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Charlton 2 Wolves 1 – match report: Jonathan Obika scores late winner

Charlton 2 Wolves 1: Last-gasp Obika sends Saunders' side back into drop zone

PUBLISHED:

16:36 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 20 April 2013

Wolves dropped back into the npower Championship relegation places after substitute Jonathan Obika's late winner snatched in-form Charlton a 2-1 home victory.

Karl Henry struck the bar with a long-range effort in a cagey first half before the game burst into life thanks to Dorian Dervite's opener.

Kevin Doyle equalised for the visitors just three minutes later with his 11th goal of the campaign but Dean Saunders' men were unable to hold on to a crucial point with Obika having the final say.

Late but great: Jonathan Obika scored an injury-time winner to earn three points for Charlton against Wolves

Late but great: Jonathan Obika scored an injury-time winner to earn three points for Charlton against Wolves

Late but great: Jonathan Obika scored an injury-time winner to earn three points for Charlton against Wolves

MATCH FACTS

Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Wiggins, Morrison, Dervite, Pritchard, Harriott, Hughes (Gower 12), Jackson (Green 61), Kermorgant, Fuller (Obika 81). Subs Not Used: Button, Taylor, Kerkar, Wilson.

Goals: Dervite 63, Obika 90.

Wolves: De Vries, Doherty, Gorkss, Johnson,
Ward (Batth 90), Henry, Robinson, Doumbia, Hunt (Hammill 86), Doyle, Sigurdarson. Subs Not Used: McCarey, Dicko, Foley, Cassidy, McAlinden.

Booked: Gorkss, Doherty, Sigurdarson, Hunt.

Goals: Doyle 66.

Att: 19,023.

Ref: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Latest Championship table and results

No Championship team had taken more
points from their last eight matches than the two sides ahead of the
game meaning neither manager felt the need to make changes to their
starting line-ups.

The hosts were presented with the
first clear-cut opportunity of the afternoon in the 10th minute after
good work from Callum Harriott but Ricardo Fuller saw his drilled effort
on the turn parried away by Dorus De Vries.

The Addicks were forced into a change
just two minutes later with Mark Gower replacing the injured Andy
Hughes and lost some of their early fluency against their hard-working
visitors.

Saunders' side almost earned reward
for their efforts in the 25th minute when Henry let fly from distance.

The midfielder's speculative effort had Ben Hamer backpedalling and hit
the bar before Hamer managed to prevent the ball crossing the line.

Challenge: Charlton's Ricardo Fuller (left) and Wolves' Matt Doherty (right) compete for the ball

Challenge: Charlton's Ricardo Fuller (left) and Wolves' Matt Doherty (right) compete for the ball

CHAMPIONSHIP – AS IT STANDS

Championship

The away side emerged for the second
half with added purpose and had an early sight of goal when Stephen Hunt
fired a cross-shot wide of the left-hand post. Chris Powell's men then
suffered a set back when they were forced into their second change of
the afternoon with captain Johnnie Jackson limping off.

Jackson's replacement Danny Green
made an immediate impact when his rasping drive was deflected wide. From
Green's subsequent corner, Wolves failed to clear and Dervite got the
decisive touch on a goalline scramble to poke home the opener.

The hosts' advantage did not last
long however as Doyle flicked in Jack Robinson's left-hand cross to set
up a breathless final quarter of the game.

With the encounter perfectly poised,
the visitors needed an important save from De Vries to keep the scores
level as Yann Kermorgant saw his effort from an acute angle tipped over
the bar.

The home side were not to be denied
as Green's deflected shot feel to Obika who struck in the 90th minute to
leave Saunders' side shellshocked.

Charlton were able to see the game
out to secure a fourth consecutive home win which keeps their distant
play-off hopes alive but Wolves now have just two games remaining to
ensure they do not fall into the third tier of English football.

Wolves 1 Watford 1: Sako rescues Saunders after fans voice their anger at board

Wolves 1 Watford 1: Sako rescues Saunders after fans voice their anger at board

By
Neil Moxley

PUBLISHED:

21:42 GMT, 1 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:59 GMT, 1 March 2013

Bakary Sako struck an equaliser three
minutes into added time to wreck Gianfranco Zola’s hopes of an 11th
away victory of the season.

The winger hit a right-foot shot beyond debutant Jonathan Bond after a long throw caused chaos in the visitors’ area.

