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Nov 28, 2008

Draws galore in the Premier League

This was the week in which a Birmingham fan got one over the Wolves supporters, there were plenty of goalless draws in the Premier League and an international ban for Peru.

Friday 21 November: Gallas and Wolves given the blues
Poor old Billy. First you're shouted at by some 25-year-old upstart in the changing room, then you're stripped of your nice armband and dropped from the next Arsenal game for speaking your mind. The Frenchman had to have seen that coming with Arsene Wenger always keen to promote team bonding and it would come as little surprise if the defender picked up his toys and left the club in January.

Still, it could be worse. He could have let a rival fan crazy pave his driveway. Rather amusingly that was the situation at Wolves after they found the word 'Blues' cunningly woven into the brickwork in front of the Billy Wright Stand at Molineux. The finger of blame has been pointed at a Birmingham supporter, although fans of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters are also considered to be suspects.

Saturday 22 November: Draws galore, Buffon staying
For the first time in 86 years, the top four teams in the top flight all managed to draw a blank in front of goal. Chelsea couldn't find a way past the bus Newcastle had parked in front of their goal, Liverpool were held at home by the club with the worst away record in the recent years, Fulham, United couldn't beat Villa and Arsenal lost 3-0 to City. Nice to know the Greatest League in the World ™ can still throw up a few surprises.

Maybe all the clean-sheets will be enough to persuade Gigi Buffon to move to Manchester? The Italian stopper was linked with a £75 million move to Eastlands, but it appears he's going nowhere as Juve aren't keen to keep Alex Manninger as their first-choice goalkeeper.

Sunday 23 November: Phil still keen on Robinho, bad day for Veh
Despite the fact that they missed out on signing the brilliant Brazilian in August, Chelsea are apparently still keen to shift all those 'Robinho #??' shirts they have lying around their kit room. Big Phil Scolari began the charm offensive by saying he could be 'the best in world' if he joined the Blues. Expect this one to last into the new year.

With the news that Germany's Bundesliga has overtaken the English Premier League as Europe's top division for shirt sponsorship, Stuttgart boss Armin Veh had the shirt ripped off his back as he was sacked from the club after a run of five games without a win. The club are now in the safe hands of former assistant and Liverpool, Bayern and Germany defender Markus Babbel. His record as manager? Not exactly Fabio Capello.

Monday 24 November: Poldi asks to leave, Peru banned
The big news of the day was that Cesc Fabregas was named Arsenal captain after the removal of William Gallas, but we all knew that would happen anyway. So it fell to Lukas Podolski to create a stir by claiming he wants to leave Bayern Munich in January. Oh, you knew that already too? Well how about some wild speculation over who will snap up the 23-year-old who has scored 31 times in 60 games for Germany? Man City? Tottenham? Actually he'll probably just end up back at Cologne.

Meanwhile, Peru have been banned from international competitions after a long-running feud between their football federation (FPF) and government tipped FIFA over the edge. The worst team in South American World Cup qualifying are already without key players Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan after banning them for 18 months after a party last year and now have to contend with this.

Tuesday 25 November: Cahill to return home, Drogba meeting?
One minute he's leaving at the end of his contract. The next he is not. Either way, it looks like Tim Cahill will end up playing for an A-League side at some point before he decides to hang his boots up. The Aussie midfielder is apparently keen to return to his homeland at the end of his career, but the 28-year-old will be a mere spring chicken when his Toffees' deal ends in 2012. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the A-League that one of the country's top players will only consider playing in the domestic game when he's over the hill.

A meeting? In London? Between Jose Mourinho and another team's player? Well actually, no, this is not a repeat of the Ashley Cole saga, but some Italian media getting a little over excited. Mourinho wasn't there, but maybe Didier Drogba was. Phil Scolari's response to the suggestion that one of his leading players is meeting Inter Milan staff secretly? ''I do not sleep with him. Where he was last night? I don't know. I am not a policeman for my players.'' Evidently someone got up on the wrong side of bed.

And we can't let Tuesday pass without a mention of Dynamo Kiev midfielder Olexandr Aliyev, who should get an Oscar, Bafta and then a stern talking to from his mother for this brilliant piece of play-acting against Arsenal.

Wednesday 26 November: Appeals, appeals and Fergie's ref praise
The appeal process has begun. But not for the first time. West Ham have now appealled against a decision to block their application to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the Carlos Tevez affair. That, in turn, was the result of an appeal, which was the result of an original appeal after an independant panel had ruled in favour of Sheffield United and their claims for compensation. Understand? Well it's all very confusing, but more chances to appeal in the future mean we won't hear the end of this for a while. Not an appealling prospect [sorry].

Perhaps the strangest story of the week comes from the mouth of Sir Alex Ferguson. Usually found to be shouting the odds at referees from the touchline when not avoiding BBC cameramen, Fergie actually came out in praise of the man with the whistle after he sent off Villarreal defender Joan Capdevila after a tackle on Ronaldo. Only a cynic would suggest that the United boss was keen to highlight the persistant fouling on his winger and used Italian referee Roberto Rosetti as a pawn in his mind games. Wouldn't they?

Thursday 27 November: Kaka keen on Premier League move
A sharp intake of breath was heard around England on Thursday as the world's best player (before Cristiano Ronaldo officially takes the title), Kaka, said that he was a fan of the Premier League. With fellow Brazilians Elano and Robinho finding life comfortable in Manchester, the classy midfielder from Milan could be the next to join the City revolution, although could be tempted by a reunion with former boss Phil Scolari at Chelsea. Can anyone remember what happened the last time City and Chelsea battled over a Brazilian? Oh right, well maybe he'll end up at Eastlands after all.

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