Andriy Shevchenko to leave Chelsea in search of first-team football

Carlo Ancelotti says Shevchenko made decision to leave
Ukrainian likely to return to former club Dynamo Kiev

Andriy Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko was signed by Chelsea from Milan for £30m in 2006. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has confirmed that Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko has chosen to leave the club. Ancelotti said that Shevchenko’s decision was based on a desire to play first-team football – something he could not be guaranteed at Stamford Bridge. Shevchenko spent last season on loan with Ancelotti at Milan but returned to Chelsea this summer. He made an appearance as a substitute against Sunderland in the 3–1 win at the Stadium of Light, and Ancelotti had hoped the Ukrainian would play a part in Chelsea’s season. However, the 32-year-old has now decided it would be better to try and find first-team football elsewhere, despite having a year left on his contract. It is understood Shevchenko will return to Dynamo Kiev, the club where he made his name in the late 90s, although Chelsea are unlikely to receive a fee. Such is the amicable nature of his parting that Chelsea may even absorb some of Kiev’s costs by part-funding his £120,000-a-week wages.

“I spoke with Shevchenko,” said Ancelotti. “He would like to play with continuity here but it is difficult for me to give him the possibility to play a lot of matches and he will take the right decision for him. We have told him he can go. Sheva didn’t have the possibility to play consistently, so he has taken the decision to go.” Ancelotti denied that Shevchenko had chosen to quit after being omitted from the Champions League squad. “No, he did not, because I [still] have the time to choose the squad for the Champions League,” said Ancelotti. “Here, Shevchenko did not have the opportunity to play with continuity. He made the decision because of this only.”

The Italian also rejected speculation that Chelsea had submitted a £57m bid for the Bayern Munich midfielder, Franck Ríbery. “No that is not true,” said Ancelotti.

another favourite player of mine. but this one does not shine as others. i loved his predatorial finishes during his stay in dynamo kiev. then he moved to ac milan in which i still followed. then he came to chelsea. there was too much pressure on him i guess. it went down badly for him there. i still believe that sheva is still dangerous. its just that he needs more games. err is it possible if he can be transferred to manchester united for free. i think he’s better than berba. anyway good luck sheva! article from Guardian.

syafeerul: Stadium Astro Fantasy part II

just to update on my previous post as promised..after some deep thought and some read-ups, i finally made up my mind to put out the two arsenal player – fabregas and bendtner. they’re replaced by jarvis and drogba. so here’s my line up for gameweek 4 in Stadium Astro Fantasy.

Hart – Evra, Bridge, Figueroa – Nani, Gerrard (C), Jarvis, Kuyt – Drogba, Keane, Bent – sub: Ilunga

wish me luck!

Nedved confirms his retirement from football

Former Juventus and Lazio midfielder Pavel Nedved has announced his retirement from football. The 36-year-old has been mulling over several offers to continue his illustrious career, but has decided to hang up his boots instead. A statement on his official website read: “I have decided not to accept any of the offers I received in recent weeks, and finally end my career. I will now dedicate my time to my family, wife, and children. “I would like to thank the fans for all the support they showed me throughout my career.”

Nedved spent the majority of his career in Italy after joining Lazio from Sparta Prague in 1996. He won the Coppa Italia in 1998 and in 2000. He also lifted the 1999/00 Scudetto, the 1999 Cup Winners Cup, the 1999 Super Cup and the Super Coppa Italiana in 1998 and in 2000. Nedved then joined Juventus in 2001 after Zinedine Zidane made his world record move to Real Madrid. At the Old Lady he won both the Serie A title and the Super Coppa Italiana in 2002 and 2003. He also won the Ballon d’Or in 2003.

Ex-Italian goalkeeper and former Lazio coach Dino Zoff paid tribute to Nedved. He said: “Nedved has always been an example for everyone, from the first moment he arrived at Lazio, until his last at Juventus. I am really sad that someone like Nedved has stopped playing.” “I think that if he made a decision like this, then he would have taken everything into consideration. Nedved leaves nothing to chance, he was also like that on the pitch. He probably thought about leaving on a high in order to leave a great memory of himself.” “The fact that he didn’t win the Champions League doesn’t tarnish an extraordinary career,” added Zoff.

Pavel Nedved – one of my favourite football player. i followed his career since he played with Lazio. his ability to create and too score amazes me back then. he is one of the reason why im a big fan of Czech Republic national team. article from Soccernet.

