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Sports update
#1
Parma 0-4 Juventus: Ronaldo at the double as unbeaten champions impress

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19 December 2020, 



Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus took out their frustration on Parma as the Bianconeri swept to an ominous 4-0 win at the Ennio Tardini on Saturday.
After a midweek draw at home with Atalanta, in which Ronaldo missed a penalty, Juventus were out to make amends on their travels and did so resoundingly.



Ronaldo scored twice to take his tally to a league-high 12 from nine Serie A appearances, going two clear of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku.
His efforts followed an opener from Dejan Kulusevski, the winger who dazzled on loan with Parma last season but now belongs to the impressive array of Juve attacking options. Another from that forward line, Alvaro Morata, headed a late fourth.



The visitors' breakthrough came in the 23rd minute when Alex Sandro's low ball from the left ran practically across the penalty spot, with the slightest touch off Morata, to find former Parma loanee Kulusevski. His finish low into the left corner was precise and the celebrations muted.



Ronaldo leapt supremely to head the second for Juventus three minutes later after Morata chipped a clever delivery into the heart of the penalty area, again from the left.



Juventus were dominant and almost had a third before the break when Leonardo Bonucci bundled wide after Weston McKennie headed Bentancur's corner towards goal.



Head coach Andrea Pirlo had said Juventus were "a bit angry" with the Atalanta result, and they were making sure there was no way back into this game for Parma.



Ronaldo struck again in the 48th minute, with Aaron Ramsey releasing him to drive low and left-footed beyond Luigi Sepe from 12 yards.



Juventus thought they had a fourth goal when Matthijs de Ligt tucked in from close range after McKennie's header was parried, but Bentancur's corner that preceded the chances had travelled out of play before curling back in.



Ronaldo nodded wide from a corner and held his head in his hands, knowing a hat-trick opportunity had passed him by.



Morata's late goal was a bonus for a Juventus side who remain unbeaten through the first 13 games of Pirlo's Serie A coaching career.
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#2
Ronaldo achieves Serie A feat last seen 59 years ago with latest brace

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19 December 2020,



Cristiano Ronaldo became only the fourth player to score at least 33 Serie A goals in a calendar year by bagging a brace in Juventus' 4-0 win over Parma.


The 35-year-old scored in each half as Juve cruised to a victory that moved them level on points with Inter and one adrift of leaders Milan, both of whom play their game in hand on Sunday.
Ronaldo equalled former Juventus forward Omar Sivori's goal haul from 1961 - the joint-third most in a single year behind Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) and Felice Borel (41 in 1933).



He could move further up the list as Juventus have one more league match to play in 2020 - a home meeting with Fiorentina on Tuesday.



Ronaldo's 33 goals have come from 174 attempts - at least 67 more than any other player - giving him a shot conversion rate of 27.73, which compares to 28.26 for Ciro Immobile, who is the next highest scorer this year in Serie A with 26 for Lazio.



The Portugal international has scored 27 with his stronger right foot, four with his left and two via his head.



Robert Lewandowski, named The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year on Thursday, has 32 Bundesliga goals for Bayern Munich since January 1, while Barcelona star Lionel Messi has just 18 in LaLiga in the same timeframe.
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#3
Premier League data dive: Liverpool in seventh heaven with historic win as Arsenal demise continues

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20 December 2020, 



Liverpool registered a historic win in their seven-goal blitz of Crystal Palace and the records of an unwanted kind kept coming for Arsenal in their defeat to Everton.


The reigning Premier League champions opened up a five-point lead at the top, with Merseyside rivals Everton their closest challengers after beating an Arsenal side slipping further into the abyss with each passing game.



Manchester City also got back to winning ways thanks to a Raheem Sterling-inspired success at Southampton, while Newcastle United and Fulham played out a draw at St James' Park in the late kick-off.



Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool: Reds run riot as Klopp overtakes Rafa



Jurgen Klopp registered a landmark victory in a historic win for Liverpool at Selhurst Park as the Reds won an away top-flight match by a margin of seven goals for the first time in their history.
German coach Klopp overtook Rafael Benitez (126) for the most triumphs as a Liverpool boss in the Premier League with his 127th success.



It was the first time the Merseyside outfit scored seven goals in a league game - each assisted by a different player - since a 9-0 triumph over Palace in September 1989, with the Eagles conceding seven in a home match for the first time.



Substitute Mohamed Salah netted a brace and laid on an assist for fellow two-goal forward Roberto Firmino - the 17th time the pair have combined for a Premier League goal for Liverpool, placing them behind only Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman (24).



Takumi Minamino, Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane were also on the scoresheet, the latter becoming only the fourth player in Premier League history to score in seven successive appearances against an opponent.


