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Wenger to leave Arsenal after more than 21 years in charge

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Arsene Wenger is leaving Arsenal after more than 21 years, ending a revolutionary reign that saw him introduce new methods to the Premier League and become the club's most successful manager. While the 68-year-old Frenchman was able to announce his own departure plans on Friday, the tenure of English soccer's longest-serving manager will finish at the end of the season against a backdrop of mounting dissent as the London club's competitiveness in the Premier League has waned. Arsenal has failed to win the Premier League since 2004, but that feat represented the highpoint of Wenger's career as he became only the second manager to go through an English league season unbeaten. The "Invincibles" season, his third Premier League title, helped shield Wenger against the critics. But Wenger's power appeared to drain over the last year as executives trying to shape the future direction of the team were brought in. The new two-year contract that Wenger signed after winning the FA Cup for a record seventh time last May will now not be completed. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season," Wenger said. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever." Even though Arsenal is sixth in the Premier League, there can still be a successful conclusion to the season with the team in contention for the Europa League. Arsenal's appearance in the competition, though, is a sign of the recent demise under Wenger. Arsenal became accustomed to qualifying for the Champions League before missing out for the first time in two decades after finishing fifth last season. Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal's only realistic way of Wenger bequeathing his successor a place next season in the more illustrious Champions League. With Wenger's footprints all over the Emirates Stadium, finding a coach to step into the dugout after a dynastic reign is a challenge. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke only has to look at the problems that have afflicted Manchester United since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after more than 26 years in charge. United is on its third manger since Ferguson left after winning a record-extending 20th English title and has not finished higher than fourth. Among the early contenders to succeed Wenger are two Germans: Thomas Tuchel, who left Borussia Dortmund last year, and Germany coach Joachim Loew. A popular appointment among Arsenal fans could be Patrick Vieira, who has been gaining coaching experience in Major League Soccer at New York City FC. The midfielder was one of Wenger's first signings in 1996 and featured in all three Premier League title-winning sides. Wenger took over in October 1996 as Arsenal's first foreign manager on the back of successes at Monaco and a stint in charge of Japanese club Grampus Eight. He was a relative unknown but quickly gained respect for helping to modernize English soccer in the early years of the Premier League, eradicating Arsenal's drinking culture and introducing new sports science methods. Adding Vieira and French players Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit and Thierry Henry helped to establish Arsenal as an English soccer power until Wenger was shackled by the financial constraints of the move from Highbury into the new Emirates Stadium in 2006. It coincided with the rise of foreign investment in rival clubs, with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich transforming Chelsea and Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour raising the stakes by lavishing even more cash on players at Manchester City. While Arsenal was taken over by Kroenke in 2011, the American sports tycoon operated in a parsimonious financial environment that irritated many supporters. Now Kroenke, who told The Associated Press in 2016 that he was "very high on Arsene," has the tough task of replacing Wenger. "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport," Kroenke said. "One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude." Arsenal said it will make an appointment "as soon as possible." "We have high ambitions to build on Arsene's remarkable tenure and to honor his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game," Kroenke said. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 20th, 2018

Liverpool into Champions League, Man City reaches 100 points

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea, Swansea was relegated, and champion Manchester City made it to 100 points as the loose ends were tied up on a typically high-scoring final day of the Premier League season on Sunday. It was also the end of an era in England's top flight, with Arsene Wenger taking charge of his final game as Arsenal manager after 22 seasons. He went out with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield. Liverpool only needed to draw with Brighton to secure another season in the Champions League, but manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking team and was rewarded with a 4-0 victory at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals, taking the Egyptian to a league-high 32 goals for the campaign — the most in a 38-game Premier League season. That meant Chelsea will not be playing in Europe's elite competition for the second season in three years. The London club finished fifth after a 3-0 loss at Newcastle, in what could prove to be Antonio Conte's last league game as manager. The final-day "miracle" that Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal required didn't happen, with the Welsh club losing 2-1 to Stoke to end its seven-year stay in the league and ensure Southampton stayed up. Swansea had needed to win and Southampton to lose to Man City, with a 10-goal swing in goal difference. So it didn't matter that Southampton conceded late to lose 1-0 to City, although that did mean Pep Guardiola's side became the first team to post 100 points in a Premier League season. It is the latest milestone reached by City, which has also claimed the most total wins (32), goals (106), victories in a row (18) and away wins (16) in this record-breaking season. The 19-point margin to second place Manchester United is also a record, as is the goal difference of plus 79. Tottenham beat Leicester 5-4 in the highest-scoring game of the day to secure third place above Liverpool. United was already assured of second place before its 1-0 win over Watford, in Michael Carrick's final game for the club. ANOTHER TROPHY FOR SALAH Fittingly, it was Salah who guided Liverpool back into the Champions League and he ended a sun-kissed afternoon at Anfield lifting the Golden Boot for being the Premier League's top scorer this season. His 32-goal haul was two more than Harry Kane, the winner for the past two seasons. There were wonderful scenes soon after as Liverpool's fans cheered Salah's daughter, Makka, as she kicked about a ball on the field. Dejan Lovren added a second before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for Liverpool to complete a routine victory in its last match before playing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season. Chelsea ended the season without even a whimper, and in the Europa League. Four days after drawing 1-1 at home, the deposed champions looked bedraggled in losing to Newcastle thanks to goals by Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez, who scored twice in the second half. SWANSEA DOWN Swansea fans channeled their anger toward chairman Huw Jenkins and the club's American majority shareholders, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, after the team's relegation was confirmed with a loss to a team that started the day in last place. Jenkins was conspicuous by his absence from his customary seat in the directors' box but that did not prevent Swansea supporters urging Jenkins to "get out of our club" from the first minute. Andy King's goal gave Swansea hope of an unlikely final-day comeback, but Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch scored to ensure already relegated Stoke would not end the season bottom. That position went to West Bromwich Albion, which lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace. WENGER'S FAREWELL In the 22nd minute, Huddersfield fans joined Arsenal supporters in rising to their feet inside the John Smith's Stadium to applaud Wenger in his 1,235th game in charge of the Gunners. A plane flew over the stadium, carrying the message "Merci Arsene, we will miss you too" in response to Wenger's goodbye speech last week at the Emirates Stadium. "I should have announced every week my goodbye," Wenger said, "because people have been so nice with me." Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the final scorer of the Wenger era, sliding in to convert Aaron Ramsey's cross in the 38th minute for the only goal. Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League — the lowest under Wenger, who will stay working. "Whether that is managing or not... I am addicted and I don't think that can be cured," Wenger said. CITY'S CENTURY City left it to virtually the last kick of its last match to reach the magical 100-point barrier. Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute, found space to lift the ball over goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the fourth minute of additional time, prompting wild celebrations among City's players. Pep Guardiola reacted to the team's 106th league goal of the season by leaping out of his seat in the dugout and punching the air. Jesus removed his shirt and twirled it in celebration in front of City's supporters. The players were still on the field 20 minutes after the final whistle. City will celebrate on the streets of Manchester on Monday with an open-top bus parade......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

