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unbeaten in three on the
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MessaggioInviato: Ven Feb 01, 2019 2:25 am    Oggetto:  unbeaten in three on the
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The International break disrupts Premier League play again this weekend at a time when proceedings are gaining momentum. This is the second international break in the last month – so much for continuity. Through seven matches, the logjam remains atop the table, with just four points separating first from seventh place. Just as intriguing, only three points stand between ninth place Manchester United and Norwich City, sitting in 18th and in the relegation zone. No need to wax poetic this week. To keep your BPL palate satiated, 10 Premier League thoughts heading into the International dates. 1. The Premier League is still buzzing from Adnan Janusajs two-goal debut saving Manchester Uniteds blushes last weekend. Ive been planning a Belgian of the Week section in this space, and Janusaj would fit the bill as worthy winner for Matchday 7. The excitement surrounding the 18-year-old is understandable. Ive been writing about the young players talent for months. His wonderful left foot (he scored with his right foot as well in the 2-1 win), his confidence taking on players, his silky smooth distribution; theres a whole lot to like. It must be remembered this is just one standout performance and Janusaj has a ways to go. Hell have to work on his frame and speed – two glaring physical attributes that will most certainly come in time. Consistency of performance and greater understanding of the game will reveal itself. Whatever may come of Janusaj, remember these are early days. Janusaj was playing at the Dallas Cup with Manchester Uniteds youth team short months ago. Hes jumped from playing in front of hundreds into the cauldron of the Premier League. The narrative, knee-jerk as ever, has been over the top. Comparisons to other young greats (he shares the same date of birth as Cristiano Ronaldo) are far too premature. As is the assumption hes set to pack up and leave Old Trafford at seasons end, just as Paul Pogba forced the clubs hand in his move to Juventus. Pogba has been candid that his inability to win over the manager forced a move. A new contract for Janusaj is a near certainty. So leave any panic to the alarmist in your life. Janusaj also put to bed any immediate discussion about his international future, denying a call-up to Belgium for World Cup qualifiers, and instead focusing on securing regular first team football at United. Janusaj is taking his rise in stride, and so should we. By the looks of it, he has star quality. But its easy for young players to fall off the rail under greater expectations and scrutiny. Even at United, in 2009 Federico Macheda scored a wonder goal winner at Aston Villa in the third minute of time added on at 17 years of age, drawing instant acclaim. Now 22, Macheda has failed to find his way and has been subject to numerous loan moves that havent helped his game. Lets give Janusaj some time before making any bold declarations of what he is and what he will be. 2. Wayne Rooney spoke publicly for the first time since his summer of discontent, claiming hes happy with his football and settled at Manchester United under David Moyes. Rooney claims his soured relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson stemmed from the former manager playing Rooney in the midfield, a position he did not want to play. The 27-year-old admitted his stance was selfish. Although now settled, Rooney stopped short of committing his long-term future to the club. At this point, the conversation about Rooneys future is irrelevant. Rooney, when fit, has been the top player for Moyes over the first two months. His work rate has been outstanding, and movement on and off the ball has been better than it has in years. A motivated Rooney is what this team needs. He has found a proper role under Moyes and regained his edge he has lacked in recent times. As long he maintains top form and continues to hold his place in the side playing off Robin van Persie along the front line, United will pay him whatever he requires to keep his spot in the side. No player is bigger than the club. But no player is more important over this transition period for Moyes than Rooney. Just 47 goals away from Sir Bobby Charltons club record of 249, such a prestigious record at the biggest club in the world is something neither club nor player can ignore. It wont be just Rooney acting selfish, the club will too. It may not be a perfect marriage, but its one that works. 3. An unsung hero is emerging at Arsenal. The deadline day big money acquisition of Mesut Ozil stole the headlines. But the addition of Mathieu Flamini has been another true difference maker. Flamini returned to Arsenal after five years at AC Milan. At the time, it seemed the Frenchman would be a role player. His importance cannot be understated, forcing Jack Wilshere up the park in a less familiar role, and the move has paid off in spades. Flamini fits the mold of a quiet, no-nonsense central midfielder who will allow the players around him to play. Hes efficient, tactically sound and his runs and passes are simple. Hes not all action and will never be a box-to-box, end-to-end presence. Thats not what Arsenal needs anyway. Flamini had only two wayward passes in the 1-1 draw on the weekend at the Hawthorns and has started every match in the Premier League and Champions League with the exception of his debut. The substance here doesnt require flash. It seems like Flamini has been around forever, yet hes only 29 and has plenty of game left. Its these types of character moves, bringing team players into the squad that wins trophies. The acquisition was understated, or even an afterthought, but bringing Flamini back to the Emirates has been a stroke of genius by Arsene Wenger. 