Southampton 0-1 Manchester City: Sterling sinks Saints again


Sterling's sweeping finish proved enough for City to return to winning ways at St Mary's Stadium as they became the first team to stop Southampton from scoring in the Premier League since the opening weekend of the season.



Match-winner Sterling has been directly involved in 11 goals in 16 Premier League meetings with Southampton – only against West Ham (14) has he had a hand in more.


Kevin De Bruyne set up that goal and now has 15 Premier League assists in 2020, which is three more than anyone else. The only time the Belgium playmaker set up more goals in a single calendar year in the competition was in 2017 (18).



City kept their opponents at bay from that point on and now boast the best defensive record in the division, conceding the fewest goals (12) and keeping more clean sheets (six) than any other team.



Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Arteta Holding on after latest defeat



Two days ahead of the one-year anniversary of his Everton appointment, Carlo Ancelotti celebrated victory over Arsenal to guarantee the Toffees a place in the top four at Christmas for the first time since 2004-05.



Rob Holding's own goal - the third by an Arsenal player in the Premier League this season - gave Everton the lead before Nicolas Pepe converted from the penalty spot for a team-high eighth goal involvement this term.



But Yerry Mina scored what proved to be the winning goal just before half-time to inflict an eighth defeat of the campaign on Arsenal, whose return of 14 points from 14 games is their fewest since 1974-75 (12 points when converted to three for a win).



Each of Mina's past four goals have come in the 45th minute - only Chris Eagles has scored as many consecutive goals in the same minute before, notching four times in the 90th between 2007 and 2011.



Goals are something Arsenal are still struggling for, meanwhile, having now failed to score from open play in their past five Premier League away matches, their only two goals in that run coming from the penalty spot.



Newcastle United 1-1 Fulham: Visitors pay the penalty in St James' stalemate



Newcastle benefited from another penalty - their third in six Premier League home games - as they recovered to earn a point against an improving Fulham side at St James' Park.



Callum Wilson made no mistake from 12 yards as he took his tally for the campaign to eight in 12 top-flight appearances, matching his return from 35 games with Bournemouth last term.



Fulham have conceded a league-high five penalties this season, including three in their past four outings, and had Joachim Andersen dismissed for the incident leading to the spot-kick - the third Danish player to see red for Fulham in the competition after Leon Andreasen and Claus Jensen.



However, Scott Parker's men - who led through Matt Ritchie's first-half own goal - held on to pick up at least a point when finishing a Premier League game with 10 men for the first time since they beat QPR 3-2 in April 2013, having lost on each of the five subsequent occasions.



Newcastle have failed to keep a clean sheet in their 11 most recent Premier League games on home soil, their longest run since February 2005 (also 11 games), but they still climbed two places into 12th.
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#4
I admire you very much – Pele congratulates Messi on equalling record

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20 December 2020, 



Pele congratulated Lionel Messi on equalling his one-club goals haul and said he admired the Barcelona star.


Messi scored his 643rd goal for Barca during Saturday's 2-2 draw at home to Valencia in LaLiga.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner matched Pele's haul of 643 goals in just 656 matches for Santos between 1956 and 1974.



Pele, regarded by many as the best to ever play the game, posted a tribute to Messi on Instagram.
"When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path," the Brazil great wrote.



"Like you, I know what it's like to love wearing the same shirt every day. Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home.



"Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at Barcelona. Stories like ours, of loving the same club for so long, unfortunately will be increasingly rare in football.



"I admire you very much, @leomessi."
Having initially seen a penalty saved by Jaume Domenech, Messi got his milestone goal when he met a cross from the left and nodded home from point-blank range.



Messi's headed goal was his first for Barcelona in all competitions since March 2017, while he missed a spot-kick for the club for the first time since February last year.



Remarkably, his latest goal was also his 450th in LaLiga, making him the first player to reach that figure for a single club in any of Europe's top five leagues.
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#5
Arteta understands pressure amid dismal Arsenal run

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20 December 2020, 



Mikel Arteta understands the pressure he is under after Arsenal's dismal Premier League campaign continued with a 2-1 loss to Everton.


Nicolas Pepe's penalty cancelled out Rob Holding's own goal at Goodison Park on Saturday, but Yerry Mina scored what proved to be a 45th-minute winner.



Arsenal's 14 points from 14 games is their worst record at this stage of a season since the 1974-75 campaign (converted to three points per win).
With his side just four points clear of the relegation zone, Arteta said he understood the pressure he was facing.



"Obviously it’s a really complicated situation, but I am very encouraged from what I see from the players to try and continue doing what we are trying to do with things. Of course, we have to improve," the Arsenal manager told a news conference.



"But as well I think we’ve been very, very unlucky not to pick up many, many more points in this position."



Arteta added: "My energy and my focus are only on getting the team out of that situation, maintaining the spirit of the team, the fight that the boys show every time they go on the pitch, and the energy the boys show on the pitch. You can see that, you cannot deny that.



