USMNT, Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs legend to retire

Former US Men’s National Team, Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and current Spurs goalkeeper, Brad Friedel has announced he will retire at the end of this season.

The Premier League legend, 43, has decided the time is right to hang up his gloves after an incredible 18 year spell in England, where he is regarded as one of the greats to have played between the sticks.

Friedel’s first spell in England came as a Newcastle United youth player where he did not make an appearance and then moved on to Danish side Brøndby IF before a move to Galatasaray S.K. in Turkey. He briefly returned to MLS with the Columbus Crew for a year before joining Liverpool in 1997 and has been in the Premier League since.

Club Games Played Clean Sheets Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals
Liverpool 27 8
Blackburn 300 95 1 1
Aston Villa 130 36 2 1
Tottenham 67 19 1
TOTAL 524 158 4 1 1

Friedel is one of just five ‘keepers to have scored a Premier League goal. It came back in 2004 against Charlton during his time as Blackburn Rovers number one. The American fan-favourite bagged a 90th minute equaliser only to be picking the ball out of his own net minutes later to be denied true hero status. He won the 2001/02 League Cup with Rovers, which is the only piece of silverware he won during his time in England.

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The 43-year-old holds the record for the most consecutive Premier League appearances with 310 games between August 2004 and November 2012.

He is Tottenham Hotspur’s record holder of being their oldest player. His last league appearance for Spurs came back in 2013 as Hugo Lloris has become first-choice, with Michel Vorm backup.

Friedel made 82 appearances for the USMNT and spoke to Sky Sports about his time in England as he is set to move back home.

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“I always wanted to play as long as I could but there’s two things that go with that – one is physically being able to which I still am, two is mentally wanting to do it,” he said.

“I’ve loved living in England. Myself and my family have fallen in love with the place. My kids were born and raised here so moving to the United States is something completely different for them.

“I’m not moving back for the sole reason I am American. If the opportunities weren’t there and they weren’t so great I would have no problem living my life in England. It’s my home away from home.”

Friedel is Tottenham Hotspur’s Club Ambassador focusing on the USA, which will only bring Major League Soccer and the Premier League closer together.

We can expect to see Friedel back in England in the future as he has already tried his hand at punditry on a number of occasions. Football is saying goodbye to a true Premier League legend.

Which club did you enjoy seeing Brad Friedel at the most? Where does he rank among the Premier League’s greatest goalkeepers?

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FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Blackburn

Competition: FA Cup Quarter-Final – Liverpool vs Blackburn Rovers

Venue: Anfield – Sunday, March 8 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 2/7 – Draw 9/2 – Blackburn 9/1

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome Blackburn Rovers to Anfield in their FA Cup quarter-final tie on Sunday afternoon and go into the game as outright favourites for the match as well as the favourites to lift this year’s FA Cup trophy.

The Reds have won their last five at home in all competitions and you have to look back as far as early November for the last time Liverpool lost in front of their own fans – a run of 13 games.

Liverpool beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the last round and will have their sights set on a trip to Wembley if they can progress past Blackburn. This will be the Reds’ second home game in this year’s FA Cup after they drew 0-0 against Bolton in the fourth round.

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Brendan Rodgers has his side playing some excellent football and club captain Steven Gerrard will celebrate his 35th birthday on the day of the 2015 FA Cup final in what will be his final game for the club and it’s difficult to see Blackburn ruining that plot on Sunday.

The Championship outfit are currently sitting in 10th place in English football’s second tier and have won just one of their last five in all competitions.

That victory came on Wednesday night in a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn will now hope to record back-to-back away wins for the first time this season.

Recent form as well as history suggests that will be an extremely difficult task as Blackburn haven’t won at Liverpool in fifteen years – a run of 11 games since.

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They can take confidence knowing that 1-0 victory came in the last FA Cup meeting between the pair and Gary Bowyer will have his players fired up for another big Premier League test.

Blackburn have already beaten Swansea City and Stoke City in this year’s FA Cup so will travel to Liverpool knowing they have a chance.

Team News

Liverpool will be without Lucas Leiva (groin), Jose Enrique (knee), Brad Jones (hip) and John Flanagan (knee) while Jordan Ibe (knee) will also miss out through injury but would have been cup-tied anyway. Mamadou Sakho and Steven Gerrard are both doubts but could both be in line to start the game on Sunday afternoon. Rodgers is expected to field a strong lineup and won’t take any chances against lower opposition.

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Blackburn will be without Shane Duffy (knee) and Jason Lowe for the trip to Anfield while Joshua King, who scored a hat-trick against Stoke in the last round, is a doubt after missing Wednesday’s game at Sheffield Wednesday. Jordan Rhodes should partner Rudy Gestede in attack.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five in all competitions: W/W/L/W/W

Blackburn’s last five in all competitions: D/D/L/D/W

Key Stat: Liverpool have only lost one of their last 17 games at home to Blackburn in all competitions and that came 15 years ago.

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Key Player: Daniel Sturridge – The England striker has looked good since returning from injury and will look to build on Wednesday’s goal against Burnley in this one.

Score Prediction

Liverpool 3-1 Blackburn – The Reds will be too strong for Blackburn in this one but the away side will be confident of getting at least one goal. This should be an open and entertaining game but Liverpool are playing some excellent football at the moment and have the hearts set on a Wembley appearance.

Gallery: The best pictures from Saturday’s incredible FA Cup fourth round

The magic of the cup lives on. Some have questioned whether the FA Cup still had a sparkle to it, but the fourth round of the competition this weekend has proved that it is still the most incredible competition in English football.

Friday night’s shock set the tone as League 2 side Cambridge United held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, forcing a replay at Old Trafford.

But Saturday’s round of fixtures went one better as Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Southampton were all eliminated from the FA Cup at home.

Here are some of the best pictures from a thrilling days action:

Chelsea 2–4 Bradford City

Premier League leaders Chelsea lost their first home game of the season to League One outfit Bradford City, despite going ahead 2-0 in front of their own fans. Bradford are 49 places lower than Chelsea in the English football pyramid but you wouldn’t have known as they produced what was arguably the biggest shock in FA Cup history by coming from two goals down away from home to win 4-2.

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Manchester City 0–2 Middlesbrough

An shock of equal proportions was seen in Manchester as the reigning Premier League champions lost at home to Championship side Middlesbrough. City dominated the first half but some incredible defending kept Boro in the game, before they went on to win it with two second-half strikes, leaving the home fans in disbelief.

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Blackburn Rovers 3–1 Swansea City

Another Championship side that overcame Premier League opposition were Blackburn Rovers, who progressed to the fifth round with a 3-1 win against a Swansea team that ended the game with nine men. The Swans poor run continues but Blackburn will be delighted with the result.

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Tottenham Hotspur 1–2 Leicester City

Leicester City gained revenge for their home defeat against Spurs on Boxing Day by knocking the eight-time winners out at White Hart Lane. An early Andros Townsend penalty looked set to send Tottenham through but two goals in seven minutes at the death ensured Leicester remained in the hat for the fifth round draw.

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Southampton 2–3 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s jaw dropping revival under Alan Pardew continued at Southampton as they came from behind twice to win the game 3-2. The Saints currently sit in third in the Premier League but their hopes of an FA Cup run are gone as the high flying Eagles soared on.

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Liverpool 0–0 Bolton Wanderers

Liverpool were held at home by Championship outfit Bolton and will face a tricky replay at the Macron Stadium now. The Reds produced several chances but an inspired defensive display from Bolton keeps them in the competition for now.

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Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City: FA Cup Preview and Prediction

Competition: FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue: Ewood Park – Saturday January 24 – 12:45

Match odds: Blackburn Rovers 2/1 – Draw 23/10 – Swansea City 11/8

The early kick off on Saturday’s FA Cup weekend should be a really hard fought tie as Championship side Blackburn Rovers entertain Premier League opponents Swansea City at Ewood Park.

Blackburn overcame fellow Championship side Charlton Athletic 2-1 in the third round, while Gary Monk’s Swansea thumped League Two side Tranmere Rovers 6-2.

Blackburn Rovers’ home record in all competitions: Played 14 – Won 6 – Drawn 4 – Lost 4

Blackburn are currently sitting 10th in the Championship and have been in steady form this season but are without a win in their last four games.

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This will be the first time the sides have met since 2012 before Blackburn’s relegation from the Premier League. Swansea came out on top in that tie, winning 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Both Nathan Dyer and Gylfi Sigurdsson were on the score sheet that day and there is every chance that will happen again in tomorrow’s fixture, as they are the joint top scorers in the side now Wilfried Bony has left.

Swansea City’s away record in all competitions: Played 12 – Won 3 – Drawn 3 – Lost 6

Swansea have been inconsistent on the road this season winning only three times, and they will be looking to bounce back from that 5-0 thumping at the hands of Chelsea last Saturday. Gary Monk will be expecting a tough tie as we all know about home advantage in the cup.

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The Swans have scored 11 goals in their last six away games, while Blackburn have failed to find the net in their last two home games. But they put four past Swansea the last time the Welsh club visited Ewood Park in 2011 and will hope for a repeat performance.

Blackburn Rovers last five in all competitions: L/D/W/L/D

Swansea City’s last five in all competitions: L/D/W/D/L

Key Stat: Defensive frailties – The Swans have only kept three clean sheets away from home all season while Blackburn have only kept four at home.

Key Player: Jordan Rhodes – The Blackburn goal machine only has nine this campaign so far but is always one to watch and will relish the chance to impress against the Premier League side.

Blackburn vs. Swansea Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Swansea City – a hard battle for both sides but the Premier League outfit to edge it.