Manchester City hunt 4th consecutive Premier League win

5 December, 2014

It's all smiles at the Etihad Stadium again as Manchester City chase their fifth straight win in all competitions as they welcome Everton on Saturday (December 6th) evening.

Since the shock defeat against CSKA Moscow in early November, Manuel Pellegrini's men have rallied winning five of the last six. They are unbeaten in the league since October 25th and have been galvanised by a pulsating victory over Bayern Munich to give them hope of qualification to the Champions League knock-out stages.

A lot of City's recent revival has been down to the prowess and clinical finishing of striker Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian has been seemingly unstoppable in recent weeks scoring seven goals in his last six games, including a hat-trick against Bayern. Aguero was once again in an inspired mood on Wednesday (December 3rd) night when City finally broke their hoodoo at Sunderland.

Gus Poyet's men had beaten City at the Stadium of Light 1-0 for the past four seasons and looked to be doing it again when Connor Wickham put them ahead. However, City hit back immediately with an absolute rocket from Aguero. From then on it was one way traffic with Stevan Jovetic putting the visitors 2-1 ahead just before the break.

Goals from Pablo Zabaleta and another from Aguero gave City a comfortable 4-1 win. The manner of the performance and the clinical finishing from Aguero fired a warning to leaders Chelsea.

City face a tough challenge at the weekend as they welcome Everton to the Etihad. The Toffees always pose a tough ask to any title challenger and will once again prove a stern test of City's mettle. Pellegrini will be wary that some players may have one eye on the Champions League showdown with Roma on Wednesday (December 10th) evening but they can not afford a slip in the Premier League.

The Sky Blues expect to have striker Edin Dzeko back in the squad while David Silva will face a late fitness test. Defenders Aleksander Kolarov and Matija Nastasic are still unavailable while captain Vincent Kompany could also be missing.

City's last encounter with Everton was a highly poignant one for the would-be champions. It was a pivotal day in the 2013/14 title race as City finally edged ahead of challengers Liverpool on goal difference. A frantic May afternoon at Goodison Park saw City having to come from behind to claim a vital 3-2 victory. Goals from Aguero and two from Dzeko sent the Sky Blues back to Manchester with all three points.

A similar result on Saturday would be more than welcome for Pellegrini and the fans.

Make or break time for Man City in the Champions League

25 November, 2014

"How did it come to this?" Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini must be thinking.

City welcome Bayern Munich to the Etihad Stadium this evening (November 25th), with their Champions League lives hanging by a thread. The Sky Blues must beat Bayern and hope that neither Roma or CSKA Moscow win to keep their slender hopes of qualification to the knockout rounds alive.

It has been a thoroughly miserable European campaign for the reigning English champions. From heartbreak in Munich to frustration against Roma to disbelief and bewilderment against CSKA, City stand on the brink of exiting the group stages for the third time in four seasons after collecting just two points so far. The challenge ahead of them could not be any harder.

They face a Bayern side that are unbeaten in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League boasting attacking wealth of Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller. A victory over the German champions is a must for City but they could be out before a ball is even kicked in Manchester if there is a winner between either CSKA or Roma in Moscow.

The task has been made even harder as City will be without midfielders Yaya Toure and Fernandinho who were sent off during the home defeat to CSKA. David Silva, Edin Dzeko and Aleksander Kolarov have all been ruled out through injury but Pellegrini will be able to call upon the services of Stevan Jovetic and talisman Sergio Aguero.

City got back to winning ways in the Premier League with a hard fought victory over Swansea City at the weekend but Bayern will prove a much tougher test. The Germans have been imperious in the Bundesliga, sitting seven points clear and having only conceded three goals so far. They continued their dominance with a 4-0 win over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the weekend.

Bayern also have fond memories of the Etihad after they completely dominated City at the Etihad during the group stages last season. Goals from Franck Ribery, Muller and Arjen Robben gave Pep Guardiola's side a 3-1 win over their English counterparts. A similar scoreline would be incomprehensible for City.

Guardiola does have injury problems ahead of the trip to Manchester with captain Philipp Lahm, David Alaba, Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber and Thiago Alcantara all ruled out.