Bjorn Sigurdarson flicked on the ball and Sako did the rest, claiming his 10th goal of the season.

Late show: Bakary Sako scored last-gasp equaliser for Wolves

Late show: Bakary Sako scored last-gasp equaliser for Wolves

Match facts

Wolverhampton: Ikeme, Doherty, Johnson, Gorkss, Robinson, Hunt (Cassidy 64), Henry (Davis 70), O'Hara, Sako, Sigurdarson, Doyle (Ebanks-Blake 64). Subs Not Used: De Vries, Edwards, Ward, Batth.

Booked: Sigurdarson.

Goals: Sako 90. Watford: Bond, Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand, Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah (Hogg 82), Battocchio, Anya (Pudil 84), Deeney, Vydra (Forestieri 78). Subs Not Used: Bonham, Yeates, Murray, Geijo.

Booked: Abdi.

Goals: Abdi 41.

Att: 18,571

Ref: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).

But it was not enough to pull Wolves clear of the relegation zone as they had been chasing the game since four minutes before the interval.

Almen Abdi — one of Watford’s controversial Italian loanees — struck a delightful free-kick from the edge of the area as the division’s top scorers looked to put three points between themselves and third-placed Hull City.

Protests had been planned outside the stadium before kick-off to voice concern about Wolves owner Steve Morgan’s stewardship. But the multi-millionaire had eased their anxiety by appearing before a group of supporters in midweek. He admitted making mistakes and apologised. The group which gathered under the statue of Wolves legend Billy Wright was no more than 50-strong and soon dispersed.

The air of relative calm around the stadium would have changed had Matej Vydra’s seventh-minute shot that deflected off Roger Johnson found the net.

Shortly afterwards, Bond, who had been promoted after Manuel Almunia was forced out with a hamstring injury, produced a superb double-stop.

Neat strike: Almen Abdi scores for Watford

Neat strike: Almen Abdi scores for Watford

Watford's Almen Abdi celebrates his goal

Watford's Almen Abdi celebrates his goal

He blocked Kevin Doyle’s fierce drive and then got to his feet quickly, palming Sigurdarson’s follow-up shot over the bar.

The value of that save was seen four minutes before the interval when
Watford took the lead. Karl Henry tried desperately to rob Vydra of the
ball as he advanced to the edge of the penalty area.

But amid a cluster of bodies the Czech fell to the ground and referee
Paul Tierney awarded the free-kick. Midfielder Abdi took responsibility,
curling his shot around the wall and past Carl Ikeme’s outstretched
right hand.

Bond then saved well from Doyle shortly before the hour but at the other
end, Ikechi Anya missed with a side-foot effort from six yards out and
Ikeme pulled off a superb tip-over from Christian Battocchio’s
long-range effort.

Watford may consider this two points dropped, but while the Football
League considers closing the loophole that allowed them to sign a dozen
players on loan from Udinese last summer, Zola’s men are still closing
in on promotion.

Six Nations 2013: Henry Thomas in England squad

Thomas drafted into England squad for Scotland clash as cover for Corbisiero

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

Henry Thomas has been called into the England squad as injury cover for Alex Corbisiero ahead of next weekend's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham.

Sale Sharks prop Thomas will train with the rest of the England squad at Pennyhill Park ahead of Saturday's match while Corbisiero remains at London Irish for treatment on a knee injury, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed in a statement this evening.

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Harlequins' winger Ugo Monye has also been drafted into the 33-man training squad as Freddie Burns remains at Gloucester for treatment, also with a knee problem.

Meanwhile, the RFU also said Shaun Knight has withdrawn from the England Saxons squad as he, too, must return to Gloucester due to a knee injury.

The Saxons convene in Newcastle tomorrow morning ahead of their match with Scotland A at Kingston Park on Friday.

Theo Walcott is proving he is a centre forward

He's been saying it for years and now Walcott's proving that he really is a middle man

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UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 30 December 2012

If Theo Walcott needs reminding of what being Arsenal's No 1 centre forward entails, he will get it at training this morning.

Thierry Henry will be there. The way Walcott opened his body up before sliding the ball past Tim Krul for the first of his three goals in Saturday's 7-3 demolition of Newcastle had Henry's influence written all over it.

However, it also displayed the hallmarks of a clinical Premier League striker, something Walcott wants to become so desperately.

