The Worlds Favourite Playground

Saturday, Sep 19th

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Barcelona and Chelsea have a vitriolic relationship that has been simmering ever since the pair began to meet regularly in the Champions League. That hasn’t stopped the Catalan giants from thinking about a sneaky bid for David Luiz though as the Brazilian is one among many defenders being hunted by the La Liga’s runaway leaders. Barcelona’s defensive frailties were on full show against AC Milan last week but whether David ‘Sideshow Bob’ Luiz is indeed the solution for that remains a mystery.

Luiz remains a cult-figure at Stamford Bridge despite being a frustratingly erratic defender. Rafa Benitez has tried to make the best of the situation by deploying the 25 year old in a dynamic midfield role, a ploy that has worked on some occasions.

Chelsea fought tooth-and-nail to sign him from Benfica in their ill-fated January spending spree in 2011, which also witnessed the arrival of a certain Fernando Torres. Neither big money signings have worked out as expected but the suits at Stamford Bridge aren’t about to throw the towel just yet, with both stars expected to stay at the club beyond the summer.

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The opening round of the 2013 Davis Cup that took place from 1st to 3rd February was quite an eventful one. It had it all. Records were broken, upsets were caused, comebacks were made and all in all the fans were able to see some spectacular tennis.

The first team to qualify to the quarterfinals was France who produced a dominating display against Israel to win 5-0. It was an extremely strong performance from the Frenchmen who were playing under first time captain, Arnaud Clement. They sealed the victory on Saturday with a day to spare with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet leading the way.

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The Arsenal-David Villa rumours haven’t veered back to the straight and narrow track even after the closure of the transfer window as the wild conjecture continues to spread. The Sun claims that Villa himself has set his sights on a summer move to the Emirates after the Gunners failed to land him January despite a month-long chase. But the Mirror reports that Arsene Wenger has lost interest in the 31 year old after the flirtations of last month and is now eager to shift his focus to younger strikers.

Barcelona demanded a whopping £16m for the Spanish record goal-scorer, a fee that was never going to be met by nay suitor. But Villa will have only a year left on his contract at the end of the season, which would bring down his asking price considerably.

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Arsene Wenger’s desperate search for a new left-back is well-documented and leading Spanish media house AS reports that Malaga’s Nacho Monreal has flown to London to complete a 10 million move to Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs’ thigh injury has force Wenger to make an urgent dip into the transfer window on deadline day, with Valenciennes’ Gaetan Bong and Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Amorebieta also being linked with the Gunners.

Arsenal plucked Santi Cazorla from Malaga earlier in the season and the Spaniard has been an unqualified success. Monreal also comes with plenty of talent in the locker, spending five seasons at Osasuna before moving to Malaga in 2011. Like most players from his country, Monreal is comfortable with the ball at his feet, a trait that will be vital at a club like Arsenal. The 26 year old also has a few Spanish International caps to his name, fighting with Barcelona's Jordi Alba for the left-back slot and he would be joining a growing Iberian contingent at the Emirates if the deal goes through, although Monreal will be cup-tied in the Champions League having already represented Malaga this season.

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The long-wait to discover Pep Guardiola’s next managerial move is over after Bayern Munich announced that they had captured the ex-Barcelona coach, who will take over at the Allianz Arena before the start of next season. Guardiola has been on a sabbatical in New York ever since he drew the curtains on four glorious years at Barcelona last year but that hasn’t prevented the press from heavily speculating about his future.

Chelsea were the rumoured front-runners for his signature, with Roman Abramovich heavily courting the Spaniard last summer. Guardiola himself has spoken of his desire to manage in England, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s throne at Old Trafford said to be his ultimate ambition. French moneybags PSG and Italian aristocrats AC Milan have also been linked with the man who catapulted Lionel Messi into the upper echelons of world football but Bayern have ultimately won the race.

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Serbia stormed into Saturday night's Hyundai Hopman Cup 2013 final against Spain with a 3-0 win over Germany in front of 11,532 fans at Perth Arena.

Novak Djokovic opened proceedings on Friday night, displaying the sort of form expected from him during the Australian summer. And, despite Tommy Haas' usual copybook stroke making, the world No.1 was the aggressor from the beginning.

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Bernard Tomic and Ashleigh Barty scored a stunning 2-1 victory over Hyundai Hopman Cup No.3 seeds Italy on Thursday night, keeping themselves in contention for a finals berth at the ITF's official mixed teams competition.

Tomic got things off to a flying start for the No.8-seeded home nation with a confident 6-3 7-5 win over Andreas Seppi. The talented Aussie began the tournament with a hard-fought win over Germany’s Tommy Haas before achieving his best result of his short career, upsetting world No.1 Novak Djokovic in front of a capacity crowd on Wednesday night, making it three from three on Perth Arena tonight against the Italian.

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