Tag Archives: defence

Ricky Burns versus Miguel Vazquez rescheduled

Burns' title clash with Vazquez rescheduled for April after Mexican eats dodgy seafood

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

01:10 GMT, 4 March 2013

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 4 March 2013

Ricky Burns' world title unification fight against Miguel Vazquez has been rescheduled for April 20.

The Scot was due to tackle the IBF lightweight champion at Wembley Arena on March 16 but the Mexican has been suffering from a severe viral infection after contracting food poisoning from seafood.

Nathan Cleverly's mandatory world light-heavyweight title defence against Robin Krasniqi has also been moved to the later date.

Disappointed: Ricky Burns' fight with Miguel Vazquez has been rescheduled for April 20 at Wembley Arena

Disappointed: Ricky Burns' fight with Miguel Vazquez has been rescheduled for April 20 at Wembley Arena

A doctor's report dated February 25, seen by Sportsmail, revealed that Vazquez presented with a temperature of 40C along with sickness and a fast heart rate. He was advised to rest for at least 10 days.

Promoter Frank Warren said: 'It’s very unfortunate that Vazquez has had to withdraw so close to the fight, but it is on medical grounds, which is beyond my control, due to his viral infection, and we have his doctor’s certificate confirming this.

'Therefore I have had to postpone the fight, not canceled as stated in some media reports, to Saturday April 20 at Wembley Arena. Everybody is disappointed by this postponement, but we have worked hard to ensure that Ricky’s unification fight still goes ahead.'

Burns, who holds the WBO belt, had earlier revealed his disappointment at the news.

He tweeted: 'Absolutely gutted this fight ain't happening, another training camp n it's fell through! Not only that, feel sorry for the fans, my friends and family who have now booked tickets, flights and hotels for 2 fights for it to fall through. Sorry every1!'

Switch: George Groves will announce his move to rival promoter Matchroom

Switch: George Groves will announce his move to rival promoter Matchroom

The 29-year-old had been due to fight first Liam Walsh and then Jose Ocampo last December but both pulled out at short notice.

His fight with Vazquez was announced in January but last month the Mexican cast doubt over whether it would go ahead.

'There
is nothing concrete,' he said. 'I am waiting on the response from the
promoters. If they come to an agreement, there will be a fight.'

The announcement follows the shock defection of George Groves to rival promoter Eddie Hearn which is expected to be confirmed on Monday.

The super-middleweight was also due
to fight on the London card but will instead fight a week earlier at the
same venue on Matchroom's 'London's Finest' bill.

Last man standing: Nathan Cleverly's title defence against Robin Krasniqi has also been rescheduled

Last man standing: Nathan Cleverly's title defence against Robin Krasniqi has also been rescheduled

A statement from Warren Promotions
confirmed: 'George Groves has withdrawn from the Wembley Arena show
promoted by Frank Warren on Saturday March 16.

'Groves was due to challenge for the vacant European super-middleweight title against Mohamed Ali Ndiaye that Mr. Warren won the purse bid for on January 11.

'Groves has stated that he is not interested in boxing for the EBU title at this moment and would like to take his choice of fights in another direction.

'Mr Warren would like to wish George all the best with his career and looks forward to working again with him in the near future.'

Cleverly is also reported to have been suffering from a virus which left him unable to train for five days while Dereck Chisora remains hopeful of returning to the ring next month but has yet to have his hearing with the British Boxing Board of Control after his license was revoked last year.

Jon Walters own goals against Chelsea – relive some of the best ever

Walters at the double… for Chelsea! After Stoke midfielder's two own goals, relive some of the best (or worst) ever

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

16:31 GMT, 12 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 12 January 2013

With a surging run ahead of two Chelsea players, Jon Walters flung himself through the air and powered a bullet header in to the back of the net. Sadly for him, it was his own net.

To the dismay of his manager Tony Pulis, he was at it again in the second half, becoming only the fourth player in the Premier League to bag a brace of own goals (following Jamie Carragher, Gary Breen and Michael Proctor).