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Sign him up: Arsene Wenger is hoping Walcott will commit his future to Arsenal

Sign him up: Arsene Wenger is hoping Walcott will commit his future to Arsenal

Having the luxury of working with
Henry each day will only enhance the 23-year-old's efforts to complete
the transition from pacy winger to world-class centre forward.

Who better to learn from than
arguably the best goalscorer the club have ever had Saturday's
brilliant display against Newcastle will help convince his doubters that
he can develop into an out-and-out centre forward.

But, truth be told, the man he
really needs to convince still needs persuading. Wenger has put a centre
forward at the top of his shopping list.

David Villa, Adrian Lopez and Edin
Dzeko are targets. Should any of that trio arrive at the Emirates next
month, then Walcott could be shifted back out wide.

'I've always said I'm a striker and the manager is giving me the opportunity to play up front,' said Walcott.

'I'm not saying I'll play up front all the time, but it's just nice to have a different option.

'Olivier (Giroud) came off the bench
and showed great qualities. I switched to the right so it can work. We
are scoring goals from every position. I believe I am a striker.'

Walcott is finally adding substance to those claims, a fact underlined by Saturday's breathtaking performance.

His first against Alan Pardew's side
displayed all the precision of a top-class goalscorer as he expertly
side-footed his effort past Krul.

The England man's second demonstrated
all the instinctiveness of a quality finisher, ramming home from 12
yards under pressure from Gael Bigirimana.

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

It must be love: The Arsenal manager was impressed with Walcott's performance against Newcastle

It must be love: The Arsenal manager was impressed with Walcott's performance against Newcastle

10 GAMES, 10 GOALS

Theo Walcott's recent form means Arsene Wenger must be seriously considering handing him the main striker's role on a permanent basis.

In his last 10 matches, Walcott has scored hat-tricks against Reading and Newcastle and goals against Schalke, Tottenham, Everton and Reading.

When Walcott has scored this season, Arsenal have not lost.

And his third showed the
single-mindedness of a seasoned centre forward, picking himself up off
the floor to curl a shot past Krul to complete his hat-trick.

Walcott is silencing his doubters;
those who have questioned his credentials as a central striker are being
forced into a rethink.

Yes, he has to do it on a regular
basis, but 14 goals from 11 starts this season provides a clear
indication that his long-term future can be as a bona fide middle man.

Whether that is at Arsenal remains to
be seen, but it is to Walcott's credit he has managed that exceptional
goal ratio with uncertainty looming large.

'Even with the speculation going on,
he's stuck to his task. He's been a great professional ,' said
team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

'He's a good lad in the dressing room
and we need him to keep doing that for the rest of the season. We've
all been giving him a bit of banter (about his future) but that's for
Theo's people to sort out.'

Saturday's hammering of Newcastle was
Walcott's third successive outing in his preferred position, a period
in which he has scored four times.

Duel: Walcott got the better of Tim Krul on a number of occasions

Duel: Walcott got the better of Tim Krul on a number of occasions

Options: Wenger also likes to pick Olivier Giroud (right) through the middle

Options: Wenger also likes to pick Olivier Giroud (right) through the middle

However, his contribution has not
stopped at goals. Walcott set up both of Giroud's strikes against
Newcastle and won the decisive penalty in the 1-0 victory over Wigan
last week. Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie at Swansea is likely to see
Walcott given another chance to nail down the role.

'He bangs them in for fun in
training,' added Oxlade-Chamberlain. 'Someone with pace is a nightmare
to defend against. When he gets the service, he can punish teams. In
training, he's no different.

'When Theo first came, he was
training with players like Thierry, (Dennis) Bergkamp and (Robert)
Pires. He's learned from the best, he's getting better and better, and
there's no one better to learn from.

'From the player that I first
started watching to the man he is now, he is only getting better and
better and he's still only 23.

'He's got such a mature head on his
shoulders. He's great on and off the pitch so he's so important for us.
He was great for me when I first arrived. He took me under his wing,
helped me. 'When he came along, it must have been even more daunting
because I think Ashley Cole was the only English player around at the
time.

'They had experienced players like
Henry and Bergkamp. It must have been daunting so he realised it must
have been hard for me coming in. So he helped me through that.

'He was the first person to really
help me. 'I sit next to him in the dressing room and he's been really
good for me.' Walcott is really good for Arsenal at the moment, too.