Opportunity knocks for Arsenal in post-Wenger era

LONDON, United Kingdom – Arsene Wenger's decision to step down as Arsenal manager after 22 years in charge marks ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 21st, 2018

Fabregas says Chelsea must banish regret in our head

By Tony Jimenez, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Chelsea produced a lackluster Premier League title defense this season and the last thing the players want is to sign off the campaign, and in all probability Antonio Conte's reign as manager, with a second consecutive FA Cup final defeat. Motivation will be sky high, for more reasons than one, when Chelsea takes on the most successful coach in its history, Jose Mourinho, and his Manchester United side at Wembley on Saturday. "You don't want to be on the back of losing two FA Cup finals in a row," midfield playmaker Cesc Fabregas said. "Last year we didn't play well. Arsenal were on top of us and I think they deserved to win. "It would've been a fantastic season winning the double. We have this regret in our head and we want to make it right this time for sure." Media speculation has been rife for several months that Conte will leave Chelsea at the end of the campaign. The former Italy coach has appeared to be at odds with the club's board all season and a disappointing fifth-place finish in the league has done little to appease him or his employers. Conte was also involved in a much-publicized spat with Mourinho, who won the league three times in two spells with Chelsea, earlier this season although the pair now seem to have resolved their differences. The Chelsea hierarchy will be desperate to avoid the embarrassment of being on the receiving end of a defeat by Mourinho in Saturday's showpiece occasion after having fired the charismatic Portuguese coach for the second time in December 2015. Mourinho guided United to a second-place finish in the league this season, his second term in charge, and will be intent on putting one over his old club by adding the FA Cup to last year's League Cup and Europa League title triumphs. Young midfielder Scott McTominay said United's players are also driven by the desire to win the FA Cup for their former manager Alex Ferguson, who is recovering from a brain haemorrhage. 'We really want to do it for Sir Alex Ferguson as he's obviously not so well," McTominay said. "It's so important to bring home the silverware for him. "It's so important after a long season. It hasn't quite gone to plan in the league and other cup competitions." McTominay, who only broke into the team a year ago, was not involved when United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in the 2016 final. "To see Jesse Lingard score that (winning) goal was incredible and it was obviously a moment that him and all of the fans will never forget," McTominay said. "As a player you have to take as much in as possible and see how the players prepare for the game, particularly the players in your position, just to see how the team chemistry gets going because it's such a big day. "Wembley is such an amazing stadium, it's the home of English football. It's a place where you want to showcase your skills and go out to do your best for the team.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Since 2014 highs, a struggle for Colombia, James

By Jairo Anchique, Associated Press BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has a lot to live up to in Russia after providing one of the standout moments of the last World Cup. James Rodriguez was catapulted to football stardom when he took the ball on his chest and swiveled before smashing a volley in off the underside of the bar in the Maracana against Uruguay. It helped to secure Colombia's spot in the quarterfinals in 2014 — and ultimately a move to Real Madrid. But James has struggled to live up to the highs of Brazil, where he scored a tournament-leading six goals. He struggled to make an impact in Spain and has been trying to regain form ahead of this World Cup at Bayern Munich. It was a struggle, too, for Colombia to even qualify for a second straight World Cup with a spot only sealed in the last match. It enables Radamel Falcao to finally appear at football's biggest event after missing the trip to Brazil with a left knee injury. Here's a closer look at the Colombia team: COACH Jose Pekerman has spent six years in charge of Colombia, following successes with his native Argentina. He guided Argentina to under-20 world titles in 1995, 1997 and 2001 and then guided the senior squad to the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals, where it lost to host Germany in a penalty shootout. Pekerman has long had close ties to Colombia: He played with Independiente Medellin in the 1970s and Vanessa, his eldest daughter, was born in the capital in 1975. GOALKEEPERS David Ospina is the undisputed choice to top the team sheet, despite being restricted to playing in cup competitions for Arsenal while Petr Cech starts English Premier League matches. Camilo Vargas, who plays for Deportivo Cali in Colombia, is Ospina's understudy, just like at the 2014 World Cup. Jose Fernando Cuadrado, who also plays at home for Once Caldas, is also set to make the cut. DEFENDERS Pekerman has been forced to reshape the defense due to the retirement of Mario Alberto Yepes and the trio of Pablo Armero, Camilo Zuniga and Carlos Valdes losing form and fitness. But quality center backs have broken through: Yerry Mina of Barcelona, Oscar Murillo of Mexican side Pachuca and Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham. Cristian Zapata is set for a second World Cup, along with right back Santiago Arias. Frank Fabra has taken the place of Armero on the left. MIDFIELD James, Juan Cuadrado of Juventus and Carlos Sanchez of Fiorentina are set for a second World Cup. Edwin Cardona, Mateus Uribe, Wilmar Barrios, Giovanni Moreno and Juan Fernando Quintero are other options. The goals of the flyers were vital when the attackers spent about a year without converting. FOWARDS Falcao is the only striker who looks certain of a starting spot while Duvan Zapata, Luis Fernando Muriel, Carlos Bacca, Miguel Angel Borja, Duvan Zapata and Yimmi Chara are competing for the remaining places. Pekerman tends to go for a lone strike either in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 formations. GROUP GAMES Colombia opens Group H on June 19 against Japan, plays the second game near its Kazan base against Poland on June 24, and concludes against Senegal on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

Wenger says timing of his Arsenal departure not his decision

LONDON --- Arsene Wenger says the timing of his departure from Arsenal "was not really my decision," effectively confirming he was forced out of the English club he has managed for more than 21 years. The 68-year-old Frenchman announced last week that he would be quitting at the end of the season, saying he felt it was the right time to step down following discussions with the club's board. Asked Wednesday why he was leaving a year before his contract ended, Wenger said "the timing was not really my decision." Wenger said he is not planning to retire but that "honestly I don't know what I will do." He added that he will not commit to another job while employed by Arsen...Keep on reading: Wenger says timing of his Arsenal departure not his decision.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Europa League offers last chance for Wenger to sign off a winner

LONDON: Arsenal have little time to digest Arsene Wenger’s long-awaited decision to end his 22-year reign as a Europa League semifinal with Atletico Madrid offers the outgoing manager a chance to salvage some of his lost credit with the club’s fans. Wenger admitted he stepped aside to unite a fanbase fed up with years of [...] The post Europa League offers last chance for Wenger to sign off a winner appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Monteverde to take talents from Bullpups to UE Men’s and Jrs. teams