Bayern have won all four of their group games so far and have qualified, topping the group in the process. City fans will be hoping that the Germans the rarest of rare things for them - an off day.

MCFC Christmas Promo

21 November, 2014

Our Gift to you this Christmas

With only a few weeks until Christmas book ANY Match Break package before midnight 25 December and you’ll be automatically entered into our prize draw with a chance to WIN £100 to spend during your city break!

 

Promotion open to residents of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Isles and Isle of Man aged 18 years or over only, excluding employees and agents of the Promoter, other members of the TUI Travel PLC group of companies, anyone else professionally associated with the Competition and their immediate families. Only one winner will be announced and will be chosen at random. Promotion will close at midnight 25.12.2014. Prize will be drawn within 4 weeks of the booking deadline. The prize is is non-transferable. No alternative or exchange available. Promoter: Thomson Sports Tours, principal place of trading: TUI Sport London Office, 4th Floor, Tuition House, 27-37 St George’s Road, Wimbledon, SW19 4EU (“Promoter Address”). It is a condition of participation that all terms and conditions are accepted as final and that the participant agrees to abide by these terms and conditions. Decision of the Promoter is final and no correspondence will be entered into. A completed booking will be taken to mean entrance into the competition and acceptance of the full terms and conditions.

 

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Manchester City set for season defining week

21 November, 2014

Manchester City are gearing up for what could be a season defining week.

The Sky Blues face Swansea City on Saturday (November 22nd) as they look to close the gap on Chelsea in the Premier League. They then take on Bayern Munich on Tuesday (November 25th) in a make or break Champions League tie before travelling to the south coast to face second-placed Southampton the following Sunday (November 30th).

City have been hugely inconsistent by their standards in the Premier League. They sit in third place, eight points behind Jose Mourinho's side. Their last outing ended in a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers, where they twice had to come from behind to leave west London with anything.

The reigning champions have only won once in their last six games in all competitions, a 1-0 win over ten-man Manchester United on November 2nd. This weekend sees them welcome a Swansea City side who have been impressive under young manager Garry Monk. The Swans sit in fifth place ahead of their trip to the Etihad and will be buoyed by a 2-1 win over Arsenal in their last outing.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini has injury concerns with striker Edin Dzeko, midfielder David Silva and defender Aleksandar Kolarov all ruled out. Captain Vincent Kompany will undergo a late fitness test as City look to keep up their recent dominance over the Welsh side.

Swansea have failed to beat City in the last four meetings, and have only ever won once in the blue half of Manchester in their entire history. A victory for the Sky Blues on Saturday will help to put the pressure on Southampton and leaders Chelsea. It will also provide a much needed boost ahead of a huge Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

City stand on the brink of elimination following their home defeat to CSKA Moscow in the last round of matches. They now must beat Bayern at the Etihad and hope there is no winner in the Roma-CSKA game. The German side have already qualified with a 100 per cent record, winning the group in the process.

Pellegrini's team could theoretically win their remaining two matches and still not qualify for the knockout stages. Should they fail to advance, Pellegrini will look back at a number of missed opportunities, none more so than letting a two-goal lead slip in Moscow. City seemed to be in the driving seat before two late goals secured a draw for CSKA.

Manchester City: A phoenix from the ashes

21 November, 2014

May 30th, 1999. Wembley Stadium.

It is the decisive Division Two play-off final between Manchester City and Gillingham. With three minutes remaining Gillingham's burly centre forward Robert Taylor fired in from the edge of the area to give the Kent side a 2-0 lead. City were staring down the barrel of another year in England's third tier but the next few minutes would change the club forever.

A goal from Kevin Horlock got Joe Royle's men back into it with only stoppage time remaining. City pushed hard for an equaliser and as the ball fell to striker Paul Dickov, the blue half of Manchester held it's breath. The Scotsman hit a shot high into Vince Bartram's goal sending the hoards of City fans into delirium.

It sparked a turnaround which led to goalkeeper Nicky Weaver proving an unlikely hero saving the decisive spot kick from Guy Butters in the penalty shootout. City had achieved what had seemed impossible, an immediate return to Division One.