"Obviously, we are against the results, there's no question about that. It’s not good enough, it’s not acceptable for the standards of this football club and this is the challenge. And the fact that we are against."



Arsenal are without a goal from open play in any of their past five Premier League away games.



Arteta said a combination of things were hurting Arsenal, who are in action again with an EFL Cup quarter-final against Manchester City on Tuesday.
"The opponents are not generating anything. We lost against Burnley without conceding a single shot on target as well. This is how teams win a lot of games in the Premier League," he said.



"And we are not going to generate 15 or 20 chances against blocks like that it’s not realistic. When we have done as well we haven't been accurate enough to finalise those actions so it's a bad combination.


"Sometimes it's been that we played with 10 men, the other week we conceded an own goal, today we conceded an own goal. It's a lot of things happening at the same time and when that happens it’s difficult."
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#6
Neymar ruled out by PSG until January

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19 December 2020, 



Neymar will not play again for Paris Saint-Germain this year but should be back in action in January after his ankle injury scare.


There were fears the Brazilian had suffered a break when he had to be carried off on a stretcher in last Sunday's Ligue 1 match against Lyon.



Neymar was tackled by Lyon's Thiago Mendes, who was sent off following a VAR review, but concerns for the striker's well-being were eased when the injury was diagnosed as a sprain.
He missed the match against Lorient on Wednesday and will now play no part in Sunday's clash at Lille or the home game three days later against Strasbourg.



The former Barcelona forward was named in a PSG medical bulletin on Saturday, with the club stating: "Following the sprain to his left ankle, there is some bruising to the bone and he continues to undergo treatment at the training ground.



"He is expected to make his return in January."
Coach Thomas Tuchel previously expressed hope that Neymar could be involved before the short winter break; however, the trip to Saint-Etienne on January 6 now appears to be the earliest point at which he might return to action.



PSG also said midfielder Danilo Pereira, hit by a hamstring blow, should be back on first-team duty in January, while Neymar's fellow striker Mauro Icardi is set to return from an adductor problem "in the coming days".
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#7
Rumour Has It: Man City, PSG confident over Messi as Salah eyes Real Madrid

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20 December 2020,



Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are confident over a move for Lionel Messi, while Mohamed Salah is eyeing Real Madrid.
Messi sensationally requested to leave Barcelona during the close season, but ended up staying with the LaLiga giants.



While the star made more history on Saturday, his contract expires at the end of the season – and two European giants think he is ready to make a move.



TOP STORY – MAN CITY, PSG CONFIDENT OVER MESSI


Manchester City and PSG are confident Messi is prepared to leave Barcelona in 2021, according to 90min.



The big-spending European giants have been among the most heavily linked with a move for Messi, who is out of contract at Barca next year.
Messi equalled Pele's record of 643 goals for one club with his header against Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday.



ROUND-UP


- Liverpool star Salah discussed a potential move to Real Madrid or Barcelona in an interview with Diario AS on Saturday – and the forward apparently has a club in mind. DefensaCentral reports the Egypt international wants a move to Madrid, who have apparently maintained close contact.



- Barcelona could be set for good news in January. L'Equipe reports Lyon are prepared to sell Memphis Depay – who has been linked with the LaLiga giants and is out of contract at the end of the season – for €5million.



- Manchester City are prepared to listen to offers for Oleksandr Zinchenko in January, according to 90min. Zinchenko has played just 12 minutes in the Premier League this season.



- Struggling for game time this season, Daniel James has been linked with a move away from Manchester United. However, the Manchester Evening News reports James is committed to staying with the Premier League giants beyond January.


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#8
Intimate photos of football stars Diego Costa and Gabriel Jesus in bed with the same mystery woman found in a bible at a charity shop




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Intimate photos of football stars Diego Costa and Gabriel Jesus with the same mystery woman were found in a Bible handed in at a charity shop.
 
The Manchester City and Atletico Madrid strikers appeared topless in the bed with the same woman in the photos which were discovered last week. 
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According to the UK Sun, the Bible was in one of two bags handed in by a woman to a charity shop in Marylebone, Central London.
 
The report said the two bags were handed in in May, but the photos were not spotted until staff started sorting them last week.
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A source said: “The pictures were instantly recognisable as Jesus and Costa - and both were with the same woman.
 
“They were both laughing and seemed incredibly relaxed in her company while larking around on pillows without their shirts on.
 
“The pictures appear to have been taken at different times.
 
“The charity shop normally gets jigsaws and second-hand clothes, so this was certainly a change from that.”
 
The source said: “A woman of Spanish or Latin appearance dropped off the bags.
 
"She said a friend left the UK and wanted to get rid of a few bits and pieces. The woman who brought the bags in has never been back so no one knew what to do with the pics.”
 