Nazareth School of National University is bound to have a third head coach in two years. That, of course, is after current mentor Goldwyn Monteverde wraps up a campaign that has the Bullpups second-seeded and still the biggest threats to undefeated Ateneo de Manila High School. Monteverde and his wards are just awaiting the winner between Far Eastern University-Diliman and University of Sto. Tomas, but already have their sights set on the Blue Eaglets who are already in the Finals. Whatever happens there, however, sources said that this will be Monteverde’s first and only season in the blue and gold. At the end of NU’s season, Monteverde is set to be named as head coach for University of the East. And not only will he have a say with the Red Warriors, he will also oversee the rebuild of the program of the Junior Warriors who have languished at the bottom of the standings for years now. According to several sources, the Recto-based school granted Monteverde full control of its Men’s and Juniors basketball teams. This is nothing but good news for the Red Warriors who haven’t been to the Final Four since 2009 as well as the Junior Warriors who are in the midst of their own 16-year playoff drought – if Monteverde will be able to translate his sterling record in the high school ranks onto the collegiate arena. Monteverde made his name in the Juniors division, leading Chiang Kai Shek to multiple titles as well Adamson High School and then NU to contention. Along with his on-court results, he also has an impressive track record in terms of player recruitment and development with the likes of Gerry Abadiano, John Galinato, Encho Serrano, Carl Tamayo, and Jonas Tibayan all having blossomed under his tutelage. Of course, it is unlikely that Monteverde will simultaneously be the head coach of the Red Warriors and the Junior Warriors. It is most likely that he will install one of his trusted lieutenants in charge of UE High School. What is certain, though, is that both the Red Warriors and the Junior Warriors will be under the guidance of Monteverde. As for the Bullpups, they will be forced to undergo another coaching change – their second in two years. This, following six stable years wherein they won three championships under Jeff Napa. Napa ceded control to Monteverde in 2016 and now, the latter will leave a new hole to be filled. According to sources, the school is already in the process of finding its new mentor. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2018

Sanchez to Man United likely to happen, Wenger says

LONDON (AP) — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says a deal sending Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United is "likely to happen" and that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would move to Emirates Stadium in exchange. Manchester City ended its interest in Sanchez this week, leaving United most likely to sign the Chile forward. Asked if Sanchez's move to Old Trafford was close, Wenger replied: "I've worked on transfers for 30 years, so it is likely to happen. But at any moment, at any minute, things can break down." On Mkhitaryan moving in the opposite direction, Wenger said "if it's a possibility, it's because I like the player." Wenger said it would be "an exchange of players, and I think one would replace the other.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

Matter of when Man City wins title and how many records fall

By Steve Douglas and Rob Harris, Associated Press English soccer has never seen a team so utterly dominant as Manchester City entering the packed Christmas program. There seems little doubt Pep Guardiola will be raising the Premier League trophy for the first time in May. It is just a question of when City will wrap up its third title since 2014, and how many records will tumble on the way. City has already reeled off the most consecutive English top-flight wins — a record extended at the weekend to 17 games. Manchester United's record Premier League title-winning margin of 18 points from 2000 could also be under threat. And England could be looking at its third unbeaten "Invincibles" team after Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2003-04. So it doesn't bode well for a compelling second half of the Premier League season? Think again. The chase for the other three Champions League spots should be fierce with eight points separating second-place Manchester United and Arsenal in sixth. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are in the mix among them. Two leading sides will fall by the wayside and be denied a place among the European elite. The battle to stay in the world's richest soccer league is also intense. No team is stranded at the bottom, with Swansea in 20th place only six points behind Southampton in 13th. A closer look at the first half of the season: ___ TITLE RACE City leads by 13 points at the halfway stage after winning 18 of its 19 games and drawing one in the best ever start to a Premier League season. The only dropped points came at home to Everton in the second game on Aug. 21, when City played more than a half with 10 men following Kyle Walker's sending-off. Guardiola won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in late March in 2014 — aided by a winning streak of 19 games never before seen in a major European league. It will be tough for Guardiola to win the title that early in England as he chases a quadruple after finishing his first season at the club without a trophy. City is already through to the League Cup semifinals, into the Champions League last 16 and begins its FA Cup campaign in two weeks. Man United is in second place, with defending champion Chelsea three points further back in third. United manager Jose Mourinho says the title race is still on, but the rest of his peers among the chasing pack don't see City faltering now. It will be intriguing how Mourinho reacts to be seeing his title ambitions further fade in his second season at United, having already opted to publicly call out his "childish" players after a draw at Leicester on Saturday. ___ PICK OF THE PLAYERS Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder. He has provided many of this season's wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it's more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards. No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract. ___ EMERGING TALENT Amid an offseason of record spending in English soccer, little was made of Watford signing Richarlison from Brazilian team Fluminense for 13 million pounds ($17 million). Yet the 20-year-old forward is proving a bargain, settling in quickly to the pace and intensity of the Premier League and being one of the key factors in Watford's impressive start to the season that, at one stage, saw them challenging around the top four. Direct, skilful and quick, Richarlison already has five goals and keeps getting himself in great positions to score more, with his finishing sometimes letting him down. Opponents have cottoned on to his impact, with Richarlison telling ESPN Brazil this month: "Teams are already marking me individually, they are putting two players there on my side." Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked with the Brazil under-20s player, who has yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad. That appears only a matter of time. Other players to break through this season are Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, the Danish center back who has ousted David Luiz, and Liverpool's Joe Gomez, the right back who has ensured long-term injury absentee Nathaniel Clyne hasn't been missed. ___ SURPRISE TEAM An unfashionable club is mixing it with the heavyweights of the Premier League against all the odds. We've heard this before, right? Two years ago, it was Leicester delivering a soccer fairy tale by somehow winning the league. Now it's Burnley's turn to provide the feel-good story of the season. Widely regarded as a relegation candidate at the start of the season, Burnley is currently seventh. Don't rule Burnley out of staying in the tussle for the Champions League qualification places, with Liverpool only three points better off in fourth. The northwest team hasn't finished a season higher than sixth place in the top flight since 1974. Burnley, which has conceded just 15 goals in 19 games, has already beaten Chelsea away and drawn at Tottenham and Liverpool. Not bad for a team that returned a profit of about $20 million in summer player sales when most of the rest of the Premier League was spending freely. ___ POINTS TO PROVE Alexis Sanchez is a superstar performing well below expectations this season, perhaps as a result of failing to secure a move to Man City from Arsenal during the summer. That transfer could be revived in January — Guardiola cut an awkward figure recently when asked about making a new bid for the Chile forward — to potentially leave City with an even greater wealth of attacking riches. Sanchez has five league goals. By this stage last season, he had already scored 12 on his way to career-high haul of 24 for a single league campaign. In the dugout, these are testing times for two British managers: Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes. Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis a month ago with a mission to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. Then the Baggies were two points above the bottom three. Now they are next-from-bottom after collecting only two points from Pardew's first five games. Hughes' future appears on a knife-edge at Stoke despite a pressure-relieving victory over West Brom on Saturday that hauled the team three points from the danger zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

