-sign Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea. The Israeli midfielder's wage demands have turned off Sam Allardyce.
1:03pm - Sunderland have completed a loan deal for Tottenham Hotspur left-back Danny Rose, I have just read.
12:58pm - Ghanaian Derek Boateng, of Ukrainian team Dnipro, is also on Martin Jol's shortlist. Why doesn't he just go ahead and rename Fulham as United Nations FC?
12:56pm - Fulham are rushing around doing deals like a city banker! Who's their newest signing? It's the teenage FC Twente midfielder Chris David. Reportedly, C David said "I'm walking away" to Twente "7 days" ago because "I just don't love you no more".
12:53pm - Oh, wait, the Charlie Adam one. He's just completed his move to Stoke City from Liverpool.
12:52pm - A big transfer deal has just broken in the north-west! Rochdale have signed striker Bobby Grant from Scunthorpe United!
12:47pm - I've read on the BBC's updates webpage that Liverpool were interested in bringing back Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea. What's. The. Point.
12:42pm - We've known about this for a few hours, but now it's absolutely 100% confirmed. Aston Villa have signed the talented young striker Jordan Bowery from League Two side Chesterfield.
12:40pm - Stephane Mbia is on his way to Queens Park Rangers. If QPR secure his signature, that really would be a statement of intent.
12:31pm - Tranmere Rovers have signed Roman Golobart on loan from Wigan Athletic. No, I haven't got amnesia. The BBC have, it seems, so I'm mocking them.
12:25pm - Reports suggest that Tottenham Hotspur have agreed a fee with Porto for Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho. And a car alarm's just gone off near where I'm typing this.
12:24pm - The Sinclair fee is around £6.2million. The man himself says: "I'm just glad everything is settled and that I'm now a City player." Erm, weren't you a City player before, at Swansea?
12:20pm - Manchester City have confirmed the signing of the man pictured at the top of this article, Scott Sinclair. That's perhaps the biggest deal so far on deadline day.
12:19pm - Canada striker Iain Hume was one of the Preston North End players cast out by manager Graham Westley, and he has now signed a loan deal with Doncaster Rovers.
12:13pm - Breaking news: Rafael van der Vaart is now officially in Germany ahead of his return to Hamburg.
12:11pm - Richard Wright has arrived at Manchester City where he will sign away the rest of what was left of his career.
12:07pm - 'In terms of' seems to be the phrase of the day among Sky Sports News reporters.
12:02pm - Swindon Town have signed striker Adam Rooney from Birmingham City, with ex-captain Paul Caddis set to go the other way.
11:56am - Things have got a little bit quiet now.
11:49am - Swansea City left-back Federico Bessone has started a six-month loan at the club formerly known as Swindon Town, and now known as Paolo Di Canio's Swindon Town.
11:47am - Somebody tell the writer of The Guardian's deadline day updates that Everton's star striker is called Nikica Jelavic, not Nikita. That's the name of an Elton John song.
11:39am - Fulham have sealed a deal for Sunderland's former England midfielder Kieran Richardson.
11:38am - The reason why Aston Villa have started the season so poorly is that their young squad looks out of place in the Premier League. They've put in a bid for Charlton Athletic midfielder Dale Stephens, aged 22. Hasn't Paul Lambert got bigger fish to fry?
11:36am - I watched Swedish teen Amin Affane play for Chelsea in an FA Youth Cup match against Manchester United last season, and I was impressed. But we won't be seeing him in the Premier League season, because he's been farmed out to Dutch outfit Roda on loan.
11:33am - Huddersfield Town have a BIG Jordan Rhodes-shaped hole to fill in their attack. Jermaine Beckford, who moved to Leicester City on the last August deadline day, could be the man to fill it.
11:30am - It's now looking likely that Feyenoord winger Jerson Cabral will sign for FC Twente. Sorry, Swansea City fans.
11:28am - I'll run you through a couple of loan deals that have gone through. Chelsea have loaned Eden Hazard's brother Thorgan to Belgian club Zulte Waregem, and Wigan Athletic have sent Roman Golobart to Tranmere Rovers temporarily.
11:24am - Joey Barton has been training with Marseille ahead of his proposed move from Queens Park Rangers. Ousmane Dabo was nowhere to be seen.
11:19am - Sheffield United have made possibly the most high-profile signing in the whole of the Football League. They've named one of their stands at Bramall Lane after Olympic gold medallist, and United fan, Jessica Ennis. Reports that the Blades are naming another stand after Sky's Alex Hammond are wide of the mark.
11:14am - Speculation that Aston Villa could make a surprise signing in Clint Dempsey is now hogwash. Despite agreeing a fee with Fulham, Villa have ended their interest in the American dynamo as he is desperate to sign for Liverpool instead.
11:07am - Southampton's former captain Dean Hammond is close to signing for Championship side Charlton Athletic. Slightly further away from London now, and if reports are to be believed, Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero is set to sign for... Sydney FC!
11:02am - Big deal completed! Nigel de Jong signs for AC Milan from Manchester City!
10:59am - Off to Europe now, and Ajax could finally be losing their highly-rated right-back Gregory van der Wiel. The Holland international is heading off to France to secure a £4.5million to Paris Saint-Germain.
10:55am - Scott Sinclair used to be Chelsea's rent-a-player. Their new serial loanee Gael Kakuta is reportedly off to Vitesse Arnhem in Holland on a temporary deal.
