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Historic Hickstead win for Breen

first_img Press Association Shane Breen created a piece of Hickstead history on Saturday when he won the prestigious Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup. The class was not thrown open to male competitors until 2008, when 38-year-old Breen triumphed aboard Carmena Z. He will now set his sights on Sunday’s Longines Royal International Horse Show finale – the King George V Gold Cup – when Breen, riding Cos I Can, can now target a unique double. “It is great to win any class at Hickstead, but I am particularly delighted to win with this horse as the owner Sarah-Jane Knight is only based 10 minutes up the road from here,” said an in-form Breen, who jumped two clear rounds in Friday’s FEI Nations Cup. “Last year, when I won the Old Lodge breeding competition with Zarnita, we said it would be nice to come back and win the Queen Elizabeth Cup and we’ve done it.” Five combinations from a 27-strong field made the jump-off and Breen had it all to do as last to go. Whitaker set a scorching pace, clocking 49.76secs, but Hickstead-based Breen timed his challenge superbly, edging just inside the Yorkshireman’s time. Young British prospect Louise Saywell was third aboard Hello Winner IV, William Funnell (Billy Balou) fourth and Joe Clayton fifth, riding the Michael Whitaker-owned Aiyetoro. “I wasn’t sure that we could be three seconds quicker than William, which is what we needed to be. But after I jumped the second last fence, I had a good shot at the planks to finish and we just went for it,” Breen said. The Irish Nations Cup star guided his nine-year-old mare Zarnita to a thrilling victory as he edged out Great Britain’s Robert Whitaker and Asterix E Z by 0.61 seconds. In doing so, Breen became the first male rider to win the trophy twice since its inception 64 years ago. He was also the first to claim two victories on separate horses for 20 years. “The horse loves the big arenas and has loads of scope. She only started jumping when she was six, but don’t be surprised if you see her jumping a Nations Cup or a grand prix next year. “She is a peculiar kind of mare in that she rides around bigger courses better than she does the smaller ones. “I jumped her in a 1.35 metre class the other day and it seemed quite hard, but she jumped today’s course quite easily. The big scopey jumpers like a bit of a challenge.” The day’s opening class – The Bunn Leisure Salver – saw Swiss Nations Cup rider Werner Muff take top spot following an 11-horse jump off. Muff’s time of 39.29secs on Never Last proved the only sub-40 second time, with German Hans-Dieter Dreher finishing second on Colore and Britain’s John Whitaker and Maximillian securing third place. Breen wasted little time before returning to action in the Sky Sports Speed Classic, partnering Ominerale Courcelle to fourth place. Laura Renwick triumphed on Beluga, clocking 74.61s to land a top prize of just under £7,000. last_img read more

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Sexton injured in Wallabies romp

