Tag Archives: chance

Jonny Evans: No celebration planned for first goal

No celebration planned, insists Evans as United defender waits for first goal

Jonny Evans has abandoned the idea of practising a goal celebration for when he eventually breaks his Manchester United duck.

The Northern Ireland defender has now gone past a century of appearances for the Old Trafford outfit. And still the scoresheet remains blank.

Evans” latest near-miss came at QPR on Sunday when he nodded a first-half chance against the crossbar.

So close, yet so far: Evans is still awaiting his first United goal after hitting the crossbar in the win over QPR on Sunday

So close, yet so far: Evans is still awaiting his first United goal after hitting the crossbar in the win over QPR on Sunday

So close, yet so far: Evans is still awaiting his first United goal after hitting the crossbar in the win over QPR on Sunday

“I did have one worked out a few years ago but I would be too embarrassed to celebrate now,” he said.

“I would just walk away, probably more out of relief than anything else.

“I don”t know when I will get one. Hopefully soon. I must have had three or four chances. Nani put in some good deliveries from the corners and I was finding it easy to lose my marker.

“It was just unfortunate none of them went in.”

Instead, Michael Carrick was the sole addition to Wayne Rooney”s first-minute opener on the kind of day when it made Roy Keane”s clinical analysis of United”s youngsters appear questionable.

Judy Murray, Fed Cup captain, targets World Group

Murray”s in a hurry as Fed Cup captain targets promotion to World Group

New Fed Cup captain Judy Murray believes Great Britain have a good chance of making it into the World Group next year.

Murray will lead the team for the first time in Israel in February, when Britain will be among 15 sides from Europe/Africa Zone Group I bidding for one of the two places available in World Group II.

On the move: Murray believes Great Britain have a good chance of making it into the World Group

On the move: Murray believes Great Britain have a good chance of making it into the World Group

It is one of the strongest British teams in many years, with stalwarts Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong both playing some of the best tennis of their careers, while teenagers Heather Watson and Laura Robson have made rapid progress.

Murray said: “It is very difficult because there”s 15 teams in the group and only two will go through. You have to win three matches to get out of your group, and then you need to win another one in the play-off, and there are some very strong teams in there.

“On rankings at the moment GB are the fifth highest-ranked team. I think the team to avoid would be Poland, who have a top-10 player in Agnieszka Radwanska and a specialist doubles team, but I think anybody else who”s out there, if our girls are playing well and we have a favourable draw, then I really think anything”s possible.”

Under the spotlight: Murray and Leon Smith answer questions from the press

Under the spotlight: Murray and Leon Smith answer questions from the press

Murray”s appointment was announced earlier this month, with the former Scotland national coach linking up again with the Lawn Tennis Association”s head of women”s tennis, Leon Smith.

The pair worked together in Scotland for a number of years, with Smith taking over coaching Murray”s younger son Andy when the now world NO 4 was 11.

As well as captaining the Fed Cup team, Murray will also work with Britain”s leading junior girls and is passionate about helping boost the number of female coaches in the game.

She said: “Leon contacted me a few weeks ago to say he was taking over the women”s side and asked if I would be interested in a role, in particular with the Fed Cup, which of course for me would be a massive honour to be able to lead out your country. I was getting to the stage where I was ready for a new challenge.

Flying the flag: Murray said Smith was influential in her appointment

Flying the flag: Murray said Smith was influential in her appointment

“I had to think about it a bit because it”s a question of freeing up enough time to be able to do it well. You would never want to take on something like this and then find you didn”t have the time to devote to it. Anything I take on is to put my heart and soul into it and really try to make it work.

“I”m really excited to get started. I love coaching. It doesn”t matter whether it”s eight-year-old beginners or whether it”s working on the court with Jamie or Andy. It”s just that whole thing of teaching.”

Of her wide-ranging position, Murray added: “The Fed Cup in the zone we”re in at the moment is just one week of the year.

“For me, the wider role of trying to help develop a female coaching workforce on the performance side and to help the junior players, and to try to influence perhaps a better or more successful pathway from under-12 all the way through to the tour, is something I think I”ve got quite a lot of experience in and would love to be able to pass that on.”

Murray is a regular courtside supporter of both Andy and older son Jamie, a specialist on the doubles tour, and she joked that they would be pleased she now had other responsibilities.

“I think they were delighted I wasn”t going to be around to cramp their style quite so much,” she said.

“But yes, they were delighted for me.

“We have all of us always enjoyed team competitions. The boys have played in British teams and Scottish teams since they were 10 or 11 and they love the fun that comes with being part of a team.

