No panic for Tottenham winless run – Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw with champions Leicester City at White Hart Lane on Saturday was their third straight Premier League game without a win, but manager Mauricio Pochettino says that there is no reason to panic.

Spurs, the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this season, are in fifth place, having won five and drawn five of their opening 10 games.

They are three points behind leaders Manchester City and despite three straight draws in the league, Pochettino is maintaining perspective.

“Me, I never panic, not in football. Sometimes I am scared to walk on the street because you never know if there are crazy people out there, but in football never,” he said.

Having scored just three goals in their last five games, Tottenham have sorely missed Harry Kane, but Pochettino said that he would not rush the striker back from injury.

Continue reading No panic for Tottenham winless run – Pochettino

Walcott trains separately ahead of CL clash

The Gunners forward is nursing a hamstring problem which is likely to keep him out of midweek action, but he should be ready for derby duty against Tottenham

Theo Walcott trained separately from his Arsenal team-mates on Monday as the Gunners ready themselves for midweek Champions League duty against Ludogorets. Naija and Bet

The England man is expected to sit out Tuesday’s game in Bulgaria with a minor hamstring problem, having also missed Saturday’s 4-1 Premier League victory over Sunderland.

The 27-year-old is, however, edging closer to full fitness and could be back in contention for Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham.

Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal are still nursing their respective injury problems, though, with both players missing from Arsene Wenger’s final European preparation session.

Balotelli shine as Nice extend lead

Mario Balotelli starred once again as clinical Nice opened up a six-point gap at the top of Ligue 1 with a 4-1 thrashing of Nantes on Sunday.

The maverick forward, back in form after nightmare spells at Liverpool and AC Milan, scored his sixth league goal of the season and was involved in two others as Nice took their unbeaten run since the start of the season to 11 matches.

Wylan Cyprien scored a brace and Alassane Plea also netted while Emiliano Sala replied for the visitors at the Allianz Riviera, as Nice played with panache and incision.

“We deserved to win but we had some difficult moments, particularly early on,” said Nice coach Lucien Favre. Naija and Bet

“Nantes had two good chances and if they had scored at that time, things might have been different.”

Continue reading Balotelli shine as Nice extend lead

Give Guardiola time and he will make City great

Pep Guardiola is the world’s top manager but needs more time to make Manchester City great, and will have to hope for some luck to beat his former club Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, says the Spanish club’s ex-forward David Villa.

“Guardiola is the best manager in the world but I think it is too early to compare his Barcelona side with Manchester City. We have to give him time because I am sure he will make City a great team,” Villa said

City won their opening six matches in the Premier League this season before slumping to a six-game winless streak in all competitions – the longest of Guardiola’s managerial career. Naija and Bet

They have taken one point from their last two Champions League group games at Celtic and Barca, and need a win against the Spaniards in the return to boost their European hopes.

Barca top group C with nine points ahead of City on four, Borussia Moenchengladbach who have three and Celtic with one.

Continue reading Give Guardiola time and he will make City great

Roma hit draw as Milan, Lazio win to move up

Giacomo Bonaventura’s free kick earned Milan a 1-0 win over Pescara to move them into the top three of Serie A on Sunday.

Milan had been second best before the break in the San Siro but the Rossoneri took the lead when Bonaventura was fouled on the edge of the area in the 49th minute by Alexandru Mitrita, picked himself up and then found the net with a low shot.

With second-placed Roma only drawing 0-0 at Empoli, Milan moved to within one point of them and five behind leaders Juventus, who beat Napoli on Saturday.

“It was a precious victory against a very tough opponent,” coach Vincenzo Montella said. Naija and Bet

 “We should have been more clinical and put the match to bed earlier, but I am pleased with the team’s spirit, so well done to the boys.”

It was hardly a convincing performance from Montella’s side, though, and struggling Pescara kept Milan’s precociously talented keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma busy before and after falling behind.

Continue reading Roma hit draw as Milan, Lazio win to move up

Moses the perfect wingman for Chelsea – Conte

The 25-year-old Nigerian is discovering his true potential in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation and could be vital if the Blues are to win the Premier League title come May.

Antonio Conte’s decision to introduce Victor Moses into his Chelsea side has proved to be an inspired one. The winger was instrumental in the Blues’ 2-0 win at Southampton on Sunday evening, moving them to within a point of leaders Manchester City in the Premier League table.

