Theo Walcott: Roma Can Clatter Me If They Want
The Gunners forward is relishing the prospect of a bit of physical confrontation in Italy this week.
Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott is keen to put his newly recovered injured shoulder to the test when the Gunners travel to the Italian capital for the second-leg of their Champions League knock-out phase tie against Roma.
The north Londoners lead the tie 1-0 after the first leg at the Emirates, and Walcott is looking forward to an intense battle where he can prove his physical strength as well as his skill.
"The shoulder feels fine," he told The Times today. "I still haven’t experienced getting clattered yet, so that’s the next test. Even though it sounds weird, that will definitely be good for me.
"In Arsenal training, you obviously don’t want to injure your own players so you tend to be a little softer, but match days are totally different.
"There is a lot of gym work and I just have to keep it up now to make the shoulder stronger. I need a few more training sessions, a few more games coming off the bench and hopefully if I am doing well the boss will put me in."
Walcott made his comeback from the dislocated shoulder in Sunday's straightforward FA Cup victory over Burnley, getting a worthwhile 20 minutes of competitive action in his legs ahead of Wednesday. England assistant manager Franco Baldini was at the Emirates to see the player return, but the winger is not getting ahead of himself as far as the national set-up goes.
"I am not going to look too far ahead - I want to concentrate on Roma and try and get back in the Arsenal starting line up," he added.
"If I have not had enough football, I might not be in [the England squad]. I am just going to work hard and see what happens."
Jose: My Blues would not fail
JOSE MOURINHO has cranked up the pressure on Chelsea by labelling the club an 'embarrassment'. The Blues have not won a trophy since Mourinho led them to glory in both the FA Cup and Carling Cup in 2007.
And the Special One claims he would never have let Manchester United pull seven points clear in the title race if he was still in charge.
Inter Milan boss Mourinho said: "Yes Manchester United are the best in England but you have to ask how good has the Premier League been since I left?
"United have won it with ease since I have gone because no manager has put together a team that can rival them.
"They have a great squad but are their players really that much better than Chelsea's or Liverpool's? I don't think so.
"Something else must be the problem and somebody has to take responsibility for that.
"Chelsea have had no stability. Arsenal are nowhere and Liverpool threatened but I don't think anybody really thought they were ever going to win it.
"I would not allow a team of mine to be so far behind. It is embarrassing in early March."
"He's worried about us, he's always talking about us - it's Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea"
I've never heard one manager talk about his old club as much as this dude does. JFC.
*Reina that is of course, I somehow managed to get utterly confused thinking Reina was running around in a white shirt when the comentators kept mentioning Pepe for Real Madrid.
awww raul traveled with his parents, wife and kids <3
so according to this, benny is out, but fernando and gerrard are in
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BENITEZ EYES EUROPEAN HAT-TRICK
Rafa Benitez admits knocking Real Madrid out of the Champions League would be a memorable achievement - but only if his side went on to reach a third final in five seasons.
The Spaniard could add a notable scalp to his long list of European conquests on Tuesday when his former club arrive at Anfield for the last 16 second leg clash.
However, Benitez knows any memories would soon fade unless the Reds made it all the way to Rome on May 27.
"They are a top side with more trophies than anyone in Europe, so it'd be a fantastic achievement - but we are thinking about winning titles," said the boss, who addressed the world's media alongside Fabio Aurelio at Anfield on Monday.
"There'll be more important games if we can progress. The most important games in Europe for us have been Istanbul, and after that Athens. Hopefully we'll be talking about another final this year."
Liverpool go into the game with a 1-0 lead following Yossi Benayoun's headed goal in the Spanish capital two weeks ago.
Benitez knows a draw would be enough but he will not send his team out to defend.
"We have to approach the game thinking about winning," he explained.
"For us, we must try to win, try to score and not concede. The way we do this depends on both teams. Real will not attack from the first minute - they will try to manage and see how we're playing."
Asked how important the Anfield faithful would be come kick-off, Benitez responded: "They will be absolutely vital.
"I hope Real Madrid say at the end of the game that the atmosphere affected them a lot."
Aurelio is another who believes the Kop factor will be crucial.
The 29-year-old added: "They will have heard about Anfield because we have a lot of Spanish players. They meet regularly with Real players on international duty and they'll talk about Anfield.
"They will expect a very tough atmosphere.
"Liverpool fans are known as the best supporters ever around the world. I agree with this and I think Madrid will expect it."
Real must score to stand any chance of making the quarter-finals - but Aurelio doesn't anticipate an onslaught.
He said: "We worked really hard over there, were tactically sound and superb defensively. Maybe it'll be a slightly different game here. I don't think Madrid will come out straight away. They'll see how we approach the game. They won't go all out for goals."
Liverpool will be without the suspended Albert Riera.
Asked what effect this would have, Aurelio replied: "We will miss Albert because he's a very good player. But we have a good squad and we have other players who can do well. They are anxious also to help the team, so whoever is picked will do their best and we'll help him."
The Real Madrid clash is followed by a trip to Old Trafford this weekend before high-flying Aston Villa visit Anfield on Mother's Day.
"We have three important games now but Liverpool are a big club - we expect to be in this kind of situation," added Aurelio. "You have to deal with the challenge but we are prepared. We've had a full week to prepare for this game. We're really focused on what we have to do."
The Brazilian was also quizzed on compatriot Lucas.
"Lucas concentrates on his work," said the left-back. "He is doing really well. All of his teammates and the staff have confidence in him, and he'll show in the future what a great player he is."
Benitez added: "He is a fantastic player."
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REAL MADRID & LIVERPOOL - TRAINING PICS
robben + juande back in england
dudek back at anfield
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*some are duplicates from ana's HQ post but i didn't feel like going through them
who_love also has some posted here
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this is my first time using photobucket so i better not get rate limited
There will be no doubt huge bias in the results but a poll is a poll and I just luv statistixxx
Pick the team you want to go through tomorrow
Spanish Primera División
Italian Serie A
French Ligue 1
Scottish Premier League
Manchester United (Premier League) - 65 points
Karlsruher SC (Bundesliga) - 17 points
Manchester United (Premier League) - 7 points
Internazionale (Serie A) - 7 points
Olympique Lyonnais (Ligue 1) - 1 point
Closest to Danger
Torino (Serie A) - tied with 18th place
Farthest From Safety
Le Havre AC (Ligue 1) - 11 points fewer than 17th place