Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Peter Olayinka scores in UEFA Champions League

Image result for Peter Olayinka

A round-up of the Nigeria-eligible players who were on parade for their respective clubs on matchday one in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, September 17.

At the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by Slavia Prague in Group F.
Peter Olayinka gave the visitors a shock lead in the 63rd minute but the Serie A outfit snatched a 92nd minute equaliser through Barella . The Slavia Prague number 9 was replaced on 85 minutes.

In Group H, Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by Valencia, with Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham playing the full game for the Premier League side on their Champions League debuts.

A 74th minute goal from Rodrigo secured all three points for Valencia. The Blues were handed a lifeline in the closing minutes after they were awarded a penalty but the spot kick was missed by Ross Barkley.

In the other group fixture, Victor Osimhen's Lille were thrashed 3-0 by Ajax Amsterdam; Promes, álvarez and Tagliafico the scorers for the Dutch champions at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

The Nigeria international went the distance for Lille on his Champions League debut.

At the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, RB Leipzig claimed a 2-1 win vs Benfica, with former Everton man Ademola Lookman watching proceedings from the bench for the entirety of the game.

The German Bundesliga side established a two-goal lead thanks to Werner's double, before substitute Seferović pulled one back for the hosts on 84 minutes.

In a Group E clash at the Red Bull Arena, Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu came off the bench in the 85th minute as Racing Genk were hammered 6-2 by Salzburg.

Haland scored a first-half hat-trick; Hwang Hee-Chan, Szoboszlai and Ulmer were also on target for the hosts while Lucumí and Samatta pulled goals back for the Belgian club.
Nigeria U23 international Stephen Odey was not in Racing Genk's matchday 18.

Thomas Tuchel unsure if Mauro Icardi will start for depleted PSG against Real Madrid.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel is unsure if Mauro Icardi is fit enough to start in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, who had expected to be fit for the game at the Parc des Princes, has been ruled out injured along with France forward Kylian Mbappe, while Brazilian Neymar is suspended.

Icardi, who joined PSG on a season-long loan from Inter Milan earlier this month, could start up front but Tuchel is unsure about his condition as the Argentine only played half an hour so far this season, coming on as a substitute in Saturday's 1-0 win over Strasbourg.

"I don't know exactly how fit he is," Tuchel said. "I don't know how long he can play, maybe he should start or maybe Eric Choupo-Moting can start. Everybody knows we miss a few strikers but I trust the players I have for this game."

The French champions return to the European stage for the first time since their elimination by Manchester United in the round of 16 last season.

Tuchel was keen to play down the importance of the visit of 13-time European champions Real.

"This game will not decide everything. I want us to play our game, aggressively and play to win," Tuchel said.

We've put last season behind us and we are looking ahead. We've made changes, there are new players and we've gained experience."

Club Brugge host Galatasaray in the other Group A game on Wednesday.

John Stones: Man City defender suffers muscle injury.

John Stones of Manchester City

Manchester City and England defender John Stones will be out for between four and five weeks after suffering a muscle injury in training.

Stones suffered the injury in Ukraine on Tuesday, where City are preparing for Wednesday's Champions League group game with Shakhtar Donetsk.

The injury is a setback for City, who are also without Aymeric Laporte until January or February because of injury.

It leaves City with one established central defender in Nicolas Otamendi.
Laporte injury a problem after Guardiola told to limit spending

The injury comes as City prepare for a busy period of games in the Premier League, Champions League and Carabao Cup.

Stones, 25, could miss up to eight league and cup matches for reigning Premier League champions City, who suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat at newly-promoted Norwich last Saturday.

"For me as a manager it is an incredible challenge," said City boss Pep Guardiola after revealing the news about Stones' injury during a news conference.

"But I believe in something people don't know about - spirit and commitment. We will make steps forward to solve this problem."

After facing Shakhtar, City entertain Watford on Saturday before playing Championship Preston at Deepdale in the third round of the EFL Cup next Tuesday.

City are away to Everton on 28 September, host Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on 1 October before welcoming Wolves to Etihad Stadium five days later.

After the international break, Pep Guardiola's side are at Crystal Palace on 19 October and then host Italian side Atalanta in the Champions League three days later.

France centre-back Laporte, 25, had surgery on his right knee after being carried off during the 4-0 win over Brighton on 31 August.

City are second in the Premier League table, five points behind leaders Liverpool.

Barkley misses late penalty as Chelsea lose at home to Valencia

Ross Barkley misses a penalty against Valencia

Chelsea's return to the Champions League ended in disappointment as Ross Barkley missed a late penalty that ensured Valencia claimed victory at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard's first game as a manager in the tournament he won as a player with Chelsea in 2012 turned into a night of frustration as Valencia took advantage of slack marking at a free-kick for Rodrigo to score the winner on 74 minutes.

Chelsea, who lost in-form youngster Mason Mount to injury early on, had the chance to rescue a point when referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty for handball after consulting VAR when Daniel Wass blocked Fikayo Tomori's header.

Barkley had only come on as a substitute eight minutes earlier but insisted taking the spot-kick instead of the Blues' regular taker Jorginho and Willian, who argued his own case to take it before relenting.

It was a tight and tense encounter with chances at a premium and a tricky Group H, which also includes Lille and last year's semi-finalists Ajax, has got even tougher for Chelsea after starting their campaign with a damaging home loss.

Napoli score two late goals to beat Champions League holders Liverpool

Dries Mertens' penalty and a late Fernando Llorente goal condemned Liverpool to defeat in their Group E Champions League opener against Napoli.

Belgian forward Mertens scored from the penalty spot after Liverpool defender Andy Robertson was judged to have fouled Jose Callejon.

Former Tottenham forward Llorente then capitalised on a mistake from Virgil van Dijk in stoppage-time to roll the ball past Liverpool keeper Adrian.

Jurgen Klopp's side are the first winners of the competition to lose the opening game of the following campaign since AC Milan in 1994.

