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Wenger backs Theo to bounce back

first_imgArsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt that England forward Theo Walcott has the character to return “as strong as ever” from the knee injury which shattered his World Cup dream. Wenger, though, is confident Walcott’s “balanced” personality can help him recover fully from such a devastating setback. “Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, is very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective,” Wenger said on Arsenal Player. “We know that he will have the dedication and the serious attitude to come back as strong as ever.” Wenger added: “He has surgery and then it’s rehab. You know that it is six months and that you hope it all goes well. The only thing I can say is it’s very sad news for us and above all for him.” Despite Wenger’s positive rhetoric for the future, the Gunners boss concedes the serious injury to Walcott removes a potent weapon in his team’s attack, with the former Southampton man having netted five goals since his return from a stomach injury. “We lost a very talented player, a very intelligent player and a player who was just grabbing his form again,” the Arsenal manager continued. “From game to game he became more influential, you have seen a complete player. “He can always decide a game through a final ball or through a goal. Sometimes in the same game he does both. The 24-year-old is set to be sidelined for six months after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage when making a defensive tackle in the FA Cup third-round win over Tottenham on Saturday. Walcott’s loss is a major blow for both club and country, with the pacy forward set to have been a key part of England manager Roy Hodgson’s plans in Brazil this summer. “I felt against Tottenham he had a very convincing performance because he integrates well our style of play as he has been here for so many years now. “When we combine at a high pace he is involved in it because he understands exactly what we want to do.” Arsenal will now have to plan for the rest of the campaign without the electric pace of Walcott, but the imminent return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from his own five-month lay-off with a knee injury and the emergence of German starlet Serge Gnabry – said to have sparked interest from Borussia Dortmund – does provide Wenger with options. Wenger said: “It has been five months where he has been completely out, so that means he is fresh and that should give us a boost.” Arsenal are understood to be looking to bring in back-up for lead striker Olivier Giroud during the transfer window, although Wenger concedes pushing through a big-money transfer such as Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa – at this time of the season – is historically difficult. “[Walcott’s injury] has accelerated speculation first and of course my desire as well – but let’s not forget about Serge Gnabry who can play in the first team,” the Arsenal manager added. “We have Oxlade-Chamberlain back and we have many other players who can play on the flanks so to find better solutions than what we have internally will not be easy. “Up front we lose Theo as a potential central forward and that’s maybe where we have to look outside, but we hopefully have (Nicklas) Bendtner back in three weeks. “We are there for the opportunities, but it is very difficult at the moment.” Wenger revealed midfielder Aaron Ramsey and defender Kieran Gibbs were “very close” to making comebacks, although captain Thomas Vermaelen is doubtful because of a knee injury sustained in the FA Cup tie against Spurs. Arsenal could be usurped at the top of the table by title rivals Chelsea and then Manchester City before they kick off at Aston Villa on Monday night. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky, however, maintains the Gunners have the maturity to last the distance through to May. “This team has more experience than it did in the past. We have [Per] Mertesacker – and[Mesut] Ozil, who won things in Madrid – and the other experienced boys like Mikel [Arteta] and [Mathieu] Flamini,” the Czech playmaker said. “Plus the English boys are not kids anymore, they gained experience through the years of playing here, so that is why I think we have the maturity to do it this year.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Syracuse splits doubleheader against Penn, Central Michigan

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcCleary Syracuse split its games on Saturday against Pennsylvania and Central Michigan in Tampa, Florida.SU (12-6) beat Penn (2-2), 7-3, in a game the Orange didn’t get going until the fourth inning. The Quakers held a one-run lead through the third inning and extended it to three in the fourth with a Lainey Dorris home run. In the bottom of the inning, SU scored its first run off of a home run by Sydney O’Hara. Still, the Quakers stayed strong, getting out of the inning holding onto a two-run lead.In the fifth, O’Hara provided another RBI for SU, closing the gap to one. In the sixth inning, a single by sophomore infielder Alicia Hansen brought in two and sparked a five-run inning for the Orange. O’Hara, a senior, pitched the top of the seventh and struck out all three batters, securing Syracuse’s victory.While offense was hard to come by for much of the game, freshman pitcher Alexa Romero came in and did what she has done in six of her 10 appearances this season — she didn’t allow a single run in the circle. That and O’Hara’s five strikeouts helped SU keep the score close and win.Against Central Michigan (8-6), the Orange did not score a run in the first three innings. SU didn’t score a run in the remaining four innings, either. The Orange lost 3-0 despite the Chippewas recording only one more hit than SU. Central Michigan pitcher Rachael Knapp dominated.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU’s AnnaMarie Gatti started the game for SU and failed to get out of the second inning, allowing two runs before she was pulled. Romero came in and kept Syracuse close by allowing only one run. The defense was solid for the rest of the game, before O’Hara came in and shut out Central Michigan through the final two frames.But Syracuse left eight runners on base, struck out out nine times and didn’t draw a single walk.Syracuse begins conference play next Friday at North Carolina State. Commentslast_img read more

