Henry heaps praise on Wenger

first_img Wenger signed Henry in 1999 for a then club-record fee of around £11million from Juventus and, in his eight years with the club, he became their all-time leading goal scorer, won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups before joining Barcelona. Henry’s departure coincided in a less successful period for the north London side and even though Wenger has managed to guide the Gunners to Champions League group-stage qualification for 17 consecutive seasons, some Arsenal fans questioned the Frenchman’s tenure given their failure to land silverware for nine years until last season. Press Association Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry believes manager Arsene Wenger will only be truly appreciated for his achievements with the Gunners when he is no longer their manager.center_img Arsenal finally ended that trophy drought by winning the FA Cup and Henry believes Wenger is a victim of his own success to a certain extent given that he won major honours earlier on during his reign. “When you give people a lot they get used to it and they just expect and demand and rightly so because when you’re at a club like Arsenal people expect and want you to win and that’s the way it is,” Henry, who helped Arsenal avoid defeat in the league during the 2004-05 season, told the BBC’s Football Focus. “For me it’s a no-brainer, the guy (Wenger) has changed Arsenal Football Club. Was Arsenal successful before? Yes they were, but in a different way. Now Arsenal is recognised for the type of football they play and that’s all down to him.” While Henry was complimentary about Wenger’s achievements at his former club, he insists it will be a tall order for Arsenal to overhaul Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea and win their first league title for 11 years this season. “I do think they have a squad to win the league but they are nine points behind Chelsea. Somehow you have to make sure you can grab somewhere those points hoping that Chelsea is going to lose somewhere,” the New York Red Bulls forward added. “Bear in mind that Chelsea have already went to City, won at Everton, beat you (Arsenal). Nine points (is) three defeats. In the meantime you need to win everything, they need to lose, so when you ask me how far they are (from winning the league), they’re nine points away (at present).” Meanwhile, Wenger has revealed he would welcome Henry onto his Arsenal coaching staff when the 37-year-old retires from playing. “It’s not impossible,” Wenger told the Daily Mail when asked if his former captain could return to the club to coach. “I welcome people who have played for us to come back but not (for just) an honorary job.” last_img read more

Debuchy “destroyed” by injury

first_imgArsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits Mathieu Debuchy is “destroyed” and “embarrassed” after it was confirmed the injured defender would endure a second lengthy spell on the sidelines this season. “He is destroyed,” Wenger said. “He is such a keen player, so professional and so willing. “It is his first year here and of course he is embarrassed. But it is not his fault.” Debuchy had to be carried off on a stretcher in the 13th minute of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Stoke last Sunday after he was pushed into the advertising hoardings by Potters midfielder Marko Arnautovic. “The push was not needed,” Wenger continued. “It was a bit unlucky as well because there was a divot after the touchline which may have made it worse. “Arnautovic did not have a chance to get the ball – I don’t think it was malicious but he had no chance to get the ball so I’m saying it was not needed. “It’s not obvious what his intention was, I don’t think he wanted to hurt him but I don’t think it was needed.” Arsenal visit Manchester City on Sunday, hoping to avenge last season’s 6-3 hammering at the Etihad Stadium. One player who could make the difference for the Gunners this term is Alexis Sanchez, whom City boss Manuel Pellegrini described this week as “the best player in England”. “It’s a great compliment because Pellegrini knows football well,” Wenger said. “I agree with him – at the moment Sanchez is one of the top performers in the league.” Sanchez has 18 goals in all competitions this season, one fewer than City striker Sergio Aguero. Aguero could make his first start since December 3 against Arsenal on Sunday, after the Argentine recovered from a knee injury. “There are some other great players but Sanchez and Aguero are two of the best performing since the start of the season,” Wenger said. “Aguero has been less consistent because he’s been injured more – in the last year he has suffered from being a bit in and out – but of course he is a world-class player. “Alexis is full of energy, full of enthusiasm as well. That is what is fantastically refreshing when you see the number of games he’s had to play – he’s always keen to go out and play. “What everyone admires about him is his game is always full of enthusiasm, a desire to do well, to take people on and fight to get the ball back. It’s fantastic and it’s infectious.” Kieran Gibbs will have a fitness test on Friday but is expected to have overcome a heel problem while Mesut Ozil, Calum Chambers and Theo Walcott are all fit again. Wenger had hoped Danny Welbeck would also be available for the trip to Manchester but his thigh injury has not healed as fast as expected. “That was the wrong hope,” Wenger said. “I think he has two more weeks.” The Frenchman also reiterated his disdain for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award, which was presented to Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo for the second year running on Monday. Only national team managers, national team captains and selected journalists are allowed to vote on the prestigious prize but Wenger insists he would not take part even if he could. “I would not vote for any Ballon d’Or,” Wenger said. “I’m totally against it. I’m a team lover and a specialist of somebody who loves teamwork. “I’m completely against it and would not vote for anybody.” Press Association Debuchy has started only nine Barclays Premier League games since joining the Gunners from Newcastle in the summer. The France full-back was out for three months earlier in the season following ankle ligament surgery in September and will now miss another three months after an operation on his right shoulder. last_img read more

