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Arsenal, Unai Emery show their progress in beating Spurs. PLUS: Mourinho makes himself the story

If the way to measure a team’s progress is their resilience when things go against them, their ability to perform in situations that carry additional weight and their ability to shape-shift into something more effective, then Unai Emery’s Arsenal are definitely on an upward arc.cheap wholesale nfl jerseys china

They found themselves 2-1 down at half-time in the North London derby despite arguably playing better than Spurs and conceding on a goalkeeping error and a hugely dubious penalty. (Heung Min Son may have been touched; whether that meant it’s a penalty or he needed to scream and roll around is another matter.) We’ve seen softer versions of the Gunners fade in these situations, but Emery’s half-time substitutions — Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan off, replaced by Aaron Ramsey in the hole and Alexandre Lacazette joining Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front — gave them another gear and they never looked back.6

The back three — and bear in mind, it includes the much-maligned Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi — dealt with Spurs’ attacking firepower for much of the match, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka were dominant while the various forward permutations did what they were supposed to do.wholesale jerseys cheap nfl

You can chalk some of it up to Mauricio Pochettino’s choices and a bad day at the office. Leaving Toby Alderweireld on the bench seemed to mess up both his direct replacement, Juan Foyth, and his defensive partner, Jan Vertonghen. Eric Dier, who clearly isn’t 100 percent physically, struggled after half-time with Arsenal’s new setup, and Tottenham’s tactical reaction came late. But make no mistake about it, a ton of credit has to go to Arsenal and Emery in this match.

Liverpool celebrate derby win and the goal that keeps the title race alive (for now)

It’s not just the red-shirted masses inside Anfield who should have been toasting Divock Origi following his stoppage time winner for Liverpool against Everton.

Some goals mean more than others and carry a greater significance than what they mean over 90 minutes — or 96 minutes, in the case of this dramatic Merseyside derby. Just ask Jurgen Klopp. His crazy celebration, when he ran 40 yards onto the pitch before jumping for joy with goalkeeper Alisson Becker, was not simply because Liverpool had beaten Everton.

This has become the most one-sided big derby in football, so Klopp is accustomed to beating Everton. The reason he celebrated so wildly was because Origi’s goal kept Liverpool alive and kicking in the Premier League title race and his outpouring of emotion was a mixture of joy and relief.wholesale cheap nfl jersey china

“I have to apologise because I didn’t want to be disrespectful but I couldn’t stop myself,” Klopp said. “It just happened!

“If I could describe it [how he feels] then I would have control over it.”5

Aside from thousands of disconsolate Evertonians and those of a blue persuasion in Manchester, Origi’s header — which came six minutes into what had supposed to be four minutes of stoppage time — was a goal that might just be regarded by everyone else as the one that keeps the 2018-19 title race alive. We’re still not even at the halfway stage of the season, but with City showing signs of invincibility at the top of the table, any failure by Liverpool to beat their neighbours at Anfield on Sunday would have given the champions at least a four-point cushion — five, if Everton had won at Anfield for the first time since 1999.

City have only dropped four points in 14 games already this season and they will drop more between now and May, but giving them a four-point advantage in the first week of December would leave the chasing pack with virtually no margin for error over the second half of the season.cheap wholesale nfl jerseys china

Third-placed Chelsea are already seven points off the pace, with Unai Emery’s resurgent Arsenal a point further behind in fourth despite being unbeaten in the Premier League since August. Both Chelsea and Arsenal have made hugely impressive starts to the season under new managers in Maurizio Sarri and Emery respectively, but nobody really believes they can beat City to the title. And so, it’s all down to Liverpool, which is why they simply couldn’t afford to drop points against Everton.

As early as it is, being four points behind one of the best teams ever seen in the Premier League era would feel like an unbridgeable gap, even though Liverpool have conceded just five goals in the league all season.

Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco grew up together; now they’re MLS Cup hopefuls 6,800 miles from home

The distance between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Portland, Oregon, is more than 6,800 miles. The flight time is approximately 17 hours and 15 minutes, and that’s if you manage to fly direct. Driving is practically impossible — the Darien Gap on the border between Colombia and Panama is basically impenetrable, a 55-mile break in the Pan-American Highway that runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the southern tip of Chile. Should they ever find a way to pave that bit of swampland, Buenos Aires to Portland would take you something close to 200 hours by car.

