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« Last post by xiaolan on August 22, 2017, 08:59:52 PM »
In terms of prestige, reward and potential ramifications, Liverpool face the third final of Jürgen Klopp’s reign when they host Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off round. “You can look on it as a final,” the Liverpool manager said, “but in the end it is a football game. It is not allowed to make it bigger.” For Liverpool and Klopp, however, there is no disguising the magnitude of Wednesday’s second leg at Anfield.
Liverpool have a glorious opportunity to not only qualify for the Champions League group stage for a 10th time, and the second time in eight seasons, but also to shape the complexion of their campaign from the start. A return to the European elite would reward last season’s labours and the fight to finish above Arsenal and Manchester United in Klopp’s first full term as manager.
It would also make Anfield an even more appealing prospect for Virgil van Dijk with a little over a week of the transfer window remaining and Liverpool still keen on the commanding Southampton defender. And it should make staying more palatable for Philippe Coutinho. Liverpool have made it clear to the Brazilian, through Klopp in Hong Kong last month, the FSG president Mike Gordon in Munich three weeks ago and in rejecting a bid of €130m last Friday, that he will not be sold to Barcelona this summer.
“Of course,” said Klopp, when asked if he would welcome Coutinho back into the Liverpool fold. “Absolutely 100%. It’s 100% clear that nothing changed. Authentic Jarell Martin Youth Jersey I said already, nothing changed.” Though illness as well as a back injury will keep the unsettled playmaker away from a game that even Klopp, despite his attempt to down-play the importance, admits will have the feel of a final.
The Liverpool manager added: “I do not think in life it makes a lot of sense that if you have big chance you think about the consequences if you lose. In finals you go for it and try your best. Is it good to be in a final? Yes. Is it good to lose it? No. But the only possibility to lose it is to go to it. I will not think about this when I am at home in my bed and thinking about the game.
“It is not about what can happen, it is about what we can influence. I know it is a legend of Anfield on European nights, they are really special and we need these special nights. Everyone who wants this needs to do their job tomorrow. I can guarantee the boys will fight for everything. It does not mean we will do it, but it means we will fight for it. I hope we will show the world what we were are able to do. We have to make the next step. The big difference between the game last week and now is that everybody knows how strong the opponent is. I don’t think anyone thinks, ‘great, half-way through’. We have a good result – not a perfect result – but a good one and with the power of Anfield we have to put it to bed.”
History stands on Liverpool’s side and not only because the Champions League play-off constitutes Hoffenheim’s entire experience of European competition after 10 years as a professional club. In 18 European games against German opposition at Anfield, Liverpool have never lost, keeping 13 clean sheets in the process. In 33 European ties when Liverpool have won the first leg away from home, they have never been eliminated at Anfield. The advantage is with Klopp’s team after the 2-1 win at Rhein-Neckar-Arena last week but the first leg encouraged both coaches.
“It is half-time,” insisted Klopp. “That is how I see it. It is half-time and we are in the break. We spoke after the game last week, yesterday, Brandon Marshall Womens Jersey today and tomorrow about Hoffenheim. We want to learn from our mistakes and what we did over there.”
Klopp’s defenders were vulnerable in the first leg and grateful to Simon Mignolet for two important saves. Alberto Moreno was caught out frequently and although one of the five rested against Crystal Palace last Saturday, his place is under increased pressure following Andy Robertson’s assured Liverpool debut in that game. Offensively it was a different story with Sadio Mané flourishing against Hoffenheim’s three-man central defence and revelling in the space behind the right wing-back Pavel Kaderabek. The Senegal international prompted Ermin Bicakcic’s substitution by gliding beyond the defender twice in as many minutes.
Hoffenheim’s shape and selection may alter at Anfield although their coach, Julian Nagelsmann, insists the natural adventure of a team that kept only three clean sheets away from home in the Bundesliga last season will not be contained.
“Excitement is the predominant feeling,” said Nagelsmann. “I am not in awe. We are good enough not to have to hide here. We know this is a great club with a great history but my feeling is excitement. Liverpool know they’re not going to need an early goal. They are going to play by waiting a bit to see how stable we are. We are going to try to take the lead and if we do that’s going to change Liverpool.”
