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BRITAIN SOCCER

Wayne Rooney has vowed to win the title on Today to help Manchester United get revenge on Arsenal for the 2001/02 season, when the Gunners sealed the Premier League at the Theatre of Dreams: “It would be great to win it against Arsenal, because when they come to Old Trafford we always hear them singing about winning the title at our ground. So it would be nice to do it ourselves against them”. A presentation ceremony will be held if United get the point they need: “The trophy will be there – we’ll make sure of that,” a Premier League spokesman confirmed.

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Rio Ferdinand has been ruled out of the game as Sir Alex Ferguson does not want to risk him ahead of the Champions League final. The United boss said: “Rio is still struggling with a calf strain. These niggles usually take a week to 10 days to clear up. Hopefully he’ll be fit for Hull and the Champions League Final.”

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Arsene Wenger believes the only significant difference between Arsenal and United is their defence: “If you look at the statistics of the two teams for example, we have scored a similar amount of goals…[But] we have conceded more goals and that’s where the difference lies. We have conceded 36, they have conceded 24, we have scored 64 they have scored 67. Offensively, I do not believe there is a difference. Defensively, there was a difference.”

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Liverpool defender Martin Skrtl believes Liverpool’s performances against their title rivals this season stand them in good stead for next year: “We’ve beaten United and Chelsea twice and drawn twice against Arsenal. These are big things. We’ve played really well. The thing that has let us down is not-so-good results against lower teams. But we’ve done well against the big teams. We have to remember this and build on it for next season and fight for the title again.”

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Carlos Tevez is reported to have snubbed a 40million offer from Real Madrid and owner Kia Joorabchian says the Argentine is desperate to stay in the Premier League: “His preference is to stay in England. He really wants to stay in England for the next five years.”

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Diego Forlan has played down rumours he will join Liverpool in the summer. The former Manchester United striker said: There are always rumours that I will leave in the newspapers.I am very happy though, I have a contract here and I want to qualify for the Champions League.”

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Michael Owen’s agents have dismissed claims that the Newcastle striker is looking to quit football at the end of the season: “Michael remains as committed to his football career as he ever has been and is deeply and professionally offended that anyone should suggest otherwise.”

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Former Reading boss Steve Coppell has insisted he will return to management: “I will enjoy a break but with a focus on coming back sometime in the future. It is time for a break – I have done eight years on the bounce, you never get a chance to draw breath. I now want to watch other people work and continue my football education.”

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Millwall will contest the League One play-off final at Wembley after securing a 1-1 draw with Leeds United at Elland Road. Jermaine Beckford scuppered a golden opportunity to put the hosts ahead on the night when his tame second half penalty was saved easily by David Forde. His blushes were spared moments later when Argentinean striker Luciano Becchio brought the aggregate scores level with a simple tap in from a Ben Parker pull-back. But Nadjim Abdou silenced the 37,000 strong crowd when he slotted home a David Martin cross that had been scuffed back across goal by Lewis Grabban.The Lions held on to their advantage through an extended period of stoppage time to book a Wembley date with either MK Dons or Scunthorpe, courtesy of a 1-0 win at home in the first leg. Tackles: Adam Bolder set the tone for the game when he clattered into Robert Snodgrass with just a minute gone but was let off with a booking by Premier League referee Mark Halsey. The hosts started brightly and enjoyed the majority of the early possession as they searched for a goal that would turn the tie in their favour. Snodgrass then created the first clear cut chance when he slid the ball through for Beckford, whose low shot was parried away by Forde and Fabian Delph didn’t make clean contact with the rebound. Gary Alexander’s wayward attempt in the 40th minute was the visitors’ first shot of the game but Millwall went into half-time ahead on aggregate and with their opponents under control. Penalty: After the break, Leeds were awarded a penalty when Andy Frampton hauled Sam Sodje to the ground inside the area. But Beckford’s spot-kick lacked both power and accuracy, allowing Forde to comfortably save to his right. The raucous Elland Road crowd were sent into raptures a few minutes later when Parker slotted a pass across goal and Becchio applied the simple finish. Leeds came forward in search of a tie-winning goal but were left heartbroken when Abdou connected with Grabban’s mishit volley to secure a place in the final for Kenny Jackett’s side.

Manager Simon Grayson admitted Leeds United didn’t do enough in the attacking third to score in Saturday’s play-off defeat to Millwall. The West Yorkshire club must overcome a 1-0 deficit in Thursday’s semi-final second leg at Elland Road after the narrow defeat at The Den. “I thought it was a good performance without possession of the ball,” said Grayson. “We worked hard, looked organised and were difficult to break down. “With the ball, we possibly could have played a bit better, but it’s a play-off semi-final, it’s hurly burly with a hostile atmosphere and you’re going to be on the back foot at times, but I thought we defended ever so well. “But in the attacking side we were probably a bit short of what we are capable of doing. “I said that if we we’re still in the tie after the game today then we can turn it round and we still are in the tie. “We’ve got 90 minutes to turn a 1-0 deficit into a positive for us and we’ve got players that are capable of doing that.”

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Florentino Perez has promised to deliver a “spectacular project” if he wins Real Madrid’s presidential elections in June: “Real need to have several of the best players in the world and even though I can’t name names, we have a spectacular project planned. We will work towards making Real the best club in the world once more.” Perez’s previous presidency ushered in the Galactico era and Real are linked with summer moves for Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.

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~ by awbroady on May 16, 2009.

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