About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool fullback Robertson quits Twitter after Napoli backlashby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool left-back Andrew Robertson may have deactivated his Twitter account.The decision could be connected to the Reds’ 2-0 defeat at Napoli on Tuesday.The Scot gave away a late penalty when he was adjudged to have fouled Jose Callejon in the box, with Dries Mertens slotting home from the spot.Fernando Llorente then nipped in ahead of Robertson to seal victory for the home side in stoppage time.Reds boss Jurgen Klopp hit out at the decision to award the the penalty – and the failure to overturn it through VAR – after the game, although former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has claimed it was the right decision.The Mirror reports a search for his Twitter account ‘@andrewrobertso5’ shows up no results, although his Instagram account is still online at the time of writing.
Miami: Roger Federer admits he faces a real battle to land the 101st title of his career with the in-form Daniil Medvedev next up after Serbian Filip Krajinovic was dispatched 7-5 6-3 on Monday at the ATP and WTA Miami Open. The Swiss superstar produced an excellent all-round performance despite being tested by the world number 103 who belied his lowly ranking by producing some excellent tennis during an exciting first set. Federer, however, stylishly weathered the storm to seal the win – the 52nd of his career in Miami – and set up an intriguing last eight match with the highly-rated Medvedev. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe Russian, who is at a career high ranking of 15, saw off American Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/0), and has won four ATP hard-court titles, including three since last August. Federer beat him twice last year but is already a fan. “He’s clever how he plays the court because he can play it up and down, and he’s unusual when he plays from back,” said the Swiss, who hit 14 aces and won an impressive 74% of points on his first serve. “It’s a bit of a different approach.Thankfully I played him last year twice in Basel and Shanghai and I’m very impressed about his progress. I must say the last year has been unbelievable for him.” Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterKrajinovic struggled with injury last year as problems with his ankle, left foot and hand restricted him to just seven tournaments in the first seven months of 2018. Yet some fierce hitting from the back of the court surprised the predictably pro-Federer crowd and a brilliant run and flick over the net handed him an early break for 3-2. Keeping the pressure on, however, was a different matter as Federer broke straight back before pocketing the opening set. The second set wasn’t as competitive, Federer easing home and finishing with 35 winners compared to the Serbian’s 18. Elsewhere, number 24 seed Grigor Dimitrov was beaten by world number 77 Jordan Thompson in straight sets ensuring the Australian will meet 2018 Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson who beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-6 (8/6). Simona Halep, meanwhile, got the better of Venus Williams once again as the Romanian made light work of the 38-year-old American to book a place in the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-3 win. “I was pretty strong with my serve and knew where to bother her,” said the reigning French Open champion who will meet China’s Wang Qiang in the last eight. “When I saw I can win easy games with my serve, it gave me great confidence,” she added. Bianca Andreescu, the 18-year-old Canadian sensation who won the title in Indian Wells, was forced to withdraw in the second set of her fourth round match with Anett Kontaveit. Andreescu was 1-6 0-2 down before a shoulder injury ruined her chances of another run to the finals. The Estonian will meet Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei who continued her excellent form with a 6-3, 6-7 (0/7), 6-2 win over Caroline Wozniacki. Petra Kvitova, the world number 3, booked her place in the last eight, beating Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 in a match which was held up for one hour and 40 minutes because of rain in South Florida. Kvitova plays Australian Ashleigh Barty for a place in the semi-finals.