“I”ve captained and managed a lot of junior teams mostly over the years and really enjoy that whole camaraderie and working together.”

Manchester City take back Premier League top spot

Anything Roo can do Silva can do better! Mancini and Fergie challenge their teams to top the lot in 2012

Manchester City reasserted their authority at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday.

But City boss Roberto Mancini made it plain that re-taking the lead is just a stepping stone and said: ‘I don’t just want to finish top at Christmas, but also at the end of the season.

‘United played before us. We know they are a strong team and we can’t think we can win the title without fighting United.’

Feeling Blue: Manchester City

Feeling Blue: Manchester City”s David Silva settled matters in the second half of their pulsating clash against Arsenal

Feeling Blue: Manchester City

“We know it is possible we could go into the second position sometimes because when there are squads like us, United and Tottenham it can happen. But it is important we are there in the end.”

He added: “I think we deserved to win this game. We had half a chance and Silva scored an important goal. We are on the top again.

“I am delighted for this because after Chelsea it was really important to beat Arsenal and go again to the top of the table, also because Arsenal are a really strong team at this moment.”

Head boy: Wayne Rooney put United ahead at QPR inside the first minute

Head boy: Wayne Rooney put United ahead at QPR inside the first minute

Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged his team to start 2012 on top of the table and Wayne Rooney certainly played his part with a goal after only 53 seconds in the midday kick-off at Loftus Road.

Michael Carrick added a second after running from halfway, but Ferguson said: ‘The important thing is to be there on New Year’s Day. If you’re involved right at the top part then, you know the second half of the season. We’ll relish that. This result gets a bit of consistency back and stabilises us a good deal.’

He added: “We have been a bit sparse in terms of goals scored in the last few weeks but we won 4-1 last Saturday and a 2-0 today and I think everyone would say we should have scored more.

“Their goalkeeper made two fantastic saves which has obviously kept them in the game but we played some good football.”

United’s satisfaction at stepping up thepressure on their rivals lasted only a few hours before City responded in the final game of the day at the Etihad Stadium.

City are now unbeaten at home in all competitions for a calendar year, having won 26 of 28 games. A win against Stoke at home on Wednesday will ensure Mancini’s team are top at Christmas for the first time since 1929.

Reflecting on defeat at City, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: ‘It’s a game we could not afford to lose. Had we won the game the gap would have been six points, but at the moment we are too far behind.

“I felt we were a bit unlucky and their keeper had a good game. We were unlucky as we had to reshuffle at the back in a position where we are already short.

Roo beauty: Michael Carrick then secured the points with a fine solo goal

Roo beauty: Michael Carrick then secured the points with a fine solo goal

“I did feel at half-time we could win the game if we stayed stable at the back, and we lacked a bit of accuracy in our final ball and in the final third as well.

“We had a few opportunities where we didn”t pass the ball well. Overall we had a positive performance, great spirit, quality but we lacked a little bit and that”s vital in the big games.”

The Gunners had gone into the back on the back of a run of seven wins in eight games.

Roberto Mancini hails Christmas tree-toppers Man City

Mancini hails his Christmas tree- toppers as Silva”s strike downs Arsenal

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini praised the response of his players after they edged out Arsenal to get back to winning ways.

David Silva struck the only goal as City won a pulsating clash at the Etihad Stadium to return to the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Mancini felt his players had come through a test of nerve after losing their unbeaten record at Chelsea on Monday and being knocked off the summit by Manchester United earlier today.

Feeling Blue: Manchester City

Feeling Blue: Manchester City”s David Silva settled matters in the second half

Mancini said: “I think we deserved towin this game. We had half a chance and Silva scored an important goal.We are on the top again.

“I am delighted for this because after Chelsea it was really important to beat Arsenal and go again to the top of the table, also because Arsenal are a really strong team at this moment.”

The result lifted City two points clear at the top again but Mancini accepts they may not stay there permanently throughout the title race.

The Italian said: “We know United area really strong team and we can”t think that we can win the title without fighting against United.

“We know it is possible we could go into the second position sometimes because when there are squads like us, United and Tottenham it can happen. But it is important we are therein the end.”

When it was pointed out City could now be top at Christmas for the first time since 1929, Mancini said: “Wewant to stay at the top for a long time, not only Christmas.”

All hail: Roberto Mancini was delighted with his team

All hail: Roberto Mancini was delighted with his team”s character following last week”s defeat

City had a number of chances before finally going ahead after 53 minutes, Sergio Aguero firing over and thenforcing a save from Wojciech Szczesny, who also denied Mario Balotelli.