How Theo got his third

Arsenal keen to sign Nani from Manchester United

EXCLUSIVE: We let you have RVP, now sell Nani to us on the cheap: Arsenal set to swoop for United winger

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UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 28 December 2012

Arsenal are using Manchester United’s swoop for Robin van Persie as leverage in their chase for misfit Nani.

The Gunners have opened talks with United over a January move for the Portugal winger.

The Old Trafford club want in the region of 20million for Nani, who has fallen out of favour with manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Top target: Nani is wanted by Arsenal

Top target: Nani is wanted by Arsenal

But Arsenal want a cheaper fee and are highlighting Van Persie’s summer move north in their attempts to secure a lower price.

The Holland striker’s 24m move to Old Trafford was largely smooth and pain-free. And the north London club are using the fact they did not turn Van Persie’s switch into a drawn-out saga as a bargaining tool in their discussions for Nani.

Sportsmail revealed Arsene Wenger’s interest in the 26-year-old winger earlier this month. Chelsea are also emerging as contenders to sign Nani.

Meanwhile, Everton’s Nikica Jelavic is the latest striker Arsenal have looked at in their search for a new centre forward next month.

On the fringes: Nani has struggled to hold down a place in the United starting XI this season due to injury and poor form

On the fringes: Nani has struggled to hold down a place in the United starting XI this season due to injury and poor form

A senior scout ran the rule over the Croatia star in Everton’s 2-1 win over West Ham on December 22.

Arsenal also have a strong interest in Southampton’s 17-year-old left back Luke Shaw.

Wenger will continue to play Theo Walcott at centre forward as he attempts to repeat the conversion trick he performed with Thierry Henry.

Walcott has responded superbly upon getting his chance to play up front during the last two Arsenal games — key wins at Reading and Wigan which steadied the team after their shock Capital One Cup loss at Bradford.

On the radar: Arsenal are also considering a move for Everton's Nikica Jelavic

On the radar: Arsenal are also considering a move for Everton's Nikica Jelavic

‘I like the signs I have seen,’ said Wenger. ‘It is an interesting challenge. I think he can take it on. I always said that one day he would play through the middle and it grew in his brain.

‘He is now 23. I decided to play Thierry Henry at 23 through the middle because you have to learn a lot before.

‘The fact that you play in other positions as well helps your technique. On the wing you need a shorter technique against the line, once you play in the middle you can go on both sides. From the age of 19 to 23, Theo has learnt a lot. Now we will sometimes play him on the flanks, sometimes through the middle.

‘Let’s not put him under too much pressure. He has played two games and you have to be open-minded in our job and give people a chance. If they take it, it’s good. If they don’t, he will still be a fantastic winger.

Back again: Arsene Wenger (right) is considering a loan move for Henry, who trained at Arsenal on Friday

Back again: Arsene Wenger (right) is considering a loan move for Henry, who trained at Arsenal on Friday

‘I am confident he will do well. It’s a bit early to compare him to Thierry Henry but Thierry gives him advice. It’s always important. Theo’s a very intelligent boy. He understands very quickly when you tell him something. That’s why I think he can do very well in this position.’

Arsenal’s contract talks with Walcott have reopened but there is no agreement imminent. His deal expires in the summer, but he has rejected the offer on the table and from Tuesday will be eligible under the Bosman rules to agree a deal to join an overseas club on a free transfer at the end of the season.

‘I want him to stay and I have always been consistent on that,’ said Wenger.

Down the middle: Wenger is considering playing Walcott in a central role more often

Down the middle: Wenger is considering playing Walcott in a central role more often

In addition to Nani, Wenger is in pursuit of Barcelona’s David Villa, but he has not ruled out another short-term loan deal to bring Henry back to the club for a third time.

The 35-year-old New York Red Bulls striker, who scored twice in seven games on loan at the Emirates last year, trained with Arsenal yesterday as part of his programme to stay in shape during the MLS close season.

‘I’ve not lost interest in him,’ said Wenger. ‘He’s coming to practise with us. He’s in better physical shape than he was last time he was here. Our relationship is very close. I have not completely ruled it out but I have not spoken about it with him at all.

‘He has had a second spell at the club that was very successful. You have to be cautious that it’s not one time too many.’

Thierry Henry trains with Arsenal

I'm back in town! Henry trains with Arsenal but no playing deal has been signed… not yet anyway!