Goalkeeper Adrian had earlier made two keys saves for Liverpool, who initially struggled to impose themselves in the intimidating atmosphere of the San Paolo Stadium.

The 32-year-old, deputising for the injured Alisson, twice saved from compatriot Fabian Ruiz during the first period and produced an outstanding point-blank save from Mertens' volley just after the break.

However, unlike the corresponding fixture last term, when Liverpool failed to register a shot on target in their 1-0 defeat, Klopp's side did produce moments of slick football to threaten the hosts.

A flashing Mohamed Salah drive was superbly tipped to safety by Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret, who also saved Sadio Mane's toe-poked shot with the score at 0-0.

But while Klopp's side have made a blistering start to the Premier League, averaging three goals per game, their failure to exploit several good breaks consigned them to a sixth defeat away from home in their last eight matches in the competition.

Roc Nation Sports Int’l, 10 Management Present Chukwueze As New Nigerian Brand

Roc Nation Sports Int’l, 10 Management Present Chukwueze As New Nigerian Brand
On Monday in Abuja, Roc Nation Sports International and 10 Management gave a presentation on Super Eagles and Villarreal of Spain wing wizard, Samuel Chukwueze to major Nigerian brands.
The two companies also outlined their culture as a brand and why they teamed up with Samuel, as well as their strategy following the signing of the Villarreal break out star.
It was a huge event that showcased the clear representation of Roc Nation Sports International as a company with a great reputation in the world, and what it wants to do following last July’s partnership with 10 Management – one that eventually culminated in the signing of Roc Nation Sports International’s sixth football star, Samuel Chukwueze.
Part of the keynotes of the event is to open the eyes of the Nigerian Business airspace to the benefits they will derive if they take the bold step to partner with Samuel Chukwueze following his recent rise to stardom for both club and country on and off the pitch.
President of Roc Nation Sports International, Michael Yormark, explained to the audience that were in attendance that it was important the company aligned with the player who has described himself as exciting, unique, hardworking, professional, powerful and skillful on the pitch and of course who has got promises even off the pitch having also displayed that he is ambitious, respectful and engaging.
He also pointed out that the ‘Samuel Brand’ is seeking partnership with Nigerian authentic brands for long term relationships, and he (Samuel) has made it clear also that he wants to partner both Nigerian and African based brands to reinforce his heritage. The attributes that Samuel possesses will be projected using the global reach of Roc Nation Sports International.
“It was a huge event. We never expected the large turnout and immediate responses we received, and we hope that in the next 45 days we will have started discussions with interested brands and companies as we pursue 3-5 exclusive partners that can align with us” said Yormark, following the event.
Ted Major, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer for Roc Nation Sports International, believes it is important Nigerian brands keyed into doing business with the ‘Samuel Brand’ as he is their own and they have so much to gain.
President of 10 Management, Graham Heydorn, who had nurtured Samuel Chukwueze, reiterated that for a player who has in his young age achieved and showed signs of greatness, it is expected that big Nigerian and African brands will swoop to get him to become their Brand Ambassador.
According to him, Samuel – who is a reincarnation of one of the best footballers in the world, Dutch wing wizard Arjen Robben – works very hard and is incredibly committed.
There were positive reactions from the Nigerian brands led by the Vice President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Somadina Anene, who welcomed the idea of the presentation.
In attendance at the epoch-making event were captains of industries from major brands in Nigeria such as Guinness Nigeria, leading Nigerian banks such as Access Bank PLC and the football business empire.
Samuel Chukwueze has made an immediate impact since joining Villarreal FC. He is currently rated among the top 50 young football stars in the world by UEFA.

Sports Minister Dare Intervenes In NFF, Dennerby Feud

Sports Minister Dare Intervenes In NFF, Dennerby Feud

Minister of Youth and Sports Sunday Dare has waded in the crisis between the Nigeria Football Federation and Super Falcons head coach, Thomas Dennerby.

There were reports that the Swede had threatened to resign from his position over several issues that have boiled over in recent weeks.

The 60-year-old was said to have returned to his home country after his team defeated Algeria 1-0 in the Olympics qualifiers and has failed to return.

The coach reportedly complained about the decision of the NFF to allow some of his players feature at the African Games in Egypt last month without informing him.

“I have personally stepped into the matter of Thomas Dennerby, the coach of Super Falcons. I received a brief this morning and will proceed to seek a quick resolution to ensure he continues to Coach Nigeria’s female team,” he tweeted.

”An hour ago I had a constructive conversation on the telephone with Super Falcons Coach Dennerby in Sweden. I have also spoken with the NFF leadership. We are working to resolve the issues in the interest of football development.”

Rooney: American Players In MLS Are Underpaid

Former England forward Wayne Rooney says that American players in the Major League Soccer are underpaid as the league heads towards negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement this winter.

Rooney linked up with DC United in 2018 and is set to conclude his stay in the MLS after the end of the current season.

The former Manchester United and Everton striker will head back to England in January to join Sky Bet Championship club, Derby County.

The league’s existing collective bargaining agreement is due to expire on Jan. 31, 2020, with players having previously threatened to strike before a final-hour deal during the last negotiations in 2015.

This time around, the focus is on increased salaries, better travel accommodations and increased player movement, having secured a limited form of free agency during the last set of negotiations four years ago.

With players still flying on non-charter flights and being paid in accordance with the league’s salary cap structure, Rooney says he believes MLS players deserve more than what they are currently getting.

“I feel that American players get underpaid,” he told ESPN.

“I feel they deserve to get more money to stay in line with football in the rest of the world but also in terms of the American sports.

“I’m not saying it to benefit me, I obviously won’t be in the league next season. I think it’s only fair to those players who are putting in the same work as all have to earn the right to earn more money for doing it.”

He added: “I think the flight issues, in terms of you get so many chartered flights, I believe if a team wants chartered flights than they should be able to charter as many they want. They should be able to do whatever they want with that.”

