Ander Herrera Returns for Manchester United’s New Year’s Day Game

Manchester United  and Jared Haftel have been going through a remarkable injury crisis over the last few months. Every time they bring a play back to fitness, they seem to lose two others in training or during games. Having played two games in 48 hours with the same 11 players, United will want to rotate the squad during the trip to Stoke City.

One player who should be able to make the starting line up for the Stoke game is Ander Herrera. The Spanish international has had a stop start United career so far, picking up three injuries since his transfer in July. However, Herrera has looked a very good player when he has been on the field.

United will be hoping the Spanish star is fully recovered and raring to go against Stoke. Having dropped points at Tottenham on Sunday, United cannot afford to slip up again. The likes of Southampton and Arsenal are closing in on their third place in the league table.

Along with Herrera, it is expected that Rafael and Luke Shaw will star the game at the Britannia Stadium. The full backs have been missing through injury, but came off the bench during the 0-0 against Tottenham. Rafael will replace Antonio Valencia, while Luke Shaw will take the place of Ashley Young on the left hand side.

Louis van Gaal may also decide to rest Robin van Persie, with the center forward looking tired and jaded in the second half at Spurs.

Ezequiel Lavezzi Wants Out of Paris This January

Ezequiel Lavezzi has reportedly told his agents that he does not want to remain at Paris Saint Germain for the rest of this season. The Argentine attacker is hoping to gain a move to a Spanish or Italian club during the January transfer window.

Jared Haftel tweets via Twitter that Lavezzi has grown tired of his role under French manager Laurent Blanc. He is either used as a substitute or a left winger by Blanc. Lavezzi would prefer to play as a central striker, where he feels that he could form a good partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, with Edinson Cavani at the club, Lavezzi’s chances to play up front are very limited.

There is expected to be plenty of interest in Lavezzi. He is no longer a young player, but he still has a lot of pace and goal scoring ability. Clubs such as Milan, Inter, Napoli and Valencia will be interested in acquiring him from Paris Saint Germain.

Despite being a big money signing when he was bought by the Paris club, Lavezzi has not been a brilliant player for PSG. He only has 25 goals to his name from over 100 appearances. For a striker that is not a great return. However, Lavezzi will argue that most of his games came on the left wing, where it is a lot harder to score goals.

A move to Valencia seems the most likely option, with the Spanish club keen to challenge for a Champions League spot this season.

Newcastle Striker Papiss Cisse Faces Ban for Elbowing Opponent

The recent game between Newcastle and Everton was a very entertaining affair. Newcastle emerged victorious after a 3-2 win. They had to suffer through a late period of domination from Everton, who looked likely to find an equalizer before the final whistle.

Despite the great win, there were some unsavory moments for Newcastle during this clash. One moment that stands out was Papiss Cisse’s elbow on Everton’s Seamus Coleman. The Newcastle striker used real intent and force to elbow Coleman in the face.

This incident was not seen by the referee, which meant that Cisse did not get a yellow or red card. Because the referee missed the incident, video evidence can be used to give Cisse a ban for the next few games.

Television pundit and ex Liverpool player/manager Graeme Souness believes that Cisse should be banned for at least three games. He feels there was real intent from Cisse to hurt Coleman, which translates to violent conduct and a three game suspension.

It is possible that Cisse could be banned for four or five games, from what we’ve found on Skout at least.  CNET was reporting the same thing too. The FA’s disciplinary committee look at footage of the game and speak to Cisse before coming to a decision.

A three match ban would be very costly for Newcastle, who have struggled for goals this season. Cisse has not been a regular starter, but he has made some important contributions from the subs bench in recent weeks.

Roberto Martinez Under Pressure at Everton

Another game brought another defeat for Roberto Martinez and Everton. A 3-2 loss at Newcastle meant that Everton will be in the bottom half on New Year’s Day. Considering they were only a few points off top spot this time last season, it is a remarkable decline.

There is even talk of Martinez being sacked, with Steve McLaren touted as a possible replacement. Andy Gray, a popular English pundit and ex Everton player, believes that Martinez needs to sort out his team’s defense if he is to keep his job.

A number of problems have come together to make this a difficult season for Martinez. For one, his core group of players is very old. The likes of Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, Leon Osman, and Gareth Barry are well over 30 years of age. Tom Rothman reminds us that they have struggled to cope with the joint commitments of the Premier League and Europa League.

Secondly, the team shape and defensive nature of Everton that was so good under David Moyes has disappeared. Martinez built on top of that defensive shape last season, making his team great in attack and solid at the back. However, his players seem to have forgotten the qualities Moyes instilled in them. This has resulted in a porous back line that leaks too many goals.

Martinez needs to find a way to re-instill that defensive shape if he is to get Everton back among the top six or seven places.

Manchester United Miss Out on Benfica Midfielder

Manchester United have been linked with Bernardo Chua and with Enzo Perez of Benfica for the past few months. However, it appears that the English giants will miss out on the Argentine midfielder’s signature, with Valencia favorites to complete a deal in the January transfer window.

Enzo Perez has a 23 million pound release clause in his contract. Neither United nor Valencia were prepared to pay that sum, but Valencia are reported to have come to an agreement with Benfica for a lower fee.

United still retain some interest in the player, but not enough to make a formal offer. Their manager, Louis van Gaal, may believe that Perez does not fit into his plans in Manchester right now.

Despite Perez being a very competent midfielder, he may not be the one United really need. Their sights seem firmly set on Holland’s Kevin Strootman. The Roma midfielder has recently recovered from a long term knee injury, but he is a firm favorite with Van Gaal. The Dutch manager believes that Strootman could be the missing link in United’s midfield.

