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Arsene Wenger may risk Jack Wilshere in Arsenal FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers ahead of Champions League tie

Risk Jack before Bayern Wenger to make late call on Wilshere in FA Cup

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

08:24 GMT, 15 February 2013

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UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 15 February 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to risk Jack Wilshere in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Blackburn or save the England midfielder for next week's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich.

Wilshere will be closely monitored after coming off against Sunderland last week with a dead leg, just days after his heroic display for England in the win over Brazil at Wembley.

Wenger started Wilshere on the bench for the last FA Cup tie at Brighton, where his second-half introduction helped spark a late rally to secure a 3-2 win.

Worth the risk Arsene Wenger will make a late call on whether to play Jack Wilshere in the FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers tomorrow in view of the midweek Champions League tie with Bayern Munich

Worth the risk Arsene Wenger will make a late call on whether to play Jack Wilshere in the FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers tomorrow in view of the midweek Champions League tie with Bayern Munich

Concern: A worried Wenger looks on as Wilshere receives treatment during Arsenal's 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend

Concern: A worried Wenger looks on as Wilshere receives treatment during Arsenal's 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend

However, the Gunners boss knows just how crucial a fully-fit Wilshere will be for his side's hopes to progress in Europe, and so could err on the side of caution if the midfielder is touch and go for tomorrow.

'Jack is looking better, but is still a doubt. He got a kick on the thigh,' the Arsenal manager said.

Wenger is likely to try to protect the fitness of several key men, while also seeing off the challenge of Blackburn who were thumped 7-1 on the last visit 12 months ago as they headed for relegation.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen missed both the last two matches because of an ankle problem, which has been requiring injections.

The Belgian centre-half said during a Q&A with fans on Arsenal's official Twitter account yesterday: 'At the moment I feel great, I trained all week, so hopefully I will be back really quickly.'

Back soon: Thomas Vermaelen (right) told fans that he was close to a return

Back soon: Thomas Vermaelen (right) told fans that he was close to a return

Centre-half Laurent Koscielny is another doubt with the calf injury which saw him limp out of the warm-up last weekend, after originally picking up the problem while away on international duty with France.

Full-back Carl Jenkinson will be suspended for the cup tie after his red card for two cautions at Sunderland.

With Kieran Gibbs still sidelined by a thigh problem and Andre Santos having joined Brazilian side Gremio on loan, Wenger's defensive options are stretched, so Ignasi Miquel, the 20-year-old Spaniard, looks set to be involved again this weekend.

View to a return: But this weekend's match with Blackburn may come too soon for Laurent Koscielny

View to a return: But this weekend's match with Blackburn may come too soon for Laurent Koscielny

Centre-back Per Mertesacker maintains Arsenal must put all thought of tackling Bayern Munich out of their minds as they look to book safe passage into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

'We still have an important cup game on Saturday (first) – we absolutely want to advance in the FA Cup, that is why the preparations for Bayern are not that intense yet,' the Germany international said.

'However, beginning on Sunday the preparations for Tuesday's match will be extreme.'

Tomorrow sees the start of a crucial period which could well define Arsenal's season, as they go to Tottenham on March 9 and then host Everton before travelling to the Allianz Arena for the second leg.

Mertesacker added: 'Bayern are doing superb this year and that is a big challenge for us, but we are looking forward to both legs.'

Stuart Pearce U21 future in doubt as FA delay new deal talks

FA delay talks on new deal for U21 boss Pearce leaving his future in doubt

, winning every one of the six fixtures they played, and even being without Manchester United defender Phil Jones (shingles) and Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling (dead leg), Pearce will be expecting another victory.

Starting roles: Wilfried Zaha and Jonjo Shelvey will feature from the get-go

Starting roles: Wilfried Zaha and Jonjo Shelvey will feature from the get-go

‘It’s a shame Jones is out,’ said Pearce, who will start Wilfried Zaha up front. ‘But he’s picked up shingles, there’s not a lot we can do.’

Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will start for the first time since September and wants to make his mark after a disappointing period at Anfield. He has not started a game since a 3-1 defeat at Stoke on Boxing Day.

‘I didn’t think I was the only one that had a bad game that day but I was the one who suffered,’ said Shelvey, who made his senior debut against San Marino in October. ‘I’m still learning. I’ve got to prove I can get back to the seniors.’

VIDEO: Watch Jonjo Shelvey's screamer in England U21 training

Wimbledon dog race ends in 30million-to-one triple dead heat

Anyone have a pound on that Three dogs cross line at same time in 30million-to-one finish

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UPDATED:

11:18 GMT, 17 December 2012

We've heard of finishing neck-and-neck, but the London's Wimbledon track saw something different on Friday, as three dogs crossed the line nose-and-nose-and-nose in a 30million-to-one finish.

There was nothing between Murlens Houdini, Lightning Speed and Tinas Luke, not even one-hundredth of a second. They finished so close to one another that not even computer technology could pick a clear winner.

And amazingly this isn’t the first time that three greyhounds have finished in a trio. It was only in January last year that the first ever triple dead heat occurred at Romford, with Killishan Masai, Ayamzagirl and Droopys Djokovic all finishing at the same time, over an even longer distance.

What a finish! The three dogs cross the line at the same time at Wimbledon

What a finish! The three dogs cross the line at the same time at Wimbledon

They raced over 925m, the furthest distance used for greyhounds, making it even more astounding that they finished together.

The event was unlikely the first time around, but the chances of it happening again were 30million-to-one.

On Friday the dogs were racing in the third heat of the John White Christmas Cracker over a shorter distance of 480m.

With six in the race, it was Murlens Houdini that took an early lead. The other two soon caught up though and they all crossed the line at a speed of over 40mph.

They covered the distance in less than half a minute, with a finishing time of 28.87 seconds. Punters received a third of their stake at full odds.

Gone to the dogs: The incredible finish also happened at Romford in 2011

Gone to the dogs: The incredible finish also happened at Romford in 2011

Unfortunately the final can only include
two dogs. After a draw it was decided that Tinas Luke will be the
reserve while Murlens Houdini and Lightning Speed will race in Friday’s
final.

'I doubt we'll ever seen another one like that,' said Gary Matthews, Wimbledon's racing manager.

'When we announced the triple dead heat a huge roar went up.'

A spokesman for the Greyhound Board of England likened the event to someone winning the lottery and being hit by a meteorite in the same day.

2.5 billion is wagered on greyhound racing each year in Britain, on over 70,000 races.

Gaston Ramirez injury: Southampton star out for six weeks

Saints hit for six as record signing Ramirez is sidelined until December

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UPDATED:

16:36 GMT, 18 October 2012

Hit for six: Southampton new boy Gaston Ramirez is out injured

Hit for six: Southampton new boy Gaston Ramirez is out injured

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has confirmed club record signing Gaston Ramirez faces six weeks on the sidelines.

The 21-year-old has impressed for the south coast side since joining for a fee upwards of 12million in the summer from Serie A outfit Bologna.

Ramirez missed Saints' 2-2 draw with Fulham before the international break after he was treated in hospital for a dead leg, which resulted in swelling of his thigh.

Adkins confirmed the Uruguay international faces up to a six-week absence and will miss Saturday's trip to West Ham in the Premier League.

'I think six weeks is probably about right, but we'll see how he progresses through the rehab stages,' Adkins said.

'If the time is from the medical department, it is from the date of original injury.

'He is showing good signs of recovery at this moment of time, but he won't be fit for the weekend.'

Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2 match report – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both score twice

Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2 (or Messi 2 Ronaldo 2)… star pair share the goals in Clasico thriller

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UPDATED:

06:57 GMT, 8 October 2012

Maybe they should just make a second golden ball when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo contest the Ballon D’Or at the end of the year.

