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Alexis Sanchez wants to ‘finish his contract at Arsenal’

Sports News 30th March 2017

Alexis Sanchez wants to ‘finish his contract at Arsenal’… but urges the club to develop a ‘winning mentality’

• Alexis Sanchez insists that he is happy in London and wants to stay at Arsenal
• Chile star has less than 15 months remaining on his contract at the club
• The 28-year-old has yet to sign a new deal and is likely to leave in the summer

Alexis Sanchez insists that he is happy in London and wants to finish the final 15 months of his contract at Arsenal.

But the Chile star fired a warning to the Gunners by claiming that he wants to play in a team ‘that has a winning mentality’.

The 28-year-old’s future at the club has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks, with Chelsea now emerging as a potential destination.

Sanchez looks likely to end his three-year spell at the Emirates Stadium this summer after the fallout of his demotion to the bench for the 3-1 defeat by Liverpool earlier this month.

Speaking on the Chilean website Publimetro, the 28-year-old said: ‘I am happy in London and I hope to finish my contract there.

‘I want to stay in the city and the team, but in a team that wins, that has a winning mentality.

‘I am 28, I still have a lot in front of me. I am a player who looks after himself a lot.’

Arsenal’s season hangs on a knife-edge as they prepare to return to action following the international break.

Having lost four of their last five Premier League games, Arsene Wenger’s side host Manchester City on Sunday and face an FA Cup semi-final against the same opposition next month.

Sanchez, though, will return to England as a man in form after netting in Chile’s 3-0 World Cup qualifier win over Venezuela on Tuesday.

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Arsene Wenger faces a career defining April

Sports News 30th March 2017

Arsene Wenger faces a career defining April: Arsenal could be back in the top-four and in an FA Cup final or out of Champions League contention

• Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal that he wants to stay for another two years
• His Arsenal side face seven season defining games over the month of April
• They could be back in the top four or tarnish the manager’s reputation forever
• Read: Alexis Sanchez wants to ‘finish his contract at Arsenal’

It may seem ridiculous, but even in the context of Arsene Wenger’s eventful 21 year reign at Arsenal it is hard to imagine him having faced as career-defining month as this coming April.

The Wenger legacy has become a topic for debate, argument and online YouTube series, but Itemsgalore Blog understands that he wants to extend his stay by a further two years by signing a new contract.

And, with Arsenal insisting it will be a joint decision, his and Arsenal’s April could go a long way to deciding whether he deserves a new contract.

Even with their relative travails in recent campaigns, Arsenal are at a low ebb. Once again knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage, they now seem at risk of missing out on a place in Europe’s elite club competition.

That would be a first for Wenger since he joined Arsenal in 1996, and a damaging blow to his reputation.

They are stuck in sixth, six points off fourth spot and even trailing Manchester United by two.

Arsenal do have two games in-hand on Liverpool, who are in fourth place in the top flight, but that is combined with a fixture pile-up that will see them play seven games over April.

They have a chance to close the gap to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who are third, when they take them on at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

The problem is that a defeat against City could see them finish the weekend as low as seventh in the Premier League. Everton travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Saturday and a victory would see the Toffees leapfrog the Gunners and climb into fifth.

City are no scrubs – when the two teams faced one another in December, they fought back from a goal behind as Arsenal collapsed.

Guardiola’s side also tend to play better away from home. They have won 10 of their 14 away games this season, compared to seven of 14 at the Etihad, which means the advantage of the game being at the Emirates may have to be discounted.

They have to play them twice, and the FA Cup semi-final on April 23 could be just as important for Wenger.

A place in the top-four seems necessary, but combine that with a trophy and Arsenal fans would have to dampen down their criticism.

It’s not just City that Wenger has to worry about this month.

A run of games against West Ham, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough sees the Gunners face sides battling to either ensure or save their Premier League status.

