Monthly Archives: December 2016

Premier League Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool

Published by:

Premier League

Tuesday, December 31, 12:15 PM (Eastern time)

Anfield, Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho will not be playing against Manchester City

Coutinho, 24, has missed six games with an ankle injury picked up in November’s win over Sunderland. The Reds manager also confirmed that defender Joel Matip will miss the City game with a similar injury.

“The City game is too early and I’m pretty sure the Sunderland match on Monday is too early too,” Klopp said of Coutinho’s injury.

Liverpool enter the game off the backs of 3 consecutive victories in the Premier League, which lifted them up to second place in the table as a hectic festive season looms. City, in comparison, also won all three of their previous Premier League fixtures, but lost 3 of their previous League matches against the Reds – two of them after Jurgen Klopp had assumed the role of manager at Anfield.

However, Klopp insists recent history counts for nothing but accepts that in Pep Guardiola, City have a man of huge influence.

“He is a fantastic manager. Guardiola has a clear philosophy and it is a pretty good idea. He has had a fantastic career until now. You always have to adapt to your players and that is what he is doing and it is what we do.”

City also has the returning Sergio Aguero, but Liverpool’s record has been very similar to City’s thus far this season – both plays the possession game; they are the highest and joint second-highest scorers this season so far, and play almost permanently on the front foot.

They even share the same weaknesses – with Liverpool being poor at set pieces, while City also has their defensive issues that need mending.

Given the ingredients, the match between second and third could very well determine the title rival for Chelsea, who leads the table by six point; seven ahead of City, six ahead of Liverpool.

Prediction:

Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester City

Chinese club offered €300m for Cristiano Ronaldo, says agent

Published by:

Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, claimed that Real Madrid were offered about €300m by an unnamed Chinese club for his client.

He said the 31-year-old forward had no interest in the deal, which included an €100m annual salary.

“From China, they’ve offered €300m to Real Madrid and more than €100m per year to the player,” Mendes told Sky Sports Italia. “(But) Money is not everything; the Spanish club is his life.”

Ronaldo, who won the Ballon d’Or award for the fourth time last month, earns close to €42m per year at Real Madrid, whom he joined from United for a then record deal of £80m in 2009.

The Portugal captain also said he could play for another 10 years as he penned a new deal, which ties him to Madrid until June 2021, last month.

“The Chinese market is a new market. They can buy a lot of players, but then again it is impossible to go for Ronaldo. Cristiano is the best player in the world and best ever. It is normal to have some offers.”

“He won the European Championship with Portugal, it’s like winning the Italian league with Genoa: they were not the favourite.”

The transfer offer, if realized, was worth almost treble the world record £93.2m Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba in August.

Mendes’s claim comes after the 32-year-old former Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez signed for Shanghai Shenhua in a deal worth £615,000 a week and the Brazilian midfielder Oscar moved to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea in a deal believed to be worth £52m.

Ana Ivanovic retires from tennis at 29

Published by:

Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic, a former world number one and champion of the French Open 2008 has retired from tennis at the age of 29.

Ivanovic spent nine weeks as world number one in 2008 and won 15 career singles titles. She reached the French Open semi-final in 2015, and was runner-up at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2007 and at the 2008 Australian Open.

However, Ivanovic won just 15 matches in 2016 – the most recent in June. The Serb has been out with injury since August and dropped to 63 in world rankings after losing to the Czech national Denisa Allertova in the US Open first round, her final match on the WTA tour.

She announced her retirement from a video.

“I played so many memorable matches. But staying at those heights in any professional sport requires top physical form and it’s well-known that I have been hampered by injuries,” Ivanovic said. “I can only play if I perform up to my own high standards. I can no longer do that, so it’s time to move on.”

“There is no other way to say this. I have decided to retire from professional tennis. It was a difficult decision but there is so much to celebrate,” Ivanovic said. “Don’t be sad, be optimistic alongside me. My love and my greatest thank you to all of you.”

Ivanovic, who married Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger earlier this year, was the first Serbian woman to win a grand slam.

She added in the video she will explore opportunities in business, beauty and fashion in retirement as well as with UNICEF, with whom she holds the position of National Ambassador for Serbia.

Swansea manager Bob Bradley sacked after 11 games in charge

Published by:

Swansea City dismissed Bob Bradley just 85 days and 11 games after the American took over from Francesco Guidolin.

Bob Bradley had been the first American to manage a Premier League club.

At the time of his arrival, Swansea were above the relegation zone only on goal difference but have picked up just eight points out of a possible 33 since, conceding 29 goals in the process.

Bradley constantly made changes to the team in search of a winning formula and there was hope that a corner may have been turned when Swansea defeated Sunderland 3-0 earlier in the month to briefly escape the bottom three.

However, three successive defeats, against West Brom, Middlesbrough and West Ham, left Swansea looking like a club fated to the relegation zone.

Their latest result – a 4-1 home defeat on Boxing Day at the hands of West Ham united – was their seventh loss in 11 games since Bradley took over on 3 October.

It left the Welsh club on 12 points – equal but just above bottom club Hull City on goal difference.

As West Ham ran riot at the Liberty Stadium, disgruntled fans vented unconcealed feelings of frustration with vocal chants of “We want Bradley out” – which could have played a part in prompting the Swansea board to take action.

“I knew exactly what I was getting into when I came to Swansea and realised the hardest part was always going to be getting points in the short run,” said Bradley following his dismissal.

“But I believe in myself and I believe in going for it. That’s what I’ve always told my players. Football can be cruel and to have a chance, you have to be strong.”

“I wish Swansea the best and look forward to my next challenge.”

In a club statement, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said: “We are sorry to lose Bob after such a short period of time. Unfortunately things haven’t worked out as planned and we felt we had to make the change with half the Premier League season remaining.”

“With the club going through such a tough time, we have to try and find the answers to get ourselves out of trouble. Personally, I have nothing but praise for Bob. He is a good man; a good person who gave everything to the job. His work-rate is phenomenal and we wish him well for the future.”