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Kane reminds Chelsea of what they’re missing as Spurs grab advantage

When Stuart Pearce was England Under-21s manager, he went to visit Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. The two spent a few days together, Guardiola offered various pieces of advice on all aspects of the game, but as the two men parted he turned around and offered one final suggestion: “By the way, get a Messi in your side.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Mauricio Pochettino might say something similar about Harry Kane.

Kane’s first-half penalty was the difference between Tottenham and Chelsea in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal at Wembley on Tuesday. It was a penalty awarded after the VAR ruled Kepa Arrizabalaga had fouled Kane in his area, a ruling that came after Kane’s run was adjudged to have been kept onside by Cesar Azpilicueta. The latter proved controversial, with Maurizio Sarri slamming the decision, citing “the pictures on our camera,” which revealed that “Kane was offside, clearly offside.”5

“I think we deserved more, because in this match we played better than the opponents,” he explained, in plain-enough terms. “We were in control of the match. We played about 70 balls in the opposing box, against 11 balls from Tottenham. Eighteen shots against seven, I think. Five goal opportunities against two.”

All of which is the sort of analysis that you can paint as either a good or a bad thing for Chelsea. Good that they dominated, particularly in parts of the second half, but the fact they didn’t convert that dominance into goals and a victory must be a concern.

Which, in turn, emphasised the glaring difference between the two teams at Wembley. Kane’s goal may have been only a penalty, but where the England captain is concerned, for “penalty” you can read “goal.” He’s missed only one of his past 14, that against Liverpool last season, a failure that dogged him for a full seven minutes before another came along, which he of course buried.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Those seven minutes perhaps encapsulated one of the main reasons why Kane is so good. It’s like he has one of those memory erasers from “Men In Black,” but rather than making him forget extra-terrestrial encounters, it wipes misses from his brain, freeing him from the self-doubt that might lodge in the brains of others.

Eagles bring ‘different team’ into rematch with Saints

Shortly after flipping off his former coach, Sean Payton, for running up the score, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins got dressed and exited the visitors’ locker room at the Superdome without saying a word. Considering Jenkins usually stands at his locker until every last question has been exhausted, that was saying something.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

He spoke tersely to a couple of reporters who caught up with him in the corridor before he headed for the bus, clearly stinging from an embarrassing 48-7 loss to his former team.

“It was one of those things that I didn’t feel like as a team we had a lot of fight. I would rather get thrown out of a game than just lay down and take it,” Jenkins said later that week. “At this point in time, we need to figure some things out about ourselves.”6

Well, they have. The Eagles were 4-6 following that Week 11 loss. They have won six of seven since, including a 16-15 thriller against the Chicago Bears over the weekend to set up a rematch with the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs on Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET).cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I think we’re a different football team now than we were then,” said coach Doug Pederson, “and you know, we’ve just got to put a good plan together in all three phases and, you know, go back down there. We’re on the road. It’s going to be in a dome. It’s going to be loud again, all those things. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

The Eagles’ offense has been much better since that matchup as well. Philly averaged 20.5 points per game in its first 10 games compared with 27 points per game in its final six regular-season games. Nick Foles has a good bit to do with that. He led the NFL in completion percentage and yards over the final three regular-season games in place of the injured Carson Wentz — all wins.

“It wasn’t a good game for us but at the same time, the thing that impresses me about my team is even in those moments where it wasn’t a good game for us, we still stuck together,” Foles said. “So it’s going to be a tall task this week. New Orleans, they had a bye week and they are a tremendous team. They had an amazing season but you know, I love these guys that I get to go play with. I know we’re ready for this week. Just one day at a time. Now we get to go back home, get a little sleep, get our bodies ready to roll again.”

‘Money Badger’ Michael Badgley continues to make clutch kicks for Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley is playing postseason football in January for the first time, and enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s the playoffs,” Badgley said. “During the regular season, every point matters. But in the playoffs they matter even more. With the team we’ve got, as long as I can go out there and get my side of the job done, we’re definitely a threat, so it’s awesome.”

An undrafted rookie out of the University of Miami, Badgley at this time last year was beginning his pre-draft preparation.