first_img Press Association The distraught Racing Metro fly-half buried his face in his hands as he left the Aviva Stadium field at half-time. Livewire Australia fulcrum Quade Cooper claimed a try to pass 100 international points, Michael Hooper grabbing a brace and Nick Cummins completing the scoring. New head coach Joe Schmidt spent all week telling his players just how foolish it would be to kick away cheap ball to the Wallabies. So he would have been spitting feathers when Tommy Bowe cleared loosely from his own 22 and straight into gleeful Australian clutches. Cooper’s whipped pass sent Folau to the line, Australia worked the ball back left and Fardy’s back-handed offload ripped Ireland apart. Openside Hooper was left with a clear run home for his first international score. Ireland rallied immediately, Fitzgerald’s flat mis-pass sending McFadden into the Australia 22. Peter O’Mahony knocked on after sustained phase play, but then Ireland won a free kick at the scrum. Heaslip’s number-eight break brought two tight sneaks towards the line, before Reddan failed to deliver the killer pass. After all the pressure, Sexton had to settle for a penalty. McFadden’s searing break yielded another penalty that Sexton knocked over with Hooper sent to the sin-bin. Another fluent Irish attack brought Sexton’s fourth penalty of the night, closing an engaging half missing only a home try. Leinster’s Ian Madigan replaced Sexton at half-time, with the Racing Metro fly-half suffering that potential hamstring problem. Another flat Cooper pass sent Cummins into the left corner from Australia’s bright start, but Bowe did just enough to deny him his second try. English Television Match Official Geoff Warren reviewed the play, and rightly ruled a knock-on. Australia turned Ireland over at the scrum though, and Cooper struck all too easily from the set-piece. The wily outside-half claimed his seventh Australia try, ghosting between Madigan and Luke Marshall’s wafer-thin resistance. Cooper landed his second penalty after Rob Kearney’s uncharacteristic high-ball spill. Ireland’s scrum power then brought a penalty, that Madigan duly converted. Ireland punted a kickable penalty to the corner to launch the final quarter, only to knock on at the line-out when Australia sacked their maul at source. The Wallabies took that cue to wrestle back control and quickly scored through a line-out drive of their own. Flanker Hooper rose from the pile of bodies with the ball, to confirm his second try of the night. Tevita Kuridrani was then sent off for a dangerous tackle on flanker O’Mahony. The Australia centre flipped the Munster back-rower and planted him on his head, and can have no complaints with the decision ruled by TMO Warren. Replacement Conor Murray thought he had scored from a penalty snipe, but referee Chris Pollock brought back the play, refusing to allow the quick tap. O’Driscoll, Marshall and Jack McGrath dragged Ireland close again, and Sean Cronin powered over. The replacement hooker was denied his first Ireland try though, with the TMO chalking it off due to a Murray knock-on in the build-up. Two games in the honeymoon period is well and truly over on the Schmidt era, while Ireland produced several promising sections, the visitors more than merited victory. Jonathan Sexton limped out of Ireland’s frustrating four-try, 32-15 defeat to Australia, suffering a hamstring injury scare. Despite crossing the line twice, Joe Schmidt’s Ireland were unable to conjure a try and will be furious with the defensive lapses that led to Hooper’s first score, and Cooper’s soft finish. Cooper opened the scoring with a ninth-minute penalty, before Sexton levelled from the tee after a strong Ireland rolling maul. Queensland Reds fly-half Cooper then fluffed a straightforward penalty, but the Wallabies struck quickly. Australia’s most-capped hooker Stephen Moore revealed in the week how he could have ended up representing Ireland. The 87-cap front-rower rejected Irish Rugby Football Union advances as a 19-year-old, stemming from his Irish parents. Not even a stint living in Ireland as a toddler before moving to Australia could convince him to consider representing his parents’ homeland. How Schmidt and Ireland would have happily had him in green when he bisected their midfield, before producing a scoring pass even Brian O’Driscoll himself would have savoured. Cummins received Moore’s pass, cut in off his left wing and outfoxed the remaining cover to notch his third Wallabies try. last_img read more

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Wenger dismisses Draxler reports

first_img “That is an illusion. There is nothing happening, honestly no,” Wenger said. “We don’t need to take players on the flanks – we have 17 players on the flanks.” The Gunners are said to have made a renewed bid for German international Draxler as they seek to complete a deal before the transfer window closes. But Wenger, speaking after Friday night’s 4-0 FA Cup fourth-round victory over Coventry, denied a deal will happen. Arsene Wenger has described reports that Arsenal are closing in on a £37million move for Schalke attacking midfielder Julian Draxler as an “illusion”.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Aguero out for a month