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 21, 2017, 11:57:50 PM »
To the credit of Manchester City there are not many other teams who could come up with this kind of feat of escapology from a position at half-time where they were not only losing to one of the Premier League’s coming teams but also playing with 10 men because of the sending off that had spoiled Kyle Walker’s first night in front of his new fans.
By the end, there was even the sense that Pep Guardiola’s players were disappointed they could not complete the recovery and conjure a late, decisive winner once Raheem Sterling, one of their second-half substitutes, had volleyed in an 82nd-minute equaliser.
Morgan Schneiderlin’s late dismissal, after two bookings of his own, had levelled the numbers and City were still smouldering with a sense of injustice at the end because of the nature of Walker’s second booking and the amateur dramatics from Dominic Calvert-Lewin that made it an ignominious home debut for the £50m man.
The game was not short of talking points and Everton ought to be disappointed they could not Authentic Bishop Sankey Youth Jersey make it a second successive win given the story of the first half and another goal for Wayne Rooney to advance the theory that he might yet return to the England set-up.
Gareth Southgate, the national team manager, was here in readiness for Thursday’s squad announcement for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia and it is not too outlandish to think Rooney could add to his 119 caps.
This was also his 200th top-division goal, making him only the second player after Alan Shearer to reach that number in the Premier League era, and there was another impressive statistic that showed, approaching the age of 32, he covered more ground than any other Everton player. Calvert-Lewin cannot have been too far behind and it is just a pity, perhaps, that the 20-year-old tarnished an otherwise impressive night with the incident that led to Walker’s second booking in the space of two minutes at the end of the first half.
Walker cannot have too many complaints about the first yellow card for a challenge on Leighton Baines. He was, however, entitled to be aggrieved in the extreme about what happened as he and Calvert-Lewin waited for a high ball to come down. Walker did give his opponent a nudge but it was little more than a gentle reminder of his presence. The collapse from Calvert-Lewin was a deception and the referee, , Bobby Madley, fell for it, having taken the advice of the fourth official, Michael Oliver.
As the players returned to the pitch for the second half, Guardiola was in the tunnel demonstrating to Oliver what had happened with a little nudge of his own and struggling perhaps to conceal the fact he was obviously livid. Babe Ruth Authentic Jersey It is not often the City manager turns on officials in full view of the TV cameras. On this occasion, however, he had legitimate complaints even if Ronald Koeman argued that Schneiderlin might also have been harshly treated for his two bookings, both for fouls on Sergio Agüero.
After being reduced to 10 men, City deserve a lot of credit for still having the ability to trouble the team with the numerical advantage. Gabriel Jesus was removed at half-time and Sterling quickly set about trying to make a favourable impression on the right. Everton were guilty at times of not taking enough care of the ball – Koeman complained that his side had gone long too often – and chose to operate on the counter-attack when the evidence of the first half indicated that Ederson, City’s new goalkeeper, should be put under more sustained pressure.
Ederson was brought in from Benfica, at £34.7m, following a wretched first season for Claudio Bravo and Guardiola could probably be forgiven for thinking the new man should have saved Rooney’s shot. Instead, a rare left-foot effort from the Everton man went through Ederson’s legs, ricocheted off a post and the former England captain was wheeling away to celebrate, cupping his ears to the fans who had been berating him because of his Manchester United connections.
Rooney’s goal was also an ordeal for Leroy Sané given it was his mistake, trying to keep the ball in play, that gave away possession and left City vulnerable to the attack that saw Calvert-Lewin link up with Mason Holgate before laying on the decisive cross.
A couple of minutes earlier, David Silva had cracked a shot against a post and at that stage, it had looked as though City were getting on top. Yet Phil Jagielka in particular was a difficult opponent for Agüero, denying the striker on a number of occasions with some outstanding defending.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton’s record signing, came on for his debut after an hour but City kept pressing and never looked disheartened. Danilo, one of their own substitutes, forced a splendid save from Jordan Pickford and, finally, the home side’s perseverance paid off. Danilo sent over the cross from the right, Holgate’s attempted clearance went straight to Sterling and it was a lovely, instinctive volley he sent flying into the corner of the net.
