The NCAA is (still) investigating the Sports Illustrated story

first_imgIt’s only been, what, 10 months?Brett McMurphy reported on Monday that the NCAA is still looking into the claims Sports Illustrated levied upon Oklahoma State last fall which it actually began doing before the five-part series came out.That’s not exactly breaking news because this is the same internal investigation about which Mike Holder said this last week:“I’m tired of writing checks for that investigation and whatever is going on out there,” said Holder. “I had to stay out of it completely.“I am excluded from the loop on purpose and our compliance officer (Kevin Fite) reports directly to the President and there is a reason for that. I anxiously await like everyone else what Chuck Smrt and the NCAA have uncovered in their investigation.”What he means is Boone is tired of writing checks but yeah, all the same.I’m sure the report will be totally fair and balanced because the NCAA has such a strong history of being on the same page as we are.The news here is that OSU expects all this to be over soon (kind of). From McMurphy’s report:“The inquiry continues and it is hoped that it will conclude within the next few months,” a university spokesman told ESPN. “The university anticipates releasing a report after the NCAA concludes its process. Since it is an ongoing inquiry conducted in cooperation with the NCAA, the university is unable to comment further at this time.”Welcome back to football season!If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img read more

Tabarez could risk Suarez return

first_imgWC Qualification South America Tabarez won’t rule out Suarez return in key Uruguay qualifiers Ben Spratt Last updated 2 years ago 03:42 8/30/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) luis suarez - cropped Getty Images WC Qualification South America Luis Suárez Uruguay v Argentina Paraguay v Uruguay Uruguay With World Cup qualifying reaching a crucial stage, Uruguay’s head coach says his star attacker could be risked against Argentina or Paraguay Luis Suarez could feature for Uruguay in the international break despite missing matches for Barcelona through injury, according to national team coach Oscar Tabarez.The former Liverpool forward suffered a knee injury in the Supercopa de Espana second-leg loss to Real Madrid, which kept him out of Barca’s opening two La Liga games against Real Betis and Deportivo Alaves.Uruguay 40/1 to win the World Cup Article continues below Editors’ Picks Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina The club allowed him to travel to Uruguay to continue his recovery while his country prepare for World Cup qualifying clashes with Argentina and Paraguay.Tabarez says he still needs to talk to Suarez about his progress and warns that any suggestion he could play is, at this stage, just speculation.”Suarez arrives tomorrow [Wednesday],” Tabarez told a news conference. [His situation] is summed up in the almost identical press releases from both the Uruguay and Barcelona medical teams.”He is going to continue his recovery here and we’ll see then. I haven’t had the chance to talk to him, I need some time to talk with him and we’ll await his arrival.”All this came as a consequence of the good relationship between the professionals of both medical teams and because the player showed some good signs in his recovery work.Esta tarde, @Uruguay entrenará con 24 futbolistas. Solo faltará Maxi Pereira, quien arribará esta noche debido a atrasos en sus vuelos. — Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) August 29, 2017 “It was decided that instead of continuing his recovery in Barcelona he will do that in Montevideo. Everything else is just speculation and it is inconvenient to speculate.”We must always look at the reality of the situation and there are some aspects that we still don’t know. I cannot even compare this situation with other situations Luis has gone through previously where he showed an amazing recovery.”Uruguay are in third place — an automatic qualification spot, level on points with Chile and one clear of fifth-placed Argentina — in the South American section with four games remaining.last_img read more

Report: Stoke 2 Man United 2

first_imgStoke City 2 Manchester United 2: Choupo-Moting double holds wasteful visitors Ryan Benson Last updated 2 years ago 02:26 10/9/2017 choupo-moting-cropped Getty Images Manchester United dropped points for the first time this season as Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s double helped Stoke City to a 2-2 draw. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s double secured Stoke City a battling 2-2 draw at home to a wasteful Manchester United side that dropped points for the first time this season.Jose Mourinho’s men attracted plenty of admirers for their impressive start to the campaign, but they were not at their best in front of goal and Choupo-Moting inspired Stoke to a commendable point at the bet365 Stadium.An entertaining first half saw both sides look a danger going forward, with United in particular guilty of wasting numerous chances to take the lead. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Eventually Stoke found the breakthrough in the 43rd minute through Choupo-Moting, but that only seemed to jolt United into life, as they restored parity shortly after in fortuitous circumstances when a Paul Pogba header deflected in off Marcus Rashford.Romelu Lukaku put United ahead for the first time just before the hour, but like with Stoke’s opener, an equaliser followed soon after as Choupo-Moting doubled his tally.57′ – GOOOAAALLL! Stoke 1 #MUFC 2. @RomeluLukaku9 is back among the goals! #STKMUN— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 9, 2017United looked the more likely to steal a late winner, but Stoke defended valiantly and kept United’s frontline at bay.Stoke started the brighter of the teams and threatened twice in the opening 10 minutes, with Choupo-Moting and Jese Rodriguez both getting in behind the defence and going close.United soon woke up and troubled their opposition in a similar fashion, as Lukaku latched on to Rashford’s pass and crossed towards Pogba, whose back-heeled effort was deflected behind.The home side struggled to deal with the lively Rashford and he went close twice in quick succession just before the half-hour mark.His first opportunity saw the forward race on to a through ball and test Jack Butland from 16 yards, before forcing an even better stop from the goalkeeper with a controlled effort which looked destined for the bottom-right corner.@JackButland_One celebrates City’s equaliser. It’s 2-2 with 10 minutes to go at the bet365 Stadium (2-2) #SCFC— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) September 9, 2017Stoke took full advantage of those let-offs late in the half – Choupo-Moting slamming in from close range after a fine Mame Biram Diouf cross.Their joy was short-lived, though, as United levelled a few moments later as Pogba’s header hit an oblivious Rashford following a Henrikh Mkhitaryan corner and found the net.United completed the turnaround in the 57th minute and Mkhitaryan was at the centre of things again, slicing open the Stoke defence with an intricate pass for Lukaku, who found the net at the second time of asking after Butland saved his first effort.But Stoke were level again shortly after.David De Gea made a remarkable save to deny Jese initially, but from the resulting corner he was rendered helpless, as Choupo-Moting headed in at the back post after shaking off Phil Jones’ weak challenge.There was still time for United to almost snatch it with two late chances. The first fell to Lukaku, who inexplicably turned Antonio Valencia’s cross over from eight yards with nine minutes left, before Butland heroically got down to prevent Kurt Zouma from scoring an own goal deep into stoppage time.Key Opta stats: – Manchester United haven’t won any of their five Premier League away games at Stoke since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 (D3 L2) – only at Chelsea, Tottenham (4 each) and Cardiff (once) have they failed to win in the league since the Scotsman left.- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s opener was the first goal Manchester United had conceded in 535 minutes of Premier League football, since Harry Kane’s strike at White Hart Lane in May.- There were just 161 seconds between Choupo-Moting’s opener and Marcus Rashford’s equaliser for Man Utd.- Only Wayne Rooney (15) scored more Premier League goals as a teenager for Man Utd than Rashford has (currently 12, same as Ryan Giggs).- Romelu Lukaku’s strike was his 150th in club football (41 Anderlecht, 17 West Brom, 87 Everton and 5 for Manchester United).- No player has scored more goals in their first four Premier League games for Man Utd than Lukaku (4, same as Louis Saha, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic).- Choupo-Moting became the first player to open his Premier League goal account with a brace against Manchester United since Afonso Alves in April 2008.- Mark Hughes has become only the second manager to go unbeaten in four consecutive Premier League managerial clashes with Jose Mourinho, after Ronald Koeman (5 games).  read morelast_img read more