Anything but a victory from all three, over a period of just 12 days, would surely see Arsenal’s top-four hopes fall to pieces.

The game against Leicester could be just as important. The Foxes are showing the spirit of last season’s champions under interim boss Craig Shakespeare and will be no pushovers at the Emirates.

And the month all ends with a north London derby at White Hart Lane, one that Wenger cannot afford to lose.

It seems inevitable that Spurs will end a 21-year wait and finish above Arsenal this season, whether or not they win the derby, but a damaging defeat would not be a good look for a manager that wants to stick around.

April will therefore be defining for Wenger. Arsenal could end it in the top four, having taken advantage of their games in-hand, and with a berth in the FA Cup final.

Or they could find themselves well outside of the Champions League places, with no possibility of catching up, and without silverware for the campaign.

Beware the ides of March? For Wenger, it’s more about being aware of the size of April.

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Lionel Messi claims foul-mouthed rant which landed him a four-match ban was not directed at assistant referee

Sports News 30th March 2017

Lionel Messi claims foul-mouthed rant which landed him a four-match ban was not directed at assistant referee: ‘My comments were made to the air’

• FIFA slapped Lionel Messi with a four-match ban following a foul-mouthed tirade
• Messi allegedly aimed abuse at assistant referee Emerson Augusto do Carvalho
• The Argentina star insists he was making the comments to himself

Lionel Messi has refuted claims he directed a torrent of abuse at an assistant referee, claiming he was speaking to himself.

The Argentine star was slapped with a four-match ban by FIFA this week after allegations he unleashed a verbal tirade during his country’s World Cup qualifying victory over Chile.

Messi was informed of his ban just six hours before his side were due to play Bolivia in La Paz and had to sit out the 2-0 defeat.

Argentina are in the process of appealing the verdict but the player is already openly protesting his innocence.

‘My comments were never directed at the first assistant, they were comments made to the air,’ Messi told La Nacion.

Messi said ‘la concha de tu madre’, which translates as ‘your mother’s ****’ — a common cursing phrase in Argentina — in the direction of Brazilian linesman Emerson Augusto do Carvalho at the end of the match after being harried and fouled by Chile’s Jean Beausejour.

The official patted him on the head and tried to calm him down but Messi continued ranting.

Carvalho said later he did not understand at the time what Messi was saying.

‘I only realised he was swearing afterwards on reading the press,’ he said.

As well as missing Tuesday night’s match, Messi will also be absent for an away game against Luis Suarez’s Uruguay in August and home matches against Venezuela and Peru in September and October.

His country are staring at the possibility of having to qualify for the World Cup finals via a play-off or perhaps not even make the 32-team tournament whatsoever.

They currently occupy the play-off place in South American qualifying.

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Manchester United to be without Paul Pogba for West Brom match

Sports News 30th March 2017

Manchester United to be without Paul Pogba for West Brom match as Jose Mourinho says four others will miss out

• Paul Pogba picked up a hamstring injury against Rostov before the break
• Jose Mourinho revealed that the midfielder is not likely to recover for Saturday
• A number of Manchester United’s top stars are not available against West Brom

Manchester United expect to be without Paul Pogba for Saturday’s game against West Bromwich Albion.

Manager Jose Mourinho has revealed the France international, who was withdrawn from his national team’s squad after pulling his hamstring against Rostov, has not recovered fully from his injury.

Central defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have also been highlighted as likely absentees by Mourinho after picking up knocks while away with England.

That trio are joined by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera, who will both sit out the last match of their respective suspensions against Tony Pulis’s side.

‘So we lose four [players] and I think Paul Pogba is also out,’ Mourinho told ManUtd.com. ‘So we lose five.’

The likes of Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia and Sergio Romero are still travelling back from South America after playing for their national teams during the break.

Pogba missed the Old Trafford side’s Premier League game against Middlesbrough. Mourinho’s team won the game at the Riverside Stadium 3-1.