Sullivan targets European glory

first_img The Hammers are enjoying a fine campaign, easing the pre-season pressure on manager Sam Allardyce with a run to seventh in the Barclays Premier League and at one point having been as high as third. And that form has joint chairman Sullivan – who along with David Gold bought the club five years ago – reaching for the stars, starting with his aim for this year – “to finish in a Champions League spot”. Press Association Asked how he sees the next five years for the club, he told the London Evening Standard: “I’d like to see us win the Premier League and then the Champions League. “Yes, I know it’s unlikely but again, not impossible – look at Atletico Madrid. We can all dream. “We are West Ham United, we’re a big club, one of four big clubs in London. We have some catching up to do but we’ve closed the gap. “I’m optimistic and if things go our way we could beat Real Madrid tomorrow. It’s unlikely but not impossible.” Atletico broke the duopoly of their city rivals and Barcelona to win Spain’s Primera Division last season and also reached the Champions League final, where they were beaten in extra time by Real. Gold’s aims are not as fanciful as those of his colleague but he too believes his side can establish themselves as challengers for Europe for years to come. “I would be disappointed if we don’t join the so-called top six within the next five years,” he said. “We know the fanbase is there and it will grow when we move [to the London Olympic Stadium in the summer of 2016]. “This isn’t blind optimism. I can see everything coming together, culminating in us becoming a top club, challenging at the highest level with top players in an amazing stadium supported by amazing fans.” center_img David Sullivan has astonishingly laid out his ambition for West Ham to be English and European champions within five years.last_img read more

O’Sullivan too good for Lawler

first_img Liang Wenbo won the final two frames to seal a 4-3 win over Mark Allen. Neil Robertson and Matthew Selt enjoyed 4-0 routs in their wins over Luca Brecel and Barry Hawkins respectively, while there were also wins for Martin Gould and Stuart Bingham. Press Association Ronnie O’Sullivan saw off Rod Lawler 4-2 on the opening night of the inaugural 888.com World Grand Prix in Llandudno.center_img Lawlor had levelled the match at 1-1 with an impressive break of 115, but O’Sullivan proved too strong as he twice hit the half-century mark on his way to victory. Stephen Maguire had two century breaks, making 122 and 108, on his way to a 4-1 win over Xiao Guodong, while a 110 highlighted Mark Selby’s 4-1 win over Michael Holt. last_img read more