Fletcher plays 100th straight game

first_imgPremier League Darren Fletcher makes 100th consecutive Prermier League appearance Ryan Benson Last updated 2 years ago 21:54 10/21/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) fletcher-cropped Getty Images Premier League Stoke City Stoke City v AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth It has been nearly three years since the Scotland international player last missed a game in England’s top flight Darren Fletcher is only the eighth outfield player to appear in 100 consecutive Premier League matches after being named in Stoke City’s starting XI to face Bournemouth on Saturday.Fletcher last missed a Premier League game on January 31, 2015, when West Brom hosted Tottenham, with the Scot then returning on February 8 as they claimed a 2-2 draw at Burnley.Liverpool 11/1 to beat Spurs 1-0 Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player He featured in 91 successive league games for the Baggies before departing for Stoke in the close-season, and Saturday’s game sees him represent Mark Hughes’ men for the ninth time in the top flight.Only seven other outfield players have reached the landmark, with Frank Lampard (164) holding the record since December 2005.#SCFC Starting XI v @afcbournemouth: Butland; Cameron, Shawcross, Zouma; Johnson, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters; Choupo-Moting, Jese; Diouf.— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) October 21, 2017Fletcher’s achievement is made even more impressive considering he suffered from numerous health and fitness issues during the final years of his stay at Manchester United.He is still some way off Brad Friedel’s record of 310 consecutive appearances, though. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

Report: Chelsea 2 Everton 1

first_imgChelsea 2 Everton 1: Rudiger and Willian send spirited Toffees out Omnisport Last updated 2 years ago 04:45 10/26/17 Rudiger - cropped Getty Images Chelsea progressed to the EFL Cup quarter-finals as Antonio Rudiger’s header and a Willian screamer sealed a 2-1 win over Everton. Antonio Rudiger’s header and Willian’s stunning stoppage-time strike secured Chelsea a place in the EFL Cup quarter-finals as David Unsworth’s first game in temporary charge of Everton ended in a 2-1 defeat.Ronald Koeman’s 16-month stint in charge of Everton was brought to a halt on Monday, following a humiliating 5-2 home defeat to Arsenal that left them 18th in Premier League.However, a rejuvenated second-half display showed Everton’s quality – with a moment of magic from Willian in the 92nd minute ensuring that Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s effort soon after was a mere consolation. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Rudiger’s superb 26th-minute effort, the defender’s first goal for the Premier League champions, looked to have taken the spirit out of the Toffees, but Unsworth’s side responded superbly and dominated in the second half – Willy Caballero pulling off a string of saves to preserve Chelsea’s lead.Ademola Lookman went close with a blistering strike against the bar just before Chelsea wrapped up the win late on.Ultimately, though, it is now just two wins in 14 matches across all competitions for managerless Everton, who face fellow strugglers Leicester City next time out.1 – Everton have only kept one clean sheet in their last 14 games in all competitions (v Sunderland in the League Cup). Wounded.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 25, 2017Rudiger opened the scoring with the game’s first moment of quality as, unmarked at the back post, he powered a brilliant header home from Charly Musonda’s cross.Michy Batshuayi managed to get a shot off on Chelsea’s next meaningful venture forward, Jordan Pickford equal to the Belgium striker’s low strike.Devoid of confidence up top, Everton could have conceded again prior to the interval, and were fortunate that Davide Zappacosta could only hit the side-netting after Chelsea capitalised on Ashley Williams’ error.Impressing on his senior debut in Everton’s midfield, Beni Baningime spurred the Toffees into life after the restart with a crunching challenge on Ethan Ampadu – Jonjoe Kenny firing wide from the resulting counter.Everton pressed on and a star-jumping Caballero was out quickly to deny Wayne Rooney in the six-yard box before Aaron Lennon twice went close.Caballero’s fine form continued as Everton piled on the pressure, Chelsea’s stand-in goalkeeper keeping out Phil Jagielka’s header before denying Kevin Mirallas.Batshuayi should have wrapped up the victory with just over 10 minutes remaining after latching onto Rooney’s sloppy pass, but a poor touch took the ball wide of the post.Substitute Lookman almost made Chelsea pay with a scorching hit from distance that clattered the woodwork, only for Willian to do the damage at the other end.Having combined with Fabregas, the Brazil winger cut inside from the left to plant a wonderful curling effort in off the far post, giving Pickford no chance.There was to be late drama as Calvert-Lewin tucked home from close-range, but it was too little too late as Everton slumped to a third straight defeat..@willianborges88 #CHEEVE— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 25, 2017 Key Opta stats:- The Blues have reached the League Cup quarter-final for the 21st time in their history – only Arsenal (26), Spurs (23) and Liverpool (22) have reached the last eight on more occasions.- Chelsea haven’t lost a home game against Everton in all competitions since November 1994 – remaining unbeaten in their last 28 (W17 D11).- Everton have only kept one clean sheet in their last 14 games in all competitions (v Sunderland in the League Cup third round).- Willian’s goal was his first of the season for Chelsea, and ended a run of 14 games in all competitions without scoring (since May v Sunderland).- Ethan Ampadu (17y 40d) became the first player born in 2000 to start for Chelsea in any competition.- Chelsea scored with two of their three shots on target in this game, while Willian’s goal was their only one of the second half. read morelast_img read more