International Friendly: Super Eagles To Confront Brazil October 13 In Singapore

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face five-time world champions, Brazil in a friendly match on October 13 at the National Stadium, Singapore, rushhoursport.com reports.
According to a release from the Brazilian Football Confederation, Rohr’s side was picked because they are ranked among the best two teams in Africa and also for their physical football.
The Selecao will first confront the Teranga Lions of Senegal on October 10 at the same venue.
Nigeria lost 3-0 to the South Americans in their last meeting in 2003 at the National Stadium in Abuja with Gil, Luís Fabiano and Adriano getting the goals.
The Super Eagles were held to a 2-2 draw by Ukraine in their last friendly encounter at the Dnipro Arena.
The former African champions will use the game as part of their preparation for November’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixtures against Benin and Lesotho.

Kalu Rated As Best Dribbler In Europe’s Top 5 Leagues

Super Eagles and Bordeaux of France star, Samuel Kalu has been rated as the best dribbler in Europe’s top five leagues, according to OptaJean’s latest statistics, rushhoursport.com reports.

The skillful Nigeria international rates ahead of top stars like PSG’s Angel Di Maria, Arsenal new signing Nicolas Pepe and Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir.

The 22-yer old who helped Bordeaux to a 2-0 win over Metz last Saturday currently has the highest dribble percentage across French Ligue 1, EPL, Spanish LaLiga, Bundesliga and the Serie A.

In latest statistics collated by OptaJean, Kalu has successfully made 22 dribbles out of 47 attempts which puts him ahead of others in the ongoing 2019/2020 season.

Below are the statistics for the Top 4 successful dribbles in the 5 major leagues so far in the 2019/20 season.

Samuel Kalu – 22 (out of 47 attempts)

Nicolas Pépé – 19 (out of 28 attempts)

Nabil Fekir – 18 (out of 25 attempts)

Ángel Di María – 18 (out 41 attempts)

Neymar's Champions League ban for cut to two games

Neymar has had his three-match Champions League ban cut to two games by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was found guilty of abuse on social media by UEFA back in March and after the club's appeal to UEFA was dismissed, the Ligue 1 champions appealed to CAS, who reduced the ban on Tuesday.

The Brazilian, 27, used profane language towards officials after Manchester United were awarded a contentious penalty for handball against Presnel Kimpembe leading to a controversial 3-1 home defeat in the Champions League last 16.

Neymar, who was injured for the match, wrote on social media: "This is a disgrace, they put four people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR."

He will still miss PSG's opening Champions League games against Real Madrid on Wednesday and Galatasaray in two weeks' time, but can now travel to Club Brugge on October 22.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Valencia boycott ahead of Chelsea Champions League tie could lead to disciplinary action

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Valencia could face disciplinary action from UEFA after no player attended the pre-match press conference ahead of their Champions League tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The players refused to attend the pre-match press conference in the wake of last week's sacking of popular manager Marcelino, who led them to Copa del Rey success and secured Champions League qualification last season. New boss Albert Celades took press conference duties alone on Monday evening, yet he insisted that no matter what the feelings are inside the camp, the team will be motivated to beat Chelsea.

He said: "Obviously it's not an ideal situation but it's the players' decision, really. I don't have much more to say about that. There isn't anything I can do about it.

"I speak to the players every day. They took this decision but there is always dialogue. The reaction I've had has been very good and I'm sure it will continue to improve.

"The spirit is very good. [Tuesday] is the start of the best club competition in Europe and that is ample motivation for the players to give their best.

"They want to play, taste the atmosphere and be in the starting XI. No one wants to miss out and that, for me, is the most important thing."

Their opponents beat Wolves 5-2 on Saturday and, ironically, Valencia were beaten by the same scoreline in Celades' first match in charge against Barcelona at the weekend.

Now his side face a tough test against Frank Lampard's side on Tuesday, and the Spaniard has been complimentary of the Premier League side ahead of that game.

He added: "They are a great side with some fantastic individual players.

Klopp contract extension at Liverpool may be weather dependent, says agent

The Reds boss has stated that he is in no rush to discuss fresh terms at Anfield, with Marc Kosicke suggesting that the German may want warmer climes

Jurgen Klopp’s agent, Marc Kosicke, has suggested that the success of any contract extension talks at Anfield may be influenced by the British weather.

The German tactician is closing in on the four-year anniversary of his appointment by the Reds.

Since his arrival in October 2015, the 52-year-old has helped to make Liverpool competitive again in the Premier League while ending the club’s long wait for major silverware with a Champions League triumph.

Many on Merseyside would be happy to see him commit to a contract for life, but Klopp has stated on a regular basis that he is in no rush to discuss his future beyond the end of his current deal.

That is due to expire in 2022, with Kosicke claiming that discussions regarding fresh terms may depend on climate change delivering an improvement to conditions in the North West of England.

He told DAZN and Goal: "Jurgen's contract is still valid until 2022 and it is an open secret that the club would like to extend.

"We still have a little time for that. We must wait and see how everything develops and whether climate change will bring better weather to England or only to Germany.

"One should not underestimate [the bad weather]. I remember that in November or December, Liverpool first asked for a contract extension. I said: 'Let's wait'.

"Ulla [Klopp's wife] and Jurgen get up in the morning and it's dark. When they meet again in the evening, it is also dark or it is grey and there is drizzle.

"During the winter break in Germany, if the weather is really bad, the clubs go on vacation for two weeks, then come back and fly directly to the training camp in the sun for several days.

"During this time, the coaches in England sometimes have to prepare for up to 13 games. They are already exhausted and it's not so easy."

Kosicke added on Klopp’s drive, which may also see him opt to walk away and take a break: “Jurgen is not just interested in the win next Saturday. It is also about how the club is perceived and that everyone has a good working environment. The joy of daily work is the basic requirement for this.