One photo showed a heavily tattooed Jesus pulling a face for the camera. 
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However, It's unclear when the intimate photos were taken.
 
Diego Costa, 32, who played for Chelsea for three years is now at Atletico Madrid. He is married with two daughters
 
Gabriel Jesus, 23, who joined Manchester City in 2017 from Palmeiras, broke up with his ex-girlfriend, model Fernanda Queiroz earlier this year.
 
 
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#9
Inter 2-1 Spezia: Nerazzurri keep pressure on Milan with sixth successive win

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20 December 2020, 




Inter managed to keep the pressure on Serie A pacesetters Milan with a sixth successive league win in their 2-1 victory over Spezia on Sunday.
Antonio Conte's men were by no means impressive at San Siro as they initially struggled to break down the away side, but in the end goals from Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku were enough to keep them a point behind city rivals Milan.



Inter had scored 30 goals in their first 12 Serie A matches of the season for only the ninth time in their history, but there was no sign of such potency during a drab first half that saw the Nerazzurri fail to exert any real control over their promoted visitors.



They briefly clicked into gear early in the second period and that brought Hakimi's opener before Lukaku doubled the lead from the spot with 20 minutes to go, rendering Roberto Piccoli's late strike a mere consolation.



Inter's start was relatively bright, as Ashley Young saw a threatening left-wing cross tipped just wide by Ian Provedel and Lautaro Martinez headed Marcelo Brozovic's free-kick over soon after in the 12th minute.



But otherwise Spezia coped admirably with the hosts' frontline and spent long periods dictating the tempo, even shading Inter in the possession stakes at the halfway point.



Spezia were carved open in the 51st minute, however.



Young's long ball was knocked down by Lukaku to Martinez, who in turn fed Hakimi with a throughball and the wing-back found the bottom-right corner with a precise finish from a tight angle just inside the box.



Inter effectively wrapped up the win when M'Bala Nzola blocked a cross with his arm and, following a VAR review, Lukaku coolly converted the kick.
Piccoli pulled one back for Spezia deep into stoppage time, reaching a deflected cross ahead of Matteo Darmian to prod home, though it came too late to be anything more than a consolation.
What does it mean? 


Inter grind out the win to stay in striking distance of Rossoneri
Spezia had done well away from home this term before Sunday, as they were bidding to become only the seventh team to win at least three of their first seven games on the road in Serie A since 1929-30, so this had the potential to go wrong for Inter.



The first half lent further credence to such a possibility, with the home side having great difficulty in taking control.



In the end Inter got the job down, a fine goal and a penalty the difference – it keeps them close to Milan, so Conte will not be too disappointed with the display.



Hakimi effective at both ends


It was a match of few standout performers in truth, but Hakimi did well going forward and at the back. His goal was an obvious highlight, but besides that fine finish he was also involved in a match-high 12 duels (winning seven of them) and made five tackles, another figure beaten by no one else.
Nzola's difficult day at the office 


Nzola had come in for praise ahead of this meeting after scoring six times from just eight shots on target in Serie A beforehand, making him the youngest in the division to have more than five to his name. But he struggled to impose himself against Inter's back three, managing just one shot, and ultimately his handball cost Spezia a point.



What's next?


Inter go to Hellas Verona on Wednesday in their final match before the Christmas break, while Spezia host Genoa the same day.
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#10
Sassuolo 1-2 Milan: Rafael Leao hits fastest ever Serie A goal as youthful leaders impress

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20 December 2020, 







Rafael Leao drove home the fastest goal in Serie A history to set leaders Milan on their way to a 2-1 win at Sassuolo.


Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said on Saturday that Leao's recent performances had been "not up to standard", but there was no faulting his sharp finish after six seconds at the Citta del Tricolore stadium.



The 21-year-old former Lille forward took a pass from Hakan Calhanoglu in his stride and, with his third touch, smashed the ball past home goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.



Alexis Saelemaekers added a second in the 26th minute and Milan's lead rarely came under threat from sixth-placed Sassuolo until Domenico Berardi netted an 89th-minute free-kick that made for a briefly tense finish.



Pioli fielded a team with an average age of just 22 years and 313 days, Milan's second youngest line-up since the 2004-05 season, when Opta began collecting such data.



There was no Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the team's 39-year-old leading scorer absent after suffering a calf strain in training as he prepared for a first-team return.



But after Juventus showed they remain a part of the Scudetto conversation with an impressive 4-0 win at Parma on Saturday, it was Milan's turn to show their hand, and they had an ace up their sleeve.



Leao put an emphatic finishing touch to Milan's immediate charge through the Sassuolo ranks, with Brahim Diaz playing the kick-off short to Calhanoglu, who raced straight towards the penalty area in what looked a well-rehearsed ploy. Calhanoglu's pass through to Leao was smashed in, leaving the home side shell-shocked and still yet to touch the ball.