United go into Saturday’s game against West Brom knowing that a victory could see them edge to within a point of the top-four, should Liverpool lose the Merseyside derby against Everton.

They follow the game against the Baggies by hosting Ronald Koeman’s in-form Everton on Tuesday night before a trip to relegation threatened Sunderland next weekend.

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Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante risked a long journey back from France duty as he joined Spanish team-mates following friendly defeat

Uncategorised 30th March 2017

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante risked a long journey back from France duty as he joined Spanish team-mates following friendly defeat

• N’Golo Kante faced off with Chelsea team-mate Pedro as France took on Spain
• The Spanish stars were celebrating after a 2-0 friendly victory in Paris
• Fellow Blues’ colleagues Diego Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta were unused subs
• The quartet united to travel back to London ahead of the Premier League return

They may have been on opposing sides on Tuesday night but Chelsea stars N’Golo Kante, Diego Costa, Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta put international rivalries to one side as they travelled back to London together.

Kante and Pedro were the only Blues players to get game-time at the Stade de France as Spain beat their hosts 2-0, thanks in part to the interjection of the video officials.

Unused substitute Costa played and scored in the win over Israel but Azpilicueta watched both games from the bench without making an appearance. Kante got through 180 minutes for France over the international break – beating Luxembourg before losing to the 2010 world champions.

France striker Antoine Griezmann had a goal ruled out for offside after use of the video while Gerard Deulofeu’s effort was allowed to stand after he had been flagged. David Silva had earlier opened the scoring.

The Chelsea quartet were all smiles as they reunited to travel back to London on Tuesday night. They will be back on the same side when they return to Cobham to prepare for Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

Kante has been at the forefront of PFA Player of the Season discussions with his impressive displays helping Chelsea to a 10-point lead in the Premier League.

However, he insists that he is not getting carried away by the praise coming his way and told Canal+: ‘It’s always nice to hear nice things about yourself, but you have to step back, there’s still a lot of work.

‘When I’m in France, I see the careers and the prize list.

‘Of my team-mates, I think that I have not done anything in football, and there is no reason to take it for someone else.’

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Ronaldo bust sparks comparisons to ex-pros

Sports News 30th March 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo comes face to face with dodgy statue as he hits back at critics who opposed Madeira Airport being named in his honour

• Cristiano Ronaldo has attended a ceremony in Madeira where the airport was renamed in his honour
• As part of the unveiling, a bust of the Real Madrid star was also unveiled at the airport in his home city
• Ronaldo’s girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez was in attendance at the ceremony along with his mother
• The Real Madrid star hit back at critics who opposed the rebranding of the island’s airport

Cristiano Ronaldo unveiled his own branded airport in Madeira before hitting out at critics by telling his fans: ‘I’m not a hypocrite.’

The Real Madrid superstar is back in his island homeland, having played for Portugal here on Tuesday night followed by Wednesday morning’s ceremony.

The rebranding of Madeira’s airport, now named as ‘Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo’, has received a mixed reception but Ronaldo spoke of his pride while telling those against the move: ‘I never asked for this.’

Accompanied by his mother Maria Aveiro, girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez and son Cristiano Jnr, he beamed with pride following a couple of days all about him — and was accompanied by a bronze bust of his head which now sits outside the arrivals terminal.

The airport renaming follows Ronaldo’s homecoming game with the national team, a return to Madeira’s capital Funchal — where Portugal had not played for 16 years.

Some locals, though, have expressed concerns that a landmark such as an airport should not be named after a sportsman — no matter their stature — although the move is expected to boost tourism on the island.

Portugal’s major airport, Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado, takes its name from a former air force general and famous politician in Portugal. In Madeira, Ronaldo joins George Best in Belfast as the only European footballer with an airport named in his honour.

He told an audience of hundreds on Wednesday: ‘Thank you for being here in my honour. Seeing my name being given to this airport is something very special. Everyone knows that I am proud of my country and especially my home city.

