Berbatov

Don’t expect to see Dimitar Berbatov suiting up for Arsenal anytime soon

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As the English media continues to force this rumor through the presses, it’s hard not to ask the simple question:

Why?

Sure, Arsenal need striker depth, Berbatov is nearing the end of his contract, and Arsene Wenger is a frugal manager.

But that’s about all that fits this situation.

First of all, Berbatov doesn’t do sitting on the bench.  It’s been heavily documented over the years how much Dimitar’s confidence plays into his success or failure on a given day.

Even match to match, as attacking options dwindle in a defensive showdown, Berbatov makes less and less noise throughout such a match.  Sitting on the bench caused him to ask to leave Manchester United two summers ago.

So why would he move to Arsenal, where he would be the third choice striker? Wenger needs to get quality depth up front in the worst-case scenario – an injury to Olivier Giroud.  But he needs to find a player who would accept such a role, playing behind Giroud and Lukas Podolski, and Berbatov would surely be against that.

What’s there to scoff at when moving to a title contender?

Well, the Bulgarian is the man at Fulham. Even having scored just four goals this season, the attack still runs through him.  He has the Fulham youngsters on a string, playing them into his hand like a marionette.

source: Getty Images
Injuries to Nicolas Bendtner (pictured) and Theo Walcott have Arsene Wenger scrambling for reinforcements

Berbatov has developed an exceptional relationship with a number of the young Fulham attack men, especially Alex Kacaniklic.  The 22-year-old Swedish winger often found himself on the end of vicious verbal assaults during the beginning of Berbatov’s Fulham tenure.  Now, Berbatov has the young talent feeding him the ball at every opportunity.

And despite Fulham’s precarious league position, with Premier League status still very much in doubt for next season, Berbatov has nothing to worry about. His contract expires at the end of the season, and he’s almost a guarantee to depart Craven Cottage when his deal runs out.

Finally, that precarious league position Fulham find themselves in only serves to strengthen their desire to keep their main talisman.  With Bryan Ruiz set for departure, why on earth would they sell Berbatov and leave themselves entirely empty up front? Should Berbatov leave the friendly confines on the banks of the Thames, Fulham will surely be playing Championship soccer next year.

Not surprisingly, the English media also continue to ignore the comments of both managers squashing the deal.  Rene Meulensteen publicly acknowledged he is aware of the 32-year-old’s importance to the club’s relegation battle, saying, “He is a Fulham player & a very important one for us.”

If that’s not enough, Wenger also did his best to put the rumors to rest, saying a week ago, “‘I won’t go into any specific names. That would be disrespectful. We are assessing our options which are restricted. Berbatov is not a name we have considered.”

So while injuries to Nicolas Bendtner and Theo Walcott have Wenger searching for cover at not just the striker spot but the wing position as well, don’t expect a mercurial Bulgarian with a sublime first touch to be the final choice.

Qatar to set up desert tent camp to house World Cup fans

Sepp Blatter, FIFA
AP Photo/Keystone/Walter Bieri, File
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) The committee organizing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar plans to try out a “fan village” that could house up to 2,000 soccer spectators in Arabian desert tents.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said Tuesday it is seeking bids to develop a pilot project near the Sealine Beach resort south of the capital, Doha.

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It will offer different types of accommodation in 350 temporary tents and 300 permanent tents, along with big viewing screens and other entertainment options. A total of five fan villages could eventually be built.

Qatar is racing to build hotels and other infrastructure needed to host the games. Visitor accommodation in Qatar is currently dominated by higher-end hotels in Doha.

Once more, with feeling: Who could be the next England manager?

MANSFIELD, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Steve Bruce manager of Hull City during the pre-season friendly match between Mansfield Town and Hull City at the One Call Stadium on July 19, 2016 in Mansfield, England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)"n
Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images
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It seems like mere months ago we were discussing who would take over for Roy Hodgson as the next manager of England.

That’s obviously because it was just 67 days ago that Sam Allardyce was hired as the next manager of the Three Lions, and 22 days since he oversaw what would be his only match in charge: a 1-0 win in Slovakia.

[ MORE: Ranieri laughs off England speculation ]

Now Allardyce’s mouth has engineered his exit from the job. How much has the landscape changed for managerial candidates?

Not too much. In no particular order, let’s look through some of the same names we studied this summer:

Steve Bruce — The ex-Hull City boss interviewed for the gig before Allardyce was hired. Is it as simple as going with choice No. 2?