10:53am - Is it just me, is there no logic in Richard Wright signing for Manchester City? This, remember, is a man who left Preston North End after one week because he was homesick. Unless he's interested in goalkeeper coaching, I cannot see the point of Wright wasting his time in Manchester when he is only going to be about 25 miles nearer to his family than he was at Preston.
10:48am - Portsmouth have signed a new defender following Sam Magri's exit. He is former Crystal Palace and Sheffield United man Johannes Ertl.
10:46am - Manchester City have been surprisingly quiet in the transfer window, but Roberto Mancini has said that City are in the market for several players before it shuts.
10:41am - Liverpool have confirmed the departure of midfielder Jay Spearing to Bolton Wanderers on a season-long loan.
10:35am - Apparently, Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young is undergoing a medical at La Liga newcomers Celta Vigo. Park's career at the Emirates Stadium hasn't exactly been a magnificent one.
10:32am - I've just read on the BBC website that someone who works in the Tottenham Hotspur club shop has been told to print hundreds of number 9 shirts in preparation for the arrival of a Spanish international. Could that man be Fernando Llorente?
10:31am - Ipswich Town have signed Peterborough United striker Paul Taylor, and it looks like his Posh team-mate George Boyd will join him at Portman Road.
10:28am - It looks like Spurs and Sunderland are going to do another deal, this time for Jermaine Jenas. The former England midfielder is on course for a permanent move to the Stadium of Light.
10:25am - Watford are owned by the Pozzo family, who also own Udinese. The Hornets have today secured a loan deal for Argentine midfielder Cristian Battocchio... from Udinese. He becomes their SIXTH loan signing from the Italian club. Don't tell me that Watford aren't a feeder club.
10:21am - Sunderland have agreed to take left-flank player Danny Rose on loan from Tottenham Hotspur.
10:18am - Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge has struggled to hold down a first-team place at Stamford Bridge. Could he be about to sign for Liverpool on loan?
10:13am - Everton look set to do some business in the transfer window. They've agreed a fee with FC Copenhagen for their Costa Rican winger Bryan Oviedo.
10:11am - Swansea City have sold a midfield player, but it's not Scott Sinclair. Andrea Orlandi has joined the foreign legion at ambitious Brighton & Hove Albion.
10:07am - Now Villa boss Paul Lambert has said he is unaware of any deal for Dempsey. The plot thickens.
10:03am - Well, this is a bit surprising. Clint Dempsey wanted Champions League football, so Fulham have agreed a fee for him with... Aston Villa. I bet Clint's excited.
10:01am - Mike and Alex have left the SSN studio. Now we've got Adam Leventhal and Hayley McQueen. Whoopee.
9:56am - Speaking to the media earlier this hour, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson suggested that Dimitar Berbatov could return to Tottenham Hotspur rather than sign for Fulham, as was expected. Does he know something we don't?
9:48am - Another deal confirmed is one I mentioned earlier. Sam Magri has indeed joined QPR from Portsmouth. The teenage defender is one for the future.
9:42am - Done deal! Aston Villa have signed a striker, and yes, it's another youngster. Jordan Bowery has completed his move from Chesterfield.
9:39am - Bad news for Tottenham Hotspur fans. Sky's Gary Cotterill has confirmed that Rafael van der Vaart is leaving Spurs, possibly for his former club Hamburg.
9:35am - Swansea aren't wasting time in lining up a replacement for Scott Sinclair. Michael Laudrup expects to secure a deal for Feyenoord winger Jerson Cabral shortly.
9:32am - Where will Michael Owen be at 11pm? Everton? Stoke City? Rochdale? The physio room as usual?
9:28am - If what I've read is true, and Arsenal plan to sign Michael Essien on loan from Chelsea, I'll eat my hat.
9:22am - One player heading out of QPR is the man everyone loves to hate, Joey Barton. Yesterday, he passed a medical and agreed personal terms with Marseille.
9:17am - Expect Queens Park Rangers to be very busy in the dying moments of the transfer window. They've already brought in 10 players during the window, and an eleventh could soon follow. I've heard that Portsmouth teenager Sam Magri had a medical at Loftus Road yesterday.
9:09am - Manchester City agreed a fee with Swansea City for Scott Sinclair last night, and the forward has just arrived at the Citizens' training ground.
9:06am - Another Liverpool midfielder looks set to depart Anfield. Jay Spearing, who only got into the Reds team because they needed to make up the homegrown numbers, is on course to join Bolton Wanderers on loan.
9:02am - Mike Wedderburn and Alex Hammond are taking us through the first leg of deadline day on Sky Sports News. Maybe racing expert Alex will be able to tell us if Frankel has been spotted at White Hart Lane?
8:58am - Charlie Adam was such a big success at Liverpool that the Reds are selling him to Stoke City for around £4million. He'll undergo a medical at the Britannia Stadium shortly.
8:56am - Also on his way to Italy is Nigel de Jong. The Manchester City midfielder is undergoing a medical at AC Milan.
8:47am - One of the transfer stories that I woke up to concerned Nicklas Bendtner. It looks like Arsenal are finally going to sell the Danish striker, and his ego, to Serie A champions Juventus.
8:45am - Top of the morning to you! My name is Chris, and I'll be taking you through deadline day with transfer updates when they happen. To start off, I'll fill you in on the biggest transfers that happened yesterday, or deadline day eve if you prefer. Liverpool's £35million striker Andy Carroll has joined West Ham United on loan, Southampton have bolstered their defence with Japan international Maya Oshida, and Queens Park Rangers have completed a deal for Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero.