De Bruyne inspires Man City to record-extending win vs Spurs

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Arms wrapped around his head, Kevin De Bruyne was writhing in agony on the turf. A stamp by Dele Alli, the Tottenham dynamo prone to hot-headed eruptions, typified the rough treatment faced by De Bruyne's Manchester City on Saturday. Tottenham just couldn't cope against the exhilarating force of a team which is steamrollering opponents and the English football records. De Bruyne's right ankle was fortunate to escape serious damage being inflicted by the thrust of Alli's boot. Alli was fortunate to avoid a red card, and De Bruyne was seething. Payback came within a couple of minutes when the ball was bulging in the Tottenham net. De Bruyne lashed a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to net City's second in a 4-1 victory over last season's runners-up. With a record 16th successive English top-flight win, City surged 14 points clear of both Manchester United, which travels to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and champion Chelsea. The Premier League chasing pack is slipping further into the distance. For many, like Tottenham which slipped to seventh, it is just about finishing in the four Champions League places. Arsenal reignited that challenge by beating Newcastle 1-0, rising to fourth by ending a three-game winless run. Chelsea remains five points ahead of Arsenal after also beating Southampton 1-0 courtesy of Marcos Alonso's free kick in first-half stoppage time. ___ RIVALRY UPENDED For a Tottenham side that finished above City the last two seasons, the decline appears alarming. An eight-point lead over City at the close of business in May last season has been turned into a 21-point deficit, even before this season reaches its midway point in a week. City, chasing its first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, was gifted an opener in the 14th minute when Ilkay Gundogan was left unmarked to head in Leroy Sane's corner. Even though it took City until the final 20 minutes to extend its lead, this was a game controlled by the hosts with De Bruyne orchestrating the midfield in David Silva's absence. "You cannot imagine how good he plays in terms of the ball, but you also see how he runs," Guardiola said. "Everything is easier for the manager." After De Bruyne fired in City's second, he also won a penalty following Jan Vertonghen's sliding challenge. Gabriel Jesus hit the post and the follow-up was off target from Raheem Sterling. But Sterling still had time to find the net twice in the final 10 minutes. The first was the culmination of a counterattack started by De Bruyne. The second in the 90th owed much to Eric Dier missing the chance to block Bernardo Silva's throughball, allowing Sterling to round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and tap into the net. Christian Eriksen scored a consolation once the game was far beyond Tottenham's reach. ___ GOAL OF THE DAY Mesut Ozil reminded Arsenal what it could be missing if he leaves at the end of the season on a free transfer. The piece of magic from the German came with a 23rd-minute volley powered into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area, lighting up a labored performance by his north London club against a relegation-threatened Newcastle. "It's important for him that he takes the risk to do what he did," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Usually he is a guy who, 99 percent of the time in this position, he controls the ball and gives it to somebody else. "So I'm pleased he took the gamble to finish and I'm happy as well that he scored a very important goal." ___ HUGHES PRESSURE A power cut delayed Stoke's home game against West Ham, and the lights could soon be going out on Mark Hughes's tenure as manager after a 3-0 loss to the London club. Stoke slumped to a fifth loss in six games to sit one point above the relegation zone. Marko Arnautovic defied jeers on his return to Stoke to score West Ham's second goal, either side of Mark Noble's penalty and Diafra Sakho's strike. ___ BENTEKE DROUGHT ENDS Christian Benteke ended a 13-game run without a goal for Crystal Palace, stretching into last season, in a 3-0 victory at Leicester. Benteke also set up Wilfried Zaha for Palace's second. Leicester was reduced to 10 men when Wilfried Ndidi was shown a second yellow card for a dive on his 21st birthday. Bakary Sako added a third for Palace, which is enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run that has lifted Roy Hodgson's side two points clear of the drop zone. ___ HUDDERSFIELD ON RISE Huddersfield climbed to 11th in the 20-team standings after winning 4-1 at Watford. Elias Kachunga scored the northern club's first away goal since the opening day of its first top-flight campaign in 45 years. Aaron Mooy doubled Huddersfield's lead midway through the second half. After Watford striker Troy Deeney was sent off for a dangerous tackle, Laurent Depoitre extended the visitors' lead at the start of the second half. It was 10 vs. 10 for the final half-hour after Jonathan Hogg received a second booking. Although Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled one back, Mooy was on target again from the penalty spot in the 89th. ___ MISSED CHANCE Burnley would have gone fourth with a win at Brighton but was held to a 0-0 draw. Brighton striker Glenn Murray missed a penalty......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

Here s what you can get for Messi s 700 million euro buyout clause

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — If a rival soccer team were to pay Lionel Messi's 700 million euro ($834 million) buyout clause, Barcelona could potentially buy nine of the 20 most expensive teams in the world. Or it would have enough to buy every player in Major League Soccer at the same time. It could even pay for 5 million Barcelona jerseys. The likelihood of anyone triggering the clause seems remote, especially considering that it wouldn't guarantee that the goal-scoring great would go anyway. But after Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona a record 222 million euros ($264 million) for Neymar, the team is clearly trying to scare off any potential candidates. Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said the club decided to more than double Messi's original clause of 300 million euros ($358 million) because of what happened with Neymar. Buyout clauses are not used in every country, but they are often put into effect to help protect clubs and give players the right to leave for a fee if they are not satisfied or want better deals. Here's a look at how far 700 million euros go in the world of soccer: ___ TOP CLUBS Nine of the world's most valuable soccer teams are worth less than the new clause on Messi's contract, according to Forbes. In its most recent rankings, only 11 of the top 20 clubs are valued higher than 700 million euros. Among the teams with a lower value are Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund. ___ MANCHESTER UNITED'S REVENUES The amount spent to trigger Messi's buyout clause would be almost the equivalent of what Manchester United generates in revenues in a year. The English club topped a recent ranking of soccer's biggest moneymakers released by accountancy firm Deloitte. It generated 515.3 million pounds (689 million euros) for the 2015-16 season. ___ ALL MLS PLAYERS The players in the 22 teams in Major League Soccer have a market value of 407 million euros ($485 million), according to specialized German site Transfermarkt.com, which analyzes transfers worldwide. ___ FIVE MLS EXPANSION TEAMS The current expansion fee being charged by MLS is $150 million (125 million euros), meaning that owners could start five expansion teams with the money they spend to acquire Messi. ___ BARCELONA'S SQUAD All other players in Barcelona's squad this season have a combined market value of 586 million euros ($698 million), according to Transfermarkt. Teams hypothetically could forget about Messi and just try to sign the rest of Barcelona's players for significantly less than they would have to spend on the Argentina forward. ___ HALF OF SPAIN'S PLAYERS The market value for players in half of the Spanish league's teams is worth 622 million euros ($741 million), Transfermarkt said, and that includes those in some traditional clubs such as Real Betis and Deportivo La Coruna. Messi's clause is 17 times bigger than the current market value for the entire squad of southern Madrid club Getafe. ___ STADIUMS Instead of signing Messi, teams could build state-of-the-art venues such as Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, which cost nearly 600 million euros ($715 million) and is one of the most expensive stadiums owned by a club in Europe. Barcelona rival Real Madrid is expected to spend 400 million euros ($476 million) to add a retractable roof and renovate its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. ___ SPONSORSHIP DEALS With the 700 million euros, Barcelona could afford to forfeit its current jersey sponsorship deal for more than 12 years. The club is receiving about 55 million euros ($65 million) a year from Japanese company Rakuten in an agreement valid until 2021. Manchester United is getting about 60 million euros ($71 million) a year for its record jersey sponsorship deal with Chevrolet. ___ JUST THE SHIRT The 700 million euros would be just enough for 5 million Barcelona jerseys at a cost of 140 euros ($167) each. The official replica costs 85 euros ($101), which would allow for a total of more than 8.2 million jerseys......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2017

