Ramsey out of Wales squad for WC qualifiers


Aaron Ramsey has been left out of the Wales squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Georgia next week as he continues to struggle with a hamstring injury.

The Arsenal midfielder has been sidelined since sustaining the injury during the Gunners’ opening Premier League game last month.

Ramsey, one of the stars of Wales’s run to the semifinals of this year’s European Championships in France, will miss the Austria game in Vienna next Thursday and the game against Georgia in Cardiff three days later.

Wales, who started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-0 home win over Moldova, will also be without midfielder Jonny Williams, who has only recently returned to training following injury. Naijabet.com

Wales squad for World Cup qualifiers against Austria (October 6) and Georgia (October 9).

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Higuain departure may be blessing in disguise


Napoli’s free-scoring, unbeaten start to the season has suggested that the departure of prolific forward Gonzalo Higuain, viewed as a crushing blow at the time, could have been a blessing in disguise.

Maurizio Sarri’s team have blasted 20 goals in their first eight games this season and turned on the style again on Wednesday as they thumped Portuguese champions Benfica, also previously unbeaten, 4-2 in the Champions League.

Higuain scored a Serie A record of 36 goals as he led Napoli to second place last season but the club reluctantly let him go when Juventus triggered a 90 million euro ($100.96 million) buyout clause in his contract.

Napoli fans were furious at the time and even on Wednesday night, toilet rolls were being sold outside the San Paolo stadium with Higuain’s photograph on the packaging.

But on the field, Napoli’s football has been flowing and, rather than depending on one player, the goals have been shared between Arkadiusz Milik (seven), Jose Callejon (five), Dries Mertens (four), Marek Hamsik (three) and Manolo Gabbiadini (one). Naijabet.com

“We have changed a few things in the final 25 metres of the pitch, partly to respect the characteristics of our central forwards who are different to Higuain,” said Sarri. “The wide players have also changed their role.”

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West Ham still searching for one good result

West Ham United are one win away from getting their season back on track, manager Slaven Bilic has said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Middlesbrough.

The east London club, who are 18th in the standings, suffered a 3-0 thumping by Southampton at the London Stadium on Sunday to register a fourth straight defeat and fifth in six league games.

Bilic’s side, who finished an impressive seventh last season, even failed to make the Europa League group stage for a second year in a row after they were eliminated in a playoff by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu last month.

“One good result can change the whole season. We cannot think it is just going to happen. We need to earn it. I am concerned and it has been a bad start,” Bilic said on Thursday. Naija and Bet

“But with one win we can build everything back with a win over Middlesbrough over Saturday.”

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Guardiola hail City’s Champion Leagues fight back


Manager Pep Guardiola tempered his delight at Manchester City’s ability to fight back three times in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday by urging his players to understand the importance of a good start.

Moussa Dembele scored early in both halves for the hosts in Glasgow either side of a Raheem Sterling own goal as City responded each time with strikes from Fernandinho, Sterling and Nolito.

The Premier League leaders are second in the group on four points, two behind Barcelona, who rallied to win 2-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the other Group C fixture.

“Maybe this is a good lesson for our future on the importance of starting well,” Guardiola said. Naija and Bet

“It was difficult for us to start in the first half and second half with a goal against us, that’s why I’m so happy for the reaction of the players – it’s not easy to score three goals away.

“This group, this club, we are going to fight until the last game to qualify.”

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Cavani score brace in PSG victory


Paris Saint-Germain recovered from a slow start to canter to a 3-1 win at Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Wednesday night and keep pace with Arsenal at the top of Group A.

Edinson Cavani scored a brace after Blaise Matuidi had cancelled out Natanael Pimienta’s surprise opener for the Bulgarians.

But the French champions, who drew at home to Arsenal in their opening group encounter, dominated the second half and could easily have inflicted a much heavier defeat on the Bulgarian minnows, who are playing in the Champions League group stage for only the second time.

PSG could have been off to a dream start but Cavani’s snap shot from just outside the area curled agonizingly beyond the corner of post and bar.  Naijabet

Ludogorets wasted a three-on-one counter-attack but nonetheless took the lead on the quarter hour as Natanael curled home a free-kick from a tight angle.