4. Football has never been more attack oriented. Fluid, dynamic attacking players reflect the way the game is going, and top teams are being rewarded for more adventurous play. Southampton is a team who added attacking flair in the summer with a club record move for Dani Osvaldo from Roma. The Premier League has been an adjustment for the Italian international, scoring one goal thus far. But patience can be preached with Osvaldo while the team boasts the top defensive record in the BPL. Southampton have only conceded two goals this season; thats six fewer than league leaders Arsenal. And go figure, Southampton sits fourth in the Premier League. Team defending and shape has been efficient under Mauricio Pochettino. The team conceded 60 times last campaign with only five teams having a worse goal against record. A less flashy off-season move was the purchase of centre-back Dejan Lovren from Lyon, who has shored up things along the back line alongside the underrated Jose Fonte. The tandem, in combination with centre-midfielders Victor Wanyama and tackle-machine Morgan Schneiderlin have given strength down the spine. The true starring figure has been goalkeeper Artur Boruc, arguably the top player at his position in the league thus far. 19 saves, many of the highlight reel variety and five clean sheets have provided strength in goal for a team with a core of young players dependent on leadership at the back. The Saints will be hard pressed to keep up their current form. But the competitive nature of this team shouldnt surprise. 5. Spurs slip up at home to West Ham to the tune of a 3-0 loss was the shock result of the weekend. It was all a mess for Andre Villas-Boas side, forcing the issue in attack and allowing sloppy play to seep into the teams defensive performance in the second half. Spurs hadnt conceded more than a goal in a match all season and for the complete breakdown to come against a scoring deficient West Ham is entirely surprising. Other than a wonderful individual effort by Ravel Morrison, the other West Ham goals were defenders being muscled off the ball, failing to get in proper position, and losing concentration; all more mental issues than anything else. As far as squad selection, AVB elected to hand Jermain Defoe a rare start and it backfired. Defoe seems a player more suited to life in Cup competitions rather than a player to rely upon in the Premier League. Once Roberto Soldado came on, there was too little action from the Spaniard. Hes a talented goal scorer, but he needs to become more active in his play. Superior movement off the ball is required for Soldado to be a reliable big match option for Spurs. This team is good enough to be at the top of the table. How they respond from this setback will say a lot about the true makeup of the team. Its time to grow up. 6. There need be growing worry about the durability of Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany. The centre-back is the most important player to Citys title credentials, yet he cant stay fit. Kompany will miss Belgiums World Cup qualifiers and faces another spell on the sidelines after leaving Citys 3-1 win over Everton after just 34 minutes with a quad injury. This is Kompanys second injury requiring missed action of the season. Over the last 18 months, Kompany has dealt with three separate calf injuries, a hamstring and groin issues. Kompany is just 27 years old and supposed to be in peak physical condition. As the injuries mount, so does the concern. Short term, City has a big match with Chelsea at the end of the month. If not fit, Jose Mourinho will look to expose the back line with team speed in high positions. But longer term, another top centre-back need be recruited to manage Kompanys minutes more effectively. Manchester United had to do so with the greatest of care with Rio Ferdinand after a myriad of injury issues. The problem for Manuel Pellegrini is he doesnt have requisite cover at the back at present time. Joleon Lescott continues to be a nightmare and unable to play adequately alongside Matija Nastasic. The thought of Javi Garcia playing out of position in big matches is one that would have other teams salivating. As good as City is in attack, they need a fit Kompany to maintain proper structure and lead from the back in all competitions. 