Preseason optimism fades to midseason anxiety at Everton

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press There was a preseason buoyancy surrounding Everton that hadn't been felt for years at this venerable English club. A rich financier was injecting lots of money to rebuild the squad and fund a move to a new $385 million stadium. Wayne Rooney made a sentimental return to his boyhood team. Ronald Koeman, a globally respected manager, pledged his loyalty after links with a vacancy at Barcelona. There was talk of a new-look and expensively assembled Everton side breaking the dominance of the Premier League's "Big 6," of bringing silverware to Goodison Park for the first time since 1995. Three months later, summer optimism had been replaced by midseason anxiety. Everton is drifting closer and closer to the relegation zone, is out of European competition already, has been without a manager for five weeks following the firing of Koeman, and is seemingly a club searching for an identity. Meanwhile, Rooney, the supposed savior, is spending much of his time on the substitutes' bench. Everton hosts West Ham in the league on Wednesday and could find itself in the bottom three with another loss. That the blow could be inflicted by a side managed by David Moyes, Everton's most successful manager of the past 20 years, would make it even more painful. Here's a look at the issues dogging Everton, an ever-present in England's top flight since 1954: ___ MANAGERIAL VACANCY Koeman was sacked on Oct. 23, two months into his second season in charge. Everton was in the relegation zone and was on a winless run of five matches at the time. The Dutchman still hasn't been replaced five weeks later, with former Everton player David Unsworth — the coach of the club's under-23 side — in temporary charge but increasingly looking out of his depth. The last two matches, a 5-1 home loss to Atalanta in the Europa League and a 4-1 loss at Southampton in the league, have clearly hurt Unsworth, a loyal and passionate Evertonian. Everton has failed in a bid to bring in Watford manager Marco Silva, one of the most highly rated young managers in Europe and someone who preaches an entertaining, attacking style of football. Now, sights are reportedly set on Sam Allardyce, a pragmatic 63-year-old coach who has a reputation as a so-called "firefighter" for getting teams out of relegation danger. It highlights Everton's lack of joined-up thinking, meaning fans are starting to have misgivings about those in charge of the club. ___ BOARDROOM CLASH One is a hard-nosed businessman, new to Everton. The other is a theater impresario and an old romantic when it comes to football, with links to Everton for nearly two decades. Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright are proving uncomfortable boardroom partners, seemingly not on the same page when it comes to the identity of Koeman's replacement. Moshiri sold his stake in Arsenal to become the majority shareholder in Everton in early 2016 and was the driving force behind a summer spending spree of about $200 million on new players. He reportedly wanted Silva and prefers a big-name European coach. Kenwright, the chairman and former owner, reportedly favors a coach — preferably British — who knows the Premier League inside out. Hence, the potential move for Allardyce and earlier links with Burnley manager Sean Dyche. Talks are ongoing with "a few managers," Unsworth said on Tuesday. Therefore, the search, and the wait, goes on. It is resulting in a vacuum high up in the club that is harming the team on the field. ___ STRUGGLING TEAM Everton has won just three of its 13 league games and sits in 16th place in the 20-team league. The game against West Ham, which occupies the final relegation spot and is in need of a lift itself, is huge in the current context. The team was eliminated from the English League Cup in the last 16. The Europa League campaign was over after four group games and has been an utter shambles, with the only point after five fixtures so far coming at home to Cypriot team Apollon Limassol. Everton has conceded more goals than any other team in the Premier League (28 in 13 games) while Oumar Niasse, who started the season as an outcast and without even his own locker, is proving an unlikely source of goals at the other end, with five in seven league games before getting a two-match retrospective ban for diving. Aside from Niasse, it's difficult to know where the goals are going to come from. ___ POOR RECRUITMENT In hindsight, Everton got much of its preseason recruitment wrong. In signing Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen for a combined 70 million pounds and also luring back Wayne Rooney, Everton strangely brought in three players who best operate in the same position — behind the striker — and all lack pace. Koeman staked much on Rooney bringing experience and title-winning knowhow, but he has struggled to make an impact after a decent start to the season and been on the bench for the last two league games. The biggest problem of all was not adequately replacing Romelu Lukaku, last season's top scorer who left for Manchester United for 75 million pounds ($97 million). Another 55 million pounds was spent on goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Michael Keane, yet Everton's defense is a mess. Spanish forward Sandro Ramirez and Croatian winger Nikola Vlasic are already fringe players whose game time has usually been confined to the Europa League. Despite the vast summer outlay, Everton might need to be busy in the transfer market again. "We need proven recruitment in January," Unsworth said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2017

Modest Burnley mixing it with heavyweights in Premier League

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The latest side threatening to gatecrash the Premier League's "Big Six" only pulled clear of relegation danger late last season and then sold two of its best players to make a profit during the transfer window. Their core values are team spirit and hard work. Their strikers are no-nonsense, hard-running target men — there are no false nines around these parts — and they take pride in the art of defending. Their atmospheric, 134-year-old ground, with a capacity of 22,500, is in the heart of the local community, offering views of terraced houses in the distance. Burnley is one of the more unfashionable teams in the world's richest and most popular league, and it is making a real splash this season. After 10 games, the Clarets are tied on points with sixth-place Liverpool, with only the Manchester clubs, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal ahead of them. They have won at Chelsea and earned battling draws at Tottenham and Liverpool. Their gravel-toned manager of five years, Sean Dyche, is having such an impact that he is one of the main contenders to fill the coaching vacancy at Everton following the firing of Ronald Koeman. They haven't had it this good at Turf Moor for a generation, arguably since Burnley finished sixth in 1974 before a downturn that saw the club drop out of the top division for 33 years. "We're not the market leaders, we have to earn the right for everything we get," Dyche said this week. "We are earning respect, a side that feels like it can do what the Premier League needs, but there's still work to be done." Burnley was a founding member of Football League in 1888 and has been English champion twice, in 1921 and 1960. It is in its second year back in the Premier League after finishing 16th last season. Dyche took over the northwest team in 2012 when it was in the bottom half of the second-tier League Championship and has turned Burnley into one of the hardest teams to beat in England. Go back to the start of the season, though, and Burnley was being tipped for a year-long struggle. Defender Michael Keane and striker Andre Gray were sold for a combined $65 million and the club ended up returning a profit of about $20 million in the transfer window as a whole. They only avoided relegation last season because of the team's strong form at home and many wondered if they could keep that up. They have, and they are starting to get results away from Turf Moor, too — starting with the 3-2 victory at champion Chelsea on the opening weekend. Like Leicester two years ago, when it became an improbable Premier League champion, Burnley is well-organized and excels without the ball, with its midfield working hard to protect the defense. Steven Defour, a Belgium international signed from Anderlecht in 2016, is the most glamorous name in the team and dovetails well with Jack Cork — a recent signing from Swansea — and former record signing Jeff Hendrick in central midfield. New Zealand striker Chris Wood joined for a club-record fee of 15 million pounds ($19.4 million) in August and has already scored four goals, three in the league. A flowing 24-pass move that led to a goal from Hendrick in the 1-0 win at Everton showed that Burnley is about more than just grit and efficiency, but the hard-to-watch 1-0 win over Newcastle was more of a default display by Dyche's team. It lifted Burnley to the heady heights of seventh place ahead of a trip to Southampton on Saturday. Nobody is expecting a title challenge like Leicester's in 2015-16, but with a well-established team plan in place and many of their supposedly toughest matches behind them, qualifying for the Europa League might not be a stretch. Even if he was offered the Everton job, Dyche might be hesitant to leave behind what he is creating Burnley......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2017