The years that preceded were the stuff that those in attendance at Wembley that famous day could only have dreamed of. This is the story of the rebirth of Manchester City.

Dark times

Prior to that pulsating day on the Wembley turf, City had endured some dismal times. Relegation from the Premier League in 1996 was followed by a hugely disappointing campaign back in the First Division where City finished 14th. During that time City went through three managers with Frank Clark taking over in December.

If 1996/97 was disappointing then the following season was devastating. City got off to a terrible start winning only two games in their opening ten matches. Clark was dismissed in February with the club languishing in the bottom reaches of the division. Joe Royle was his replacement and it saw a slight improvement but it was not enough.

Damaging defeats to Birmingham City and Middlesbrough and a 2-2 home draw with Queens Park Rangers sent City into the final day needing a win and other teams around them to lose. Despite winning 5-2 away at fellow relegation rivals Stoke City, Portsmouth and QPR get the points they needed to send City down.

City started the summer of 1998 in the third tier of English football for the first time ever. However, they took to their new surroundings well and soared up the table. Too many draws was City's downfall, however and they finished third behind Fulham and Walsall. Tasked with navigating the tough play-offs, the drama of Wembley propelled City back to Division One.

Rising from the ashes

Following the Gillingham game the feelgood factor was back at Maine Road. The dawn of the new millennium saw City tear through Division One with Bermudan striker Shaun Goater scoring goals for fun. "Feed the Goat and he will score" was the chant raining down from the Kippax, as Goater smashed in 23 league goals as City secured consecutive promotions.

The period was not without its downsides as when City reached the promised land of the Premier League it was shortlived as they were relegated within a season. However, it was not long before the Sky Blues were back mixing it with the best in the business as Kevin Keegan led City to promotion in 2002.

City entered the 2003/04 season in a brand new stadium but the differing followed them from Maine Road to the City of Manchester Stadium. Managers came and went but neither Stuart Pearce or Sven-Goran Eriksson could form a constantly successful City side. Even with the millions of Thai business tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, City failed to touch the top four but that was all about to change.

Abu Dhabi takeover

Summer 2008 saw City hitting somewhat of a stagnation when it came to the Premier League. New boss Mark Hughes was quietly creating a squad that could aim for European qualification but on September 1st, transfer deadline day, everything changed.

The Abu Dhabi United Group, headed up by billionaire Khaldoon Al Mubarak, purchased the club from Shinawatra and started asserting their authority immediately. With this newfound wealth, City splashed out on Brazilian striker Robinho and the era of the high-spending City had begun.

It was not all plain sailing however, as Hughes would soon find out. A tenth placed finish in 2008/09 and additions Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure could not save the Welshman who was sacked prior to a league game against Sunderland in December 2009. The man to take over would be Italian Roberto Mancini.

Mancini provided City fans with their first taste of silverware since the 1970 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup when he delivered the FA Cup in 2011. City were becoming a real force in English football boasting big money signings such as David Silva, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko.

A season later they claimed their first league title since 1968 in the most dramatic fashion. Needing a win in their final game against QPR, City found themselves 2-1 down with just stoppage time remaining. An equaliser from Dzeko gave City a glimmer of hope. Cross-city rival Manchester United had already won their game at Sunderland which would send the title to Old Trafford.

However, in the 94th minute Aguero burst through the QPR box to fire low into the back of the net to send the Etihad Stadium into ecstasy. It is a scene that will forever be played on football compilation DVDs and finally gave the blue half of Manchester something to hold over their red rivals.

Since that magical moment on a May afternoon City have continued the upward trajectory. Following Mancini's departure, Chilean Manuel Pellegrini has taken over and collected another Premier League trophy and a League Cup victory in 2014.

With two league titles, an FA Cup and League Cup within the last five years would be something those fans at Wembley Stadium on that warm May afternoon all those years ago would only have dreamt of.

NFL in the UK - a history

11 November, 2014

As the final whistle blew on Sunday (November 9th) evening the Dallas Cowboys players exchanged hi-fives with each other and offered a sporting handshake to their defeated Jacksonville Jaguars counterparts.