MLS Talking Points: Giovinco’s unstoppable weapon

first_imgMLS MLS Talking Points: Giovinco’s unstoppable free kicks, Dynamo’s long odds and more Ives Galarcep @soccerbyives Last updated 1 year ago 22:00 11/29/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC USA Today Sports MLS Toronto v Columbus Crew Toronto Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders v Houston Dynamo Seattle Sounders Houston Dynamo Opinion The Italian will look to keep his free kick heroics going in Toronto FC’s clash with Columbus while Houston attempts a comeback for the ages We stand two games away from a potential MLS Cup final rematch, but as much as Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders are in favorable positions heading into their conference final deciders, there is still work to be done.Toronto is back at BMO Field on Wednesday night to play host to the Columbus Crew after their 0-0 first leg draw in Ohio. TFC is feeling good about its chances, not only because of its league-best home record, but also because Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore are back from suspension. The Crew can make things tough, though, as Gregg Berhalter’s side looks to continue riding the momentum of an outstanding past two months.The Houston Dynamo face a much tougher task than the Crew after a 2-0 first-leg loss at home to the Sounders. That means Wilmer Cabrera’s men must find a way to earn a multi-goal win at CenturyLink Field, something no visiting team has been able to do in 30 matches. New York City FC was the last team to record such a result, back on June 25, 2016. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Here is a closer look at the key talking points heading into the conference final second legs:GIOVINCO’S FREE KICKS COULD BE KEYSebastian Giovinco Toronto FCAfter Giovinco made New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles the latest victim of his sharp-shooting free kick ability in the Eastern Conference semifinals, TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono made a point to console his counterpart after the match by letting him know there wasn’t much he, or anyone, can do to stop the Italian’s set pieces when he’s in the form he’s been in lately.”I went up to [Robles] and said, ‘Listen, I’ve seen that same free kick after training 100 times,'” Bono told Goal. “The more you see it, the more you realize you’re never going to get close to it.”That is the challenge facing Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen as he prepares to face Giovinco, who is back after missing the first leg of the East final because of a suspension for yellow card accumulation. Giovinco has converted on free kick goals in two of his past three matches, including his series-clinching strike against the Red Bulls. The 30-year-old now has 14 free kick goals in MLS play since arriving in 2015, shattering the record previously held by David Beckham.Seba. Free kick. #NYvTOR // @Audi #MLSCupPlayoffs— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 31, 2017″He just has this way about him that he always seems to find the back of the net,” Bono said. “And he always seems to hit it so sweetly and so perfectly. I know it’s been a nightmare to face, but it’s been a real pleasure to watch.”Whenever it’s in Seba range I’m glued in back in our goal. It really is a joy to watch.”So what makes Giovinco so dangerous on free kicks?”He can disguise it anyway he wants, and that’s what makes it so deadly,” Bono said. “You can’t cheat it because he’ll put it back on the keeper’s side and it’ll be on your shoulders.”It will be up to Steffen to try and keep Giovinco off the scoreboard Wednesday. He has been studying Giovinco’s free kicks and is fully aware how tough it will be to stop him if he is given a look from close range.”He puts a lot of pace on the ball, he puts it where he wants it,” Steffen told Goal. “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll have to keep an eye on him and be smart when he’s in the game. When he’s around the 18 we’re going to have to be smart and not draw any stupid fouls to give him that chance because he’s obviously lethal.”While Steffen will be busy trying to stop Giovinco, Bono will be across the field, hoping to stop any shots that go his way. He won’t have to face Giovinco free kicks Wednesday, but he has faced them enough in training, and knows that saving them can feel as good as making a save in a real game.”You do build a certain level of confidence from it, especially when you haven’t saved one and you’re able to get a hand to it,” Bono said. “[Giovinco] will be the first one to smile at you and give you the thumbs up.”DYNAMO FACING TALL TASK IN SEATTLEWilmer Cabrera MLS Houston Dynamo 05062017The Dynamo aren’t raising a white flag, and they aren’t going to skip the Western Conference second-leg trip to Seattle. There will be no forfeit. The Dynamo are still heading into Thursday’s clash intent on pulling off an upset for the ages, even though their 2-0 loss in Houston has made the tough task of dethroning the reigning MLS champions a supreme long shot.”In Seattle, can we win? Yes,” Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera said shortly after his side’s first-leg loss. “We’re going to go with the mentality that we can win that game because we have a good team. We can be dangerous.”The Dynamo can be dangerous, but there are plenty of factors working against them. For starters, they will be missing star striker Alberth Elis, who is out because of yellow card accumulation. Elis’ speed on the wing will be sorely missed, even though the Dynamo have other attacking options to help fill the void.The Dynamo will also be down to their third-choice right back after Jalil Anibaba’s first-leg red card and A.J. DeLaGarza’s torn ACL suffered at the end of the regular season. Cabrera could turn to Boniek Garcia to fill the role, but the midfielder will have his hands full with whichever left-wing option the Sounders go with, be it Joevin Jones or Victor Rodriguez.There is also the fact the Dynamo were one of the worst away teams in the league for the better part of the season. They were 1-9-7 on the road in 2017, but they also have the confidence gained from their road playoff win against Portland in the West semifinals. Winning in Seattle is a much tougher task though, as the Sounders were 11-1-5 at home during the regular season.The Sounders are facing their own lineup question marks heading into Thursday’s second leg. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s return from a hamstring injury is still uncertain, meaning Tyler Miller could get another call after posting a shutout in the first leg. Roman Torres is suspended because of yellow cards, meaning Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer could choose to deploy the versatile Gustav Svensson in central defense. The Sounders, though, likely need Svensson in a defensive midfield role in place of injured star Osvaldo Alonso, who has been sidelined with a quad injury.”He’s played probably more positions than he would like,” Schmetzer said of Svensson. “As he’s grown into the group, and the season has progressed, he has played a big role in a lot of our successful matches.”If Svensson plays in midfield, then Schmetzer could turn to Tony Alfaro to start alongside Chad Marshall. A second-year pro, Alfaro managed just eight starts in 2017, with the Sounders earning just one win (1-4-3) in those matches.The Dynamo will be sure to try and go after Alfaro, with Cabrera likely to choose Erick Torres and Mauro Manotas up top because of the suspension of Elis.”[If] Tony gets on the field, he’ll do fine,” Schmetzer said of Alfaro. “He’ll be able to handle it.”Whatever lineup Schmetzer settles on will carry a big advantage into the match, but the Sounders coach has made it clear to his team that a series win can’t be taken for granted.”You have to remind them that this isn’t finished,” Schmetzer said. “This game could take a turn for the worse. If they score early then they think they have a chance.”It will be up to the Sounders’ attack to put the series away before a monumental comeback can even get started. The onus will be on Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro and Will Bruin to punish the Dynamo defense much the same way they did in the first leg. If Dempsey can continue his torrid form and Bruin can land a third goal against his former team, the Sounders will be a good bet to move a step closer to a repeat MLS Cup tile.CREW-TFC SHOULD HAVE MORE FIREWORKSMichael Bradley Pedro Santos MLS Toronto FC Crew 11212017The first leg of the TFC-Crew series turned into a defensive struggle, as TFC successfully neutralized the Crew’s attack and accomplished its mission of having the series come down to the second leg in Toronto. Now, with Altidore and Giovinco back from suspension, TFC should be on the front foot in Wednesday’s second leg.That, coupled with the Crew’s desire for a potential series-turning away goal, should lead to a more wide open second leg in Toronto, with both teams chasing goals.Berhalter wasn’t about to give away his team’s strategy for the second leg, and stayed coy when asked whether his team would look to be aggressive in Toronto.”In general, it’s good to get a good start to the game,” Berhalter told reporters, “whether that means attacking fiercely in the beginning of the game, or sitting back and being compact in the beginning of the game.”TFC coach Greg Vanney was a bit more forthcoming about his team’s approach, though it isn’t really a revelation that the home team plans to attack.”The most important thing tomorrow is that we put them on their heels,” Vanney said. “Force them to have to adapt to us and we force them to have to make plays to keep themselves in the game. That’s what our intentions are. We need to be forward thinking and we need to be aggressive and try to get as many opportunities as we can on their goal.”With the series scoreline currently 0-0, TFC won’t be abandoning the defensive focus that led to the shutout in Columbus, and the emphasis on keeping the Crew from getting too comfortable in possession should remain.”I do think that ultimately the strength of their team is when they’re allotted a lot of time to move the ball around,” Vanney said. “Shift guys into different positions and try to break teams down.”For us, it’s not about chasing them around all over the place, it’s understanding where the gaps are, and the spots are.”Different people will show up, it doesn’t matter who shows up, it’s to make sure we understand where those spaces are that they’re trying to exploit and deal with that.”The TFC attack will be bolstered by the returns of Giovinco and Altidore. That missed game, coupled with the recent international break, has meant a 24-day gap since the pair last played in a match. As much as rust might play a part in how the tandem performs Wednesday, the Crew know full well how dangerous they still are.”To me it’s a logical conclusion to make that if they haven’t played in 24 days they’re going to be somewhat rusty,” Berhalter said. “But when you take quality like that, them somewhat rusty is still pretty good for the level of quality they have.”last_img read more