But fast forward to this year, and Badgley has been the soothing balm to the Chargers’ kicking woes.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In his latest effort, Badgley buried a franchise postseason-record five field goals, including a long of 53 yards, in his team’s 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. He’ll be called on again this Sunday when the Chargers play at the New England Patriots in a division-round game.5
Because of his clutch performances, Badgley earned the nickname the “Money Badger” from Chargers fans on Twitter.

“I have a lot of confidence in that young man because he has a lot of confidence in himself,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said.

Badgley said one of the reasons for his success is the meaningful relationships he’s quickly developed in the locker room, starting with veteran punter Donnie Jones and long-snapper Mike Windt, and expanding to the rest of the team.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Just in the locker room, becoming friends with everybody,” Badgley said. “And then when I go out there and get the extra point or the field goal, that makes more of a difference than a lot of people know.

“So it’s awesome with the locker room and camaraderie we’ve got with the whole team. It starts day one when you first get in. You have no idea, but you’re looking around like, ‘Oh, there’s Philip [Rivers] and there’s Antonio [Gates].’ It’s one of those things where you want to just make the kicks and develop trust.”

Maurizio Sarri: It’s time to decide Eden Hazard’s future

Hazard, however, has repeatedly stated that he will wait until the end of the season — when he enters the final year of his current contract — before deciding his future, and Sarri has grown exasperated with facing constant questions on the subject.

“I don’t know [if he will stay] but I think it’s time to decide,” Sarri said of Hazard on Friday. “I have not the power to do this. I am the coach, not the president, I’m not in charge of the market.

“I’m the coach. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch. [But] I think we have to solve the problem if we want to [plan] the future. We have to solve this problem.”nike nfl jerseys for cheap

After the Watford game Hazard pointedly stated that he prefers playing as a winger to the false nine role that Sarri has given him in the last four Premier League matches but the Italian added that he will continue to deploy his superstar in the position that best helps Chelsea on the pitch.6
Asked if Hazard is now his preferred option up front ahead of Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata — who was omitted from the match day squad against Watford for tactical reasons despite being fit — Sarri hinted that he will persist with the strategy against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

“It depends on the moment,” he explained. “In this moment we need to be solid, and with Hazard in this position I think we can become more solid. It’s a good option for the defensive phase, I think, but it depends on the moment.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“Maybe in the future we will be able to play with Hazard and a striker together. It’s not a big problem for us, I think.”

Chelsea will be without Pedro Rodriguez and Callum Hudson-Odoi against Palace after both men picked up hamstring injuries during the Watford game. Sarri expects the Spaniard to miss around 10 days, while the academy prospect’s issue is less serious and he should return to training next week.

Man United’s Sanchez and Lukaku must prove themselves – Solskjaer

The Norwegian has already had an impact on Paul Pogba’s form since taking over from Jose Mourinho and the 45-year-old says it is up to Sanchez and Lukaku to follow the Frenchman’s example and use the fresh start to get back to their best.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I cannot do anything for their performances on the pitch,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. “I’m here to give them the path and it’s up to them to do it on the pitch. It’s up to them when they get a chance that’s the name of the game as a footballer. You’ve got to do it yourself.”5

Lukaku, who is back after compassionate leave, has managed just six goals this season while Sanchez, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, has scored only once this term.

Pogba also struggled for form during a disappointing start to the season but the midfielder has been one of the stars of Solskjaer’s first two games, scoring twice in the 3-1 win over Huddersfield on Boxing Day.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Solskjaer has also confirmed Antonio Valencia is nearing a comeback from injury and will remain club captain when he returns to the team. The United caretaker boss was less optimistic about Chris Smalling’s fitness and revealed the defender may have to wait until the trip to Tottenham on Jan. 13 due to a foot injury.

“Antonio is the captain when fit,” he said. “He’s going through a couple of tough sessions now to get him ready for the busy period. There are not many better right backs going forward.

“Smalling has got a sore foot so I don’t think we’ll see him until the New Year, maybe not before Spurs. Marcos [Rojo] and Scott [McTominay] look like they can take part soon.”

What LeBron’s injury means for the young Lakers now

The Los Angeles Lakers got a win on Christmas, and they also got a test: Can they keep heading in the right direction if LeBron James’ strained groin muscle causes him to miss significant time?