Milan thought they had a second goal in the ninth minute when Calhanoglu drove home low into the left corner from the edge of the penalty area, but a marginal offside in the build-up saw the goal disallowed after a VAR check.



They were nevertheless in control and full value for their second goal when it arrived in the 26th minute. Theo Hernandez ran from deep inside his half down the left flank before darting infield and clipping a short pass that gave Saelemaekers a tap-in.



Gianluigi Donnarumma made a fine diving stop to keep out a fizzing 25-yard shot from Mehdi Bourabia in the second half, before Milan threatened a third when Jens Petter Hauge's curling shot from similar range was pushed away by Consigli.



Sassuolo had the final say as Berardi got his shot beyond the Milan wall, but the visitors survived.
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#11
Milan score after six seconds! Rafael Leao nets fastest goal in Serie A history

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20 December 2020, 








Rafael Leao scored the fastest goal in Serie A history to put Milan ahead at Sassuolo on Sunday, netting after just six seconds.


The forward put an emphatic finishing touch to a Milan charge through the Sassuolo ranks, with Brahim Diaz playing the kick-off short to Hakan Calhanoglu, who raced straight towards the penalty area.



Calhanoglu's pass through to Leao was smashed in, leaving the home side shell-shocked.
Milan began the game at the top of Serie A.


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#12
FC Lorient groundsman tragically dies after a floodlight bar falls on him on the pitch in a freak accident (photos)






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A man working as a groundsman for French club FC Lorient has reportedly died after a floodlight bar on the stadium fell on him 
 
The freak accident occurred at 7.00pm local time shortly after Lorient's 3-0 defeat against Rennes on Sunday evening, December 20. 
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According to Canal Plus France, the Lorient employee, 38, needed automated external defibrillator treatment to save his life but despite the best efforts of the medical assistance, the groundsman was rushed to intensive care at Scorff hospital and was on a life support system. 
 
News later broke last night that the club member of staff had passed away. 
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Two other groundsworkers were also taken to hospital but did not suffer any physical injuries. 
 
The groundsman, who was working for the French club as a volunteer, was a father of three according to local news sources. 
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The Mayor of Lorient, Fabrice Loher, was at the stadium at the time of the accident and said: 'It's a terrible accident. The police from the Lorient police station have marked up the scene and an investigation is underway to understand the circumstances of the accident.' 
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#13
Ahmed Musa Builds Sport Centre In Kaduna

John F. Kennedy spoke his famous words, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This is the case of the notable Winger Ahmed Musa as he builds a multi million naira sport complex in Kaduna State.

Aside that, he'd been known to had sponsored about a hundred Student on Scholarship in the University.

These are the kind of Heroes this country need. Those who can look back to where they came from and make it better. Kudos to him.

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#14

Chelsea vs West Ham: Lampard’s squad for EPL clash confirmed

 
on
 December 21, 2020
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Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard, has named the Blues’ squad to tackle West Ham United in tonight’s home Premier League tie.



According to Football London, Lampard has released a 28-man list to face West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea head to the game after a 2-1 defeat against Wolves in their previous Premier League encounter last week.



Chelsea is currently in the eight position on the Premier League table with 22 points after 13 matches.

Chelsea’s squad against West Ham:
Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Karlo Ziger.



Defenders : Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andres Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikayo Tomori, Emerson Palmieri, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva.



Midfielders: Hakim Ziyech (doubt), Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Billy Gilmour, Kai Havertz, Faustino Anjorin.
Forwards: Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud, Callum Hudson-Odoi (doubt).



The kick-off time for the match is 9 pm, Nigerian time.
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#15

Arsenal vs Man City: Arteta speaks on Gunners winning Carabao Cup

 
on
 December 21, 2020
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Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta, has said that the Gunners will ‘try’ to win the Carabao Cup this season.
Arteta said this on Monday ahead of Arsenal’s Carabao Cup quarter-final tie against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Tuesday night.



“It’s not enough, isolating just one competition. We have to play every competition to try to win it [Carabao Cup],” Arteta was quoted by Arsenal’s official website as saying at his pre-match press conference.



“Last season, we managed to win two of those, and we have a really nice opportunity because we have done really well in the competition this year and tomorrow’s game [against Man City] is another step forward to be closer to winning another trophy, and this is what we are going to try to do.

“But this doesn’t mean that it’s going to reflect on the rest, or it is going to look better because at the moment – whatever happens in any other competition – in the Premier League we are nowhere near where we should be.”



The kick-off time for Arsenal vs Man City is 9 pm, Nigerian time.
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#16
Newcastle stars, Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin 'suffering long-term effects from Covid-19 and struggling to walk'




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Newcastle United captain, Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin are reportedly suffering from 'long-term effects from Covid- 19 following the club's mass outbreak.
 