‘Thank you very much to the president of the regional government Miguel Albuquerque for having had the courage and the firmness to do it.

‘My friend, I never asked for this, but I’m not a hypocrite, and I’m happy and honoured. I know some people do not agree and I know some people who are not here would be happy for this moment.

‘I will try to dignify Portugal and especially Madeira with a spirit of sacrifice, dignity and passion.’

A morning ceremony at the airport was attended by hundreds of locals, including schoolchildren waving flowers and chanting Ronaldo’s name in the hope of a glimpse of their idol.

His mother wept in the front row as the renaming received a stamp of approval and was signed off.

Even a local prankster, who appeared on a balcony dressed as Batman, could hardly steal the spotlight before police whisked him away.

An image of Ronaldo’s face now appears on the airport’s branding, as well as the introduction of the bronze bust outside the arrivals terminal.

The 31-year-old hit his 71st international goal in Portugal’s 3-2 defeat by Sweden in Funchal, Madeira’s capital, on Tuesday night.

It is the 86th city he has scored in for club and country — back in the country where he played youth football before shooting to fame with Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United.

Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also spoke at Wednesday’s event and hailed the 32-year-old as ‘an example of excellence’.

Madeira’s airport is famous for its sometimes hairy landings as planes arrive on the island between the hills and with the added complication of crosswinds.

Ronaldo, now with the site named in his honour, jetted off to return to Real Madrid shortly after the ceremony.

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Neymar celebrates Brazil’s World Cup qualification by partying with his stunning actress girlfriend at Sao Paulo gig

Sports News 30th March 2017

Neymar celebrates Brazil’s World Cup qualification by partying with his stunning actress girlfriend at Sao Paulo gig

Neymar and his stunning actress girlfriend Bruna Marquezine celebrated Brazil’s World Cup qualification in true Samba style… with a night of dancing at a Sao Paulo music event. Hours after scoring in the 3-0 victory over Paraguay which, with the help of Uruguay’s defeat to Peru, helped the Selecao book their place at next summer’s showpiece in Russia, the Barcelona forward was pictured revelling in his country’s success. He and Bruna, who have been dating on and off for several years, were evidently in high spirits as they got close on the dancefloor.

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Nigerian man and his British wife found dead in Hertfordshire flat after being stabbed

UK News 28th February 2017

Two children reportedly watched their mother get stabbed to death in a “murder suicide” at a home in Hertfordshire.

The mother and a man, who is believed to be her partner, were found at a property in Cheshunt with severe wounds and died at the scene.

Four vehicles were sent to the house, including two ambulances and the Herts Air Ambulance, following reports of a disturbance.

The woman, Hazel Wilson-Bryant, 27, had already died by the time emergency services arrived and the man passed away of his injuries soon after.

Two children apparently witnessed their mother being stabbed by the man, Olumide Orimoloye, who is believed to be their father, according to The Sun.

Hertfordshire police said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the double-death.

A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said: “When police arrived at the address they found a woman had been stabbed and had tragically passed away.

“A man was also found to be at the property with knife wounds. He also tragically passed away shortly after at the scene.”

“Crews assessed two patients, but sadly both died at the scene.”

“At this early stage of the investigation, police do not currently believe they are looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.

“Investigations are on-going.”

An air ambulance also flew to the scene, while pictures show police vehicles and a taped cordon surrounding the block of flats, which sits close to a roundabout linking Turners Hill and the High Street.

A bar manager at The Old English Gentleman pub nearby, told The Hertfordshire Mercury: “I feel sorry for the kids. I heard there were two children in there as well. One was about six, same age as my child.”

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Melania Trump Doesn’t Deserve Your Sympathy

US Social 25th January 2017

 

Image via AP.

A few hours after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, a photograph circulated of Melania Trump sitting next to husband at a luncheon, eyes down and face unsmiling. The photograph went viral, often accompanied on social media with the expression, “I feel sorry for Melania Trump.”