“Pavel Nedved,
good luck in ur future undertakings..”

Champions League Draw

Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be back at their old clubs as Inter and Barcelona were drawn together in the Champions League, along with Dynamo Kiev and Rubin Kazan.

The other big draw is Real Madrid, some people’s favourites for the title, against AC Milan – where Kaka will return – and fellow big spenders Marseille, who could cause an upset in Group C. Manchester Utd face tough trips to CSKA Moscow, Besiktas and Wolfsburg in the English clubs’ hardest draw, with Liverpool also given a tough test in Lyon, Fiorentina and Hungarian side Debreceni. Chelsea will be happy with their draw as it’s Jose Mourinho’s old club FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and Cypriot side APOEL; while Arsenal are also sitting pretty as they face Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos and Belgian side Standard Liege.

Group A
Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa

Group B
Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, VfL Wolfsburg

Group C
AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D
Chelsea, FC Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL

Group E
Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F
Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan

Group G
FC Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni

Group H
Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

the draw had been made. toughest seems like from Group B. Champions from different countries.

Group A, Bayern and Juve looks too strong for the other two. Bordeaux might gave some threat there. Group B, in no doubt is toughest of all. Man United known for their strenght, CSKA had been in this competition for years and they do have a strong team backed by Russian internationals. Besiktas have Turkish internationals in their team and been known to gave tough matches to their opponent. Wolfsburg surprises everyone by winning the German League last season. i bet they have some firepower in their team. Group C is quite a challenging group apart from Group B. AC Milan and Real the favourites. Marseille might steal a spot if any of the two slips. Zurich might just be the victim in this group. Group D put up Chelsea as clear favourite. but Porto and Atletico won’t give an easy game against them. The easiest might be against APOEL. Group E lines up Liverpool as favourite. Lyon, despite losing Benzema, is still strong to be written off. Fiorentina can just surprise anyone. sometimes they’re good, sometimes not. Debreceni? i don’t know. Group F is somewhat like Group C with two favourites, one strong team that is ready to take opportunity and one victim-to-be. Barceloan and Inter the top two. Kiev the opportunity-taker. Rubin Kazan the bottom one. Group G looks balanced here. Sevilla, Rangers and Stuttgart most probably have the same strenght. Unirea might be too small for the other three. and the last group, Group H, where Arsenal heads as clear favourite. AZ, Olympiakos and Standard will fight to move to next stage.

anyhow this is just my opinion. by February 2010, we’ll see what happens and which team progress to the next stage. source from Soccernet.

syafeerul: Stadium Astro Fantasy

the new season 2009/2010 Barclay’s Premier League is already in progress. this weekend will be Gameweek 4. lots of drama so far. we’ve seen manchester united stumble against newly promoted burnley, and saw them came back destroying wigan in just 45 minutes. we’ve seen how rafa pointed to his senior players when liverpool loss against villa. chelsea had a nervy start, winning with late goals. and arsenal showed superb performance despite losing adebayor to man city and some players to injury.

these in a way, reflects fantasy football. individuals from all around the world line-up their stars to get as much point as possible each week. there’s hundreds of fantasy football hosts on the net. i’ve played at fantasy premierleague, yahoo fantasy football, espn fantasy football and most recently Stadium Astro Fantasy. to be honest, i never really concentrate on playing it. its just for fun. after all, winning it is almost impossible. but when astro came up with their own fantasy football, i thought this could be an opportunity for me to achieve something. hosted locally, that means the prize is more realistic. unlike fantasy football from other places, i won’t even know if i can even get the prize if i win. so this time, with astro as host, i decided to play this with an extra attention. although winning is far from sight, but the fun is there.

4 weeks into the season.. for some, their line-up was awesome. gathering as much as 185 points in total. while im slowly with mid-level teams with only 139 points so far. i played in Malaysia League. mostly Lowyat forumer. after 4 weeks, i learned that initial selection of players really matters to get the most points early season. i didn’t realize earlier that there’s a rule limiting transfers per week to only 2. that makes life a lot tougher after the first game and onwards. some didn’t perform despite the big name and some small team played awesomely good. arsenal surprises me the most as they doesn’t seem to be affected at all when adebayor left. budget limitation of 100m is a norm in many fantasy leagues, so that’s not a problem for me. but having only 12 players is quite difficult. u lose points when more than 2 players in ur team didn’t play. if only one, the reserve player might do some good. and 2 transfers per week? damn hard..