first_img The Argentina striker hobbled off during City’s 5-1 Barclays Premier League win at Tottenham on Wednesday. Pellegrini said: “The doctor is seeing him – maybe one month, but we are not sure absolutely.” Manchester City top scorer Sergio Aguero is expected to be out for a month with a hamstring injury, manager Manuel Pellegrini has announced. Pellegrini, speaking at a press conference to preview Monday’s Premier League game against Chelsea, gave little away about the possibility of making new signings before the transfer deadline. City have been heavily linked with a late move for the Porto pair of defender Eliaquim Mangala and midfielder Fernando. Pellegrini did not rule out deals but did not wish to discuss them. He said: “For the moment – sorry – no news, but I promise tomorrow you will know all about it.” On the matter of players leaving, Pellegrini was similarly unmoved. “Same thing,” he said. Defender Joleon Lescott has been the subject of speculation linking him with West Ham. When asked if any business at all might be likely, Pellegrini said: “Business maybe, a lot of business – but no news.” Press Association The injury will rule Aguero, who has scored 26 goals this season, out of the first leg of City’s Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona as well as Premier League and FA Cup games against Chelsea. The match at White Hart Lane had been Aguero’s fifth since returning from a month-long lay-off with a calf injury. Yet with City having scored 115 goals in all competitions this term, Pellegrini is confident his team can overcome his absence. He said: “It is very difficult. Sergio is a top player for us but I think we can replace him. “As with the other injury, we hope we can continue to do it. “But, of course, he is a very important player for us. “Sergio is just coming back from an injury – one month that he couldn’t play. “All the other strikers, Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and now Stevan Jovetic, replace him.” last_img read more

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Distin not giving up on fourth spot

first_img “At the moment we need to change things from set-pieces because we keep conceding from them. “We will work on that but the late goal will not affect us mentally or our next performance.” Swansea have worries near the foot of the table as they have not won since Garry Monk’s first match in interim charge in early February after the dismissal of Michael Laudrup, and have picked up just five points from six games to leave them just four points above the relegation zone. Defender Ben Davies accepts they have a hugely significant few days ahead days ahead as they head to Arsenal in midweek before hosting fellow strugglers Norwich on Saturday. “It is a massive week for us and we definitely need something out of the next two games,” he said. “We cannot afford to let our confidence slip and get into negative ways with everyone feeling sorry for themselves because then we don’t have any chance of winning games. “It is important we keep that confidence up and play the way we know we can. We’ve got to take it into our own hands.” Monk has failed to have any impact since being placed in temporary charge and he knows with no previous managerial experience he is likely to come under more scrutiny as the season comes to a conclusion. “I’ll be judged on results – that’s the way it is and until I’m told any different I’ll continue to work as hard as possible,” he said. “I am happy to be judged – that is the way it is.” A 3-2 win over Swansea moved the Toffees to within eight points of fourth-placed Arsenal with a match in hand, and the Gunners still to come to Goodison Park. While the Europa League remains the most likely outcome, Distin said they will continue to push for fourth place until it is taken out of their reach. Press Association “The dream is always alive as long as it is mathematically possible,” he told Press Association Sport. “We are not in a position where we have to focus on the team above us. We cannot depend on them (dropping points) so there is no point looking at it now. “Every single game is important. This one is no more important than the previous one. We just want to win games. “You have to win. If you want to be successful, you can’t start a game thinking it will be okay to draw this one.” Everton head to Newcastle on Tuesday looking to maintain their European challenge, but Distin admits they have to tighten up in certain areas if they are to finish the season strongly. Having got themselves into a comfortable 3-1 lead thanks to Leighton Baines’ penalty – cancelled out by Wilfried Bony’s close-range strike in the first half – and goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley early in the second half, they conceded a late Ashley Williams header. In truth they never looked entirely comfortable closing out the game in the last 20 minutes of the game. “We don’t score many goals and we made it difficult for ourselves,” the Frenchman added. Everton defender Sylvain Distin insists their European dream will remain alive until the numbers no longer add up. last_img read more

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Ameobi calls for reinforcements

first_imgStriker Shola Ameobi has challenged Newcastle to strengthen the quality and depth of Alan Pardew’s squad for next season. Press Association The Magpies have slipped to defeat in each of their last five Barclays Premier League games and have won only four of the 17 they have played since Boxing Day with the sale of Yohan Cabaye and injuries having hit hard. That has piled the pressure on Pardew, although Ameobi, who scored his first league goal in 16 months at the weekend, insists the players have never been under any illusions as to the challenge they faced. center_img He told BBC Radio Newcastle: “That is something the club have to put right for next season. We need quality players and we need a quality squad as well. “This has all been brought out to a lot of people but we, as players, knew that. I think the fans are getting to see that now.” Pardew has borne the brunt of fans’ frustrations in recent weeks with many calling for his head with a season which at one point promised so much ending in depressing style. However, 32-year-old Ameobi is adamant there are mitigating factors as the manager waits to see how owner Mike Ashley will allow him to rebuild during the summer. He said: “We have limited resources at the moment and when we lose one or two key players it hurts the team badly. “That is what the manager has had to put up with, unfortunately.” last_img read more