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 21, 2017, 06:23:23 PM »
  Antonio Conte has warned Tottenham Hotspur that the grandiose surroundings of the national stadium may serve to inspire visitors to their temporary home in the season ahead, and praised the champions’ fighting spirit as Chelsea kickstarted their title defence.
The Italian was forced to field a makeshift side against Spurs after suspensions and injury ate into his options, with David Luiz forced into midfield and Andreas Christensen handed a first start in the Premier League. Yet two goals from Marcos Alonso left Tottenham, unbeaten at White Hart Lane last season, with only one win in 10 competitive games in this stadium since they won the League Cup against these opponents nine years ago.
Mauricio Pochettino was quick to dismiss the Wembley effect as a contributing factor to his team’s first home loss in the league since May 2016. Yet Conte suggested the chance to play at Wembley had served to inspire his team. “Honestly, this atmosphere was great and this stadium, Wembley, Authentic Brayden Schenn Womens Jersey is fantastic,” he said. “So to feel this atmosphere was amazing, [but] also as an opponent. Our fans tried to push, despite 70,000 Tottenham supporters. But, honestly, I think this kind of atmosphere is great also for the [visiting] opponents.”
Asked about his team’s record at Wembley, Pochettino replied: “It doesn’t affect me. I understand that we need to talk, everyone needs to talk … But I think the Wembley effect is not the reason we lost the game. The team played really well. It’s not fair to blame Wembley. For me, Wembley is one of the best places in the world to play football. And today it was clear: if you love football and watch football, and watch the game again, you will see that Wembley was not the problem.
“Today was not about the tactics. We were much better than Chelsea and we were a little bit unlucky. So I’m not sad or frustrated. I’m ‘happy’ to lose in that way. We played better and created chances to score. But that’s football. We have to accept they were more clinical than us in front of goal.”
Chelsea’s victory helped ease the tension after a difficult summer behind the scenes and the untimely loss to Burnley at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend, with Conte praising his depleted team’s response in adversity.
“I want to thank every one of my players,” said the Italian, whose selection had been shorn of the suspended Gary Cahill and Cesc Fàbregas, Authentic Jose Barea Youth Jersey the injured Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, who is absent without leave in Brazil. “They showed me great desire, great spirit, great will, great heart, great will to fight. I saw fighters in a moment that’s not easy for us with the suspensions and the injuries. We suffered during the game, but we were always dangerous in every moment.
“We know very well that a lot of teams improved if you compare with last season. But we have to concentrate on ourselves. It’s not important if we are not favourites in this league. It was the same last season. We know we are trying to improve our team, our squad, and the club is trying to do its best in the transfer market to try and improve the team and the squad. But I repeat, I’m very happy when I see this type of game. I’m not speaking about football, but this spirit, this heart, this desire.
“I must be satisfied because my players gave me everything today. They did the same last season. There will be more great difficulties in this season, but the only way we can get through these difficulties is to work.
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 20, 2017, 08:35:45 PM »
From Manchester City last Saturday to Leicester City this Saturday, title favourite to former champions, the journey for us at Brighton continues with a visit to the home of what has been called the “greatest story ever told”.
It is just 15 months since Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy, completing a fairytale in modern sport that may not ever be repeated. Yet the culture of football’s appetite for new stories and heroes seems to have already consigned their amazing achievement to history.
Not for me. I wrote last week about the importance of having belief, self-confidence and that this wonderful sport we love is not played on the financial balance sheet but on the field between teams of 11 players; Leicester are the ultimate example of what can happen.
The legacy of Claudio Ranieri and his players’ title triumph is that they are and will always be an inspiration for teams like us at Brighton and other so-called smaller clubs.
Their example is the very reason we go out and train and play as well as we possibly Authentic Danny Duffy Womens Jersey can because Leicester proved that miracles can happen. Seven of the players who started in that Leicester first team that won the league in 2016 made the journey with their club from the Championship to the Premier League.