my team: masizi. as many would have line-up their team, mine consists of the big four clubs. but for last week, i chose to omit chelsea players from my selection. although i wanted to have at least one of them but with 2 transfers per week plus budget limitation, that is not possible. so for the coming week’s line-up, i’ll get a chelsea player. after all they played burnley. not to undersestimate burnley whom have beaten the likes of man united, but against chelsea – is just too big for them i guess unless chelsea had an off day like man utd does. this week i planned to feature hart-evra,bridge,figueroa-nani,gerrard,jimenez,kuyt-drogba,keane,bent. no arsenal player? not against man utd. haha.. but im having some difficulties here. i haven’t finalized the line-up yet. maybe tomorrow. i can only transfer 2 players. but i have few players that needs to go out. hart in goal is doubtful as they’re playing chelsea. pretty sure they’ll concede at least a goal there. max points from hart could be 2 points only. ilunga is injured and not playing yet. fabregas is injured and its yet to be confirmed whether he will play or not against man united. bendtner haven’t played competitively for arsenal so far. coming on as subs didn’t provide enough points to the team. 4 players i wanted to put out. on top of that, drogba’s recent form shows that he might score in these next game. i’d like to have him but he’s a bit pricey. with this in mind, i need to put out a combination of 2 players that would be sufficient to accomodate drogba’s signing plus another player that’s worth a smaller value. will update on this tomorrow.

visit Stadium Astro Fantasy.

Jessica Biel most ‘dangerous’ celeb in cyberspace

Through no fault of her own, actress Jessica Biel is now the most hazardous celebrity on the Internet.

Jessica Biel

McAfee names Jessica Biel most dangerous celebrity online in 2009

Fans searching online for Biel have a one-in-five chance of hitting a Web site with malware, according to McAfee’s third annual report listing Hollywood’s most “dangerous” online celebrities. In general, hunting for Hollywood’s in-crowd poses a much greater threat than searching for just about anyone else. For example, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama ranked No. 34 and No. 39, respectively. Other unsafe celebrities near the top of the cybersecurity company’s list include singer Beyonce at No. 2, former “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston at No. 3, and football hero Tom Brady, who came in at No. 4.

McAfee found that searching for photos, videos, downloads, wallpaper, and screensavers of celebrities who made the list could prove hazardous to the health of your computer. “Cybercriminals are star watchers too–they latch onto popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise,” Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs, said Tuesday in a statement. “Consumers’ obsession with celebrity news and culture is harmless in theory, but one bad download can cause a lot of damage to a computer.” Using its SiteAdvisor technology, McAfee compiled the list by hunting for celebrity names that produced the largest number of risky sites and the highest percentage of risk.

Top 15 most dangerous celebrities

McAfee's top 15 most "dangerous" celebrities

really?? she’s hot, sexy and malicious.. article from CNET.

Anderson wants United stay

United midfielder happy to fight for place

Anderson insists he does not want to leave Manchester United, despite reportedly incurring the wrath of manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Brazilian is believed to have vented his frustration at missing out on a Wembley appearance after being left out of the Red Devils’ starting XI that played Chelsea in the Community Shield. Anderson’s attitude did not go down well and the 21-year-old has played in just one of United’s three Premier League matches since talks with Ferguson. Despite question marks lingering over the former Porto midfielder’s future at Old Trafford, he insists he wants to stay and that he now knows who the boss is.


“I believed that I would play in the Community Shield but that is forgotten now,” he said. “I thought that, without Cristiano Ronaldo around, I could to play more and that has been my challenge from pre-season onwards. “But the coach decides the teams and to discuss this with him is foolish because he is the chief. I do not want to leave United. No. “Sir Alex Ferguson has demanded a bigger effort from me and I accept that. Because to get into this United team is very complicated and difficult for any player.”

hope that ends well between them. anderson is quite important to the squad. he’s some sort of direct replacement for scholes. article from Sky Sports.

Sony boss reveals plans for PlayStation

Kazuo Hirai
Kazuo Hirai
The Times was the only UK publication at Gamescom in Cologne last week to speak with Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai. We met up with him the morning after he had taken the stage to announce the new PlayStation 3 Slim, and half an hour before he was due to fly back to Tokyo.