For Timbers teammates Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco, who have known each other since they were boys playing for the same youth academy in the southern suburbs of Argentina’s biggest city, the metaphorical distance is even more yawning than that.

Would they ever have imagined, when they first started playing together on Lanus’ senior squad in 2006, that they’d end up here, of all places? In Portland, Oregon, in the MLS Western Conference finals vs. Sporting Kansas City (second leg Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), the two most important players in a small-market team battling for its second league championship in four years?

“No,” Valeri said from a bench at the team training facility in Beaverton last week. “Never.“cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Blanco agreed: “Impossible.”6

The Timbers were a minor league team in 2006. Providence Park was still predominantly a baseball stadium. Both Valeri and Blanco harbored dreams of one day leaving their hometown for a bigger country, but those musings were murky and undefined. Before signing with the Timbers in 2017, Blanco had been to the U.S. only once, to Miami, and he pictured New York skyscrapers, not “Portlandia.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“We never thought about this,” Valeri told ESPN FC, with a smirk that was borderline patronizing, gesturing at the facility around him, on a lovely autumn Northwest day. “We never imagined.”

Blanco, again: “The opportunity for what’s happening is incredible.”

Valeri and Blanco were aware of one another almost from the start of their respective soccer careers. Although they both came up through Lanus’ system, Valeri is two years older, so they played at different age levels before finally linking up in the first team.

To belabor the mileage imagery just one more time to underscore how small-world all of this is: Their childhood homes were less than 3 miles apart, about a 15-minute drive without traffic. Where they come from, the bordering neighborhoods of Lanus and Lomas de Zamora, very few residents ever even relocate elsewhere in Buenos Aires, let alone outside the country, and fewer still outside the continent.

Neymar wasn’t ‘100 percent’ for PSG’s Champions League win against Liverpool

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar said he was “not 100 percent” after his team beat Liverpool 2-1 in Champions League Group C on Wednesday to go second ahead of the final round of fixtures.

The Brazil international, who scored the second goal for Thomas Tuchel’s men, had picked up a knock in a friendly last week and fought to be fit enough to feature this midweek along with Kylian Mbappe, who was also hurt in a friendly for France over the international break.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I was not 100 percent but this was an important match,” said the 26-year-old. “Injured or not, there was no way I was missing it.5

“This was a real battle. I am very happy that we won — we showed great spirit, which was crucial to our victory. We showed everyone that we are determined to go as far as possible in the Champions League.”

Neymar is now the all-time top Brazilian goal scorer in Champions League history with his 31st continental strike to overtake Kaka, which he recognised as something special.

“It is a source of great joy,” the former Barcelona man said. “I am very proud, and I hope to keep scoring.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was pleased with Neymar and his teammates for the performance that they managed to produce under significant pressure.

“This was our chance to match a team like Liverpool,” said the German manager. “We have incredible mentality and we had to show fight and play good football — we had waited for that and did just that.

“We were energetic and worked hard as a team. Our attitude and work ethic were great. We won an intense and important game.”

Manchester United scouring Asia for the next Park Ji-sung, Shinji Kagawa

Manchester United are continuing to search for the next Park Ji-sung or Shinji Kagawa, according to their East Asian scout.

Kei Tamura covers Japan and South Korea for the English giants and, after recommending a teenage Kagawa to Cerezo Osaka in 2006, the Japan-based talent spotter would love nothing more than to nike nfl jerseys cheap china take a new generation of superstars from the region to Old Trafford.

“I am looking hard for the second Park Ji-sung and the successor to Kagawa,” Tamura told Sports Seoul during a visit to watch Pohang Steelers take on Jeonbuk Motors in the K-League.6

“I keep track of players who can be as good.”

The scout added that he is part of a global network of talent-finders, tasked with hunting down players with specific characteristics that United boss Jose Mourinho is searching for.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“We are looking for players that meet the specific criteria of head coach Jose Mourinho,” he said. “The scout team leader meets with Mourinho and is presented with detailed instructions.”

Tamura admitted that finding the next Asian superstar would not only help Manchester United challenge at the top of the Premier League, but there would also be off the pitch benefits.

“There is no doubt that signings Korean and Japanese players can have a positive effect in the Asian market,” Tamura added.

