Scholes vindicates return. De Gea left out again, but all is not well at Manchester United….

United went level with Manchester City at the top of the Barclays Premier League thanks to Saturday's three-nil win over struggling Bolton. In truth, for the second home league game in a row, despite the winning margin, United made hard work of it. While the win over Bolton keeps the pressure on leaders City, it was not the performance of champions. Jonny Evans and Rafael were restored to the

Reuters Soccer blog merges with Left Field

The Reuters Soccer blog is merging with our sister site, Left Field -- Reuters' global sports analysis and opinion page. In future please head to Left Field for all sports blogs including soccer articles.

FA Stand Firm Over Kompany Red Card

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has failed in his attempts to have the 4 match suspension he received following his red card against local rivals Manchester United rescinded. Kompany was given a straight red in the early stages of his team's FA cup 3rd round clash with United for a 2 footed sliding tackle - although replays seemed to show he did win the ball cleanly in the challenge. Following the game's conclusion the challenge divided opinions between players and pundits alike regarding the legitimacy of the decision. However, the FA have backed referee Chris Foy's original decision and as such Kompany must now serve a 4 match suspension with immediate effect.

     This issue is likely to leave City boss Roberto Mancini with a defensive headache for his side's forthcoming clash with Liverpool - with fellow centre back Kolo Toure currently away on international duty with the Ivory Coast and his squad also hit by several injuries. This has led for Mancini to call for further investment in the team - a statement that has drawn strong criticism in many quarters given the vast amount of money he has already spent on players under his tenure at City.

Scant reward for Moral Cup victors as Scholes makes unlikely United return….

Bet 365 - Click here for £200 of Free Bets now  Manchester United went into Sunday's third round FA Cup tie with neighbours City on the back of two league defeats on the spin. It was therefore not surprising that there wasn't a great deal of shared optimism among United fans ahead of the derby. The prospect of a third defeat in the space of a week seemed like a distinct possibility. To state

Va-va-voom. Vintage Henry scores on Arsenal return.

Thierry Henry's much talked-about return to Arsenal lived up to the hype as the former France man scored after just 10 minutes of coming on. But do the Premier League club need to bring in more numbers in January if they are to end their trophy drought since 2005?

January Not a Bad Month for Deals

January, the start of a new year, is often seen as a month of hope.  Resolutions made as the previous year came to an end are still fresh in the mind as is the belief that they will be maintained.  That similar resolutions were made (but not kept) before doesn't matter.  This time round will be different, this time round I will make it.

Football, however, is much more cynical and allows no space for such naive hope.  So it is that January is seen as the month for the desperate, when those who are in trouble trash about in a made bid to change the flow of things.  Only they look imploringly at the transfer window that January brings with it, praying that it will deliver that player which could save their season.

With choice not being on beggars' menu, so it is that they must make do with what is available.  And pay exceedingly for it.  They have to look for players that others don't want; those who are either playing badly or whose character has proven to be too difficult to handle. Or else take punts on young players who are on the fringes of others' squads in the hope that their talent makes up for their lack of maturity and experience.

That is how the January transfer window is seen.  There is no value in it and you cannot get the players you really want unless you're willing to spend far more than they are worth.  It is a sellers' market, and that's never a good thing for those on the other side of the bargaining table.

Such truth holds most of the time, but not always.  The £23 million that Liverpool paid Ajax last January, when they exploited the Dutch club's financial worries, was a pretty good deal.  It was the same when Maxi Rodriguez joined with Atletico Madrid unwilling to keep paying his wages.  So too when Deportivo La Coruna opted to cash in on Alvaro Arbeloa so desperate were they to get their hands on the money.

Then there were those instances where January happens to be an off-season month.  It was such a timing anomaly that brought Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel to Liverpool.

This does not mean that Liverpool will sign any players during this transfer window much less that they will be successes if so.  But it does show that there can be exceptions to any theory, regardless of how firm the wide spread belief in it is.

And that should be enough to allow you to enjoy transfer rumours in hope, rather than look at them in cynicism.