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Thread: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

  1. #181
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    'Man Utd will finish above Man City this season'

    Alex Young
    Dec 16, 2016 18:22:05

    Robbie Savage has been impressed by the improvement shown by Jose Mourinho's team of late, while Pep Guardiola has overseen two defeats in his last three games

    Manchester United will finish above Manchester City in the Premier League table this season, according to Robbie Savage.

    The player-turned-pundit has been impressed by the improvement shown by Jose Mourinho & Co. in recently weeks, notably the win over Crystal Palace in midweek.

    Meanwhile, City have lost two of their last three Premier League games and now find themselves seven points off leaders Chelsea, and Savage, a former youth team player at Old Trafford, now expects United to claim the Manchester bragging rights this season.

    "On current form in the battle to rule Manchester, Jose Mourinho looks like a man on the march while Pep Guardiola is only shuffling," Savage wrote in his column for the Mirror.

    "I have been far more impressed with Manchester United over the last six weeks than with Man City, who have stalled after making such an impressive start in the Premier League."

    He added: "I tipped United to win the title back in August. Sadly that is going to be beyond them, because the 13-point gap to Chelsea at the top is too much to make up.

    "But as I also said in this column last week, I think the worst is over for Mourinho at Old Trafford now.

    "Of all the top-four contenders, they look most capable of stringing together a run of six or seven wins. The table doesn’t lie, and United may not win the title – but I still think they will finish above City."

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  2. #182
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    Guardiola: Normally I don't call my players' wives!

    Sam Lee
    Dec 16, 2016 18:12:11

    The Manchester City boss was in a jovial mood ahead of Sunday's game against Arsenal, as evidenced by his answer to a question about Claudio Bravo's future

    Pep Guardiola displayed his light-hearted side when asked about Claudio Bravo’s supposed unhappiness at Manchester City on Friday afternoon.

    A report in Spain had claimed that Bravo has struggled to settle in England and wants to return to Barcelona, but Guardiola insisted the first he heard about it was when asked by a journalist at his pre-Arsenal press conference.

    The Catalan claims Bravo was in high spirits when the two of them, as well as the goalkeeper’s wife, spoke earlier this week.

    “I didn’t hear about that,” he said. “Sometimes, when you come here, Simon [the City press officer] will make a briefing as to what you are going to ask me, but he didn’t speak about that issue.

    “I don’t read too much of newspapers, of the Twitters and Instagrams and Facebooks. I spoke with Bravo in the last days, and with his wife as well. I saw him here. Their little daughter as well, but I couldn’t speak with her because she is just one year old, so I couldn’t speak with her.

    "And he told me he is so happy. You can ask for the info [about the story] from the journalists.”

    Guardiola was at pains to point out that he does not make a habit of speaking to his players’ other halves, however: “It was to do with the passport issues and what the English departments need to be settled in England. It was something like that. Normally, I don’t call the wives of my players!”

  3. #183
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    Pardew sacked as Crystal Palace boss

    Joe Wright
    Dec 22, 2016 15:07:09

    The London club sit just one point above the relegation spot after 17 games, and have taken the option of getting rid of the former Newcastle United boss

    Alan Pardew has left his role as manager of Crystal Palace, the club have confirmed.

    Pardew left Newcastle United to take over at Selhurst Park in January 2015 and led them to a 10th-place finish in the Premier League.

    But his first full season in charge did not prove as successful in the league, Palace enduring a dreadful second half of the campaign as they finished just five points above the relegation zone.

    The former Southampton and Charlton Athletic boss led Palace to the FA Cup final, only to see his side beaten 2-1 in extra time as Jesse Lingard scored the winner for Manchester United.

    And Pardew has failed to turn around their fortunes in the first half of the 2016-17 season, with Palace just a point above the bottom three with 15 points from 17 games.

    Chairman Steve Parish said: "I would like to put on record our sincere gratitude for the tremendous service Alan has given us, both in his time here as manager and previously as a player.

    "Following a fantastic second half of 2014-15, the 2015-16 season culminated in only narrowly missing out on winning the FA Cup as well as securing our Premier League place for a record-breaking fourth time.

    "During his tenure Alan's hard work and dedication were without question, he has improved so many areas of the club and we wish him the very best for the future.

    "With games now coming thick and fast over the holiday period the club are hoping to put someone in place as quickly as possible but have nothing to say about a replacement at this time."

  4. #184
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    'Next season will be the more important one for Man Utd' - Ferdinand

    Dec 22, 2016 16:16:55

    The former Red Devils defender believes Jose Mourinho's men remain in the Premier League title mix, but expects a bigger challenge in 2017-18

    Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United remain in the 2016-17 Premier League title hunt, but expects them to launch a greater challenge for silverware next season.

    The Red Devils are in the process of undertaking another rebuild, following the summer arrival of Jose Mourinho at the helm.

    Stability has been in short supply since Sir Alex Ferguson vacated the Old Trafford hot-seat, with the baton having been passed from David Moyes to Louis van Gaal via Ryan Giggs.

    Mourinho is now leading the charge, and has seen fortunes improve over recent weeks.