The game marked the end of the three-match NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium in London. This year's games marked a watershed for the US sport in the UK with all three games, the most ever played in London, attracting sell-out crowds of 83,000+ and also a huge television audience.

Wins for the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions and the Cowboys captured the imagination of the British public and a further three matches have already been scheduled for 2015. So when did this love affair with the NFL grace the UK shores?

Here is a look back at how American football has entered the hearts of a soccer-rugby-cricket-loving nation.

History

Many people will point to the 1980s for the first American football match at the famous twin towers of Wembley but it was actually 1952 when gridiron initially graced the London turf. The Fuerstenfeldbruck Eagles took on the Burtonwood Bullets in the United States Air Forces in Europe football. The Eagles came out on top winning 27-6.

American football fans were made to wait another 30 years until the NFL landed on British shores. In 1983, English entrepreneur John Marshall hired Wembley to bring the Minnesota Vikings and St Louis Cardinals to London to play out a pre-season exhibition match. Around 30,000 fans were in attendance to welcome the NFL to England.

This was the start of a regular feature as the NFL looked to promote the sport in other countries, and between 1986 and 1990 games were held in England. Wembley was renamed the American Bowl and one pre-season exhibition game was held every year. The likes of the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers were among the franchises competing.

The 1990s saw the birth of the World League of American Football (WLAF). With the backing of the NFL, the WLAF brought together teams from the US and Europe. Wembley was the home of the London Monarchs and even hosted a World Bowl final which the Monarchs won in 1991.

Wembley's final set of NFL games was in 1992 and 1993 when it hosted the NFL American Bowl two more times. However, the drop in attendances highlighted to the NFL that English fans wanted much more than just exhibition matches - enter the International Series.

NFL International Series

By the time Wembley was rebuilt the WLAF and NFL Europe were a thing of the past - but there was still an appetite for NFL in the UK. American football fans wanted more than just a pre-season friendly match and it brought the NFL around to introducing one game being played at Wembley but as part of the regular season.

In 2007, the NFL returned to London. Under the newly constructed Wembley arch the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 en route to winning Super Bowl XLII. A huge 81,176 turned out to see the inaugural game of the series and it sparked American football mania across the UK.

It has become an annual event and now a fully integrated part of the NFL season. In 2013, the series was expanded to two matches with the Pittsburgh taking on the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers facing the Jacksonville Jaguars over September and October. It was extended even further a year with three matches taking place under the Wembley arch.

Matches have already been announced 2015 with the New York Jets facing the Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills taking on the Jaguars and the Detroit Lions facing the Kansas City Chiefs. Three games are also scheduled to take place in 2016 as well.

While the series is a great experience for the fans, players can be galvanised by the trip across the pond. While the Giants won the Super Bowl in a season where they played in London, a number of teams have reached the play-offs following success in London.

London franchise?

The talk before the first game of the 2014 International Series between the Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders was the possibility of London having its own NFL franchise. The English capital has not had an American football team since the London Monarchs in the 1990s but with the success of the annual matches at Wembley, could it be possible?

Following the Cowboys-Jaguars game, Mark Waller, vice-president of the international NFL, spoke of a productive meeting with chancellor George Osborne. He explained that there was a "lot of good support" from the government for an English NFL team. Mr Osborne has previously said that the government "will do anything" to secure a long-term London-based NFL team.

Should it actually come to fruition the Football Association would be prepared to take England football matches around the country again from 2018. The FA has also put securing an American football franchise at Wembley as a priority.

So what was once seen as something fanciful could actually could become a reality. Watch this space.

NFL International Series team profile: Jacksonville Jaguars

7 November, 2014

The 2014 NFL International Series continues at Wembley Stadium this Sunday (November 9th). The third and final match sees the Dallas Cowboys take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the London showpiece event. In the last of our series looking at the franchises competing in these matches we focus on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

History

Jacksonville has long been regarded as a good footballing town. The city plays host to the annual Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic between college sides Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs. However, it has only been until recently that this corner of the Sunshine State has boasted its own NFL.

This was all made possible thanks to ownership group, Touchdown Jacksonville! This includes heavyweight names such as Florida governor Jeb Bush, developer Tom Petway and shoe magnate Wayne Weaver, the NFL was successfully brought to Jacksonville. The Jaguars were voted into the NFL in 1993, becoming the 30th franchise alongside the Carolina Panthers.