Back in November, Newcastle's Benton headquarters was closed after an outbreak of Covid-19 forced them to cancel training.
 
Federico Fernandez and Isaac Hayden confirmed they both tested positive for COVID-19 during the outbreak, which saw more than 10 individuals at the club test positive
.
Now, club sources have confirmed that Lascelles and Saint-Maximin have also been struggling with the virus.
 
The two who last played for Newcastle in their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on November 21, have not trained since they contracted the virus, and will only return when they get better. 
 
Speaking in a pre-match news conference, Steve Bruce said he was concerned for the health of two of his squad, but did not name them.
 
He said it is 'frightening' the impact it has had on two of them, with concern remaining for their long-term health.
 
'My thoughts are with the two players, and the welfare of them,' he said. 'It's frightening when you think they are young and fit and absolutely supreme athletes. If anybody needs reminding of how serious this is, then we have witnessed it.
 
'We've had vomiting, sores, mouth ulcers, no smell, no taste, but the big thing, and which is the worrying, is the welfare of one or two of them. It's not great at all.
 
'That long-term Covid is something which you wouldn't think possible in young, fit, athletes. Unfortunately, it is so.
 
'They go for a walk for half an hour and then they want to go back to bed. It's as brutal as that. The fatigue is the one thing that has hit them all. For two of them, it's beyond that. We hope there's light at the end of the tunnel, but some are finding it a struggle.'
 
Asked when the two players would return, Bruce said: 'I really don't know. It's had a damaging effect. So it won't be a week or two - it's going to be longer than that.
 
'We hope they recover properly and I will give them the time to recover because it's about the welfare of them and their long-term health.
 
'If one or two of them have got long-term Covid, like it seems, then it's very difficult to manage.'

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#17
Messi and Ronaldo can sit at my table! - Lewandowski revels in being crowned world's best player

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21 December 2020, 



Robert Lewandowski says he can never be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of longevity but joked he is now the one sitting at football's top table.


The prolific Bayern Munich striker was named The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020 last week thanks to his sensational form over the past year for treble-winning Bayern.



Messi and Ronaldo had won the award in three of its four prior editions, though it was Poland international Lewandowski who claimed the top prize this time around.



In terms of wider honours, Messi has won six Ballons d'Or to Ronaldo's five, the pair having gone head-to-head in a fierce battle to be the world's best for more than a decade.



But Lewandowski feels he can now be considered in the same conversation as two of the game's all-time greats on the basis of his goalscoring figures in recent years.



"Messi and Ronaldo have been sitting at the same table, at the top, for a very long time, and that's what makes them incomparable," he told France Football.



"So to answer your question, I can't imagine myself next to them in this point of view.



"That said, if you take the numbers for this year and even previous ones, I think I'm pretty good in terms of performance and goals scored.



"Failing to be at the same table as Messi and Ronaldo, I think I can invite them to eat at mine!"
Lewandowski scored 60 club goals at a rate of one every 76 minutes between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 - the period considered for this year's FIFA Best award.



That tally, from 52 Bayern appearances, was 20 more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.



Juventus star Ronaldo was tied with Ciro Immobile on 40 goals, while Barcelona forward Messi (32) trailed Romelu Lukaku (37), Timo Werner (35) and Raheem Sterling (34).



Lewandowski has scored 17 goals in the first 13 Bundesliga matchdays this season, meanwhile, to equal the record set by Gerd Muller in 1968-69 and 1976-77.



And despite now being 32 years of age, he intends to continue evolving in order to maintain his high performance levels.



"I have a desire to progress and that's even more important because I know that my time is limited," he said.



"Obviously, progress is not instantaneous. When you repeat something every day, you can only measure its effect three or six months later, not the next day.



"The problem is, a lot of people want what you do in invisible work to be seen immediately. Patience is an important virtue, in football as in life."


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#18
Liverpool's magnificent seven, Vardy completes Spurs set - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts
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21 December 2020, 






Liverpool put seven past Crystal Palace and Manchester United brushed aside Leeds United with six goals on a bonkers weekend of Premier League action.


Reigning champions Liverpool are the first side to sit top of the tree at Christmas in three successive years since last achieving the feat themselves between 1978 and 1980 under Bob Paisley.



While a couple of scorelines stood out, it was business as usual for Jamie Vardy as he scored for the 11th time this season in Leicester City's 2-0 win at Tottenham, making some history in the process.



With the help of Opta, we take a look at some of the more unusual stats to have emerged over the weekend.



Palace plundered as rampant Reds cut loose
There was a magnificent seven for Liverpool at Selhurst Park in the early kick-off on Saturday, the reigning Premier League champions running up the score to move further clear at the summit.



