It’s money versus money, and it may very well decide Ligue 1. In fact, the way Paris Saint-Germain has looked so far this year, even a decisive AS Monaco win this Sunday at Stade Louis II may not be enough.
But, goodness will it be fun to watch.
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PSG has a roster loaded for bear and have lost just once in 23 Ligue 1 matches this season, boasting a record of 16W-6D-1L. Their high-flying attack — lead by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura — is a huge problem for defenses, but their miserly defending has been superb. Ligue 1 squads have managed just 15 goals against PSG, which has pitched 12 clean sheets.
And yet, for all those marks on their ledger, PSG has a mere five-point lead on new big spenders AS Monaco. Promoted just last season, Les Rouge et Blanc has allowed just one more goal than their Sunday rivals. And while they haven’t been as high-scoring, especially with Radamel Falcao out, Monaco still has plenty worth fearing. In addition to nine-goal man Emmanuel Riviere, there’s new loanee Dimitar Berbatov and Colombia wizard James Rodriguez.
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Monaco captain Eric Abidal says it’s all about stopping Zlatan, and it’s hard to argue that point. But the names that will flash across the screen while monitoring this game may shock those who pity or ignore the French game: Alex, Carvalho, Thiago Silva, Mountinho, Cabaye… the list goes on and on.
If there’s a time to watch French football… it’s Sunday. If you’re looking for a prediction, I’ve got one for you: 1-1, with Rodriguez matching Cabaye/Zlatan.
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
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Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.
Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.