Portions of this interview have appeared in other stories from Gamescom (see below left), but we thought he had so many interesting things to say that our chat deserved reproducing in full. So here it is. Our questions are in bold, with his answers beneath.

The obvious question is, why a new PlayStation 3 now?
Well, it’s closing in on our third anniversary in November in America and Japan, and we felt it was the right time to kind of pass on the benefits of the fact that we’ve been able to reduce the number of components and their sizes.

And we wanted to pass the cost savings on to our consumers, in the new price point as well. We also felt it was the right time in terms of the great line-up of software titles we have coming out.

We wanted to make sure we had a great line-up of software, a new form factor and a new pricing point as well.

Is the new machine really an admission that sales of the existing PS3 have been disappointing?
If you look at the growth of the installed base, it is slower than the PS2 was but it’s pretty much on track with the growth that we had with the original PlayStation.

We also always look at our business as being a 10-year lifecycle for all of our platforms. It’s kind of difficult to say whether a platform has been successful or not going into our third anniversary. The fifth anniversary and beyond is when we really start to say how’s our trajectory looking?

In retrospect, do you wish you had packed less into the PS3?
Had we done less, I think we’d have gotten into a situation where, especially with the way technology ramps up, it would have been very difficult for us to embark on a 10-year life cycle with this particular console.

I think that because of all the things we were able to pack into the platform – Blu-ray’s a great example – we were able to make sure we could take advantage of some of the great services we are offering.

Those things aren’t possible if we didn’t put that kind of power into the platform.

A marketing person once told me that the most difficult thing to sell is a Swiss Army penknife, because it does everything. Do you think you made the same mistake with the PS3?
Right. That was more of a marketing issue than anything else. When I came back to Japan in November 2006, one of the first things I did was to go out with a very clear message that said the PS3 is first and foremost a video game console, before we talk about any of the other great things it can do. I think the PS3 had a bit of an identity problem.

We focused therefore in the first year and a half or so on talking about the great games and also we sent that message to all of our development partners.

I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that, which is why we’ve got this great raft of software coming into this holiday season. Once we’ve done that, then we can talk about all the other things that it can do in terms of the non-game video content, whether it’s the video delivery service or the catchup TV service or the movie rental service. But none of that makes much sense unless we can say first and foremost it’s a great video game console.

It’s well known that Sony loses money on every PS3 it sells. Will that still be the case with the new machine?
If you’re just talking about the hardware alone, the quick answer is yes. That makes good headlines, but I don’t actually know that that’s the true nature of the business that we’re all in, whether it’s PlayStation, Xbox or the Wii. I think the better indicator is to look at the business as a whole platform, to ask: are you profitable in terms of the hardware, software and peripherals. And the answer t o that question is yes on a gross profit level since the last fiscal year.

Is PS3 the machine to turn Sony around?
It’s not just the PlayStation business, but overall. It’s some of the other businesses that I’m managing now at the Networked Products and Service Group level, but it’s also a combination of the cost reductions that we’re now embarking on on a corporate level, including the Bravia business, I think all these things need to come together for us to be seen and perceived as having turned a corner. It’s not just one business. It’s not just the PlayStation business, it’s not just the TV business, it’s a combination of all of the things that we’re involved in.

Will PlayStation thinking infiltrate the rest of Sony?
This is one of the things that Howard has tasked myself and Kunimasa Suzuki to do at NPSG, where the majority of the sales and visibility, if you will, comes from the PlayStation business. Since I manage both there’s obviously going to be a bit of a ruboff from how I run the PlayStation business. and how that’s going to impact how Kuni’s going to be running the Vaio business, and because of the cross-pollination that I wanted I’ve asked Kuni to become second in command at SCE. So there’s a lot of cross- pollination going on at management level.

I certainly wanted to make sure that the kind of corporate culture, the atmosphere if you will, the kind of information sharing, the openness that I think I’ve been able to impart on SCE, I want to make sure that that culture extends to NPSG, and by extension if it’s a culture that breeds success, then it should naturally extend into other parts of Sony as well.

Nevertheless, as a company that also owns a film studio and a music label, the digital age must present as much conflict as opportunity? How can Sony reconcile its two roles?
There’s always been that difference of opinion or perspective, and that’s bound to happen, because on the one side you’re coming from software, from the other side you’re coming from hardware.

There is always going to be that, but I think it depends on the management of the organisations to really harness that energy and conflict in the right way or to exacerbate the situation. I’d like to think that because we at SCE are one of the very few companies within the Sony group, probably the only one, that deals in both hardware and software under one roof, we have that conflict built in.