Silva slid in his sixth goal of the season after Balotelli had another shot saved and Pablo Zabaleta then hit the post.

But Arsenal also tested Joe Hart and had a penalty appeal for handball against Micah Richards turned down.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: “I haven”t seen it, but (Robin) Van Persie is adamant – 100 per cent penalty. It was a game where it could have gone both ways. It was very intense with both teams going for it.

“I felt we were a bit unlucky and their keeper had a good game. We were unlucky as we had to reshuffle at the back in a position where we are already short.

“I did feel at half-time we could winthe game if we stayed stable at the back, and we lacked a bit of accuracy in our final ball and in the final third as well.

Gutted: Arsene Wenger says Robin van Persie was convinced Arsenal should have had a penalty

Gutted: Arsene Wenger says Robin van Persie was convinced Arsenal should have had a penalty

“We had a few opportunities where we didn”t pass the ball well. Overall we had a positive performance, great spirit, quality but we lacked a little bit and that”s vital in the big games.”

The Gunners had gone into the back on the back of a run of seven wins in eight games.

Despite that run, the Londoners now trail City by 12 points and Wenger accepts it will be hard for Arsenal to get into title contention.

He said: “It will be difficult to close the gap on City, but we will try. This is a game we couldn”t afford to lose and that”s why it”s difficult to take. But we will continue to fight and there are a lot of positives.

“The team has made a lot of progress since August and the team can be proud of it. The team has a fantastic spirit and we have shown that again. Let”s hope we can continue our progress and get closer to City.”

Prior to the game there had been yet another rumour about the colourful off-field life of striker Mario Balotelli – this time claiming he was out in Manchester last night dressed as Father Christmas, handing out money to passers-by.

Mancini said: “I don”t know – with Mario it is possible! We should ask him. It could be, I don”t know. But he was in the hotel and it was forbidden to bring fireworks!”

Chris Hughton eyes Birmingham progress in Europa League

Hughton sees it through: Birmingham boss eyes progress ahead of Maribor crunch

Looking up: Birmingham boss Chris Hughton

Looking up: Birmingham boss Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton dismissed any suggestion of a carve-up ahead of his Birmingham side”s clash against NK Maribor at St Andrew”s.

The Championship club will progress to the knockout stages if they win and Bruges lose at home to last season”s beaten finalists Braga.

The Portuguese do not need a victory and the conspiracy theorists have been suggesting the top two will play out a draw to ensure they both qualify from Group H.

But Birmingham manager Hughton is not among them.

He said: “I don”t see that happening. If you do that, football sometimes gives you a nasty shock. I think Braga will take pride in winning any game they play, certainly in Europe. And, don”t forget, they lost at home to Bruges and I think they would want to win this.

Date with destiny: Birmingham in training ahead of their big clash

Date with destiny: Birmingham in training ahead of their big clash

“We have a fighting chance. We”ll have a team out that will give everything for that to happen and a big crowd behind us. I don”t think Maribor will look forward to coming here. It”s still tough to get a result at St Andrew”s.”

The task: How Birmingham can qualify

Hughton played down rumours Birmingham are on the brink of running out of cash and says he has not been instructed to sell players.

He said: “I”m not being kept in the dark. Until now, there have been no surprises. If anything was to happen, I”m sure I would be told. I”m in contact with vice-president Peter Pannu every other day.

“I”m not thinking about players I might lose. Until I”m told anything differently, then we will work as we always have done. At the moment it”s not a concern.”

Birmingham (4-4-2): Myhill; Spector, Pablo, Davies, Murphy; Burke, N”Daw, Fahey, Beausejour; Zigic, King.

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm reveals penalty saving secrets

Vorm reveals penalty saving secrets after Swansea sink Fulham

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm has revealed the secret to his penalty-saving heroics – it”s all in the eyes.

The Dutchman earned the nickname “Penalty Killer” in his homeland for his spot-kick saves and he has wasted no time in growing that reputation in South Wales.

He blocked Ben Watson”s effort against Wigan in August and then pulled off an incredible save to deny Fulham”s Clint Dempsey an 87th-minute equaliser from 12 yards on Saturday.

Spot on: Vorm paws away Dempsey

Spot on: Vorm paws away Dempsey”s penalty during the victory over Fulham

Swansea went on to win 2-0 – Vorm”s seventh clean sheet of the season – and manager Brendan Rodgers believes his keeper, a 1.5million summer signing from FC Utrecht, will alone be worth 10 points in his side’s survival battle.