30 August 2012

Channel 4's Alternative Deadline Day

DISCLAIMER: This article has no affiliation to Channel 4, nor has it been written, completely or partially, by any past, present or future employee of Channel 4.

Here's how a Transfer Deadline Day for international football teams and players might pan out...
Jim White: "This has without doubt been THE most exciting deadline day in the history of deadline days! Let's cross to my colleague, Nick Collins, who's at Wembley. Any late moves from England, Nick?"
Nick Collins: "Indeed, Jim. The FA have today approached Germany with an offer to sign Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller in exchange for Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll. England are looking for purely a player-exchange deal, but the Germans are holding out for £1trillion and the FA's last shred of dignity."
Jim: "And what's this I've heard about Jack Butland leaving England?"
Nick: "Yes, this is bad news for Roy Hodgson... but excellent news for Stuart Pearce. Jack Butland has decided that enjoyed his loan spell with Great Britain so much that he has now signed a permanent four-year deal with Team GB, taking him up to the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro."
Natalie Sawyer: "Let's go to Bryn Law now, who has the latest news from Wales. Are these reports of Ronaldo arriving in Cardiff true, Bryn?"
Bryn Law: "No, these reports are wide off the mark, as Ronaldo is in fact undergoing a medical at Spain. One player that Chris Coleman has his eye on, though, is David Silva. That's after Gareth Bale sensationally handed in a transfer request as he aims to secure a big-money move to Italy."
Jim: "Thanks, Bryn. Let's now talk to my colleague Paul Gilmour in Belfast. Paul, my Gaelic friend, what's the latest on the Northern Ireland front?"
Paul Gilmour: "Well, I'm afraid this has been a terrible transfer window for Northern Ireland, who have lost almost their entire squad to those eejits across the border. In fact, the only northern players that the Republic haven't poached are Maik Taylor and Warren Feeney, but Taylor is in talks about a possible loan move to Luxembourg, so it could get worse for Michael O'Neill."
Jim: "Deary me. Now some HUGE breaking news coming into us right at this minute! And that is that Scotland have completed the signing of the Argentinean sensation Lionel... (checks earpiece) SCALONI!"
(Natalie laughs as Jim sits open-jawed in bemusement)
Natalie: "At least it's not another Englishman, eh, Jim! (Giggles) Let's go live now to Dharmesh Sheth, who has some interesting news coming out of Moldova. Good evening, Dharmesh!"

Mike Wedderburn: "Barry Silkman, what's it like to be a football agent on transfer deadline day?"
Barry Silkman: "LOADSAMONEY!!!"

David Craig: "This is David Craig, reporting live from the comfort of his own bed, as there will be absolutely no transfer news in the north-east today."

Jamie Weir:
"Daniel Levy, will Tottenham do any business today?"
Daniel Levy: "No."
Jamie: "Thanks a lot. I postponed by washing machine delivery for this!" 

Simon Thomas: "I hear that one of Wigan's star players wants to leave the club. Is that right, Fraser?"
Fraser Dainton: "Yes it is. Sam Tomkins has today demanded a transfer."

Bryan Swanson: "Er, guys, do you have any idea how to work this magic TV screen?"

Bryan Swanson: "We've just got some exclusive transfer news from a credible source. The source has told Sky Sports News, sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air, I know I can count on you. Sometimes I feel like saying, Lord I just don't care, but you've got the love I need to see me through."

Bryan Swanson: "Now rumour has it... she ain't got your love anymore."

James Cooper: "Big transfer news involving City... Bradford City, that is."

Dan Walker: "You're watching the BBC's coverage of Transfer Deadline Day. That's right. Just you."

Joey Barton on Twitter:
"I only want to play for Alfreton Town. This is the place for me. My heart is already in North Street."

David Garrido: "Next up on Sky Sports News HD, it's the king and queen of Deadline Day. It's the sexiest, most gorgeous presenter in the history of Sky Sports News HD... and Natalie Sawyer."

Jim White: "You never hear of the undisclosed fee nowadays, do you, Natalie?"

Jim White: "It's coming up to 11 o'clock, the end of the transfer window. Normally we'd show you a video of Big Ben, but instead, we're going to take you live to Gareth Bale's basement, where he is about to hang himself after failing to get his dream transfer to Real Madrid."

Natalie Sawyer: "Everton were the biggest spenders in the final day of the transfer window."

Natalie Sawyer: "You do realise, Jim, that the Russian transfer window doesn't end until 6 September."
Jim White: "Join Natalie and myself on Thursday night for Russian deadline day, live from Moscow! All of the latest transfer dealings from behind the iron curtain!"

A selection from myself...
Chelsea have ended their interest in Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao after talks between John Terry and Falcao's wife broke down.

Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves will both be out of action for several months after falling out of the transfer window.

Arsenal have sold their top goalscorer to Manchester United - Wojciech Szczesny.

After signing Chico, Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup has lined up two more new players: Wagner, and Eoghan Quigg.

Breaking News: Natalie Sawyer has passed a fitness test.

And a selection from others...
Apparently Emile Heskey is in talks to join Rangers. Never knew the SFA imposed a goal scoring ban on them as well.

Michael Owen going to Stoke. I assume with his record that's Mandeville and not City.

Manchester United are set to sign Dracula as a replacement for underperforming David de Gea. According to the club's goalkeeper coach, he can handle crosses better.

Manchester City fan: Tevez update?
Dale Johnson from ESPN Soccernet: Three under par going into the back nine.

29 August 2012

Do Arsenal need Walcott?

Walcott (second-left) could join van Persie (far left) in leaving Arsenal.