Chelsea’s upturn in form since Moses has featured is no coincidence. Since the Nigerian has taken up the right wing-back berth in Conte’s new-found 3-4-3 formation, the Blues have won four from four, beating Hull, Leicester, Manchester United and Southampton, without conceding a goal.

During the Blues’ trip to St Mary’s, Gary Neville made a throwaway comment suggesting keeping clean sheets is down to mentality. Moses went some way to proving the former Manchester United right-back correct. Naija and Bet 

Conte’s pronounced actions on the sideline were matched by Moses’s determination to harry the opposition and force them to give up possession. His pace, power and pure athleticism allowed him to stride up and down the right flank and he found success against a narrow Southampton formation.

Continue reading Moses the perfect wingman for Chelsea – Conte

Man United might not finish in top four again

Former midfielder believes Jose Mourinho needs to tweak his starting XI in order to push the Red Devils into contention for Champions League spot.

Ex-Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves sees the Red Devils missing out on a top-four finish this season unless they tinker with their starting XI.

Jose Mourinho’s men endured another frustrating afternoon on Saturday as they fired in a record number of shots against Burnley, but finished the game with a share of the spoils in a 0-0 draw.

United have now gone four games without a Premier League win to sit eighth in the top-flight standings – eight points adrift of the leaders, and seven behind Chelsea in fourth. Naijabet

Hargreaves fears his former employers are in danger of being left behind in the battle to secure Champions League qualification unless they address some serious issues.

Continue reading Man United might not finish in top four again

Lack of Champions League not an advantage for the Reds – Klopp

The manager insists being out of Europe does not bolster his side’s Premier League chances, with the competition healthy for a squad

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does not feel being absent from European football this season hands his team an advantage in the battle for the Premier League title.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are locked together on 23 points at the summit after 10 matches, having each scored four times in impressive away wins on Saturday.

But while City and Arsenal face Barcelona and Ludogorets during midweek, Liverpool will rest up and be refreshed to unleash their energetic brand of attacking football on Watford next Sunday.

An arduous schedule took Klopp’s men to the finals of the League Cup and Europa League last term, only to suffer defeat in both and the former double-winner with Borussia Dortmund remains a firm believer in the mantra of success breeding success.

“Everyone talks about this [not playing in Europe] but I think 80 to 90 per cent of the time in Europe, the teams becoming champions are in the Champions League,” he said.

Continue reading Lack of Champions League not an advantage for the Reds – Klopp

I’m frustrated but not with Emery Verratti

The PSG star reveals his disappointment with recent media reports and discusses some of the difficulties of being a professional footballer

This week, people have said many things about me that are not true – things that have not happened.

Against Marseille last Sunday, I took several kicks in the first half, so it was decided at half-time, along with Unai Emery, that we would take a decision 15 minutes into the second period. We did not want to take any risks because I’ve come through a very difficult period in terms of injuries and the medical staff wanted to be careful with me.

So after 15 minutes in the second half, Emery decided to sub me off… and from that moment, everything I have heard, everything I have read and everything I have seen has been about me and that subject.

It was said that I was angry because with the coach because I did not want to leave the pitch. This is not true. I was frustrated with myself because I wanted to help the team out, and to go off because of a physical problem was unthinkable for me. I’m angry because every time I take a kick I have to go off and it is hard to accept.

With the coach, we saw each other the next day and we couldn’t understand what was happening. We do not understand how we could create such a controversy from that.

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Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world – Messi

The Manchester City striker is at a level to be compared with the likes of Luis Suarez, according to the Ballon d’Or winner

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has backed Sergio Aguero, describing him as one of the world’s best strikers.

The Argentina team-mates will be on opposite sides at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday when Manchester City host Barca in the Champions League.

Aguero was controversially named as a substitute for City’s 4-0 loss at Camp Nou in the reverse fixture earlier this month and has not been an automatic selection under Guardiola.

But Messi, who enjoyed sensational success under the Catalan manager during his Barca tenure, has no doubts over Aguero’s quality, ranking him with the game’s top centre-forwards like club colleague Luis Suarez. 

“Kun is a very simple and easy-going person, a great lad and, as a striker, one of the best. As is Luis [Suarez],” Messi said. 

“They are different but, if you want to look at it like that, either of them can decide a game. They are both very decisive.”

The Argentina captain feels Barca have tweaked their style of play under Luis Enrique, but does not think things are that different from Guardiola’s reign, which came to an end back in 2012. Continue reading Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world – Messi