Sat, Dec 04, 2010 - Page 18 News List

PREMIER LEAGUE: England looks to Premier League to ease woes

AFP, LONDON

Dejected English soccer fans react after learning that England lost its bid to host the 2018 soccer World Cup at an event in central London on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

The cold snap that has hit Britain continued to play havoc with the schedule for this weekend’s sports fixtures across the country, with several more postponements announced on Thursday as the country faces its disappointment over losing out on hosting the 2018 World Cup.

A day after all six Scottish Premier League matches scheduled for today were called off, only the second division fixture between Alloa and Peterhead remained on after officials pulled the plug on the rest of the soccer program in a snow-covered Scotland.

In England, 10 Football League fixtures have fallen victim to the weather although all matches in the elite Premier League this weekend were still set to go ahead as planned.

However, with numerous pitch inspections planned for today, English soccer could suffer further disruption.

Meanwhile both of yesterday’s fixtures in English rugby union’s top-flight Premiership have been postponed, with Sale’s match at home to Gloucester called off because of concerns over spectator safety a day after Newcastle’s match with Bath experienced a frozen pitch.

The Celtic League match -between Glasgow and Treviso has also been postponed, while several weekend horse race meetings in Britain and Ireland were called off because of snow.

Meanwhile, English soccer will hope a typically rousing weekend of Premier League action can take some of the sting out of the country’s failure to win the right to stage the 2018 World Cup.

Thursday’s FIFA ballot in Zurich and the subsequent revelation England had won just two votes, were a kick in the teeth for soccer’s birthplace.

However, the global appeal of the Premier League remains undimmed and this weekend is likely to witness another intriguing chapter in the title race, with just six points separating the top five ahead of the latest round of matches.

Table-toppers Manchester United will look to maintain, and perhaps even extend if other results go their way, their two-point advantage over champions Chelsea when they travel to Blackpool today.

“We’ve managed to claw ourselves into a position where we’re two points ahead of Chelsea,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who set great store by the Blackpool clash.

“You always want to win those games because I think they’re -really significant,” he added.

Blackpool have so far confounded expectations they were destined for an immediate return to the Championship and have already enjoyed a memorable win away to Liverpool this season.

Now the Tangerines face another one of their fellow northwest clubs in United and manager Ian Holloway is relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against Ferguson.

“Sir Alex is a living legend. What he has done in the game is just unreal and he is the top of the tree when it comes to British managers,” he said. “Welcoming Sir Alex will be great and probably the highlight of my managerial career so far because it’s a league game, not a one-off cup match, and we’re playing mighty Manchester United.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea are set to have captain John Terry back from a nerve injury as they look to return to winning ways against Everton after collecting just one point from their last three league fixtures.

“We have dropped too many points recently,” England defender Terry said. “Looking back only two or three weeks ago, we were so many points clear and in the goal difference as well. Now both gaps have been closed.”

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