Nasri expects hot reception

first_imgManchester City midfielder Samir Nasri is anticipating another less-than-warm reception from Arsenal fans when he returns to the Emirates Stadium this weekend but insists it will not affect his focus. Press Association Nasri was with the Gunners for three seasons before switching to City in the summer of 2011. The France international has received abuse from Arsenal supporters on previous occasions when he has gone back to face the club. center_img And ahead of City making the trip to London on Saturday, Nasri, quoted on mcfc.co.uk, said: “I don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms by the crowd but hopefully that’s because they were disappointed to see me leave and perhaps at some point they loved me. “But when I am on the pitch I don’t focus on the opposition fans, I am focused on doing my best for the team.” City are currently third in the Barclays Premier League, two points behind second-placed Liverpool and three behind leaders Chelsea but with two games in hand over both of those clubs. They have nine matches left to play and if they can win at fourth-placed Arsenal, it would appear to be a major step forward for their title challenge. But Nasri is keen not to place too much emphasis on any one remaining fixture. “There are plenty of games left between now and the end of the season,” the 26-year-old said. “I think it is too easy to say that one game will be crucial for the title. “We know that if we win every game we will be champions, so every game is crucial for us.” last_img read more

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Cech undergoes successful surgery

first_img “Petr Cech successfully underwent surgery today (Wednesday) following his shoulder dislocation in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid,” read a statement on the club’s official website. “He will be out for approximately eight to 10 weeks.” Cech’s position as number one at Stamford Bridge next season is expected to come under scrutiny with the impending return of Thibaut Courtois from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid. The Belgian played a major role in the Blues’ Champions League exit against Atletico and could pose a major threat next term when he returns in the summer after three seasons out on loan. Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has undergone successful surgery on his shoulder injury, the club have announced. Press Associationcenter_img The 31-year-old dislocated his shoulder in the Champions League semi-final first-leg against Atletico Madrid and had been widely expected to miss the rest of the campaign. The club have now confirmed that the Czech international will miss the next eight to 10 weeks, meaning Mark Schwarzer will continue in goal for the final match of the season against Cardiff on Sunday. last_img read more

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Debuchy joins Gunners

first_img The 28-year-old, who was part of the French World Cup squad which reached the World Cup quarter-finals, will present a ready-made Barclays Premier League replacement for Bacary Sagna, who left Arsenal earlier this summer to join Manchester City on a free transfer. A post on Arsenal’s official Twitter feed read: “It’s official – Mathieu Debuchy has signed for @Arsenal!” Press Association Arsenal have signed full-back Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle. Debuchy, who Press Association Sport understands has cost the Gunners around £12million, becomes Arsenal’s second signing of the summer, following the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. Debuchy told arsenal.com: “I’m very proud to be joining a great club like Arsenal and to wear its colours, it’s one of the biggest clubs in the whole world. “I’m looking forward to working with Arsene Wenger and to helping the team build on last season’s FA Cup success. Playing again in the Champions League is a big excitement for me and I will do my best to help Arsenal compete for trophies.” Manager Arsene Wenger added: “We are delighted to welcome Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal Football Club. “He has shown he can perform at the highest level with his club sides and also for France. He is a quality defender who has good Premier League experience and I’m confident he will fit in very well with us.” Debuchy made 46 appearances in his 18 months on Tyneside after signing from Lille, where he won the Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double in 2010-11. He was named in the Ligue 1 team of the season the following year, having also won the first of his 25 France caps in October 2011 against Albania. More signings look sure to follow, although German World Cup winner Sami Khedira’s personal terms could prove a sticking point on a rumoured £25million move from Real Madrid. Borussia Dortmund’s Lars Bender, who missed the World Cup through injury, is another player Wenger has long admired. Arsenal also need a goalkeeper, with Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, of Nice, said to be on the club’s radar. Egypt international defender Ahmed Fathi is having a trial at Arsenal this week, while Atletico Madrid’s 19-year-old right-back Javi Manquillo is another a potential new recruit. Following their trip to the United States, Arsenal host the Emirates Cup on August 2/3 which is likely to present debuts for Sanchez and Debuchy. Arsenal play Premier League champions Manchester City on August 9 in the Community Shield before starting the new league campaign at home to Crystal Palace. last_img read more