Here they battled for Spanish supremacy and the result was a dead heat.

After both players scored twice as Barcelona and Real Madrid fought out a pulsating 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp, Real manager Jose Mourinho said: ‘Saying who is the best in the world at the moment should be banned because these two are both such fantastic players.’

Anything you can do: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared four goals as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew

Anything you can do: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared four goals as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew

Anything you can do: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared four goals as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew

MATCH FACTS

BARCELONA: Valdes; Alves (Montoya 28), Mascherano, Adriano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Fabregas (Sanchez 64), Messi, Pedro. Subs not used: Pinto, Bartra, Song, Roberto, Villa

Goals: Messi 31, 61

Booked: Pedro, Busquets

REAL MADRID: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso; Ronaldo, Ozil (Kaka 81), Di Maria; Benzema (Higuain 62). Subs not used: Adan, Albiol, Coentrao, Essien, Modric, Higuain

Goals: Ronaldo 23, 66

Booked: Alonso, Khedira, Pepe

His opposite number Tito Vilanova
said: ‘Perhaps Ronaldo would have received slightly more recognition if
he were not playing at the same time as Messi.’

They now have 100 goals between them
this calendar year and this season Ronaldo leads Messi 14 to 12. Both
scored with their first shots on goal and both added a second in the
second half as the Clasico lived up to its name once more.

The promised chants for independence
came 17 minutes into the first half but Mourinho had stressed that this
game would be about football and not politics. Almost to prove a point,
his team almost scored immediately after the protest.

Dani Alves was left marking Sergio Ramos at a corner and the Real defender sent Mesut Ozil’s corner just past the post.

First blood: Ronaldo struck the first blow when he unleashed a fierce drive inside the near post

First blood: Ronaldo struck the first blow when he unleashed a fierce drive inside the near post

First blood: Ronaldo struck the first blow when he unleashed a fierce drive inside the near post

Ronaldo then became the first player
to score in six consecutive Clasicos on 22 minutes when fed by Karim
Benzema. It was a goal more in keeping with Barcelona’s style — Xabi
Alonso, Ozil, Marcelo and Sami Khedira all exchanging passes.

Messi made it 1-1 eight minutes
later. Andres Iniesta played the ball out to Pedro and when his cross
hit Alonso the Real Madrid player got himself tangled up with Pepe and
as neither cleared, Messi scored.

Back on terms: It didn't take long for Messi to haul his side back on level terms from close range...

Back on terms: It didn't take long for Messi to haul his side back on level terms from close range…

Back on terms: It didn't take long for Messi to haul his side back on level terms from close range...

...but Real Madrid cried foul after Pepe ended up on his backside in the build up to the equaliser

…but Real Madrid cried foul after Pepe ended up on his backside in the build up to the equaliser

Madrid had never lost in La Liga with Ronaldo scoring — Barcelona likewise when Messi strikes — and the record was to remain.

Ronaldo led the charge in the second half and Sergio Busquets was booked for clipping his heels.

Big claim: There were several penalty shouts waved away, notably when Andres Iniesta hit the deck after the break

Big claim: There were several penalty shouts waved away, notably when Andres Iniesta hit the deck after the break

The Portuguese hit his free-kick into
the wall and on the hour his nemesis had the chance from a similar
distance and left Iker Casillas flapping in the wind to make it 2-1 to
Barcelona.

Ronaldo tried and failed with a
bicycle kick as Real pushed for the equaliser. Then, with 66 minutes
gone, he ran on to an Ozil pass, drew Victor Valdes and slotted in the
second. It was anything you can do, I can do just as well.

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Visiting defender Pepe accused Andres Iniesta of 'doing theatre' in a bid to win a second-half penalty and Mourinho – who infamously poked a finger into the eye of Vilanova on the touchline last season when he was Pep Guardiola's assistant – claimed the referee made 'one mistake at a certain moment'.