Messi masterful, but Barca are sloppy

first_imgPrimera División Masterful Messi not enough as Celta expose sloppy Barcelona Ben Hayward Last updated 1 year ago 22:31 12/2/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(26) Lionel Messi Barcelona Getty Images Primera División Barcelona Lionel Messi Barcelona v Celta de Vigo Celta de Vigo Opinion The Argentine ended his mini goal drought and created chances aplenty, but his team-mates were wasteful and also stretched in defence in a 2-2 draw Lionel Messi hung his head in disappointment. He had just curled a fine free-kick towards goal, but seen his set piece deflect off a defender and out of play. The last opportunity had been lost and with it, two points were dropped.It was not the Argentine’s fault. He had done more than most, more than anyone, to win the game for Barcelona. But after 18 straight victories at Camp Nou in La Liga (since the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in December last year), Ernesto Valverde’s side were forced to settle for a solitary point this time.Celta are the only team to have beaten Barca in each of the last three seasons, and even though two of those victories had come at Balaidos, the Galicians always seem to cause problems for the Blaugrana. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player And so they did once again. With former Barcelona assistant Juan Carlos Unzue in charge, Celta knew how they could test Barca and did so by using the pace and width of the Camp Nou pitch to drag defenders out of position and create spaces. It was a relatively simple concept, but one which worked effectively.Barca Celta scorePrior to this match, Barca boasted Europe’s best defence, having conceded only five times in La Liga all season. And no team had managed to score more than once past the Blaugrana in any game since Real Madrid did it twice in a row in the Spanish Supercopa series back in August.But Celta netted twice and could have had more, with Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen making key saves once more. In front of him, however, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti were exposed on the visitors’ two goals – and the France defender pulled his hamstring as he chased Iago Aspas on the wing in the build-up to the Galicians’ equaliser.Earlier, and despite a stunning stop from Ter Stegen, Celta had taken the lead, only for Messi to cancel out that goal two minutes later to end a six-match streak (five for Barca) without scoring – his longest drought since 2010. And Valverde’s side felt aggrieved at half-time after Luis Suarez saw a strike incorrectly ruled out for offside.After last weekend’s controversial decision in the 1-1 draw at Valencia, when Messi was denied a goal despite the ball clearly crossing the line, this was another blow for Barca. But they still should have gone on and won the match.Lionel Messi Barcelona Celta LaLiga 02122017Hugo Mallo Sergio Busquets Barcelona Celta LaLiga 02122017An exquisite move featuring brilliant build-up play from Messi and Jordi Alba cut the Celta defence in two for Suarez to make it 2-1 just after the hour mark, but a Maxi Gomez goal eight minutes later levelled it once again and without Umtiti, Barca played the remainder of the match with Thomas Vermaelen alongside Pique.At the other end, Paulinho rounded the goalkeeper but missed the target from a tight angle, while Pique also failed to convert following a well-worked free-kick, substitute Paco Alcacer headed over before the end and even Messi misfired from close range.There were chances aplenty for Barca to win the game and most of those were created by the masterful Messi, but this time it was not enough.And with Umtiti now set to be sidelined and their lead at the top of the table likely to be closed by Valencia on Sunday, testing times lie ahead for Valverde’s men in La Liga.last_img read more