    Following a frustrating period in which too many points slipped through United’s grasp, they have collected three successive Premier League wins.

    They are now back in the hunt for a top-four finish, with only four points separating them from the Champions League spots.

    Mourinho’s men are still 13 points adrift of table-topping Chelsea, but Ferdinand believes that lead can be cut and that United will be a stronger force with two more transfer windows behind them in 2017-18.

    He told the club’s official website: "I think next season will be the more important one for United. They’ve spent big this summer and they’ll probably reinvest again next summer and go again the following season.

    “This season, though, any one of six teams is capable of winning the league and United are in that mix. We need to keep being consistent and keep up a run of games where we build up confidence and get points on the board."

    United will wrap up 2016 with back-to-back home dates against Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

    The new year will then bring a Premier League clash with West Ham and meetings with Reading and Hull City in FA Cup and EFL Cup competition, before attention turns to a potentially decisive fixture with Liverpool on January 15.

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  5. #185
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    Defensive Chelsea tough to catch, admits Mourinho

    Joe Wright
    Dec 22, 2016 17:49:49

    The Blues have a formidable record at the back, and with 11 wins out of 11 recently the Special One admits that they are favourites to lift the title

    Jose Mourinho says it will be tough for Manchester United to make up the ground to Chelsea in the Premier League due to the leaders' defensive approach to matches.

    Antonio Conte's side are six points clear at the top of the table after 17 matches, and 13 ahead of United, having won all of their last 11 games.

    Four of their last six wins have come courtesy of a 1-0 scoreline, while they have kept nine clean sheets since their 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in September.

    And Mourinho believes Chelsea's proclivity to defend leads means they are unlikely to drop too many points between now and May.

    "You have to be honest and say that is very difficult," he told Sky Sports when asked if United could still win the title. "It's not just the difference in points, it's also the Chelsea philosophy of playing.

    "They score one goal and they win. They defend a lot. They defend well. They are winning and, in the last 20 minutes, they bring defenders in.

    "They don't care what people say, what people think. They just want to win. And, because of that, I don't see them losing many points."

    Mourinho's side have come through a difficult spell by claiming four straight wins in all competitions, while a 2-1 reverse to Fenerbahce in the Europa League is their only defeat since a 4-0 humbling by Chelsea in October.

    With United showing signs of a more attacking approach under Mourinho and with four trophies still up for grabs, Mourinho is confident that 2017 will be positive for fans at Old Trafford.

    He added: "2017 will be better than 2016. I think we are really together. There is a sense of unity between us and the fans. I'm loving a lot that feeling."

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  6. #186
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    Bradley shrugs off critcism of US terminology

    Harry West
    Dec 22, 2016 19:28:03

    The Swansea City manager has defended his football vocabulary saying that terms are not universal across the world whilst also admitting that signings will be needed in January

    Swansea City manager Bob Bradley does not see why his alternative football vocabulary has caused such a stir in British football.

    Bradley became the first American to manage in the Premier League when he arrived at the Liberty Stadium in October, taking over from Francesco Guidolin.

    After Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough - a "road game" - Bradley referred to the penalty Swansea conceded as a "PK", standard terminology for a spot-kick in his homeland.

    That interview prompted ridicule from some on social media, but as Bradley prepares for the visit of West Ham on Boxing Day, he brushed off the issue.

    "Ninety-five per cent of my vocabulary fits without a problem, but there are some terms in football that come from different places," he said in Thursday's media conference.

    "In France [where Bradley managed Le Havre] I once talked after a game about the importance of a clean sheet and they looked at me and said: 'What's a clean sheet?'

    "It wouldn't make sense if I sounded just like everyone else. I have come here to be myself. I am a football man. What counts is that what I say resonates with the players."

    Swansea head into their clash with the Hammers second from bottom, and Bradley was in no doubt that reinforcements would be needed in the January transfer window.

    "We have had discussions on many different players. That's normal. The situation in a transfer window changes every second," he said.

    "We have all looked hard at the situation we are in. We have all discussed how it's got to this point. At the end of those discussions, we have all felt that we have to improve.

    "We all agree that January is going to be important for us. I think we could use a centre-back and someone who gives us greater presence in midfield.

    "In the attacking part of field, I think we have created some opportunities where our moves, our decisions or our final passes have been right.

    "Can we find an attacking player who can help us in those situations, a player who is a little bit more of a threat going behind the defence?"

  7. #187
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    Conte: I am pleased Chelsea have changed opinion but it is too early to label us 'super title favourites'

    Dom Farrell
    Dec 30, 2016 14:25:10

    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger recently labelled the Blues as major frontrunners for the league crown but the Italian has rejected such talk

    Antonio Conte has praised his Chelsea team for changing people's perceptions but dismissed Arsene Wenger's attempt to label them "super favourites" for the Premier League title.

    In a move that could be interpreted as the veteran Arsenal manager firing the first shots in this term's title race mind-games, Wenger claimed the top-flight crown is "[Chelsea's] to lose" after they stormed to a six-point advantage at the summit thanks to a winning run of 12 successive matches.