7. The raves reviews of Liverpools standout early play continue to ring in. There is a lot to like about the Luis Suarez/Daniel Sturridge partnership in attack, no matter how over the top the praise has become. The movement off the ball is most impressive, with neither player taking up a true high position. The inter-play and the freedom manager Brendan Rodgers has given the duo is whats making it so fluid. The preference of each player is to drift out to the left, but they are doing so with great patience and positional awareness. Rodgers is making all the right moves at the back as well. Against Crystal Palace, Rodgers deployed three at the back, showing intent to attack. The formation works with Steven Gerrard and Lucas playing deeper in holding midfield positions. The variety to which Liverpool can play at a high level is impressive. The formations are flexible and the players dont seem effected by the various tactical changes. Hats off to Rodgers as he continues to get the most out of what he has. 8. There are only 20 managerial jobs in the Premier League. When a job comes available, its hard to turn down the opportunity. That opportunity knocked for Gus Poyet at Sunderland, and the Uruguayan jumped at the chance to take the job. Good luck, Gus. Youre going to need it. Poyet did a wonderful job at Brighton, bringing the club to the brink of Premier League promotion. After a controversial falling out, its plain to see why Poyet wanted back on the job as soon as possible. Problem being, this Sunderland team may be the worse place for the next step in his managerial career. Although its just seven games in, Sunderland are stuck on one point and face a tough go of it, with Swansea away before meeting fierce rival Newcastle in a statement match in the coming weeks. Sunderland brought 14 new players to the club in the summer, and its far-fetched to believe a new manager can bring this group of relative unknowns closer together, forming a chemistry and identity while navigating through murky waters. Dont look for the bank to re-open for transfers in January. Poyet was known for wanting complete control of transfers at Brighton. Director of football Roberto de Fanti and chief scout Valentino Angeloni were instrumental in the busy summer business working hand in hand with Paolo Di Canio. The gentlemen can say they will all be on the same page. But until further evidence, its all lip service. Fact is, the team isnt good enough. Neither are the players. The passionate supporters of the Black Cats deserve better than the current climate. Poyet will have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to get this one right. 9. Cardiff City promotion was a wonderful story of perseverance for the Welsh club. The good vibes have continued into this Premier League season. The magical 3-2 home victory over Manchester City provided some of the scenes of the season. Now stories of discontent and questionable decision-making behind the scenes threaten the goodwill and could derail positive strides on the field. First came reports last weekend of players banning owner Vincent Tan from the locker room over a row about unpaid bonus payments. Then on Tuesday, head of recruitment and right-hand man of manager Malky Mackay, Iain Moody was replaced by a 23-year-old friend of the owners son, with no said footballing experience. The latest rumours have Mackay being asked to leave his position; something the manager refuses to do. The players clearly play for their manager. Any such move would shake the club to its core. Cardiff City stadium was a fortress in winning the League Championship last campaign. Cardiff supporters have already endured the owner changing the colours from their tradition blue to red. Now discontent is taking the dysfunction to intolerable levels. This is certainly a situation to monitor. It would be an absolute shame if the clubs historic rise to the top tier unravels as such. 10. A BBC State of the Game study revealed English footballers account for less than a third of minutes played in the Premier League thus far this season. The figure is substantially lower in comparison to other nationals playing in their respective leagues across Europe. These latest findings will raise the voice of the disheartened masses about the state of the game in England. A national team struggling through World Cup qualifying with little success in recent memory combined with a league whose biggest stars reside from other countries doesnt sit well with the proud footballing nation. Add Jack Wilsheres patriotic call for what it means to be English and represent country, expect a reaction calling for limitations on foreign players in the Premier League. This line of thinking couldnt be more off base. Its not about putting restrictions or foreign players. Its about proper development from within the country. This starts at the youth level. Its the way the players are being taught to play the game. Its the startling lack of top trained and progressive thinking English coaches. Its about redeveloping the identity of how England should play as a nation, bringing the country up to modern standard with a refreshed tactical and skill development approach. The reason why more English players arent playing at the top level is they arent good enough. Its the hard to swallow reality of where the bulk of English players stand at the current time. Theres something ironic about a call for restrictions on foreign players in a league that benefits so significantly from their global popularity and the financial windfall stemming from their reach and the relatable nature of their product. You can reach Gareth at
or follow him on Twitter, @WheelerTSN
. -- Canadian freestyle skier Roz Groenewoud isnt letting surgery to both of her knees deter her expectations for the Sochi Olympics.