Two of hockey’s Original Six are alive and well in the Eastern Conference finals, which began Saturday with the New York Rangers’ 7-2 rout of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1.1The Chicago Blackhawks, another Original Six team, are also leading the Western Conference finals 1-0. The series is an interesting case study in the rebuilding of once-great clubs. No matter which of the two historic franchises prevails, the victor will have made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since it won hockey’s ultimate prize roughly two decades ago.2The Rangers haven’t been back to the Final since winning the Cup in 1994; the Canadiens haven’t been back since winning it in 1993. Their long road back saw 19 different head coaches between them,3A tally that includes Alain Vigneault, who has coached both teams. payrolls both desiccated and bloated, and years of mediocrity that flouted expectations. But their twin decades in the wilderness taught them the value of drafting well and committing to smart spending.North of the border, Les Habitants play the central role in Canada’s ongoing, agonizing Stanley Cup drought. The Canadiens are unaccustomed to going this long without a championship, and that’s putting it mildly. Over the course of the 77 postseasons between 1916 and 1993, Montreal hoisted the Cup once every 3.2 seasons on average. They won 24 titles; to this day, no other NHL team has won more than 13.4The Toronto Maple Leafs own that second-place distinction, despite not having won any Cups themselves since 1967.The 1992-93 Canadiens won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1985-86.5At the time, Montreal fans would have considered that seven-year gap — and the seven-season void before that — an alarming dry spell. That championship team was good — and lucky. According to estimates of score-close Fenwick percentage (a team-possession stat), the 1992-93 Canadiens were the NHL’s eighth-best team at controlling possession, and they finished sixth in save percentage thanks to Patrick Roy, one of the rare goalies who could truly be said to possess consistently elite puck-stopping skills. Their luck often came in overtime, when the Canadiens won the majority of their playoff games; they went an incredible 10-1 in overtime during the 1993 postseason,6Setting the record for most overtime wins in a single playoff year. including victories in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Historically, there’s essentially no correlation between how a team does from one overtime playoff game to the next, so Montreal’s overtime record undoubtedly meant the Canadiens were the beneficiary of good fortune during their ‘93 Cup run.)The 1992-93 Canadiens were the fifth-youngest Cup-winners since the dawn of the Original Six era in 1943.7As weighted by the Modified Point Shares of each player on the roster. Modified Point Shares is an offshoot of Hockey-Reference’s Point Shares re-scaled to give forwards 60 percent of the league’s total value, defensemen 30 percent and goalies 10 percent, per research I conducted for analytics guru Tom Tango last summer. Despite carrying over much of the same core of players into subsequent seasons, Montreal declined sharply, soon missing the playoffs for the first time in a quarter-century. Habs GM Serge Savard wasn’t able to wheel and deal his way to a new championship-caliber group,8To the contrary — he dealt away Roy in one of the most one-sided trades in NHL history. and aside from the 1987 and 1993 drafts9The latter of which yielded Saku Koivu. the team did not restock well. According to a measurement of picking efficiency similar to one I used to evaluate NFL teams’ performances in the draft,10Using Modified Point Shares. the Canadiens were the league’s fourth-worst drafting team from 1988 to 1995.11And its fifth-worst over the larger 1988-2001 period.Making matters worse, the Canadiens were facing a weak national currency at a time before the salary cap. Because Montreal had to offer more money than U.S. teams did in order to get the same amount of talent, they found themselves at a competitive disadvantage. The Habs fell out of the league’s top 10 in payroll spending for the 1994-95 season,12According to Rodney Fort’s archived NHL payroll data, which spans the 1989-90 through 2011-12 seasons (save for missing data on the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons). dropping to 16th out of 26 teams that season and 17th in each of the next two years. Unable to compete financially (they’d been a top-five payroll team as recently as five years earlier) and having strung together a series of mostly poor drafts, the Canadiens fired Savard in 199513Although they didn’t do much better under Rejean Houle, either. and spent the next decade mired in mediocrity.Meanwhile in Manhattan, the Rangers were suffering much the same fate. Their 1993-94 Stanley Cup championship team had broken the Curse of 1940 and given Rangers fans their long-awaited redemption. The team was an incredible collection of talent, posting the fourth-best record and fifth-best estimated Fenwick close of any pre-2008 Cup winner,14Going back to the 1987-88 season, the first year of Hockey-Reference’s game log data. but also had the fifth-oldest roster in the league15Weighted by the Modified Point Shares of each player on the roster. and was the 23rd-oldest Cup winner