Ballon d’Or: The candidates to follow Ronaldo and Messi

first_imgBallon D’Or Ballon d’Or: Who are the candidates to follow Ronaldo and Messi? Rob Lancaster Last updated 1 year ago 04:51 12/8/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(58) Kylian Mbappe Neymar Strasbourg PSG Ligue 1 Getty Ballon D’Or Ligue 1 Kylian Mbappé Neymar Eden Hazard Paulo Dybala Kevin De Bruyne PSG Chelsea Manchester City Juventus Serie A Premier Leaguelast_img

Man City weigh up Van Dijk & Martinez moves

first_imgTransfers Man City weigh up Van Dijk & Martinez moves Sam Lee Last updated 1 year ago 17:00 12/14/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) Virgil Van Dijk Inigo Martinez Split Getty/Goal Transfers Manchester City Guardiola Southampton Liverpool Premier League Pep Guardiola has convinced his board to release funds for a centre-back in January and is now weighing up the merits of his two preferred options Manchester City are ready to reignite their interest in Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk,  Goal  has learned.The Premier League leaders are also considering a move for Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez, and are hopeful of signing one of the two during the winter transfer window.City made Van Dijk their top centre-back target during the summer, but were dealt a blow when he elected to join Liverpool, only for that move to collapse and the Dutchman to stay at St Mary’s. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Goal understands that Liverpool will also try to sign the 26-year-old during the January transfer window, and it can now be revealed that City are seriously considering a rival offer.City targeted several other central defenders after missing out on Van Dijk, including Leonardo Bonucci, Jonny Evans and Martinez, but were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to reinforce the position.And following injuries to Vincent Kompany and John Stones, Pep Guardiola has convinced sporting director Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano that defensive reinforcements are required if the Blues are to continue fighting on all fronts for the rest of the season.The Blues have subsequently made a new centre-back their top priority, and are now weighing up the merits of both Van Dijk and Martinez.Sources have told Goal that Van Dijk is the preferred option, as Guardiola and his employers consider him capable of slotting seemlessly into the City back line and handling high pressure matches both domestically and in Europe.There are lingering concerns regarding how he would react if he does not play regularly once Kompany, Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are all fit.Virgil van DijkInigo MartinezThat is not thought to be an issue for Martinez, 26, who City staff believe would be more accepting of a squad role. The Spain international would also be a cheaper option than Van Dijk, given his €32 million release clause.But there are understood to be reservations over his ability to immediately adapt to his new surroundings and handle the biggest matches during the run in.City are expected to make enquiries regarding both men in the coming weeks.The Blues remain interested in Alexis Sanchez, their overall top summer target, but any January move is once again dependent on whether Arsenal will do business with their rivals.The Chilean is out of contract in the summer and while City are confident he still wants to move to the Etihad Stadium, they are concerned that foreign clubs can make legal approaches from January 1.Although City had agreed personal terms with Alexis early last summer, they were still spooked by Paris Saint-Germain’s rumoured interest in July.last_img read more

Hughie Morrison alleges ‘malicious’ doping plot on first day of BHA hearing

first_imgReuse this content Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter The battle lines were drawn on Tuesday in a case that could result in the Group One-winning trainer Hughie Morrison banned from racing for at least a year. The British Horseracing Authority’s disciplinary panel heard a claim that Morrison had been the victim of a “malicious” plot and should therefore not be penalised under the BHA’s strict liability anti-doping rules.Morrison’s four-year-old filly Our Little Sister returned a positive test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone after finishing last in a race at Wolverhampton on 14 January, the first positive for an anabolic steroid in British racing since 2013.At the start of what is expected to be a two-day hearing in London, the panel heard that Morrison concedes he is in breach of the strict liability rule, and the hearing will proceed to decide what penalty, if any, should be imposed for an offence which has an entry-level penalty of a two-year ban and a range, depending on mitigating or aggravating factors, from one to 10 years. Topics … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. news Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Horse racing Horse racing tips Since you’re here… The hearing opened with the presentation of a note prepared by the BHA to outline the issues in the case, including Morrison’s claim he should not be penalised “because he says he can prove on the balance of probabilities that the substance was administered to the horse maliciously”.The BHA contends any deliberate administration would still demand a penalty owing to the strict liability nature of the rules, while conceding that proof of malicious administration would “clearly amount to considerable mitigation on behalf of Mr Morrison” when it is determined. The authority also insists Our Little Sister was randomly selected for drug testing, rather than on the basis of intelligence received, which it says “fatally undermines the contention for a malicious intervention”.Witnesses who gave evidence included Greg Pearson, the stipendiary steward at Wolverhampton on 14 January, who told the panel that while he could not remember with 100% certainty whether he had selected which horse at the meeting would be randomly selected, there was a “strong likelihood” he was responsible as he is usually the first official to arrive at the course. Pearson also said his computer records confirmed Our Little Sister was randomly selected for testing.The panel also heard a dispute between witnesses giving scientific evidence on the probable date, or range of dates, when Our Little Sister was administered with nandrolone. Stuart Paine, an associate professor of pharmacology at Nottingham University giving evidence on behalf of the BHA, told the hearing that, in his opinion, it was only possible to say the drug had been administered by intramuscular injection “between mid-December 2016 and mid-January 2017”.His evidence was disputed by Thomas Tobin, a professor of toxicology at the University of Kentucky, who gave his testimony via Skype. Tobin insisted the date of administration could be narrowed to the middle of Paine’s one-month window.The panel also started to hear evidence from Tim Miller, the leader of the BHA team investigating the case. Miller will conclude his testimony on Wednesday, when Morrison is also expected to give evidence.Wednesday tipsLingfield Park 11.40 Culpability 12.10 Sweet Charity 12.40 Perfection 1.10 Drumochter 1.45 Zalshah 2.20 Mercers 2.55 Lost The Moon 3.25 Deebaj Ludlow 12.20 Gortroe Joe 12.50 Bach De Clermont 1.20 Nicolas Chauvin 1.55 Chilli Filli 2.30 Relentless Dreamer 3.05 Cloonacool 3.35 Higgs Newbury 12.30 Doctor Bartolo 1.00 Brianstorm 1.30 Cosmos Des Obeaux 2.05 Happy Diva 2.40 Lake Field (nb) 3.15 Melrose Boy 3.45 Aweeminit Kempton Park 4.10 Count Otto 4.40 Royal Residence 5.10 Glencadam Master 5.40 Native Appeal 6.10 Lacan (nap) 6.40 Look Surprised 7.10 Courier 7.40 Ding Ding Support The Guardian Drugs in sport Share via Email Share on Messenger British Horseracing Authority Share on Facebook Nicky Henderson: ‘The press have beaten me to bits … they’re calling me a liar’ Read morelast_img read more