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Cliftonville eliminated

first_img After the first leg in Belfast had ended 0-0, the opening half at the Debrecen Stadium also reached the halfway stage scoreless. But after Jamie McGovern was shown a red card early in the second period, Rene Mihelic scored from the resulting free-kick to put the hosts ahead. Press Association And Ibrahim Sidibe added a second 11 minutes from time to end any hopes of a Cliftonville success. TNS were also dumped out of the competition following a 3-0 aggregate defeat by Slovan Bratislava in the second qualifying round. The Welsh Premier League champions entered the second leg at Belle Vue on Tuesday night with a 1-0 deficit, but instead of overhauling the Slovakian club they slumped to a 2-0 loss. Marko Milinkovic scored both goals, the first of which did not arrive until the 75th minute. center_img Reigning Irish League champions Cliftonville bowed out of the Champions League at the second qualifying round stage after Debrecen completed a 2-0 aggregate victory.last_img read more

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McIlroy makes slow progress

first_imgA Valhalla course set up for low scoring succeeded in producing early drama in the third round of the 96th US PGA Championship, although not perhaps as expected. Press Association England’s Danny Willett had looked on course for something even better after playing his first 13 holes in six under, meaning he needed to play the final five in three under to shoot the first ever 62 in a major. However, Willett bogeyed the 14th and had to settle for a 66 to finish six under. “I had no clue about the record to be honest. I was just trying to go forward and keep pushing,” he told Press Association Sport. “I didn’t hit the ball fantastic but just scored phenomenally, especially as my back was not feeling great this morning.” McIlroy reclaimed the lead when Day bogeyed the sixth after a wild drive and the Northern Irishman was two clear when he holed from five feet on the par-five seventh for birdie. However, McIlroy duffed his chip from the edge of the eighth green to drop his first shot of the day and was just one ahead of Day, Fowler and Palmer, with European trio Henrik Stenson, Mikko Ilonen and Bernd Wiesberger another stroke back on a crowded leaderboard. More than a dozen players had broken 70 by the time the final group of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day teed off at 3pm local time, but the leading duo were soon scrambling for spectacular pars rather than picking up birdies. Day hooked his tee shot on the second so badly that it cleared Floyd’s Fork, the creek running down the left-hand side of the hole, and into deep grass on the far side. Television commentator David Feherty initially looked to be searching for the ball in order for Day to work out where he could take a penalty drop, but the Australian then sent his caddie Colin Swatton to wade through the creek to assist. When the ball was found in a good enough lie for Day to be able to play it, the 26-year-old then took his shoes and socks off as well and made the journey across to the other side. Instructing Swatton to “throw me a pitching wedge”, Day duly hacked out of the rough, pitched onto the green and holed from 12 feet for a remarkable par. Two holes later it was McIlroy’s turn to escape with a par after pulling his drive into a hazard on the par-four fourth, which had been reduced to 292 yards to allow players to try to drive the green. After taking a drop McIlroy pitched to 11 feet and holed the putt, although he was joined in the lead by Day who was left with a tap-in birdie after missing from close range for an eagle. Both players then made birdie on the fifth to move to 10 under par, one ahead of Jim Furyk and two clear of Rickie Fowler and Ryan Palmer. England’s Lee Westwood, seeking a first major title at the 67th attempt, had shown McIlroy just how to play the fourth hole, hitting his drive to three feet and holing for an eagle two to move to seven under. American Hunter Mahan had set the early clubhouse target on seven under par after a 65 which equalled the lowest round of the week. last_img read more

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Scarratt wins Writers’ Club award

first_img Scarratt is recognised after playing a key role in England’s World Cup triumph in France last summer that saw her contribute 16 points in the final as Canada were dispatched 21-9, a haul that included a dazzling solo try. The 24-year-old from Lichfield, who can play outside centre or full-back, finished as the tournament’s top points scorer with 70 and has amassed 55 caps since making her debut against the United States in 2008. She becomes the second woman to win the award after England team-mate Maggie Alphonsi was honoured in 2010. Scarratt was joined on the four-strong shortlist by World Cup captain Katy McLean. Completing the quartet were Wilkinson and Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, who steered the Irish to the 2014 RBS 6 Nations title and a clean sweep of autumn victories over South Africa, Georgia and Australia in his first full year in charge. The Special Award has been won by Wilkinson and O’Driscoll to mark the end of two outstanding playing careers after the British and Irish Lions duo chose the end of the 2013-14 season to retire. England’s World Cup-winning fly-half Wilkinson and Ireland’s all-time great O’Driscoll were named personality of the year in 2002 and 2009 respectively and now follow in the footsteps of Lawrence Dallaglio, the only other player to have won both awards. Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O’Driscoll have also been honoured, receiving the RUWC’s discretionary Special Award for their services to rugby during distinguished careers. The awards will be presented to Scarratt and Wilkinson at a gala ceremony in central London on Monday night, with O’Driscoll unable to attend due to family commitments. Press Associationcenter_img Emily Scarratt has won the prestigious Rugby Union Writers’ Club Pat Marshall Memorial Award as the sport’s personality of the year for 2014.last_img read more