“He always says: ‘If we are already there, then we must still give 100 per cent’. So I think it's this mix. Without taking into account the fact that his work is evaluated publicly every day.

“A CEO of a DAX board does not have that, they are judged by quarterly figures. The fact that every day something is written about you, how you work, how you look and he still gets on with things so well, that's what attracts the leaders of clubs to him.”

Klopp’s CV also offers obvious appeal to Liverpool and any other suitor, with there a determination on his part to add a Premier League title to his collection of honours after coming so close to toppling Manchester City in 2018-19.

“He is not only proud of the process that is going on, but also very happy that titles are back in the closet," said Kosicke.

“Therefore, winning the Premier League would still be a goal for Jurgen. There are these six top teams in the league. Jurgen has recently said his biggest problem in Liverpool is Manchester City.”

Barcelona confirm Messi is fit for Champions League opener against Dortmund.

The Argentine is in line for his first appearance of the 2019-20 campaign after making a full recovery from a calf injury suffered in August

Lionel Messi has been declared fit ahead of Barcelona's Champions League clash at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been out of action since sustaining a calf injury in pre-season, following his return to Camp Nou from the Copa America with Argentina.

He was expected back on August 25 when Barcelona faced Real Betis at Camp Nou, but his scar reopened which extended his time away from the pitch for a couple of extra weeks.

The 32-year-old returned to full training on Monday morning and has been included in Ernesto Valverde's 22-man squad for the trip to Westfalenstadion.

Messi will travel to Germany with his team-mates later on Monday, as Barca prepare to open their latest Champions League campaign.

The Spanish champions have been drawn in Group F, alongside Dortmund, Inter and Slavia Prague.

Messi has not featured for Barca since a Copa del Rey final defeat against Valencia on May 25, with Valverde having to make do without a prized asset at the start of the season .

The Blaugrana are fifth in La Liga after four matches, posting wins over Betis and Valencia while also suffering an opening day defeat against Athletic Club and drawing with Osasuna.

Second-choice goalkeeper Neto has also been included in Valverde's latest squad after a spell on the sidelines with a hand injury.

Teenage sensation Ansu Fati made the final cut after scoring his first goal at Camp Nou on Saturday .

Liverpool find out Club World Cup opponents at Zurich draw

Liverpool will face either Qatar club Al Sadd SC, Hienghene Sport of New Caledonia or Mexico outfit Monterrey in their Club World Cup semi-final in December.

The Reds are guaranteed a passage to the last four of the competition to be held in Qatar by virtue of their triumph in last season's Champions League, and they learned their fate following a draw in Zurich on Monday.

Hosts Al Sadd and Oceania champions Hienghene Sport face-off on December 11 for the right to challenge North American champions Monterrey three days later.

Liverpool will play the winners of that clash on December 18 and will either contest the final or third-place play-off on December 21.

In the other semi-final, the yet to be determined winners of the Copa Libertadores will face either African champions Esperance Sportive de Tunis or whoever is crowned Asian Champions League winners.

Liverpool's last foray in the tournament ended with a 1-0 defeat to Sao Paulo in Yokohama, Japan, in 2005.

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea signs new deal at Old Trafford

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has signed a new contract to stay with the club until 2023.

De Gea, 28, has made 367 United appearances since Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to the club from Atletico Madrid in an £18.9m deal in June 2011.

"Now my future is fixed, all I want is to help this team achieve what I believe we can and win trophies again, together," said the Spaniard.

"It has been a privilege to spend eight years at this great club."

De Gea, capped 40 times by Spain, helped United win the Premier League title in 2012-13, the FA Cup three seasons later and both the League Cup and the Europa League in 2016-17.

The Spaniard, who has consistently been linked with a move to Real Madrid in recent seasons, was in the last year of his contract and would have been able to open talks with clubs outside England over a possible move in January.

He came close to joining Real in a £29m move in September 2015, but the deal collapsed because the necessary paperwork was not submitted in time on the final day of the transfer window.

United and De Gea were in negotiations for more than two years over the new deal with the club making an improved offer in July.

"The opportunity to continue my career at Manchester United is a genuine honour," said De Gea, who has the option to extend the contract for a further season.

"Since I arrived here, I could never have imagined I would play over 350 games for this club.

"I still feel I have so much more to achieve at the club and I truly believe that Manchester United can build on the club's tradition of success and reward our fans for their support.

"I am committed to continue repaying the fans for all of the care that they've shown me during the good times and the bad."

De Gea has played in all five of United's Premier League games in 2019-20 with the club fourth, seven points behind leaders Liverpool.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: "I am delighted that David has committed his long-term future to the club.

"Over recent years, David has proved himself to be the best in the world and a vital part of our plans as we look to take Manchester United back to where it belongs."

The Norwegian added that De Gea "represents everything you want in a goalkeeper".

Roma Troll Arsenal Fan After He Tells Them To Keep Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Never tweet about your team winning until the final whistle, that's the lesson one Arsenal fan found out in the harshest way possible at the weekend.

The Gunners led bottom of the table Watford 2-0 after just half an hour on Sunday afternoon. At the same time midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on loan from Arsenal at Roma, was scoring for the Serie A side.

It led one Arsenal fan to let Roma know his side didn't need the Armenian anymore, oh how that backfired as Watford came back to draw 2-2. The Italian's responded with a wonderful 'story in four pictures.'

Unai Emery's side had taken the lead thanks to two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Quique Sanchez Flores' return to Watford looked certain to start in defeat.

However the second half was a completely different as Arsenal allowed the home side to have 23 shots in 45 minutes, 31 in the whole game, and earn a point.

Tom Cleverley halved the deficit on 53 minutes before Roberto Pereyra's penalty, after David Luiz had brought him down in the 81st minute, gave the Hornets a share of the points, although they remain bottom of the table.

Mkhitaryan, who joined Arsenal as part of the deal that took Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, joined Roma on loan in September for a year, with no option or obligation to buy for the Serie A side.

