Aiyegbeni Joins Coventry City On Short Term Deal

Yakubu AiyegbeniFormer Super Eagles forward, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, has joined league one side, Coventry City until the end of the season.

Aiyegbeni, who also has premier league experience with Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Everton and Blackburn Rovers, has now penned a deal that would see him stay at Coventry until May 2017.

The 34-year-old recently returned to England, following a spell in the Turkish Super Lig side Kayserispor.

However, Coventry are looking to avoid relegation to the fourth tier of the English football.

FA Cup: Watford Beat Arsenal To Book Semi-Final Ticket

ArsenalWatford have defeated FA Cup defending champions Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as they battle for a place in the semi-finals at Wembley.

Sequel to the Gunners’ misuse of a series of good chances, Odion Ighalo scored his first goal in the 50th minute for Watford, who are currently 14th on the English Premier League table.

Consequently, Adlene Guedioura gave Watford a winning hope after a shot on target in the 63rd minutes to make the score 2-nil.

Danny Welbeck scored a consolation goal for the Cup  holders with two minutes left to the end of the match.

This is Arsenal’s third consecutive defeat at the Emirates Stadium after losses to Swansea and Barcelona.

It was also their first FA Cup knockout since February 2013, when they lost to Blackburn Rovers.

Steven Gerrard Confirms Liverpool Departure

2354838-gerrardOne of Liverpool’s greatest ever players, Steven Gerrard, has confirmed that he would leave the club at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

The Reds captain brings the curtain down on a glittering Anfield career that has spanned nearly 17 years and included 10 trophies, as well as 695 appearances and 180 goals to date since joining the club’s youth system.

Gerrard will not retire from professional football at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. No decision on his new club has been made yet, but he will continue his career outside the United Kingdom and at a side that will not bring him into direct competition with Liverpool.

Explaining his decision, Gerrard said: “This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time.

“I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.

“Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.

“I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool – that is something I could never contemplate.

“My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.

“I can’t thank Brendan, the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they’ve handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my teammates and all the staff for their help and continued support.

“It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity (that) best helps the club.

“One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.

“My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters.

“It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”

Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, said: “It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool.

“This is an era where the word ‘legend’ is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn’t do him justice.”

Gerrard, born in the Merseyside village of Whiston, joined Liverpool’s academy when he was nine years old, making his first-team debut as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in November 1998.

EPL: Tomas Rosicky Determined To Win With Arsenal

Tomas Rosicky celebrates Arsenal's third goal with the scorer of the first two, Olivier Giroud. Reuters

Tomas Rosicky has pledged his future to Arsenal in the belief that the club has all that they needs to end their lengthy trophy drought.

The Czech playmaker is out of contract at the end of the 2013/14 season, but Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger revealed at the weekend that he expects that Rosicky would sign a new deal in the coming weeks.

The 33-year-old, who joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, impressed when he took the place of Mesut Ozil in the team against Sunderland on Saturday, crowning his performance with a sublime goal.

Rosicky’s time at the club has been hampered by a number of injuries, and he missed the entire 2008-09 season due to a hamstring tendon problem that almost ended his career.

But he is back in Wenger’s plans and remains convinced he is at the right place to win silverware sooner rather than later.

“I always believed in it here at Arsenal and still do. I knew this club was the right place for me and I want to be here for as long as I can,” Rosicky told the official Arsenal magazine.

“It is obviously very difficult to predict how long I can go on for, (but) I feel very good. I don’t feel any different than in the past, I don’t feel any change in myself.

“All I can say is that I still have a big passion to achieve things and that is really important.

“You must have that force, that drive to go on and achieve something and I definitely still have that.

“I was nearly out of the game because of injury, so I have a different approach now because I know it could end at any point. I just want to be successful with Arsenal.

“I won three titles in the Czech Republic before I left (Sparta Prague), I won the Bundesliga with Dortmund and I still believe I can do it here.

“I wouldn’t stay here if I didn’t believe.

“The idea of winning the (Premier) League and the Champions League really drives me forward, I love it”, Rosicky said.

Champions League: Belief Is The Key For Arsenal – Wenger

Arsenal have the belief to challenge Champions League holders Bayern Munich in the first leg of the last-16 more effectively than they did a year ago, Coach Arsene Wenger said on Tuesday (February 18).

Having met at the same stage of the competition last season, Arsenal will be out to avenge defeat by Bayern as, despite winning the second leg 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, they were eliminated on away goals after losing 3-1 at home.

At the start of February, Wenger identified it as a crucial month for the London side and results so far in the tougher games have been mixed.

They beat Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup to avenge a 5-1 drubbing in the Premier League and drew 0-0 with defending champions Manchester United.

At a news conference on Tuesday (February 18), Wenger took heart from the FA Cup wins over Liverpool and over local rivals Tottenham in the previous round as he prepared his side to face champions Bayern.

“We know that we face the favourites of the competition and what we have is belief, because on the opposite we have had only big games in the Champions League and in the FA Cup because we played against Tottenham, we played against Liverpool. Since the start of the season we know that in every single game we have to be 100 percent. We believe we can do it but that is down to the quality of our performance tomorrow,” said the Frenchman.

“It gave us belief to finish well the season last year and from then on I think as well since the start of the season we have done well. We are in a strong position and it’s now down to us how we can from game to game show the same focus as against Liverpool.”

“I think we are in much better mental shape than we were one year ago because we lost against Blackburn (Rovers) at home in the FA Cup and it was a big disappointment for us, this time we won against Liverpool and we are really determined of course to win this game tomorrow.