“This is unchartered territory, obviously, with this group,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after his team’s impressive 127-101 win over the Golden State Warriors. “But this is what we’ve been talking about. This is what we try to plan for — not that [James] gets hurt, but being able to play and win and compete when he’s not on the floor.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“That’s a process, and our team is much better than at the start of the season. So, it’ll get a lot more challenging for us if he misses some real time, but I’m also very confident in our group that they’ll continue to step up and battle.”

He was generally in good spirits and wouldn’t rule out playing Thursday at the Sacramento Kings, though the results of an MRI on Wednesday will determine just how plausible that will be. If James is out of the lineup, the Lakers suddenly will face the challenge that the Cleveland Cavaliers could never seem to figure out over the past four seasons: winning without James.5

The Cavs were a miserable 4-23 in games that James missed either for rest or injury over that span — 3-10 in 2014-15, 1-5 in 2015-16 and 0-8 in 2016-17. The only reason it didn’t hurt Cleveland again last season was because James played in all 82 games.

A rough patch with James out could derail the work the Lakers did through their 20-14 start to this season, giving the team the No. 4 spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference standings.

With the Houston Rockets surging (7-1 over their past eight games), a couple of bad weeks — say a 1-7 stretch — could quickly drop L.A. out of the playoff picture, at least temporarily.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

The Lakers have had the misfortune of suspensions to Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram as well as lengthy injuries suffered by Rondo, Ingram and JaVale McGee this season already, and they kept things going. Of course, none of those players matches James’ contributions. None has so much of the offense run through him. None can dictate the team’s effort game to game like James. But some experience in dealing with adversity is better than none.

“We’ve been missing guys all year,” Lakers guard Lonzo Ball said. “Obviously, LeBron’s a really big part of this team. … We have a lot of good guys on this team. We’ve been confident all year. It’s not just one player on this team; we have a good team.

Raiders shut out of Pro Bowl for second time in franchise history

Sure, Robert Mueller is busy at the moment, but Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden might want to drop the special counsel a line.

“If he’s not a Pro Bowler,” Gruden said of Raiders tight end Jared Cook last week, “I hope there’s an investigation.”

Not only was Cook snubbed, but so too was center Rodney Hudson, who had gone to the NFL’s all-star game after each of the previous two seasons and is having the best season of his career.

In fact, for the first time since 2003 and for just the second time in franchise history, the Raiders had no players selected for the Pro Bowl. Cook, Hudson and left guard Kelechi Osemele were named as alternates for the AFC squad.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Raiders offensive lineman Jon Feliciano let his feelings on the snubs known on Twitter.6

This is what happens to 3-11 teams. But this is not what is supposed to happen to teams coached by Gruden, right?

Hudson has not given up a sack and ranks first in pass-blocking efficiency and sixth in run-blocking, per Pro Football Focus. He was bypassed in favor of the Pouncey brothers, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Maurkice and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Mike.

Cook, meanwhile, has career highs in receptions (63), receiving yards (848) and touchdown catches (6) and was passed over in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce (93-1,220-10) and the Indianapolis Colts’ Eric Ebron (59-662-12).

Keep this in mind, though, because while the Raiders are in last place in their division, the Steelers, Chargers, Chiefs and Colts are all in the playoff race.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

It was a similar situation for struggling Raiders teams in 1989, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014, when they had one player selected in defensive lineman Howie Long, punter Shane Lechler, defensive end Derrick Burgess, Lechler and fullback Marcell Reece (three straight years).

Two years ago on this date, the Raiders were 11-3 and led the NFL with seven Pro Bowl selections. No investigation is needed to figure out what has happened in Oakland since.

Light Patriots Pro Bowl class highlights need for blue-chip talent boost

Quarterback Tom Brady and cornerback Stephon Gilmore are the New England Patriots’ only Pro Bowlers in 2018, which is the team’s lowest total since 2008, the last time the franchise didn’t qualify for the playoffs.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

While the Pro Bowl isn’t always the most accurate barometer of success, the light Patriots class does serve up a reminder of sorts as it pertains to the future health of the club: More blue-chip talent is needed. It would be even better if it is homegrown blue-chip talent.5
Such an infusion of youth and talent is needed after drafts in 2016 and 2017 haven’t provided as much in that regard. The 2015 class, with defensive end Trey Flowers and right guard Shaq Mason, was better.