He had yet to make an appearance for the Giallorossi but made his debut from the start against Sassuolo on Sunday in the league.

Paulo Fonseca's side had an even better start to their game then Arsenal had, leading 4-0 after 33 minutes, after goals from Bryan Cristante, Edin Dzeko, Justin Kluivert and Mkhitaryan.

Sassuolo also hit back with two second half goals but, unlike Watford, it was too much to come back from as the home side registered their first win of the season.

Arsenal picked up six points from their opening two games but have since only won two points in three games, against Liverpool, Spurs and Watford.

If they had reasons for dropping points against the former two then there's little excuse for failing to see out a two goal lead against Watford or for the performance in letting so many shots at their goal.

Unai Emery has a lot of questions to answer, as do David Luiz and Granit Xhaka after their performances, at least Mkhitaryan wouldn't be the answer to their problems anyway, lucky for Smokey.

Emile Heskey Claims 'Skin Colour' Made It Easier For Steven Gerrard And Frank Lampard To Receive Coaching Offers

Emile Heskey has made a bold claim that Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were in a better position to receive managerial offers due to their 'skin colour.'

The ex-Liverpool and Leicester City striker, 41, wants to make a splash in the coaching world and is eager for the opportunity to prove himself at a high level.

But Heskey, who was subjected to racial abuse in his playing career, has questioned the lack of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) representation in the EFL and Premier League.

The former England international believes Lampard's first post at Derby County and Gerrard at Rangers showed they were in a better position due to the colour of their skin.

"I couldn't tell you why black people had to be bottom-feeders and then others can go wherever and get a job," he told the Times.

"100 per cent it would be easier [for Lampard and Gerrard]. They are going to get those jobs. I can only point towards skin colours.

"I can point towards medals. Sol [Campbell] has got more than Stevie [actually 6-8 behind but has two titles].

"Ashley Cole's got more than any of them. England's best player for that era. Ash is being given a chance to get on that ladder with Chelsea under-15s."

Heskey has openly admitted that he supports the Rooney Rule, which means clubs must interview candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds for head-coaching positions.

In England, those from a BAME background represent only four top-level positions.

Nuno Espirito Santo is at Wolves and Sabri Lamouchi is at Nottingham Forest, while Darren Moore is at Doncaster and Keith Curle is at Northampton.

Liverpool legend Gerrard, 39, was appointed Rangers boss in 2018 and has expressed his desire to manage the Reds someday.

Chelsea icon Lampard spent one season at Derby before he was appointed Blues boss in the summer.

Agree or disagree with Heskey?

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham hints at switching allegiance to Nigeria

In-form Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has given Super Eagles a major boost by refusing to rule out switching his allegiance to Nigeria.

The 21-year-old who was born in the UK to Nigerian parents is currently the joint-leading scorer with Sergio Aguero in the Premier League, So far, the pair have seven goals each.

Despite representing England at Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 levels Tammy is still eligible to play for the three-time African champions, through his Nigerian parents.

Speaking on the situation, Abraham told Goal: 'Yes, I have heard the talk. I have not really been focused on that yet.

'I think when the time comes, the times comes. It is about focusing on Chelsea and hopefully scoring goals and getting victories.

'We never know. You can never say never, whatever comes first really. I just have to keep full focus on Chelsea. 

Super Eagles Jamilu Collins Sets New Bundesliga Record.

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Jamilu Collins set a new German Bundesliga record despite SC Paderborn's 5-1 loss to Schalke 04 on Sunday, September 15.

According to football statistics website Whoscored.com, the Nigeria international left-back completed 10 dribbles in Paderborn's loss to Schalke, a record in a Bundesliga match this season.

Collins has been one of the key players for the Bundesliga strugglers in the new season, starting and completing each of their four matches in the league without receiving a caution.

The 25-year-old's previous best was against Freiburg on matchday two, when he completed a game-high four dribbles.

Against Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg on matchday one and three respectively, the Super Eagle managed one dribble each.

Collins made two tackles and two clearances against Schalke 04, won one foul, touched the ball 80 times and had a passing accuracy of 65.1 percent.

He was in action for ninety minutes in the Super Eagles entertaining 2-2 draw with Ukraine on September 10.

Abraham Opens Door To Future Super Eagles.

Good News For Nigeria As Chelsea's Abraham Opens Door To Future Super Eagles Call-up
The fight for Tammy Abraham's international future between Nigeria and England is far from over after the player's decision to leave door open to the West African giant.

Abraham, 21, told reporters that he hasn't closed the door on representing the three-time African champions despite his two caps for the Three Lions.

According to the youngster after his hat-trick against Wolves on Saturday, there have been much discussions over his international future but he's currently focusing on his Chelsea career.

"Yes, I have heard the talk. I have not really been focused on that yet. I think when the time comes, the times comes. It is about focusing on Chelsea and hopefully scoring goals and getting victories,'' the Chelsea number nine was quoted as saying by Football.London.

"We never know. You can never say never, whatever comes first really. I just have to keep full focus on Chelsea.''

This will come as good news to the Nigeria Football Federation who have been trailing the player's development for a couple of years with the aim of capturing his services ahead of the England.

Rebekah Vardy flaunts her blossoming bump as she kisses her husband Jamie Vardy in the sea in Dubai

Rebekah Vardy is expecting the arrival of her fifth child, which will be her third with footballer Jamie Vardy.

The couple are currently enjoying a short holiday in Dubai.

On Saturday, Rebekah Vardy, 37, was pictured cradling her blossoming baby bump as she hit the beach wearing a teal halterneck bikini while enjoying a romantic stroll. with her husband, Jamie, 32,

At one point, the pair were pictured sharing a kiss in the sea as they held on to each other.

Rebekah already has two children with the footballer, four-year-old Sofia and two-year-old Finley. Her two other kids, 13-year-old Megan and nine-year-old son Taylor are from her previous relationships.

The Leicester City striker also has another child, Ella, from a previous relationship.