    Stoke City will be the next team to try and halt Conte's juggernaut when they visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

    And the ex-Italy and Juventus boss has been impressed by the players' turnaround from the shambolic title defence of last season that heralded his arrival.

    "I think it is very difficult to reply to this question because I think that we have played only 18 games and there are 20 games to finish this season," he said when Wenger's remarks were put to him at a pre-match news conference.

    "At the start of the season I think not one person, not one coach and not one journalist trusted in this team to fight for the title this season because we came after a bad season. Our [transfer] market wasn't good for some people but now I am pleased that the opinion is changing.

    "I am a bit worried because when the opinion changes quickly you must pay attention. We have only six points more than the second team [Liverpool] and seven than the third team [Manchester City].

    "The way is long but, I repeat, I am pleased for me and the players if someone is changing his opinion.

    "It is not easy, this league that we are doing very well in. I think that 12 wins in a row is a great achievement but it is not enough to win the league at this point of the season."

    The fact that Liverpool and City meet in a mouth-watering clash on New Year's Eve could play further into Chelsea's hands, but Conte is looking no further than tackling Mark Hughes' Stoke, who are looking to respond to a 4-1 reverse suffered at Anfield on Tuesday.

    "I hope to keep this run also because we will have a tough game against Stoke City. We must pay great attention if we want to continue in this way," he added.

    "It's important for us to beat Stoke City and then to think about this question [the strength of Chelsea's position].

    "Then, as I said before, we remain after tomorrow 19 games [to go]. It's a long way before we arrive at the end of the season."

    Conte's animated displays on the touchline have become a notable feature of the Premier League this season but he revealed he has been operating through the pain barrier over recent weeks after sustaining a calf injury while running with his coaching staff.

    "I had a big problem in my calf, yes, but it is the fault of Carlo Cudicini and Steve Holland because I wanted to run with them and I paid for this. They run very strong," he explained.

    "I am getting better. No [I won't sit down], it happened before Crystal Palace and during the game at Crystal Palace I suffered a lot to stay up on the bench. Now, I haven't pain."

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    Chelsea boss Conte looking to spend 'in the right way'

    Dom Farrell
    Dec 30, 2016 14:47:19

    The Blues have funds available after agreeing the big-money sale of Oscar to China, but they will only move for adaptable players

    Antonio Conte has refused to rule out bolstering his Chelsea squad in the January transfer window, but he will not spend the bounty brought in by Oscar's lucrative move to Shanghai SIPG simply for the sake of doing so.

    The Blues have funds available for fresh faces, but their Italian tactician insists they will only dip into the winter market if players who are capable of adapting to a system that has delivered 12 straight Premier League wins become available.

    Instead, Conte has suggested that he will initially look to younger players such as Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to fill the void left by Oscar’s departure, along with running the rule over Kenedy and Charly Musonda following their respective loan returns from Watford and Real Betis.

    "For sure, we sold Oscar and we have money to spend but it is important to spend money in the right way. To spend money just to spend money, I don't like this," he said.

    "I prefer to buy players who can adapt to our system and come in to our team. It is not easy in this window to find this type of player. With the club we are working on this aspect."

    The former Juventus and Italy boss added: "Kenedy and Musonda are back from their loans because they didn't play a lot. For this reason I think it is important to stay with us in these weeks to evaluate the best situation for them and for the team.

    "In January it is not easy. With the club we are talking about this to find if there is the possibility to try to find the best solution for our squad.

    "Also we have a lot of young players in our squad and I trust in them – Ruben and Chalo, also we recovered [fit again defender Kurt] Zouma and then Musonda and Kenedy."

    "We are talking of players 19, 20, 21 years. It is important to work with this type of player and try to find the right solution. If it is not possible, it is important to look around and find a new solution."

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    Allardyce: I snubbed big China offer to stay in England

    Chris Myson
    Dec 30, 2016 19:54:35

    The Crystal Palace boss opted to stay in his homeland instead of taking up an advance from the Far East, but believes he will be one of the few to do so

    Sam Allardyce has revealed he rejected a big-money approach to manage in the Chinese Super League prior to taking over at Crystal Palace.

    China's top flight is making a huge splash in the transfer market, with Oscar set to join Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea in a £60 million move, while Carlos Tevez has reportedly become the world's highest-paid player by signing for Shanghai Shenhua from Boca Juniors.

    Those signings add to the likes of Hulk, Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixeira, all of whom are playing in China after making high-profile moves.

    Real Madrid, meanwhile, were said to have received a €300m bid from an unnamed Chinese club for Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portugal international's agent Jorge Mendes claimed they were prepared to pay the forward a €100m annual salary.

    Allardyce says he also received a Chinese offer when his stint in charge of England ended after just one match due to a newspaper scandal, but rejected the approach in favour of remaining in the Premier League.

    He said: "Did I have an offer? Yes. I didn't go. I could have gone but I preferred to stay here.

    "It's difficult for a player or a club to turn that down, it's just the way of the world and changing forces in the football world.