It was Brady’s 14th overall selection, tying him with Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen for most in NFL history, and it’s his 10th straight, which is the longest active streak.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Gilmore’s selection serves as a reminder that the Patriots made a shrewd move to pounce on him as an unrestricted free agent in the 2017 offseason, opening up their financial vault with a five-year, $65 million deal. They essentially chose Gilmore over Butler, and it was the right call from a long-range team-building standpoint. Gilmore is the more well-rounded player, with the ability to match up against a wider variety of receivers.

To land high-end talent on the free-agent market like Gilmore, it costs a premium, and that’s not a sustainable approach on a yearly basis.

So the most effective way to go is drafting and developing.

The Patriots, with their lightest Pro Bowl class in the last decade, would greatly benefit from a boost in that area.

Orioles GM: New manager Brandon Hyde an ‘up-and-coming star’

Sitting side by side in the auxiliary clubhouse at Camden Yards, Orioles general manager Mike Elias and new manager Brandon Hyde spoke excitedly Monday about working together to mold the struggling franchise into a winner again.

Hired last month to oversee a massive rebuilding project, Elias immediately set out to find a manager who could develop young, inexperienced players into solid major leaguers.

Elias came to Baltimore from Houston, where he helped turn the Astros from a perennial loser into a World Series champion. Hyde, similarly, was an integral part of the process that bolstered the Cubs from a rebuilding club into a world champion. This will be his first job as major league manager.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“We’ve come from two organizations that had some down years but all of a sudden got good real quick,” Hyde noted. “That’s going to be the process here, and we’re looking forward to getting that going.”6

Elias said: “What stood out throughout the entire process for me, for us, were Brandon’s unique qualifications and experiences for this job. Being such a huge part of building the Cubs organization into a world champion and a playoff-caliber team was very attractive to me throughout this entire process.”

Patience is going to be the key in Baltimore, where Elias and Hyde will be toiling in unison to turn around a team that finished 47-115 in 2018 — the most losses in franchise history.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“I think the approach and the personal characteristics that he’s going to bring to this job are ideal,” Elias said. “He is someone with a reputation and experience for connecting with players, communicating with players, empathizing with players, which is very important in today’s game. But he also has the same view that I have — that this is a partnership between the front office and the coaching staff. We are going to be working toward the same goals.”

Although he has been entrenched in the National League for the past decade, Hyde knows all about the Orioles’ rich history. From the late 1960s through the team’s last World Series title, in 1983, Baltimore was recognized as one of the best teams in the majors.

Houston Astros reach two-year deal with Michael Brantley

Brantley, 31, who missed most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with injuries, enjoyed an impressive bounce-back season with Cleveland in 2018, hitting .309 with 17 homers and 76 RBIs. He also scored 89 runs in 143 games and posted an .832 OPS.

Brantley, who was acquired by Cleveland in the CC Sabathia deal with Milwaukee in 2008, was one of the majors’ best all-around players before his run of injury woes, capable of making a key play at the plate, on the bases or in the field.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

He had a breakout season in 2014, batting .327 with 20 homers, 97 RBIs and 23 steals in 156 games. He was working on another good year in 2015 when he hurt his right shoulder diving for a ball in Minnesota.5

The two-time All-Star needed two surgeries to fix his shoulder and played just 11 games in 2016, missing Cleveland’s run to the World Series. He appeared to be back on track in 2017 and was a strong candidate to be the AL’s Comeback Player of the Year when he injured his ankle while chasing a fly ball to left field during a game Aug. 8.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Brantley made a surprising return late that season and was selected for the playoff roster against the New York Yankees, but he went just 1-for-11 in the five-game series. Despite the string of injuries, Cleveland decided to pick up his $11.5 million option for 2018.

Indians president Chris Antonetti said in November that the team was interested in re-signing Brantley for 2019 as well but did not want to commit $17.9 million for one year.