No panic for Tottenham winless run – Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw with champions Leicester City at White Hart Lane on Saturday was their third straight Premier League game without a win, but manager Mauricio Pochettino says that there is no reason to panic.

Spurs, the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this season, are in fifth place, having won five and drawn five of their opening 10 games.

They are three points behind leaders Manchester City and despite three straight draws in the league, Pochettino is maintaining perspective.

“Me, I never panic, not in football. Sometimes I am scared to walk on the street because you never know if there are crazy people out there, but in football never,” he said.

Having scored just three goals in their last five games, Tottenham have sorely missed Harry Kane, but Pochettino said that he would not rush the striker back from injury.

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Walcott trains separately ahead of CL clash

The Gunners forward is nursing a hamstring problem which is likely to keep him out of midweek action, but he should be ready for derby duty against Tottenham

Theo Walcott trained separately from his Arsenal team-mates on Monday as the Gunners ready themselves for midweek Champions League duty against Ludogorets.

The England man is expected to sit out Tuesday’s game in Bulgaria with a minor hamstring problem, having also missed Saturday’s 4-1 Premier League victory over Sunderland.

The 27-year-old is, however, edging closer to full fitness and could be back in contention for Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham.

Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal are still nursing their respective injury problems, though, with both players missing from Arsene Wenger’s final European preparation session.

Balotelli shine as Nice extend lead

Mario Balotelli starred once again as clinical Nice opened up a six-point gap at the top of Ligue 1 with a 4-1 thrashing of Nantes on Sunday.

The maverick forward, back in form after nightmare spells at Liverpool and AC Milan, scored his sixth league goal of the season and was involved in two others as Nice took their unbeaten run since the start of the season to 11 matches.

Wylan Cyprien scored a brace and Alassane Plea also netted while Emiliano Sala replied for the visitors at the Allianz Riviera, as Nice played with panache and incision.

“We deserved to win but we had some difficult moments, particularly early on,” said Nice coach Lucien Favre. Naija and Bet

“Nantes had two good chances and if they had scored at that time, things might have been different.”

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Give Guardiola time and he will make City great

Pep Guardiola is the world’s top manager but needs more time to make Manchester City great, and will have to hope for some luck to beat his former club Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, says the Spanish club’s ex-forward David Villa.

“Guardiola is the best manager in the world but I think it is too early to compare his Barcelona side with Manchester City. We have to give him time because I am sure he will make City a great team,” Villa said

City won their opening six matches in the Premier League this season before slumping to a six-game winless streak in all competitions – the longest of Guardiola’s managerial career. Naija and Bet

They have taken one point from their last two Champions League group games at Celtic and Barca, and need a win against the Spaniards in the return to boost their European hopes.

Barca top group C with nine points ahead of City on four, Borussia Moenchengladbach who have three and Celtic with one.

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Roma hit draw as Milan, Lazio win to move up

Giacomo Bonaventura’s free kick earned Milan a 1-0 win over Pescara to move them into the top three of Serie A on Sunday.

Milan had been second best before the break in the San Siro but the Rossoneri took the lead when Bonaventura was fouled on the edge of the area in the 49th minute by Alexandru Mitrita, picked himself up and then found the net with a low shot.

With second-placed Roma only drawing 0-0 at Empoli, Milan moved to within one point of them and five behind leaders Juventus, who beat Napoli on Saturday.

“It was a precious victory against a very tough opponent,” coach Vincenzo Montella said. Naija and Bet

 “We should have been more clinical and put the match to bed earlier, but I am pleased with the team’s spirit, so well done to the boys.”

It was hardly a convincing performance from Montella’s side, though, and struggling Pescara kept Milan’s precociously talented keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma busy before and after falling behind.

Continue reading “Roma hit draw as Milan, Lazio win to move up”

Moses the perfect wingman for Chelsea – Conte

The 25-year-old Nigerian is discovering his true potential in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation and could be vital if the Blues are to win the Premier League title come May.

Antonio Conte’s decision to introduce Victor Moses into his Chelsea side has proved to be an inspired one. The winger was instrumental in the Blues’ 2-0 win at Southampton on Sunday evening, moving them to within a point of leaders Manchester City in the Premier League table.