Maurizio Sarri tells Chelsea defence to cut out errors after ‘stupid goal’

first_imgShare via Email Share on WhatsApp Ruben Loftus-Cheek carried the goalscoring against Bate, collecting his first hat-trick, while Ross Barkley has scored in both of his past two Chelsea games. “One month ago we were concerned about the fact the midfielders weren’t scoring,” Sarri said. “Now in the last three matches they have scored good goals. I think if we are able to continue to play this football, maybe the strikers will be able to score.” Chelsea Maurizio Sarri has warned his Chelsea side not to repeat the sloppy defending that allowed Bate Borisov to score what he termed “a very stupid goal” towards the end of an otherwise straightforward 3-1 Europa League victory at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, warning such failures could undermine them against more capable opponents.Sol Bamba’s 16th-minute effort for Cardiff more than two months ago is the only first-half goal Chelsea have conceded in their past 11 matches, in which time they have allowed five to be scored in the second period. Coasting with a 3-0 lead against unfancied opponents from Belarus, they completely failed to pick up Aleksei Rios from a free-kick and allowed the midfielder to ghost to the far post for a tap-in. Share on Messenger Burnley v Chelsea: match preview “We could have done better in the last 20 minutes,” Sarri, whose side travel to Burnley on Sunday, said. “We needed only to move the ball and take positions. But we conceded spaces to the opponents so at the end we conceded a very stupid goal. I didn’t like it – it’s very dangerous. If we make the same mistakes against very high-level opponents, we are in trouble. Like against Liverpool and Manchester United. So we need to control the matches much better, especially when we are in the advantage.”Sir Alex Ferguson once said that “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles”, and it is a mantra to which Sarri subscribes. “Usually the winner [of the title] is the team who concedes the least,” he said. “In Italy, anyway. So we have to improve defensively.” Read more In fact only four of the last 10 Premier League titles have been won by the team with the best defence, and six by the team with the best attack. But Sarri is relaxed about the continuing travails of his two leading strikers, Álvaro Morata, who has three goals in nine starts, and Olivier Giroud, who is still without a goal this season, after five starts and five substitute appearances, and whose efforts were again unrewarded against Bate.“We know the characteristics of Giroud,” Sarri said. “Usually he does not score a lot of goals in a season but he is always very useful for the team. So Giroud is not a problem for us. The most important thing is that the team will continue to play this football.” news Maurizio Sarri Read more Share on Facebook Topics Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Ruben Loftus-Cheek hits hat-trick in Chelsea’s Europa stroll against BATE The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Share on Pinterest Reuse this contentlast_img read more

‘He’s hungry’: Timothy Weah joins Celtic on loan from PSG

first_imgShare via Email “Timothy’s a young talent who is a full international player,” said Rodgers. “He has a long career ahead of him but he has those natural attributes in terms of his pace and technique. He’s hungry too.“He’s been in the PSG squad and featured for them in pre-season. With the quality of players they have it’s difficult for him to get in and get any game-time. They wanted him to go out on loan and saw Celtic as a great possibility.“He has really good qualities technically, and tactically is always improving his game. Physically he’s very good, very fast and is a strong player. He’ll add competition to the squad.”In the absence of Leigh Griffiths, who is on leave amid off-field problems, the USA forward will provide much-needed cover as Celtic attempt to record their eighth successive league title. They currently lead Rangers on goal difference but having played a game less, with Weah now set to be handed the opportunity to establish himself in senior football.The son of the 1995 world player of the year, George Weah, he was born in New York but joined the PSG academy in 2014. He scored his first senior goal for the US against Bolivia in May and his first league goal in August. Reuse this content Timothy Weah has joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season after Paris Saint-Germain agreed to allow the 18-year-old to continue his development in the Scottish Premiership.Weah, who has found his opportunities at the French champions restricted to only two appearances in Ligue 1 this season, will fly to Dubai on Monday evening for his medical before linking up with the rest of Brendan Rodgers’ squad for their warm-weather training camp. He has also signed a one-year extension to his PSG contract, which now expires in 2021. Celtic Topics Paris Saint-Germain Transfer window Forest Green Rovers furious with Bolton over Christian Doidge transfer saga news Share on Twitter Read more Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Share on Pinterestlast_img read more

Emiliano Insúa: ‘It was sad for me to leave Liverpool. I wanted to stay’

