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Nishikori ready to face daunting Tour Finals group
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Saturday, 12 November 2016 19:23

Kei Nishikori admits he has been handed a daunting task as the Japanese star tries to finish his season on a high at the ATP Tour Finals.

Nishikori is aiming to reach the final of the prestigious tournament for the first time, but he will have to survive a tough group featuring new world number one Andy Murray, US Open champion Stan Wawrinka and former Grand Slam winner Marin Cilic.

The world number five has lost seven of his nine meetings with Murray and four of his six with Wawrinka.

He has a slight edge in his head to head encounters with Cilic, but the Croatian enjoyed the best win of his life at Nishikori's expense in the 2014 US Open final.

Nishikori, who made the semi-finals of the Tour Finals in 2014, acknowledges he will have to be at his very best to return to the last four at London's O2 Arena.

 

 
Saracens trio among World Rugby Player of the Year nominees
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Monday, 07 November 2016 16:53

 

 

England's so far unbeaten year under Australian coach Eddie Jones was recognised Monday with three internationals from Saracens providing 50 percent of the nominees for the 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year award.

Goal-kicker Owen Farrell, No 8 Billy Vunipola and lock Maro Itoje were on a shortlist that also included New Zealand's Beauden Barrett and Dane Cole and Ireland back-row Jamie Heaslip.

The Saracens trio helped the London club win the English Premiership and European Champions Cup titles.

They also played key roles as England won their first nine Tests under Jones -- appointed after the hosts' embarrassing first-round exit at last year's World Cup.

England's unbeaten run included a Six Nations Grand Slam and a 3-0 series win in Australia.

Itoje, 22, had already been nominated for the 'breakthrough' player of the year award.

 

 
Chelsea storm to summit after Man City stumble
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Sunday, 06 November 2016 10:25

 

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea exploited a slip-up by Manchester City to claim top spot in the Premier League by stylishly crushing Everton  5-0 on Saturday. Marten de Roon's stoppage-time equaliser earned Middlesbrough a 1-1 draw at City and Antonio Conte's Chelsea took advantage to move a point clear of Pep Guardiola's side at the summit.

"When you win in this way it's fantastic because we played good football with good intensity," Conte told BT Sport.

"All the players played in the right way with and without the ball. We created many chances to score and also it's the fifth clean sheet in a row, which is fantastic.

"It is fantastic to be top of the league."

Arsenal and Liverpool could also surpass City before the weekend is out, the former tackling Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday's North London derby and the latter entertaining Watford.

Elsewhere, bottom club Sunderland ended their wait for a first win of the season at the 11th attempt by coming from behind to win 2-1 at Bournemouth despite having Steven Pienaar sent off.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea produced one of their most scintillating performances in recent memory as the 2014-15 champions made it five straight wins without conceding a goal.

Hazard opened the scoring in the 19th minute, drifting in from the left to drill a shot into the bottom-right corner, and a minute later Pedro Rodriguez teed up Marcos Alonso for the hosts' second.

Diego Costa made it 3-0 three minutes before half-time, slamming home at the back post after Nemanja Matic flicked on Hazard's corner to bring up his ninth goal of the campaign.

 

 
Boss of West Ham's troubled London Stadium resigns
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Friday, 04 November 2016 11:23

 

The man in charge of West Ham United's London Stadium stepped down on Thursday, in the latest episode of upheaval to affect the controversy-plagued venue.

David Edmonds has left his post as chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which has been responsible for the running of London's Olympic Park since the 2012 Olympics.

It comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan announced an investigation into the rising cost of converting the arena, formerly known as the Olympic Stadium, for use by Premier League club West Ham.

"David has made an enormous contribution to the legacy of the London 2012 Games and he has helped to steer the organisation through some extremely challenging issues," said LLDC chief executive David Goldstone.

"We thank him for all his hard work and wish him well in the future."

 

 
Rugby: Hansen and Jones on World Rugby awards shortlist
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Wednesday, 02 November 2016 16:31

 

 

New Zealand's Steve Hansen and England's Eddie Jones were among the nominees shortlisted on Tuesday for the annual World Rugby awards.

The pair will be vying for the coach of the year award along with Ben Ryan, the Englishman who guided Fiji to their first Olympic gold medal in any sport when the Pacific Islanders triumphed as rugby sevens made its Games debut in Rio.

New Zealand, since winning the World Cup under Hansen last year, have remained unbeaten and recently set a new record for a major or tier-one rugby union nation of 18 successive Test victories.

 

 

 
Cheika tells Wallabies to dream big in Europe
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Monday, 31 October 2016 18:35

 

Australia coach Michael Cheika has urged his side to aim high during their tour of Europe as they look to finish a tough 2016 with a flourish.