Both the Jaguars and Panthers kicked their first pigskin in the national league in the 1995 season. Things did not get off to a good start, ending the campaign with 4-12 record but there were more positive times on the horizon. The Jaguars reached the play-offs for four consecutive seasons between 1996 and 1999 but failed to reach the Super Bowl on each occasion.

The dawn of the new millennium brought a further two appearances in the post-season in 2005 and 2007. On both occasions they were eliminated by the New England Patriots. First in the Wildcard Round in 2005 and then in the Divisional Round two years later after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 2010, the Jaguars were purchased by Pakistani-American billionaire businessman Shahid Khan who also took over Championship club Fulham FC in 2013. However, results under the new owner have been disappointing with Jacksonville finishing each campaign with double digit defeats since the takeover.

Stadium

EverBank Field has been the home of Jacksonville Jaguars ever since their formation in 1995. That same year saw the multi-purpose stadium opened taking the place of the old, and much-loved, Gator Bowl Stadium.

Boasting a capacity of 67,246, with the potential of being expanded to 84,000 for special events, the stadium has played host to numerous showpiece matches.

Aside from taking over the Gator Bowl's duty to hold the annual Florida vs Georgia Football Classic, EverBank Field hosted the Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. Over 78,000 fans packed into the Florida stadium to see the New England Patriots edge out the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21.

Despite boasting an impressive stadium, the Jaguars have one of the lowest average attendances in the NFL. Jacksonville have so far managed crowds of an average 63,443, only slightly higher than neighbours Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Key player

Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has become the shining light for the Jaguars in an otherwise dismal 2014 campaign. After a successful college career with the UCF Knights, the football team of the University of Central Florida, Bortles was chosen by Jacksonville in the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft.

Initially drafted to act as relief for regular quarterback Chad Henne, Bortles was installed as starter by head coach Gus Bradley following the defeat to Indianapolis Colts in late September. His first start came against the San Diego Chargers where he threw 253 yards and secured one touchdown.

Bortles' performance could be crucial if the Jaguars are to succeed under the Wembley arch and make a dent in their 1-8 record.

Super Bowl history

Unlike their illustrious opponents the Dallas Cowboys, the Jaguars can not boast the same Super Bowl prowess. In terms of franchises, Jacksonville are still very much in their infancy and have not yet made it to the grandest stage of them all.

In their early days, the Jaguars were close to featuring at the Super Bowl. Between 1996 and 1999 the team reached four consecutive play-offs, collecting the now defunct AFC Central title in 1998 and 1999. They were there again in 2005 and 2007 but each time they reached the post-season, their dreams of claiming the Vince Lombardi trophy were dashed.

The furthest the Jaguars have reached is the NFL Conference Championship play-off in 1996 and 1999 where they were knocked out by the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans respectively. The Patriots have proved to be somewhat a thorn in the side of the Jaguars, eliminating them from the play-offs on no less than three occasions.

2014 season

The current season has been one to forget for Jaguars fans. Jacksonville currently have a 1-8 record and find themselves bottom of AFC South. They kicked the season off with a six-game losing streak which was only brought to an end on October 19th when they overcame the Cleveland Browns at EverBank Field.

While this would prove the catalyst for a recovery for many teams, the Jaguars went on to lose their following two matches against the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals.

A crumb of comfort for Jaguars fans is that they currently have the edge over the Cowboys. Jacksonville have won their last two matches against their Texan counterparts and boast a 3-2 record against the Cowboys.

Fun fact

The Jaguars' appearance at Wembley on Sunday will be the first of three London matches played at the venue in the coming years. They have been selected for the NFL International Series for both 2015 and 2016. Next year will see them face the Buffalo Bills on October 25th.

NFL International Series team profile: Dallas Cowboys

6 November, 2014

The 2014 NFL International Series continues at Wembley Stadium this Sunday (November 9th). The third match sees the Dallas Cowboys take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the London showpiece event. In the fifth of our series looking at the franchises competing in the matches we focus on the Dallas Cowboys.