The cherry on the cake was a late penalty miss for the Irishman, which turned a disastrous afternoon into one that beggars belief.

In honour of Walters' spectacular day, Sportsmail took a look back at some of the classic own goals which have been scored in the past.

Oh no: Jon Walters afternoon got worse the longer it went on

Oh no: Jon Walters afternoon got worse the longer it went on

Lethal: Walters made no mistake as he headed his side behind

Lethal: Walters made no mistake as he headed his side behind

John Arne Riise

Chelsea were the beneficiaries yet again as the flame-haired Norwegian made his mark. With Liverpool on the brink of taking a 1-0 Champions League semi-final lead back to Stamford Bridge, up popped Riise to even the score, beating his own keeper Pepe Reina with a classy header in the 94th minute. It finished 1-1 and Chelsea won the second leg 3-1.

Peter Enckelman

In the first Birmingham derby since the Blues won promotion to the Premier League in 2002, Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman carved his name into Brummie folklore with a howler of epic proportions.

With City winning 1-0, captain Olof Mellberg harmlessly chucked Enckelman the ball from a throw-in. The young stopper misjudged the slowly-rolling ball, which ran under his foot and into the net. Birmingham won 3-0.

Lee Dixon

Full-back Lee Dixon made a mockery of Arsenal's famously tight defence in the early 1990s when he lobbed team-mate David Seaman from distance to send opponents Coventry on their way to victory against George Graham's side.

Iain Dowie

Iain Dowie ended a worrying goal drought during his time at West Ham with a perfectly-executed header past Ludek Miklosko which even his own fans must have been tempted to applaud. Dowie's equaliser for Stockport helped them on their way to a 2-1 win in 1996.

Djimi Traore

Rafael Benitez's first FA Cup tie as Liverpool boss ended in humiliating defeat at Burnley in 2005 after French defender Traore performed a perfect pirouette in the six-yard box, comically dragging the ball into his own net with his heel as he twirled to hand victory to the Coca-Cola Championship club.

Jamie Pollock

An own goal that would have been one of the goals of the season had it been scored at the other end. Playing against QPR in 1998, Manchester City defender Pollock flicked the ball over an opponent's head before trying to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, who was in no man's land and could only watch as the ball sailed into the net.

Chris Brass

Probably the funniest own goal ever scored came from Bury's Chris Brass, whose attempted clearance against Darlington in 2006 hit his own face and careered into the net. To add injury to insult, Brass suffered a broken nose in the process. However, Bury did come back to win late on.

P.S.

OFI Kreta's Mirnes Sisic launched the ball miles into the night sky – directly above his head, only for it to fall back down into the net past the flapping keeper. The opponents Panionios scored an own goal to level it out later on, before ANOTHER own goal was scored by Kreta to throw the game away.

Real Madrid take on Real Sociedad in La Liga

Mission impossible Madrid face daunting challenge to close 16-POINT gap on rivals Barcelona

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

13:07 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:33 GMT, 5 January 2013

Real Madrid will start what many believe to be mission impossible when the Primera Division restarts for them tomorrow.

Jose Mourinho's side take on Real Sociedad with the gap between them and leaders Barcelona standing at 16 points.

For even the most ardent Madrid fan, a successful title defence would appear to be impossible, with the Champions League now the primary focus.

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

According to defender Alvaro Arbeloa, though, they just have to carry on as normal.

'Real Sociedad are in their best form and it is going to be a difficult match, but we will go into it with desire and belief.

'I just want to win all of our matches from now until the end of the season.'

One sideshow will be who Mourinho starts in goal. There was uproar before Christmas when the Portuguese opted to sit out Iker Casillas and go with Antonio Adam playing in the loss to Malaga.

'The fans will support Real Madrid because they are fans of Real Madrid and not just of Casillas,' said Arbeloa, trying to play down any possible rows.

'It is important that they support the players, but also that they support the team. Whoever plays will have the support of his team-mates.'