Giroud s overhead kick gives Arsenal 1-0 win at Red Star

The Associated Press - Olivier Giroud scored late in the second half for Arsenal to maintain its perfect Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win over 10-man Red Star Belgrade on Thursday. Five minutes after Milan Rodic was sent off for a second yellow card, Giroud struck with an overhead kick five minutes before the final whistle after Theo Walcott headed the ball to him. "It was a great combination before the goal as well and he finished well," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. Arsenal opened a five-point lead in Group H with nine points. Red Star and BATE Borisov, which beat visiting Cologne 1-0, are on four. Cologne is bottom without a point. Elsewhere, Lazio rallied to take three points at Nice with a 3-1 win in Group K, and Real Sociedad thrashed Macedonia's Vardar 6-0 in Group L with Willian Jose scoring four goals. Milan was held 0-0 at home by Greek team AEK in Group D, and Everton's campaign suffered another blow after a 2-1 loss at home to Lyon in Group E. Arsenal rested nine front-line players who were in the lineup for the English Premier League's match against Watford on Saturday, which Arsenal lost 2-1. But goalkeeper Petr Cech was in the goal as captain and made his presence felt, making several perfect saves. "It's important to have a good goalkeeper in this kind of game, too," Wenger said. "They were dangerous and Petr Cech kept us in the game." Mathieu Debuchy returned to the squad after a year due to injuries. With several young players, including Reiss Nelson, Joseph Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the Gunners didn't look dangerous until Giroud's goal. "I believe you win when you can, you do not decide when," Wenger said. "What's remarkable is the spirit we have shown. They defended very well, but the goal is a consequence of us wanting to play through them." Richmond Boakye headed the ball onto the crossbar in the biggest chance for Red Star. LAZIO LEADS Boosted by a 2-1 victory over Juventus in Serie A, Lazio took the sole lead in Group K after rallying to a 3-1 away win at Nice in a matchup of two teams that won their previous two games. The fans didn't have to wait long for goals. Mario Balotelli headed home for the hosts four minutes into the game from Wesley Sneijder's cross, but Felipe Caicedo equalized for the hosts just a minute later. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored his first goal for Lazio in the 65th before adding his second a minute from time. Lazio stays perfect atop the group with nine points from three wins. Nice is second, three points back. Zulte Waregem and Vitesse drew 1-1 and have a point each in the group. REAL ON FIRE Willian Jose scored two goals in each half for Real Sociedad on the way to thrashing Macedonia's Vardar 6-0. Mikel Oyarzabal gave the Spaniards a first-half lead. The Brazilian striker then took charge before he was substituted on the hour. Alberto de la Bella added the final goal at the last minute. Despite the victory, Real is second in Group L with six points, trailing leader Zenit St. Petersburg by three after the Russians beat Rosenborg 3-1 to stay perfect. Rosenborg has three points and Vardar remains bottom after three defeats. EVERTON'S MISERY Everton is 16th in the 20-team English Premier League and is still without a win in three Europa League group matches this season. Nabil Fekir converted a penalty kick six minutes into the match for Lyon after Mason Holgate downed Marcal in the area. Players of both teams briefly clashed after a hard push from Everton captain Ashley Williams on Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. Everton could face punishment from UEFA after a fan holding a child appeared to aim a punch at a Lyon player during the second-half melee at Goodison Park which continued off the pitch and in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End. Just minutes later, Williams seemed to come to Everton's rescue with a 69th-minute header. But Lyon needed just six minutes to answer with Bertrand Traore restoring the advantage to 2-1. Under-pressure Everton manager Ronald Koeman has something to think about before league games against Arsenal and Leicester sandwich a League Cup match with Chelsea. Italian side Atalanta leads Group E with seven points after a 3-1 win over Apollon Limassol. Lyon trails by two points in second. Apollon has two points and Everton remains last with one point. NO CHEERS IN BALKANS Partizan Belgrade played without its fans at Skenderbeu in Albania on Thursday with the reverse situation— no Skenderbeu supporters — scheduled to happen in Serbia. Both teams agreed on that measure at UEFA's request to not "create a hot situation." The Group B game ended in a 0-0 draw......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2017