Rodgers said: “People will tell you a good goalkeeper will get you up to 10-plus points and everyone knows we have a top keeper. The save was exceptional.

“It was a great bit of business for us, it”s a steal.”

Vorm, who spends hours studying opposition penalties, added: “If you do your homework right you have a good chance.

“I always try to prepare myself for stopping a penalty. I had seen Dempsey take a penalty before.

“He didn’t take it that bad – I think it was a good save – but if he shoots it very well you cannot stop it. For me, I always try to wait as long as possible. If I go, I go with all my life.”

The eyes have it: Vorm believes the direction of penalty kicks can be predicted

The eyes have it: Vorm believes the direction of penalty kicks can be predicted

Vorm added: “I don’t practise them every day. But sometimes after training I go with some of the guys to work on them. Danny Graham always beats me, but I tell him it’s only training – he wouldn’t be able to do it in a match.

Scott Sinclair also takes very good penalties, low and hard into the corner.

“The secret is all in the eyes. I like to look at the taker to tell what he is thinking. I then try to wait as long as possible.”

Match zone: The lowdown from the Liberty stadium

Race to Dubai: Difference between Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy could be 3.55

The difference between Donald and McIlroy Just 3.55 (or the cost of a golf ball!)

Between them they have earned over 6million on the European Tour this season and fortunes more away from the course.

Yet there is still a chance that Luke Donald could pip Rory McIlroy to the Race to Dubai money list title by just 3.55 – less than the cost of a golf ball – on Sunday.

McIlroy has to win the race-ending Dubai World Championship to keep his hopes alive and after an opening six-under-par 66, the 22-year-old US Open champion is in third place, two behind Swede Peter Hanson.

Final showdown: Donald and Mcilroy are neck and neck in Dubai

Final showdown: Donald and Mcilroy are neck and neck in Dubai

Donald, with the PGA Tour number one spot in America already in the bag, needs a top-nine finish to make sure of an unprecedented double and following a disappointing 72 he returned to the Earth course today in joint 26th position.

If McIlroy does win on Sunday and Donald is in a two-way tie for ninth, their respective earnings would be 3,430,138 and 3,430,141 – the tightest finish ever.

The Northern Ireland youngster has the momentum after winning the Hong Kong Open last Sunday with a closing 65.

He is still operating at less than full fitness, but said: “To be honest, I”m sort of using it to my advantage in a way.

“It”s sort of taken the pressure off me. I”m not 100 per cent and if it doesn”t happen it doesn”t happen and there”s nothing I can do about it.

“You can just go about your game and try and play as well as you can.
I definitely don”t feel invincible, but I feel like every time I tee it up I”ve got a good chance of shooting a good score.

Rough stuff: Donald endured a difficult first round at the Jumeirah Golf Estates

Rough stuff: Donald endured a difficult first round at the Jumeirah Golf Estates

“I don”t think I”ve finished outside the top four since the US PGA (eight events ago – or 10 if you add a couple of four-man events) and everything seems sort of stress-free.

“It”s not going to last forever, I”m sure. I”m sure there”s going to be a point where I struggle, but right now it”s nice to have that feeling.”

Donald was leading his only remaining challenger by three when he turned in 33, but he had to take penalty drops after driving into bushes on successive holes and then had a third bogey in a row.

“I felt very much in control and then I lost it,” Donald said. “But this is two shots better than the first round last year and I still finished ninth. You”ve got to find the positives.”

Lamont Peterson: Boxing saved my life

Peterson: There”s a saying that boxing saves lives… In my case it”s the truth

For the young man who challenges Amir Khan for the world light-welterweight championship on Saturday night, the few steps up from the streets here into the Walter E Washington Convention Center have been a mountain to climb.

For most of his boyhood Lamont Peterson lived rough in this, one of the most powerful cities on earth, and yet one of the toughest.

With his father in prison and his mother broken on the rack of poverty, Peterson and his younger brother Anthony were sent out to fend for themselves on these streets where hunger watches from the gutter as the American masters of the political universe drive by in their limousines.

Second chance: Boxing has been the salvation of Lamont Peterson

Second chance: Boxing has been the salvation of Lamont Peterson

As urchins of barely primary school age, they begged scraps of food from diners and often went weeks without a proper meal.

“We were going from house to house, door to door,” Lamont recalls. “Sometimes we were taken into shelters for the homeless but often we were just out in the streets for days.”