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Davis: Saints will continue to grow

first_img Saints excelled under Pochettino last season, finishing in eighth place in the Barclays Premier League and drawing admiring glances across the board for their style of play. Such success was always likely to attract interest from elsewhere and, like their former manager, the likes of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez have all been linked with high-profile transfers this summer. Southampton midfielder Steven Davis was sad to see Mauricio Pochettino leave for Tottenham, but does not believe it represents the end of the club’s rise to prominence. “I’m sure the owners will be doing their utmost now to get the best person possible in and ensure the we can keep the squad together,” he said. “There’s obviously rumours even before the manager left and that was well documented but that was based on us having a really good season. “You can’t stop that and it’s always difficult if a top-four club comes in to keep a hold of them, but I always felt all the players bought into what the club is trying to achieve and everyone is happy there. “I hope that is still the case and all the lads really enjoy working with each other and trying to push the club forward.” Davis will lead his country out against England’s World Cup Group D opponents Uruguay on Friday, and has vowed to pass any nuggets of information on to his friends in Roy Hodgson’s squad. “Nobody has asked me just yet to get information on Uruguay but I was texting Adam Lallana, just talking about the games coming up and how things were going,” he said. “If there is anything I can tell him, Rickie Lambert or Luke to help them then of course I will but I have no doubt they will be well briefed when it comes to their game with Uruguay.” Northern Ireland captain Davis, who found out about Pochettino’s departure while on international duty in Uruguay, admits it is a tough time but expects the structure that exists at St Mary’s to continue yielding benefits. “It’s a blow for everybody to lose him, you can’t really get away from that, and the players all loved working for him,” said Davis. “He pushed us on from where we were at before he came in; everyone personally improved, results improved as well and things were looking bright for the future. “It’s disappointing but at the same time I don’t think it will affect the club in terms of progression because there is still a lot of growth left in the team. “The club has come a long way in the last five years and the blueprint has been evident under each and every manager. “There is no reason why that should stop now and everyone will want to get going forward to achieve our goals.” Whether Southampton continue to grow and defy expectations is likely to depend in large part on how successful they are in rebuffing interest in their star assets from the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and now Pochettino’s Tottenham. Dream moves for the likes of Shaw and Lallana to Old Trafford and Anfield have been mooted for some time now, but Davis is not treating their departures as done deals. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Baggies close in on Lescott

first_img He worked previously with Lescott during his time on the coaching staff at Everton. Irvine was the Toffees’ assistant manager when the centre-back joined them in 2006 from Wolves – the club Lescott began his career at and West Brom’s derby rivals. Lescott has been linked with other Barclays Premier League sides, including Hull and Stoke, but it seems being reunited with Irvine is what lies ahead for the Birmingham-born player. He made only 10 top-flight appearances for City in their title-winning campaign last term. New Albion head coach Alan Irvine confirmed on Wednesday the midlands outfit were in negotiations over signing Lescott, who is out of contract this summer after five years with Manchester City, and it appears the deal is now moving closer. The 31-year-old looks set to become Irvine’s first recruit since the Scot’s appointment as Baggies boss at the weekend. Former England defender Joleon Lescott is undergoing a medical ahead of a proposed move to West Brom, Press Association Sport understands.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Gunners in profit once more