The news that Theo Walcott has not signed a contract extension at Arsenal is an indication that the club now struggles to hold onto its star players.

The 23-year-old England winger wants to stay at the Emirates Stadium, but has turned down a new five-year deal worth £75,000 per week. As his current contract has less than 12 months to go, Arsenal find themselves in a situation where they either have to sell him now or lose him for nothing in the summer.

Sound familiar? Of course you can't forget that Robin van Persie publicly rejected an offer to stay at Arsenal beyond next summer and instead joined Manchester United for £24million. The exit door had only just been shut behind van Persie when Alex Song opened it again, as he made a £15million move to Barcelona.

The current situation with Walcott has attracted the attention of Liverpool and Manchester City, the latter of whom have plenty of Gunners alumni in their ranks. £12million might be enough to entice the England international away from the Emirates.

Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005, and it is this drought which has lost them players of the calibre of Alexander Hleb, Kolo Touré (when he was better than his brother Yaya), Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas in the recent past. The fear among some Gooners is that, if Arsene Wenger fails to deliver another trophy this season, Thomas Vermaelen could become their third captain in successive seasons to desert them. And if Santi Cazorla as expected makes an amazing impact in his first season in North London, bigger clubs might seek to stop him from enjoying a second campaign there.

Manager Arsene Wenger will come under some flak for not opting to renew van Persie and Walcott's contracts sooner. It used to be that you could let a player's contract run until it was about six months from expiry, at which point you had to act and decide there and then whether to renew it or lose the player for nothing. Now, it's 12 months. I hold the opinion that contract lengths nowadays are meaningless, but that debate's for another day.

But maybe Wenger's being typically shrewd, and selling his best players when he feels he's got the best he can out of them. van Persie had only just turned 29 when he moved to United, and had come off a wonderful season in which he scored 30 Premier League goals. Yes, the other names I mentioned were all younger than him when they left, but Hleb and Touré didn't reach their peaks again at their new clubs, and Clichy hasn't massively improved at Manchester City.

Walcott joined Arsenal in 2006, when he was a fresh-faced 16-year-old wonderkid at Southampton. In the six and a half years since, he has scored 42 goals from 222 games, which on the face of it is not overly impressive for a winger.

Consistency is not one of his most prominent traits - he can score a hat-trick in one game and look totally out of place on a football pitch in the next. The same thing can be said of his England career. He has scored only four goals in 28 caps - those four coming in two outstanding performances against Croatia in 2008, when he bagged a hat-trick, and against Sweden at UEFA Euro 2012, when his long-range stunner and brilliant assist for Danny Welbeck turned the tie around.

A large group of Arsenal fans are unhappy with Walcott's performances for the club. I remember one Gooner contacting the You're On Sky Sports phone-in programme and saying that Walcott should retire from football and concentrate on being a sprinter. His pace is obvious, but many don't believe he has what it takes to be a world-class footballer.

If Wenger decided here and now to get shot of Walcott, and another club offered £12million for him, the Frenchman would more than likely take it. I would if I were in his shoes.

Were Arsenal to lose their roadrunner, they wouldn't really need to buy a replacement for him. As well as the very versatile Cazorla, they have other players in wide positions like Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who seems to have shown at 19 that he is not all pace and no substance.

There might even be room for a young 17-year-old forward called Serge Gnabry. The German, who is of Ivorian descent, has quickly risen through the youth and reserve set-ups at Arsenal with his excellent pace and technical skills. Could this kid be the long-term replacement for Walcott?

In summary, the situations with Walcott and van Persie show both positive and negative things about Arsenal's current situation. They might struggle to hang onto their biggest assets, yes - but they probably don't REALLY need them.

27 August 2012

Weekend reflections #2

The second week of the new Premier League season has passed with plenty of talking points. Here are just a few of them:

Liverpool's Raheem Sterling is destined for a glorious future.

Sterling work, Raheem
Rafael Benitez may have taken a bit of stick from Liverpool fans, but today, they've got to give him some credit for signing Raheem Sterling.

In February 2010, Benitez spotted plenty of potential in a 15-year-old winger from Queens Park Rangers who had just been capped by England Under-16s - so much so that he paid QPR £600,000 to bring him to Anfield. That kid was Sterling, and yesterday, he made his full Premier League debut against Manchester City.

The left-winger caught the eye on his Liverpool debut against Heart of Midlothian in midweek. But his showing 24 hours ago against the league champions has brought him to the national spotlight.

Sterling's performance was solid, if not spectacular, but you've got to remember that he is now just a 17-year-old kid. Darting down the left flank with pace to make Messrs Bolt and Blake concerned, he gave City plenty of problems. His work rate was impressive for someone of his tender years, and he did not look at all nervous coming up against players like James Milner and Kolo Touré.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hailed Sterling's performance after the match, saying that it was an "easy decision" to select him in favour of the underperforming Stewart Downing. Rodgers' attack-minded passing philosophy is exactly the right system to get the best out of this very talented young Englishman.

But a word of caution - Raheem still has plenty of maturing to do. If you google his name, you might find reports that Sterling got two different women pregnant within a fortnight. Of course, not many boys become model professionals in their teenage years, but as long as Raheem doesn't turn into another Ravel Morrison, he should be alright.

One of Olivier Giroud's best scoring chances against Stoke. That says a lot.

Gunners firing blanks
Boring boring Arsenal is something you used to hear in the mid 1990's, not in 2012.

Arsene Wenger's team have done a Ross County by beginning the season with two successive 0-0 draws. Their second came in a very lacklustre away game against Stoke City.