They slept on benches or in doorways if the weather was kind enough, or in abandoned cars or bus stations if they needed to escape the cold. What was the worst night of all

“My grandfather refused to let us sleep in the house,” he says. “We broke into his basement and it was full of rotting food, clothes and mice. It smelt vile.

“The toilet was blocked but me, my brother and one of my sisters had no alternative but to use it. That sticks in my memory as the nastiest night of all.

“Sometimes now I think about how that could have been possible for a six-year-old and I think about the kids today of the same age who are are going through the same thing. It seems impossible this could be happening in today”s society.

“Sometimes when I go to bed I lie awake thinking about how terrible it was and about the kids going through the same thing today. But I always try to end the night with a smile.”

Peterson thanks God that he didn”t drift into gang life: “My brother and I always seemed to find the right decision. Thank God the gym became my home. It was also my family life. I went there to train twice a day. I would have lived there if I could.”

Showdown: All eyes will be on Washington on for the Khan v Peterson fight

Showdown: All eyes will be on Washington on for the Khan v Peterson fight

Showdown: All eyes will be on Washington on for the Khan v Peterson fight

Lamont was just 10 on a chilly night when the light the brothers saw through a half-open door proved to be their salvation. The ramshackle building into which they sneaked was Barry Hunter”s boxing gym.

This much loved trainer took one look at the boys, fed them, took them into his home and let them work out among his stable of boxers. Unsurprisingly, they proved to be hungry fighters.

Lamont won youth tournaments as he grew into a Golden Gloves amateur champion. Now 27, he has been beaten only once in the 31 professional fights which have brought him to this most challenging moment of his career.

Despite the importance of the occasion, he never forgets the plight of the people with whom he used to share the battle against starvation. He says: “There is a cliche about how boxing saves the lives of some kids. In my case, it”s simply the truth.”

Peterson broke training for a day to help deliver food to the needy and spent Thanksgiving at a homeless mission serving the kind of meals which saved his and his brother Anthony”s life.

He says: “It is an honour for me to take time out for these projects. I know how rough things can get.” Then he adds: “A lot rougher than anything that can happen in the ring.”

Love match: Amir Khan is planning to marry 20-year-old American girlfriend Faryal Makhdoom

Love match: Amir Khan is planningto marry 20-year-old American girlfriend Faryal Makhdoom

He points to a tattoo on his forearm. It depicts a bulldog gnawing on a bone. The inscription reads: “This is the way we eat.” Although our own Amir starts as a firm favourite to keep his unified WBA and IBF titles, Peterson”s paternal trainer agrees with his boy.

Hunter says: “I”ve been watching this young man beat the odds his whole life. Together, we”ve seen things that send chills up the spine of the average person. After all the struggles he has been through, nothing Khan can do is going to bother Lamont unduly. And there is more than the money to our motivation. We want to send a message across Planet Earth.”

Peterson explains: “This is my chanceto shine. That and to prove to kids everywhere that if you work hard, stay dedicated and determined, you can come through whatever life throws at you and make it.”

Suchwords do not fall on deaf ears when uttered in the hearing of his opponent. Equally committed though Khan is to keeping his crown and going on to yet greater boxing heights, he says: “I have huge respect for what Lamont has done with his life.”

Thatis one reason why he agreed to give Peterson the opportunity of home advantage in Washington, the capital city to which his family moved fromMemphis when he was an infant.

But Khan adds: “When we come down to the fight, I know I have the tools to beat him, which I must do.”

Word up: Both fighters are showing each other great respect ahead of the bout

Word up: Both fighters are showing each other great respect ahead of the bout

Word up: Both fighters are showing each other great respect ahead of the bout

Khan”s trainer Freddie Roach, who was inducted on Wednesday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, is similarly sympathetic but professional: “Barry is a great person and very good trainer. He has been the saviour of Lamont and his brother and turned both of them into excellent boxers.

“I also understand everything that drives Lamont. He deserves this chance and I”m happy we are giving it to him. But in the end superior skill wins, and Amir will be too good for him.”

Peterson validated his credentials as challenger with a draw against Victor Ortiz, who went on to rough up Floyd Mayweather Jnr before being controversially knocked out while being warned for head-butting.

Peterson”s only defeat thus far was inflicted by Tim Bradley, the WBC light-welterweight belt holder, whom Khan chides for ducking a fight for the undisputed title.

Unless Bradley rises to the bait next, Khan will move up half a stone to welterweight where, among other marquee names, Mayweather plies his trade.

But first he must take care of business against Peterson, on a night which promises to do much credit to boxing.

Khan-Peterson is live late on Saturday night on Sky Sports HD1.