first_imgArsenal have posted a £4.7million profit and reported increased turnover in their latest financial figures released on Friday. Wages were up by £12million to £166.4million, representing 55.7 per cent of football revenue, with key players such as Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere having all signed new, improved contracts. For the first time in several seasons, Arsenal did not sell any star players last season – and indeed went on to sign Chile forward Alexis Sanchez after the World Cup as well as France defender Mathieu Debuchy and England forward Danny Welbeck from Manchester United on transfer deadline day. Profit on sale of player registrations up to May 31 was reduced to £6.9million from £47million in the same period for 2013. With Arsenal’s £390million switch to a new 60,000-seater home at Ashburton Grove in 2006 being funded by a long-term fixed-rate bond repayment, the group reported cash balances up to £173.3million, from £119.6million last year. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis vowed the board would continue to support manager Arsene Wenger in aiming to keep Arsenal challenging for honours. “The club is in excellent shape, both on and off the pitch,” he said. “There is always more to do and, whether investing in the team or in training facilities which will provide long-term benefit to the club, our guiding principles are the same and our focus is clear, on delivering more on-field success. “This remains the shared ambition of our majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, the board and everyone connected with the club. Press Association “We are well placed to deliver against those ambitions.” Following the 2013 sale of the Queensland Road development, Arsenal went through a low-key year in their property business with revenues of £3.2m and a small operating profit of £400,000. The latest balance sheet showed a total £207.9m cash reserve, inclusive of £34.6m annual debt-service on the stadium repayments, up around £54m from the same period last year. Overall net debt was reported as £32.6m, down from £93.2m. Even though the latest figures do not include the summer transfers of some £60m or the wages associated with those deals, Arsenal clearly remain in a strong financial position going forwards. The next set of results are also expected to show an impact from the new Puma kit deal, worth some £150m over five years. That, though, will not appease some fans, who felt shortcomings on the pitch this season, which culminated in a 2-0 Champions League defeat at Dortmund on Tuesday night, could have been avoided with the purchase of a defensive midfielder and more cover at the back. Gazidis, though, insists Arsenal, whose majority shareholder is American tycoon Stan Kroenke, remain committed to the number-one priority of taking the club forwards on the field. “We continue to drive forwards across every aspect of our activities. We are making significant progress but there is plenty more to be done,” he added in a statement to shareholders. “We are investing in new staff and looking at the very latest techniques in sports science and physical development. “We are also looking to strengthen our global scouting networks to ensure we find the very best young talent in the game. This is important to our long-term success and it is a policy we will continue to pursue vigorously.” Chairman Sir Chips Keswick echoed the board’s determination. He added: “Our ambition is to put Arsenal Football Club at the pinnacle of the game here and in Europe. “We all want to savour a repeat of the joys of last May.” The results, which covered the year ended May 31, 2014, also revealed the club had cash reserves of £173million. The profit was down £2million from the corresponding 2013 results with turnover up to £301.9million from £280.4million, driven by improved broadcasting income, new commercial deals and their FA Cup success. last_img read more

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Warnock compares Mourinho to Clough

first_img “I just like the way he’s gone about it while he’s been in the game. “And I like it when he’s the underdog because he’s not always the favourite. He’s the underdog in some games. “People are waiting to write him off because he gets the result. He’s always tactically astute. “Jose talks about players going through brick walls for him and yet they’re not in his pockets. “He says it how it is, his team always want to play well and tactically and when it comes to the tough games, I think he’s spot on.” Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock has prepared for his managerial duel with Jose Mourinho by describing the Portuguese as the rightful heir to Brian Clough. And he pays the man he views as the best coach in the Premier League the ultimate compliment by comparing him to his managerial hero Clough. “In my eyes Jose is the nearest thing to Cloughie really. Jose’s the same type – a players’ manager,” Warnock said. “When I was growing up as a young manager, I thought Cloughie had everything. “I had a couple of afternoons with him on my own and I enjoyed his company. He talked a lot of sense. “Yes he upset a few people here and there, but his philosophy was very good. “And I like Jose. I think he is the best there is – I always have done. “He looks after his players. You don’t get anywhere without being a players’ manager. “You only have to listen to people like John Terry and (Frank) Lampard and what they think about him. (Didier) Drogba coming back in. Press Association Unbeaten Chelsea resume their Barclays Premier League title challenge at Selhurst Park on Saturday with Warnock among those believing them capable of emulating Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-04. Warnock has vast admiration for the tactical nous and man management skills of Mourinho, who has embarked on his second spell at Stamford Bridge. last_img read more