There are some positives to take away from that game from an Arsenal perspective. Stoke are a bit of a bogey team for the Gunners, who don't like playing against Tony Pulis and his rough-and-ready Potters. More importantly, though, they haven't conceded any goals yet. Defence has been a prominent Achilles heel in the Arsenal team over the last couple of years.

However, it can't be denied that, without Robin van Persie, the Londoners are having trouble finding the net. The day after van Persie scored a wonderful goal on his Manchester United home debut, his old team-mates looked like they needed satellite navigation to find Asmir Begovic's net.

Olivier Giroud came into the side just as van Persie was preparing to pack his bags. He nearly caught Begovic off guard with a 35-yard cross that could easily have become a goal, but apart from that, his shooting was wasteful at best. No shots on target out of five on goal is not a good return for a Premier League centre-forward.

Giroud may be 25 years old, but this is only his third top-flight season. In 2010/2011, he scored 12 goals for Montpellier as they finished 14th in Ligue 1 - an average total at an average club. Last season, he found the net 21 times as La Paillade stormed to the title. Imagine Grant Holt doing the same thing with Norwich City this season after what happened last time around. It makes you wonder if Giroud is genuinely a top striker or just a few-seasons wonder.

Arsenal's other two big signings look promising, though. For the second game in a row, Santi Cazorla dominated the pitch like a typical Spain international midfielder, and Lukas Podolski is more than capable of finding the target with the right service.

Aside from Giroud and Podolski, the Gunner's first-team strikers are Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young. Will Wenger seek to improve his attacking options with a late signing as the transfer window prepares to shut?

Paul Lambert asks: "What have I got myself into?"

Meet the Championship's newest members
Nobody said it would be easy for Paul Lambert when Norwich City's gifted young manager made the move to Aston Villa.

On Saturday, he discovered just how difficult his task was. In their first home game of the season, Villa crumbled to a 3-0 half-time deficit against Everton. Karim El Ahmadi scored a late consolation in the second half, but that merely papered over the cracks.

The nightmare began in just the third minute, when Steven Pienaar's shot for Everton swerved past Shay Given. That was followed by goals from Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic. I did say in my pre-season preview that Given would be short on confidence following his displays for Republic of Ireland at UEFA Euro 2012, but now we're seeing just how low it is.

The back four that he has to organise doesn't give him much to be optimistic about, either. The four that started were Ciaran Clark (who got sent off for a foul on Jelavic), Nathan Baker (a youth graduate who doesn't look PL class), Matthew Lowton (who was a late bloomer at League One's Sheffield United) and Ron Vlaar (who had a horrid European Championship with Holland).

Aside from Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia, Villa don't really have any top-quality players in their squad. If Lambert can't sign any new recruits before 11pm on Friday night, he will have to continue relying on youngsters like Chris Herd and Nathan Delfouneso, who do have potential but aren't yet up to the standard that the Premier League demands.

And it gets worse. Gary Gardner, one of their most exciting youth graduates, tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week and is effectively out for the rest of the season.

The last time the Villans started this badly was ten years ago, in the season when Peter Enckelman did this. Villa recovered to finish 16th, but this time around, if their form gets worse before it gets better, they could easily find themselves playing Championship football next season.

Compare their plight to Everton, who are traditionally slow starters, but have this month flown out of the traps like a greyhound Ben Johnson. While one Scottish manager is having a tough time currently, another is looking forward to, once more, a solid season in the top half. David Moyes continues to do an excellent job under the circumstances at Goodison Park.

24 August 2012

Football's ad enough

They say that, in television, you should never work with children or animals. Or footballers.

Two ex-professionals have recently sold themselves in advertisments which have differing effects on Anglo-Italian relations.

This first one stars Mr Unbelievable Jeff himself, Chris Kamara. The hardman-turned-hilarious pundit recently teamed up with his Italian counterpart Tiziano Crudeli to advertise betting firm Ladbrokes in a faux shampo commercial. Here, Tiziano leaves Kammy in his Prince Harry suit:

Our second advert stars another footballing brute, Stuart Pearce, who is currently the head coach of England Under-21s and, of course, recently managed Team Merchandise. He takes a break from coaching to give the Go Compare tenor further pain following his earlier mortaring by Sue Barker:

That reminded me of a few more naff advertisements starring football has-beens. This one from last year starred Sky's king of clichés Jamie Redknapp and his wife Louise. This is how NOT to make an advert starring an attractive couple look cheesy as opposed to sexy. Thanks a lot, Thomas Cook.

We all know that Gary Lineker is England's second-greatest international goalscorer. We also know that he's a boring old fart who has done too many awful Walkers ads. Today, I bring you one of his earlier - and better - ones, from 1995, so not long after he retired. It's certainly a damn sight more watchable than the current one. Who wants to live forever? I don't if I have to watch THAT rubbish.

And finally, I don't have to tell you how embarrassing this 1980's Brut commercial starring Kevin Keegan and the late boxer Henry Cooper is, do I?

22 August 2012

Little Saints

James Ward-Prowse. He's got the right stuff.

Southampton's conveyor belt of football talent will not stop anytime soon.

This season has seen the very welcome returns to the Premier League for two teams with renowned youth set-ups. West Ham United's world-famous Academy of Football has produced many top players for their first-team, but Southampton's kids are set to become more prominent in the months ahead.

The newest player off the conveyor belt is James Ward-Prowse, a 17-year-old central midfielder with good passing skills. He impressed on his full league debut on Sunday, playing for 65 minutes against defending PL champions Manchester City.

