Ferdinand out for Middlesbrough game, no Tottenham return for Defoe, and more

22:30 – My fantasy team took quite the hit with Cesc Fabregas getting knocked out of action until April, and it’s taking another, albeit more short-term, hit with Rio Ferdinand being ruled out for tomorrow’s match against Middlesbrough thanks to a back issue. He’ll also miss next weekend’s FA Cup tie against Southampton. It’ll be good for Jonny Evans to get more starting experience, so it’s nothing for United fans to get too upset about.

22:15 – Who’s going to win the Jermain Defoe sweepstakes in January? It likely won’t be Tottenham, as Harry Redknapp won’t be breaking the bank for him. That might leave Aston Villa as the frontrunner to get him, unless Manchester City come along and put down 15-20m on him…which isn’t out of the question.

20:20 – This news is a couple of days old, but in case you hadn’t heard already, Barcelona will be back in the U.S. next summer. According to the report, one of the cities they’re certain to be in is Miami to help further their goal of helping the MLS return to Miami in the next few years. The opportunity to see Messi in person is one not to pass up, so you may well see me in Miami next summer.

As for the MLS franchise in Miami, it didn’t quite work out with the Fusion, but having Barcelona associated with any new franchise might help ensure a longer stay. I’m sure many would like to see Messi, Eto’o, or Krkic spend the summer on loan at the Miami club, but that’s wishful thinking, to say the least. Ah well, nothing wrong with dreaming, right?

18:50 – This should stir up quite a few debates. The esteemed Guillem Balague has disclosed his ‘Team of 2008,’ and he also has the selections of colleague Raphael Honigstein. How do they compare to the Soccerlens All-Star XI? It’s hard to find two people that will agree on lists like these, with so many great players in the world, and that is a great thing for football and football fans. Hopefully 2009 brings many, many great performers and performances and a few new revelations.

18:30 – There’s really not a lot to report on the transfers front, but Everton are after Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but he’s Nigerian, and you know how David Moyes loves his Nigerian strikers. Unfortunately, Obafemi Martins is unavailable and out of his price range.

17:55 – It’s coming up on a year since Motherwell captain Phil O’Donnell passed away on the pitch late in a win over Dundee United, and what has been a tough season for Motherwell thus far had one of its brightest spots today as Chris Porter’s hat trick fired them to a 3-2 win over Inverness Caley Thistle. As it happens, Porter’s third goal came in the 78th minute, the minute in which O’Donnell collapsed on December 29 last year. Our prayers are still with his family and with the Motherwell family.

16:30 – In another Becks-related headline, he and Pepsi have parted ways after a 10-year relationship. I don’t think he’ll be suffering too much though, what with his mounds of millions.

16:15 – The Daily Star is good for some sensational stories on a regular basis, but this one is certainly up there with them. David Beckham and AC Milan are set to be in Dubai for a tour, and that security will be stepped up, since Becks may be a marked man…not by a Hamburg defender, but by Islamic terrorists.

There aren’t many tasteful jokes you can make involving terrorism (any, really), but the thought of him being the target of a group of terrorists boggles the mind, to say the least. Maybe they lost a lot of money on that Euro 2004 quarterfinal against Portugal, eh?

15:45 – Even Fergie the red-nosed Scotsman has been hit by the spirit of the holidays, as he’s making nice with Gareth Southgate and Middlesbrough ahead of taking three points off of them tomorrow.

Someone must’ve gotten their fill of wine and rum cake, or maybe he got that copy of Football Manager 09 like he asked Santa for.

15:15 – What rhymes with Sbragia? Sunderland supporters will have a while to figure that one out, since Ricky has had the ‘caretaker’ title removed after a four-match stint that saw Sunderland pick up two wins and a draw and hold Manchester United to a single goal in a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

Certainly can’t let his head get too high in the clouds, because Sunderland has quite the fight on their hands to stay up.

15:00 – Even though there’s no Premier League action today, there was a big showdown to follow, as Old Firm rivals Rangers and Celtic faced off. Just as was the case in Rangers’ 4-2 win in August, the away side triumphed in today’s clash, with Scott McDonald’s 57th minute goal giving Celtic a 1-0 win at Ibrox.

It’s Celtic’s first win at Ibrox since February 2006, and it’s a costly defeat for Rangers. They’re now seven points back of Celtic, and even though there’s still half of the season to go, I don’t see this Rangers side making up that kind of ground.

Newcastle United 1-5 Liverpool - 28 December 2008 - English Premier League - Live Blog
Premier League TV, Premier League Online and Football Fans