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UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 28 December 2012

Thierry Henry could be set for a third stint with Arsenal as he trained with the Gunners at their Colney base on Friday.

The club's record goal-scorer is just keeping fit during the MLS off-season and, as yet, no playing deal has been signed.

But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hasn't given on securing the French forward on loan next month.

'I've not lost interest in him,' said Wenger.

Reunion: Henry linked up with the man who brought him to England from Juventus

Reunion: Henry linked up with the man who brought him to England from Juventus

Going for a jog: Henry gets put through his paces

Going for a jog: Henry gets put through his paces

He added: 'He's still coming to practice with us. We are very close (personally), but at the moment I think he has had a second spell at the club that was very successful. You have to be cautious that it's not one time too many.

'I have not completely ruled it out but I haven’t spoken about it with him at all.'

Henry scored the only goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup tie with Leeds when he was on loan at the Emirates Stadium in January before netting the winner in 2-1 league win over Sunderland.

Impact: Henry scored the winner against Leeds in an FA Cup tie when he returned to Arsenal on loan at the beginning of 2012

Impact: Henry scored the winner against Leeds in an FA Cup tie when he returned to Arsenal on loan at the beginning of 2012

2012 football review: people of the months – Michael Walker

From the return of the King to the magic of Messi… the people of the months of 2012

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 23 December 2012

As a dramatic and memorable 2012 draws to a close, Michael Walker looks back on a year on the footballing road, naming his people of the month from January through to December…

January: Thierry Henry

They will not forget 9/1/12 in north London. It was the night King Henry came back to Arsenal, hopped off the bench and scored the only goal in an FA Cup third-round tie against Leeds. They were crying out for a special occasion at the stadium. Henry walked past his statue outside the ground and delivered.

Return of the King: Henry celebrates netting the winner against Leeds

Return of the King: Henry celebrates netting the winner against Leeds

February: Eddie Howe

In his Burnley office, one of England's brightest young managers discussed the fact that the Premier League had just three English managers while, in the Championship, there were 17. 'Strange', was Howe's assessment. Adkins and Allardyce have since upped the numbers. Howe's back at Bournemouth.

March: Pete Williams

On a bitter Tuesday night in Burslem, Pete Williams was outside Port Vale's grand old ground with a bucket. It is people like Williams – supporters – who keep clubs going. Vale's future was in doubt in March. They had entered administration and been docked 10 points. Thanks to fans such as Williams, Vale are going again, second in League Two.

April: Brian McDermott

It was easier being Reading's manager in April. The club had just returned to the Premier League by winning 14 of 16 league games from the end of January. The previous May's play-off final defeat could be forgotten and McDermott spoke of his 'lovely club'. Along the way, he turned down Wolves. Some people may choose to forget that.

Man of the hour: McDermott is hoisted aloft by his players after securing the Championship title

Man of the hour: McDermott is hoisted aloft by his players after securing the Championship title

May: Harry Gregg

48 hours after Manchester United had the title snatched out of their hands by Sergio Aguero, Sir Alex Ferguson took his players to Belfast to honour Harry Gregg. Sometimes the build-up to testimonials is more meaningful than the game and, in the programme, Ferguson recalled hearing of the 1958 Munich crash and wrote: 'Harry, for this 16-yearold from Govan, you were and remain my hero.'

June: Vicente Del Bosque

Remember when Spain were boring In northern Poland, Del Bosque was flabbergasted at the lack of understanding of his team's style, and the non-stop chatter. He was visibly bemused: Spain were about to become the first country in history to win three major tournaments in a row. Del Bosque reminisced to a time when there was less noise inside and outside the game, to a time when 'dressing rooms were utterly still, like inside a cathedral'.

Champions of Europe: Del Bosque's side parade through the streets of Madrid

Champions of Europe: Del Bosque's side parade through the streets of Madrid

July: Stewart Regan

Thunderous July rain in Glasgow accompanied an apocalyptic vision. Regan, the SFA chief executive, reacted to Rangers' shock exclusion from the SPL by inviting reporters upstairs at Hampden Park to warn of 'Armageddon' and 'the game withering on the vine' if Rangers were forced to re-start below Scottish Division One. A month later, Rangers drew 2- 2 at Peterhead in Division Three.