“We have a strong team spirit that is for sure and a strong desire to do well and a united team. But it’s important as well; I believe we always had these kinds of qualities but not always the belief. Belief is built by the results and on that front we are stronger of course.”

Wenger is expected to ring the changes against a Bayern side that have lost once in 34 games and won 13 straight Bundesliga matches.

Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs, Olivier Giroud, Bacary Sagna and Wojciech Szczcesny are all pushing for starts and with Mikel Arteta suspended, Tomas Rosicky could start in midfield alongside Mathieu Flamini.

Jack Wilshere may also bolster Arsenal’s midfield in view of the difficult task of stifling Bayern’s powerhouse midfield, with Schweinsteiger, Tony Kroos and Javi Martinez supplying balls for Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben and Mario Mandzukic.

The 20-year-old England international is confident Arsenal can rise to the challenge posed by the German side.

“We’ve spoken about the importance of staying in the game, if it’s 0-0 at home we’ve still got a big chance of qualifying, the away goal is massive in this competition, especially when it comes to these big games.

“That’s what we saw last year, we went out on away goals and this year we’ve got to be a bit more intelligent and stay in the game,” said Wilshere, who has scored two goals in six Champions League appearances this season.

Santa Cruz not ready to return to Man. City

On-loan Manchester City forward; Roque Santa Cruz has confirmed his not wanting to return to the English premier league due to family preference.

Santa Cruz who has had stints with Bayern Munich and Blackburn was tipped to make a big impression at Manchester City when Mark Hughes snapped him up for £17.5million in 2009.

After six months stay with Hughes City Roberto Mancini was brought to replace Hughes, it then that the Paraguay forward had several injury bout, he found himself surplus to requirements.

And the journey of loan spells began for Santa Cruz who after loan spells back at Blackburn and with Real Betis loaned again to another La Liga outfit, Malaga.

Santa Cruz has made six appearances for the high-flying Andalucian club as a substitute.

Sanata Cruz has said he is having a nice time at the club despite being a substitute and with that, when his City contract expires at the end of the season, he will not be heading back to England.

He said “I do not see myself going back to the Premier League because my family are very settled here and I do not want to keep bringing my children back and forth [between England and Spain]”.

“I want something stable for my family for the next few years. I would consider moving back to South America – something else I would love to do in the future.”

Santa Cruz has been very influential to the club’s progress especially in Malaga’s superb start to their maiden Champions League campaign.

Yakubu ends Liverpool goal drought

Blackburn Rovers’ Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni finally ended his goal drought against Liverpool in the 3-2 defeat at Ewood Park in the English Premier League. The burly striker had faced the Reds on 14 occasions, during his stint Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Merseyside rivals Everton,  without finding the back of the net.

Andy Carroll struck a dramatic injury-time winner as 10-man Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Ewood Park in a keenly contested Premier League clash on Tuesday.

Liverpool looked to be cruising to victory after goals from Maxi Rodriguez fired them into a 2-0 lead early on.

But a red card for goalkeeper Alexander Doni – himself filling in for the suspended Pepe Reina – changed the complexion of the game and thrust third-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones into the limelight.

Jones promptly announced his entrance by saving Ayegbeni Yakubu’s spot-kick but Rovers hauled themselves back into the contest and eventually drew level.

Yakubu made amends for his penalty miss to head home for 2-1 and then levelled from the penalty spot in the second half to make it 2-2 and give Rovers hope of pulling clear of the relegation zone.

However Carroll was to have the final word with his header a minute into stoppage time to give Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, another Ewood Park occasion to put in his memory bank.

It will always be a special ground for Dalglish after winning the Championship while in charge of Blackburn in 1995.

And it became extra-special within 16 minutes as Liverpool’s lightning start eased the pressure on Dalglish.

Only 13 minutes had gone when Blackburn went behind, with much of the credit going to Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel who speared a splendid 80-yard pass into the feet of Craig Bellamy.

The winger charged forward before delivering a perfectly-judged cross that Rodriguez turned in from close-range.

Three minutes later, Liverpool stretched their lead – and Rodriguez was again the scorer after impressive work from Jonjo Shelvey.

The midfielder won the ball in midfield and surged forward to force a save from Rovers’ keeper Paul Robinson.

Carroll’s shot from the rebound was blocked, but Rodriguez was more clinical when the ball dropped to his feet and he swept it in.

Liverpool’s stunning start came despite a much-changed side with Dalglish clearly eyeing this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against Everton.

Another regular missing was Pepe Reina, serving the second game of his three match suspension to give a rare opportunity to Brazilian Doni.

Reina’s red card at Newcastle had presented Doni with the chance to play in Saturday’s semifinal – but his Wembley dream was shattered after just 25 minutes after he brought down Junior Hoilett.

Third-choice keeper Jones replaced Jon Flanagan, the full-back whose mishit back-pass had left Hoilett racing clear.

And Jones, now heading to the Wembley showpiece tie, made an instant impact when he saved the unconvincing penalty from Yakubu.

Jones was beaten, though, in the 36th minute when a fine free-kick from David Dunn gave Yakubu the chance to head inside the post rom eight yards.

Dalglish’s outnumbered team was pinned back for long periods during the rest of the match.

Jones dealt with a 55th minute shot from Dunn and also went down quickly to clutch a 58th-minute header from Grant Hanley, but Blackburn did draw level three minutes later.

But Jones was at fault when he allowed Yakubu to charge down a clearance and responded by pushing the striker.

The penalty award was followed by a yellow card for the keeper and, this time, a decisive finish from the spot by Yakubu.

It looked certain to earn Blackburn a valuable point and they were the more inventive team in the closing stages, but their hopes of moving out of the bottom three were destroyed by Carroll’s dramatic late winner.