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Rory leads Bolger one-two

first_imgLove Rory repeated his win of 12 months previously in the Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown. Ridden by Adrian Heskin, who was completing a double having taken the opener on Crafty Codger, Love Rory (11-4) beat his stablemate by a length and a half after taking it up going to two out. “It didn’t trouble me going to the last!” joked Bolger. “We’ll take him to Cheltenham next month. We definitely didn’t want to take on that man (Balthazar King) yesterday, he wouldn’t have been up to that, but it’s a handicap the next day. “It’s starting to be the time of year for these guys. The second horse didn’t turn well on the second-last bend and that maybe cost him, but the other lad was going away at the end.” Kashline (9-2) stayed on best of all to win the Festival 3 For 2 Ticket Offer Handicap Chase. There were half a dozen still going well approaching the final fence in the back straight when Snooze hit the front, but Robbie Power still had not asked for everything on Colin Bowe’s eight-year-old. Having jumped into the lead at the second-last he pulled well clear, despite getting in a bit tight at the final fence, and Jupitor just caught Snooze to take second on the line. Power said: “The heavy ground the last day in Cork was very tacky and hard work. He’s not over-big and puts a lot of effort into his jumping. He travelled a lot sweeter today. He struggled a bit in the soft patch in the back but when he hit the better ground he picked up well.” Enda Bolger is usually the man to follow in races run over the banks course and so it proved once more with the cross-country master providing the first two as Keep On Track was second after leading from a long way out. Cheltenham Festival winner Big Shu was sent off the 5-4 favourite but Peter Maher’s charge could finish only third after holding every chance, though he didn’t help his cause when he pecked on landing over the second-last. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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In-form Fabregas hails team-mates

first_img The Spain midfielder moved to Stamford Bridge from Barcelona in the summer, insisting he had ‘unfinished business’ in the Premier League having previously spent eight years at Arsenal. Things could not have started much better for Fabregas, with the 27-year-old showing on a weekly basis why he was so coveted by Jose Mourinho over the summer. “I am playing next to great players and they are playing very well and helping me. We have a very young, talented team. “The mood is great and, hopefully, it will grow up as the season goes on because you know that for the next two months it’s going to be really, really tough – a lot of games.” When asked if playing in a deep role alongside Nemanja Matic was his preferred role, Fabregas was emphatic: “Yes, 100 per cent. 100 per cent,” he replied. “I feel more in control of the game, I touch the ball all the time, I feel happy, I go and get the ball from here, from there, I can go forward, Oscar drops deep. I feel free, I feel confident, I feel in control and that’s what I like the most in football. “Sometimes in the last three, four years in the national team and Barcelona, I was playing like a number nine. I mean I have to do it for the team and I enjoy, and it’s all good. But, here, where I am playing today, it’s where my football I enjoy the most.” Fabregas is no stranger to earning plaudits for his displays in the Premier League after developing into a linchpin of the Arsenal team between his debut in 2003 up until the time of his departure. But in all that time he only ever collected one winners’ medal from a major competition, the FA Cup success over Manchester United in 2004. And, having spent three seasons at the Nou Camp adding to his medal tally, Fabregas knows the current Chelsea side need to turn their impressive start into silverware if they are to be regarded amongst the truly best sides. “Potentially, this team can be very, very good but we have to win trophies,” he added. “I always said it, no-one remembers if there was a great, great team and you don’t. We have to win and that will say a lot from us and people will judge it how they want to judge it. The most important thing is to keep it going and at the end of the season we can talk. “We know people say how great Chelsea is, how good they are playing, how we have won the title, but it is just not happening this way in the dressing room. It’s a long way to go.” Press Association Cesc Fabregas believes he is playing the best football of his career – and puts his scintillating form down to the quality of his Chelsea team-mates. Having scored twice, Fabregas has also laid on plenty of assists, racking up 10 in the league and playing a part in four of Chelsea’s five-goal haul in their thrashing of Schalke on Tuesday night. The 5-0 success in Gelsenkirchen sealed safe passage into the last 16 of the Champions League as Chelsea remain unbeaten so far this season, in no small part due to the form of Fabregas. “I’ve played in World Cup finals, European Championship finals, Champions League finals with great teams,” he said. “I feel right now I am playing some of the best football of my career. If I chose this challenge (to join Chelsea) it’s because I felt it could be this way. I didn’t come here to just play well and that’s it. “I came here to win trophies and if I could play well and enjoy myself, all the better. There will be games I cannot enjoy myself the way I am today because other teams will approach games differently. “But the most important thing for me is we know what we are doing, we know when we defend, when we have to attack, when we slower the pace, go quicker. I think right now, we are doing that very, very well.” And the 94-capped World Cup winner believes the reason behind his rich vein of form is the way he is allowed to operate alongside some of the best players in the world. “There is no secret,” he said. last_img read more