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It was just one of many pieces of evidence that Melania Trump deserves sympathy; that she is unhappy, that her husband treats her poorly or, more hopefully, that she hates her husband. In addition to the photograph, other evidence was offered: a video of the couple dancing at the inaugural ball and a side-by-side comparison of former President Obama accompanying Michelle during the 2009 White House transition. Obama is thoughtful, he waits for Michelle before he walks up the steps of their new home to greet then-President George W. Bush. In contrast, Donald Trump greets the Obamas without his wife and she hurries to make her way up the stairs alone, accompanied into the house by the Obamas who are more considerate—more respectful—than her own husband.

The images, particularly the comparison to President Obama, reinforce a narrative that is easy enough to believe (likely because it’s true): that Obama is a better man than Trump and thus treats women accordingly. The Obamas, in turn, express their sympathy for Melania, a poor woman married to a tyrant, by showing their graciousness, a hallmark of the Obama White House, actions that speak volumes about their humanity and morality. Here, Melania is a victim of her husband’s brutishness; she is passive and silent, has no political opinions but instead is a sort of tabula rasa for America’s women, on which her treatment is proof of President Trump’s innate misogyny. President Trump’s casual misuse of his wife is a domestic tragedy with national implications. But that narrative only works if, in fact, you believe that Melania is a blank slate or, at least, a woman simply acted on rather than a woman actively collaborating with her husband’s ideologies.

If the past is any indication, Melania is no passive victim. Recently a 2011 interview with Melania on the Joy Behar Show went viral on Twitter. In the interview, Melania defends her husband’s adamant commitment to the birther conspiracy born of the Tea Party—his belief that President Obama is not an American citizen, that he was born in Kenya and that his Hawaii-issued birth certificate was, in fact, a forgery. “Do you want to see President Obama’s birth certificate or not?” Melania asks Behar. “I’ve seen it,” Behar responds. “It’s not a birth certificate,” Melania says as she shakes her head. Here, Melania recites her husband’s conspiratorial and fictitious claims, ones Donald Trump repeated for five years until, in September 2016, he “conceded” that they were untrue. Melania has never indicated whether or not she agrees with that concession.

But Melania has always been willing to defend her husband and to employ tactics that typify the Trump approach to the world. After journalist Julia Ioffe published a profile of Melania in GQ, Melania denounced the piece, calling it “yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting.” When Ioffe received a barrage of anti-Semitic messages and threats, Melania said, that Ioffe “provoked them.” Later, Melania almost trollishly announced that, as First Lady, she would launch a campaign to prevent bullying on the internet, denouncing social media’s “mean and rough” culture.

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Social media aside, she’s proven that she’s a willing scribe of the Trump hagiography. In October, Melania sat down with CNN to defend her husband after a leaked tape caught her husband bragging about sexually assaulting women. She called his language “boy talk” and blamed the tape’s release on the conspiratorial “left-wing media.” When asked about the sizable number of women who have accused her husband of sexual assault, she demonstrated that she was no listless vessel, but in full possession of autonomy: “I know he respects women but he is defending himself because they are all lies,” she told CNN.

Like Ivanka Trump, whose brand and subsequent media narratives have worked to distance her from her father’s repugnant ideologies from racist birtherism to sexual assault, Melania is no innocent. She’s willing to vocally defend her husband—not only to stand next to him for the sake of political spectacle or personal gain, but to do the obligatory media tours and, like her step-daughter, insist that he respects women.

Melania Trump is hardly a stand-in for American women, she is neither a victim nor is she lacking agency. Rather she’s an active participant working to construct Donald Trump’s narrative, readily available to put a gauzy domestic veil on his racism and misogyny. Melania Trump doesn’t deserve your sympathy.

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Which way Nigeria?

Naija Social 24th January 2017

IS IT ABOUT TIME WE WENT OUR SEPARATE WAYS?