Coutinho is back but problems run deeper at Liverpool

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Philippe Coutinho's belated return to the Liverpool team adds an extra layer of ingenuity to a forward line that promises to be one of the most thrilling in European soccer this season. Entertainment is unlikely to be in short supply at Anfield now that the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will be prompted from midfield by Coutinho, who has been reintegrated after his unsettling offseason when he was wooed by Barcelona. However many goals they score, though, Liverpool seems destined to be debilitated by its frailty at the back. Whether it's a collective problem — as manager Juergen Klopp is suggesting — or individuals simply making bad decisions or mistakes, Liverpool doesn't have the defense to make a realistic challenge for major honors this season. This past week, Liverpool has lost 5-0 at Manchester City, albeit after being down to 10 men for more than half the game, and then ruined a dominant performance against Sevilla in the Champions League by giving away two sloppy goals in a 2-2 draw. There are legitimate concerns starting with the goalkeepers and going right across the defensive line, and they have been there from the moment Klopp took over in October 2015. It was odd, then, that he chose to sign only one defender during the transfer window, left back Andrew Robertson from relegated Premier League team Hull for 8 million pounds ($10.7 million). Robertson has played only one game so far this season. Would things have been different had Liverpool managed to sign Southampton center back Virgil van Dijk, its much-publicized top defensive target? Klopp doubts it. 'I know here you're always looking for this thing about the defense ... that these problems will have been sorted with one player — it was mentioned we put all our money together and do this,' Klopp said after the Sevilla game. 'It's not about this. It's about being dominant and losing a little bit of concentration, the grip of the game that you do not have in all defensive moments.' The issues are clear to see. Klopp has rotated his two goalkeepers, Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, in the last four matches, continuing the long-held uncertainty in that position. At center back, Joel Matip is good on the ball but not a commanding presence at set pieces or under the high ball, while Dejan Lovren can be clumsy and error-prone, as shown against Sevilla when he completely missed an attempted clearance to allow a tap-in goal in the fifth minute. At left back, Alberto Moreno can be an attacking threat but a defensive liability, and Robertson is inexperienced on this stage. At right back, youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold (18) and Joe Gomez (20) have bright futures but can be caught out in behind them. Of the so-called 'Big 6' in the Premier League in Klopp's time in England, Liverpool had the leakiest defense in the 2015-16 season and only Arsenal conceded more goals last season. The neutral will want Klopp to keep things as they are, starting with the home match against Burnley in the league on Saturday. Liverpool is arguably the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League, with opportunities popping up regularly at both ends. The team's first-half performance in the Sevilla game was so exhilarating that Liverpool's fans gave the players a standing ovation as they went off for halftime. Throw the returning Coutinho into the mix, and Adam Lallana when he is back from a thigh injury maybe next month, and Liverpool's attacking options are seemingly limitless. It's what happens at the other end, however, that could decide the Reds' fate this season. Here's what else to watch out for this weekend in the Premier League: ___ strong>ROONEY'S RETURN /strong> On Sunday, Wayne Rooney makes his first return to Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United to rejoin boyhood club Everton. Rooney spent 13 trophy-filled years at United and is the club's record scorer with 253 goals, yet seemingly isn't held in the same regard as United's great names of the past like Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs. United midfielder Jesse Lingard predicted Rooney will receive a good reception, saying: 'He's a legend at the club and we will always welcome him back.' United leads on goal difference after collecting 10 points from a possible 12. Everton has scored only two goals in four games this season, Rooney grabbing both of them. ___ strong>HODGSON'S FIRST GAME /strong> Fifteen months after leaving the England job, Roy Hodgson is back in management after taking over at Crystal Palace. Palace fired Frank de Boer after only four league games, with the team in last place and yet to score a goal in four straight losses. Hodgson's first game in charge is at home to Southampton on Saturday.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 15th, 2017

What Richard Poon still lacks in his decadelong career

Richard Poon Over the past 10 years, Richard Poon has managed to build a solid career in the local music biz as a pop-jazz crooner. But there's one thing still missing from his 'arsenal,&.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Atletico finishes strong after poor start to season

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It all turned out just fine for Atletico Madrid. After enduring a poor start to the season, Atletico ended it on a very high note. Diego Simeone's team is celebrating the Europa League title and still has a chance to finish second in the Spanish league, a feat it hasn't achieved since 2014. "We're very happy. We've been doing well year after year," Simeone said. "We've always said the best way to start winning again was to always keep trying." It was the sixth title for Simeone since he arrived in 2012 to revamp Atletico and make it into perennial title contender. He is now tied with Luis Aragones for the most titles with the club. "It's about more than a trophy," Simeone said. "It represents the value of hard work, a steady hand and consistency, values to be successful in life." Life poured onto the streets of the Spanish capital late Wednesday to celebrate Atletico winning a third Europa League trophy after beating Marseille 3-0 in the final in Lyon. It was a good way to end a season which began with very high expectations for Atletico but mostly disappointed until the last few weeks. The main goal was to make it back to the Champions League final after coming very close to winning the title in recent seasons, But it couldn't even get past the group stage. Atletico easily made it to the knockout stages in the last four seasons, losing the final to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016, and being a semifinalist last season and a quarterfinalist in 2015. "We came very close in two Champions League finals, and in the semifinals last season," Simeone said. "We lost one (final) with two minutes left, and another on penalties. But we got ourselves back up." Atletico lost to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey to see another title opportunity slip by, and in the Spanish league it stayed near the top throughout the season but was never really able to mount a title challenge against Barcelona. Not helpful was a FIFA transfer ban which wasn't lifted until January, when Atletico could finally sign striker Diego Costa. Atletico needs a draw at home against Eibar on Sunday to hold on to second place ahead of Real Madrid and secure its best finish since it won the league in 2014. Atletico finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all the other years since 2012-13, which was the team's first full season under Simeone. A draw or a loss by Real Madrid at Villarreal on Saturday will also be enough for Atletico, which is three points ahead of the city rival with one match to play. The teams are even in the head-to-head tiebreaker — they drew 0-0 and 1-1 — but Atletico trails on overall goal difference. Sunday's Liga game will also mark the end of Fernando Torres' career with Atletico. The former Spain striker earlier announced he will leave the club at the end of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Atletico s Simeone: Stopping Payet key to EL final win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press LYON, France (AP) — Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone knows his team must find a way to stop Marseille playmaker Dimitri Payet in Wednesday's Europa League final. Payet is the French league's best passer and helped lead Marseille to its first European final for 14 years, with three goals and seven assists in the competition. So while Simeone highlighted multiple attacking threats in this Marseille team, he clearly views Payet as the most dangerous. "Payet will set the pace according to how he sees the game. He will be dictating the pace of his team with his play-making," Simeone said Tuesday at a news conference. "Of course their free kicks and corners are dangerous, but they have many more weapons. Their full backs are also very dangerous." While Madrid boasts big-name forwards in Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa, not to mention Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro on the bench, Marseille does not have a recognized top-class striker. Instead, a large chunk of the goals come from winger Florian Thauvin — 26 in all competitions — while the rest are shared around. Marseille coach Rudi Garcia hailed Atletico as having the best defense in Spain, and is counting on Payet to breach it. Payet thinks he knows how to. "As is the case with any defense which plays so close together, we're going to have to move the ball around very quickly in tight spaces. But I think we have the attacking quality to do so," the France international said. "We're going to have to be very efficient because a team likes this does not give you many chances. We're going to have to take them." Atletico are viewed as the favorites in this game, in part because of their recent big-game experience. Atletico won the Europa League in 2010 and 2012 but lost Champions League finals to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Marseille is the only French side to have won the Champions League in 1993, but since then has lost twice in the UEFA Cup final, as the Europa League was formerly known. But Marseille may have an advantage in playing just a three-hour drive away in Lyon, with up to 15,000 of its fans expected to make the trip. "I want my players be calm. As we approach the game, the emotions rise and rise," Simeone said. "The winning and losing experiences we had in the past will help. ... We have to try and impose our style of play and take the game in the direction we want. We are similar teams so I think it will be a tense and high-pressured game. Both teams are very pragmatic and play a similar style. We're also strong on free kicks." Simeone is known for being very close to his players, but he'll have to keep his distance on Wednesday. He was banned from the touchline by UEFA earlier this month after being sent to the stands at Arsenal in the first leg of their semifinal in London. Simeone was charged with insulting a match official and improper conduct. But he has full faith in assistant coach German Burgos, and considers his Argentine countryman almost like a kindred spirit. Simeone went as far as to say their understanding is close to telepathic. "I'm very close to German. We've known each other all our lives and we have a similar vision of football," Simeone said. "What's going through his mind is doubtlessly going through mine. I have complete confidence in him." Even though their coach will not be encouraging them from the sidelines, the players are ready. "We'll give everything to win," center half Diego Godin said. "Our legs, our heads, our hearts.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2018