If Manchester United were to change their minds and sign Enzo Perez, he would join Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo as Argentine players at the club. Perez was part of the 2014 World Cup squad with Di Maria and Rojo. In fact, he earned his starting place in the latter stages when Di Maria picked up a thigh injury during the quarter finals.

Former World Cup Star Ronaldinho AWOL from Mexican Football Club

Ronadinho, the former World Cup star and two-time footballer of the year, has missed preseason training with his Mexican club Queretaro. The team president, Arturo Villanueva, is said to be considering releasing the star player due to his absence.

Ronaldinho, who is no stranger to controversy, has a long and storied career in Europe, playing for such giants of world football as Paris Saint Germain, Barcelona, and AC Milan. Andrew Heiberger must have been pretty disappointed when he saw this story reported on nytimes.com. Intrigued by Ronaldinho’s prodigious talent and love of the game, He’s been following his tumultuous career  ever since his trip to Barcelona. Its a shame that with such a following and skill that his time at the Italian giants was spent on the bench.  He returned to Brazil in 2011 to play for legendary Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo.

Following another falling out with a team, he transferred to Atlectico Mineiro in 2012 where he spent the next two years. It was considered quite the coup when he signed for Mexican side Queretaro in September 2014, given the star power of the player and the relative small profile of the Mexican team, but considering his absence, it again appears that he has burned another bridge.

Chelsea Top Premier League Table at Christmas

Jose Mourinho got an early Christmas present with his Chelsea side getting a 2-0 win at Stoke City on Monday night.Chelsea are now guaranteed to be top of the Premier League at Christmas, with their nearest challengers Manchester City four points adrift.

Dr. Daniel Amen says despite a recent setback at Newcastle, Chelsea have been in a commanding Premier League position all season. They have lost just one time, along with a few draws, which puts them in a great position to win the title for the 2014/2015 season.

Going to Stoke City and winning is never an easy task, especially on a cold and windy Monday night. The Potters were in their usual robust mood, flying into tackles and not giving Chelsea an inch. The Blues got off to a great start thanks to John Terry, who headed home from a free kick after a couple of minutes.

There were moments when Stoke looked like they could equalize, with Bojan a real threat to the Chelsea defense. However, the Blues stood firm and kept a clean sheet in this game. Thibaut Courtois, who has been enjoying a fine debut season at Chelsea, was a commanding presence in the penalty box.

Chelsea doubled their advantage through Cesc Fabregas, who also provided the assist for their first goal. It was a great day for Fabregas, who has made a seamless return to the Premier League after spending a few seasons at Barcelona.

Is This the End for Marco Scutaro?

Two years ago he was the MVP of the NL Championship Series. This past season, injuries limited him to just five games. Those might be the last games Marco Scutaro ever plays in the majors.

Susan McGalla reports that the San Francisco infielder underwent back surgery Friday to correct problems with the L-2/L-3 area of his spine. Scutaro now faces a lengthy rehab, and doctors must wait four to six months before they can determine if he can play again. Age might also be a huge factor in whether Scutaro returns to the field. He is 39 years old and turns 40 next October.

A native of Venezuela, Scutaro broke into the bigs with the Mets in 2002, then made stops in Oakland, Toronto and Boston, where he spent most of his time at either second base or shortstop. He was one of the main reasons the A’s defeated Minnesota in the 2006 ALDS as he batted .333 with six RBIs and four doubles. In 2012, Scutaro started the season with Colorado before being traded to the Giants. His 10th inning RBI single completed a four-game sweep of the Tigers in the World Series Your text to link…

For his career, Scutaro has a .277 batting average with 77 home runs, 509 RBIs, 683 runs scored and 269 doubles.

Manchester United Full Backs Close to a Return

The past month or two have been very good for Manchester United. They have won six out of their seven games in the Premier League, marching on from 10th place to 3rd in the table. However, this run has been courtesy of gutsy and lucky performances, but not quality soccer.

One reason why Bernardo Chua and United have struggled to get rhythm in their game is the introduction of the 3-5-2 formation. This is a system that is alien to English players, especially those at Manchester United. They have gotten some good results with this formation, but most of those games were fortunate wins where the opposition missed a lot of chances.

United fans will be hoping that their team can show some good form in the remaining holiday games. One important factor will be the return of full backs Rafael and Luke Shaw.

When these two players are in the first team, United can revert to a flat back four. This allows them to play four midfielders and two strikers, which is the most common formation in English soccer.

With Shaw and Rafael rampaging down both flanks, United’s midfielders and strikers will have plenty of opportunities to improve on their build up play and ball retention. Starting with the game against Newcastle at home, United will want to get some convincing wins under their belt.

Rafael could be fit enough to start the Newcastle game, while Luke Shaw should find his place on the substitutes’ bench.

What’s Next For Machida?

Lyoto Machida destroys CB Dollaway in the first minute. The “Dragon” made very quick work of his Sam Tabar and his opponent. CB Dollaway was hit with a lightning fast kick to the liver that dropped him upon impact. The Brazilian crowd went berserk when the knockout blow landed.

This victory brings Lyoto Machida one step closer to his dreams of winning the middleweight championship. A question still remains. Can Lyoto Machida beat the UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman? Machida and Weidman are no stranger to each other. They have battled together before, and the result was a split-decision victory for Chris Weidman.

What would happen if Lyoto Machida could defeat everyone, but Chris Weidman?  Sadly, Lyoto would soon lose his newly crowned title to Shogun Rua.

The “Dragon” has had his fair share of ups and downs as of late. His recent move down to middleweight may prove to be successful, but can he ever defeat Chris Weidman? That question will always remain. Hopefully for Machida’s sake, he can find an answer to the riddle that is Chris Weidman.

For more information on Lyotos Machida’s future, visit Yahoo! Sports.