In the final installment of ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Narratives for Matchweek 31 we examine the last three matches on the slate: Everton v. Stoke City, Aston Villa v. Liverpool and Fulham v. Queens Park Rangers.
EVERTON v. STOKE CITY (Goodison Park, Sat 1:30pm ET)
After soundly defeating Manchester City 2-0 in Matchweek 30, Everton looks to continue its push for European football against an out-of-form Stoke side that has lost three of its last four matches. Tony Pulis will have a full squad available for the clash at Goodison Park while David Moyes’ lack of depth could be exposed as both Steven Pienaar (red card) and Marouane Fellaini (card accumulation) are unavailable for selection.
The wheels look to be coming off at Stoke. Expect Kevin Mirallas (pictured) and Everton to capitalize.
ASTON VILLA v. LIVERPOOL (Villa Park, Sun 8:30am ET)
When these two sides met last December Aston Villa emerged from their slumber to inflict the Reds’ worst home defeat (3-1) for more than three years. Now Paul Lambert’s side must repeat the feat as only three points separates the Villains from an up-start Wigan side looking to break out of the relegation zone. For Liverpool, the fixture is a must-win if the Reds have any intent on realizing its European dreams.
Should be an absolute cracker of a match with goals galore. In the end, I think Liverpool gets its revenge.
FULHAM v. QUEENS PARK RANGERS (Craven Cottage, Mon 3:00pm ET)
With 8 matches remaining Queens Park Rangers sits at the bottom of the table, seven points from safety. It will take a mammoth effort from Harry Redknapp’s men if they are to make a great escape but the R’s gaffer remains upbeat about his side’s chances claiming they still have four or five wins in them. Fulham should consider that a warning shot. Sitting comfortably at 10th in the table on 36 points, the Cottagers have effectively ensured survival and will be keen on preserving a four match unbeaten run.
A very unassuming Monday night encounter but I bet this entertains as the sides share the spoils.
Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.
The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.
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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.
According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.
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Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.
Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.
Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.
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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.
Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:
“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”
That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”
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There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?