While we were focusing on promotion from the Championship that season, there was a real buzz in our dressing room about the incredible results Leicester were securing game by game and week after week. We’d come in for training or even sat in the dressing room after our game and the conversation would turn to the same things: “Surely they can’t keep winning? Spurs will definitely catch them in the end … They’ve been amazing but what about when the pressure is really on?”
I am sure those same questions were being asked in every dressing room up and down the country and all over the world. They reinvigorated the story of the underdog and gave their peers, fans and people from all walks of life the belief that the impossible can be overcome. Surely that is one of the most important roles that football, and sport in general, is capable of fulfilling?
What was so impressive was that you could see the confidence flowing through their veins, the togetherness of the whole squad, the substitutes celebrating goals like they were on the field themselves and the sheer determination to prove that they were worthy winners in a fantasy football season.
We should not forget this was a team with one year’s experience together in the Premier League. Sean Taylor Youth Jersey It is a side that should be forever remembered by us at Brighton and Huddersfield, teams that have already been written off this year due to the fact we have not got the superstar talent of many, well-established Premier League clubs.
But neither did Leicester and we all know who Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kanté are now.
We should also give credit to that team and their club for the way they shook up the hierarchy in English football. If it was not for their remarkable season based on organisation, skill, team spirit and togetherness, would the Manchester clubs have recruited José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola or Chelsea Antonio Conte?
Leicester’s title forced their bigger rivals to look at themselves and ask tough questions. No one can deny that in the time since the quality has improved drastically and the clubs I cited now have managers who have given their teams contrasting identities and different playing styles – all of which have added to the drama and quality of the Premier League. I doubt that would have happened without Leicester waking the giants up with a huge slap.
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 18, 2017, 12:52:27 AM »
The Football Association is facing questions over why it paid “hush money” to international footballer Eni Aluko after it emerged that a bullying complaint against the England manager, Mark Sampson, included an allegation that he made a remark with “racial and prejudicial connotations” to another player.
Aluko, one of England’s most recognisable female footballers with 102 caps, was paid around £80,000 to sign an agreement that the FA claims was to “avoid disruption” ahead of this summer’s Euro 2017. Aluko’s lawyers believe that the agreement she signed prevents her from speaking about it but the FA insists she is now free to talk about the facts of the case.
The Guardian can reveal that her complaint contained an allegation that Sampson made a “highly inappropriate” remark with whereby he asked a mixed race player how many times she had been in trouble with the police.
“During a meeting with the midfielders’ unit of players, of which I was not present, MS [Sampson] used an analogy about pressing hard in midfield and getting a caution like a police caution,” Aluko’s evidence states. “MS then addressed the player individually and said in relation to being cautioned by police: ‘Haven’t you been arrested before? Four times isn’t it?’”
Aluko, whose brother Sone plays for Fulham, was last season’s top scorer in the Women’s Super League and featured in the Professional Footballers’ Association women’s Team of the Year.
However, the 30-year-old was not part of the England squad that reached the semi-finals of the European Championship, instead working as part of Channel 4’s commentary team. Herman Ouseley, the chairman of Kick It Out, has already said the FA needs to explain the full details around the case, pointing out it has a “responsibility to be transparent”.
The FA held an internal investigation and also commissioned a confidential independent inquiry, which did not uphold Aluko’s complaint and found no case for disciplinary action, Authentic Brandon Brooks Womens Jersey before deciding not to take action against Sampson or any member of staff. Yet Aluko’s evidence states her team-mate was left “distressed” by the comment and that other players confirmed they did not take it as a joke. The Guardian knows the identity of the player concerned but has chosen not to name her.
Aluko, who is also a qualified lawyer, says in her complaint there were “derogatory, racial and prejudicial connotations” and the FA will now have to explain why it went to such apparently extraordinary lengths to prevent the case becoming public.
As well as the £80,000 payment, the governing body also awarded Aluko a new one-year central contract, B.J. Upton Womens Jersey worth £20,000, despite her making it clear she would never appear for England again “under his [Sampson’s] management”.