In a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria, coexistence, and not conquest, is a sacred code of social cohesion. The ongoing resource and environmental tension represented by the clash between herders and crop farmers has embedded religious significance.

With the Fulani herdsmen continuing to kill southerners (their fellow citizens) in order to protect their cattle – killing human beings to preserve the lives of animals – and the conflict not appearing to go away anytime soon, we ask:

Are we all just going to sit back and watch without doing anything about this problem?

From Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper:

Rachel Amida*, a 52-year-old farmer in Adamawa state, north-eastern Nigeria, points to a small heap of maize laid on the ground just outside her home. “If it wasn’t for the herdsmen we would have had much more,” she says. “It is making it harder to survive when we are harvesting only a portion of what we sowed.”

On both sides of the Yola-Gombe road that runs through Adamawa’s vast countryside, small groups of herdsmen lead scores of cattle through the fields to feed.

The herders, mostly northern Fulani, are sometimes young children. Tiny figures beneath their large, wide-brimmed hats, they carry bows and arrows as they shuttle their cattle south in the heat. Yet their novel appearance belies a deadly crisis that, in the past few years, has spiralled out of control.

On 3 November, near Amida’s home in a village in Demsa district, two people were killed by Fulani herdsmen. “I now have to send my son to my plot to till the land,” she says. “Before we thrashed the crops outside, but now we do them in here. It’s more dangerous there now.”

Farmers have accused the herdsmen of trespassing on their farmland to graze their cattle, destroying their crops.

The Fulani herdsmen have always ventured in search of land on which to feed their cattle; some are semi-nomadic, rooted in communities across Nigeria, while others travel along courses leading from Niger and Chad to Nigeria. But the combined effect of competition for land and droughts has made their search increasingly desperate.

Reprisal attacks and provocations exist on both sides. Cattle are sometimes stolen from herdsmen by criminal groups and communities often attack the herdsmen, assuming them to be a threat. But the conflict has been deadly for farming communities.

In August, more than 30 people were killed when herdsmen attacked villages in Demsa. In the three months prior to this, another 50 people were killed in escalating attacks that led to crisis meetings involving the governor of the state and local rulers.

The perennial conflict, for years confined mainly to “middle-belt” states, has now spread around the country, with mass killings increasingly reported in southern states over the past year.

In Plateau state, where such conflict has a long history, some locals feel the attacks are part of an effort to get farming communities to leave their land, allowing the herdsmen to settle without competition for resources.

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“That’s why they attack villages – they don’t just attack because of quarrels with villagers,” said a farmer who did not want to be named. “They burn homes and farms so that we will have to start again somewhere else. But we can’t, and will not leave because this is our land.”

The federal government’s response to the crisis has been widely criticised by the Nigerian press as inadequate. Increasingly, the killings have been viewed as motivated along religious and ethnic lines. President Muhammadu Buhari’s ethnicity – he is a Fulani Muslim – has fed accusations that the government is reluctant to confront a group it has sympathies with.

But according to Sola Tayo, a Nigerian specialist at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, the crisis is more complicated. “I think this series of conflicts is multifaceted,” she explains. “The mistake is to reduce it to a simple clash of ethnicities or religions.

“There seems to be little appetite to address some of these historic grievances concerning grazing at a national level in government. Most of the discussion seems to be taking place at state level with some governors more keen to engage with farmers and herders to try and seek some sort of workable solution, while others are adopting a more hostile approach through tightening restrictions on nomadic herding practices.”

A plan by the federal government to allocate grazing reserves was rejected by Nigeria’s parliament. In opposition to the government’s position, some states such as Ekiti and Abia are passing legislation to allow them to limit the herdsmen’s activities, and prosecute those who graze on private land. In Kaduna, the state government has admitted to having paid compensation to aggrieved herdsmen to stop further killings.

* Name changed to protect identity

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