    "China has decided it wants to be a force and has decided the way to do it is to buy the best players and pay over the odds. Time will tell if it's the right thing to do.

    "Money talks. But if we lose the top, top players from the Premier League then absolutely [it will suffer].

    "We didn't want to lose Gareth Bale, or Ronaldo. But it's a small world today in football terms and players will pick up their boots and travel.

    "What we have to do is encourage the growth of our younger players and produce better talent."

  10. #190
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    Guardiola tuning up for Klopp's heavy metal attack

    Dom Farrell
    Dec 30, 2016 22:46:09

    No coach in football is better at crafting the type of attacking play the German implements at Anfield, according to his old Bundesliga sparring partner

    Pep Guardiola hopes not to be on the receiving end of another lesson from Jurgen Klopp when Manchester City travel to face Liverpool and a man he believes to be the best out-and-out attacking coach in world football.

    Guardiola and Klopp sparred memorably during their time in charge of Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

    The head-to-head concluded at four wins apiece, with Dortmund triumphing on penalties in the semi-final of the DFB-Pokal in 2015 before losing the final to Wolfsburg.

    That compounded a trophy count weighted in Guardiola's favour as he claimed a domestic double in 2013-14 before retaining the Bundesliga title as Klopp headed for the Dortmund exit door.

    But the Signal Iduna Park club did celebrate back-to-back German Super Cup triumphs over their bitter rivals, including a 4-2 dismantling in Guardiola's first match in the Bayern hotseat – a defeat still fresh in the former Barcelona boss' memory ahead of Saturday's blockbuster clash.

    "I learned a lot in Germany the first time I played against him in the Super Cup. I was new there so, wow, it was a good lesson for me in that game," said Guardiola, who is gunning for City's first win at Anfield since 2003.

    "We lost 4-2 in the Super Cup and after in the league I learned to control a little bit those situations, but it is not easy.

    "When he speaks about his football as 'heavy metal' I understand completely because it is so aggressive in that sense. For the spectators and the fans it is really, really good."

    Guardiola declined to assign a musical genre to his own famed approach as he considered the challenges of a game he believes to be "like a final", in the context of a title race where Chelsea lie six point clear of Liverpool and seven better off than his own side.

    "I like a lot the way [Liverpool] play because for the spectators, in three or four seconds they are attacking," he said, with such an approach having condemned Manuel Pellegrini's City to chastening 4-1 and 3-0 Premier League losses last term.

    "Maybe he is the best manager in the world who creates a team attacking the back four with this amount of players, with this intensity with and without the ball.

    "It is not easy to do that. They attack there [down the middle]; wide sometimes with [Nathaniel] Clyne and [James] Milner, but especially they attack inside and they do it really well.

    "I think there is not another team in the world attacking with so many players inside."

    Guardiola's options for getting at the heart of the Liverpool defence will be significantly boosted by Sergio Aguero's return from a four-match suspension.

    City's top scorer has 16 goals in as many starts across all competitions this season, but retrospective punishment for an elbow on West Ham defender Winston Reid and an ugly lunge on Chelsea's David Luiz have resulted in him being banned for seven domestic games.

    "We made quite good results in the seven games without him, but of course he is so important for us," said Guardiola, whose record reads won five and lost one in the Premier League without Aguero, while Swansea City were dispatched as the Argentina star sat out a third-round EFL Cup tie.

    "Can you imagine all the teams in the Premier League when their best striker, almost their best player does not play in seven games?

    "It would be tough for them, it was tough for us, but we are there. We are just one point down from Liverpool, in front of the other teams.

    "Hopefully in the second [half of the season] Sergio can play all the games."

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    The man behind the minds: Ex-Arsenal psychologist on life inside the head of a footballer

    Chris Wheatley
    Dec 30, 2016 15:55:00

    Goal's Arsenal correspondent Chris Wheatley speaks to the man who worked behind-the-scenes at Arsenal for almost a decade about psychology and its benefits in sport

    Psychology is one aspect of sporting life which can be underestimated. It rarely gets media attention due to its confidential and secretive nature. Many Premier League clubs have explored the workings of sports psychology and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is no stranger to taking an interest in the mental side of the game. He has done so for many years.

    Dr Tim O’Brien is Visiting Fellow in Psychology and Human Development at the world-leading UCL Institute of Education. He spent almost a decade behind-the scenes at Arsenal and began working with the club in the days of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires. A highly respected award-winning psychologist with internationally acknowledged expertise, O’Brien spoke to Goal about the relevance of psychology in football in what is his first ever interview with a journalist.

    O’Brien focuses on “the complex interaction between thinking, feeling and behaviour” - all of which relate to the area of performance. He has helped many in the game get the most out of their potential, having also been a psychologist for two other Premier League clubs. O’Brien has never talked about any of the players he has worked with.

    The trend of appointing sports psychologists to work in a sporting environment has become more common over the past decade, but O’Brien believes a broader psychological background is of benefit too.

    “I’m a psychologist who works in sport but I am not a sports psychologist. We are talking about people here and the key is to help them to understanding their mind - the inner story we all have in our mind that drives everything that we think, feel and do. Everyone’s inner story is different and we all need to understand what it is and how it can limit or transform who we are. Although society sees footballers as performers, they are people first."