Aluko has not played for England since April and her eight-page complaint, emailed to the FA’s technical director, Dan Ashworth, and head of performance, Dave Reddin, as part of an exercise to gather information about the culture within England’s squads, alleges a “culture of bullying and harassment” in the women’s setup.
Aluko’s evidence continues: “This comment about the player was made with derogatory, racial and prejudicial connotations. It was also a defamatory, untrue statement given that the player has never been arrested and MS’s comment indicates an assumption (subconscious or conscious) that being mixed race from London suggests a criminal record with the police.
“Although I was not present at the meeting, other players confirmed MS made this comment. Other players confirmed the comment was not received as a joke and created an awkward atmosphere in the room. I was deeply concerned about this comment and felt it was highly inappropriate for the national team coach to make such a sweeping negative generalisation about a new player in the team.”
Publicly, Aluko has stated only that she believes team selections were made on the basis of “popularity” rather than form. However, privately the player who has won 102 caps for her country appears to have felt like she was the victim of sustained bullying and alleges the unfavourable treatment began a month after Sampson’s appointment in April 2014.
Drawing a link to the alleged incident, Aluko’s complaint continued: “As a black female in the team, understanding the unfavourable, racial and social connotations underlying MS’s comment further heightened my feelings of fear and isolation, especially in light of the previous instances where I have been negatively singled out, too.”
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 15, 2017, 11:39:20 PM »
  Jürgen Klopp hailed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s courage and revealed he told the teenager to take the free-kick that sent Liverpool on their way to a valuable Champions League play-off win away at Hoffenheim.
The 18-year-old defender marked his Champions League debut with a first senior goal for his boyhood club as Liverpool recorded a 2-1 win in the first leg in Germany. Brandon Brooks Womens Jersey said Klopp. “It was an intensive game for him. He has still some things to learn. He thought it was offside but it was obviously not offside, unfortunately. Trent is a great player and I have to say I would rather have 2-1 than 1-0.”
Emre Can and Alberto Moreno both shaped to take the free-kick before Liverpool’s homegrown right-back swept the ball beyond Oliver Baumann. And Klopp admitted: “He took it because I told him he has to do it. I don’t take credit for the free-kick because he takes them better than I ever could. B.J. Upton Womens Jersey But I watched as many under-23 games as I could last season and he took many of the free-kicks then. The goal is the same size even if the wall is not as tall. There is always a big challenge between him and Ben Woodburn with free-kicks after training. It was good. He was lucky the wall didn’t jump but it was a very important moment for us.”
Alexander-Arnold, who grew up close to Liverpool’s training ground in West Derby and joined the club’s academy aged six, reflected: “It is a thing of dreams to make your European debut for your boyhood club and to make it with a goal was very special for me. I got egged-on to take the free-kick, to be honest. I never put my hand up first but I had the confidence to take it and it paid off.”
Klopp said Liverpool had allowed Hoffenheim possession in unthreatening areas during the game, a view that did not go down well with his opposite number. “I don’t agree,” countered Nagelsmann. “We had the ball in many important spaces.He has to say that and defend his team. He can’t say, ‘Hoffenheim played great and we were.
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 15, 2017, 06:28:43 PM »
Jürgen Klopp has described Liverpool’s Champions League play-off with Hoffenheim as “the most difficult step” towards reaching the lucrative group stage for only the second time in eight seasons.
Liverpool visit the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Tuesday without the injured Philippe Coutinho, Authentic Alec Ogletree Youth Jersey Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge and with the transfer saga surrounding the Brazilian plus fresh set-piece problems at Watford on Saturday casting a shadow over the start of their campaign. Hoffenheim, who like Liverpool finished fourth in their league last season, have also suffered disruption this summer with two key players, the Germany internationals Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule, departing for Bayern Munich.
Klopp insists Liverpool are “in a good moment” for the first leg of the play-off and that the stance of the owner, Fenway Sports Group, towards Coutinho has not changed following Friday’s transfer request. But he believes Julian Nagelsmann’s “confident and aggressive” Hoffenheim team represent the most difficult obstacle to Liverpool’s aim of rejoining the European elite this season.
