Matthew Upson

PLAYOFF DREAMS

It looked only a few months ago that Brighton would not be able to finish in the play-off position despite the good start they made to the season.

However, the arrival of the striker Leonardo Ulloa during the January transfer window has changed since significantly for Gus Poyet and his men. The team are extremely close to finishing in the top six of the championship, and there are only a few matches left in the season. Leonardo Ulloa has managed to score eight goals in just 11 matches, as he has put Brighton on a path to the top six.

However, the manager Poyet has revealed that he would still like to add another striker to his squad in the hope of maintaining the strong form of recent weeks. The absence of strikers like Ashley Barnes, Will Hoskins, and Craig Mackail-Smith through reasons like suspension and injury has been one of the main reasons for Poyet's search for a new striker. He has said that the team is currently taking a lot of risks with only Ulloa up front. If the South American does get injured or suspended during this period, then it would spoil all the good work done in the season.

The club are seventh in the table with only around eight matches remaining in the season. "I have to because it's a big risk. Imagine if we do well in the next three or four games and then something happens to Leo. Then I'd have to get changed into my number 45 shirt, and we cannot take that risk. Something will come up. Everyone is waiting until the last minute, but by a week on Thursday I will make sure we get the best player we can," said the former Tottenham assistant manager. Brighton's next match will be against Nottingham Forest.

STOKE LOSE TO CHELSEA

Stoke City has been defeated by Chelsea in a Premier League match played at Britannia Stadium on Saturday. Chelsea won the match by a big margin of 4-0. This was a great performance by the visitors, but, the home team also helped them by making some poor mistakes. This was Chelsea’s 12th victory in the ongoing Premier League. This victory took them ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in the points table. Chelsea is now at no. 3 with 42 points in 22 matches.
Chelsea was defeated by Swansea City in its previous match and as a result, Rafa Benitez made quite a few changes in the starting XI. Oscar, Ross Turnbull, Fernando Torres and Gary Cahill were left out and on their places; Ryan Bertrand, Petr Cech, Demba Ba and Frank Lampard were brought back into the starting line up.

On the other hand, Stoke City made just one change to the starting line up that had played against Manchester City. Matthew Etherington made way for Cameron Jerome.

In the first half, both the teams failed in capitalizing on the chances and there were no goals scored in the first 44 minutes. Just a few seconds before the half time break, Chelsea took the lead with the help of an own goal from Jonathan Walters.

Chelsea’s lead got doubled in the 63rd minute and it was Walters again who helped Chelsea with his second own goal in the match. The Irish striker tried to direct the ball towards the goalkeeper, but, his placement went wrong and the ball went into the bottom corner of the net. Walters looked perplexed after that goal.

Just after a couple of minutes, Chelsea earned a penalty and Frank Lampard converted it easily with a powerful shot to make the score 3-0 in Chelsea’s favour. Stoke City got into big trouble when they conceded another goal in the 73rd minute. This time it was Eden Hazard who found the net by latching on the pass of Juan Mata.

Stoke City failed in scoring any goal in the remaining time and lost the match.
Stoke City’s next match will be a FA Cup clash against Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

STOKE NET WIN

Stoke City has defeated Newcastle United in a Premier League match played at Britannia Stadium on Wednesday. Stoke won the match by a close margin of 2-1. This was only the fourth win for Stoke in the League. This victory took Stoke to no. 9 in the points table. Stoke currently has 19 points in 14 matches.

Newcastle United was ahead by 1-0 till the 80th minute of the match. But, in the last 10 minutes, the Stoke players played amazingly and scored a couple of goals to turn the match on its head. This was Stoke’s third victory in the last 4 matches.

Newcastle United took the lead in the 47th minute of the match. It was Papiss Cisse who scored the first goal for Newcastle. Demba Ba’s long ball was deflected beautifully by Cisse into the bottom corner of the net.

Stoke City had a chance to score the equalizer in the 79th minute of the match when Matthew Etherington gave a wonderful cross to Kenwyne Jones. Jones jumped and headed the ball towards the goal post, but, he didn’t get the placement right. The ball went straight into the hands of the Newcastle Goalkeeper, Tim Krul. However, that lost chance didn’t cost Stoke that much and just after a couple of minutes; they managed to score the leveller. Jonathan Walters was the one who scored the leveller for his team. He capitalized on the cross from Michael Kightly and headed the ball past the Newcastle goalkeeper to make the score 1-1.

Stoke got ahead by 2-1 in the 85th minute of the match with the goal of Cameron Jerome. Jones got a long ball and he controlled it beautifully before passing it to Jerome who blasted it past Krul to give his team the lead.

Stoke City will play its next match against West Bromwich Albion on 1st of December at the Hawthorns.

STOKE DEFENDER WILL SHINE

The former Stoke city player Gordon Banks has said that he is extremely confident that the Stoke city defender Ryan Shawcross can establish himself as an England international. Gordon Banks is regarded as one of the best players to have played for England, and he reckons that Ryan Shawcross can follow in his footsteps by becoming the next player from Stoke city to establish himself as an England international. The 25-year-old was recently called up for the England national duty by the manager Roy Hodgson. It is expected that the former Liverpool manager will be building his team around young players like Ryan Shawcross ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

England will be taking on San Marino at the Wembley, while they will be facing Poland away from home a few days later. The recent retirement announced by the Chelsea defender John Terry has caused the lot of selection headache for the England manager Roy Hodgson. Once again, the Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has not been called up for the squad. In his place, Hodgson has decided to bring in the former United defender Ryan Shawcross who joined Stoke city for around £ 1 million a few seasons ago.