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

The lure of a third Champions League title is thought to be driving Mourinho on this season, while the Copa del Rey still remains an option.

Arbeloa does not look at it that way, however, and wants every game to be treated the same.

'If this team wants to win trophies, it is impossible to do that without competing and giving everything in La Liga, and so it is difficult to give everything in the Copa,' he said.

'You cannot pick one day to play well and relax on other days.

'I would just aim to win all the matches. It could be that the Champions League is an easier objective than La Liga, but we are not a team that goes onto the pitch without giving our all every weekend and then does in the Champions League.

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

'We have to face all the challenges in our path and to do that you have to win in all the competitions.'

Sociedad head to the capital upwardly mobile. They are seventh in the table and have been producing some eye-catching performances under Philippe Montanier.

Some have backed them to spring a surprise and, although he will not call this a chance, Sociedad midfielder David Zurutuza does acknowledge there have been worse times to play Madrid.

'I don't think there is any good moment to visit the Bernabeu, but yes, if I had to choose a time it would be now, because they are missing important players,' he said.

Celtic move closer to move for Standard Liege defender Rami Gershon

A green light: Celtic's Rami move given the all-clear by Standard

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 30 December 2012

Israeli international Rami Gershon could be a Celtic player by next week after the player’s agent confirmed he is free to leave Standard Liege.

The Parkhead side have launched a bid to secure the left sided central defender on loan with a view to an 800,000 permanent deal in the summer.

Along with former Celtic strike target Marvin Ogunjimi Gershon is one of four Standard players omitted from the winter training camp in Turkey after being made surplus to requirements by coach Mircea Rednic.

Heading to Glasgow: Rami Gershon is close to a move to Celtic

Heading to Glasgow: Rami Gershon is close to a move to Celtic

Sportsmail understands the SPL champions face stiff competition from Juniper League side Royal Antwerp, however, with the lure of a Champions League tie with Juventus Celtic’s bargaining tool.

Under contract until the summer of 2014 Gershon spent a spell on loan at KV Kortrijk and will leave Standard once again in the coming week.

'I can neither confirm or deny the reports regarding Celtic’s interest.' Said agent Dudu Dahan – the man who also took Beram Kayal and Efe Ambrose to Glasgow.

'Rami will not be returning to Israel but he has had attractive offers from leading European clubs. We will know where he is going within the next week.'

Missing out: Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson faces a two match ban after being sent off

Missing out: Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson faces a two match ban after being sent off

Neil Lennon is facing a personnel shortage in central defence as Kelvin Wilson faces up a two match suspension after the winter break.

Efe Ambrose is also set to travel to the African Cup of Nations in South Africa with Nigeria – a tournament which could see him return to Glasgow just days before the first leg of Celtuc’s Champions League last 16 clash with Juventus.

English clubs Newcastle United and Millwall have both refused to let players join up with Nigeria.

But Ambrose, who has 16 caps for the senior team, wants to make the trip if Celtic give him the green light.

'If the club says I can’t go, then I can’t go,' said the defender. 'It all depends on what they say.

'I believe the manager has his own opinion. If they say I can’t go, I don’t have any option. But I believe they will come to the right choice for me.

Looking to add: Neil Lennon wants to strengthen in the transfer window

Looking to add: Neil Lennon wants to strengthen in the transfer window

'You know, I started out with my country. They made me what I am today. If it wasn’t for the national teams, I would not be here today.

'So I’m giving back some of what they’ve given to me. That is really important to me. Playing for my country is so important, every opportunity to do that makes me very happy.

'I played right through from the under-17s, the under-20s, the under-23s and then the senior team. That is how I got my move first to Israel and now here – playing on the international stage put me in the spotlight. That is why I have to give something back to my country.’

Ambrose, who played in central defence and midfield in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Hibs at Easter Road, is aware that his place in the team could be put at risk by spending weeks away with the Super Eagles.

But he insisted: ‘This is football. You have to fight for your place, you have to meet every challenge. For me, it’s OK, because I believe that, as a team, we are one. It doesn’t matter who sits on the bench or who starts – we all have the same objective.