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Five things we’ve learned from the first five Liverpool Premier League games

first_img1 Raheem Sterling – one of the bright spots of a poor start to the season for Liverpool With their talisman leaving for Barca, a host of new players to bed in and a keenly awaited return to the Champions League adding to their fixture list, it looked like a big task for Liverpool to repeat last season’s Premier League heroics.So it is proving, with West Ham giving Liverpool their third league defeat of the season on Saturday. There are some positive signs, however, with key rivals also struggling and the form of certain players giving Liverpool fans reasons for optimism.Here we examine five things we have learned from Liverpool’s first five Premier League games.1. Daniel Sturridge can thrive without SuarezWhen Luis Suarez left for Barcelona over the summer, there were fears that Liverpool would struggle to repeat last season’s goal scoring exploits.  After all, the Uruguayan hit man bagged 31 goals and 12 assists on his way to being named PFA Player of the Year.It would be doing Daniel Sturridge a disservice to down play his role last season, though, and the former Chelsea striker has demonstrated a growing maturity since moving to Anfield in January 2012, netting 32 times in 44 Premier League games.With Suarez suspended for the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, Sturridge hit the winner in Liverpool’s first three Premier League games, before ending the season as the league’s second top scorer on 22 goals.Sturridge started this season in a similar vein of form, scoring a late winner against Southampton and playing a key part in the 3-0 victory away to Spurs.Brendan Rodgers is hopeful that the England man can recover from his thigh injury in time for Liverpool’s derby against Everton next weekend and continue to successfully lead the line.2. Raheem Sterling is showing maturity beyond his yearsDaniel Sturridge isn’t the only young English player capable of stepping up for Liverpool this season.With Raheem Sterling going from strength to strength, it is easy to forget he is only 19 years old.Sterling hit nine league goals last season – including an important strike against City in the 3-2 win at Anfield – before his energetic performances at the World Cup provided a rare positive for England fans.His performances so far this season have been equally encouraging, and he has already bagged three Premier League goals in the first five games.Liverpool certainly missed his pace and flair in the first hour of their defeat against Aston Villa, and despite his age it is apparent that Sterling is key to Liverpool’s success this season.3. Balotelli consistency is keyMario Balotelli arrived at Anfield last month to a mixed response from Liverpool fans.There is no doubt he has the ability to make decisive contributions, scoring the winner for Italy against England in the World Cup this summer, the first in the famous 6-1 rout of United at Old Trafford and contributing an assist to THAT Aguero goal against QPR. However, question marks remain as to his consistency, and Balotelli managed only a single goal in 14 matches for Manchester City in his last season in the Premier League.As an opposition player, Balotelli often struggled at Anfield and he has never demonstrated the work ethic of Luis Suarez, the man he replaces.Getting off the mark against Ludogrets in the Champions League last week was important, and if he can repay the faith of Brendan Rodgers by playing the football he is capable of on a regular basis, forming a lethal partnership with Daniel Sturridge, his £16 million fee should prove money well spent.4. Liverpool aren’t the only top four contenders strugglingBrendan Rodgers would certainly have wanted a better return than six points from five games, but with many of Liverpool’s rivals also struggling it isn’t time to panic yet.Table-toppers Chelsea have made an excellent start to the season and lie seven points ahead of Liverpool, so the Reds are already playing catch up in the title race.Despite huge summer investment, Manchester United have only managed a single win so far and their 5-3 loss away to Leicester leaves them a point behind Liverpool.Having won only two of their first five fixtures Arsenal are currently only three points ahead of Liverpool, while Spurs are within grasp on seven points following their unexpected 1-0 home loss to West Brom.Even champions City haven’t had a straightforward start to their campaign, with a shock defeat at home to Stoke City and draws against Arsenal and Chelsea putting them on eight points – a mere two ahead of Liverpool.While it will be a challenge to drag back this Chelsea side, a Champions League spot certainly looks achievable with so many rivals stuttering.  5. Liverpool’s defence needs to improve – and quicklyOn their way to claiming a second place league finish last season, Liverpool often relied on outscoring the opposition rather than shutting up shop, and despite scoring 101 goals in the Premier League, they conceded 50 – more than any other team in the top five.With ex-vice captain Daniel Agger heading to Brondby over the summer, Mamadou Sakho the subject of fans’ ire after his performance against West Ham United and an ageing and increasingly error prone Kolo Toure in reserve, Liverpool need Martin Skrtel and new signing Dejan Lovren to gel as quickly as possible.Premier League title-winning sides have invariably been built upon solid defences and having lost their top goal scorer of the past three seasons Liverpool can’t rely on their strike force to carry them as much as last season.While Rodgers has always advocated attacking football, at the moment it is his defence that needs attention if his ‘Pool side are to put together some consistent form.What have you learned after watching Liverpool’s first five Premier League games of the season? 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