Wenger in demand as he prepares for life after Arsenal

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger applauds before his lap of honor at the Emirates Stadium in London, Sunday, May 6, 2018. The match is Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's last home game.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsMay 9th, 2018

Brighter days seem to be in store for Knicks, new coach Fizdale

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst There was only one job that made sense for David Fizdale. Despite all the openings for which he interviewed, his pedigree and background -- and, let’s be honest, ambition -- made one gig stand out above the others. And it’s the one he got, with the New York Knicks. New York agreed to a four-year deal with Fizdale last week, a correct pairing of young coach and franchise that is trying to build back up the right way, with an emphasis on defense and conditioning that is right up Fizdale’s alley. No matter the occasional oddity created by working for Jim Dolan, he is an owner who has been willing to spend money when asked, and his team is in the top media market on earth. When you win there, they have parades for you in the Canyon of Heroes, and you almost always wind up in your particular sport’s Hall of Fame. You can’t not take the shot. The Knicks believe they’re in a place where the things Fizdale did in Miami and what he took to Memphis -- his philosophy of culture-building, team-building, discipline and how he connects to players -- were a good fit for where they are as a franchise. Among the 11 candidates the Knicks interviewed for the job, several had more head coaching experience than Fizdale -- whose tenure in Memphis lasted exactly 101 regular season games and six playoff games. But Fizdale checked the most boxes, and at 43, the Knicks are betting he has a lot of growing and improving to do, just as the team does. The Knicks, of course, looked into just why the Grizzlies fired Fizdale so abruptly last season, after just 19 games. Team president Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry didn’t just get started in the league last week; they know a lot of people. The chatter around the league was that Memphis chose star center Marc Gasol over Fizdale after the two clashed during the coach’s season-plus there. As I wrote just after Fizdale was fired, the deterioration in their relationship reached the point of no return when Fizdale went after Gasol hard in a film session, basically dismissing the importance of Gasol’s accomplishments overseas, including as a member of the Spanish national team. That that rankled Gasol to no end should have been no surprise to anyone paying attention. The Spanish team’s international triumphs are a point of considerable and understandable pride for both Marc Gasol and his brother, Pau. They helped lead Spain to the greatest era of basketball accomplishment in that country’s history, including a 2006 gold medal at what was then called the FIBA World Championships. Fizdale tried to fix things with Gasol, even flying to Europe after the season to try and make it right. But Gasol was close with majority owner Robert Pera; Fizdale wasn’t. That closed off a potential area of outreach between the two. Gasol had no interest in rapprochement, a stance that Grizzlies players made clear to Fizdale throughout the season. (Caught most in the middle, per league sources, was Grizzlies veteran point guard Mike Conley, Jr., who did and does have strong relationships with both men.) But, importantly, in his discussions with the Knicks, Fizdale took responsibility for his failures with Gasol. He didn’t blame Gasol or anyone else. As one of his chief calling cards is connecting with players, and not finding common ground with Gasol was an L he has to take. “He knew where he messed up and what he’d try to let it never happen again,” said a source who’s spoken with Fizdale since his firing. But, equally importantly, just because Fizdale couldn’t make it work with Gasol doesn’t mean he’s doomed to a similar outcome with All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis. The 22-year-old’s relationship with the Knicks has been scrutinized within an inch of its life the last couple of years. The toxicity level reached under former president Phil Jackson has abated some, but Porzingis and the team still have some navigation to do -- a trip that is blurred as Porzingis continues rehabbing and recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in February. (Porzingis’s brother, Janis, who serves as his agent, politely declined comment on the Fizdale hire via text Saturday, though the Knicks were in contact with Janis Porzingis during the coaching search.) Porzingis’s injury keeps the Knicks in flux, a position it seems they’ve been in most years since the Nixon administration. He is a potential superstar -- “potential” is used quite deliberately here, as “The Unicorn’s” stans on social media have made a very talented offensive player into something that he is not, at least not yet -- a transcendent player. But, assuming Porzingis ultimately makes a full and healthy return, New York has a terrific building block around which to build. And, they have a chance to really get in the game in the summer of 2019. First, they’ll have to resolve Joakim Noah’s status -- he has two years and roughly $38 million left on his current deal. It’s likely the Knicks will stretch him and the only question is whether that happens before or after next season. If it’s the former, the Knicks can spread the remainder of his salary across five seasons; if the latter, three seasons. Nothing is certain, but it would be surprising to see Noah still in New York by the start of camp. Why saddle a new coach with an old problem? That would leave the Knicks with more flexibility going into ’19, which is when Perry has said he’d like New York to be ready to pounce in free agency -- and when the likes of Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard (player option) and Jimmy Butler (player option) can be free agents. But until that bridge year, Fizdale will have to max out the existing roster. Charitably, there’s not a lot there at present that’s proven and has led to much winning anywhere. The Knicks will need to be lucky in next week’s Lottery -- preferably, getting a high enough pick to land one of the elite big men that should be among the top four or five picks in the Draft. If that doesn’t happen, the hope in New York is that until the roster improves, Fizdale can develop the talents of the Knicks’ trio of guards -- Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Tim Hardaway, Jr. -- in which New York has invested Draft and literal treasure the last couple of seasons. (It will help that Fizdale’s relationship with Hardaway, Jr., goes back to when the latter was a kid and his father, the master of the killer crossover, worked in the Heat organization after Tim Hardaway Sr.’s playing days ended.) The additional hope is that Fizdale will get Ntilikina in elite shape while honing his competitive edge, and that a full season under Fizdale will let the Knicks know once and for all if Mudiay can be a significant contributor. Fizdale will also have to adjust his nomenclature. Last week’s story in the New York Daily News correctly identified Fizdale’s consistent referencing “the Miami Way” as shorthand for how he wanted to do things in Memphis alienated Grizzlies people who were -- again, justifiably -- proud of the “Grit-n’Grind” era that produced seven straight playoff appearances before this season’s 22-60 crater. And, he’ll have to be prepared to be, perhaps, the biggest face of the franchise, in a city whose media is dogged and nonplussed and will often go off cockeyed in a crazy, incorrect direction. But its influence should never be underestimated. Fizdale is from Los Angeles, and he has a great way with most. And it didn’t hurt him to work some for ESPN while he was between jobs. But he’ll have to learn the media landscape in New York quickly -- who to befriend, who to be wary of, who he can trust and who he cannot. (Also: I’m sure the Knicks pointed out to him that while he had several causes which were near and dear to him in Memphis, from advocating the removal of Confederate statues in the city to lending his name to other civic causes, he needs to win games in Gotham first.) At base, the Knicks will want to see players throughout the roster held accountable, and charged to compete on a nightly basis. There was not enough of either last season under coach Jeff Hornacek -- who, in fairness, didn’t have all that much time to put his stamp on what was a poor roster. Fizdale will get more time. The Knicks’ roster will look a lot different in two years than it does now. Fizdale will have to be a lot different coach than he was in Memphis, as well. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018