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Ramsey targets long unbeaten run

first_img Arsenal would be much higher in the table had they performed more consistently this season. The Gunners have not won more than two successive Barclays Premier League games this season, but Ramsey hopes that will now change in light of Sunday’s victory over the champions. “We have got a lot to play for this year so hopefully now we can build on this performance and that will give us even more confidence going into the business end of the season,” the Arsenal midfielder said. “There is still a long way to go in this league. Many teams are taking points off each other. We will just have to concentrate on our own game and hopefully go on a big run and see where that takes us at the end. “It was important to win because all the other teams won. The pressure was on us. “Manchester City have made this place a fortress over the years. Not many teams come away with three points so we are delighted with the way we went about it and we are happy we closed the gap.” Sunday’s win was the first time Wenger had beaten City in the league since April 2012. The Gunners have failed to beat Chelsea in just over three years and they have only beaten Manchester United once since 2008. Aaron Ramsey wants Arsenal to build on their impressive victory over Manchester City by going on a long unbeaten run. Arsenal’s ability to open up the top teams in the country has never been in doubt. Last year they scored three times at the Etihad Stadium, b ut on Sunday they also matched that attacking verve with solid, disciplined defending. Ramsey hopes Arsenal’s defence will grow in confidence as a result of the win. “It was important to [get a win away from home against a big team],” the Welshman said. “We have always been confident coming into these games but we have been a bit too open in the past and we have paid the price for that. “On Sunday, we defended really well. We kept our team shape tight defensively and we took our chances when we needed to. “We have shown what we are capable of doing. We are going to have chances in games. “We are a team that can always create opportunities to score so the important thing is to defend as a team and stop them from scoring because we are always going to get opportunities to score. “So if we can keep a clean sheet like we did yesterday, we are always going to have a chance to win.” Surprisingly, no one personified that defensive solidity more than Francis Coquelin, who kept City star David Silva in check all match. Coquelin has made only 13 Premier League starts in his Arsenal career and just last month he was on loan at Sky Bet Championship side Charlton. But Ramsey thinks Coquelin is now starting to show why Wenger recruited him as a 17-year-old. “He’s at that age now where he understands the game a lot more and he has done really well in the last few weeks,” Ramsey said of the 23-year-old, who has also had loan spells at Lorient and Freiburg. “It’s funny how quickly things can change in football. “One week he was on loan at Charlton and then he comes back in and he has been in the team every week. He has done a very good job defensively for the team. “He wins it back, keeps it simple and just keeps things ticking over. “Hopefully he can build on his performances that he has been showing of late and he has got every chance of turning into a top defensive midfielder.” Press Association Arsenal pulled off one of the most impressive results of the season on Sunday when they defeated City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s team have a poor record against their top-four rivals, but the Gunners rarely looked in trouble during their trip to the north west and the result means they remain within one point of fourth place. last_img read more

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Pulis: Baggies’ confidence building