Jurgen Klinsmann — The USMNT coach is again being listed by the oddsmakers despite the fact that England didn’t contact U.S. Soccer regarding an interview last time around. Has anything changed?

Gareth Southgate — The caretaker boss has worked with several of these players when they were U-20 and U-21 players, with his only other managerial experience coming with Middlesbrough between 2006-09.

Alan Pardew — The Palace man fancies himself for the job, that’s for sure. Would England really hire a ‘look at me’ man for such a high-profile position?

Eddie Howe — Bournemouth, and maybe Arsenal, fans won’t want to hear it, but the young manager would be a terrific choice for the job. But would he like running a team that doesn’t entail weekly game prep?

Harry Redknapp — If you’re looking for Pardew, only older and somehow even more sure of himself.

[ MORE: Dempsey out for 2016 ]

Other names on the oddmakers’ books are ex-Spain boss Vicente del Bosque, current Arsenal man Arsene Wenger, and Manuel Pellegrini (who is with Chinese club Hebei China Fortune). Leicester’s Claudio Ranieri has also been mentioned.

Allardyce’s issues really did no favors to club football in England, let alone country. The 61-year-old was hired in July, when clubs could’ve addressed their manager leaving better. Now in late September, the next England coach could wreak havoc on a PL team.

England hosts Malta on Oct. 8 in its second World Cup qualifier, before visiting Slovenia three days later.

Man City: Guardiola updates De Bruyne, Kompany injury status

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20:  Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City talk during a training session at the City Football Academy on October 20, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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Kevin De Bruyne has been as valuable an attacker as any in the Premier League season, so his injury suffered this weekend is quite a big deal.

There were fears that Manchester City’s Belgian attacker would be gone for more than a month, but manager Pep Guardiola has quelled those concerns to an extent.

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De Bruyne will miss Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League match against Celtic, which shouldn’t bother the club too much, though his absence Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur could be felt more keenly.

Guardiola said that both De Bruyne and his Belgian teammate, Vincent Kompany, should be back in two to three weeks time. In De Bruyne’s case, Guardiola’s specifically mentioned after the international break. That puts him in line for an Oct. 15 trip to Everton.

The manager also related that he’s excited for his first trip to Celtic Park, as he’s not been to Glasgow to face Celtic in his career.

From ManCity.com:

“Everyone talks to me about the atmosphere, I’m looking forward to playing here. I know how strong they are here. I spoke with my old players, and they have said this is a special environment.”

Kickoff from Scotland is 2:45 p.m. ET.

Champions League preview: Arsenal match sees Xhaka vs. Xhaka; Man City hosts Celtic

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27:  Manager Arsene Wenger of Arsenal talks to Granit Xhaka during an Arsenal training session ahead of the Champions League Group A match between Arsenal and Basel at London Colney on September 27, 2016 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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There are some absolute beauties on tap for Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, with two Premier League clubs in play and a pair of matches pitting top teams from Germany and Spain.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup ]

All Wednesday matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Celtic vs. Manchester City

Having been hammered 7-0 at home by Barcelona, Celtic’s “reprieve” is a trip to face Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Brendan Rodgers will need to pull every trick out of his hat to avoid another blowout, as City had little trouble in dispatching a solid Borussia Monchengladbach side 4-0.

Arsenal vs. FC Basel

Both Group A matches were 1-1 draws to open the stage, though few expect draws on day 2. That’s because giants Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain move onto perceived lesser lights in Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad.

The Gunners are flying, having gotten their toughest fixture out of the way in a 1-1 draw at PSG. Arsene Wenger‘s crew is fresh off a 3-0 thumping of Chelsea, and will be aware of Basel’s best: Serey Die, Birkir Bjarnason, and Taulant Xhaka, brother of Arsenal’s Granit. That’s right… all the Xhakas.

Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

A road goal led Diego Simeone’s Atleti past Bayern in last year’s UCL semifinal, and the Bavarians will hope for a better fate under new boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Barcelona

Man, this group. A very good Gladbach side will have to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Man City by hosting Barcelona. The good news for the Germans is that Barcelona will be without Leo Messi, though that mattered little in Barca’s 5-0 win in La Liga play this weekend.

Elsewhere
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli vs. Benfica
Besiktas vs. Dynamo Kyiv
FC Rostov vs. PSV Eindhoven