“This is the strongest qualification round,” the Liverpool manager said. “England play Germany and you can go out against Germany. We were both fourth last season, both in strong leagues, but that does not increase the pressure. We want to go to the group stages. That was our target for the whole of last season and now we have two steps to go – but they are the most difficult steps. That is how it is.
“If anybody thinks because they don’t know about German football or the quality of Hoffenheim – and a lot of people only know two names [Bayern and Borussia Dortmund] – it is clear we have to do the job. I am really positive and looking forward to the game, even when I know it is really difficult. That is no problem. That is how it should be in the Champions League, where all the games are difficult.”
Despite the difficulties posed by Hoffenheim Klopp has called on his players to enjoy the pressure of the Champions League play-off. Authentic Ameer Abdullah Womens Jersey “From all the signs of pre-season and the first game I think we are in a good moment,” he added. “But we have to show it tomorrow.
“Yes, it is big because we can go in the Champions League. You can see the opportunity in different ways. We have already qualified for European competition which we didn’t have last year. I know now people will say: ‘Yes, but who wants to play in the Europa League?’ Manchester United didn’t want to play it last year but they won it and now they are in the Champions League. Things happen like that. We can either allow the pressure on this game to increase over the next 24 hours to the extent that we cannot walk any more or we still try to enjoy this opportunity. I think that is the best way to do it.”
The Liverpool manager reiterated that FSG will not sell Coutinho this summer even with the 25-year-old, who misses the play-off first leg with a back problem, agitating for a transfer. Klopp was reluctant to discuss the Brazil international but clarified his comments at Watford on Saturday, when he stated “his bosses” will decide the player’s future.
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 14, 2017, 07:13:54 PM »
Negotiating a way through the robust challenges of British celebrity is seldom an easeful task. Few in the public eye escape censure and even fewer manage to avoid succumbing to bitterness or the kind of acute sensitivity known only to those who have had their inner lives splashed across the outer pages of the press.
A rare exception is Gary Lineker, who returned last night for his 18th season as the Match of the Day presenter. If he has come of age in the job, Bryan Bickell Authentic Jersey the former England striker seems to have retained a boyish enthusiasm for life in the spotlight, albeit weighted with a just-so amount of irony and self-deprecation. He also holds the affection of a sizable chunk of the nation. The two are probably not unrelated.
Last month, Lineker found himself at the centre of heated debate when the BBC released figures showing that he was the corporation’s second-highest earner, with an annual salary some loose change under £1.8m.
In these days of wage freezes and belt-tightening, that’s a number that could easily trigger the kind of envy that is often indistinguishable from raging animosity. But Lineker performed a characteristically disarming manoeuvre via the social medium of Twitter. “This whole BBC salary exposure business is an absolute outrage…” he tweeted. “I mean how can @chrisevans be on more than me?”
In one half-cumbersome, half-deft move, Lineker had cleared the air, sent himself up and roped the presenter Chris Evans into the bargain. It’s the same trick he employs in his Twitter bio, which reads: “Once kicked a ball about. Now talk about kicking a ball about. Still flogging spuds”, the latter referring to his long-term and lucrative contract as the face of Walkers Crisps.
All of this ingratiating humility is in a sense not unlike his defining skill as a footballer, Authentic Bobby Ryan Youth Jersey which was to score in or around the six-yard box while in the act of falling over.
The effect was to lend Lineker the look of a player who was not fully in control, less than poetic in his movements, but invariably decisive in his actions. Moreover, in the course of a 16-year career, he garnered not so much as a single yellow card. The ungainly finishing and lack of aggression encouraged opponents to underestimate him – at their peril.
It’s a confounding gift that has since taken him to the pinnacle of the BBC big-earner league. While detractors may focus on his mugging expressions and tortuous puns, Lineker has got on with mastering the deceptive art of TV presentation.
He learned from the master himself, Des Lynam, who used to anchor Match of the Day when Lineker started out as a slightly plodding pundit, in 1995. At that time, having just hung up his football boots, he came across as gauche and rather too keen to be liked.