first_img They go to St Andrew’s on Saturday for a midlands derby and Pulis thinks Albion have been lifted since his arrival. He said: “The players are a little bit different now to when we first walked in, there is a little bit more brightness around the place. “Confidence is built on results, if you can put yourself through a run of games unbeaten and carry on to the next game – whether it’s an FA Cup or Premier League game – keeping the momentum is important, building that up builds the confidence. “We have to keep that going and add a few more players to the group.” Pulis is chasing Wigan’s Callum McManaman and has spoken to Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher, although is unlikely to complete any deals before the game. He took Stoke to the 2011 FA Cup final, losing 1-0 to Manchester City, and has told his squad of the competition’s significance. He said: “It’s a proper cup tie, I’d rather we approach it the right way and we have spoken about it. We will let them know Friday and Saturday that it’s a proper game and one we want to do well again. “The FA Cup will always be special for people of my generation, personally it is the greatest cup competition in the world.” Tony Pulis believes West Brom have repaired their fragile confidence as he targets an FA Cup run. Birmingham are 11th in the Sky Bet Championship having lost just twice in Gary Rowett’s 13 games in charge. He has lifted them from second bottom to nine points adrift of the play-offs since taking charge in October a nd Pulis acknowledged the turnaround under the ex-Burton boss. “He has done a wonderful job and I’m sure the Birmingham supporters will be pleased he has taken over and the way he has pushed it on,” said Pulis. “They are well organised, well balanced and (Clayton) Donaldson works hard up front. “They have a little bit of quality as well. We know it’s going to be a tough game, it’s a Championship side, away from home and it’s the FA Cup.” Pulis is without the injured Jonas Olsson (Achilles), while Youssouf Mulumbu is with Congo for the African Nations Cup and Jason Davidson is on Australia duty for the Asian Cup. The Baggies head coach has underlined the importance of the cup ahead of Saturday’s fourth round tie at Birmingham. He is unbeaten in his first three games, including a 7-0 win over Gateshead in the FA Cup third round, with the Baggies also yet to concede a goal under him. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Dorrans to join Canaries on loan

first_img The 27-year-old Scotland international, who was close to moving to Carrow Road during the transfer window, will complete the temporary switch on Thursday. He told the Championship club’s official website : “I’m glad to finally get it sorted. West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans will join Norwich on a month’s loan this week. “I came here on the last day of the transfer window and for whatever reason it didn’t work out. I’ve been in discussions ever since then, so although I was frustrated it never got done on the final day, hopefully now I can add to a good squad. “I spoke to the manager (Alex Neil) and a couple of the boys, and they had nothing but nice things to say about the club. “The manager and everyone here is working to get this club back to the Premier League, and I’m excited to be here. “With the fans right behind us, hopefully we can do that as we’ve got some big games coming up. I’m looking forward to getting started, and to helping us push on.” Dorrans could make his Canaries debut against Watford on Saturday. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Sturridge: We can still challenge

first_img Newcastle are the visitors on Monday, ideal opponents to get their league form back on track as their Anfield record is woeful. They have lost 16 times and drawn just three of their last 19 visits, with their last victory at the ground coming in April 1994 Liverpool will again be without inspirational captain Steven Gerrard and defensive linchpin Martin Skrtel, who both serve the final match of their respective three-game bans. A one-game suspension to defender Emre Can in last week’s FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn prompted manager Brendan Rodgers to abandon his successful 3-4-3-1 formation and restore a flat-back four, which rewarded him with a clean sheet after conceding six in two games against United and Arsenal. Rodgers’ flexibility on tactics got Liverpool out of their sticky patch earlier this season and Sturridge believes that and the way he coaches the players to embrace new styles and systems is a huge positive for the club. “The manager is adaptable in terms of the way the team plays and changes a lot of things around,” he said. “It is important to have someone like that in the camp who is a man-manager and talks to the players. “It is important you can have a manger you can talk to and we just look forward to playing for this club.” The Reds’ top-four hopes took a nosedive with defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal and despite having an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to next weekend they seem likely to miss out on their main aim of retaining Champions League football. Injury to Sturridge, coupled with the loss of star man Luis Suarez in the summer, contributed to a poor start to the campaign which is now costing them dearly. However, the England international has not given up on a top-four slot just yet and even if they do fall short he has confidence they can up the ante when they start afresh in August. “We have, of course, not played as well as we have done in the last season but things change,” he told Press Association Sport. “Of course we aim to play well until the end of the season and next season we will hopefully be able to win the Premier League, not just get into the top four. “We just need to start the season better than we did this season. “Top-four is still feasible. We have seven games left and anything is possible. “Every game is important now. If we advance in the cup we will have nine games and every one will be a cup final. “The FA Cup is huge for us but we have to still understand we have a chance in the Premier League and getting into the top four. “We won’t put our eggs in one basket. There are still seven games to go in the Premier League and we are looking forward to playing in each of those.” Press Association Striker Daniel Sturridge believes Liverpool can challenge for the title again next season despite not being able to build on last year’s runners-up spot. last_img read more

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