"Ryan has done really well. I don't know what the manager has in mind, but he might play him because San Marino are a side that England ought to beat. That doesn't mean he will take a lot of chances, but he could give Ryan the experience while using more experienced England players around him. But if he doesn't play, I don't think it matters too much because I think he has a good chance of staying in the squad," said the former England international Gordon Banks. Shawcross could become the first player since 1984 to win an England cap.

ENGLAND MUST AVOID BRAZIL

Roy Hodgson has said that he is hoping that England avoid the probability of being grouped into the group F at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He has said that he is extremely confident that the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be held in paradise, but due to the enormous size of the country, there will be a lot of travelling involved for the teams in group F.

Even more than the travelling, Roy Hodgson is concerned about the difference in temperature and difference in the conditions of between various cities of Brazil. It is quite possible that the teams in group F could be facing matches in the cities of Porto Alegre and Manaus.

The former is extremely cold even in summer, while the latter is extremely hot even in winter. This coupled with the presence of a lot of mosquitoes in the latter means that England have to be very prepared for it comes to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Roy Hodgson has said that he is confident that England can qualify for the World Cup in the best style possible. Hodgson was speaking ahead of the start of the World Cup qualifiers. England will face Ukraine and Moldova in the first two matches.

“There’s no doubt that the team that gets a game in Porto Alegre and one game in Manaus will have problems because the temperature differences are quite enormous. If you’re down in Porto Alegre, you’re going to need a fur coat because it snows and temperatures reach single figures. If you find yourself in Manaus then you won’t be sunbathing but you will find 45-50 degrees of heat and plenty of mosquitoes,” said Roy Hodgson. Roy Hodgson is likely to be without Wayne Rooney, who was taken off on a stretcher in the 3-2 win over Fulham.

UPSON CONSIDERS INTERNATIONAL RETIREMENT

Former Stoke city defender Matthew Upson has said that he will now retire from international football after having missed the squad for the Euro 2012, according to Arsenal News. The former West Ham United defender was overlooked by manager Roy Hodgson after the injury to Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.

The former Liverpool manager also overlooked the Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand in place of the inexperienced Liverpool defender Martin Kelly. After the announcement of the replacement of Gary Cahill with Martin Kelly, Matthew Upson has said that his international career is all but over. The 33-year-old has played for England at international level in 21 matches so far including the matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

He was one of the regular players under former manager Fabio Capello. A major portion of the 21 matches – 14 international caps – have come under Fabio Capello. Due to the fact that Roy Hodgson is expected to use a number of young players ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Matthew Upson does not see himself getting into the squad alongside Wayne Rooney anytime soon. As a result, he now wishes to focus his football on his club game. Matthew Upson has distanced himself from rumours about leaving the club in the summer.

“I was not expecting anything (when hearing Cahill was injured). I would say that part of my career is sufficiently behind me and I can now look forward to whatever football has left for me at club level. It is a great achievement of mine to have played for England and I am really happy about what I did. I have my dates for pre-season training at Stoke and I am away on holiday at the moment. I have a contract at Stoke for one more season though and I am assuming that is where I will be this coming season,” said Upson.

TOUGH MATCHES AHEAD

Stoke city defender Matthew Upson has said that the club's penultimate match of the season against QPR at Loftus Road is one of the toughest they might have been the season.

Even though QPR are down in the relegation zone, their home form has been one of the reasons for them to have a fighting chance to stay in the Premier league going into the final two matches of the season.

QPR has had an extremely surprising results against Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham at Loftus Road in the last few months. Since they will be facing table leaders Manchester City on the final day of the season, QPR will be pumped up to get all three points against Stoke in order to give them a fighting chance on the final day of the season.

Bolton and QPR are the two teams left fighting for the last spot in the relegation zone after Wigan managed to beat Blackburn in the midweek action. This result meant that Blackburn have now been relegated to the Championship. The final relegation spot will be decided between Bolton and QPR. QPR have the better position compared to Bolton because they have a much better goal difference. Even though they are safe now, Matthew Upson reckons three points at Loftus Road is vital.

"This game is going to be tough because QPR are in the fight of their lives. But we want to finish in the top ten, so there is everything for both teams to play for. Their home form has kept them alive. They have taken a lot of scalps there so it will be a tough test. We have to approach the game with our same endeavour and attitude. I think speculation is the key word. I have a contract for another season," said Matthew Upson.

PULIS REMAINS UPBEAT

Stoke city manager Tony Pulis says that he is upbeat regarding his team's chances of qualification into the next round of the Europa League, despite the defeat at the hands of Turkish side Besiktas.

Stoke city were defeated 3-1 on the night after Matthew Upson saw a red card midway through the match. Stoke city had taken the unlikeliest of leads through Ricardo Fuller the early on in the first half, but they were unable to preserve the lead when Matthew Upson was sent off after a challenge in the penalty area. Besiktas equalised with the subsequent penalty and they soon got into the lead with a goal about 20 min from the final whistle.

Edu's goal just before the final whistle gave them a 3-1 lead, which looks extremely commanding, although Tony Pulis suggested that the tie is not over yet. Stoke city rested a number of players from the match against Tottenham, which clearly shows that they are focusing on the Premier League more than anything else. Still, they were able to field a very strong line-up for the match against Besiktas. Tony Pulis had only four substitutes because almost every member of the team that played Tottenham were left back home.

"We've finished above [Dynamo] Kiev and we've given Besiktas two very good games, especially when it was 11 against 11. Every one of the players who played has done absolutely fantastic for us and even when we went down to 10 men they just kept working and kept going," Tony Pulis reacted following the defeat, which may leave them in the top position to qualify for the next stage of the Europa League. Mustafa Pektemek scored the goal for Besiktas to give them the lead, while Manuel Fernandes had given them the equaliser from the spot.

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