He is the first of Southampton's current crop of teenage talent to make his mark this season, but if these words from manager Nigel Adkins are anything to go by, he will not be the last: "The vision of the football club is to get 50 per cent of players in the team through the academy and I think everyone at the academy should be so proud that, at 17, young James made his debut and I thought he was outstanding. His mentality is top drawer."

This sounds like excellent news for other rising stars like left-back Luke Shaw, who has been the subject of strong interest from Chelsea, and fellow defender Jack Stephens, who was snapped up last summer after making a number of first-team appearances for Plymouth Argyle. Another name to look out for is Calum Chambers. Like Ward-Prowse, Chambers is a 17-year-old midfielder, although he will be found on the wings.

Don't forget, though, that the Saints team that put up a brave fight against City was captained by a youth graduate from a different class. Creative midfield man Adam Lallana has been in Southampton's first-team for six years, and is seen as the club's main assist maker. To say that the St Albans native is an important player at St Mary's isn't to do him justice.

As far as the Saints' youth team of the mid-noughties is concerned, Lallana is, of course, "the one who stayed at Southampton". He was one of the players to feature in the 2005 FA Youth Cup Final against Ipswich Town, coming on as a subsitute in the second leg. Having drawn the first leg 2-2, Southampton agonisingly lost the second 1-0.

In both legs of that final, most eyes were on a certain 16-year-old forward called Theo Walcott. Gareth Bale and Nathan Dyer also formed part of that Saints team. It'll be interesting to find out where those three individuals are now.

I'll pick out a few more names from the class of 2005. The goalscorers from the first leg were David McGoldrick, now at Nottingham Forest, and Leon Best, who didn't do a great deal at St Mary's before moving on to bigger things. Tim Sparv slipped through the fingers and went on to become one of Finland's star players, while Martin Cranie and Lloyd James still play in the Football League today.

Go further back, and you'll find scores of players whose footballing education began at this south coast club. Left-back Wayne Bridge first hit the headlines at the turn of the century, while earlier alumni Francis Benali and Matt Oakley both served the Saints well for more than a decade.

But the best players ever to come out of Southampton made their breakthroughs in the mid to late 1980s. Brothers Rod and Danny Wallace showed early promise but, for different reasons, couldn't realise their full potential. Alan Shearer famously scored a hat-trick against Arsenal aged 17 in 1988, before enjoying greater success at Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. Matt Le Tissier became 'Le God' after scoring 210 goals during his 16-year, one-club career.

None of those four were locals. Le Tissier, as we all know, was from the Channel Island of Guernsey, Shearer came all the way down from the north-east, and the Wallace brothers were Londoners. All of them were spotted by the club's national scouts, and attracted by the club's set-up, and 25 years on, things have not changed.

Take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for instance. He was born in Portsmouth, and his dad Mark coached Pompey's youth team. Where did a young Alex go when he was seven years of age? Southampton. He knew which club was best for him in terms of developing his career. Fast forward to 2011, and after enjoying a wonderful breakthrough season at St Mary's, Oxlade-Chamberlain signs for Arsenal for £12million.

Southampton's youth academy became even more vital to the club several years ago, when they plunged head first into League One, slipped into administration and were on the precipice of liquidation. They were bought by the late Markus Liebherr in 2009, and under his ownership, the youth products were given more opportunities to show what they were capable of. Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain did just that, and you know what happened afterwards.

At a time where ridiculous spending for short-term improvement is jeopardising the finances of several clubs, and not just on these shores, Southampton's long-term thinking under Adkins' managership and Nicola Cortese's ownership is admirable. It would be great to see a team enjoying success with a strong core of local boys and youth graduates again, even if the days of Celtic's Lisbon Lions are never going to come back.

20 August 2012

Opening weekend reflections

After a thrilling opening to the new Premier League season, there are plenty of things to talk about. Today, The Daily Transfer Request looks back at some of them.

"We've won the title again! Er, we think."

Have City been here before?
Up until a few years ago, Sky Sports used to frequently ram 'Grand Slam Sunday' down our throats, and not a weekend went by without Richard Keys mentioning the 'Big Four' or saying that the Premier League is "the best league in the world". Now, Sky have a new toy to play with, and they aren't getting sick of it yet.

Yesterday marked 14 Sundays since Manchester City's incredible title-clinching 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers at the City of Manchester Stadium. Ahead of City's first league match since then, Sky presenter Ed Chamberlin mentioned that game more than a few times... although not as much as commentator Martin Tyler. I didn't count exactly how many times Tyler did so, but it was certainly in double figures.

There were more than a few similarities between those two games. The match was held at Eastlands, with City playing against a team in their first season back in the PL (in this case, Southampton). An Argentinean scored the only goal of the first half for City. For Pablo Zabaleta against QPR, read Carlos Tevez this time.

The plucky underdogs equalised early in the second half through their star striker, before taking a 2-1 lead midway through the half. One of those was scored because of a mistake by an Englishman in the Manchester City ranks.

The Citizens bagged an equaliser, and just like against QPR, the fourth goal was scored by Edin Dzeko. Then, the hosts won the game with a close-range strike from... no, not Sergio Aguero. He was injured. This time around, Samir Nasri was the hero.

A win is a win is a win, but I bet Manchester City fans are hoping that their next home game against... you've guessed it, Queens Park Rangers... is more routine than their last two!

Ivan Ramis sticks out his leg to bring down his nemesis Eden Hazard.