But Lineker studied Lynam’s casual charm and unflustered authority, the manner in which he put others at ease, not least the audience at home. “I used to ask a lot of questions about the little things that he did,” Lineker later recalled, “and picked up some of his nuances.”
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« Last post by xiaolan on August 13, 2017, 11:18:04 PM »
For a few seconds after Sam Vokes had risen to meet Steven Defour’s cross to give Burnley an improbable 3-0 lead over the Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge, Antonio Conte stood staring into thin air with his hand resting impassively on his chin. The Chelsea manager has witnessed a lot during a decade in the dugout but watching his misfiring team succumb so meekly to a side who had recorded just one away victory last season surely must have been a new experience.
After a strange summer that has seen his employers spend the best part of £130m on new players yet go into the title defence looking considerably weaker than the outfit who swept all before them just a few months ago, Adidas Cam Ward Womens Jersey the Italian then found himself fielding questions that suggested he had deliberately sabotaged his starting lineup in a bid to send a message to the club’s owner. Conte bristled visibly at that accusation, staring down his inquisitor before insisting “you don’t know me very well”, although quite what Roman Abramovich would have made of it all is anyone’s guess.
“No I’m not worried, because it’s normal,” Conte said later. “It’s important for me not to close my eyes, but to focus on our mistakes and to try to work to improve.”
Almost two years to the day before, José Mourinho had stood in the same dugout and watched his reigning champions begin their title defence by having a player sent off and subsequently failing to see off a visiting team expected to struggle. Save for Mourinho’s outburst at team doctor Eva Carneiro that proved to be the beginning of the end of the Special One’s second coming, that 2-2 draw with Swansea had many parallels to Saturday’s shock defeat, with Gary Cahill this time playing the part of Thibaut Courtois in being dismissed early on another sunny afternoon in west London.
But while Mourinho’s ire had only increased after the final whistle on that occasion, a second-half comeback that almost rescued a point seemed to help his successor find his focus once more, even if the manner in which Chelsea had imploded after the England defender was sent off in the 14th minute for his studs-up challenge on Defour will be of great concern for Conte.
He did reveal some frustration by suggesting they would need to work on a new formation “with nine players” after Cesc Fàbregas was also dismissed late on. The latter’s suspension for the trip to Wembley to face last season’s runners-up, Tottenham, on Sunday, coupled with the continued absence of injured £40m signing Tiémoué Bakayoko, Authentic Adidas Brendan Shanahan Youth Jersey leaves a gaping hole in midfield that even a master tactician such as the former Juventus and Italy manager will find difficult to fill.
Having loaned out 26 players so far and having sold Nemanja Matic and Nathaniel Chalobah, there is no real excuse and even with Chelsea expected to make a renewed attempt to sign Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and their interest in Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto, Conte put the ball firmly in his employers’ court before a match that, even at this early stage, could help to define their season.
“The club is trying to do their best in the transfer market,” he said. “I am a coach and now the season has started so my focus is just on the pitch and working with my players. This is my squad and this is my team and I want to fight with these players. The club is doing the work.”
On Spurs, Conte said: “We have one week to try to find the right solution. For sure, this game will be really tough but we must be ready. We must be ready. We must have the same will, the same desire to fight as the second half. I think we have to restart from there.”
By contrast, his counterpart Sean Dyche rightly revelled in his side’s achievement – which continues their remarkable record of having defeated the champions in each of their four seasons in the Premier League. The sales of Michael Keane and Andre Gray for a combined £43m would have knocked the stuffing out of most teams in the lower reaches of the division but it is a credit to their manager that they were deserved winners against Chelsea.
Please Read Before Posting / dysfunctional Jersey
« Last post by xiaolan on August 12, 2017, 12:39:33 AM »
Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to a new season reminiscent of the old at the Emirates, where the good news is Arsenal broke their transfer record for a striker but the bad news is they ended their first game of the season with a classically dysfunctional defence. It was an extraordinary combination – a midfield player at right-back, two left-backs at centre-back and a right-back at left-back. Confused? Who wouldn’t be. Leicester had all the clarity as they took advantage and a 3-2 lead into the final stages of an intoxicating tussle.