Journeyman Boateng the unlikely ‘Prince’ in Sassuolo’s Serie A fairy tale

Leave Piazza Piccola on the via Giuseppe Mazzini side and visitors to Sassuolo have two options. They can go left and view Palazzo Ducale, the duke’s palace, with its remarkable frescos and a fishpond that has to be seen to be believed. Or turn right for the Ezio Ricci stadium and see a “Prince” instead.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

A prince who would be king, judging by the title of the rap video Kevin-Prince Boateng dropped on Aug.16, the night before the Serie A season began. The video has been watched 1.7 million times in the two months it has been on YouTube; if every view is unique that’s 42-and-a-half times the population of Sassuolo!

“Of course I’m crazy happy about it, that people like it and so many people viewed it,” Boateng says, “and I want to thank the fans because it’s not normal. It’s just the way I am. I just want to do stuff. I do it and I don’t care if it goes bad or good. I just want to do it for myself because I want to look back one day and say: Yeah, I did that. I did that and I don’t regret it.”5

(All that is left to do now is organise a rap battle between “PRIN$$ Boateng” and Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini — AKA “Gollorius” — before Sassuolo play the Bergamaschi at the end of December.)

There is little mystery, then, as to who sets the playlist in the Sassuolo dressing room: “I do,” Boateng says with a proud nod. His music taste is varied and not just limited to rap.

“My mum and dad used to listen to a lot of R&B and soul, so this was the way I grew up,” he says. “Hip-hop of course. But then as I grew older I started listening to everything. It comes with the moment. Sometimes I wake up and I’m a little bit grumpy and I listen to soul. Sometimes I wake up and I need some spirit so I listen to rock and roll. It depends on the mood I’m in.”

Meanwhile, no one at Sassuolo is ever in the right frame of mind for the noise blaring out of the car or headphones of goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“He listens to hard techno music,” Boateng jokes. “You have to love it. We’re 25 or 26 players and it’s just him. He loves it, so he will never put music on in the dressing room.”

Could this finally be Banyana Banyana’s year?

If preparation, organisation, and motivation were the measures of champions, the rest of the field might as well surrender the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations trophy to South Africa.

Banyana Banyana, AWCON finalists in 2012 and fourth place finishers at the last two tournaments, appear to have zeroed in on a target of winning their first-ever title, and with it their maiden trip to a FIFA Women’s World Cup.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Banyana are second only to Nigeria in number of appearances at Africa’s premiere championship for women, since the inaugural competition in 1991. Of the 12 official tournaments, South Africa have only missed one, the 1995 edition when they withdrew.

In that period, they have been runners up four times, finished third twice and fourth two times for a total of nine top four finishes behind Nigeria and Cameroon. Their points haul of 71 is second only to Nigeria, although a long way shy of the Super Falcons’ 126.

For all of the impressive numbers, the one thing they have never managed is to claim the top prize. Outside of Nigeria, who have won 10 out of 12, only Equatorial Guinea have managed that honour.6

After four near misses, Banyana now look primed to make a strong play for the top prize. And they have made no bones about it.

Of all the teams going to Ghana, Banyana Banyana can claim to be the most prepared. By the time they run out for their friendly against hosts Ghana on November 11, they would have played a total of 15 games in 2018. That is way more than any other team on the continent.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Their results in those games have not been shabby, either. They racked up eight wins, three draws, and three losses. Those losses came against tough European and South American opposition in Sweden, Belgium, and Chile. They did beat Hungary and drew with Korea DPR, Slovakia, and Chile.

All their other wins came against African opposition, including 2016 AWCON finalists Cameroon, whom they despatched 2-1 in the COSAFA Cup final.

By contrast, Nigeria have only played eight games. Five of those were at the WAFU Cup, where they were beaten in the semifinals by Ghana, one was a friendly which they lost scandalously to France 8-0, and the other two were the two-legged AWCON qualifiers against Gambia, which they won 7-0 on aggregate.

KCCA FC head coach Mutebi attacked by ‘thugs’

KCCA FC head coach Mike Mutebi has sustained injuries after being attacked by ‘thugs’ at his residence in Kawempe, Kampala on Monday.

The Uganda Premier League-winning manager subsequently received treatment at the Nsambya Hospital, and should return to the dugout imminently.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Our coach was attacked at about 2am by thugs who broke into his home,” team spokesman Moses Magero told KweséESPN. “He is out of trouble after receiving treatment at Nsambya Hospital.7

“Apart from the few cuts, Mike is not in any form of danger, and is ready to lead the team in our Uganda Premier League game against SC Villa on Tuesday.”