Warning: Hazard
If yesterday was anything to go by, the £32million that Chelsea paid for Belgium winger Eden Hazard seems to be justified.

The former Lille youngster needed less than 10 minutes to make his mark on the Premier League. In fact, make that less than three. In the third minute, Hazard neatly turned past Wigan Athletic defender Ivan Ramis, and then picked out, of all people, Branislav Ivanovic with the most perfectly-timed through-ball. The Serb charged forward and scored with complete ease.

Hazard's vision for that pass was so acute that Sky pundit Jamie Redknapp said that he literally had wing mirrors. I see what Redknapp is talking about, but if Hazard did literally have wing mirrors, he would literally be a Ferrari.

Four minutes later, the right-wing wonder stormed into the Wigan box, shaking off Maynor Figueroa before being brought down by the leg of Ramis. Instant penalty, and Frank Lampard duly put it away.

After his outstanding introduction to English football, Hazard's performance didn't reach those heady heights again, and did give the ball away more often than he should have. But the Belgian is a raw talent who, once his rough edges are smoothed down, can be one of the Premier League's true superstars.

Out of the two high-profile debutants on each side, Hazard and Ramis, it was obvious who had performed better. I won't be surprised if Ramis wishes he never sees Hazard again - at least not in this life!

"You're going down, QPR!" But might it be Swansea at the end of the season?

5-0s are not decisive
Ahead of the campaign, many people were predicting that second season syndrome would claim the Premier League lives of Norwich City and Swansea City, if not both. These two teams with avian nicknames would have very contrasting starts to the season.

Norwich were totally picked apart by a Fulham side, who showed that they aren't desperate to hold onto Clint Dempsey. Not if they have a striker as prolific as Mladen Petric, or a fast-improving left-winger in Alex Kacaniklic.

Petric scored the second and third goals of a 5-0 win for Martin Jol's free-flowing Cottagers, and brilliantly back-heeled the ball to Kacaniklic to create the fourth. Those goals were bookended by strikes from Damien Duff in the 26th minute, and Steven Sidwell from the spot three minutes from time.

Norwich's performance can be summed up by the match ratings given by Daily Mail reporter Sam Cunningham. The only Canary to get a rating higher than four was substitute Steve Morison, and centre-back Michael Turner got a score of 2 on his Norwich debut. It's enough to make Canaries fan Stephen Fry give up Twitter.

Things look much more positive for Swansea, now that they have a possible £2million bargain in Miguel Perez Cuesta, or as us football folk call him, Michu. The Spanish midfielder scored the opening goal of the PL season on eight minutes, giving Queens Park Rangers keeper Robert Green another nightmare to trouble his sleep.

That first goal was a bit of a fluke, but you can't say anything like that about Michu's second. Early in the second half, he brilliantly curled Wayne Routledge's pin-point pass into the top corner. Michu would also play a part in the Swans' third goal - the first of a double from Nathan Dyer. Scott Sinclair completed the rout for another 5-0 victory, this time in favour of the birds and not the Londoners.

But remember - at the start of last season, QPR lost 4-0 at home to Bolton Wanderers, and on the final day, Rangers survived at the Trotters' expense. Swansea themselves were beaten by the same scoreline against Manchester City, and they would finish comfortably in mid-table. So this weekend's results aren't a clear indication that Norwich and QPR will definitely be relegated, nor does it make certain that Swansea will stay up.

17 August 2012

2012/2013 season crystal ball

Robin van Persie heads north to Manchester United.

Here are The Daily Transfer Request's (very serious) month-by-month predictions of what exactly will happen in the Premier League and beyond this season:

- Manchester United sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal for £24million. Arsene Wenger denies that Arsenal are a feeder to the Manchester clubs after securing a loan deal for City's Mario Balotelli.
- Tottenham Hotspur thrash Newcastle United on the opening day of the season. Spurs fans ask: "Harry who?"
- Following their Community Shield defeat, Chelsea also lose their opening two games of the season. Roberto Di Matteo is sacked on the spot, and Josep Guardiola decides that his sabbatical is over.
- Swansea City's display of tiki-taka-esque passing against West Ham United is deemed so sexy that it is rated 'XXX' and cannot be shown until after midnight.
- Manchester United's 59-year-old Ryan Giggs announces his retirement, after being so upset to find out that he was the only member of Team GB not to win an Olympic medal.
- Everton have left most of their transfer window business so late that, by the time the deadline arrives, they have only managed to sign Emile Heskey and Bébé.

- England thump Moldova 7-0 in their first FIFA World Cup qualifier, and The Sun hail them as 'the new Barcelona'. Four days later, they lose 2-1 to Ukraine, and The Sun's editor is spotted burning an effigy of Roy Hodgson.
- Roberto Martinez is so sure that his Wigan Athletic side will get duffed by Manchester United that he rests his entire first-team bar Shaun Maloney. Wigan win 1-0.
- Steve Clarke has become so used to being an assistant manager that he starts thinking that Peter Odemwingie is the manager of West Bromwich Albion.
- Everton are rock bottom following a shock home loss to Southampton. Toffees fans call for David Moyes to be sacked, branding him their worst manager since Mike Walker.

- Reading's star striker scores a hat-trick against Swansea City, prompting calls of: "Adam Le Fondre for England!"
- The Tyne & Wear derby at the Stadium Of Light is won by a magnificent free-kick taken by Newcastle United's Ryan Taylor... in St James' Park.
- Tottenham Hotspur players plan a revolt after Andre Villa-Boas orders them to eat lasagne for lunch.
- Stan Collymore is drafted in as a guest pundit for Match of the Day. He is sacked the next day after the BBC discover that he is remotely interesting.

