Football writer, author of Behind the Curtain, Inverting the Pyramid, Anatomy of England, Nobody Ever Says Thank You and The Outsider; editor of The Blizzard.

Pardew's Crystal Palace continue to click at Allardyce and West Ham's expense — WEST HAM UNITED - Valencia 76' CRYSTAL PALACE - Murray 41', 63'; Dann 51' MAN OF THE MATCH - Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) LONDON // A month ago, perhaps this would have felt like a key game at both ends of the table and, while Sam Allardyce must feel some frustration at West Ham 's slide, it is greatly to Alan Pardew's credit that by kick off it had come to look a fairly meaningless mid-table fixture.

Under-pressure Mourinho's paranoia livens up League Cup final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur — Sometimes the League Cup final turns up almost unnoticed and passes almost without ­comment. This time, though, with Jose Mourinho having raised the barricades, spouting even more nonsense than usual about conspiracies, the build-up to Sunday's fixture has been ­sulphurous. The Chelsea manager's brooding has turned this into a final that really matters.

Newcastle United’s aimless season lifted by Jonas Gutierrez’s inspirational story — Newcastle United 's season has again become one of drifting aimlessly, with more than two months of the campaign still to go. They are out of both cup competitions and floating in mid-table with no prospect of qualifying for the Europa League and little danger of relegation despite last weekend's insipid showing, when they were thrashed 5-0 at Manchester City.

‘Same old pattern’: Arsenal return to chase top four, but to what end? — The good news for Arsenal is that they have plenty of practice in bouncing back. Over the past decade they have suffered enough setbacks and disappointments to have developed a resilience and, crushing as Wednesday's 3-1 home defeat to AS Monaco in the Uefa Champions League must have been, there is no reason to suppose it will impinge unduly on Sunday's Premier League game against Everton.

Brendan Rodgers must find the right balance to keep Liverpool pressing forward — Suddenly Brendan Rodgers has to think very carefully again and, suddenly, those who doubt him are having to reconsider their opposition. The turnaround since Rodgers made his switch to a 3-4-2-1 has been remarkable. While he clearly deserves credit for that, he has a further question to answer with Daniel Sturridge returning to fitness and Mario Balotelli scoring the winner against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.

Alan Pardew has Crystal Palace in form ahead of meeting with old club Newcastle United — Alan Pardew's record since he took over at Crystal Palace last month is impressive - four wins in five games, with the only defeat a slightly unfortunate home reverse against Everton in which they conceded the lone goal of the game after only two minutes.

Manchester City's Yaya Toure could use a break after African Cup of Nations success — Yaya Toure had waited a decade to win a trophy with his country and, after Ivory Coast had finally won the African Cup of Nations on Sunday, following a string of near misses, he seemed drained. He is usually a fluent speaker but he struggled to get out the words as he spoke of his joy and his relief.

All is well that ends well as African Cup of Nations has worthy final in Ghana v Ivory Coast — BATA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA // After everything, after the rush to get facilities ready, after the complaints over hotels and pitches, after the controversies over refereeing and after the violence of Thursday's semi-final, the 30th African Cup of Nations has a worthy final.

Tottenham Hotspur marching north under Maurico Pochettino — Every season, the Premier League wonders if this may be it, the North London derby when Tottenham Hotspur at last unseat Arsenal. It feels even a slightly strange question to ask given the euphoria that has surrounded Arsenal of late, with their three straight wins and the discovery of Francis Coquelin, and yet if Tottenham win at White Hart Lane on Saturday, they will go above Arsenal in the table and move in to fourth place.

Jose Mourinho’s stock has diminished greatly — There were two ways of looking at the news that Jose Mourinho had cancelled a news conference on Friday. The ostensible reason - anger that Diego Costa's apparent stamp on Emre Can had been highlighted on television - is patent nonsense, but the actual reason could be one of two things.
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Feb 28, 2015

RT @blzzrd: Issue Sixteen is out for subscribers on 4th March - pre-order now at

Feb 28, 2015

@Zonal_Marking @JackPittBrooke Pathetic, weak Neymar, refusing to play on with a broken back...

Feb 27, 2015

RT @Marcotti: Egri Erbstein's wild tale: Nazis, Wallenberg, Brooklyn, Torino + Superga. @theinsidelefty wrote abt him…

Feb 27, 2015

@darkofalcao I wasn't suggesting celebrating: I was suggesting how absurd hosting a tournament is for a country that needs a loan that big.

Feb 27, 2015

Ghana's getting a $1bn loan from the IMF. Ghana's also the favourite to be named hosts of 2017 Cup of Nations (est cost $50m). Well done.

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