Monday, September 29, 2014

Pastore: Messi has never not been at his best

Paris Saint Germain midfielder, Javier Pastore insists that Messi is never not at his best and has defender his compatriot ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash between PSG and Barcelona.

In a recent interview with Spanish sports daily AS, Pastore defended Messi and stressed that the Argentine has always been at his best, even when he hasn’t scored multiple goals a game.

“Leo never lost his best version.  There are very few players who can maintain his pace and tenacity season after season, always scoring goals and showing who is the best.”

Pastore then analysed this Barcelona side, who he feels are more aggressive and will present a challenge.

“Barca are much more aggressive than their previous campaigns.  Obviously we like to retain possession too and in that light, tomorrow’s game will be very hard-fought.  We need to know going into it that both teams want to retain possession and control the midfield.  I don’t think that we’ll park the bus and spring on the counter attack like we did last year; we’ll look to play the ball, like always.”

Pastore then spoke about the possible absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but insists that they have weapons to rival Barcelona without the towering Swede.

“We don’t know if he’ll be with us or not.  It depends a lot on Ibra and we’ve adapted to his absence for several weeks now.  We are aware that there is a lot of quality in the squad and whoever takes his place can do just as well.  Lavezzi will be out too, but Edison (Cavani), Lucas Moura or whoever the manager decides, will do well. We had an inconsistent start to the season and we’re still feeling the effects.”
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Manchester City's Samir Nasri undergoes successful groin surgery

Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri has confirmed that he is recovering following a successful groin operation.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini expects the Frenchman to be out of action for one month due to the troublesome injury.

After going under the knife, Nasri posted a photo to Twitter of himself in hospital with the message: "Thanks for the support! Surgery went well! Now time for recovery!"

Nasri was absent from City's 4-2 victory over Hull City on Saturday.

Thanks for the support! Surgery went well! Now time for recovery! pic.twitter.com/PjoIPxj73d

— Samir Nasri Official (@SamNasri19) September 28, 2014
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Mourinho: Diego Costa is doing almost nothing in training

Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho has expressed concern over the fitness of his Spanish international striker, Diego Costa, stating that the soon-to-be 26-year-old is “doing almost nothing” in training as he continues to recover from his tight hamstring.

Costa scored his 8th goal of the English Premier League season in this past weekend’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa, but Mourinho stated to Sky Sports that Costa still hasn’t reached top form because he’s constantly battling muscle fatigue and injuries.

“He cannot be on top of his game. He’s doing almost nothing in training. He’s just resting and recovering from the tight muscle he has. I don’t care about Diego’s goals. For me it’s important that the team score enough goals to win.

“I know a striker scoring goals is always nice for him and for his confidence, especially for a player like him who is not training as he should, because we are protecting him in certain situations.

“It was a very solid performance. We played really well, we had the ball, we controlled a lot of possession while always controlling their counter attack.”

Costa leads all scorers in the English Premier League, with the second closest being Leicester’s Leonardo Ulloa with five.

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Andres Iniesta to play 100th Champions League match against PSG

Barcelona vice-captain, Andres Iniesta is set to play the 100th Champions League match of his storied career, when the Blaugrana take on Ligue 1 champions, PSG at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday evening.

According to the club, Iniesta will only be the fourth player in club history to reach this particular milestone, joining current captain Xavi Hernandez (148 games – 12 goals), former captain Carles Puyol (120 games – 2 goals) and former goalkeeper, Victor Valdes (110 games – 90 goals conceded).

“On Tuesday night, Andrés Iniesta returns to Paris, the city where he won his first Champions League winners medal, with the opportunity of making his hundredth appearance in the competition. In the 99 games he’s played in since making his debut against Bruges in the 2002/03 season, Iniesta has scored ten goals and picked up three winners medals.

“Iniesta won his first winners medal on May 17, 2006, as Eto’o and Belletti got the goals to win Barça the first of a trio of trophies over the next five years, with the wins in Rome in 2009 and London in 2011. Yet it is for the goal in the semi-final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2009 that Iniesta will be best remembered, as his dramatic, late strike ensured a place in the Rome final.”

Iniesta is expected to start after resting this past weekend against Granada.

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Nigeria Coach Stephen Keshi reshuffles squad ahead of AFCON 2015 qualifiers

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi last Friday released a 24 man list of players he hopes can rescue Nigeria's quest for qualifying for next year's Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Morocco.

The former Togo coach, dissatisfied with the performance of some of the players during the first batch of games against Congo and South Africa where the Super Eagles mustered a single point from a possible six, has decided to drop Nnamdi Oduamadi, Ramon Azeez and Uche Nwofor from the latest squad.

Michael Babatunde, who last featured for the Eagles at the World Cup in Brazil in June gets a recall and so do first choice goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and Victor Moses, who were left out of the Congo and South Africa games.

Local league stars Chigozie Agbim, Gbolahan Salami and Osagouna Ighodaro are also included while creative midfielder Raheem Lawal is back in the fold after nearly two years in he international wilderness.

Keshi however handed out maiden call ups to Hope Akpan of Reading in the English Championship, Anyora Ugonna from Haugesund in the Norwegian Tippeligaen, Aaron Samuel from Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R & F, and relatively unknown Emmanuel Sunday who features for Austrian Bundesliga side SV Scholz Grodig.

The quartet, will hope to impress Stephen Keshi and show him they can do a job for him when the double header against Sudan takes centre stage despites fears from many quarters.

Supersport.com

profiles the four new players invited for the dicey, must win encounters with Sudan, their characteristics, suitability to the Eagles and what they can bring to the table as Nigeria tries to change her fortunes and get back on track towards qualifying for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
The debutants

Ugonna Anyora

Position: Midfield

Age:23

Club: FC Haugesund, Norway

The Enugu native is a stong tackling offensive midfielder who is also quite comfortable anywhere across the midfield. His versatility his seen him being played from various positions for his team in the Norwegian top flight.

He moved to Norway in 2010 when he joined Haugesund where he has been since then, chalking up 101 matches for the Tippeligaen side in the process.

Standing at 6'0, Anyora will add some steel in the midfield if he gets to play as his physique and power will definitely compliment the likes Ogenyi Onazi and Mikel Obi in the central areas.

Depending on how Keshi decides to use him, he can be a pivot who sits just behind Mikel and Onazi, allowing the duo to be more offensive during transitions or he can be given an offensive license while Mikel sits deep akin to what he does for Chelsea.

Anyora, will have to seize his chance when he gets it because Keshi seems to be keen to sort out the problems around the central area of the midfield, whether the Haugesund man is the player to do that is left to be seen.

Hope Akpan

Position: Midfield

Age:23

Club:Reading FC, England

Hope Akpan is another player Keshi will look unto for answers as the 'Big Boss' clearly rates the former Everton man who was born in Liverpool, England.

Eligible for England and Nigeria, he has constantly maintained he will jump at an opportunity to play for the Super Eagles and it will be left to see if he seizes the chance Keshi has foisted on him.

"Hope Akpan is a player we've been monitoring for sometime now. He has already played six matches for his club this season and we believe he can add something to the group." Keshi exclusively told supersport.com

Having come through the Everton ranks where he made a single Premiership appearance, Akpan has featured for Hull City, Crawley Town and Reading since then.

Akpan is a combative midfielder, who leaves no prisoners as occasioned by his tackle that broke AFC Wimbledon's Jason Prior's leg in 2012, something, Akpan says was an unfortunate incident.