- Southampton, who are struggling badly, give a debut to an unknown Malian after he phones them claiming to be Ali Dia's nephew.
- Liverpool's woes continue at the hands of Newcastle United, who are inspired by a man-of-the-match performance from _______ __________ (insert an obscure French player's name in the blanks).
- After Stoke City leave seven West Ham United players in hospital, the usually calm and serene Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis come to blows on the touchline.
- While Queens Park Rangers stun Manchester United thanks to an own goal from Martin Atkinson, Joey Barton arrives in Australia for the new series of "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here". He is voted out third, after Louise Mensch and the owner of Fenton the dog.

- Swansea City overturn a one-goal deficit to beat Arsenal. They are instantly tipped to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, although The Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel makes a disparaging statement about the Swans, hinting that Welsh teams shouldn't be allowed in the ENGLISH Premier League.
- Reading owner Anton Zingarevich hires his wife as the club's new mascot. Attendances at the Madjeski Stadium soar.
- Suspicions are raised when Aston Villa and Stoke City draw 0-0 after they spend the entire 90 minutes trying to give the ball to City's wheelchair-bound striker Michael Owen.
- Norwich City, now nicknamed Team GB by the British sports media, thrash a Wigan Athletic side consisting of players from 18 different countries.
- On Boxing Day, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur are involved in a nine-goal thriller. Villa score none of them.
- With half of the Scottish Division 3 season still left to run, Rangers have already won promotion to next season's Scottish Premier League.

- Fulham manager Martin Jol cracks a smile for the first time in decades - after Hugo Rodallega's shot goes so far off target that it knocks Mohamed Al Fayed off his seat!
- Arsenal's Mario Balotelli loses his cool against Manchester City, headbutting Mikel Arteta before ripping his shirt in half a la the Hulk. He had just scored a hat-trick.
- Queens Park Rangers snatch a late winner against West Ham United through their latest superstar signing - Lionel Messi. That's the Cameroonian Lionel Messi.
- Chelsea sign Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Sinead O'Connor, er I mean Marco Verratti. But just like O'Connor's latest marriage, Verratti decides to leave after four minutes.
- Tottenham Hotspur lose Luka Modric to Manchester United, Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and Andre Villas-Boas to his own ego. Martin O'Neill leaves Sunderland to take over his boyhood idols.
- Liverpool's latest spending spree sees them snap up Adam Federici, Adam Lallana and Nicky Maynard for a combined £48million.

- Upon his return to Manchester City (against Liverpool), Mario Balotelli is sent off for merely existing - and also giving the ref a wedgie.
- Wigan Athletic lose manager Roberto Martinez to Sunderland. They bring in Steve Kean as a replacement, and owner Dave Whelan claims: "Steve is, without any doubt, the best manager in English football."
- Norwich City keeper John Ruddy makes three clangers in their 5-1 defeat to Everton. A creative headline from The Sun reads: "RUDDY HELL!"
- It's Super Sunday, and after Fulham beat Stoke City 2-1, Sky's most insightful pundit Jamie Redknapp says: "Obviously, you know, in terms of going forward, at the end of the day, Alex Kacaniklic is a top, top player."

- Jack Wilshere makes his first Arsenal appearance in seven years as the Gunners finally win a trophy at the League Cup Final - the trophy for losing the most League Cup Finals.
- Ahead of Fulham's derby match against Chelsea, Mohamed Al Fayed unveils a new statue at Craven Cottage of Trevor Rees-Jones.
- Having been so irresistible in the first half of the season, Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale now can't kick a ball straight.
- West Ham United see off West Bromwich Albion thanks to goals from El-Hadji Diouf, Kevin Davies and, after being coaxed out of retirement, Jay Jay Okocha.

- Wigan Athletic draw 1-1 with Queens Park Rangers, and are 17 points adrift in the relegation zone with six games to go. Manager Steve Kean says: "We've still got a brilliant chance of staying up."
- After drawing their Champions League Quarter Final with Barcelona, Chelsea are controversially knocked out on the new Platini rule, which states that if the scores are level after two legs of 90 minutes, the English team loses.
- A furious Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup bellows at the press: "NO, I AM NOT IN THE NEXT SERIES OF BORGEN!"
- Manchester United are thumped 7-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Sir Alex Ferguson blames it on the sunshine, moonlight, good times, boogie, weatherman, alcohol, the moonlit sky, the dream that died with the eagles' flight, the sleeping satellite, and everyone except himself or his own players.

- Liverpool vs Everton sees four red cards handed out - a record low for a Merseyside derby.
- Nine months after joining Sunderland, Louis Saha finally makes his debut for the club. He tears his cruciate ligaments nine minutes later.
- Wigan Athletic somehow win their last six games, and avoid the drop courtesy of a 99th-minute goal against Aston Villa from substitute Aiyegbeni Yakubu.
- Reading and Southampton are relegated, along with Newcastle United, who never recovered after Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba both broke their legs in January and the Magpies ran out of Senegalese strikers.
- Going into the final day of the season, the Manchester clubs are dead level on points and goal difference, but crucially, United have scored one goal more.
- City drew 1-1 against Norwich City in their last match, but in the last minute of injury-time at the Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion's Ben Foster hauls down Manchester United's Robin van Persie in the penalty area. With the score level at 0-0, van Persie must score the resulting penalty to give the Red Devils their 20th league title...

...but he misses, and the Premier League goes down to a play-off between City and United!