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Johnson strike settles derby

first_img Black Cats striker Steven Fletcher was denied by the crossbar before the break and Connor Wickham, Jordi Gomez and Johnson all passed up glorious opportunities to open the scoring. But goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon had to pull off fine second-half saves from Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko as the Magpies threatened to end their run of defeats before Johnson dashed their hopes in front of a passionate crowd of 52,315. Sunderland were dealt a significant blow before kick-off when full-back Anthony Reveillere limped out of the warm-up with a calf injury. Poyet replaced the Frenchman with central defender Sebastian Coates and asked skipper John O’Shea to start at left-back, and the visitors looked understandably shaky as their hosts flew out of the blocks. However, for all their possession and the driving efforts of Sissoko and lively lone striker Perez, they were unable to trouble Pantilimon to any extent until Sissoko exchanged passes with Sammy Ameobi and drilled in a low 14th-minute effort. But as the initial onslaught abated, Sunderland found their feet at the back to give the men ahead of them a platform to start creating, and it was they who settled into the better rhythm with striker Fletcher giving them an outlet with the commendable assistance of wide man Wickham. The England Under-21 international perhaps should have scored with a header from Johnson’s 23rd-minute free-kick, and Fletcher was unfortunate not to do so three minutes later when he got ahead of defender Steven Taylor to sidefoot Sebastian Larsson’s whipped cross against the bar. Wickham forced a fingertip save from rookie goalkeeper Jak Alnwick on the half-hour after unleashing a fierce drive and after Perez had sent Pantilimon scuttling across his goal with a curling effort, headed straight at the 21-year-old from Santiago Vergini’s delivery. The winger struck in the 90th minute to settle a rip-roaring encounter which might have gone either way until his intervention. It was no more than Gus Poyet’s men deserved after creating the better chances on an afternoon when they collected just their third Barclays Premier League win of the season. But despite all the endeavour, a half which brought five bookings ended goalless with the Black Cats leaving the field ahead on points. The visitors resumed in confident fashion with Newcastle still struggling to find a real coherence, and their fortunes could have taken a turn for the worse five minutes into the second half had it not been for Taylor’s bravery. Wickham did superbly to recycle the ball and clip a cross to the far post, where the defender managed to get there marginally before Fletcher before colliding in sickening fashion with the upright and suffering a head wound in the process. The visitors should have taken the lead while Taylor was being patched up off the pitch when Fletcher handed Gomez the chance to make a name for himself on Wearside, but the midfielder sidefooted wastefully wide. Pardew replaced Yoan Gouffran with youngster Adam Armstrong with 31 minutes left on the clock, but it was full-back Daryl Janmaat who took aim at the Sunderland goal seconds later, although his left-foot strike flew well wide. But Perez came desperately close to opening the scoring when he dispatched Sissoko’s 63rd-minute pass towards the top corner only to see Pantilimon pull off a superb one-handed save. Sissoko failed to connect with Ameobi’s 67th-minute cross after turning neatly inside his own half and sprinting upfield to play in the wide man, and Armstrong was denied by Pantilimon after Perez and the increasingly influential Sissoko had combined to set him up five minutes later. Armstrong fired straight at the Romanian goalkeeper once again after creating space for himself 16 minutes from time, and it was then that Pardew chose to send on striker Papiss Cisse for defensive midfielder Cheick Tiote. The visitors might have gone ahead with 13 minutes remaining when Wickham picked out Johnson and he stepped inside Fabricio Coloccini only to then stab his shot wide. But the winger made amends with seconds of normal time remaining when, having held off Sissoko and stayed on his feet to spark a pacy counter-attack, he collected substitute Will Buckley’s lay-off and thumped the ball past the helpless Alnwick. Adam Johnson condemned Newcastle to a fourth successive derby defeat for the first time in their history as Sunderland snatched a dramatic last-gasp 1-0 victory at St James’ Park. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Lallana sidelined for a month