Oh Arsenal. Typical Arsenal. Absurd Arsenal. But where in seasons past this kind of situation tended to end with opening day navel-gazing, this time they found the resources to twist the tale with a theatrical flourish. Andrew Quarless Youth Jersey Wenger threw on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud to attempt a rescue mission and both of them delivered with goals to transform the atmosphere from fretful and pressurised to the liberating joy of a thumping comeback. The match-winner from Giroud sent shudders through north London. In finding the composure to power a header while wrestling his marker he made his point that the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette would not easily make him expendable.
Arsenal’s penchant for starting seasons by getting a wobble in early has become something of an epidemic and they made a good stab at a repeat here. Arsène Wenger leaned on the game’s statistics to suggest this win was somehow logical – bags of possession and 27 shots for his team compared to three on target for the visitors – but few in the crowd would have argued had Leicester been able to hold on to the lead they seized with moments of ferocious determination.
A frenetic opening five minutes set the tone and presented a microcosm of all of Arsenal’s weird, paradoxical sense of possibility. Their ability to exude verve and be vulnerable in the same few flashes of a game was there for all to see. Day-one optimism cascaded down from the stands as the record signing Lacazette opened the scoring with his first meaningful Premier League touch. A mere two minutes into his official Arsenal career he was unmarked in the box to steer a powerful header past Kasper Schmeichel.
The Emirates crowd cherished the moment. But not for long. Leicester’s response was resolute and instant, exposing the old familiar defensive off-switch in Arsenal’s mechanics. Leicester loaded players into forward positions and when Marc Albrighton floated a cross over to the far post, the impressive Harry Maguire was more alert to the situation than any Arsenal defender. He sprinted to nod the ball back to Shinji Okazaki, whose movement was sparkier than any opponent and he finished instinctively.
Having equalised, it would have been rude of Leicester to turn down the opportunity to take the lead in the 28th minute. Authentic Bob Uecker Youth Jersey Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka were punished for some casual passing in midfield as Albrighton pounced to carve the kind of opening that inspired Jamie Vardy to become synonymous with so many Leicester parties. The strike was smart and true.
The goal sucked the confidence out of Arsenal. Rob Holding was robbed of the ball. Leicester zoomed into another break and Okazaki was a fraction away from heading in a third. It spoke volumes of how Leicester interpreted the temperature of the game that both their centre-backs, Maguire and Wes Morgan, felt compelled to amble forward and frighten Arsenal’s rearguard from open play.
The makeshift defence that Wenger pieced together, without the senior influences of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker or Shkodran Mustafi, was jittery and easily stretched. A bizarre half ended with a reprieve for the home team. After Lacazette’s shot was blocked Leicester’s defenders raised choreographed “offside” arms while Sead Kolasinac ambled on to poke the ball for Danny Welbeck to prod in an equaliser. The half-time whistle was greeted by bubbling chitter-chatter about the reintroduction to the inexplicable emotional strain of Premier League chaos.
It did not ease off too much after the break. Emergency action from Petr Cech, twice, to deny the onrushing Vardy and then a clever shot from Riyad Mahrez, merely delayed the seemingly inevitable. Mahrez’s well-whipped corner was gobbled up by Vardy with a textbook glancing header. Set piece, simple stuff for Leicester. It was the umpteenth time one of their players had moved untracked on to an aerial ball. Wenger later tried a touch of positive spin by saying his team were good at corners last season and insisted they could work on this and iron out the kinks. Time will tell on that one.
The introduction of Giroud and Ramsey was influential, and a missed handball from Mesut Özil in the build-up to the equaliser was also helpful. Following a corner, Ramsey neatly controlled Xhaka’s dinked cross with one touch and buried his shot into the far corner with the next.
Arsenal went for the jugular. Lacazette danced through the pack and tested Schmeichel but it was Giroud who majestically delivered the coup de grace. Both Leicester’s dejection and Arsenal’s elation were understandable.
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