    “A footballer can play for 90 plus minutes. It’s a tactical, physical and technical game, but it is also a psychological game. The game is altering psychologically all of the time. Just think of the pace that Premier League football is played at and the decisions players have to make - they are constantly making unconscious decisions at rapid speed and often doing so in a creative manner.”

    “They also have to respond to what is happening at a team level too: shifting momentum and attention, challenges to confidence and belief. If you’ve got psychological strategies to help you deal with this then you’re in a better place than those who don’t have them. Watch a football game and imagine being inside someone’s head for 90 minutes, believe me, what’s going on in there is complex.”

    That complexity is one reason why many clubs decide to employ a full-time working psychologist who is able to cater to the needs of players and staff when required. Arsenal recently brought on board Dr Ceri Evans, the sports psychiatrist credited with transforming New Zealand into Rugby World Cup winners, while former Saracens Head Of Psychology and Personal Development David Priestley is another figurehead who has developed personal development programmes for the players at London Colney.

    “Football squads are a small community of people who need each other - and this applies to the staff as well”, says O’Brien.

    “You must have people whose psychological orientation is about the team and they have to be willing to serve the team. To do that you must put other people’s needs before your own when the team requires you to do so.”

    “You also need distributed leadership throughout a team. You need people to know their own task, how it relates to the task of others and to be able to take responsibility for leading the team. Leadership is also an expression of your inner story.”

    “It cannot be left to a captain to lead on his or her own. Some supporters will see the captain as needing to be loud on the pitch but the captain has to be someone that gains the respect of their colleagues by living the values of the team both on and off the pitch. This is why a team needs clarity about values. Although everyone is in the team it is dangerous to assume that everyone knows what the team is."

    But what exactly is a team? Eleven players on the pitch fighting for one another is what football supporters want to believe is happening. O’Brien suggests that resilience and togetherness - two traits Wenger places great importance on - are key to making this happen and getting the best out of a squad.

    “A team is a community of mind. Individuals have their personality but the team also has a personality. A team is a collection of people with different and complimentary skills. They may be from different backgrounds and cultures, they will have different life experiences and personalities but, fundamentally, a team is a community of mind. A strong sense of togetherness is critical in creating a community of mind. It is always possible for a team with high levels of togetherness to beat a team that has high levels of technical quality. The history of the FA Cup provides evidence of that.”

    “When it comes to resilience, I do not see resilience as a personality trait – something that a person has or does not have. That is a pessimistic view of people and their capabilities. If you think about it generally, there are people who can really surprise us when they show just how resilient they are, especially in times of adversity. You had no idea they were so resilient, yet they dug deep and responded in a way that you did not expect. I see resilience as an unfolding process in your mind that can be nurtured.”

    “In a team, being resilient depends upon many psychological factors and one of them is feeling a sense of belonging. A team that works on its togetherness is providing the psychological climate for increasing resilience amongst the team too.”

    The pressure on professional footballers nowadays is considerable and comes at all angles through 24/7 commentary on social media. O’Brien talks about the external perception of footballers from those who don’t see the players up close every day, and insists they have their own everyday challenges in life regardless of the vast riches and luxury afforded to them.

    “We mustn’t forget that we’re talking about human experience. For example, personal relationships might sometimes become difficult for some players. They may struggle to settle in a new country or to feel included in a new team. They can encounter the piercing pain of bereavement. Yet, the expectation upon them is to somehow put all of that type of thing aside and go out and perform on the pitch.”

    “Having a psychologist available can help players work some of those things through - it’s not counselling or therapy - it’s a way of helping someone to understand their mind so they can focus and pay full attention to the right things that will enable them to perform at their best.”

    “I have heard it said that some footballers are arrogant but when you get to know them on a daily basis most are very respectful people. Often those who appear to be arrogant are projecting an unshakable confidence. There is a performance arrogance that they have - and some will be thinking ‘how dare you even think you can compete against me.”

    When asked whether there is a stigma attached to seeking help from a psychologist, O’Brien is adamant that top professionals will always look to improve themselves whatever the means.

    “If a top performer thinks there’s something that could even make a few per cent difference to their game they might try it - whether it’s psychology, chiropractic, yoga - whatever works for them. If their reality is that they need to develop aspects of performance then why wouldn’t they work with a psychologist? We perform according to our reality and a small percent of improvement in performance might take you from first-class to world-class. Things don’t have to be bad to get better.”

    “When I first started working in football there was a notion in the game that people are either mentally weak or mentally strong. I often challenged this. It is problematic in so many ways and one is that the idea of ‘mental weakness’ or ‘mental strength’ is under-researched and we don’t know what the terms really mean. Therefore, at that time, a player who was working with a psychologist may have been considered as being mentally weak. This is a misunderstanding. People are more informed now and if a psychologist can help you, for example, become more resilient, there’s no real stigma around that at all.”