Faugheen strolls to Champion glory

first_img The seven-year-old took his record to a perfect 10 out of 10 to give Willie Mullins yet another Grade One winner. Ruby Walsh was allowed to dictate matters at his own pace and did not appear to be going much of a gallop until quickening the tempo four from home, after which it was pretty much plain sailing. Faugheen lived up to the hype with a flawless display in the Queally Group Celebrating 35 Years In Naas Punchestown Champion Hurdle. Arctic Fire and Paul Townend tried to close coming out of the back straight, but as soon as Walsh gave Faugheen (1-6 favourite) a squeeze the response was immediate and the race was over, with the winning distance eight lengths. “That was a good performance. Ruby didn’t hang around and kept applying the pressure from the front. It was a gutsy ride,” said Mullins. “On the book he had one horse to beat and that was Arctic Fire. He wasn’t on the bridle at any stage, though, and when he’s not on the bridle you know he’s going some pace. “Arctic Fire is a fair opponent and Ruby wasn’t going to let him into it and use his speed. He was just afraid of Arctic Fire’s speed and piled it on from the front to dampen his fire. “From a mile out he started to apply it and I was wondering if he’d crack from so far out, but he knew what he had underneath him. His jumping is better going faster. Ruby kept asking the questions and at every hurdle he picked up. “He’s done it now in year one and we’ll let him tell us how good he can be. Our Conor looked invincible when he won the Triumph, but fate can go against you. “I believe in him, but he has to stand the test of time. He’s very, very good. We’ll see now if the handicapper puts him past Hurricane Fly.” Walsh added: “As Paul Townend pulled up there, he was making the sound of a jet and that is what Faugheen is. He is incredible.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Nervous Newcastle blow chance

first_img The sole comfort for Newcastle in their dismal defeat was Hull’s 2-0 loss at Tottenham that leaves manager Carver’s men favourites to escape the drop – but only just. Emmanuel Riviere ended a 21-game Premier League drought with his first top-flight goal in England to hand Newcastle a 1-0 half-time advantage. The Tynesiders collapsed after the break however, QPR scoring twice in seven minutes to turn the tie on its head. Newcastle’s toothless run of form extended to 10 games without a win, stretching back to the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on February 28. The visitors were in total control when Riviere notched Newcastle’s first away goal in 521 minutes, but fell completely off the pace after the break. Riviere ended his hefty drought to hand Newcastle a deserved lead at the break – but his finish carried a fair slice of luck. Tim Krul lofted a free-kick from deep in his own half straight over QPR’s statuesque defence, and Riviere ghosted through on goal. The 25-year-old flicked the ball against his standing leg, profiting from the fortunate deflection to chip the onrushing Rob Green. Former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton then poleaxed former England stopper Green, unwittingly kneeing the QPR keeper in the head. A groggy Green left the field, thankfully on his feet, to be replaced by Alex McCarthy. Carver’s men ought to have added to their lead before the break, but were still in charge, leading 1-0 at the turnaround. Rangers should have equalised at the start of the second half – and the public address system operators thought they had. Matt Phillips hacked wide from point-blank range, only for goal celebration music to blare out around the ground for half a second. In-form hitman Charlie Austin then fired wide from six yards after working himself free, in another early second-half let-off for Newcastle. Newcastle’s luck ran out when Austin laid on the equaliser with a fine far-post cross for Phillips, who atoned for that earlier miss by nodding past Krul. And when Krul scuffed a clearance that Phillips gobbled up, midfielder Fer raced forward and lashed the ball home from 25 yards. Moussa Sissoko wasted a prime chance to drag Newcastle back on terms, dragging wide after good work from Sammy Ameobi. Newcastle will face a nerve-wracking final day in their Premier League survival battle after squandering control to lose 2-1 at already-relegated QPR. Matt Phillips and Leroy Fer fired second-half goals to deny John Carver’s embattled Newcastle their Premier League safety at Loftus Road. Newcastle will now host West Ham at St James’ Park on Sunday still fighting for their Premier League lives, after spurning the chance to complete their survival bid in west London. Press Associationlast_img read more