Lola OJ reacts to rumors her baby is for footballer, Obafemi Martins

Over the weekend, popular Nigerian Vlogger, Lola OJ, announced she welcomed a child three months ago.

Lola however did not reveal who the father of her child is.

Yesterday, Instagram was agog with reports that Lola had an affair with football star, Obafemi Martins who is reportedly the father of her new born. Obafemi is married to Ghanaian-Italian, Abigail Barwuah, sister of Mario Balotelli.

Lola has since reacted to the rumor via her Instastories. Read what she wrote below.

The British-born Nigerian beautypreneur shocked fans on September 14 as she took to Instagram to reveal that she has been a mother for almost 3 months.She also shared her pregnancy and baby photo which according to her changed her life for good.

Revealing that she is now motivated more than ever to work, to build and to be the best because of her child, Lola OJ added that her daughter was christened Asiya Irede.

She wrote;

    Almost 3 months ago my life changed for the better. I birthed LIFE, I became a MOTHER, I birthed LOVE.

    Life will take you in directions you NEVER saw yourself going in but it will turn out to be the best road ever taken.
    Hear me! It hasn’t been the easiest road but by far the most rewarding. Her smile... I can’t begin to put to words the anxiety I felt, my Career, my Business, my Life, but God will never give you too much to carry. And if He does, trust He’ll provide the capacity for you to carry it all.
    Now I’m motivated more than ever to work, to build, to be the best me...because of her.
    Encouraging all the new mothers out there, don’t lose yourself. A happy mummy is a happy child.
    ASIYA IREDE you are my world. #MummyAsiya

Romelu Lukaku: TV pundit suspended over comments on Inter Milan striker

Image result for Luciano Passirani
A pundit on Italian TV was immediately suspended following racist comments he made on-air regarding Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku.

TopCalcio24's Luciano Passirani was suspended shortly after making a comment directed at Lukaku on Sunday.

Speaking on the Qui Studio a Voi Stadio show, Passirani started off by saying, "I don't see any other player in Italy now like Lukaku. [...] I really like him," before adding, "the only way to stop him is to say, Here are ten bananas that you can eat."

Lukaku was targeted with monkey chants by Cagliari fans this month.

Serie A's disciplinary judge has not decided yet whether or not Cagliari should be punished.

Meanwhile, Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Hellas Verona supporters aimed offensive chants at AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie during the first half of a 1-0 loss to Milan on Sunday night.

The Italian sports newspaper adds that the chants continued during half-time.

Kessie, an Ivory Coast international, was also subjected to racist chants by Inter Milan and Lazio fans last season.

Sadio Mane says Mohamed Salah feud is forgotten

Sadio Mane insists his feud with Mohamed Salah is forgotten after his furious outburst two weeks ago.

Liverpool forward Mane reacted angrily to Salah choosing to shoot rather than pass to him during the 3-0 victory over Burnley on August 31.

After being substituted, the Senegalese international threw his training shirt on the floor and gesticulated towards his team-mate, but declared on Canal+ that the pair have buried the hatchet.

He said: "With Salah? It's forgotten.

"Sometimes you have to say things face to face. These are things that happen in football, sometimes it happens that I am not given the pass.

"But we have reconciled and become the good friends we were before."

Mane, who scored twice in the 3-1 Reds' victory over Newcastle on Saturday, now has six goals in six appearances this season, while Salah has four in seven.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan Scores On Roma Serie A Debut


On-loan Arsenal forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored on his debut as AS Roma beat Sassuolo 4-2 in Serie A.

The Armenia international scored his side's third goal with a low strike after Bryan Cristante's header and a volley from Edin Dzeko had put Roma in control.

Justin Kluivert's composed finish made it 4-0 and although Domenico Berardi hit a brace for Sassuolo it was too little too late.

The win was Roma's first of the season.

They are seventh with five points after a win and two draws from their three games so far.

‘I’ve won five Champions Leagues, these guys zero’! - How Ronaldo became Atletico's public enemy No.1

The Portuguese star has very few friends at the Wanda Metropolitano after his antics and exploits with both Juventus and Real Madrid over the years

There are few greater rivalries between an opposing player and club than Cristiano Ronaldo’s with Atletico Madrid.

After spending nine years with city rivals Real Madrid, such conflict is understandable.

Ronaldo scored 22 goals against Los Rojiblancos for Real, one of those in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final triumph, while he also hit the winning spot-kick as Atleti were defeated in the final again two years later.But despite enjoying great success against Diego Simeone’s men while in Spain, it is since moving to Juventus that the 34-year-old’s feud with Atleti has moved to another level.

The pair met in last season’s Champions League, albeit with more at stake than this year.

Atletico emerged 2-0 winners in the first leg of their last 16 tie, with Simeone’s side putting on an exceptional display to stifle Ronaldo and company.

When Jose Gimenez scored his and his team’s second of the night, his manager couldn’t contain himself, spinning around to the fans and grabbing his crotch in celebration.

“It means we have balls, a lot of balls. I did it as a player in Lazio-Bologna and I did it again to show our fans that we have cojones,” the 48-year-old explained.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s response to the result was much different.

“I have five Champions Leagues, these guys zero,” he declared in the mixed zone after the game, having spent the game holding up five fingers to the home fans to further emphasise his achievements. From any other player, it would have been a bizarre act of arrogance following a potentially devastating defeat and poor performance.

From Ronaldo, though, it was a warning.

Just under three weeks later, the forward followed up his big talk by walking the walk, scoring a hat-trick as Juventus turned the tie around and sent Atletico crashing out.

He wasn’t done there. After matching Lionel Messi for most career Champions League hat-tricks, claiming his eighth, the Portugal international imitated Simeone’s ‘cojones’ celebration.

“It had to be a really special night and it was,” Ronaldo said.

“That’s why Juve signed me.”

It was a familiar feeling for Atletico and their fans, watching the Portuguese star succeed at their expense.