    A recent FIFPro study found that 38 percent of 607 current players, as well as 35 percent of 219 former players, suffered from depression and/or anxiety symptoms. The prevalence of mental health issues in the game has been a difficult subject to breach and O’Brien says depression, like happiness, is linked to a person’s sense of purpose.

    “Your feelings are dependent upon how your mind interprets your world. If you are valued in what you do then it makes you feel happier”, says O’Brien.

    “No matter what job you do your sense of meaning and purpose is really important. You could be a Premier League footballer earning huge amounts of money but if things happen in your life that make your sense of meaning become fragile or your sense of self become vulnerable then you can become anxious or depressed, just like anyone else. It is so important to encourage and enable men to talk openly about their feelings and not just manage them in spiralling silence.”

    “Most of your happiness is based upon how you perceive your world and so, strange as it seems, it is possible that a Premier League footballer can become depressed while on the other side of the world a street child can become happier”.

    “There is a differentiation between pressure and stress. Some people perform well under pressure in the big games. They love pressure because they believe they have, or can develop, the psychological resources to perform when demands on them are at the highest.”

    “In life, when pressure flips into stress you start to feel like you don’t have the psychological resources to cope. It is the same in sport. If you’re stressed you cannot perform well. It is possible to be psychologically energised and relaxed at exactly the same time and this helps you to perform under pressure.”

    Long-serving manager Wenger, who recently marked 20 years in charge of the Gunners, is considered by many to be a closed book when it comes to talking about himself and perhaps that is the reason why he has managed to get so much out of his players over the years. In 'Wenger Legend’ Jasper Rees wrote, “Wenger has the teacher's classical psychological profile. He thrives on a close personal rapport with pupils - or in his case players - that is entirely one-way. It allows him to get to know those in his charge intimately - to ask about their home life, to do all but tuck them up in bed - without having to give anything away about himself.”

    Wenger has previously said that he can only survive if he has the desire to win and while O’Brien knows more than most about the Frenchman’s personality and impact off the pitch, he reveals one aspect of the 67-year-old that not many people are aware of.

    “One thing I’d say about Arsene that people don’t know is that he’s got a great sense of humour.

    “He’s also a living football encyclopaedia and a cultural architect.”

    Only fools place football bets with loser SG Pools... shitty odds and you can't even do real-time betting.

  12. #192
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    Wenger: 2016-17 season disappointing on all levels

    Dec 31, 2016 00:23:27

    The Arsenal manager admits that this campaign has flattered to deceive, despite an influx of superstar managers like Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola

    Arsene Wenger believes that the 2016-17 Premier League season has been “disappointing on all levels”.

    A number of elite managers have come into the English top-flight in recent months, with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Wenger, Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp battling for supremacy.

    However, Conte’s Chelsea currently lead the league by six points, with their rivals flattering to deceive.

    Wenger’s Arsenal are fourth, nine points off the pace, and Wenger admits that the campaign has not lived up to expectations.

    “We are in the middle of a championship with the best managers in the world competing, and it’s been disappointing on all levels,” he told reporters.

    “It promised to be an exceptional year but we have not produced the kind of games England is remembered for.

    “A Premier League season is always marked by two or three games that are absolutely spectacular and so far we haven’t produced that. I feel there is more to come from this competition than we have produced so far — and I include myself in that.”

    Wenger believes that a fear of losing games is the reason for the poor results thus far, but is now hoping that each major club throws caution to the wind in the second half of the campaign.

    “We have a responsibility to raise the level of the spectacular,” he added.

    “Because there is so much money in the Premier League and every game has become so important, every manager is under pressure not to lose as his first priority.

    “All the teams in the Premier League are now top quality — maybe the difference between the favourites and the smaller clubs makes some teams just defend.

    “But we have the best managers in the world, I’m sure we’ll see more games when everyone really has to go for it and it’s no longer a case of ‘wait and see’ but ‘go out and make it happen’.”

    Arsenal face Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve.

  13. #193
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    'Liverpool are everything Manchester City don’t like'

    Dec 30, 2016 14:32:29

    Former Reds midfielder Jan Molby sees Jurgen Klopp's side dominating on New Year's Eve against Pep Guardiola's men

    Liverpool legend Jan Molby claims the current team are "everything Manchester City don’t like" ahead of their crunch clash at Anfield on New Year’s Eve.

    The two title-chasing outfits are set to go head-to-head on Saturday with three priceless points on the line.

    Both sides remain in the hunt for the Premier League crown, with second-placed Liverpool trailing leaders Chelsea by six points - one better off than Pep Guardiola's City.

    There will be plenty at stake on Merseyside this weekend, but Molby believes Jurgen Klopp’s high-tempo approach will prove too much for City.

    In fact, the former Reds midfielder sees Liverpool’s German tactician "building something big", with belief increasing around the club that major successes lie ahead.

    Molby told the Liverpool Echo: “I’m pretty confident because Liverpool at the moment are everything Manchester City don’t like.

    “I think Manchester City are a team you can get at and Jurgen Klopp will be looking forward to it.

    “Sometimes you play top teams and Chelsea at the moment you’d go ‘woah, what a big game that will be’. It’s difficult to get at them but you can get at City, they will play their own game and won’t change anything to suit the opposition.