Bournemouth boss reflects on Howe far the Cherries have come

first_img “Football is very tough. Every game in this league is such a high standard, if you drop your performances you can get punished so we have to make sure we maintain it. “It was really important for us that we didn’t lose the momentum we had built and that one result (against Chelsea) wasn’t a result in isolation. “We wanted to back it up and back-to-back wins in this league, like any league, are so important. You see how tight it is down the bottom, that’s given us a huge lift at a key time.” Eddie Howe believes he achieved the impossible by leading Bournemouth to victory over Manchester United on Saturday night – six years to the day after they had been hammered by Morecambe. Press Association But, back on December 12, 2009 Howe was taking charge of Bournemouth at Christie Park as they were looking to gain promotion out of League Two. Instead they were humbled 5-0 by Sammy McIlroy’s Shrimps and Howe admits a result like that achieved against 20-time champions United was something he could not have dreamed of six seasons ago. “Someone reminded me of that earlier,” he said when asked about the contrasting fixtures coming exactly six years apart. “I didn’t know that, and all the emotions of that game came flooding back. That was a terrible game. It does show how far the club has come. “Not in your wildest dreams could you have ever imagined when I was standing there watching that Morecambe game that we would be beating Manchester United in the Premier League. It’s not possible. So it really does prove what can happen in football. It’s an unbelievable game.” Despite their humbling at Morecambe, Bournemouth still went on to gain promotion as they finished second behind Notts County. Now the ambition is survival and Howe feels consecutive wins against two of the most successful teams in the history of the Premier League can go a long way to making their current aims achievable. “Hopefully we can use these as markers against what we want to achieve in every game,” he added. The Cherries achieved a remarkable double as they saw off United 2-1 just a week after winning at the home of Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea. The back-to-back victories mean Howe’s side are now 14th in the table, above Jose Mourinho’s Blues, as they look to secure a second season in the top flight. last_img read more

West Ham’s Andy Carroll gets revenge on former club Liverpool with vital goal

first_img The goal clearly meant a lot to the striker as he celebrated wildly, with the Hammers registering back-to-back wins while ending Liverpool’s run of two straight victories. Liverpool were hugely disappointing and, with just one shot on target all game, rarely looked capable of getting back into the match after Antonio fired the hosts ahead. Antonio’s first goal for the club, against Southampton last Monday, had more than a touch of fortune about it after a clearance hit him on the head and flew into the net. But there was no doubt about his second of the season as the winger thumped in a close-range header from Enner Valencia’s cross after 10 minutes. Manuel Lanzini, back in the West Ham side after a spell out injured, showed what they have been missing recently with a vicious, swerving shot which crashed back off the inside of Simon Mignolet’s post. Unfortunately the Argentinian midfielder, who had been the game’s most influential player, limped off just before half-time with what looked like a recurrence of his thigh injury. West Ham continued to cause Liverpool problems, though, with Aaron Cresswell’s deflected shot forcing Mignolet to save at his near post. Liverpool, by contrast, were dismal in attack in the first half, and yet they were inches away from going in level at half-time after Emre Can’s curler from the edge of the area clipped the crossbar. Liverpool reject Andy Carroll ended the Reds’ recent revival as West Ham secured a deserved 2-0 win at Upton Park. The visitors emerged for the second half early, presumably with a flea in their ear from frustrated boss Jurgen Klopp. They attacked with more purpose and Philippe Coutinho fizzed a shot over before Alberto Moreno’s low cross found Christian Benteke, only for the striker to miss his kick in front of goal. But just as Liverpool threatened to get back into the game Carroll snatched it away from them, rising above Nathaniel Clyne to powerfully nod Noble’s cross past Mignolet and into the back of the net. Carroll could have piled on the misery with another header from Cresswell’s cross but Mignolet made a fine save. Liverpool almost pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining but Lucas’ header was cleared off the line by Mark Noble. TWEET OF THE MATCH @karren_brady: “Fantastic win COYI” WEST HAM Adrian: 6 Aaron Cresswell: 7 James Collins: 8 Angelo Ogbonna: 7 James Tomkins: 6 Cheikhou Kouyate: 6 Mark Noble: 7 Manuel Lanzini: 7 Enner Valencia: 7 Michail Antonio: 7 Andy Carroll: 7 Subs: Pedro Obiang: 6 Dimitri Payet: 6 Carl Jenkinson: 6 LIVERPOOL Simon Mignolet: 6 Alberto Moreno: 6 Dean Lovren: 6 Mamadou Sakho: 6 Nathaniel Clyne: 6 Emre Can: 6 Lucas: 5 Jordan Ibe: 5 Roberto Firmino: 5 Philippe Coutinho: 6 Christian Benteke: 5 Subs Adam Lallana: 6 Brad Smith: 6 Joe Allen: 6 STAR MAN James Collins. You could have been forgiven for not realising that Christian Benteke was playing as Welsh centre-half Collins completely marked him out of the game, winning every single header the pair went up for. MOMENT OF THE MATCH Andy Carroll’s goal clearly meant a lot to the striker after his disappointing spell at Liverpool – and boy did he celebrate it. VIEW FROM THE BENCH Liverpool were without Jordan Henderson and they missed his calming influence in midfield as pass after pass went stray. West Ham recalled Carroll and the move paid dividends. MOAN OF THE MATCH The first-half injury to West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini, who was denied a fabulous goal by the woodwork and had been the outstanding player on the pitch until his early departure. WHO’S UP NEXT? West Ham v Wolves (FA Cup, Saturday, January 9) Stoke v Liverpool (Capital One Cup, Tuesday, January 5) Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said: “It’s no day for being disappointed, it’s a day for being angry. “We had the ball and possession and bad luck in a few situations – but that’s not what I want to see, to be honest. You have to be there in the decisive moments. “We have to be better. We could have come back but we didn’t. Who wants to see 90 per cent? You can’t win a game with 90 per cent. “You need more will than we did today. Two-nil – it’s deserved.” West Ham boss Slaven Bilic added on BT Sport: “It’s a great win – I think we deserved it. “We defended well because you have to. We had many opportunities, scored a couple of great goals – and kept a clean sheet. “We are going to have our ups and downs but we are definitely a good team.” James Collins, who impressed in central defence for West Ham, said: “We had a couple of dodgy results at home earlier in the season but since then we have been solid and not conceding many goals.” Asked about the club’s prospects of earning a place in European competition next season, the Wales international added: “It’s d efinitely moving that way. “We’re disappointed how we played in the Europa League earlier in the season – but looking back maybe it was a good thing. We’ve got high ambitions.” Carroll, who was let go by former Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers after just 18 months on Merseyside, scored with a trademark header to sink his old club. West Ham were already leading through Michail Antonio’s early goal when, nine minutes after half-time, Mark Noble floated in a cross and Carroll powered the ball home. Press Associationlast_img read more