Chelsea’s upturn in form since Moses has featured is no coincidence. Since the Nigerian has taken up the right wing-back berth in Conte’s new-found 3-4-3 formation, the Blues have won four from four, beating Hull, Leicester, Manchester United and Southampton, without conceding a goal.

During the Blues’ trip to St Mary’s, Gary Neville made a throwaway comment suggesting keeping clean sheets is down to mentality. Moses went some way to proving the former Manchester United right-back correct. Naija and Bet

Conte’s pronounced actions on the sideline were matched by Moses’s determination to harry the opposition and force them to give up possession. His pace, power and pure athleticism allowed him to stride up and down the right flank and he found success against a narrow Southampton formation.

Continue reading “Moses the perfect wingman for Chelsea – Conte”

Man United might not finish in top four again

Former midfielder believes Jose Mourinho needs to tweak his starting XI in order to push the Red Devils into contention for Champions League spot.

Ex-Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves sees the Red Devils missing out on a top-four finish this season unless they tinker with their starting XI.

Jose Mourinho’s men endured another frustrating afternoon on Saturday as they fired in a record number of shots against Burnley, but finished the game with a share of the spoils in a 0-0 draw.

United have now gone four games without a Premier League win to sit eighth in the top-flight standings – eight points adrift of the leaders, and seven behind Chelsea in fourth. Naijabet

Hargreaves fears his former employers are in danger of being left behind in the battle to secure Champions League qualification unless they address some serious issues.

Continue reading “Man United might not finish in top four again”

Lack of Champions League not an advantage for the Reds – Klopp

The manager insists being out of Europe does not bolster his side’s Premier League chances, with the competition healthy for a squad

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does not feel being absent from European football this season hands his team an advantage in the battle for the Premier League title.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are locked together on 23 points at the summit after 10 matches, having each scored four times in impressive away wins on Saturday.

But while City and Arsenal face Barcelona and Ludogorets during midweek, Liverpool will rest up and be refreshed to unleash their energetic brand of attacking football on Watford next Sunday.

An arduous schedule took Klopp’s men to the finals of the League Cup and Europa League last term, only to suffer defeat in both and the former double-winner with Borussia Dortmund remains a firm believer in the mantra of success breeding success.

“Everyone talks about this [not playing in Europe] but I think 80 to 90 per cent of the time in Europe, the teams becoming champions are in the Champions League,” he said.

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I’m frustrated but not with Emery Verratti

The PSG star reveals his disappointment with recent media reports and discusses some of the difficulties of being a professional footballer

This week, people have said many things about me that are not true – things that have not happened.

Against Marseille last Sunday, I took several kicks in the first half, so it was decided at half-time, along with Unai Emery, that we would take a decision 15 minutes into the second period. We did not want to take any risks because I’ve come through a very difficult period in terms of injuries and the medical staff wanted to be careful with me.

So after 15 minutes in the second half, Emery decided to sub me off… and from that moment, everything I have heard, everything I have read and everything I have seen has been about me and that subject.

It was said that I was angry because with the coach because I did not want to leave the pitch. This is not true. I was frustrated with myself because I wanted to help the team out, and to go off because of a physical problem was unthinkable for me. I’m angry because every time I take a kick I have to go off and it is hard to accept.

With the coach, we saw each other the next day and we couldn’t understand what was happening. We do not understand how we could create such a controversy from that.

Continue reading “I’m frustrated but not with Emery Verratti”

Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world – Messi

The Manchester City striker is at a level to be compared with the likes of Luis Suarez, according to the Ballon d’Or winner

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has backed Sergio Aguero, describing him as one of the world’s best strikers.

The Argentina team-mates will be on opposite sides at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday when Manchester City host Barca in the Champions League.

Aguero was controversially named as a substitute for City’s 4-0 loss at Camp Nou in the reverse fixture earlier this month and has not been an automatic selection under Guardiola.

But Messi, who enjoyed sensational success under the Catalan manager during his Barca tenure, has no doubts over Aguero’s quality, ranking him with the game’s top centre-forwards like club colleague Luis Suarez. 