Cheika's men have the chance to emulate the celebrated 1984 Wallabies that featured the likes of David Campese, Michael Lynagh and Mark Ella by completing a Grand Slam -- victories over England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales on one tour.

Australia will also play France in Paris on November 19 in a run of five internationals on successive weekends, starting with Saturday's clash against Wales in Cardiff.

Australia gave New Zealand a few awkward moments before losing last year's World Cup final at Twickenham, but 2016 has seen the Wallabies suffer some chastening defeats by the All Blacks, including a 42-6 hammering in Sydney in August.

That was a low in a run of six straight defeats that included a 3-0 series defeat at home to England, a side coached by Eddie Jones, Cheika's former team-mate at Sydney club Randwick.

 

 
Klopp makes case for Liverpool defence
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Sunday, 30 October 2016 09:06

 

Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool’s defensive problems were no cause for alarm after his side maintained their push for the Premier League title with a 4-2 win away to Crystal Palace.

Despite an ultimately comfortable scoreline that drew Liverpool level on points with league leaders Manchester City and second-placed Arsenal, the visitors’ shaky backline was badly exposed at Selhurst Park at times.

Dejan Lovren was at fault when James McArthur cancelled out Emre Can’s opening goal and the centre-back later allowed the Palace midfielder to head his second goal after Lovren himself had restored Liverpool’s lead.

Saturday’s result meant the Reds have kept just one clean sheet in the league so far this term, but Liverpool manager Klopp said: “We will sort the defence. When that happens, we will see (if we can challenge in the league).

“They can defend really well — it’s normal (to have lapses). But I know that everybody will talk about this.”

 

 
Manchester City suffer first Guardiola loss as London Premier League duo close in
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Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:45

 

Manchester City suffered their first defeat under manager Pep Guardiola as Tottenham Hotspur  underlined their Premier League title credentials with a 2-0 win at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Victory saw Spurs move to within a point of leaders City.

And later on Sunday, Arsenal -- Spurs' north London rivals -- won 1-0 away to Burnley thanks to Laurent Koscielny's  disputed winner deep into stoppage time as Arsene Wenger's men closed to within two points of top spot.

Meanwhile reigning champions Leicester City  were held to a goalless draw by Southampton while Manchester City  endured a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City.

 

 
No Wembley excuses for Spurs in Champions League says Pochettino
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Tuesday, 13 September 2016 16:45

 

Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham won’t be allowed to use their temporary move to Wembley as an excuse for failure in their Champions League opener against Monaco on Wednesday.

Pochettino’s side return to the Champions League for the first time in five years in unfamiliar surroundings after deciding to stage their European matches at Wembley rather than White Hart Lane.

The prospect of bigger crowds at the English national stadium convinced Tottenham to make the short move across north London and the crowd is expected to set a new record for the largest attendance for a home Champions League game in Britain.

Fans of Tottenham’s bitter rivals Arsenal can testify to the struggles of a Wembley relocation after they won just two of their six fixtures in Europe when temporarily playing there in the late 1990s.

Tottenham have won only once at the redeveloped Wembley since it opened in 2007 and Pochettino’s demand for a high-intensity pressing style may prove more demanding for his players on the stadium’s big pitch.

But the Argentine coach has drilled his players on a pitch of the same size at their Enfield training ground and he expects them to thrive in their new surroundings.

“We need to go to Wembley and play, behave naturally and not try to find an excuse, that’s never good,” Pochettino said on Tuesday.

“We trust in us. We believe in the way we play and it’s a good chance to play on a big pitch.

“You have more space to play, it’s more difficult for the opponent to press you when there are more metres to run, but the same for both.

“We feel good at White Hart Lane because it’s our home and we need to feel good at Wembley. With two pitches at the training ground we designed the same dimensions as Wembley.”

 
Mourinho and Guardiola barbs down the years
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Friday, 09 September 2016 16:50

 

Once upon a time, when their paths crossed at Barcelona, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola got on quite well. But all that changed as they went on to become two of the most successful coaches in world football.

Ahead of the mouthwatering Manchester derby at the weekend, AFP Sports looks at a selection of the bitter remarks they have aimed at each other down the years.

– Guardiola on Mourinho –

“I know Mourinho and he’s trying to provoke me into a reaction, but it won’t work. I’m not going to react. I’m not going to answer back. Only when I think the time is right.” — Guardiola in 2011 as Mourinho ratchets up the snide remarks.

“Outside of the field, he has won the entire year, the entire season and in the future (it will be the same). He can have his personal Champions League outside the field. Fine. Let him enjoy it, I’ll give him that.” — Guardiola finally cracks and lays into Mourinho on the eve of a 2011 Champions League semi-final, first-leg clash between Guardiola’s Barcelona and Mourinho’s Real Madrid. Barcelona won 2-0.

 
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