History

Founded in 1960, the Dallas Cowboys were the NFL's first modern-era expansion team. Dallas had not been originally picked as a franchise destination but a late decision saw more football come to Texas. Originally called the Dallas Steers, and later Rangers, the Cowboys were eventually born, as to avoid confusion with the American Association Dallas Rangers baseball team.

The Cowboys' inaugural season did not go well as they lost all but one of their games, drawing with the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium. Despite the frankly terrible start to life as an NFL team, it was not long before the Cowboys came to the fore. Three NFL Capitol titles between 1967 and 1969 and four play-off appearances saw Dallas announce themselves on football.

As the 1970s rolled around, the Cowboys became one of the best sides in the US. Led by Pro Football Hall of Famers Rayfield Wright, Mike Ditka and quarterback Craig Morton, Dallas became regular fixtures at the Super Bowl. They contested for the top prize five times in the 1970s, winning in 1972 and 1978.

While no Super Bowls arrived in the 1980s, Dallas reached the play-offs with regularity but it was not until the 1990s when that Super Bowl winning feeling returned. The Cowboys racked up three Vince Lombardi trophies during the decade with their final one coming against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

Since then the Cowboys have maintained a steady amount of play-off appearances, their last coming in 2009 when they were eventually knocked out by the Minnesota Vikings.

Stadium

The Cowboys have been playing their home fixtures at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington since 2009. Formerly known as Cowboys Stadium, the state-of-the-art ground can officially hold 80,000 spectators. However, there is scope to expand the capacity to over 105,000 when standing room is made available.

This was maximised when a huge 105,121 football fans packed in for the Cowboys game against the New York Giants in September 2009.

The Cowboys were originally based in Dallas, playing their home matches at the iconic Cotton Bowl between 1960 and 1971. They relocated to the Texas Stadium in the early 1970s which saw some of the team's most successful periods.

Key player

Dallas' success under the famous Wembley arch will depend on the performances of running back DeMarco Murray and quarterback Tony Romo. Murray is enjoying a superb season recently being named NFC Offensive Player of the Month twice in a row.

The 2013 Pro Bowler has already converted seven touchdowns so far this season and is closing in on a 2,000 yard season. Murray was inspirational in Dallas' six-game winning streak through September and October before it was brought to an end by the Washington Redskins in an overtime win.

While Murray is integral to Dallas' running game, there will be a lot of focus on Romo. It is hoped the quarterback will return from injury after missing last weekend's 28-17 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals. If Romo and Murray can click in London then it will help the Cowboys put their recent poor form behind them.

Super Bowl history

The Cowboys are one of the most successful teams in NFL with five Super Bowl titles to their name. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers can boast more Vince Lombardi trophies while the San Francisco 49ers have collected five as well. Both the Cowboys and the Steelers have competed in eight Super Bowls with Dallas playing in their first in 1971.

Dallas' first bow in the Super Bowl ended in defeat against the Baltimore Colts but they only had to wait a year to claim the top prize, beating the Miami Dolphins in New Orleans. Three more finals came in the 1970s with the Cowboys winning one, against the Denver Broncos in 1978.

The 1990s saw Dallas take the Super Bowl by the scruff of the neck, winning three titles in four years. Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII saw the Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills while they got revenge over the Steelers for the 1976 defeat by winning 27-17 in 1996.

However, that appearance at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, was the last time the Cowboys made it to the Super Bowl.

2014 season

The 2014 campaign has been somewhat of a mixed bag for the Cowboys. Currently on a 6-3 record, things got off to a bad start with a 28-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on the opening day. However, this sparked a six-game winning streak for the Cowboys with the likes of the St Louis Rams, Houston Texans and 2013 Super Bowl winners Seattle Seahawks all vanquished.

This run was ended by the Washington Redskins on October 27th and was followed up with another defeat to the Arizona Cardinals a week later. The Cowboys are currently second in the NFC East, behind the Philadelphia Eagles and will be looking to get back on track at Wembley on Sunday.