It’s part of our culture to manage that conflict and to manage it in a right way, so that it becomes a positive rather than something that takes down the organisation. I’d like to think the folks at SCE have a lot of experience and knowledge about striking a balance between the two and hopefully we can impart that across the wider Sony group as well. Sony needs to get to the point where we’re not talking about hardware or software, but about a total consumer experience. We don’t talk about hardware and software at SCE. We talk about how we can bring the best consumer experience under the PlayStation umbrella. Nobody questions whether we’re a hardware company or a software company, and that’s the way I think Sony needs to move as well.

What are your own personal criteria for a successful gadget?
Ease of use. One of the standards is how many times I have to look at a manual. I look too for industrial form factor and design. Does it look nice and does it function very well?

Talking of form and design, I see you’ve ditched the Spider-man typeface from the new PlayStation…
We wanted to make sure that we set a new direction for the PS3. The PS logo with the capital P and small S has always been our logo, has always been synonymous with video games and I wanted to reset the thinking. Also internally I wanted to send the message internally that we are resetting the thinking, going back to our roots. What better way to do it than by resetting the logo? That puts the entire organisation on its toes. On a practical level, when you have PlayStation 3 spelt out, the aspect ratio was such that if you wanted it on a billboard it became tiny. It didn’t work in terms of visibility.

In the meantime, Nintendo has done more to popularise video gaming than any other company.
It’s a very astute observation, but it doesn’t take in history. The most successful console is still the PS2 and it’s still going strong. I think that’s the console that really broke the barrier from video games being just for video gamers into more of a mass market on a global basis. Nintendo’s obviously done a great job in following that mass acceptance.

But there is a new constituency of video game players. How will you make sure they come to the PS3?
First and foremost it needs to be done through compelling video game titles. That is a two-pronged strategy where we always need to make sure that the platform is perceived as a videogames platform. Once you increase the installed base you cannot say, OK we’re not going to do any more games for the hardcore gamer. You lose them, you lose the whole foundation. A great example is games like God of War. Those games we will continue to do.

Titles like Singstar and Buzz are great examples of family type games. Number 2, I think that the accessibility of the PS Network and all the different content that we offer and will bring in the future – people who realise that it’s a great console to have for all the other things it offers. It’s a great entrance into the PS3 for some people and once you’ve got one, why not try video games as well? I think that’s more of a long-term proposition. But since we’re on a 10-year lifecycle, it’s the sort of thing we’ll be looking at in a couple of years.

And what about the “magic wand” motion control system you have shown glimpses of here and at E3? When will we see that in stores?
We are slating it for spring of next year. One of the things is that we just don’t want to put out the controller. We need a great software that supports the controller at launch. It’s something that we’ve been working on for the longest time.

Finally, the PSP Go is coming in October, and has no drive for UMD disks. Do you think physical media such as DVDs and even Blu-ray have a limited time left?
No. Perhaps we can sit down three years from now and have a beer, or two or ten, while we wait to download 40 gigabytes of data for a full ps3 game. That’s still going to take a lot of time. We’re in over 100 countries and there are areas where consumers still don’t have access to the type of broadband that we have. The death of physical media is a very nice conclusion, that seems to be nice to say, but it’s not something we’re going to see soon. We are committed to the PSP 3000 and the UMD business. A lot of people like to speculate that we’re getting out of that business, but nothing could be further from the truth. We’re not going to deprive consumers in all those other countries.

an interview with Kaz Hirai, boss of SCE by The Times. his words at least assures that Sony is determined in keeping PS3’s 10-year life cylce programme. he didn’t deny that the console is still selling at loss despite the price-cut. but they make profit through sales of software – games plus peripherals. give them time, PS3 will sure be their most profitable item soon. Wii had a good run of sales but i don’t think Wii is targeted at gamers. we, gamers lived in a different level of realism. its either PS3 or X360 that’s worth comparing. and read what kaz answered on the last question.. thanks.. most of us still have to endure with slow connection.. stolen from TheTimes.