There was an evident lack of grit in the Eagles midfield especially in the first game against Congo. None of the midfielders was positioned to break up the Congolese build ups as the Eagles sat down and allowed the Red Devils execute their plans.

This backfired spectacularly.

Keshi needs a 'cleaner' in the midfield, someone to do the dirty work. Someone to relieve Mikel off his defensive responsibilities, someone who can allow Onazi venture forward to add numbers when the Eagles attack, maybe Akpan can fill that void.

Akpan fits the bill, but can he do the business? Time will tell.

Aaron Samuel

Position: Attack

Age: 20

Club: Guangzhou R & F, China

The 20 year old was one of Nigeria's unheralded youngsters in Europe until his recent unexpected move to China. Snapped up by modest Norwegian side Sarpsborg 08 in 2013 from Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan, he has made steady progress since then.

Thirteen goals in 31 matches fo Sarpsborg 08 FF saw the then 19 year old snapped up by Oslo side Valeranga, where he just spent a season before crossing over to the lucrative Chinese Super League. Aaron has scored two goals in ten matches for is new Chinese side.

Built like a tank, Samuel has great physical strength and pace to burn, even though his move to the Chinese Super League might look like a step down and not where you should find a Super Eagles attacker.

Nigeria have scored a misery five goals in the last five internationals, an average of a goal per game which isn't good for a team who are the reigning Africa champions.

Maybe Keshi sees Samuel as someone who can add something to the attack. His style of play is similar to Emmanuel Emenike, where he makes good use of his upper body strength and pace to great use.

His goal to game average isn't bad too compared to other Nigerian attackers in the team, but it will be left to see if he can make the transition to international level football.

Sunday Emmanuel

Position: Attack

Age: 22

Club:SV Grodig, Austria

Sunday Emanuel's invitation is a strange one compared to the other new players listed. The 22 year old has only had 124 minutes of top flight football this season ( one in the Austrian Bundesliga and another in the Austrian Cup).

He joined Grodig who are placed 8th on the Austrian Bundesliga log after 10 matches from Vietnamese side Than Quang Ninh.

The former Sunshine Stars attacker has been in the Asian country since 2011 where he has turned out for Than Hoa FC, Becamex Binh Doung FC and Than Quang Ninh before moving to mainland Europe.

Emmanuel is a pacy attacker, his game and build is similar to Brown Ideye, who has been left out of the latest set up. The jury is already out on the basis of his invitation and he has an opportunity to prove critics wrong.

The Super Eagles, placed third in Group A of the qualifiers have to start raking in the points from the next round of games especially the game in Nigeria on October 11.

That fixture has to ace the three points to give the Eagles confidence going into the cracker in Omdurman. I'm not quite sure which of the new call ups will make a difference in the team or what spice they may add to Keshi's broth

What is sure however, is that the Super Eagles are condemned to win and must get maximum points off Sudan, if they are to make Morocco 2015 and defend the Africa Cup of Nations title.

The die is cast. Soar Eagles.
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Wayne Rooney apologies for red card

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has admitted that he deserved to be sent off in his team's Premier League match against West Ham United.

The Red Devils claimed a 2-1 win at Old Trafford, despite playing with 10 men for most of the second half following Rooney's kick out at Stewart Downing.

Rooney has since acknowledged that he was rightly given his marching orders and has revealed that he has apologised to his teammates for the incident.

"It was probably the right decision," Rooney told the club's official website. "I saw the West Ham player making a counter-attack and I tried to break up the play, but I just misjudged it.

"I didn't absolutely volley the lad. I tried to trip him up and, to be fair to him, he got further away from me and that's why my leg is straighter than it should have been. As he pushed the ball away, my leg straightened out and that is obviously why the referee deemed it as a red card.

"Of course I did [apologise]. I think everyone knew [I was in the wrong]. It's always tough against 11 men when you are a man down, especially when they are throwing a lot of balls into the box as West Ham were doing, so I am grateful that we held out."

Rooney has been sent off six times in his career, with his last red card for United coming in March 2009.
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Walter Mazzarri admits selection mistakes after defeat to Cagliari

Inter Milan head coach Walter Mazzarri admitted that he should have made more changes to his side following the 4-1 loss to Cagliari on Sunday afternoon.

The Inter boss believes that a number of key players, including Nemanja Vidic, were short of full fitness, and took a large portion of the blame when speaking to reporters after the game.

"[Vidic] is probably one of those I used too much," he added. "He's strong and a leader so I didn't want to rest him but he was fatigued and therefore below par.

"I take responsibility for that, as I should've made more changes and realised there are players who, at this moment, cannot play three or four times in a row.

"Fatigue has an effect on your physical and psychological performance. Some players weren't sharp and all it takes is half a metre or your body leaning the wrong way when a player runs at you and there isn't the strength to make up for it."

Inter are currently fifth in Serie A.
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West Ham United's Alex Song: 'We deserved a point against Manchester United'

West Ham United's on-loan midfielder Alex Song believes that it was unfair on his team to have come away with nothing against Manchester United on Saturday.

The Hammers conceded two early goals, but Diafra Sakho managed to get one back for the travelling side before the break.

In the second half, West Ham had the advantage of facing a United side with just 10 men after Wayne Rooney was sent off for a high challenge on Stewart Downing.

However, after having a goal ruled offside, West Ham were forced to accept a 2-1 defeat.

"In the second half we were much better and in the end yes, we are disappointed that we went away with nothing, because what we deserved in the second half was much more, we deserved the point," Song told the club's official website.

Song is currently on loan for the season at Upton Park from Barcelona.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 'We have a point to prove against Chelsea'

Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes that he and his teammates have a "point to prove" against Chelsea when they face the Blues on Sunday.

The Gunners were hammered 6-0 by Jose Mourinho's side in their clash at Stamford Bridge last season, and the 21-year-old is adamant his side have to perform better in big games this campaign.

Oxlade-Chamberlain told reporters: "We do understand what happened there last season. Maybe we have got a point to prove there, we know this year we have got to step up in the big games and get some results in them.

"We're really looking forward to that game and I definitely think we can go there with confidence.

"We give Chelsea the respect they deserve – but, at the same time, I have belief in my team-mates and we believe in ourselves to be able to go to a place like Chelsea and set the tempo and hopefully take control of the game."

Arsenal are currently fourth in the Premier League with 10 points from their six matches.
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Eden Hazard rules out Paris Saint-Germain move

Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has ruled out a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

The 23-year-old has been linked with a switch to the Ligue 1 champions, but he insists that if he was to return to France then it would be to rejoin former club Lille.

"When I left Lille, I wanted to leave France, so I couldn't have signed for PSG," he told Canal+.

"Every year I'm the priority of PSG. But I'm Chelsea and this is where I want to grow. This is the most important.

"Never say never, but if I came back to Ligue 1, it would be with Lille, the team I support and I still love."

Hazard has scored 31 goals for Chelsea since his move to the club in 2012.
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Jeremy Mathieu: 'Paris Saint-Germain not the same without Zlatan Ibrahimovic'

Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has claimed that Paris Saint-Germain are not the same side without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The two clubs meet in Paris in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, with Ibrahimovic a doubt after a recent foot problem.

"They're a very talented team," Mathieu is quoted as saying by RMC.

"But when Ibra is out, the team is not the same without him. But we have to concentrate 100%."

Ibrahimovic scored 22 goals for Barcelona in just over a year with the club.
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Manuel Pellegrini targets victory against Roma

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has said that it is vital his team beat Roma in their Champions League match on Wednesday evening.

The Citizens were defeated by Bayern Munich in their opening group match and Pellegrini admits that they cannot afford to drop any points at home.

"It's a crucial game because Roma won their first match and we lost, so it's important at home to win our first three points," The Guardian quotes Pellegrini as saying.

"It will be a very tough group and we cannot drop points here at home. It's very important for us to win that game.

"I hope that the team will play the same way as we have this week. I'm very happy with all the performances, against Chelsea, against Sheffield Wednesday and on Saturday. I hope we can continue to stay in the same way."

City reached the knockout stages of the Champions League last season, where they were beaten by Real Madrid in the last 16.
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David Silva: 'There's more to come from Manchester City'

Manchester City midfielder David Silva has insisted that he and his teammates can improve as they try to chase down Chelsea in the Premier League.

Jose Mourinho's side currently sit at the top of the table, five points ahead of City, who won their second league title last season.

The North-West outfit had a three-game winless run in the league prior to Saturday's 4-2 victory over Hull City at the KC Stadium.

"There is still more to come from us, I think," the Daily Star quotes Silva as saying. "We are not quite at the level we reached last year, when we were better, but with every game that goes we are getting better and better and closer to our very best.

"We have to keep going forward because we have a good team and a great squad, with lots of good players."

Manuel Pellegrini's side now turn their attention to the Champions League as they prepare to take on Roma on Tuesday.
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Roberto Martinez: 'Liverpool have not replaced Luis Suarez'

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has claimed that Liverpool have failed to replace Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan scored 31 goals for the Reds last season, before completing a £75m move to Barcelona in July.

Liverpool have struggled in his absence and have lost three of their opening six Premier League matches.

"Well, it is easy to say. Obviously Luis Suarez was a player on form," The Express quotes Martinez as saying.

"The difference back then was everyone knew what Liverpool was: very dynamic and any time you left yourself two versus one against Suarez you were in trouble.

"That is not there anymore and that is a big difference. He was on form and was a big player at the club. I am sure that a player will emerge in the new squad."

Martinez's Everton side came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Liverpool in their league match on Saturday.
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Arsene Wenger praises "remarkable" Calum Chambers

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that Calum Chambers has been "remarkable" since his move to the club.

The 19-year-old joined the Gunners from Southampton in July and has appeared in all six of their Premier League matches this season.

"He has been remarkable in every position," Wenger told the club's official website. "He has an unbelievable engine. He goes and goes. It's not often that you see that quality.

"His yellow card was very harsh and the one against Aston Villa was very harsh as well. I've told him to be keen and committed and I think he had a good game overall.

"I'd consider playing him in midfield but I don't know about Wednesday [against Galatasaray] because I only have four defenders at the moment."

Chambers won his first cap for England during the country's 1-0 win against Norway earlier this month.
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Tottenham Hotspur's Mauricio Pochettino denies 'problems' with Jan Vertonghen

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has rejected suggestions that he has a strained relationship with defender Jan Vertonghen.

Rumours over a potential rift intensified when the Belgium international revealed last week that he will not sign a new contract at White Hart Lane.

According to London 24, when asked if there are any issues with Vertonghen, Pochettino said: "No, no, no. Maybe because I pick players in different games but any problem with Jan, this is wrong.

"We have a lot of games ahead and need to see and analyse the performance and analyse the situation after the game, maybe tired, maybe some problem, and after you need to manage. We have a strong squad and this is important."

Despite deciding against signing fresh terms, Vertonghen has insisted that he is happy at the North London club.
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Jordan Henderson: 'Steven Gerrard still one of the best'

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson has claimed that Steven Gerrard is still one of the best players in the country.

The 34-year-old has been criticised for his displays in the early weeks of the season, but he was inspirational for his side in their 1-1 draw against Everton this weekend.

"Stevie's still one of the best players in the Premier League," the Daily Mail quotes him as saying.

"There's no doubting his quality. A lot of teams have been putting someone to man-mark him, which shows just how good he is.

"I don't think he deserves any criticism. He's been the best player this league's probably seen in a long time and still is."

Gerrard has scored three goals in seven appearances for Liverpool this season.
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Jose Mourinho: 'Eden Hazard didn't have a good performance against Villa'

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has insisted that he is not "too worried" about Eden Hazard's form after the playmaker failed to put in a "good performance" against Aston Villa.

The Blues continued their unbeaten Premier League run by securing a 3-0 victory over Villa, courtesy of goals from Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian.

Despite the win, Mourinho has singled out Hazard by claiming that it was "not his day" at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

"Eden Hazard started the season well, played good matches but had an isolated not good performance," Mourinho told the club's official website. "But no dramas and I'm not too worried about it. It was not his day."

Chelsea have a three-point lead at the top of the league table after six matches.
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Ryan Bertrand: 'Chelsea haven't been honest with me'

Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand has claimed that his parent club Chelsea have not always been honest with him about his future.

The 25-year-old has been loaned out to seven different clubs during his time with the Blues as he joined the Saints on a season-long loan deal in August.

Bertrand feels that the writing was on the wall at Stamford Bridge when he was sent to Aston Villa last season after playing 38 times for the club in the 2012-13 campaign.

He told reporters: "The situation became clear to me before I went on loan to Aston Villa. I was getting those 15, 20, 25, 30-plus games a season, until I hit a stumbling block.

"That's when the alarm bells rang. Before that, I had a chance to move from the club, but I was advised that I didn't need to do that.

"It all unravelled in front of my eyes, and certain things didn't make sense in terms of what certain people had said to me. All I ask for is honesty, and I didn't get that."

Bertrand has admitted that he feels comfortable at the Saints after notching his first goal for the club in their 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers.

"I wanted to be in a situation where the club is looking for the same things. In a way, me as a person and Southampton as a football club are quite similar. We're both striving to do great things."

Southampton are currently second in the Premier League with 13 points from their six matches.
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Jamie Redknapp: 'Steven Gerrard not the cause of Liverpool's struggles'

Jamie Redknapp has insisted that Steven Gerrard's performances are not the reason for Liverpool's struggles this season.

The 34-year-old has been criticised for his below-par start to the campaign, but he produced an excellent display in the Merseyside derby although it wasn't enough to earn his side three points against Everton.

Redknapp feels that people questioning the Liverpool skipper's form are being "ridiculous" and is adamant that their problems are elsewhere in the team.

He wrote in the Daily Mail: "I had to laugh this week when people started writing Steven Gerrard off. Liverpool have a few bad results and all of a sudden it's his fault? Don't be ridiculous.

"Gerrard has bailed his team out so many times and if there is a better player who can do that job for Liverpool then I've yet to see him. Yes, he will need to be rested at times but there's a big difference between being rested and being dropped.

"Liverpool have lost Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge has been injured, so there are reasons why they are struggling. But it's so easy to jump on the bandwagon and say people are finished. It's just lazy."

Brendan Rodgers's side are 12th in the Premier League after six matches this season.
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West Ham United's Diafra Sakho 'could face FA charge for Luke Shaw headbutt'

West Ham United forward Diafra Sakho is reportedly in danger of being charged by the Football Association following an alleged headbutt on Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw.

The incident is believed to have occurred during the Red Devils' 2-1 victory over the Hammers at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Shaw, who was left with a black eye, could be seen complaining to assistant referee Andrew Garrett, but neither he nor the match official Lee Mason are believed to have seen the incident.

According to The Guardian, while Shaw decided against publicly speaking about the alleged headbutt, the England international is said to be upset with his opponent's actions.

The FA could take retrospective action once they have received Mason's report this morning.
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Mauricio Pochettino hails "unbelievable" Hugo Lloris

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has claimed that Hugo Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

The Frenchman has won praise for his displays at the club and made an outstanding save to deny Per Mertesacker during Saturday's 1-1 draw against North London rivals Arsenal.

"I think he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, not just the Premier League. He is unbelievable," The Mirror quotes Pochettino as saying.

"[Manuel] Neuer, [Wojciech] Szczesny... I think there's a lot of good keepers. But Lloris is one of them.

"It was an amazing save that he made from Mertesacker. From my position [on the touchline] it was an unbelievable save. On TV it looks even better."

Lloris is in his third season at Spurs, having joined the club in 2012 from Lyon.
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Arsene Wenger admits set piece concerns

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that he is concerned by his side's inability to score from set pieces.

The Gunners have not found the net from a corner this season and saw a number of efforts go to waste during their 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

"It's a concern," Wenger told the club's official website. "We have lots of room for improvement and we need to do that quickly.

"If you go anywhere in the world and have 15 corners against you, you will concede because they should be so difficult to defend.

"I have a lot of talent at my disposal but Tottenham are a very tall side. Players like Jan Vertongen and Younes Kaboul are very tall and they defended well."

Arsenal are back in action when they host Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.
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Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: 'Wayne Rooney doesn't need to change'

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has insisted that there is nothing in Wayne Rooney's game that the forward has to "change".

The England international, who was appointed United captain in the summer, has apologised for getting sent off in Saturday's 2-1 victory over West Ham United at Old Trafford.

The 28-year-old was given a straight red card for a high and late challenge on Stewart Downing, and as a result will miss the next three matches.

"For me, he doesn't have to change," the Daily Star quotes Van Gaal as saying. "He just needed to do it in a more friendly manner.

"He said that to me afterwards. That the challenge was more unfriendly and that was maybe his biggest error because I think he did it at the right time.

"Three games is a big miss, especially as I am thinking now he is playing at a good standard in his new role. And he likes to play there. And when he gets three matches it means also that my captain is away. He is a very important person, especially in my vision because not for nothing is he captain of this team."

Saturday's result was United's second Premier League win in six games.
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Nicolas Otamendi to cost Manchester United £40m

Manchester United have reportedly been informed by Valencia that centre-back Nicolas Otamendi will not be allowed to leave the Mestalla for anything less than £40m.

The Argentine has recently been linked with a switch to Old Trafford, with Louis van Gaal thought to be eager to boost his defensive options during the January transfer window.

However, due to the fact that the 26-year-old only arrived at Valencia from Porto during the summer, Los Che have have insisted that United would have to part with the defender's buyout clause to secure his services, according to The Mirror.

Otamendi has made five appearances this season for Valencia, who are currently top of La Liga.
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Daley Blind: 'Van Gaal specialist at building teams'

Manchester United's Dutch midfielder Daley Blind has praised manager Louis van Gaal ability to build teams, saying his fellow countryman is a "specialist".

The 24-year-old completed his move to the Red Devils earlier this summer revealing Van Gaal was a major factor in his decision to come.

Although United have failed to get off to a positive start, Blind believes Van Gaal is the man to take things forward.

"Van Gaal is a specialist at building a team, not only on the field, also outside the pitch. His quality is to create a real collective to win games," the midfielder said, according to Goal.com.

United face West Ham at Old Trafford on Saturday, as the former Premier League champions sit in 12th position after only securing five points from a possible 15.
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Luis Enrique: 'We won't be predictable'

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique reveals that his side won't be predictable when the face Granada this weekend.

Malaga ended the Catalan's 100% winning record in the La Liga this season after they were held to a goalless draw on Wednesday evening.

Enrique's side even failed to register a single shot on target for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

"My job is to improve the performance of the team game by game," the Spaniard said, according to Goal.com.

"If we can't solve certain problems, my job has to focus on finding a solution.

"We'll try not to be predictable but, with the exception of Athletic (Bilbao), who tried to put pressure on us, all of our opponents have tried to do the same thing against us this season: fall back into their own half and defend staunchly."

Enrique's side will be looking to get back to winning ways as they face Granada on Saturday.
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GOAL ZONE 'Predict'.......

English Premier League 
12:45 Liverpool W-L (U4.5) Everton
15:00 Chelsea W-L (U4.5) Aston Villa
15:00 Crystal Palace D-D(U2.5) Leicester City
15:00 Hull City L-W (O2.5) Manchester City
15:00 Manchester United W-L (O2.5) West Ham United
15:00 Southampton W-L (O2.5) Queens Park Rangers
15:00 Sunderland L-W (O2.5) Swansea City
17:30 Arsenal L-W (O2.5)Tottenham Hotspur

Italian Serie A
17:00 Roma D-D (U4.5) Hellas Verona
19:45 Atalanta W-L (U4.5) Juventus

Spanish La Liga
15:00 Villarreal L-W (O4.5) Real Madrid
17:00 Barcelona W-L (O2.5)Granada
19:00 Atletico Madrid D-D (U4.5) Sevilla
21:00 Athletic Bilbao W-L (O2.5) Eibar
21:00 Levante D-D (U2.5) Rayo Vallecano

German Bundesliga
14:30 FC Cologne W-L (U4.5) Bayern Munich
14:30 Freiburg        L-W (O2.5) Bayer Leverkusen
14:30 Paderborn L-W (O4.5) Borussia Monchengladbach
14:30 Schalke 04     L-W (O2.5) Borussia Dortmund
14:30 VfB Stuttgart W-L (U4.5) Hannover 96
17:30 Wolfsburg D-D (O2.5) Werder Bremen

French Ligue 1
13:00 Monaco W-L (U2.5) Nice
16:00 Toulouse L-W (U4.5) Paris Saint Germain
19:00 Lille W-L (O2.5) Bastia
19:00 Lorient    L-W (2.5) Evian Thonon Gaillard
19:00 Metz D-D (U4.5) Reims
19:00 Montpellier W-L (O2.5) Guingamp

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Louis van Gaal replaces Manchester United fitness coach

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has reportedly relieved fitness coach Tony Strudwick of his duties with the first team.

On several occasions this season, Van Gaal has bemoaned the amount of injuries to senior players that he has had to contend with when selecting his starting lineup.

However, there is no suggestion that Van Gaal was disappointed in Strudwick's work, more that Van Gaal is eager to work alongside somebody that he is familiar with, according to the Daily Mail.

It is believed that Van Gaal has since appointed Jos van Dijk to the role, having recently worked with his fellow Dutchman with the national side.

The report added that Strudwick, 42, will remain at the club.
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Liverpool VS Everton Preview

It is 15 years to the day since Everton last won at Anfield but the omen will be meaningless unless their vulnerable defending improves quickly. An open, error-prone opponent is just what Liverpool need as they look to rediscover last season’s form but much will depend on Daniel Sturridge’s fitness and Raheem Sterling’s energy levels after his 120-minute outing against Middlesbrough on Tuesday. The 223rd Merseyside derby is one neither team can afford to lose.
Kick-off Saturday 12.45pm
Venue Anfield
Last season Liverpool 4 Everton 0Liverpoo
Referee M Atkinson
This season G4, Y18, R0, 4.50 cards per game
Odds H 10-11 A 10-3 D 11-4
Liverpool v Everton
Liverpool v Everton: probable starters in bold, contenders in light.

Liverpool

Subs from Jones, Johnson, Markovic, Coutinho, Sakho, José Enrique, Touré, Lambert, Lucas, Suso, Borini, Yesil
Doubtful Coutinho (groin), Henderson (hip), Johnson (thigh), Sturridge (thigh)
Injured Allen (knee, 4 Oct), Can (ankle, 19 Oct), Flanagan (knee, Dec)
Suspended None
Form WLWLL
Discipline Y8 R0
Leading scorer Sterling 3

Everton

Subs from Robles, Distin, Pienaar, Atsu, Hibbert, Alcaraz, Koné, Oviedo, Garbutt, Osman, Besic, Gibson, Eto’o, McAleny, Browning, Long
Doubtful Coleman (head), Koné (match fitness), Pienaar (groin)
Injured Barkley (knee, 18 Oct)
Suspended None
Form DDLWL
Discipline Y6 R0
Leading scorer Naismith 3
Read More »

FC Koln vs. Bayern Munich Preview

Bayern Munich will take an undefeated record into their Bundesliga clash with FC Koln this weekend.

The German champions thrashed SC Paderborn 4-0 to return to the top of the table earlier this week, leaving them with three wins from their opening five matches of the season.

Franck Ribery's availability for the clash is in doubt after he missed their outing earlier in the week with a knee injury that he sustained earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Koln are without a win or a goal in their last three outings in Germany's top flight, leaving them ninth in the table.

The team suffered their first defeat of the season in their last match, losing 1-0 to Hannover on Wednesday.

The side have reported no new injuries following that defeat, although Peter Stoger may make changes in a bid to end his side's goal drought.

Recent form

Koln: WDWDW

Bayern: WDWDW

Possible starting lineups

Koln: Horn, Brecko, Maroh, Hector, Wimmer, Vogt, Risse, Zoller, Halfar, Lehmann, Osako

Bayern: Neuer, Dante, Boateng, Rode, Alaba, Alonso, Robben, Gotze, Lahm, Muller, Lewandowski

Kick Off Time - 14:00HRS
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Toulouse vs. Paris Saint-Germain Preview

Paris Saint-Germain will have the chance to move level on points with Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 for 24 hours at least when they take on Toulouse on Saturday.

The champions currently sit three points behind the league leaders, who are not in action until they host Saint-Etienne on Sunday night.

PSG go into the game still unbeaten in all competitions this season, although four draws from their opening seven league matches is not exactly the form that they would have been hoping for.

They returned to winning ways on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Caen, ending a run of three consecutive draws in all competitions.

That result came despite the absence of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who missed the match with a heel injury and remains a doubt for this weekend.

Ezequiel Lavezzi also has question marks over his fitness, while Thiago Silva is still sidelined through injury. Marquinhos will fill in for his compatriot once again having netted the second goal in the win over Caen.

Jean Christophe Bahebeck is likely to replace Lavezzi having come on in the 13th minute on Wednesday, meaning that Edinson Cavani should once again be handed his favoured central role up front.

Toulouse, meanwhile, have struggled to find any sort of consistency so far this season, winning three, drawing one and losing three of their opening seven matches.

However, they do come into this match on the back of an impressive 3-0 victory over Rennes, and also boast an extra day of recovery time having played on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

A shock victory this weekend would see them string back-to-back wins together for the first time since March, when Rennes were also amongst their victims.

Alain Casanova will be happy to have his side back in the Stadium Municipal, having not been beaten there for six matches stretching back to the last campaign.

The hosts will be without Martin Braithwaite, William Matheus and Uro Spaji through injury, while Etienne Didot is also a doubt having been withdrawn after half an hour of the win over Rennes.

Recent form

Toulouse: WDLWLW

PSG: WDDDWD

Possible starting lineups

Toulouse: Boucher; Veskovac, Grigore, Moubandje; Tisserand, Regattin, Doumbia, Akpa Akpro, Aguilar; Ben Yedder, Pesic

PSG: Sirigu; Van Der Wiel; Marquinhos, Luiz, Maxwell; Pastore, Motta, Cabaye; Lucas, Cavani, Bahebeck

Kick Off Time - 16:00HRS

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Roma vs. Hellas Verona Preview

Roma will be looking to maintain their 100% in Serie A this season when they host Hellas Verona in the Italian league on Saturday.

The team are second in the table, only behind Juventus on goal difference, but needed a late goal to secure a 2-1 win over Parma last time out.

The hosts will be without several of their first-team players, including Daniele de Rossi, who will miss a couple of weeks with a calf injury, joining Juan Iturbe and Davide Astori on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Verona have been in strong form so far this season, sitting fourth in the table after an unbeaten start to the campaign.

The team had to come from behind in their last match though, sharing a 2-2 draw with Genoa in their midweek outing.

Verona have no fresh injury concerns heading into the match, but Emil Hallfredsson and Jacopo Sala are still expected to be absent.

Recent form

Roma: WWWW

Verona: DWWD

Possible starting lineups

Roma: De Sanctis, Yanga-Mbiwa, Cholebas, Torosidis, Manolas, Nainggolan, Pjanic, Keita, Ljajic, Destro, Gervinho

Verona: Gollini, Marquez, Moras, Marques, Agostini, Martic, Ionita, Campanharo, Tachtsidis, Saviola, Toni

Kick Off Time - 17:00HRS

Read More »

Atalanta vs. Juventus Preview

Juventus will be hoping to maintain their early lead in Serie A when they face Atalanta in the Italian top flight this weekend.

The defending champions have won all four of their matches so far this season, including a 3-0 win over Cesena earlier this week.

The Turin side welcomed back Arturo Vidal from a knee injury in their last match, and will be hoping that the Chilean playmaker will be involved again in this match.

Meanwhile, Atalanta will be hoping to bounce back from defeats in their last two league outings.

A 2-0 defeat to Inter Milan earlier this week has left the club 11th in the table, just a point above the relegation places.

The visitors have a number of players carrying knocks, but have reported no fresh concerns following their midweek match.

Recent form

Atalanta: DWLL

Juventus: WWWW

Possible starting lineups

Atalanta: Sportiello, Zappacosta, Benalouane, Cherubin, Drame, D'Alessandro, Carmona, estigarribia, Cigarini, Bianchi, Moralez

Juventus: De Sanctis, Yanga-Mbiwa, Cholevas, Torosidis, Monalas, Nainggolan, Pjanic, Keita, Ljajic, Totti, Gervinho

Kick Off Time - 19:45HRS
Read More »

West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian relishing Old Trafford return

West ham United goalkeeper Adrian has spoken of his love for Old Trafford as The Hammers prepare for their Premier League clash away to Manchester United.

Adrian made his West Ham debut at Old Trafford as he shipped three goals in a 3-1 defeat in December 2013, though the shot-stopper believes his side were unlucky on the day.

"Going back to Old Trafford is very nice for me because I made my Premier League debut there last season," he told the club's official website. "We were unlucky to lose, but this year we go there with a different mindset because we achieved a big win last Saturday.

"I have a lot of confidence in my team-mates and I think we can put in a great performance and get some points there.

"Apart from Southampton, when we played a bad game, our performances in the rest of the matches have been very good - strong in defence and lots of chances to score in attack. We need keep up this performance level at Old Trafford."

West Ham face United later today.
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Kevin Mirallas: 'Everton can beat Liverpool'

Everton winger Kevin Mirallas believes that side can beat Liverpool in today's Merseyside derby.

The two city rivals will go head to head for the 221st time at Anfield, and Mirallas has claimed that the amount of changes made by the Reds over the summer will work in his team's favour.

"Liverpool are totally different this season, they have a lot of new players," the Daily Star quotes him as saying. "They lost [Luis] Suarez, who was the big player for them last season.

"It is different for them now - just as it is for us, but we are confident. I think we can beat them this time for sure.

"I think I tell you they're different, like I say, with a lot of new players, and I know myself how hard it is when you go to a new country. We have the same players, the same squad, and we are getting better. Players need time when you go to a new club."

Everton are currently 14th in the Premier League table.
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Jamie Carragher: "Suarez has been replaced with backing singers"

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has questioned his former side's summer spending, claiming that the team "no longer looks right" without talismanic striker Luis Suarez.

The ex-Reds defender has also criticised the amount of money spent on Dejan Lovren, the man seen by many as his long-term replacement.

"No matter how brave a face you try to put on the situation, you cannot under-estimate how damaging it is to lose part of the spine of your team. You know you are losing a world-class talent and the team no longer looks right.

"Our problem in 2009 was the fact Alonso's replacement, Alberto Aquilani, arrived injured and struggled to make an impact. This year Rodgers has seen his band's lead singer move on and, so far, it seems as if Suarez has been replaced with backing singers.

"I know it's early days but, when you have spent £38m on defenders like Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, you don't want to be hearing about settling in. You want instant results but Liverpool are shipping goals."

Lovren has insisted that he is ready for his first Merseyside derby this afternoon.
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Adam Lallana looking for victory over boyhood club

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is hopeful that he and his teammates can continue Everton's 15-year winless run at Anfield, despite his past allegiance to the Toffees.

The 26-year-old has admitted that he supported Everton growing up, but has revealed he put his passion for the club diminished when he became a professional at Southampton, and is now determined to beat them in their Merseyside derby clash.

Lallana told reporters: "I know Everton have not won at Anfield for 15 years and hopefully we can keep that intact and go on and get the win we need this time too. If we do, then Dad's a bit like me, a fan but not ultra, ultra passionate, and the rest of the family were delighted when I joined Liverpool.

"They all come to most of the games so they will be here on Saturday, some friends as well – and no one in the away end!

"Playing for Southampton for so many years, supporting them became less and less. I would always look for the result – you always support a team when you're growing up I suppose."

Liverpool face Everton in their Premier League matchup later today.
Read More »

Alan Pardew backs Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has backed his captain Fabricio Coloccini to help turn his side's season around.

The Magpies currently sit bottom of the Premier League and have won only one of their last 13 league games, but Pardew believes Coloccini's performance in their 3-2 League Cup win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday will act as an example to other players.

"I thought the character was emphasised by the captain, who was in a different league to every other player on the pitch in his position," Pardew is quoted as saying by Soccerway. "That was the example we needed."

"What we say is the Premier League is more important (than the League Cup) and I don't think any Premier League manager would disagree with that. But it's a competition we want to do well in for our fans.

"We want to win every game whatever the team we put out."

Pardew remains under pressure in the Newcaslte hot-seat, with owner Mike Ashley supposedly telling reporters that he will be sacked if he loses at Stoke City on Monday night.
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Sunderland's Billy Jones: 'Next two games are crucial'

Sunderland defender Billy Jones believes that his side face a crucial two weeks in their Premier League campaign at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats have back-to-back home matches against Swansea City and Stoke City as they look to register their first win of the season in the top-flight.

Jones told the club's official website: "We know it is a massive couple of weeks with back-to-back home games and you need to take advantage of that.

"The support is going to be there and we know the fans will be right behind us, so hopefully we can give them back-to-back wins, because if you do that in the Barclays Premier League you will soon move up that table."

Sunderland are 17th in the Premier League with four points from their opening five matches.
Read More »

Adam Lallana looking for victory over boyhood club

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is hopeful that he and his teammates can continue Everton's 15-year winless run at Anfield, despite his past allegiance to the Toffees.

The 26-year-old has admitted that he supported Everton growing up, but has revealed he put his passion for the club diminished when he became a professional at Southampton, and is now determined to beat them in their Merseyside derby clash.

Lallana told reporters: "I know Everton have not won at Anfield for 15 years and hopefully we can keep that intact and go on and get the win we need this time too. If we do, then Dad's a bit like me, a fan but not ultra, ultra passionate, and the rest of the family were delighted when I joined Liverpool.

"They all come to most of the games so they will be here on Saturday, some friends as well – and no one in the away end!

"Playing for Southampton for so many years, supporting them became less and less. I would always look for the result – you always support a team when you're growing up I suppose."

Liverpool face Everton in their Premier League matchup later today.
Read More »

Manchester City's Manuel Pellegrini: 'We cannot afford to drop more points'

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has insisted that his team need to get back to winning ways when they take on Hull City at the KC Stadium tomorrow.

The Premier League champions have failed to win their last three league fixtures following a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City and draws against Arsenal and Chelsea.

"We went four games without a win until Wednesday (in the Capital One Cup) and although we have not played badly we need to start winning games regularly now, especially at Hull because we cannot drop more points," Pellegrini said in today's press conference.

"For every team, it is not good to drop points at the beginning because you know at the end of the season the title is probably going to be decided by just one point. But I'm not worried about our form."

City are currently sixth in the league table, five points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
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Andre Schurrle out for Aston Villa payback

Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle has admitted that he and his teammates are looking for payback against Aston Villa in their Premier League clash on Saturday.

The Villans defeated Jose Mourinho's side last season in a 1-0 victory at Villa Park which dented the club's title hopes, while Willian and Ramires were also red carded on a miserable night for the Blues.

Schurrle has revealed that memories of that game have made the team determined to take all three points against Paul Lambert's side at Stamford Bridge.

He told The Mirror: "We owe them one. We want to win and to put on a great performance in front of our fans. It will be difficult, but we have to. We want to win the league, so we have to keep this killer instinct up.

"We've a big squad, with many players who can score goals, who can come in fresh so we can rotate a lot. This is a big plus for us because all of our players can play from the start and can kill games."

Chelsea are currently top of the Premier League after five matches this season.
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Mauricio Pochettino: 'We have to outbattle Arsenal'

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that his players must embrace the occasion when they face Arsenal in the North London derby later today.

The 42-year-old will be managing in the fixture for the first time, and he feels that his side have to be willing to put everything on the line to get a positive result for their supporters at the Emirates Stadium.

Pochettino told Sky Sports News: "Playing Arsenal is not another game - it's impossible to think it is. I know the feeling of our supporters and we need to relay this feeling on the pitch.

"It's our responsibility to fight for every ball. Our supporters expect that of us. If we do then the result may arrive for us. I'm stronger with hostile situations. It's not strange for me. I like it."

Tottenham are currently ninth in the Premier League after five matches this season.
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Jamie Redknapp: 'Tottenham Hotspur are well behind Arsenal'

Jamie Redknapp believes that Tottenham Hotspur's recent activity in the transfer market has put them well behind North London rivals Arsenal.

Gareth Bale was sold by Spurs last season for £80m to Real Madrid, and the club reinvested the cash in deals for Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and Christian Eriksen, with only the Denmark international proving to be a hit in the Premier League so far.

Redknapp feels that the club's approach towards team building needs to be altered if they are to become a top-four side.

He told Sky Sports News: "A few seasons ago Tottenham had closed the gap on Arsenal – but now they're further away than they have been in a long time.

"Spurs are miles away from being a top four team now and that's down to their transfer policy. The club haven't spent their money with a great thought-process.

"The director of football, Franco Baldini, has brought a lot of players in but you can't just throw them together and expect it to work, you need a system. Spurs need to re-think their structure and how they sign players."

Spurs face Arsenal in the North London derby later today at the Emirates Stadium.
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Arsene Wenger: 'Aaron Ramsey is back to his best'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back to his best.

The Welshman scored 16 goals for the Gunners last season and struck the winner in the FA Cup final.

His impressive form has raised expectations at the Emirates and Wenger believes that he has struggled under the pressure.

"He is back now," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "He had a little moment when he was not at his best but that can happen. I am fully confident that he is back.

"He always wants to play. He has a terrific engine and on the pitch he never hides, so when he sometimes makes a mistake it is [noticeable] - but if you look at his overall contribution to the team, it is always fantastic.

"Yes sometimes [he may have been trying too hard]. I believe he felt a bit more pressure to score. You always have to come back to basics. What is my job? Midfielder, win the ball and give a good pass."

Arsenal face North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League tomorrow evening.
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Andre Schurrle rules out Chelsea exit

Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle has said that he is confident of a successful future with the club.

The German international joined the Blues last summer from Bayer Leverkusen, but failed to nail down a regular starting place in Jose Mourinho's side.

He had been linked with a move away from the club in recent months, but he has claimed that an exit from Stamford Bridge was never in question.

"Mourinho has given me this feeling that I would be a big part of the team. He plans with me and he wants me in this team and he wants to play me," The Mirror quotes him as saying.

"That's why I want to stay at this club. Everything here is good for me. I have the pressure to perform, I have the pressure to do well in training.

"I have the great fans that all support me here and so there was no question for me that I would leave this club in the summer. I just want to take the chances I get, improve my game, improve myself and we'll see what happens."

Schurrle has scored two goals in three Premier League appearances this season.
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Danny Rose confused by Tottenham Hotspur inconsistency

Danny Rose has admitted that he is at a loss to explain Tottenham Hotspur's early-season inconsistency.

Spurs enjoyed a fine start to the Premier League campaign after following up their opening-day win over West Ham United by thrashing Queens Park Rangers 4-0.

However, Mauricio Pochettino's side were given a "reality check" after losing 3-0 to Liverpool prior to the international break and have yet to win a league game since.

He told TalkSport: "We went to West Ham on the opening day of the season and won with ten men so we started to look up. We then played QPR in our second game and played brilliantly and won 4-0. Everyone was buzzing. Then we had our first real test of the season playing Liverpool and we got beaten 3-0 at home. It's been up and down.

"We don't know how good we are or how good we can be but the last two results against Sunderland and West Brom have been very disappointing. They were two games we felt we should be winning, especially the Sunderland game, so it's confusing at the minute. We should be doing a lot better than we have done recently.

"After the QPR game I thought, 'wow, we're a really good team and we might have half a chance of doing something this season', but then we played Liverpool and it was a huge reality check for myself. I stood back and thought there is still a lot of work to be done for myself and the team."

The Lilywhites renew hostilities with Arsenal in tomorrow evening's North London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
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Manchester City suffer Samir Nasri injury blow

Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri could face a month out on the sidelines if he has to undergo surgery on a groin injury.

The Frenchman has struggled in recent weeks and his manager Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that surgery was the recommended option to cure the problem.

"It's serious because maybe he will have surgery in the next days. I'm not a doctor but I think he will be out for around one month," Sky Sports News quotes Pellegrini as saying.

"He was training but he wasn't 100%. He didn't feel comfortable with what he was doing so the doctor decided that was the best option.

"Of course he's a very important player for us and it's not easy for us to play without Samir. But I never give excuses about players that, for different reasons, are not in our squad. We have an important squad."

Nasri has made over 100 appearances for City since joining the club from Arsenal in 2011.
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Louis van Gaal eyes injury improvement from defensive trio

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is hopeful that defenders Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans's injury record will improve during his time at the club.

All three players have had problems with injuries during their time at Old Trafford and will all be missing for United's clash against West Ham United later today.

Van Gaal has admitted that he was aware of the trio's struggles in the past, but is confident that they can remain on the pitch in the future.

"I have been told and now they are confirming that," Van Gaal told reporters.

"But I have good hopes that we shall improve in that matter, because normally I don't have any injuries."

The injuries and a suspension for Tyler Blackett leaves Marcos Rojo as Van Gaal's side's only fit centre-back heading into the match against the Hammers.
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Adriano Galliani praises Keisuke Honda

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has praised Keisuke Honda for his impressive start to the new season.

The Japanese international arrived at the San Siro in January from CSKA Moscow and at first struggled to find his best form.

He has since become an in important part of the setup at the club and has scored three goals in their opening four league matches.

"I have always considered Keisuke very strong," Galliani told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "The information that [Alberto] Zaccheroni gave us was really correct.

"He's an important player who dreamt of Milan and one who Milan had tried to bring here also six months before he arrived. He's a player of great class. The secret of his rebirth? The holidays."

"Six months ago, Keisuke arrived during a very busy period. He never had a chance to take a break. Russia, Milan and Japan - and all without ever taking a breath. This time, although he didn't have much time off after the World Cup, Honda was granted some days of relaxation, and now you're seeing the results. I always thought that he would score a lot."

Milan are next in action when they visit Cesena on Sunday.
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Sam Allardyce delighted with West Ham United response

West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce has revealed that he has been delighted with how his side have performed in the Premier League since the last international break.

The Hammers have drawn against Hull City and beat Liverpool at Upton Park after losing 3-1 to Southampton before the last round of international fixtures.

Allardyce told reporters: "We were off form but Southampton were a good team on the day and every game since. I think we have had the kick up the backside and the lads have responded brilliantly to that disappointing performance.

"We had to wait a long time to put that right - we had to wait 16 days before we played Hull City away after the international break. Players like Enner Valencia and Cheikhou Kouyate played two games in that time so our response has been very good.

"It has been a good reaction. We have looked at the players and changed the system and it looks like they are very adaptable to different ways of playing which is nice for me."

West Ham face Manchester United in their Premier League matchup later today.
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Louis van Gaal: 'Players may have too much information to process'

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has expressed his belief that he may have overloaded his team with too much information at the start of the season.

The Red Devils have altered their formation to the 3-5-2 system for the campaign, which has seen them struggle immensely at the back in their Premier League matches.

The 63-year-old fears that he may have given his players too much to process in too short a time after arriving at the club in July.

"We give [the players] a lot of information and you have to work out that information," Van Gaal told reporters.

"There shall be a moment in the season that this information is not too much. At this moment maybe it is too much for the players.

"It's very difficult because we are starting with a new team and a new relationship between players so that's why it needs time."

United face West Ham United in their Premier League clash later today.
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Mike Ashley to sack Alan Pardew if Newcastle United are beaten by Stoke City

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has said that he will sack manager Alan Pardew if the Magpies lose at Stoke City on Monday night, reports suggest.

The billionaire businessman made the comments while out drinking on Thursday night according to the Independent, supposedlymaking a throat-cutting gesture as he discussed Pardew's future.

"He's got one more game," Ashley is quoted as saying. "If we lose against Stoke on Monday night then he's gone. I have had enough."

"Dead. Finished. Over. One more game then that's it. What would you do? I have spent a lot of money on that club, it's cost me a lot. I won't put up with it any more. Honestly, answer me, what would you do? One more loss and he's gone, he's over, finished."

The comments have been dismissed as being tongue-in-cheek by Ashley's legal team, however, though Pardew is yet to receive a public vote of confidence from his boss.

Newcastle currently sit bottom of the Premier League with just one win in 13 Premier League games.
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Benjamin Stambouli: 'I know Arsenal are the enemy'

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Benjamin Stambouli has insisted that he is aware of the intense rivalry between his side and Arsenal ahead of their Premier League clash later today.

The Frenchman joined Spurs on deadline day from Montpellier, and has admitted that his friendship with compatriot Olivier Giroud has been ended because the striker plays for the Gunners.

"I am learning a lot about north London. It is a very important game against Arsenal," he told reporters.

"I know now that they are the enemy. I used to be friends with Olivier Giroud, but now he is no longer my friend - it is finished.

"A lot of people spoke about Arsenal back home because of all the French players who used to play for them but, now I belong to Tottenham, all I want to do is beat them."

Tottenham are ninth in the Premier League ahead of the North London derby.
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Curtis Davies: 'We have to be flawless'

Hull City defender Curtis Davies is adamant that his side have to be at their best defensively to cope with the threat of Manchester City's attacking players.

The Citizens put in a dominant display in midweek as they put seven goals past Sheffield Wednesday, and Davies has warned his teammates that anything other than a flawless performance will be not good enough against Manuel Pellegrini's side.

He told reporters: "Always, against Manchester City, you have to be at your absolute best. But sometimes even that isn't good enough because of the quality they have.

"We saw it last March, when they came here and won 2-0. We had a good 15 minutes, they got their skipper Vincent Kompany sent off, and we were thinking, 'we might be able to do something.'

"Then up pops David Silva, who whips one into the top corner. They've got that moment of magic in five or six of their players and, when you have that, it's always going to be a worry."

Hull face City in their Premier League clash later today.
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Roberto Martinez: 'We won't alter our approach'

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has insisted that his side will not alter their attacking approach in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool later today.

The Toffees have struggled at the back this season as they have conceded 13 goals in the Premier League in their five matches.

However, Martinez is adamant that he will not alter his philosophy despite his side's poor defensive record to start the campaign.

"No, we'll never change our focus, we always want to win. If you can't win, draw. Fine. But we will never set out a team to try to draw a game or just hope for a win, we can't accept that," he told reporters.

"It doesn't go with the way we want to be as a football club. I don't think it goes with the way the club was in the 60s and the 80s and I don't think that's in my DNA. I'll never compromise on that."

Everton are 14th in the Premier League ahead of the Merseyside derby.
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Carlo Ancelotti blasts Cristiano Ronaldo to Man United rumours as "nonsense"

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has rejected rumours that Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave the Bernabeu for a possible reunion with Manchester United.

The Portugal captain is believed to have become disillusioned with life in Spain after the club allowed Xabi Alonso and Angel di Maria to leave in the summer.

Widespread reports have claimed that Ronaldo would be open to returning to Old Trafford following his departure back in 2009.

However, Ancelotti has insisted that the 29-year-old, who won the Ballon d'Or in January, is "happy" playing for the European champions.

"These are words without meaning." FourFourTwo quotes Ancelotti as saying. "I believe [the] reports are nonsense. Cristiano is happy here, very motivated to be here, and all Madridismo is delighted with him.

"Ronaldo [has] great professionalism, leadership, we must enjoy him and do everything to keep him in this physical and mental condition. Without doubt Ronaldo is the best player in the world. We are lucky he plays for us. We have to enjoy it."

Reports have claimed that it would cost £200m in fees and wages for United to bring Ronaldo back to the Premier League.
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Ramires out for Chelsea against Aston Villa

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Ramires is his side's only injury worry ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa.

The Brazilian midfielder picked up a groin injury during last weekend's 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City and is expected to miss a few more weeks with the problem.

Mourinho confirmed that Ramires would not be available for the Champions League tie with Sporting Lisbon next week, nor would he be fit in time for the London derby against Arsenal next weekend.

However, the Portuguese boss is hopeful of having him back for the match against Crystal Palace after the international break in October.

Mourinho also confirmed that striker Diego Costa, who has already netted seven times since his summer move to the club, will start the match at Stamford Bridge.
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Sam Allardyce expecting Manchester United "backlash"

Sam Allardyce has admitted that he is wary of a response from Manchester United when he takes his West Ham United side to Old Trafford on Saturday.

United were beaten 5-3 away to Leicester City in their last game, and Allardyce admitted that he would be happy to take a point away from the north west.

He told reporters: "They will be pretty down about that performance they gave at Leicester. I'm thinking [it will be] a backlash.I think that because of the determination of the Manchester United players and the fact they are playing at Old Trafford.

"They will be hurting and they know the only way they can put that right is to get out onto the field and punish us for it - so we will have to be careful about that.

"A draw would be great for me. Anything more than a draw would be outstanding as far as I'm concerned."

The Hammers are currently eighth in the Premier League.
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Frank Lampard: 'I was on auto-pilot at Chelsea, I needed to be tested'

Frank Lampard has admitted that he was running on "auto-pilot" by the end of his 13-year spell at Chelsea.

The midfielder opted for a change in his career by joining new MLS franchise New York City FC in the summer.

Before joining up with the American club, the former England international decided to sign for Manchester City on a six-month loan deal.

"I was at Chelsea such a long time that you just go on auto-pilot in the end," ESPN quotes Lampard as saying. "You drive in every day, you know everybody behind the scenes.

"It was a tester for me to be honest. I didn't have to make this decision, but it was a very good opportunity for me to play at this level and train at this level, and it's a personal test to come up to Manchester. I was in very much of a comfort zone at Chelsea. It's good to test yourself in life."

Reports have claimed that City may extend Lampard's loan beyond the January expiration date, but it is believed that New York City expect the midfielder to turn up for pre-season training.
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Everton's James McCarthy determined to get revenge over Liverpool

Everton midfielder James McCarthy has insisted that he and his teammates are determined to get revenge over Liverpool following last season's 4-0 defeat at Anfield.

Roberto Martinez's side will take on their Merseyside rivals tomorrow, with both sides heading into the fixture on the back of Premier League defeats.

"They are our arch-rivals so to go down 4-0 to them sticks with you and makes you determined to make amends," McCarthy told The Telegraph. "That's what we want to happen this weekend.

"We were up there fighting at the time we played them and it was frustrating what happened. We know it was not acceptable and not good enough. We felt we let the club and each and every one of the fans down and we want to put that right."

Everton last won at Anfield 15 years ago.
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