August: Rob Green

He didn't look happy and you could understand why. After six years at West Ham, Green joined QPR. His debut was a 5-0 home defeat by Swansea. Yet, 10 days later, against Walsall in the League Cup, it got worse. QPR won 3-0, but up in the stands was Julio Cesar. QPR were making a statement. Green, given no explanation, was left to read between its lines. Shoddy.

Shunned: Green was harshly treated by QPR

Shunned: Green was harshly treated by QPR

September: Margaret Aspinall

The report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel was a release of sorts for the Family Support Group. Football responded, notably Everton on the night they hosted Newcastle. They played the Hollies' He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Margaret recalled that her son James, 18, killed at Hillsborough, had bought the record for her.

October: Georgios Samaras

Unlikely, unfashionable but unflagging, Samaras had a year to remember. He was relentless for Greece at Euro 2012 and, for Celtic, he has been decisive in Europe. It was his deflected header in October that gave them a lead in Barcelona. They lost to a late goal, but we all know what happened when Barca came to Celtic Park two weeks later.

Unlikely hero: Samaras (right) heads home in Barcelona

Unlikely hero: Samaras (right) heads home in Barcelona

November: Chib Chilaka

For a while, it seemed like the most memorable feature of Torquay v Harrogate in the FA Cup first round proper would be the view from Plainmoor. Then, beaming Chilaka popped up for Harrogate to produce a trademark upset. Afterwards, he spoke like an ambassador for the part-time game. It was a classic FA Cup day.

December: Lionel Messi

We are fortunate to be witnessing greatness. Some can moan about the calendar year goal-tally, but not over Messi's talent. He has joined the list of the true greats at 25. Without him, Barcelona would be a very good team; with him, they are as good a side as has been seen. A prediction for 2013, or more like a guess: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea (again) and Arsenal will have new managers in place by August. For United, that would mean the end of the Ferguson era. It is difficult to behold, but if another title or European Cup comes, it would be an appropriately successful way for Ferguson to go. But it is an if.

The world's greatest: Messi celebrates yet another goal for Barcelona

The world's greatest: Messi celebrates yet another goal for Barcelona

Frankel reads his Christmas cards from well wishers

Unbeaten Frankel enjoying his first Christmas in retirement by reading cards from fans

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 23 December 2012

Frankel, the world’s best racehorse, is busy getting ready for his first season as a stallion but like most of us he will enjoy a relaxing Christmas Day.

The Sir Henry Cecil-trained unbeaten colt, whose new breeding is scheduled to begin on Valentine’s Day, has been taken on a series of seven-mile walks as part of his preparations at Banstead Manor Stud, near Newmarket.

Judging by his mail-bag, he clearly remains as popular as ever. Over the last few days Frankel has been keeping a close eye on all the Christmas cards that he has received with the help of Juddmonte’s head stallion man Rob Bowley.

Season's greetings: Frankel looks at his Christmas cards with head stallion man Rob Bowley

Season's greetings: Frankel looks at his Christmas cards with head stallion man Rob Bowley

Philip Michell, Juddmonte Farms general manager, said: “Frankel touched the lives of so many people during his career and we have been inundated with emails and cards enquiring about him – not least in the lead-up to Christmas.

‘All being well, we are intending to stage a series of stud tours next summer when people can come to visit him and the other stallions at Banstead Manor and find out more about the breeding industry.

Unbeaten: Frankel wins theThe Sussex Stakes

Unbeaten: Frankel wins theThe Sussex Stakes

‘Frankel is enjoying his new life with us here and is already very much at home.’

A line of top mares are already booked in to mate with Frankel, the latest being German 2011 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream whose retirement was announced last Friday.

Karl Henry blasts referees after red card decisions

They have zero understanding of the game! Henry slams red-card refs who need to be 'exposed'

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UPDATED:

11:38 GMT, 23 December 2012

Wolves midfielder Karl Henry has blasted Premier League referees and says some have 'zero understanding' of football.

Henry, known for his combative nature on the pitch, said he was appalled by some of the red cards produced this weekend.

He said that bad referees need to be 'exposed' and questioned whether the tests required to be an official were stringent enough.

Ranting: Karl Henry complained about referees' decisions this weekend

Ranting: Karl Henry complained about referees' decisions this weekend

'Some of the red cards i've seen this weekend are an absolute joke!! Some referees have zero understanding of the game of football,' he tweeted.