Malaysia frees woman sentenced to caning


By Razak Ahmad

SUNGAI SIPUT, Malaysia (Reuters) – Religious authorities in Malaysia on Monday freed a Muslim woman who had been sentenced to be caned for drinking beer, although she and her family demanded to know whether her ordeal was over. It was not immediately clear whether the sentence, the first time a woman has been sentenced to caning in this Southeast Asian country, had been overturned or merely postponed after an Islamic court official said the warrant could not be executed. An official from a state Islamic body gave no reason for the decision.

The caning has sparked concerns among some rights groups over a parallel Islamic legal system in this multi-ethnic country of 27 million people. The woman, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, was returned to her house after she was picked up by religious authorities to be taken to a jail where she was due to be caned this week.

At first Kartika, who had said she accepted her sentence and wanted it to be carried out in public, refused to leave the van when she was returned home. “I will not come out without a black and white document explaining the status of what has happened. I am surprised and speechless,” Kartika told reporters before her father talked her into leaving the vehicle.


Kartika, a 32-year-old mother of two who had a job as a nurse in Singapore until news of her trial emerged, was wearing a cream-colored, traditional long Malay dress decorated with flowers and a headscarf.

Her father said the change of mind would bring ridicule on Islam, which bans Muslims from consuming alcohol, and that he would lodge a police report over the release. “We had already accepted the punishment,” Shukarno Mutalib, told reporters. While caning is a common punishment under Malaysia’s civil code, as it is in neighboring Singapore, no woman has been caned and the severity of the punishment has generated criticism that this modern majority-Muslim state was becoming more hardline. “There is a general push toward the implementation of sharia (Islamic) laws,” Osman Bakar Deputy Chief Executive of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia told Reuters. “It’s too simplistic to say that the government is becoming more Islamicised to gain more votes, more Malay support.”

Malays, who by law must be Muslims, account for 55 percent of the country’s population. A Malay nationalist party is main party in the coalition that has ruled this country for 51 years, but which is battling an opposition Islamic party for their votes. The National Front coalition, led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), stumbled to its worst ever losses in national and state elections in 2008. (Additional reporting by Niluksi Koswanage; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

the issue had been on for a week. i do not want to comment on this earlier but her actions are somewhat annoys me. she did her mistake. and she accepted the consequences. but why publicised it? just get on and deal with it. and now she wanted to shout about being released.. do not fool around on religious matters.. article from Reuters.

Arsene Wenger: Michael Owen Can Be ‘Fantastic’, Xabi Alonso Was Great, Chelsea Too Old

Owen is a good punt, Alonso could be irreplaceable and Chelsea might be too old, according to Wenger…

21 Aug 2009 09:45:34

Arsene Wenger has commented on a myriad of subjects, from Manchester United’s gamble in signing Michael Owen, to the age of the Chelsea team. Arsenal boss Wenger has seen his side make a flying start to the season, including a 6-1 trouncing of Everton and the establishment of a Champions League play-off advantage over Celtic. At the heart of the effort has been new signing Thomas Vermaelen, whose quality was doubted by many. The player has quickly slotted in at centre-back to dampen the effect of selling Kolo Toure.

Premier League rivals Manchester United and Liverpool have also let go of big names: Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso respectively. The Red Devils, of course, snapped up Michael Owen as attacking cover, while Alberto Aquilani has joined Liverpool. Wenger has watched developments around the league with interest, giving his take on Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez’s transfer gambles. “The question this season is, ‘who will cope the best with what has happened during this transfer market?’ – let’s make sure it’s us,” Wenger said to the club’s official magazine.

“The big task for United is replacing the goals that Cristiano Ronaldo scored. He had two fantastic qualities: he was never injured, and he put the ball in the back of the net. “I’m surprised that they didn’t reinvest more of the money they got for Ronaldo, but they may do so in January. They will continue to be a major force in the championship. “Michael Owen is worth a gamble, I think. I don’t believe he can be back to his complete best, but even if he gets to 95 per cent he will be a fantastic player – an impact player.”

‘The Professor’ is slightly less sure of Liverpool’s ability to replace Xabi Alonso. “Aquilani will be a good player [for Liverpool], but they’ve lost a great player in Alonso,” he noted. “He was the brain of the game for Liverpool last season. I don’t expect them to struggle, but people might have a little question mark over how they replace Alonso.”

Completing his ‘Big Four’ round-up, Wenger said of new London challenger Carlo Ancelotti and his Blues, “I still think that Chelsea will be a main threat for the championship, but their squad is a year older, which might have an impact.”

he rarely comments on anything. nice comments there and i agreed with what he said here.. article from