On top of his heroics in finals, Ronaldo had single-handedly eliminated Atleti in the 2017 Champions League semi-finals - scoring a first leg hat-trick at the Bernabeu - while he also provided the assist for Javier Hernandez’s 88th minute winner in the quarter-finals in 2015.

His Copa del Rey semi-final double left Los Rojiblancos’ faithful heartbroken in 2014 too, as did his two goals across two legs in the quarter-finals of 2011.

In fact, only nine times have Atletico got the better of Ronaldo, with the forward winning 16 of their 31 meetings. He has 25 goals and eight assists to show from them.It’s no wonder he goes into their clashes with such confidence, telling Patrice Evra after last season’s first leg defeat that he would "smash" them at the Allianz Stadium.

“This just shows you the confidence, the anger, the determination from the best player in the world,” Evra said.

It’s confidence shared by his team, too.

“He has scored so many goals in the Champions League and having him with us is a great advantage,” former Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri said before the second leg, adding that he expected a great performance from Ronaldo “because it is an important match and he is exalted in competitions like this”.

At the same time, with his record against them and acts of supreme confidence/arrogance, it’s no wonder he is Atletico’s pantomime villain."I hope that fans don't push me by name calling me and saying unsporting things about me again," Ronaldo said after this season’s group stage draw was made.

But with taunts and gestures like those from last season, the 34-year-old is able to give as good as he gets. Almost 10 years on from their first meeting, this incredible rivalry is still burning.

And there is no chance of that flame dying out this season. On Wednesday, there will be popcorn at the ready for what promises to be another thrilling instalment of this ongoing drama.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

How Barcelona Star Lionel Messi Influenced His Career - Jose Mourinho

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, has talked about how Lionel Messi played a part in his coaching career.

Jose Mourinho has never managed Lionel Messi but that has not stopped the Barcelona legend playing a part in his career.
According to Express UK, Jose Mourinho believes Lionel Messi has made him a better manager because it was so difficult to prepare for him.

Mourinho first came up against the genius of Messi when his Chelsea side lost 2-1 to Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in the 2005/06 Champions League round of 16.

The innate skill and wizardry from the Argentine on show that night forecast the troubles Messi would cause Mourinho down the years, particularly when the coach was in charge at Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013.
The Portuguese boss has a respectable record against Barcelona, winning eight, drawing nine and losing 10 across his career.
And the battles against Blaugrana – and Messi, in particular – inspired Mourinho to become better.

“I always say that I owe so much to my players, and to those who haven’t been my players but those who created problems for me,” Mourinho told EFE.

“For example, Messi never played for my team, but he played against me and he has made me a better coach for having to prepare matches [to stop him].

“When I say Messi, I also mean the other great players I’ve faced.”
Mourinho has been dabbling in punditry since getting the axe from Manchester United last December but is eager to return to management.

Outlining what it will take to see him return to the dugout, he said: ““The most important thing for me is that my next role is with an elite club that has an ambition which challenges and excites me.

“I miss coaching a lot, but I won’t return to working just for the sake of coaching again.

“I love La Liga and the pride I have to have won this fantastic league is massive.

“I may have left six years ago but trust me, spiritually, and in the manner I speak of La Liga, I am an ambassador even without the official title of ambassador.”

Serge Aurier challenged to make right-back spot his own - Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has challenged Serge Aurier to make the right-back spot his own after his impressive display in the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The Ivory Coast international was playing his first game of the season - and making his first Premier League start since February - and provided two assists in Spurs' joint biggest win at their new stadium.

Aurier, who has recovered from a hand injury sustained at the Africa Cup of Nations, has said he wanted to leave the club over the summer but appears to have a second chance - providing he can be consistent.

"I think he was very happy," Pochettino said of the right-back. "We were very happy too. I think the performance was great.

"First half was fantastic, his concentration and focus.

Now he needs to show and be consistent. It's not only one game and the second game the focus and intensity start to drop. That is the key in our team, not only him but all the players.

"All the players need to be consistent and understand that every time we are going to compete we have to give our best.

"Give like a collective our best and for sure we have the quality to beat any team."

Aurier is in a fight with Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth for the right-back position, not that he believes that himself according to an interview published this week.

He claimed that there was "no competition" for his place in the team, but Pochettino has not seen it.

"I did not see those quotes," he said. "No, I didn't see but you know, if when I talk with him it's always clear. I didn't see though."

Neymar scores unbelievable bicycle kick winner in final minute of PSG return.

Image result for Neymar bicycle kick

Neymar's return to PSG on Saturday brought boos for much of the match, but by the 90th minute you could hear some cheers thanks to a bit of magic. Taking on Strasbourg and struggling to do much of anything, PSG won 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal from, you guessed it, Neymar.

The Brazilian scored a ridiculous bicycle kick off a cross to seal the win and possibly win back some of the hearts from an upset fan base.

Meet 11-Year-Old Nigerian Wonderkid, Chinonso Eche.

Chinonso Eche is an 11 year-old Nigerian freestyler who wants to take his skills to the international stage.

He started developing his skills at the age of eight after watching videos of international players including Lionel Messi and Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha.

Eche, who uses his stunning skills to entertain his friends in schools, told BBC Sport Africa of his dream to play for big football clubs and the Super Eagles of Nigeria when he grows up.

Guardiola 'congratulates' Liverpool on winning the Premier League

Image result for Guardiola
“In the changing room, I speak with them and at the same time I know the commitment in every single training session and in all they do.
“We are going to keep going every time until the end.”
City clinched the Premier League title last season as they edged out Klopp’s side by a single point, while also defeating the Reds on penalties in this season’s Community Shield.
City suffered their first loss of the campaign as Jurgen Klopp’s side maintained their 100 percent start

Pep Guardiola has ‘congratulated’ rivals Liverpool on winning the Premier League after Manchester City’s loss at Norwich.