    “There will be a real opportunity to harass them and get at them. I think the tempo at which Liverpool will do things will be too much for them.”

    He added: “As we end the year, it feels like Liverpool are building towards something big. How big, nobody knows, but everything is heading in the right direction.

    “Everybody is pretty sure about most things Klopp does, it’s just a case of what is the end product, how successful it will all be in the end.”

    Klopp has already reached one notable landmark in 2016, with Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over Stoke on Tuesday seeing the Reds reach 100 league goals under his stewardship.

    That tally was reached in just 48 games, a record that places the German alongside iconic former player and coach Kenny Dalglish.

  14. #194
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    New father Kane reveals truth behind Tottenham omission

    Jack Davies
    Jan 8, 2017 19:44:41

    The striker's partner Kate Goodland gave birth to a baby girl on the morning of the cup tie, and shared the happy news on Twitter while his team-mates downed Villa

    Harry Kane had good reason to be absent from Tottenham's 2-0 FA Cup victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, with his partner having earlier given birth to the couple's first child.

    Kane was left out of Spurs' starting XI for the third-round match at White Hart Lane – one of nine changes to the side that beat Premier League leaders Chelsea last time out.

    But the England striker has since revealed the truth behind his omission.

    Taking to Twitter after the match, Kane posted: "Me and @KateGoodlandx had our beautiful baby girl this morning, Ivy Jane Kane at 7.30am. Weighing 7.8pounds. Amazing feeling, so proud!"

    Ben Davies' first Tottenham goal opened the scoring before Son Heung-min wrapped up the win, but the hosts were made to battle hard against the resolute Villans.

    "The goal came at a tough time," Davies is quoted as saying bye BBC Sport. "We were starting to get a bit sloppy, making a few mistakes and once we got the first goal we saw the game out.

    "We expect a lot of ourselves. To come out here we have to have that winning mentality and we did."

    Damn! There goes our hope of finishing in the top four spot!

  15. #195
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    OFFICIAL: Janssen the Premier League's worst striker

    Jan 8, 2017 18:43:47

    The Netherlands international has completely failed to provide stellar back-up to Harry Kane, taking a massive 33 shots on goal and failing to score from open play

    Vincent Janssen is officially the worst striker in the Premier League.

    The Netherlands international joined Tottenham in a £17 million deal in the summer, but has thus far failed to effectively deputise for first-choice striker Harry Kane.

    Janssen has scored three goals for Spurs but each has come from the penalty spot, against Gillingham and Liverpool in the EFL Cup and Leicester City in the Premier League.

    However, Opta stats reveal that Janssen has had the most shots of any Premier League striker, 33, without scoring from open play.

    The 22-year-old drew another blank against Aston Villa in the FA Cup and was hooked by Mauricio Pochettino just before the hour mark, to be replaced by Dele Alli.

    Spurs subsequently scored twice before full-time, with left-back Ben Davies and Heung-Min Son on the scoresheet.

    Damn! There goes our hope of finishing in the top four spot!

  16. #196
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    Wenger surprised by tight Premier League

    16 January 2017

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is surprised by the evenness of the Premier League title race this season.

    While Chelsea have a seven-point lead at the top, sixth-placed Manchester United remain in the hunt to win the league.

    Only 12 points separates Chelsea and United through 21 league games this season.

    Wenger, whose team are fourth, said he was unable to remember such a closely-fought title race.

    "It's the first time in 20 years that at this stage of the season you have six teams at the top," the Frenchman told UK newspapers.

    "Chelsea still have a big advantage, but they're all doing well.

    "You look around you and nobody is dropping off, so it's down to being consistent, keeping your nerve, focusing on your game.

    "Now we go into Europe, into the cups, big games – who can maintain it? Honestly, nobody can tell."

    Arsenal recorded a 4-0 win over Swansea City on the weekend and face Burnley on Sunday.

  17. #197
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    Mourinho explains Klopp confrontation

    15 January 2017

    Jose Mourinho says Jurgen Klopp got the wrong end of the stick when the two managers confronted each other on the touchline at Old Trafford.

    The Manchester United and Liverpool managers went head-to-head in stoppage-time of the 1-1 Premier League draw after Ander Herrera had clashed with Roberto Firmino.

    Both players were booked after Herrera fouled Firmino, prompting a reactionary shove from the Liverpool forward.

    Mourinho revealed Klopp had wrongly thought he was calling for a Liverpool red card prior to the two bosses having to be separated.

    "He thought I was asking for his player to be sent off," Mourinho said at his post-match media conference.

    "I wasn't, so no problem at all.

    "I think the game was correct, I think the players gave everything in an emotional way, professional way.

    "I think the referee managed very well that part of the game. So I think the game was a great publicity for the Premier League all around the world."

    The match saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic head an equaliser six minutes from time, cancelling out a first-half James Milner penalty that was awarded for handball against Paul Pogba.

    Mourinho conceded the decision was probably accurate, but could not resist another dig at some of the officiating his side have received this season.