'He said he does not want to discuss referees, yet he has,' Vilanova said of his opposite number. 'If you talk about referees you should talk about all actions, not a few in particular.'

On Pepe's claims of simulation against Iniesta, Vilanova quipped: 'We should make a video of all his fouls and actions.'

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Right place: Ronaldo showed his class again after springing the offside trap, despite Victor Valdes' protests

Right place: Ronaldo showed his class again after springing the offside trap, despite Victor Valdes' protests

The result allowed Atletico Madrid to join Barca at the summit of La Liga thanks to their 2-1 home win over Malaga in the late kick-off, but Vilanova remained more than satisfied with his team's start to the campaign.

'Of course we always think that we have to win games and in the end I thought we could have,' he said on www.fcbarcelona.cat. 'We had late chances with (Martin) Montoya and Pedro (Rodriguez).

'If at the beginning of the season we were told that we would be eight points ahead (of Madrid) at this stage we would have taken that.'

Right place: Ronaldo showed his class again after springing the offside trap, despite Victor Valdes' protests

Special occasion: Barcelona fans used the match as a chance to call for independence for Catalunya

Special occasion: Barcelona fans used the match as a chance to call for independence for Catalunya

Special occasion: Barcelona fans used the match as a chance to call for independence for Catalunya

Leigh Halfpenny: Wales must go back to drawing board

Halfpenny concedes Wales need new blueprint to overcome Australia

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UPDATED:

21:46 GMT, 10 June 2012

Leigh Halfpenny says battered Wales must go back to the drawing board if they are to have a chance of winning the series in Australia.

Powerhouse No 8 Toby Faletau is flying home with a broken hand suffered during the 27-19 first Test defeat in Brisbane.

On the run: Leigh Halfpenny (left) can't catch Australia's Will Genia

On the run: Leigh Halfpenny (left) can't catch Australia's Will Genia

Wing George North is nursing a dead leg and centre Scott Williams has a nasty cut to the face, although both should recover for Saturday's second Test in Melbourne.

Flying home: Wales' Toby Faletau (centre) returning

Flying home: Wales' Toby Faletau (centre) returning

Full back Halfpenny said: 'We're massively disappointed. We've got to go back to the video, back to the drawing board and back to the training field.'

Struggling: George North has a dead leg

Struggling: George North has a dead leg

Mark Allen facing rap as snooker chiefs probe Twitter outburst

Allen facing rap as snooker chiefs probe Twitter outburst about 'horrendous' China

Mark Allen could find himself in trouble with snooker authorities again after a series of Twitter outbursts about China.

Allen, no stranger to controversy having clashed with World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and been fined for swearing in a press conference, is in Beijing for the Haikou China Open.

He tweeted: 'This place is horrendous! Dead cat found this morning. Any wonder this place stinks! Must be dead cats all round the town!!'

Wish you were here Mark Allen is not enjoying being in China

Wish you were here Mark Allen is not enjoying being in China

He then wrote: 'Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena's rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.'

That tweet was later removed, and replaced with one saying: 'Might've been a bit harsh a few hours ago in my tweet. Not all Chinese people are ignorant. I stand by everything else though.'

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson described the comments as 'extremely disappointing' and said his organisation would take a look at them.

Enlarge

Twit of bother: Mark Allen's comments will be reviewed

Twit of bother: Mark Allen's comments will be reviewed

He told the Daily Mirror: 'Mark Allen's comments are extremely disappointing considering that China is a great friend of our sport.

'There has been a massive effort from China to support our players and I am sure this is an isolated view from one player.

'Our players must understand that their views expressed in the public arena can have a catastrophic effect on the game's development.

'These comments will now be reviewed by the WPBSA disciplinary committee.'

Allen later tweeted again, saying: 'From now on I will be a robot with no opinions or feelings. Hope that keeps everyone off my back for a while. Peace out!!!'