first_img Press Association However, the attacking midfielder was forced off after 55 minutes with what manager Brendan Rodgers called “a tweak in his thigh” – a complaint Press Association Sport understands will rule the England international out for four weeks. The injury will see Lallana miss Monday’s FA Cup third-round clash at AFC Wimbledon and both legs of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea, as well as several Premier League matches. The 26-year-old is beginning to produce the kind of performances which led the Reds to pay Southampton a reported £25million for his services in the summer. Lallana scored a brace as Swansea were seen off 4-1 last Monday and started a sixth successive match in all competitions in the New Year’s Day encounter with Leicester at Anfield. center_img Liverpool will be without Adam Lallana for the next month due to a thigh injury, Press Association Sport understands. last_img read more

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Carver: Selection due to injuries

first_img Carver came in for criticism from Newcastle fans after making seven changes from his side’s previous game against Burnley, with the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat, Fabricio Coloccini and Jack Colback all absent. All those players are set to return for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League game at Chelsea and, with rumours continuing over his selection, Carver felt the need to put the record straight. Newcastle caretaker boss John Carver has repeated his insistence that he named his strongest possible team for last week’s FA Cup third-round defeat at Leicester. Carver said: “There were a lot of rumours going round about me putting out a weakened side, but I made quite a bit of noise about the fact I wanted to put out a strong side and win the FA Cup. “Before the game the doctor told me we had four or five players unavailable and we had played four games in eight days and I had to listen to him. “This was nothing to do with (owner) Mike (Ashley) or (chief executive) Lee Charnley. I couldn’t even have thought about playing them. They had genuine injuries and genuine issues. I put the strongest team possible on the pitch.” Meanwhile, Carver has received a welcome boost with the news Tim Krul could be in contention for the trip to Stamford Bridge. Krul has been out with ligament damage since November but was due to take part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Celtic at the club’s training ground on Thursday. Carver added: “We’re going to give him 45 minutes and if he comes through the game then hopefully he’ll be available for the weekend. “Tim has been fantastic for this football club. His return will give everyone a boost. He is a leader and we are going to need leaders at Chelsea.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Falcao: “I just need to play”

first_imgRadamel Falcao insists he has not lost his desire to succeed at Manchester United despite being increasingly sidelined by boss Louis Van Gaal. The Colombian has not started for United since the 2-0 win over Sunderland last month and has scored just four goals in 22 appearances. There now appears no chance of the club opting to make Falcao’s loan move from Monaco permanent at the end of the season but the player insists he has not given up hope. In quotes carried by the Manchester Evening News from an interview with Colombian radio station Radio Caracol, Falcao said: “I just need to play. “I can’t let myself get worried, I need to be prepared to take the opportunity when it comes. “I am happy at the club and with how the fans and my teammates have treated me. I will keep fighting until the end at Manchester United.” Falcao is currently on international duty preparing for his country’s friendly games in Bahrain and Kuwait. And the 29-year-old appeared to acknowledge that he would need certain assurances in the increasingly unlikely event United move to extend his Old Trafford stay. “When the championship finishes, of course I will sit down, analyse things and decide what is best for me,” Falcao added. “Obviously I need to find a place where I have continuity and where I can play. “I am totally focused on the club. There are eight games left and anything can happen.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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