    He added: "I didn't watch but the referee was very close so it probably is a penalty.

    "The problem is the criteria. Sometimes you give them. Sometimes you don't. It's amazing that in 21 Premier League matches, three in the League Cup and one in the FA Cup - 25 matches - we had one penalty.

    "Even Michael Oliver told me at the end of the game, 'This time it was a penalty!' It looks like it was a penalty.

    "We can do, and have done, much better this season in terms of the quality of our game, but I think Liverpool can do better than what they did too.

    "As a proper derby it had everything. It's good to see that Liverpool also can play defensively and on the counter-attack they were always dangerous."

    Only fools place football bets with loser SG Pools... shitty odds and you can't even do real-time betting.

  18. #198
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    ´Money is not everything´ - Conte issues warning amid China speculation

    15 January 2017

    Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has told his players "money is not everything" as speculation linking Diego Costa with a move to the Chinese Super League continues.

    Costa was not included in Chelsea's squad for the 3-0 Premier League win at Leicester City on Saturday amid reports he has been offered £30million a year to move to Tianjin Quanjian.

    Reports claimed the club's top goalscorer had an argument with Conte and a fitness coach in training having become unsettled by the approach, while his agent Jorge Mendes fuelled speculation by holding a meeting with the Chinese club.

    But Conte, who insisted Costa had only missed the match because of a back injury, issued a warning to his players about the temptation of China and compared it to the prestige of playing for Chelsea.

    The Italian's words come as Willian is also linked as a target for teams in the CSL after Chelsea already sold Oscar and John Obi Mikel to teams in the competition.

    "The money is not everything," Conte told reporters.

    "When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased.

    "I think we are a great club and it is a great honour to play for Chelsea. For this reason I don't see [China] as a threat for my players.

    "I have to look at the past. Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

    "But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

    "This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things, so I don't think these offers from China are a threat for our league."

    Chelsea are seven points clear of Tottenham and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

    "Park the bus you TWITS!"

  19. #199
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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    Wenger charged with misconduct by FA

    23 January 2017 17:21

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been hit with a charge of misconduct following his confrontation with the fourth official in the tunnel during Sunday's game with Burnley.

    Wenger was sent to the stands in stoppage time of Arsenal's 2-1 Premier League win at Emirates Stadium, having complained to referee Jon Moss, who awarded the visitors a 93rd-minute penalty, which Andre Gray converted to equalise.

    A heated exchange with fourth official Anthony Taylor followed before Wenger moved to stand in the tunnel.

    The Frenchman then appeared to push Taylor as the official tried to usher him away, with stewards forced to intervene.

    Alexis Sanchez rescued all three points for Arsenal with a 98th-minute spot-kick but Wenger now faces disciplinary action for his behaviour.

    A Football Association statement read: "It is alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, he [Wenger] used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official.

    "It is further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct."

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    Default Re: ☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆

    ´I should have shut up and I apologise´ - Wenger sorry for ref rant

    22 January 2017 18:41

    Arsene Wenger has acknowledged his furious reaction to Burnley being awarded a penalty was wrong after the Arsenal manager was sent off on Sunday.

    The Gunners boss was removed from the touchline during an extraordinary period of injury time at Emirates Stadium, where the 10-man hosts conceded an equaliser to Andre Gray, only for Alexis Sanchez to snatch a 2-1 victory with a spot-kick of his own in the 98th minute.

    Wenger took issue in the strongest terms when referee Jon Moss penalised Francis Coquelin for a foul on Ashley Barnes.

    Initially enraged at the prospect of dropping two vital points, the Frenchman ended the day with a smile on his face after a high boot from Ben Mee made contact with Laurent Koscielny, affording Sanchez the opportunity to restore the Gunners' lead.

    "My view is that honestly I did not see that it was a penalty," Wenger was quoted as saying by the BBC when asked about Burnley's spot-kick.

    "I will have to watch it on the video. Francis told me that he ran into him. Myself, I should have shut up and I apologise for not having done that. It was nothing malicious. I should have kept my control, even if it was in a hectic time.

    "I didn't see any penalty from outside but I should have shut up and I apologise, even if I was frustrated.

    "We finally got the win but of course it was very difficult for us. We couldn't get the second goal, we played with 10 men and they played well as well. In the end we got the three points we wanted.

    "Burnley are well organised, they make the game simple but efficient. We won there in the last second and we won again in the last second today," he added, referring to Koscielny's last-gasp winner at Turf Moor in October.

    "Every week and every game is an unbelievable fight for everybody.

    "We kept going, we are a relentless team. Burnley made it very uncomfortable for us."

    Burnley manager Sean Dyche, meanwhile, took issue with the assistant referee, who failed to spot that Koscielny was seemingly in an offside position prior to Mee's foul.

    "It's a tough day for us in the end," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

    "To lose a game in that fashion, with an offside not given is tough, particularly when you come to tough places like this.

    "We never take anything for granted. We know how tough this division is but you need officials to make the right decisions and that is the shame today. They have to be brave have officials at places like this, I understand that, but you've got to think it has to be given."

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