'I won’t be worried about losing my place. If that is the challenge I have to face when I come back, I will face it. I will just have to fight my way back into the team. That will give me more edge and more drive to play my way back in.

'I am leaving the club in a good position, although the Hibs game was difficult for me, because I always want us to win. But we’re still a long way clear of the rest. We may lose a game every now and then – this is football.’

Stoke City defence among best in Europe

Europe's meanest defences: Bayern, Juventus, PSG, Malaga and… Stoke

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 23 December 2012

It was not the prettiest way to earn a point, but Stoke City will not care about that. The goalless draw for Tony Pulis’s side at Tottenham was their eighth consecutive match unbeaten – their best run since returning to the top flight in 2008.

‘You have to respect them,’ said Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas. ‘I admire other types of football, but you have to respect Stoke.’

The foundation of their form has been defence: the best in the Barclays Premier League in terms of goals conceded (just 13 in 18 games) and clean sheets (nine). Here is a closer look at what Villas-Boas calls one of the ‘best defences in Europe’.

Cornered: Kyle Walker of Spurs faces a wall of Stoke defiance

Cornered: Kyle Walker of Spurs faces a wall of Stoke defiance

HARD WORK

Stoke’s work-rate is frightening. They chase and hurry their opponents, closing them down within seconds, and get back into position quickly. They tired a little during the second half against Tottenham, but you could not help but applaud and admire Stoke’s work ethic and intensity at White Hart Lane.

‘We do work very, very hard,’ said Pulis. ‘There’s a great spirit among the lads. They’ve had a Christmas party by themselves – everybody turned up and had a great night and they took the wives out and had a great night with their wives.’

CONSISTENT SELECTION

Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth have started every Premier League game in central defence for Stoke this season. Compare that to Steven Caulker of Spurs, who has partnered Michael Dawson, William Gallas and Jan Vertonghen.

Leading by example: Captain Ryan Shawcross marshals the back four

Leading by example: Captain Ryan Shawcross marshals the back four

Stoke’s success is based on each player knowing their role in the system, while the manager offers constant reminders as he barks instructions from the touchline.

‘We spend a lot of time on our system,’ said Pulis. ‘And if the players don’t, they don’t play.’ Simple.

DEFENDING DEEP

Stoke’s back four seem to squeeze the final third of the pitch, leaving no space behind for their opponents to exploit. It took Tottenham at least 20 minutes to realise Jermain Defoe was not going to be effective playing as the most advanced striker because there was no opportunity to sprint on to a through ball – or anything delivered over the top.

Emmanuel Adebayor was sent up to do aerial battle with Shawcross and Huth, but there was no chance for Defoe to pounce on the second ball.

WHO’S GEOFF CAMERON

Stoke’s right back on Saturday used to play for Rhode Island Stingrays. The USA international has been quietly impressive since his move from Houston Dynamo last summer. Not many players frustrate Gareth Bale so much that he moves to the right wing.

The gaffer: Pulis gives his instructions from the touchline

The gaffer: Pulis gives his instructions from the touchline

64 keeping it clean.jpg

HEIGHT

Aaron Lennon had no chance on Saturday, did he Stoke’s back four lines up like a rugby second row: Cameron (6ft 3in), Huth (6ft 3in), Shawcross (6ft 3in) and Wilkinson (5ft 11in). They seize advantage at corners and set-pieces and force opponents to play the ball to feet.

PLAYING ON THE COUNTER

Stoke counter-attack with pace, power and discipline, something Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters did particularly well on Saturday. But Stoke average less than a goal a game this season as the joint lowest scorers in the top flight along with QPR and Aston Villa. They have scored only 15 goals.

NO-ONE LIKES US, WE DON’T CARE

Stoke revel in their reputation as the so-called enemies of football. It can work against them sometimes when it comes to refereeing decisions, but Tottenham knew exactly what to expect on Saturday and yet still could not break them down.