It was the first time Liverpool have scored seven in an away game in the top flight since March 1991. Roberto Firmino bagged two of them, a year on from his last league brace for Jurgen Klopp's side.
Poor Palace, then. They had not conceded more than five at home in any competition since a 6-1 defeat to the Reds in August 1994.



They were 3-0 down at home by half-time for only the sixth time in the Premier League era. However, three of those occasions have come against Liverpool (also in August 1994 and October 2016).
Vardy starts the Christmas party early



Vardy likes Tottenham. Maybe not as much as certain alcopop drinks and kicking corner flags at Bramall Lane, but the striker does seem to relish a trip to Spurs.



His goal in Leicester City's 2-0 triumph on Sunday means he has completed the set when it comes to Spurs, having now scored against them at White Hart Lane, Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.



He is the first player in Premier League history to score away to a specific opponent at three different grounds.



A Toby Alderweireld own goal made sure of all three points for the Foxes, who will be in the top two places of the table at Christmas in consecutive seasons for the first time in their history.



Next up for Brendan Rodgers' side: third-place Manchester United at home on Boxing Day.
Red Devils put on a (first-half) show



Man United and cross-Pennine rivals Leeds served up a pre-Christmas treat at Old Trafford in a game that saw Scott McTominay score the Premier League's quickest ever brace inside just 170 seconds.



A further three goals followed before half-time, making it the fourth game in the competition this season to see as many as five goals scored in the opening 45 minutes, along with Liverpool v Leeds, Aston Villa v Liverpool and Man United v Tottenham.



To put that into some context, five or more goals were scored in the first half of just three matches in the whole of 2019-20.



The rampant hosts added another couple of goals to their tally in the second half, including a strike from Daniel James to end a 33-game wait since his last Premier League goal, a run spanning some 16 months.



James was also - harshly, in the view of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - booked for simulation, making him only the second player in the Premier League this season to be cautioned for diving, along with Wolves' Adama Traore.



A bit of Mina time


Mikel Arteta's woes continue following an eighth defeat in 14 Premier League matches for Arsenal this season, this most recent setback coming at the hands of the under-fire manager's former club Everton.



Carlo Ancelotti's side took the lead through a Rob Holding own goal, the centre-back becoming the first Arsenal player to put into his own net in this Premier League fixture since, of all people, Arteta in April 2014.



That is the third own goal Arsenal have scored in the top flight this term - only in 2002-03 (four) and 2011-12 (five) have they scored more in a single season.


Nicolas Pepe temporarily levelled up for the Gunners from the penalty spot, only for Yerry Mina to head in what proved to be the winner in the 45th minute.



The timing of the goal should come as little surprise given that the last four league goals scored by the ex-Barcelona man have come in that exact minute, including stoppage time.



Only Chris Eagles has scored as many consecutive goals in the same minute before, notching four times in the 90th between 2007 and 2011.
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#19
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham: Battling Blues back on track at the Bridge

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21 December 2020, 




Tammy Abraham struck twice as patient Chelsea ground out a 3-0 win at home to West Ham to stop the rot in their final Premier League match before Christmas.


Talk of a title challenge from Frank Lampard's side had been stifled by consecutive defeats to Everton and Wolves, slipping out of the top four while champions Liverpool pulled clear.



But victory on Monday moved the Blues back up to fifth after Abraham settled nerves at Stamford Bridge with a clinching pair in the 78th and 80th minutes.



Chelsea had endured a long night after Thiago Silva nodded them into a 10th-minute lead, with West Ham - after a double against their London rivals last term - on the front foot but unable to forge a legal opening.



An offside flag denied Declan Rice a seventh-minute opener after he ran onto Aaron Cresswell's quick free-kick, rounded Edouard Mendy and slid in a superb finish from a tight angle.



Ben Chilwell went down just prior to that chance and soon hobbled off, but Silva swiftly lifted home spirits with a thumping header from Mason Mount's right-wing corner.



Both sides had further goals struck off in an even first half, with Cesar Azpilicueta unable to keep play alive before Abraham netted and Jared Bowen later fouling Silva, yet there should have been no stopping Timo Werner. He aimed a tame finish straight at Lukasz Fabianski following a rapid break.



West Ham controlled the second period but failed to break Chelsea down and were caught out in an untidy fashion befitting a game short on quality.
Werner's scuffed shot fell at the feet of Abraham, onside for a simple finish, and his second followed only 101 seconds later when the ball again dropped kindly as Fabianski leapt to block Christian Pulisic's close-range header.



The scoreline was already harsh on West Ham and might have been weighted further in Chelsea's favour had Werner's woes in front of goal not continued with a blast against the crossbar from a presentable position.



What does it mean? Abraham glee adds gloss
Ultimately, Chelsea's ability to put the ball in the net proved the difference as West Ham's second-half pressure failed to pay dividends.