“Kun is a very simple and easy-going person, a great lad and, as a striker, one of the best. As is Luis [Suarez],” Messi said. 

“They are different but, if you want to look at it like that, either of them can decide a game. They are both very decisive.”

The Argentina captain feels Barca have tweaked their style of play under Luis Enrique, but does not think things are that different from Guardiola’s reign, which came to an end back in 2012. Continue reading “Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world – Messi”

Ronaldo is the right choice to win Ballon d’Or – Ferguson

The former Manchester United manager says that the Portuguese deserves to win a fourth Ballon d’Or after a “wonderful year”

Cristiano Ronaldo is the standout candidate to win the Ballon d’Or, according to Alex Ferguson.

The Real Madrid and Portugal star is the heavy favourite to be crowned the world’s best player in 2016, having been named in the 30-man shortlist for the award along with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and five-time winner Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo has claimed the award on three previous occasions, including once under Ferguson in 2008 during his time at Manchester United.

Ferguson hailed Ronaldo’s achievements in a year that saw him win the Champions League as well as Euro 2016 and cannot think of anyone better to receive top recognition.

“Cristiano’s achievements are unsurpassed, he has had a wonderful year,” Ferguson said. Naija and Bet

“I cannot think of anyone better to lift the Ballon d’Or trophy.

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Lukaku on target as Everton sink West Ham

Ross Barkley’s excellent goal sealed an impressive 2-0 win for Everton over West Ham in their Premier League clash on Sunday ending a four-match winless run in the league.

For Barkley, who had been dropped both from the England squad and the Everton starting line-up this season as his form dipped, it was his first goal since the opening day of the season against Spurs.

Belgian international Romelu Lukaku, who set up 22-year-old Barkley for his goal, had opened the scoring for the hosts with his 50th for the club.

It also maintained his extraordinary record against the Hammers as it was his ninth goal in as many Premier League matches against them since he moved to Everton. Naija and Bet

Everton stay sixth, just five points off the top trio of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. West Ham stay firmly in the bottom half of the table, three points above the relegation places.

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Bayern stars Martinez out of PSV CL clash

Bayern Munich will be without Spain international Javi Martinez for Tuesday’s Champions League clash at PSV Eindhoven, the German giants have confirmed.

The centre-back went off after only 29 minutes of the Bundesliga leaders’ 3-1 win at Ausgburg on Saturday and Bayern confirmed on Sunday that he will miss the Eindhoven clash after injuring his left thigh.

“He didn’t feel good and he felt there was something or other up with the muscle,” said Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“I didn’t want to take a risk.”

No details have been given of how long the 28-year-old Martinez will be out for. Continue reading “Bayern stars Martinez out of PSV CL clash”

Hazard and Costa send out warning

Chelsea’s points tally after 10 games shows they are twice as good as they were at this stage of last season’s Premier League campaign, which considering the form of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa is hardly surprising.

They were both on target on Sunday as Chelsea outclassed Southampton 2-0 to move into fourth spot with 22 points — just one behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

The poor form and questionable appetite of both Costa and Hazard was blamed partly for Chelsea’s dire start to last season that ultimately cost manager Jose Mourinho his job. Naija and Bet

However, the duo who helped fire Chelsea to the 2014-15 title are thriving once again in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system.

Hazard’s opener after six minutes meant he has scored in three consecutive Premier League games and has five for the season. This time last year he had failed to register and did not score his first league goal until April.

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Giroud, Sanchez goals sink Sunderland

Two goals each from Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, three of them delivered in a devastating seven-minute burst, saw Arsenal romp past Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light to go top of the Premier League after Saturday’s early game.

The match turned on the introduction of Giroud as a 69th-minute substitute after a Jermain Defoe penalty had equalised Sanchez’s first-half opener to give the home side a flicker of hope.

Giroud scored with his opening two touches, first with a superb left-foot shot from a Kieran Gibbs cross on 71 minutes and then with a near-post header from a corner five minutes later.

Sanchez scored Arsenal’s third goal in seven minutes from close in when Gibbs’s shot came back off the post. Naija and Bet

The easy victory was no more than Arsenal deserved after enjoying 66 percent possession and spurning several chances to finish the game.