'Important matches are ruined when under-qualified refs make game changing WRONG decisions. What is the criteria to become a top level ref

'To make it worse, tv pundits sit on the fence saying things that like, “That was harsh' or 'It's a controversial one”.

'You're on tv to give football fans your expert views. Bad refs need to be exposed and pundits that sit on the fence should be fired!!'

Henry has been sent off once and booked five times this season, in 18 games.

It is likely Henry is referring to the two red cards shown by Anthony Taylor in the West Ham v Everton match on Saturday.

Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson were both dismissed for offences which the clubs' managers Sam Allardyce and David Moyes both agreed did not merit red cards.

The players were sent off for dangerous play after catching opponents while raising their legs in respective attempts to control and win the ball.

Allardyce and his opposite number Moyes each confronted Taylor after the final whistle, confirming they would appeal the dismissals.

The West Ham boss accused Taylor of being trigger-happy, saying: 'It is how quickly the referee got the red card out, he couldn't wait, he didn't deliberate over the decision or anything.

You're gone: Anthony Taylor sends off Carlton Cole controversially

You're gone: Anthony Taylor sends off Carlton Cole controversially

'There is nothing much we can do about the result but we can appeal the decision and hopefully we can get Carlton down to a yellow card and get him off.'

Moyes added: 'I will appeal it. I'll have a word with Sam as well, because I don't think you could put the word frivolous next to that appeal.

'Because I think you would say there was genuine reason why maybe you could appeal that.

Unhappy: Both Sam Allardyce and David Moyes will appeal the cards

Unhappy: Both Sam Allardyce and David Moyes will appeal the cards

'Now, you don't want to go and appeal and find out that maybe you get an extra game on it. That's what you don't want to do.'

Allardyce was planning more than an appeal, however.

'I spoke to the ref but that is between me and him,' he said.

'We will go through the channels of 'reporting' that the system has in place and I will take that up and pursue it quite vigorously.

'If he is not getting the right feedback or coaching and is told it was okay and 'Carry on' then we have got a big problem.'

Adrian Durham: Arsenal"s Santi Cazorla cannot touch David Silva or Juan Mata… Lionel Messi is a bottler

Arsenal reality check: Even Peterborough have beaten Reading… Cazorla cannot touch Silva or Mata… And why Messi is a bottler

PUBLISHED:

10:17 GMT, 20 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

11:15 GMT, 20 December 2012

Arsenal won 5-2 at Reading. So what

The way Gooners are banging on about that result makes it sound like everything is OK at the Emirates. Breaking news – everything is not OK. Bradford knocked Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup. Arsenal are 15 points behind the Premier League leaders, and we’re not even halfway through the season.

More breaking news for Gooners – Theo Walcott is good, but he will never be at the same level the talismanic Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry achieved.

Good, but not stellar: Theo Walcott scores Arsenal's fifth goal under pressure from Adrian Mariappa at Reading on Monday

Good, but not stellar: Theo Walcott scores Arsenal's fifth goal under pressure from Adrian Mariappa at Reading on Monday

Follow Adrian Durham on Twitter – @talkSPORTDrive

And Santi Cazorla is good, but over
the course of a season he’s not quite David Silva, or Juan Mata. Both
Walcott and Cazorla are players I rate highly, but both prove that
Arsenal on the field have been starved of success and stripped of
quality year after year.

The fans are desperate for a hero –
when Santi played well, he was the new hero. Then Wilshere came back,
and Santi’s form dipped and Jack was the man. Now it’s Theo. But the
fans can’t really get behind Theo because they know the chances are
he’ll be leaving.

On Monday night at Reading Arsenal
won the first half when Reading got their tactics completely wrong.
Brian McDermott changed things at half time and the 2nd half finished
2-2.

And at the end of it all it’s a great
night out when your team wins away but what does a 5-2 win at Reading
actually mean for a club like Arsenal Not a lot really. Arsenal used to
win big at Premier League cannon fodder on their way to the title or
the double. It was a means to an end. Now the odd decent win is all the
fans can look forward to.

A great club, with great fans who deserve better.

Arsene Wenger said that Monday’s win shows how strong Arsenal are.

The reality is that Arsenal beat Reading in the same calendar year Peterborough United beat Reading.