The Blues struggled for long periods but had Abraham on hand to net his first brace since scoring a hat-trick against Wolves in September 2019.



Indeed, despite seeing more of the game played in their own third (28.3 per cent) than West Ham's (23.6 per cent), Chelsea could have run up a handsome tally had Werner also had his shooting boots, instead failing with four attempts.
Silva steel sets the stage



Silva's early header - Chelsea's eighth set-piece goal this season - looked to have set up a comfortable outing for the centre-back, yet the hosts could not initially build on that lead and he was instead kept busy at the other end.



The veteran made six clearances, three interceptions, a tackle and a block and crucially bought a foul from Bowen before he finished smartly in the first half.



Hammers packing no punch
Although West Ham recovered from a testing spell after the Chelsea opener, they lacked fluency in the final third and did not work Mendy once.



Said Benrahma came out of the side after flattering deceive on his first two starts - hitting the target with one of six shots at Leeds United before failing to muster an effort against Crystal Palace - but the Hammers did not have the same balance with Mark Noble their fourth attacking option.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Haller's spectacular volley at home to Palace was followed by a muddling display, completing just seven passes, running offside on three occasions, conceding three fouls and failing to make the most of a first half N'Golo Kante slip.



Key Opta Facts:
- Chelsea have lost just one of their last 13 home Premier League games, winning 10 and drawing two.



- David Moyes is without a win in any of his 16 Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge (D7 L9), the joint-highest tally of any manager never to win at a stadium in the competition, equalling his own record (16 games at Anfield).



- Timo Werner has failed to score in each of his last seven starts for Chelsea in all competitions, his longest run of starts without a goal in club competition since September 2016, between spells at Stuttgart and RB Leipzig (9).



- Mason Mount made his 50th Premier League appearance for Chelsea tonight, becoming the youngest English player (21y 346d) to reach this milestone for the club since John Terry in January 2002 (21y 36d).



What's next?


Neither side have made the EFL Cup quarter-finals, meaning their next action is after Christmas, with Chelsea visiting struggling Arsenal on Saturday before West Ham welcome Brighton and Hove Albion the following day.
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#20
Benzema playing his best football but can get even better - Zidane

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22 December 2020, 




Karim Benzema is playing the best football of his career for Real Madrid but can still improve, according to head coach Zinedine Zidane.


Former France forward Benzema scored one goal and created two more in Madrid's 3-1 win at Eibar on Sunday.



The 33-year-old's latest telling contributions, following on from a brace against Athletic Bilbao, took him to seven goals and five assists for the champions in LaLiga this season.



He leads Madrid in both regards, also topping the charts in terms of shots (40), shots on target (18) and big chances created for his team-mates from which they would be expected to score (five, tied with Rodrygo).



Benzema is averaging 1.0 goals or assists per 90 minutes this term, his best rate across a season since 2015-16 (1.4).



Leading the line alone this term, unlike in that campaign when Cristiano Ronaldo carried the burden, Zidane has been delighted by his number nine's form.



Asked if this was Benzema's best ever stretch, the coach said: "I think so, yes. Most recently he's been in his best form. What he's doing recently, he's been phenomenal.



"What's yet to come? I think Karim can even get better than he is now - that's what we all hope, for the team, for him, personally.



"On top, it's his ambition. He wants to get better as well as a player. That's very important."
Benzema has played 12 of Madrid's 14 league games, but they took just one point from the two matches he missed.



Indeed, Madrid have won all seven of the fixtures Thibaut Courtois, Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Benzema - the team's spine - have started together, claiming only two victories when at least one of that quartet have been absent.



Zidane's team selection has therefore come under scrutiny with the topic of rotation broached at Tuesday's news conference before the clash with Granada.



"You guys make me laugh in a good way," Zidane told the media. "In the end, if I rotate, you ask me why I do it; if I don't, you ask me why I don't.
"I have it clear what I want to do and how I want to deal with my players. I'm going to count on every one of my players.



"It's true that recently the team has been playing very well and we've rotated less, but I think the players are ready and training very well.



"I think the important thing is with the amount of games coming up - and we have a lot of games coming up - when a squad player gets called upon, he is ready and ready to do a job. That's exactly what they're doing."



Despite the reliance on their key men, Madrid are level on points with rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga, although Diego Simeone's men have two games in hand.



Real Sociedad, who have played a further game more, are three points back in third, but Zidane is not yet calling a two-horse race.



"We know how difficult this league is. You ask me about Atletico Madrid, they are going to say the same thing as me," he said.



"There are a lot of teams here that are going to challenge for this league title. That's the beautiful thing with this league; there are no easy games, you have to always battle, you have to always go out on the pitch to suffer and to win, it's always difficult.



"In any way, we're going to face difficult teams until the end to win this league."
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