first_imgShare on Messenger It has been a period of constant upheaval and self-examination for a player who appeared destined for a long and stable career at Liverpool having arrived there from Boca Juniors in January 2007. He had yet to turn 18, and had never played outside of Argentina, but impressed almost immediately, leading to a loan move soon being turned into a permanent one. There followed a steady rise up the ranks and then, during the 2009-10 season, 44 appearances for the first team, all but one of which were from the start.Yet ultimately that was it for Insúa. He left Liverpool at the end of what proved to be a bruising campaign for all involved – the team finished seventh a year after almost winning the Premier League title while Benítez became engulfed in a civil war caused by the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett which also saw him depart in the summer.“It was a difficult season” recalls Insúa, now sporting a well-groomed beard and ponytail. “Rafa had problems with the owners and that spread to the team. But still we almost made the final of the Europa League [Liverpool lost to Atlético Madrid in the semis] and in the league we came close to qualifying for the Champions League.“I also learned a lot from this season. I played 44 games and I got an injury in the last two months. Without that, I would have played at least 50 games. It is also amazing for me to look back and remember I was in the same team as [Fernando] Torres, [Steven] Gerrard, [Jamie] Carragher, [Pepe] Reina, [Javier] Mascherano … a lot of big players who have had big careers. I will remember that time forever.”There is no denying the warmth Liverpool generates within Insúa on what is a cold morning at Stuttgart’s training base, located on the east bank of the river Neckar and in the shadow of the 60,000-seater Mercedes-Benz Arena. He smiles almost constantly as we speak about his three and a half years at the club, with his mood only darkening when the conversation turns to how and why it all ended – the arrival of Roy Hodgson as Benítez’s successor in July 2010.“It was sad for me to leave because I was feeling really well at Liverpool,” Insúa says. “I wanted to stay but Hodgson told me I will not play [under him]. I was young and I wanted to play, so I left. Hodgson then signed Paul Konchesky to be the left-back but Konchesky did not do well for Liverpool … maybe I should have stayed.”There follows a devilish laugh from Insúa, and justifiably so – he was a better left-back for Liverpool than Konchesky ever was. Equally, there is no escaping the fact he never quite lived up to his promise.Insúa was regarded as being among the finest South American talents of his generation, so much so that Liverpool snapped him up before he had even made a first-team appearance for Boca. Decent displays followed, from an attacking as well as defensive point of view, but as the 2009-10 campaign went on Insúa looked increasingly exposed and unsure of what he was meant to be doing. Facebook interviews Barcelona’s home defeat by Real Betis could be inspiration for Liverpool Twitter Share on Facebook Pinterest As Liverpool supporters prepare to watch their team face Barcelona in a Champions League semi-final first leg tie at the Camp Nou, here is something that will make them feel old: Emiliano Insúa is 30. And a father of two.Yes, that’s right, the wide-eyed, plump-cheeked, shaggy-haired left-back of Rafael Benítez’s time in charge at Anfield is all grown-up. He is also coming towards the end of his fourth season at Stuttgart, a difficult and chaotic time for the Bundesliga club but which Insúa is able to keep in perspective and appreciate given everything that has happened to him over the past decade or so. Liverpool are extraordinary up front, says Barcelona’s Ernesto Valverde Stuttgart Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsAppcenter_img Reuse this content Liverpool Share on Twitter Read more Topics Those deficiencies may have disappeared over time, especially had Benítez, who Insúa describes as “one of the best coaches I have ever had”, remained in situ. But back then it appeared as if a regular first-team place at an elite-level European club had simply come too soon for the boy from Buenos Aires.Not that Insúa sees it that way. “When you are young you want to play every game,” he insists. “But also I did not have competition. Fábio Aurélio was there but he had many injuries. He was a really good player but could not play. So it was me and [Andrea] Dossena but he wasn’t doing well so Rafa decided to give me his confidence. I was happy, feeling well, and I don’t think I had a bad season.”There was an obvious standout moment – Insúa’s one and only goal for Liverpool. It came in a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the fourth-round of the Carling Cup and was the type of thumping, long-range volley that would have had Alan Partridge talking about traction engines had he been doing the commentary.“Long ball from Martin Skrtel, Ryan Babel head back, I control and shoot,” Insúa says as he recalls the strike. “I always felt good in this stadium, the Emirates. I don’t know why. And this was a really nice goal.”Having been encouraged by Hodgson to leave Liverpool, Insúa joined Galatasaray on loan in August 2010. It was the start of a nomadic existence for the player as he then moved to Sporting Lisbon and Atlético Madrid on permanent deals. There followed another loan spell, this time at Rayo Vallecano, before he signed for Stuttgart in July 2015. Read more The defender, who has been capped five times by his country, has become a first-team regular at the German club and despite suffering one Bundesliga relegation in 2016 and currently being close to another – Stuttgart are 16th and on their third manager of the season following Markus Weinzierl’s recent sacking and the appointment of Nico Willig as his successor – he is keen to extend his stay. For Insúa, there is a bigger picture to think about.“In every moment I have tried to do the best for my career. It has brought me a lot of experiences but now I have a family, two kids, and for them I want to be at a club for a long time,” he says. “That is why I was in Madrid for two years and now this is my fourth year in Stuttgart. It is the club I have been at the longest.“At the beginning it was a little scary because it was a different country, a different language, but I’ve lived abroad for a long time so I am used to travelling. I have settled down very well – the city is great and a lot of Argentinians live here. That has made it easier for all of us.”Asked for one final memory from his time at Liverpool, Insúa pauses. “Nothing compares to playing at Anfield,” he eventually replies, allowing another smile to spread across his face. Insúa in action for Liverpool during a 2-0 victory over Wolves at Anfield on Boxing Day 2009. Photograph: Tim Hales/AP Share via Email Share on Pinterestlast_img read more

LTA eager to work with Andy Murray to increase tennis participation

first_imgThe chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association has insisted that British tennis’s governing body has a productive relationship with Andy Murray and is determined to build on the former world No 1’s legacy.The LTA came under fire after announcing an £8.8m loss in its annual accounts last month, while recent figures showing that overall monthly participation in tennis has dropped by 9% lent weight to fears not enough is being done to build on Murray’s success. Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp LTA Read more Support The Guardian Read more Share on LinkedIn Since you’re here… … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Pinterest Topicscenter_img Tennis news Jamie Murray accused British tennis of wasting his younger brother’s decade at the top earlier this year and there was embarrassment in March when the publication of a rebranding strategy by the LTA failed to mention the Murray family. However, Scott Lloyd, who replaced Michael Downey two years ago, said that he has a healthy, open dialogue with the Murray brothers and their mother Judy.“I can’t speak for what went before me,” the LTA CEO said. “Anyone that has a passion for tennis, as Andy and Jamie clearly do, wants to see our sport thrive. What I want to do is take a sharper focus on how we invest the resources we have available to make sure we are investing behind things that have the biggest impact. The greatest legacy for Andy and Jamie would be to have a sport that’s thriving.“Jamie and I speak regularly. I think me, Jamie, Andy and Judy all share the same philosophy. We want the sport growing. That’s about the grassroots first and foremost. We have a very healthy and open dialogue with Andy and Jamie.”Lloyd was asked if the LTA has tapped enough into the Murray family’s expertise. “I’ve known Judy for a very long time,” he said. “I worked with her 20 years ago. Since I’ve started we have had an open dialogue on what we can do together.“We are working closely with Jamie on a few things. We’re working with him on a Challenger event we are bringing to Glasgow in September. This is all about trying to put on events in different parts of the calendar to sustain interest all year round. It’s going to be called the Murray trophy. For Andy and Jamie to be involved in helping the LTA deliver programmes inspiring kids, of course that’s what we want.” Jamie Murray: ‘You won’t get another Andy for God knows how long’ Share on Messenger Lloyd wants to alter the idea that tennis is an elitist summer sport and believes community programmes such as Serves, Tennis for Kids and Park Tennis will help. He is also encouraged about the LTA’s plans to develop indoor courts in 96 areas across Britain over the next 10 years.“I spent six months talking to people up and down the country about what more the LTA should be doing,” Lloyd said. “We’ve set about trying to open tennis up. I actually think it is more affordable than people appreciate. Last year we saw participation in park tennis grow 35%.“We’ve worked to identify where we need more indoor courts available on a pay as you play basis. We’ve identified 96 locations – 72 in England, 12 in Wales, 12 in Scotland – where there will be demand in tennis if there are indoor facilities all year round.“We have to work out what works best for British tennis and have a sharp focus on it, whether it’s performance strategy, investment or grassroots programmes.”Concerns that the landscape would be barren without Andy Murray, who will play doubles at Wimbledon as he continues his comeback from hip surgery, will be tested at SW19 over the next fortnight. Share via Email Share on Facebook “Investing in the 10-year performance strategy we launched last year will hopefully create a framework for athletically gifted children to take up tennis and ultimately become professionals,” Lloyd said.“In the men’s game we have Kyle Edmund, Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans. They’re in fantastic form. We have Jay Clarke and Paul Jubb coming up. On the women’s side the Fed Cup team are back in the World Group for the first time in 30 years. There’s a lot to be positive about.” The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Mkhitaryan signing genius from Arsenal

first_imgTransfers Why Arsenal have made a genius signing in brainy Henrikh Mkhitaryan Chris Wheatley Arsenal correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 03:51 1/23/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(31) Henrikh Mkhitaryan Arsenal Getty Transfers Arsenal Chelsea Premier League The Gunners are getting an intelligent player with brains on and off the pitch who is set to combine with ex-team mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang In the same week that George Weah was named President of Liberia, another player adored in his home country and admired by Arsene Wenger swapped the red of Manchester United for Arsenal.Henrikh Mkhitaryan is finally an Arsenal player and some might say it’s a move which should have happened a long time ago. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is a long-time admirer of the former Borussia Dortmund star, and not just because of his supreme technical ability on the pitch which saw him score 23 goals and record 32 assists in his final season at the Westfalenstadion.Mkhitaryan’s intellectual ability is one aspect which Wenger actively looks for when signing a player. The 29-year-old has got a diploma from the Institute of Physical Culture in Armenia and studied economics at the St Petersburg Institute – the latter is something he has in common with Wenger who also possesses an economic degree. Armenia’s captain, who turned 29 on Sunday, also speaks English, German, French, Russian, Armenian, Portuguese and Italian. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Per Mertesacker, Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny are all regarded as three of the most intelligent players at the club and it’s testament to Mertesacker in particular that Wenger wanted to keep him around so much he offered him a head of academy role which the German will take up this summer. While Arsenal lose an excellent attacking player in Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, they gain a creative, intelligent and expressive forward in the form of Mkhitaryan.Although there is the obvious gap, it is easy to draw parallels to the human aspect of Mkhitaryan and Weah. The Armenian midfielder lost his father Hamlet to a brain tumour at the age of 33 when Henrikh was just 7 years old and he cites that moment in his life as the motivation behind becoming a professional footballer.“He was my drive, he was my motivation, because when I was young he was playing football professionally and I was always dreaming about going with him to the training ground,” said Mkhitaryan.“Because of him, when we came back to Armenia [as a family], it was my dream to continue his work and to also be a football player. It [his death] was a pity but that is life and life continues. I just hope he is proud looking down at me from the sky because I try to do everything to make him proud.”Mkhitaryan spent much of his young life in France after violence in Armenia forced the family to flee abroad. His dad was at French second division side Valence, a team founded by Armenians, and Henrikh begged him to come to training. Mkhitaryan’s journey around the world saw him undergo trials with Sao Paulo at the age of 14, where he played alongside the likes of Hernanes and Oscar.  “My favourite team is Arsenal,” Mkhtiaryan said, while playing for home-town side Pyunik over a decade ago. “I like their attacking play and fast style. Moreover, Arsene Wenger puts faith in young players while demanding results at the same time. I like that and want to play there one day.” — Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 22, 2018 Able to play in the Europa League for Arsenal and set to form a familiar partnership with his former Dortmund team-mate Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in the coming days, everything looks set to click into place for Mkhitaryian – the self confessed Arsenal fan who has finally got the move he wanted.When asked whether there is life after Alexis Sanchez after Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace there was a typically apt response from Wenger, who knows all too well that Arsenal have secured an astute signing that possesses brains on and off the pitch.“There is always life,” he said.“Arsenal Football Club is 130 years old and many big players have left. Will it go a bit less good? We will see. But there is always life afterwards.”last_img read more

Matic: United can do big things

first_imgNemanja Matić Matic insists Manchester United can still do ‘big things’ Nicholas McGee 22:37 2/24/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Matic-Cropped. Getty Images Manchester United Manchester United v Chelsea Premier League The midfielder still sees big things ahead for the Red Devils, despite Manchester City’s dominance of the Premier League Midfielder Nemanja Matic is confident Manchester United can do “big things” despite the Premier League title looking beyond them this season.United go into Sunday’s home top-flight meeting with Matic’s former club Chelsea trailing neighbours and runaway leaders Manchester City by 16 points.That gap can be trimmed to 13 with victory at Old Trafford on the same day City face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player United are still in contention in the Champions League, though Jose Mourinho’s men were fortunate to escape their away last-16 first-leg clash against Sevilla with a 0-0 draw, and are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.And Matic has plenty of hope of a successful conclusion to the campaign, the Serbia international telling United Review: “I think that we have improved.”Of course, in the Premier League, it is difficult to win every game, but I think step by step we have improved and in the future I believe, as a team, we can do big things together. “I’m happy to be with the team and how we are working together. I’m sure we can do something this season and in the future for sure.”We have to be honest and say we have had some very good games, but we have also had some bad games. We have to improve together. We have the Champions League and the FA Cup still to play for.”To win the league is going to be very hard as we know because the gap is very big, but we have to fight until the end and we will see what we can do.”A victory for the Red Devils would see them go six points over fourth place Chelsea. However, a defeat would see the Blues draw level on points with them.last_img read more