Villas-Boas said: ‘If it was easy, then Stoke wouldn’t have one of the best defences in Europe. They’ve proved that. There’s no space behind, they’re well organised, they do well on the counter and through crosses they are taller than you.

‘When you play through passes, they outnumber you.’

Northampton 9 Harlequins 18: Mike Brown wants to be full back

Northampton 9 Harlequins 18: Brown throws down the gauntlet as he drives Quins on

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 22 December 2012

Mike Brown has made it known to Stuart Lancaster that he is not content to play on the wing for England and wants to be selected as full back. If Saturday is anything to go by, the feisty Harlequin may yet get his way.

In front of the watching England head coach, Brown produced a stellar performance as the last line of defence in difficult conditions to take the man-of-the-match award.

Harlequins grabbed a vital win over title contenders Northampton to maintain their position at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

Not content: Mike Brown says he wants to play at full-back

Not content: Mike Brown says he wants to play at full-back

Even better for the 27-year-old was
the fact that Ben Foden was playing opposite him. Foden was back from
the ankle injury that kept him out of the autumn internationals in which
Brown started the last two Tests on the wing to great effect, while
Alex Goode played at full back.

Foden will be expected to press for a
start when England reconvene for the Calcutta Cup match against Scotland
at Twickenham in February in the opening RBS Six Nations match.

But he may struggle to make the
starting line-up, while Goode has been thrown down a direct challenge by
Brown — happy to play on the wing for his country, but preferring to
start at the back.

Getting his kicks: Nick Evans had an extremely productive day

Getting his kicks: Nick Evans had an extremely productive day

Quins director of rugby Conor O’Shea
revealed last night that a four-man discussion took place at training
the day before Harlequins thrashed Zebre in the Heineken Cup last
weekend between Brown, O’Shea himself, Lancaster and England backs coach
Andy Farrell.

Brown made it clear he wanted to play
as full back. ‘Mike wants to play for England and, in my opinion, you
always play your best team,’ said former Ireland full back O’Shea, who
picked him in his favoured position on Saturday.

‘Stuart and Andy came down to watch
training the other week and the four of us had a chat about it. Browny
will play anywhere for England and he had a great autumn series, but
given a choice it’s at full back where he really wants to play.’

On the run: Ben Foden breaks through the tackles of Ugo Monye and Mike Brown

On the run: Ben Foden breaks through the tackles of Ugo Monye and Mike Brown

The watching Lancaster would have
noticed Brown’s commanding display and the way natural playmakers such
as scrum half Danny Care sensibly curbed their enthusiasm to play cute
in such wet, slippery and muddy conditions. There was also another
physical performance from No 8 Nick Easter, who remains out of England
reckoning.

But Lancaster would also have felt
some sympathy for Foden, who managed to burst his way across the Quins
line in the 22nd minute and score, only to find out that the pass from
George Pisi was judged forward.

Replays revealed that this was a
highly dubious decision and even O’Shea conceded it was probably a try.
‘The pass looked pretty flat to me,’ he added. ‘In these games, the
margins are always very tight.’

At that stage the score was 3-3, with
Nick Evans and Stephen Myler scoring penalties. Myler twice kicked for
the corner rather than attempting the three points after Foden’s
disallowed try. A further penalty from Evans gave the visitors a narrow
interval lead.

Battle: A tight match was won by Harlequins

Battle: A tight match was won by Harlequins

Myler equalised in the 58th minute but
three further penalties from Evans earned Quins a nine point lead. Ryan
Lamb reduced the arrears to six points seven minutes from time but
Evans, with the last kick of the game, confirmed a vital win for the
Londoners — 14 out of 17 this season in all competitions — and robbed
the Saints of even a losing bonus point.

Jim Mallinder, surveying the wreckage
of a fourth home defeat in five, was understandably frustrated
afterwards, especially regarding the Foden ‘try’ that was not given.

‘It’s ridiculous that with all the
technology on hand we don’t use it for situations like that,’ he said,
accepting that referee Wayne Barnes had already blown on the advice of
his touch judge, thus removing any role for the TV official.

As for Quins, with Brown in such imperious form, life looks bright.

Stoke defender Ryan Shotton found not guilty after fight outside night club

Stoke defender Shotton found not guilty after fight outside nightclub

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UPDATED:

13:09 GMT, 18 December 2012

Shotton has been on Stoke's books all his career

Shotton has been on Stoke's books all his career

Stoke defender Ryan Shotton has been found not guilty of punching a man on a night out.

Shotton was found to have acted in defence of his friend when he knocked out Mark McDonald in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

The fight happened in the early hours of Sunday, June 24.

The single punch 28-year-old Shotton delivered knocked McDonald out, leaving him with a cut, magistrates sitting at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard.

Shotton pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence following the fight with McDonald and his friend David Broomhall.

McDonald and Shotton, who was with friends, had an altercation on the fringes of Torch nightclub’s dancefloor. All parties were drinking on the night.

McDonald and Shotton were shown on the CCTV face to face, with Shotton then punched once in the face by McDonald.

Shotton said he had 'never seen' McDonald before that moment and was taken by surprise.

He said he 'leaned in' to hear what McDonald was saying but that McDonald used the opportunity to land 'a cheeky shot'.

Asked what McDonald said to him, Shotton replied: 'He said “why do you think you run Stoke-on-Trent You don’t run it, I run it. Don’t you know who I am”

'I thought he was just somebody who had come over to talk about football but he was aggressive.'

Mr Broomhall described that altercation as 'a bit of a scuffle; handbags'.

Shotton pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence

Shotton pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence

Both parties ended up leaving the club within a few minutes of each other.

Outside, Mr McDonald and Mr Broomhall tried to get into another nightclub called Pink when Mr Broomhall said he spotted Shotton and two friends 'walking towards us'.

He said: 'Mr Shotton was beckoning with his arm to Mark to come over.'

Shotton told a different story, saying as he walked along the road 'two men started walking towards us' from across the street.

'I recognised him from earlier and thought “he’s here for round two”,' he told magistrates.

'He came over to me and his body language was very aggressive. His fists were clenched and I was aware he’d struck before.

'I did it (punched him) to protect my friend because he turned towards him just at that moment.'

Outside court, Shotton, who has made seven league appearances for Stoke this season, said he was 'a happy man' and that he had received 'justice'.

Manchester City aren"t the "unit" they were last season, says Gael Clichy

We're not playing like champions, admits Clichy as Man City struggle to gel in title defence

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UPDATED:

07:55 GMT, 14 December 2012

Gael Clichy believes Manchester City's shortcomings this season can be put down to failing to gel as a team.

Last weekend the defending champions lost the Manchester derby to title rivals United, suffering their first Barclays Premier League defeat of the season and first at home for almost two years.

It handed the Red Devils a six-point advantage at the top of the table but Clichy knows that is not insurmountable.

Who wants me Gael Clichy says he and his team aren't working as a unit

Who wants me Gael Clichy says he and his team aren't working as a unit

'For me the problem this year is that we are not playing as well as a unit as we did last year and that's what we have to work on,' he said.

'I am very confident though because we have the quality and I am sure we are going to be there at the end of the season. I personally believe and feel that we have a mission and its aim is to become champions again.

'The feeling within the team is great at the moment and I hope that the fans are behind us because we will need them to go all the way.'

Clichy, whose mistake led to the free-kick from which United scored the 90th-minute winner, insists they can take positives from the United defeat.

And he hopes the trip to Newcastle will spark them back into life tomorrow although they will have to do it without key defensive midfielder Gareth Barry as he serves a one-match ban after accepting an FA charge of using abusive and/or insulting words to an official in an incident after the United defeat.

'We hadn't lost a game for a long time at the Etihad but it's done now and the only thing we can do is focus on the positive things that happened during that game,' said the Frenchman.

Record breakers: Man City lost their proud unbeaten record to rivals unit

Record breakers: Man City lost their proud unbeaten record to rivals unit

'We went 2-0 down and again we showed great team spirit in getting it back to 2-2 – apart from the last 20 minutes of the first half, I don't think they were on top of us.

'When you lose a game in the last minute it's always difficult – but we can't feel sorry for ourselves.

'We know what we did well and what we didn't do so well and we have to try to avoid those bad points.'

Rhys Priestland out for season with achilles injury

Heartbreak for Priestland as Wales playmaker is ruled out of Six Nations and Lions tour with snapped achilles

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UPDATED:

15:55 GMT, 11 December 2012

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has suffered a devastating injury blow that will rule him out for the rest of this season.

Priestland, 25, will miss the entire RBS 6 Nations Championship after snapping his achilles tendon during the Scarlets’ Heineken Cup clash against Exeter three days ago.

Priestland, who has 22 caps, also looks set to miss out on the British and Lions’ tour of Australia next summer in the latest injury setback for Wales as they prepare to launch their Six Nations title defence.

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby revealed the extent of Priestland’s injury at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Wales’ recent autumn Test campaign was riddled by injuries as they lost four successive games against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

And Rob Howley, in interim coaching charge for the Six Nations campaign while Wales head coach Warren Gatland concentrates full-time on heading up Lions tour preparations, has been dealt another major setback with news of Priestland’s injury.

Prop Aaron Jarvis is already out of the Six Nations campaign, while lock Alun-Wyn Jones and flanker Dan Lydiate are set to play only limited parts, at best, while they continue their respective recoveries from shoulder and ankle trouble.

Out of form: Priestland had been struggling as Wales lost seven in a row this year

Out of form: Priestland had been struggling as Wales lost seven in a row this year

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny and centre Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, are battling for full fitness ahead of the tournament, which Wales start against Ireland in Cardiff on February 2, while wing George North (hip injury) has not played since the Samoa game almost four weeks ago.

Priestland was a driving force behind Wales’ outstanding push to reach the World Cup semi-finals in New Zealand last year, form which he carried over into last season’s Six Nations when Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions.

Although the latter half of 2012 has seen him struggle to reproduce that form, he remained a key member of the Wales team, starting three of the autumn games and going on as a substitute against Samoa.

With Priestland sidelined, Howley would appear to face a choice between Perpignan’s James Hook and Ospreys No 10 Dan Biggar for the Six Nations campaign.

Happy memories: Priestland helped Wales to Grand Slam success earlier this year

Happy memories: Priestland helped Wales to Grand Slam success earlier this year

And there was every chance that Priestland would have made the Lions tour, a dream that now appears to have been cruelly shattered.

Priestland’s injury is to his left Achilles, with the Scarlets confirming that he underwent surgery on Tuesday morning.

Easterby said: 'It’s a big blow for Rhys and for our region to lose a player of his quality and influence in our team.

'He was coming through well in the last couple of (Wales) games of the autumn, put in a strong performance against Australia and was making a real impact on our game against Exeter, so it is very difficult for him to take.

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

'But he will get plenty of support from here throughout the injury period.'

Scarlets medical chief Andy Walker added: 'The surgery was undertaken this morning at the Vale Hospital and has gone very well.

'It’s a difficult injury, but we have been fortunate to have had the injury assessed and repaired surgically so promptly, and by a very experienced ankle and foot specialist.

'Rhys’ surgery was performed by a new keyhole surgery technique which is non-invasive and will aid his recovery and allow him to get into rehab with our medical team at a quicker stage.

'The anticipated time off the field is around six months, but it all depends on the individual and how his rehab goes in the interim.'

Chelsea fans moving on after Roberto Di Matteo – Petr Cech

Rafa's rising sons think big in Japan as upbeat Chelsea prepare to take on the world

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 10 December 2012

A big wheel flashes and spins in front of Chelsea's team hotel, a fairground attraction that lights up Yokohama harbour and dares to promise an upturn in fortunes for Rafa Benitez.

The defence of their European title may have gone badly but the club arrived in Japan in good spirits after two wins, with Fernando Torres smiling and among the goals and Benitez satisfied with progress after a rocky start to his interim stewardship.

As they prepared for their debut in FIFA's Club World Cup, there was even a hint from Petr Cech that supporters who fiercely opposed the change of manager last month may be moving on

Rafa Benitez

Chelsea

Ready to take on the world: Chelsea train on Monday under the guidance of Benitez (left)

'In the last two games, in the Champions League against Nordsjaelland and versus Sunderland, the support was very good,' said Cech.

'The atmosphere is getting better as the results and performances are getting better.

'You need results and better performances to get this pressure off the team and make the supporters happier. I think we are seeing it in a different way. We are on a good road now to changing that. The support we had at Sunderland was brilliant.'

Benitez, too, believes some of the minor tactical adjustments – tightening the defensive unit and compressing the team – are having the desired effect.

He talks continuously about the need to improve 'balance' between attack and defence but he has been thrilled with the reaction of Torres. The 50million Spain striker has scored four in two games, and the dark mood and sulky demeanour seem to be lifting as well.

He was the star attraction for Japanese fans yesterday as Chelsea trained before Thursday's game against Monterrey, of Mexico, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) champions.

'He is happy,' said Benitez. 'When a striker is scoring, he's happy. I have noticed the difference in him. Everybody has been talking for months, saying that Fernando has to score more goals, so to score four in a week, he must be pleased.'

Centre of attention: Torres remains a big sell in the Far East despite his suspect form at Chelsea

Centre of attention: Torres remains a big sell in the Far East despite his suspect form at Chelsea

In training: Chelsea will face Monterrey in their opening match on Thursday

In training: Chelsea will face Monterrey in their opening match on Thursday

Chelsea feel they start this tournament at a disadvantage, having arrived late in Japan, because the Premier League refused their request to move Saturday's game at Sunderland. As it was, they flew from Newcastle Airport to Japan, with a two-hour refuelling stop in Helsinki.

'I tried to force myself not to sleep on the plane,' said Cech. 'I had a nap to relax when we left Helsinki, but then I woke up and stayed awake. So I was tired enough and ready to go to bed. It's not easy when you lose nine hours. Your body is set in its ways.'

Nothing on Barcelona: Despite an enthusiastic welcome on Sunday interest in the Champions League winners has cooled

Nothing on Barcelona: Despite an enthusiastic welcome on Sunday interest in the Champions League winners has cooled

It does not sound like perfect preparation for an elite athlete entering a world title contest, but the culture is that English teams take this tournament a little less seriously than the rest of the world.

This attitude is reflected in Japan where, despite an enthusiastic welcome at the airport on Sunday night, the interest in Chelsea had thinned yesterday and the locals claimed it was nothing like as clamorous as the visit of Barcelona last year.

Outside Europe, the Club World Cup is viewed as a very prestigious crown. When Brazil's Corinthians clinched the Copa Libertadores, the South American version of the Champions League, all this week's direct flights to Tokyo from Brazil were fully booked within days.

All smiles: Torres has scored four goals in his last two appearances for Chelsea

All smiles: Torres has scored four goals in his last two appearances for Chelsea

Up to 20,000 Corinthians fans are expected in Japan for the game, compared to around a thousand Chelsea supporters. It helps that the tournament sits at the end of the Brazilian season, whereas for the English clubs, it is a distraction at a pivotal point in the domestic league campaign.

Corinthians and Chelsea are expected to be in Sunday's final, but both have been determined to look no further than their semi-finals.

For the Londoners, this means the Mexicans who beat Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, after which Monterrey boss Victor Vucetich declared it was time to 'dance with the ugliest'.

It did not sound like a compliment but Benitez shrugged it off and said: 'Everybody thinks that the Premier League is high-tempo all the time, and maybe he was concerned about this.

'I watched them against Ulsan and maybe because they were better, they could play the passing game they like to play.'