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Eagles not scared of Algeria coach Leekens

Super Eagles goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa has said Algeria’s choice of former manager, Georges Leekens will count for nothing in the World Cup qualifying clash.

Eagles will host the Algerian opposite, Desert Foxes in the group’s 2018 Fifa World Cup matchday 2 clash on November 12 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.

The Belgian was handed a second spell at the North African side on Thursday to replace the ousted Serbia’s Milovan Rajevan.

Ezenwa said the present crop of Eagles want to pick the World Cup ticket with a game to spare in the qualifying campaign.

“Georges Leekens’ appointment as Algerian coach does not scare us and will count for nothing when both sides square up for the matchday 2 clash in Uyo on November 12. Naija and Bet

“The body language and spirit among the players speak volume of side who want to pick the world Cup ticket before the last match.

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Match Preview : Southampton vs Chelsea

Southampton have only suffered one defeat in their last 10 matches and that came in the Europa League away to Serie A giants Inter.

Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat in midweek to West Ham was the first time they’ve failed to win in their four matches. In league competition, Chelsea have failed to concede in their last 320 minutes of action.

Southampton have only won one of their last five home matches against Chelsea and that came way back in 2013.

Claude Puel’s side have the firepower to hurt Chelsea, but getting those chances against this resilient backline may prove difficult.

Team News
Southampton – Ryan Bertrand and Matt Targett are still doubts for Southampton so Sam McQueen could retain his spot at left-back.

I never rejected offer from Emordi at Abia Warriors -Biffo

The tactician has denied rejecting offer to work with the newly appointed veteran coach after helping the Umuahia side retain her topflight status last term.

Abdullahi Biffo says he never rejected an offer to serve as an assistant to newly appointed technical adviser Okey Emordi at the Nigeria Professional Football League side Abia Warriors.

The former Giwa and Niger Tornadoes handler who is currently undergoing a coaching training in the United States had helped the Umuahia outfit from dropping from the top flight last season.

Though admits he is unaware of his new role and undecided over his future, Biffo insists he has no problem working with the newly appointed coach. Naija and Bet

“I am not aware of anything yet until I come back to Nigeria,” Biffo said

“The management [Abia Warriors] has not told me anything on that [assistant coach role]. I never rejected anything because I have never received any offer.

Continue reading “I never rejected offer from Emordi at Abia Warriors -Biffo”

Montella: AC Milan’s strength is in its bench this season

The Rossoneri coach is glad to be able to count on his substitutes and adds that his side are ready to deal with the pressures of being considered Serie A title contenders.

Vincenzo Montella praised AC Milan’s substitutes and is happy to work under greater scrutiny, accepting that “expectations have been raised” by his exciting young side.

Featuring young stars such as Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli and Manuel Locatelli, the Rossoneri have muscled their way into the title picture, the highlight being the 1-0 defeat of Juventus last weekend.

Nevertheless, Montella was keen to highlight the strength in depth he has brought by those not considered automatic starters, despite being brought back down to earth after surrendering 3-0 at Genoa immediately.

Struggling Pescara are next up for Milan on Sunday and Montella says all his players are keen to atone for their midweek horror show and ready to accept the responsibility placed on them to perform.

“We are eager to get back on the pitch and prove ourselves,” Montella told reporters.

Continue reading “Montella: AC Milan’s strength is in its bench this season”

No cause for panic at Man City – Sane

Pressure is mounting on Manchester City to return to winning ways, but the starlet sees no cause for concern while discussing his growth under Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane insists there is no reason to panic over his side’s winless sequence under Pep Guardiola.

The Premier League leaders were knocked out of the EFL Cup by rivals Manchester United on Wednesday, extending their run to six matches in all competitions without a win. Naija and Bet

Sane, however, is confident that results will begin to go in their favour if they can cut out mistakes in defence and rediscover a clinical touch in the attacking third.

“Of course it’s not good to have not won in six games but I don’t think that the way we’re playing is a concern,” he said, as quoted by City’s official website ahead of Saturday’s trip to West Brom.