The City boss joked that Jurgen Klopp’s side have won the league after Norwich overcame Man City 3-2, with Liverpool defeating Newcastle 3-1 to go five points clear at the top.

Speaking to reporters after the shock defeat to the newly-promoted Canaries, Guardiola joked that the Reds have already clinched the league title.

“We're in September... we're going to do that? Okay: congratulations, Liverpool, you are the champions.

“We're in September! We'll recover, go to Ukraine, then we come back.

“Of course, we've dropped five points. Tottenham was a pity because we played very well.

“Against Norwich, it was in the important parts, in set pieces for example, that the players have to know exactly what to do.”

Liverpool moved five points clear of City at the top of the table after securing their fifth victory in as many games, where they became the first team in top-flight history to win 14 consecutive matches while scoring more than once each time.

The Citizens, meanwhile, sit second after suffering their first loss of the campaign, having also dropped points earlier in the season as they drew 2-2 with Spurs back in August.

Guardiola did, however, play down any concerns this early in the season, expressing his delight at working with the current group of players.

“It’s a joy as a trainer to be with these guys,” said the City manager. “I don’t know what’s going to happen this season until the last part of my period here.

“But not even one second am I going to doubt what the players have done for me, for the club, for everybody.

“I am a guy who says the truth all the time,” he added.

Iwobi: Why I Left Arsenal For Everton

Iwobi: Why I Left Arsenal For Everton

Alex Iwobi says he left Arsenal for Everton this summer in part because he had become too comfortable at the club.

Iwobi , 23, left Arsenal on deadline day, moving to Merseyside in a deal that could eventually total £40 million ($49m).

The transfer saw the Nigeria international leave the only club he had ever played for, with Iwobi having come through the Gunners youth academy up through his professional debut in 2015.

Iwobi stated that it was that familiarity that was part of the reason he sought out a new challenge away from north London.

“I got a few phone calls [about the deal] and spoke to my agent,” Iwobi told Soccer Saturday.

“It took about a day of talking to the manager and talking to (Everton director of football) Marcel Brands.

“It wasn’t really hard and I got convinced. I was very comfortable [at Arsenal] and I was on holiday so I didn’t think about any move. I got the call and thought about if this would be a better chance for me to improve myself as a player.

“I thought that this was a big opportunity and I shouldn’t turn it down. I’ve got no regrets about the decision.”

Iwobi has taken well to life at Goodison Park, having scored two goals in three appearances thus far with Everton.

The Nigeria international admits there have been some necessary adjustments from trading London for Liverpool, but that he’s enjoying life with his new club.

“It’s so far, so good, I feel like I’ve got a new home and I’m really comfortable here,” Iwobi said.

“I haven’t noticed much of a difference [between Liverpool and London] but the thing I struggle with is the accent here.

“When Duncan [Ferguson] was speaking to me at first, I had to listen and engage and I wasn’t sure what he had said so I just agreed.

“It’s adapting to that but apart from that, it’s almost the same as being in London.

“So far, I’ve been treated really well. It’s a family club and everyone treats you like family. Even though it’s different to Arsenal, I’m enjoying it.”

Lampard Reveals He Has Not Spoken To Abraham About Nigeria

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has revealed that he has not spoken to Tammy Abraham about pledging his international future to Nigeria over England.

Abraham's blistering start to the season has dominated the local and English media and he further enhanced his reputation on matchday five, scoring his first Premier League hat-trick as Chelsea recorded a comfortable 5-2 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Asked by reporters if Abraham is going to Nigeria, Lampard replied : ''I haven’t spoken to him about that''.

Lampard had backed his number nine to force his way into the England squad, provided he keeps scoring goals and does not rest on his laurels.

He added : ''The way that he is going, he is going to be in that bracket. To score seven goals in three games. Fantastic from him. He has to be hungry. He needs to keep playing at that level.''

England's next international in October are competitive matches against Czech Republic and Bulgaria and Abraham would become cap-tied to his country of birth if he spends a second on the pitch in any of those games.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

'Ribery at 36 was better than Ronaldo!' - Fiorentina owner gushes after veteran stars vs Juventus

The veteran Frenchman put in a star performance as his new side picked up their first point of the season on Saturday

Franck Ribery was better than Cristiano Ronaldo in Fiorentina’s 0-0 draw with Juventus on Saturday, according to Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso.

The Serie A champions dropped their first points of the season under new manager Maurizio Sarri, with Fiorentina having the better of the chances throughout the match.

Commisso was delighted over the summer when Ribery chose to join his side amid interest from all over the world, and the chief was effusive in his praise for the former Bayern Munich star after his first start for the club.

“I am very happy, as the lads gave their heart and it was a fun afternoon,” Commisso told Sky Sport Italia.

“Did you see Ribery at the age of 36? He played better than Cristiano Ronaldo! And our two Italians, Gaetano Castrovilli and Federico Chiesa, were phenomenal.

“I see this match as like the history of my company, Mediacom. Juventus had €300 million worth of players between transfer fees and salaries, while ours was about €50m, but we still got a point.”

After defeats to Napoli and Genoa, Saturday’s game saw Fiorentina register their first point of the season in impressive style.

However, after finishing last season with six draws and eight defeats, Vincenzo Montella’s side are still without a league victory since a 4-1 win away at SPAL in February – one of only two wins in Serie A so far in 2019.

Despite this dreadful spell of form, Commisso is confident of a brighter future at the Stadio Franchi.

“If you give me time, I want to help Fiorentina win something,” he said.

“Look at the success we’ve had over the last two months, we had more season tickets than in the last 30 years. “We’ve rebuilt the team and now have a great champion like Ribery too. If you give us time, we’ll one day win games like this.”

Fiorentina travel to Atalanta next Saturday, before a home game with Sampdoria and a trip to AC Milan to round off September.

Juventus, meanwhile, will look to put their uncharacteristic blank behind them as they return to Champions League action at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. They then face three inviting-looking games against minnows Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL.