Liam Ridgewell leaves Portland for short-term Brighton loan move

Liam Ridgewell has left the Portland Timbers in order to return to English football for the second year running by moving to Brighton & Hove Albion on a short-term loan deal.

Ridgewell will be eligible to play for Brighton from January 1 and will spend time with the Championship club until February 13, when he will then return to Portland to prepare for the 2016 season.

Brighton had enjoyed a fine start to the 2015/16 Championship season and were unbeaten for 21 games, until Middlesbrough beat them 3-0 two weeks ago, and Chris Hughton’s men have now not won in five.

Hughton worked with Ridgewell during their time at Birmingham City and he hopes that the signing of the versatile 31-year-old defender can help get his side back on track over the next six weeks.

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“I know Liam very well from my time as manager at Birmingham City, and he is an excellent and important addition for us,” Hughton told the club’s official website.

“He will bring extra experience to our defence at a crucial time, and will give me an option both in the centre of defence and at left-back.”

Ridgewell will hope the loan move will keep his match fitness levels up before returning to Portland as the Timbers look to retain their MLS Cup title – an achievement that Ridgewell labelled as “the best feeling of my career”.

Will Liam Ridgewell help Brighton get back on track? Are Portland fans happy to see him move back to England in another loan move?

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Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal: FA Cup Preview and Prediction

Competition: FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue: Amex Stadium – Sunday January 25 – 16:00

Match odds: Brighton & Hove Albion 13/2 – Draw 7/2 – Arsenal 4/9

FA Cup holders Arsenal face a short trip to Brighton & Hove Albion in the fourth round as they look to continue the defence of their title.

These two sides met at the same stage of this competition in the 2012/13 season and produced an entertaining affair in which Arsenal triumphed as 3-2 winners on the day, thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and a late Theo Walcott strike after Ashley Barnes and Leonardo Ulloa had pegged the visitors back twice.

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Brighton were flying high in the Championship last time around, but they aren’t faring so well this season as they sit in 19th position despite three wins from their last four.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s home record in all competitions: Played 15 – Won 4 – Drawn 6 – Lost 5

Arsenal meanwhile, will be full of confidence after their defensive masterclass at Manchester City which resulted in a famous 2-0 victory and it extended their run of consecutive clean sheets to three games in all competitions.

The Gunners arrive on the South Coast as heavy favourites to progress to round five, but the magic of the FA Cup means that nothing is ever certain and the Seagulls won’t allow them to take it easy.

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Arsenal’s away record in all competitions: Played 16 – Won 7 – Drawn 4 – Lost 5

Wenger must ensure he fields a strong side to stay in the competition that many will argue represents his best opportunity of winning a trophy again in 2015.

Brighton and Arsenal have faced one another 14 times before, with the Gunners coming out on top ten times, and Brighton just twice, although it’s worth noting that both of Brighton’s wins came at home, so that’s the one positive they can take into this tie.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/L/W

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

Key stat: Brighton have never beaten Arsenal in an FA Cup tie in four attempts.

Key player: Santi Cazorla – The midfield playmaker has been instrumental in the last few weeks and if he features at the Amex Stadium then he could be the difference.

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Brighton vs. Arsenal Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Arsenal

MLSGB FA Cup Fourth Round Predictions

This weekend sees a break from league action for those sides that are still in the FA Cup and we take a look at the fourth round fixtures to see how each team will fair.

Ben Ashton takes a stab at the possible outcomes of the action this weekend.

Here’s this week’s FA Cup fourth round predictions:

Friday 23 January 2015

Cambridge United vs Manchester United (19:55)

Manchester United faced a possible upset in the third round away at Yeovil Town but they came through that test comfortably in the end and I expect them to do so once again against a modest Cambridge.

Prediction: 0-2


Saturday 24 January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City (12:45)

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Both sides have stuttered recently in the Championship and Premier League respectively and are both without a win in four which is why it’s likely to end all square.

Prediction: 1-1 (Swansea City to win the replay 2-0)


Birmingham City vs West Bromwich Albion

Birmingham have picked things up recently after a torrid start to the season which saw them record just two wins from the opening 15 games. But any side managed by Tony Pulis will be tough to beat and the Baggies should edge this Midlands derby.

Prediction: 1-2


Cardiff City vs Reading

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Neither of these sides can have much to brag about this season as they both sit in the bottom half of the Championship. A cup run could potentially light up an otherwise dull campaign for one of them. Narrow home win.

Prediction: 2-1


Chelsea vs Bradford City

If Chelsea fail to get past Bradford at home in the fourth round, it would go down as one of the FA Cup’s all-time greatest upsets. But it’s not going to happen and Chelsea will cruise into the fifth round.

Prediction: 4-0


Derby County vs Chesterfield

Derby’s priority this season will be gaining promotion to the Premier League and they’re doing a fairly good job of achieving that so far. Chesterfield themselves are in a battle for promotion too and this game presents the opportunity of a mini-upset but Derby should just have enough.

Prediction 1-0


Manchester City vs Middlesbrough

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City will be crushed after last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the league but they need to bounce back quickly. And what better opportunity than against a Championship side whose priorities are trying to gain promotion.

Prediction: 2-0


Preston North End vs Sheffield United

Preston are going well in League One despite going four without a win. They should have a slight advantage in the sense that Sheffield United had to play a League Cup game against Tottenham in midweek so they may be suffering from that. The Blades’ cup form has been excellent in recent times though and that should be enough to bring the game back to Bramall Lane.

Prediction: 1-1 (Sheffield United to win the replay 1-0)


Southampton vs Crystal Palace

If this game was due to be played six weeks ago, you’d expect a comfortable Southampton win, but Palace look revitalised under new manager Alan Pardew which will make for a tight game. However, the Saints should just edge it and Palace will be subjected to their first defeat under the new boss.

Prediction: 2-1


Sunderland vs Fulham

This is a game that Sunderland could probably do without given the fact they need to concentrate on Premier League survival. Fulham look to be safe in the Championship and a cup run would be a welcome bonus. But the advantage of being at home and having Jermain Defoe at their disposal should see Sunderland through.

Prediction: 2-0


Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City

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Tottenham have been playing well recently, despite a blip at Selhurst Park when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace. Leicester have also picked up a few points of late to give themselves a chance of escaping relegation, and that will be their number one objective this season. Spurs should go through without too many problems.

Prediction: 2-0


Liverpool vs Bolton Wanderers (17:30)

Brendan Rodgers has quietly but effectively set about turning Liverpool’s season around. The Reds could do with a good send-off for skipper Steven Gerrard who will be joining LA Galaxy in the summer, so they will be desperate to do well in the FA Cup. Bolton have also turned it around under Neil Lennon but getting a result at Anfield will be too much to ask.

Prediction: 3-0


Sunday 25 January 2015

Bristol City vs West Ham United (14:00)

Sam Allardyce hasn’t always prioritised the FA Cup, so it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches this game. Bristol City are flying high in League One and will fancy themselves to get at the Hammers. This should be an entertaining game.

Prediction: 1-1 (West Ham United to win the replay 2-0)


Aston Villa vs Bournemouth

Villa Park will be the most likely destination for a cup upset this weekend. But in truth, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Bournemouth have been scintillating this season in the Championship, while Aston Villa have been very much the opposite in the Premier League. I fancy the Cherries to win this.

Prediction: 0-2 


Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal

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Defensive stability isn’t something we normally associate with Arsenal in recent years, but with three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions they’re starting to look solid at the back, which is the main reason I don’t see Brighton getting anything from this game. Arsenal’s attacking threat isn’t bad either.

Prediction: 0-2


Monday 26 January 2015 (20:00)

Rochdale vs Stoke City

This fixture has all the makings of a classic FA Cup tie. On paper, it looks as though Stoke will comfortably sweep Rochdale aside, but I get the feeling it won’t be as easy as that. The magic of the cup should be there for all to see in this one.

Prediction: 2-2 (Stoke City to win the replay 3-1)


Who will make the fifth round of the FA Cup?

Should LA Galaxy consider taking Darren Bent to MLS?

Aston Villa forward Darren Bent has a wealth of talent in front of goal and will always find the net, but with a lack of playing time in the Premier League could he be tempted by a move to Major League Soccer?

He has found himself a little out of favour with the Midlands side and is currently spending time with Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion on a short-term loan spell.

It could be the right time for Bent to take on a new challenge and MLS could be a great destination for him.

As we know LA Galaxy are still on the hunt for a replacement for Landon Donovan and it could be a great move for both sides if the Galaxy took a gamble on the 30-year-old.

Galaxy star Robbie Keane has played with Bent at both Tottenham and Aston Villa and so the pair could form a solid partnership in MLS if the Englishman were targeted.

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Bent is at a good age for a move stateside and can take many positives from other former Premier League strikers who are now thriving in Major League Soccer.

The likes of Keane and Jermain Defoe have set the league alight and are idolised by their club’s supporters as a result. For any striker this is a perfect scenario, as it boosts confidence to the maximum.

Bent has scored wherever he has played and he netted for current side Brighton just three days after joining on loan.

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MLS would offer him a great opportunity to enjoy his football and find consistent playing time, where he would probably play 90 minutes every game.

He has an impressive strike rate of almost one in two and with an outlet like him, LA Galaxy would find themselves in an even stronger position to challenge on all fronts once again this season.

The experience he can bring to any squad is worthwhile and he could also set a great example to up-and-coming young players.

Would Darren Bent be an MLS success if he were to move stateside?