. Anor had not scored since getting his first two goals of the season vs. Philadelphia on March 22 but struck with laser precision from distance in the 56th and 75th minutes. Montreal (3-10-5) lost its third straight and Impact coach Frank Klopas said it literally was a case of his players not stepping up.
. According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, it doesnt appear the offer was warmly received by the team. Blue Jackets director of hockey operations John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said on Wednesday the team has made offers of $6 million for two years, $32 million for six and $46 million over eight years but each one was refused by the restricted free agent centre and agent Kurt Overhardt.
.C. United have acquired midfielder Alex Caskey from the Seattle Sounders for a third-round pick in the 2016 MLS draft.
. What they did need, the Devils got from Patrik Elias. Elias scored a power-play goal 40 seconds into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.Daniel Sturridge is pushing for a start for Liverpool as they prepare to host Stoke in the Premier League on Sunday. Victory for Liverpool will see them leap above Stoke in the Premier League table, who sit one place above the Reds in eighth heading into the weekend.Stoke saw their chances of qualifying for the Europa League dealt a blow last week as they threw away a two-goal lead to draw at home against Swansea, and Mark Hughes will know that anything less than three points for his side at Anfield will likely end their chances. Emre Can is challenged by Ibrahim Afellay Team newsLiverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been ruled out for six to eight weeks with a knee injury and is a major doubt for Euro 2016.Sturridge and Roberto Firmino are pushing for starting places after brief substitute appearances against Borussia Dortmund but goalscorer at Signal Iduna Park Divock Origi could well keep his place.Stoke have Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri back available for Sundays Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield, but Glenn Whelan and Marko Arnautovic are doubts.Skipper Shawcross and winger Shaqiri are each set for their first appearance in three games after recovering from back and thigh problems respectively.Midfielder Whelan sustained a back issue of his own when getting out of his car, forcing him off in Saturdays 2-2 draw with Swansea, a match which also saw Arnautovic pick up a knee injury. Goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, who made his Barclays Premier League debut in that contest, is set to remain in the first XI. Stokes Xherdan Shaqiri is set for a return Opta statsLiverpool have won four of their last five meetings against Stoke, with the other game being a 6-1 loss on the final day of last season.Stokes 1-0 win against Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final 2nd leg in January ended a run of 36 games without winning at Anfield (D5 L31). They went out of the competition on penalties however.Each of the three meetings this season between the two sides has ended 1-0 to the away team.dddddddddddd Jurgen Klopp could see his side leap above Stoke Sturridge has scored three times and assisted three goals in six Premier League games against Stoke.At Anfield, Liverpool have suffered just one defeat in their last eight Premier League games (W3 D4).The Potters are now unbeaten in three on the road in the top-flight (W2 D1) after losing each of their three away league games before that.Stoke have netted a joint-league-high eight goals in the first 15 minutes of their games this season (level with Bournemouth and Man City), which equates to an outright high 22% of their total goal haul.With seven goals and five assists in the league this season, Philippe Coutinho has already matched his best-ever goal involvement tally in a single campaign (also 12 in 13/14).Arnautovic has had a hand in 15 goals this season in the top-flight (scored 10, assists five), the most of any Stoke player in a single Premier League campaign. Marko Arnautovic has had a hand in 15 goals this season Mersons predictionsLiverpool in the top four is out of the question for me now. Stoke are a funny team. They play good football, but theyre 2-0 up and cruising and then get pegged back for a draw. I saw them get well beaten by Southampton the other week at home, but then theyll beat teams. Theyre a bit hot and cold at the moment and havent got that consistency, but they are still a good team.PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 7/1)BettingLiverpool are 3/5 favourites with Sky Bet to secure all three points against Stoke (9/2) with the draw available at 3/1. The Anfield outfit have been pushed out to 20/1 to secure a top four finish but look a more solid bet at 5/4 to finish in the top six with the Potters 33/1 outsiders. Four of the last five meetings in all competitions have finished 1-0 and Sky Bet are offering odds of 5/1 for the hosts to win by that margin and 12/1 for Mark Hughes men. The Sky Sports pundits are spilt on the outcome. Check out their tips and bet here.
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MessaggioInviato: Ven Feb 01, 2019 2:25 am    Oggetto: Adv



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