Santi Cazorla

David Silva

Juan Mata

Season's greetings: Cazorla (left) is decent but he's no David Silva (centre) nor Juan Mata of Chelsea (right)

HAMMERS GOING FOR GOLD

West Ham United's co-owner David Gold

In the summer West Ham co-owner David
Sullivan said the club were willing to 'blow the budget for several
years' by signing Andy Carroll for 17million and paying his 100,000 a
week wages. Carroll said no to a permanent move but a loan deal was
sorted out.

Fast forward to this week and West Ham
are among the clubs ready to agree to new cost controls in the Premier
League.

The other co-owner of the Hammers David Gold (above) said on Tuesday: 'It’s important to bring in governors to ensure the Premier League never
has to experience what happened when Portsmouth went into
administration. If you control costs you probably control wages, but the
driving force is for sustainability which is what we’re pursuing.'

West Ham fans better hope the club is run by Mr Gold’s philosophy.

OLD SCHOOL NO, BROWN
IS SIMPLY DIRTY

I’m neither a Leeds fan nor a Chelsea fan but here is one special reason why I’m glad Leeds didn’t make it to the semi finals of the Capital One Cup – Michael Brown.

As far as I could see he spent the whole game kicking and fouling opponents and playing very little football.

He seems to have built a career on nasty challenges.

Among those who have felt the full force of Brown’s brutality are Jacob Butterfield, Ashley Cole, Sean Davis, Jem Karacan, Theo Robinson, Jermaine Jenas and perhaps the worst foul I’ve ever seen – on Ryan Giggs in August 2006.

He launched a stamp on Giggs’ knee with the ball not even in the same postcode.

Amazingly he only saw yellow for it, so he’s lucky to have only received eight red cards in his career.

He’s been described as 'old school,' but he’s just dirty.

Tackle from behind: Leeds' Michael Brown puts in a trademark challenge on Chelsea's David Luiz at Elland Road last night

Tackle from behind: Leeds' Michael Brown puts in a trademark challenge on Chelsea's David Luiz at Elland Road last night

Seeing red: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United reacts after being fouled by Fulham's Michael Brown in 2006

Seeing red: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United reacts after being fouled by Fulham's Michael Brown in 2006

THE SECRET FOOTBALLER WHO JUST WANTS TO PLAY

Think all footballers are in it for the money Think again.

Quite by chance I happened to sit
opposite a professional footballer on a train recently. I didn’t
recognise him at first, and when I did realise who it was I couldn’t
introduce myself because he was listening to music. Then his phone rang
so I thought I’d take the chance at the end of the call to say hello.

This ceased to be an option once I
realised the nature of his conversation. He was telling his agent how
gutted he was that he wasn’t getting a game.

To fill you in, he wasn’t injured, and isn’t a bad player at all. His manager just isn’t selecting him.

At first I thought he was another
egotistical player who thought he had a divine right to be picked. But I
was wrong. He just wants to play football.

From what I picked up, money
was not an issue at all, he just wants to play football. The manager
who won’t pick him isn’t the manager who signed him, so the player is
now in a situation where he is getting paid but not playing.

From the
outside it looks like he is taking money for nothing, but in his own
words: 'I just want to play.' A decent young English player being held
back by a club that should do the decent thing and let him go.

MAGNIFICENT MESSI HAS BOTTLED OUT OF BIG TEST

Never thought I’d say it but I’m
disappointed in Lionel Messi. The best player on the planet, arguably
the best player of all time, I’d happily pay a small fortune to watch
him play.

But why sign again at Barcelona

Messi has won everything at Barcelona,
there’s nothing left to do there. So why not come to the Premier League
so we can find out if he can do it out of his comfort zone

Avoiding England: Lionel Messi beats Gorka Iraizoz of Athletic Bilbao to put Barca 2-0 up at the Nou Camp

Avoiding England: Lionel Messi beats Gorka Iraizoz of Athletic Bilbao to put Barca 2-0 up at the Nou Camp

His new contract takes him beyond the age of 30 so we will never see Messi at his peak playing anywhere else but Barcelona.

Scoring and winning has become easy at
Barcelona for Messi. I wish he had accepted the challenge of signing for
an English side. Is he scared of Stoke

Lionel Messi – bottler.

Follow Adrian on Twitter – @talkSPORTDrive… Adrian hosts talkSPORT's Drivetime Show on weekdays between 4pm–7pm alongside former England cricketer Darren Gough