Djakadam confined to ‘walking for a few days’ but Gold Cup dream still alive

first_img Press Association Djakadam will not run again before the Timico Gold Cup after sustaining a cut when falling at Cheltenham on Saturday. Mullins said: “Djakadam had a few stitches put in at the top of his chest and will be just walking for a few days. As long as the stitches hold he will be fine and he did plenty of walking this morning. “The vet had to give him an injection which rules out running again before Cheltenham. “I think I’ve enough time (for Cheltenham) providing the cut doesn’t get infected.” Djakadam’s fall was just one of a number of disappointments for Mullins on the day, with Shaneshill and Up For Review both well beaten at Doncaster. He said: “I was not happy with all the horses at Doncaster and I’d say they picked up a bit of a chill on the ferry. I thought they ran too bad to be true and it was just not their running. “Paul (Townend) said he was flat out all the way on Shaneshill (in the Lightning Novices’ Chase) and he will go up in trip next time. “Morning Run is probably not back to herself yet this season, while Up For Review was beaten too far out. I would not be writing off Cheltenham with him yet.” center_img Willie Mullins’ charge was sent off the 5-6 favourite for the Grade Two event in what was supposed to be his prep run for another tilt at the blue riband in March, where he was second to Coneygree 12 months ago. He was still travelling well when he crashed out at the 10th fence, with the cut requiring stitches. last_img read more

Gronk Bunt Dents Lombardi Trophy

first_imgOnly retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could get away with denting the Lombardi Trophy.The dimple happened during the Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox. Gronkowski used the trophy the Patriots won for defeating the Rams in Super Bowl 53 as a baseball bat to bunt the ball. The impact of the ball ended up denting the shiney metal football atop the trophy. The Patriots might opt to fix the dent in the future but for now are leaving it forever marked by Gronk.last_img