Fun fact

In The Simpsons episode You Only Move Twice, when asked by evil genius boss Hank Scorpio whether he had a dream, Homer responds by saying that he always wanted to own the Dallas Cowboys. At the end of episode when Hank Scorpio has seized the East Coast of the US he sends Homer a present in lieu of not being able to get the Cowboys - the Denver Broncos, much to Homer's disappointment.

Man City face Champions League make or break

4 November, 2014

It's make or break time for Manchester City in the Champions League as they take on CSKA Moscow at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday (November 5th).

The Premier League champions have only managed to collect two points from their opening three matches and sit in third place behind leaders Bayern Munich and Roma. The Sky Blues must now beat CSKA to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini will no doubt be looking back at the return fixture in the Russian capital and wondering what could have been. Sergio Aguero and James Milner had put City in a commanding 2-0 lead before the break in Moscow but goals from Seydou Doumbia and a Bedras Natcho penalty claimed a draw for the hosts.

Now City need maximum points against CSKA and hope Bayern do them a favour by beating Roma in Munich. The German side can qualify for the knockout stages with a win and City will be hoping it is a repeat of the 7-1 mauling Bayern dished out in Rome in the last round of matches.

A City win and a Roma defeat would put the Sky Blues in the driving seat to claim the second qualification spot. It could all come down to the final match when City have to travel to the Stadio Olimpico to take on the Italian side.

Off the back of a hard fought victory against Manchester United in the derby on Sunday (November 2nd), Pellegrini will be boosted by the possible return of midfielder Frank Lampard. The former Chelsea man has not featured for four games after being injured during the 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Speaking ahead of the game, Lampard said: "I'm not far off selection. Fingers crossed, if all goes well over the next couple of days, I'll be back in contention."

One man who will not be featuring against CSKA is defender Aleksander Kolarov who has been ruled out for a month with a calf injury picked up during the warm up prior to the Manchester derby.

Pellegrini will also be hoping that striker Aguero will be able to carry on his scintillating form. The Argentinian was once again the thorn in the side of Man Utd, causing havoc throughout the game and scoring the decisive winner. Aguero has now racked up 12 goals so far this season and is currently the Premier League's top scorer.

CSKA go into the game off the back of a 1-0 home defeat to title rivals Zenit St Petersburg. The Russian side are now seven points behind Zenit in the Russian Premier League.

Man City look to continue Magpie dominance in the League Cup

29 October, 2014

Manchester City will look to return to winning ways as they entertain Newcastle United in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup at the Etihad Stadium this evening (October 29th).

The Sky Blues suffered a dent in their Premier League title defence when they lost 2-1 away at West Ham on Saturday but they will be aiming to right those wrongs against the Magpies, who picked up only their second win of the season on Sunday.

City boast an impressive record against the visitors having never lost to Newcastle at the Etihad, and have not tasted defeat against their north-east opponents since 2005, a run which stretches back 17 games. Manager Manuel Pellegrini will be hopeful that this form continues as his team make a bid for the quarter finals.

The League Cup was the first piece of silverware that Pellegrini tasted as City boss when the Sky Blues came from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 at Wembley in March. While the Chilean's main focus is always retaining the Premier League title, he denied that he would be taking the Capital One Cup for granted.

Speaking ahead of tonight's match, Pellegrini said: "If you ask me if I prefer to win the Premier League, maybe, but that doesn't mean that you don't want to win the Capital One Cup which is why we are involving the whole squad in this game."

Pellegrini and City have an enviable record in the League Cup having not lost since September 2012. The cup holders have averaged over four goals a game in their last seven matches and made short work of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the last round. Despite being held 0-0 at the interval, a second half blitz saw City run out 7-0 winners.

The Sky Blues also boast an almost fully fit squad heading into tonight's game but with a showdown with cross-city rivals Manchester United looming on Sunday, Pellegrini could be tempted to make a number of changes. However, the City boss will not be able to call on the services of Frank Lampard, who was inspirational in the demolition job of Sheffield Wednesday, but is ruled out with a thigh injury.

Newcastle have injury concerns of their own with Papiss Cisse, Emmanuel Riviere, Mike Williamson and Cheick Tiote all expected to be unavailable.

City edged past Newcastle at this stage last year with goals from Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko handing the Manchester side a 2-0 extra time win at St James' Park.

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