Alphonse Areola in the PSG goal was unsighted as his wall in front of him disintegrated, with Cavani the chief culprit.

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Milik, Mertens shine as Napoli triumph


Arkaduisz Milik struck his third Champions League goal and Dries Mertens hit a brace as Napoli staked an early claim for a place in the last 16 with a 4-2 win against Benfica on Wednesday.

Milik, signed as a replacement for Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, headed a brace in a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Dinamo Kiev a fortnight ago to hand coach Maurizio Sarri his maiden win in the competition.

Sarri had warned of the threat posed by the Portuguese champions in the build-up.

But despite glimpses of promise and a brilliant consolation goal by 19-year-old sensation Goncalo Guedes, the visitors were no match for last season’s Serie A runners-up on their way to seeing a 17-match unbeaten run come to an end.

Napoli fans had not been treated to Champions League football since 2013, when a side led by Walter Mazzarri were eliminated behind Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal. Naija and Bet

And after a one-sided opening half, the San Paolo stadium was not left disappointed.

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Rooney to remain on bench against Stoke City


Wayne Rooney will not be recalled to the Manchester United starting line-up for Sunday’s Premier League home clash with Stoke City.

The United captain will start Thursday’s Europa League tie against Ukrainians Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford before returning to the substitutes’ bench at the weekend.

United boss Jose Mourinho dropped Rooney for Saturday’s visit of Leicester City and watched his team thump the reigning champions 4-1.

The visit of Leicester was only the third time in four seasons Rooney had started on the bench in a Premier League game, coming on as a substitute with seven minutes remaining. Naijabet

Before the game Mourinho said that the England skipper appeared to have been taken aback by the scrutiny and criticism directed at him this season.

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Klopp call for Liverpool improvement


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said there is still room for improvement if his team are to mount a serious Premier League title challenge this season despite their impressive start to the campaign.

The Merseyside club, who last won the league in 1990, demolished Hull City 5-1 on Saturday to move to fourth in the standings, five points behind leaders Manchester City.

Liverpool have won at Arsenal and Chelsea, and thumped champions Leicester City 4-1 this season, with their only defeat coming against promoted Burnley.

“I don’t like standing here with all these numbers and saying ‘brilliant, brilliant’. It is as good as it should be,” Klopp said. Naijabet.com

“We are a good football side, but we have to improve – not only in defending set pieces, but in a lot of things. We have done well, but Swansea is the next challenge and it’s a big challenge.

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Bayern ready to settle Spanish score in Madrid


After three consecutive semifinal defeats against Spanish clubs in the Champions League, Bayern Munich head to Atletico Madrid for Wednesday’s group match with a point to prove.

“We want to show that we can do better than in the last few semifinals. We certainly have a score to settle there,” said Bayern forward Thomas Mueller before the team jetted off to Madrid.

After the highs of beating Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final came Bayern’s lows of semifinal exits to Real Madrid, Barcelona and then Atletico in each of the last three seasons under Pep Guardiola.

Atletico have won 25 of their last 30 home European games making the Estadio Vicente Calderon something of a cauldron. Naijabet

Last season’s semifinal exit at the hands of Diego Simeone’s Atletico was particularly painful for Bayern, who won the return leg 2-1 in Munich after losing 1-0 in Madrid as the Spanish side reached the final on away goals.

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Sam Allardyce fights to save England


Sam Allardyce is set for crisis talks with the Football Association on Tuesday as the England manager fights to save his job after being caught in a newspaper sting.

Allardyce gave advice on how to circumnavigate transfer rules, criticised the FA’s decision to rebuild Wembley and mocked his England predecessor Roy Hodgson while being secretly filmed by Daily Telegraph reporters posing as Far East businessmen.

Allardyce, appointed England manager in July on a £3 million-a-year contract, agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador for their fictitious firm for a fee of £400 000.

Senior FA figures were said to be stunned by the revelations and the former Sunderland and West Ham manager was seen driving away from his home in Bolton, north-west England, early on Tuesday morning amid reports he will speak to his employers as they prepare to launch an immediate probe into the scandal.

The FA has asked the Telegraph to provide them with “the full facts in relation to this matter”, leaving Allardyce in danger of being sacked just one game into his reign. Naijabet.com

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