Continue reading “No cause for panic at Man City – Sane”

Too early for Sevilla’s title talk – Sampaoli

Pressure is mounting on Manchester City to return to winning ways, but the starlet sees no cause for concern while discussing his growth under Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane insists there is no reason to panic over his side’s winless sequence under Pep Guardiola.

The Premier League leaders were knocked out of the EFL Cup by rivals Manchester United on Wednesday, extending their run to six matches in all competitions without a win.

Sane, however, is confident that results will begin to go in their favour if they can cut out mistakes in defence and rediscover a clinical touch in the attacking third.

“Of course it’s not good to have not won in six games but I don’t think that the way we’re playing is a concern,” he said, as quoted by City’s official website ahead of Saturday’s trip to West Brom.

“You can look at certain mistakes we’ve made at the back or not scoring up front but I think we’re playing well overall so there’s no need to panic. It’s important for me to be positive.

Continue reading “Too early for Sevilla’s title talk – Sampaoli”

I don’t know if Arsenal is my future : Wilshere

The injury-hit midfielder left for first-team football at Bournemouth and says he is not sure if he will return to the Gunners at the end of his loan deal.

Jack Wilshere admits that he does not know if he still has a future at Arsenal after a devastating series of injuries has prevented him from fulfilling his potential at the club.

The 24-year-old joined Bournemouth on a year-long loan deal in August and has impressed in his spell on the south coast, having helped Eddie Howe’s side to four wins and two draws in six Premier League games.

A succession of injury problems saw him fall down the pecking order at Emirates Stadium, with manager Arsene Wenger bolstering his midfield with the signings of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka in 2016. Naijabet

And Wilshere, who has a contract with Arsenal until 2018, says he could pursue his career elsewhere as he looks to recapture his best form.

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Cavani on target as PSG sink Lille

A thunderous second-half strike from Edinson Cavani gave Paris Saint Germain a 1-0 win over Lille on Friday as the French champions were made to fight all night.

The result sees Unai Emery’s PSG climb to second on 23 points behind Ligue 1 leaders Nice who have 26 ahead of hosting Nantes on Sunday. Third placed Monaco, on 22 points, travel to St Etienne on Saturday.

It was a real moment of magic from 29-year-old Cavani as the Uruguayan controlled Angel di Maria’s pass with his chest, swivelled and unleashed an unstoppable shot for his 10th league goal of the campaign on 64 minutes. Naija and Bet

The first half was marked by a duel between di Maria and Lille’s Nigerian international goalkeeper Victor Enyeama, who saved twice from close range.

The Argentine also had a 22nd-minute ‘goal’ ruled out for hand ball.

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Mourinho stop Rooney from leaving United

Wayne Rooney will not be allowed to leave Manchester United in the January transfer window despite his frustrations at losing his starting place at Old Trafford and interest from his former club Everton.

Ronald Koeman, in charge at the club Rooney left to join United in the summer of 2004, has become the first Premier League manager to express an interest in signing the England captain should Jose Mourinho be prepared to allow him to leave.

Mourinho stated categorically not only will Rooney, 31, be told to forget leaving but he also expects the experienced veteran to play a key role in his attempts to return United to the top of the English game.

“I know he can still play at the highest level. I know he’s the type of player I need,” said Mourinho.

“He can play at the top level. I can’t say what’s going to happen when he’s 32, 3, 4, 5 but what I can say is that he’s a very good player, a very important player for us. He’s going nowhere.

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Match Preview : Manchester United vs Burnley

Manchester United bounced back from their 4-0 defeat to Chelsea last weekend with a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Wednesday night to advance to the League Cup quarter finals.

They must now turn their attentions to Saturday where they need to beat Burnley to avoid dropping further behind the league leaders, with six points currently between them and Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Burnley pulled off a surprise 2-1 win over Everton last time out, but have lost all three of their away games in the league thus far and have conceded three goals in each of them.

They cannot continue that form away from home and need to change that quickly, although that is easier said than done.

The home side have scored three goals in each of their previous two home meetings with Burnley, which does not bode well for Sean Dyche’s side this weekend. Naija and Bet

However, United have endured a a tough schedule in the last few weeks and fatigue could definitely play a part this weekend.

Continue reading “Match Preview : Manchester United vs Burnley”