Mutebi guided KCCA FC to the group stage of the CAF Champions League this season.

“That’s part of life,” he told KweséESPN. “Thankfully, I didn’t sustain very serious injuries, although I had to fight and protect myself against the thugs.”

Last Saturday, KCCA FC fought from a goal down to hold league champions and table-toppers Vipers SC to a 1-1 draw at St Marys Stadium in Kitende.nfl nike jersey cheap

KCCA are currently third on the log with 12 points after six games, while Vipers SC lead with 14 points and Bidco FC are second on 13.

The other games on Tuesday will see Nyamityobora FC host Kirinya Jinja SS, while Ndejje University FC battle fourth-placed Bright Stars FC.

Bidco FC have the chance to go top when they host URA FC at the Njeru Technical Centre Stadium.

Juventus continue unbeaten start in Serie A with win vs. Cagliari

Paulo Dybala scored after 44 seconds for Juventus but they were made to struggle in a 3-1 win over a brave Cagliari team as they stayed six points clear in Serie A on Saturday.

Juventus have now won 10 of their 11 league games but they needed the help of an own goal by Filip Bradaric after Joao Pedro had equalised for Cagliari.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Dybala gave Juve the perfect start when he received a pass on the edge of the penalty area, twisted one way and then the other and, despite slipping as he struck the ball, scored with a right-foot shot past Alessio Cragno.6

Cagliari fought back and, after having a penalty appeal for handball turned down following a VAR review, forced Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a point-blank save to block a Leonardo Pavoletti volley.

The Sardinian side deservedly levelled in the 36th minute when Joao Pedro controlled Darijo Srna’s cross with an excellent first touch before beating Szczesny with a low drive.

But Juve were gifted a goal less than two minutes later by Bradaric who, under no immediate pressure, slid in and diverted Douglas Costa’s low cross into the net.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Cristiano Ronaldo, who hit the post on the stroke of halftime, laid the third on a plate for Juan Cuadrado with three minutes left after Cagliari were exposed on the counter-attack.

Juve have 31 points out of a possible 33 with Inter Milan, who beat Genoa 5-0

Why Julen Lopetegui at Real Madrid was doomed to fail — the inside story

The two most significant things Julen Lopetegui did to get himself sacked as Real Madrid manager happened before he was even appointed by Florentino Perez.

First, he failed to listen. Second, he failed to calculate.

Those who point to his team’s 5-1 thrashing at the Camp Nou on Sunday or to the Santiago Bernabeu humiliation at the hands of Levante — take your pick of moments, matches or maudlin images of the defeated Basque — are wrong.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Lopetegui, according to the Real Madrid communique that was issued, hasn’t been sacked because of a specific result or because Perez, in his wisdom, has been vigilant around the training ground and sees deep flaws in the sessions or the ideas being taught at Valdebebas. No, it is because of the “disparity between the high-quality squad and the low-quality performances” that the former Spain manager, who gave up his chance to compete for a World Cup victory for what has turned out to be a 138-day, 14-game stint in charge of Madrid, has been kicked out.6

On Thursday, May 31, he and all of his Spain squad (except the Madrid players who’d just won the Champions League for the third straight year) gathered together at Las Rozas, about 30 minutes’ drive outside the Spanish capital, in preparation for the impending World Cup. When Zinedine Zidane’s hastily arranged news conference for lunchtime that day was broadcast live on radio and television, you can forgive the 52-year-old for not being wholly attentive.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

It would have been about then that Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, David De Gea & Co. would have just finished training and been heading for lunch in La Residencia, which is on site at Las Rozas and a five-minute walk from the changing rooms. But if Lopetegui didn’t stop to watch the live transmission of the then-Real Madrid manager, with a glum-faced Perez next to him, renouncing his position and standing down with immediate effect, then he must have read the following day’s media coverage.

This was worldwide viral news for the 24 hours that followed, as the shock set in and it became clear that the club, which had just made history with a hat trick of Champions League victories, was looking for Zizou’s successor. It’s utterly inconceivable that Lopetegui didn’t hear Zidane’s very clear message that while Denmark wasn’t on his mind just yet, there was “something rotten” in the state of Real Madrid.