since 1943.Instead of seeking out younger players, New York GM Neil Smith put the league’s oldest squad on the ice over the next three seasons (even recruiting a 36-year-old Wayne Gretzky to join a 36-year-old Mark Messier in the summer of 1996). While the Canadiens were struggling to contend with the NHL’s new financial realities, the Rangers had no such issues; their $44 million payroll in 1997-98 was the highest in NHL history at the time. But they were also committed to an old, overpaid roster that wasn’t producing — and, like Montreal, New York had compounded matters by drafting poorly over the previous decade.16The Rangers were the league’s third-worst drafting team from 1992 to 1999.A number of key players on the Rangers’ 1993-94 championship squad had been acquired in the draft during the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Sergei Zubov, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Nemchinov and Tony Amonte. But the subsequent batch of Rangers drafts produced first-round busts like Jeff Brown (No. 22 overall in 1996), Stefan Cherneski (No. 19 in 1997) and Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark (No. 4 and No. 9, respectively, in 1999).The lack of decent prospects made it difficult for New York to avoid extending its aging stars’ contracts or overpaying for veterans on the free-agent market. From 1997-98 to 2003-04, the Rangers never fell outside the NHL’s top four teams in payroll dollars spent, yet never had a season with a winning record. Smith was fired after a disappointing 1999-2000 campaign that saw New York finish 12 points out of the playoffs, but his successor, Glen Sather, didn’t fare better, missing the postseason himself in each of the next four seasons.Both the Canadiens and Rangers were afterthoughts in the 2000s. But both teams began to turn their fortunes around after a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 schedule and radically shifted the game’s economic landscape.Under the league’s new salary-cap system (and with the loonie gaining strength), Montreal steadily began to spend more on payroll, cracking the top 10 once more in 2006-07, and the top five in 2008-09. And while the Rangers initially spent huge sums of money on their players,17They led the league in payroll during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. Sather began reducing the team’s payroll in 2010 — dropping out of the top five for the first time in at least 20 years, followed by a 14th-place payroll ranking in 2011-12 and a 19th-place ranking this year.The Rangers’ sudden, unprecedented reduction in payroll coincided with a newfound commitment to youth. After ranking among the league’s oldest teams each season going back to the early 1990s, New York transitioned to become one of the youngest squads in 2008-09, jettisoning aging stars like Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka. This year, the Rangers’ only major contributors over 3018According to Modified Point Shares. are Henrik Lundqvist, 31, and Brad Richards, 33. And the team’s recent draft classes have supplied the Rangers with a host of talented youngsters such as Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto, Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin. (Undrafted free-agent gems like Mats Zuccarello help, too.)In a similar vein, one of the biggest ingredients of Montreal’s turnaround has been a successful series of drafts by general managers Andre Savard, Bob Gainey and Pierre Gauthier, beginning in 200219Hey, Chris Higgins was a solid No. 14 pick. and cresting with strong hauls in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Under their stewardship, the team made a number of shrewd selections, like P.K. Subban at No. 43, Max Pacioretty at No. 22, Brendan Gallagher at No. 147 and Carey Price at No. 5. (Other 2013-14 Habs key players procured via the draft include Andrei Markov — a relic of the Houle era — and Tomas Plekanec.) All those players’ careers have exceeded what could reasonably have been expected from their draft positions.Those picks may have been plain old luck — the year-to-year correlation for teams’ per-pick draft efficiency is very nearly zero, suggesting drafting skill is largely random in hockey, just as it is in football. Regardless, Montreal and New York still brought themselves back into relevance.None of this guarantees a Stanley Cup this year. The winner of the Eastern Conference finals will face either the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, or the Los Angeles Kings, who are the best possession team in hockey. Neither the Canadiens nor the Rangers has looked especially dominant in the playoffs thus far, aside from the Rangers’ pasting of the Canadiens in Game 1. Both teams needed Game 7s to squeak past their opponents in the conference semifinals, and the Rangers needed that many to top the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, too. During the regular season, the Canadiens were not a strong possession team, still a major leading indicator of future team success.Despite all of those caveats, it’s notable that one of these two teams is guaranteed a place in the final. Each lost its way during the previous decade, but by successfully rebuilding through the draft and not throwing good money after bad, they’ve provided a road map for once-proud franchises to get back on the path to the Stanley Cup.
OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) during a game against Illinois on Feb. 21 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Brooke Profitt | Lantern PhotographerThe postseason is upon the Ohio State women’s basketball team. It’s the time of the year that every team plays for. One loss is all it takes to dash a team’s desires. For OSU, that second season begins with the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse this weekend. No. 9 OSU enters the tournament hungry for wins and a chance to play for the hardware. The Buckeyes are the second seed in the tournament, which earns it a two-round bye. That rest could provide the Buckeyes a little bit of time to regroup after a tough end to their regular season.“We have a great opportunity heading to Indianapolis. It’s going to be a competitive tournament,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. “We had a tough week last week, but we control our destiny, and I think we can beat anybody that we are going to play if we have the right mindset and we really compete to win.” The Buckeyes are scheduled to kick off their tournament journey Friday night at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of a game between Rutgers and Nebraska. OSU beat both teams handily during the regular season.The contest between the Scarlet Knights and the Huskers is scheduled for Thursday evening, and the Buckeyes will have their eyes glued to the television to scout their two possible opponents.OSU is not satisfied with completing the regular season on a two-game losing streak, sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell said. The Buckeyes first lost to Minnesota in overtime and then to Michigan State in triple overtime in the finale. However, Mitchell said they have put the past behind them and have been focused on the task at hand.“We didn’t have the week we wanted to have,” she said. “It’s just one of those things where we have to turn the page. We have to get back to how things were.”Rating RutgersRutgers enters the Big Ten tournament as the No. 10 seed with hope to prove itself to the rest of the conference. Coming off a 72-50 win over Michigan, the Scarlet Knights have a lot of confidence. They lean on senior forward Kahleah Copper, who averages 17.3 points per game and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. Against the Buckeyes, Copper scored 19 points in the first meeting and 18 the second. The Philadelphia native is known for her ability to drive to the basket and finish with authority. Copper’s counterpart is junior guard Tyler Scaife, who was also selected to the All-Big Ten second team. The speedy Scaife averages 17.6 points per game and has had OSU’s number this season, putting up 27 points when visiting Columbus earlier in the year. When OSU traveled to Piscataway, New Jersey, a couple of weeks later, Scaife contributed 13 points and four assists. If Rutgers is the team OSU plays on Friday, the Buckeyes will likely put their focus on stopping Copper and Scaife in order to come out on top.Nebraska notesNebraska is full of standout players who could potentially give the Buckeyes trouble if the Cornhuskers defeat Rutgers on Thursday. The No. 7 seed enters the tournament on the heels of a 76-67 victory over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon.Nebraska forward Jessica Shepard was awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Year, as she averaged 19.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-4 forward is adept at scoring down low and has proven to be one of the top post players in the conference throughout the course of the season. Last time out against the Buckeyes, Shepard dropped 20 points, all of which came inside the paint. All-Big TenOn Monday night, the Big Ten announced its all-conference teams, and four Buckeyes were chosen.Joining Mitchell, a unanimous selection, on the first-team is senior guard Ameryst Alston.Alston is No. 7 in scoring in the Big Ten with 19.5 points per game, while also being tied for 10th in the Big Ten in assists with 3.9 dimes per game.“I appreciate that award,” Alston said. “It’s not something that we really pay attention to, but I am grateful that I was chosen.”The second-team All-Big Ten squad included junior forward Shayla Cooper and sophomore forward Alexa Hart. Hart was also named to the All-Big Ten defensive team. She has been the defensive anchor for the Buckeyes this season, swatting away 2.6 shots per game. Despite the individual accolades that they receive, McGuff said his team is more focused on winning games.“They are into the team stuff and they want the team to do well, and that’s what makes them great kids and great players,” McGuff said.The Buckeyes will look to have a productive Thursday prior to hopping on the bus to Indianapolis. If they win Friday, the tournament semifinal is set for the next day.
The OSU baseball team celebrates during a game against Northwestern on March 27 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won 5-4. Credit: Lantern file photoThe Ohio State baseball team is coming off its most successful season in years. For the first time since 2009, the Buckeyes were in the NCAA tournament and won their first Big Ten tournament since 2007.But repeating that success will be a challenge. The Buckeyes’ lineup will be returning just two hitters from that group against Iowa in the final tournament game — senior co-captain Jalen Washington and junior outfielder Tre’ Gantt — and both players are changing positions.The team also will return only two of its regular starting pitchers with redshirt junior Adam Niemeyer and sophomore Ryan Feltner. Friday night starter Tanner Tully, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, and Saturday night starter John Havird, who graduated last season, have left the program, leaving big shoes to fill.Replacing impact players like Nick Sergakis and Ronnie Dawson will be a combination of 17 junior college baseball players and freshmen joining the club, making for plenty of uncertainty.“We’re a very talented ball club. I say that with a little caution because we haven’t proven it,” said OSU coach Greg Beals. “There’s a lot of guys that are going to get their first shot to be everyday players here at Ohio State.”Arguably the biggest change for the team comes from behind the dish. Washington, who caught 62 games last season for the team, will leave the role of catcher and shift to shortstop, his natural position. Taking over at catcher will be sophomore Jacob Barnwell, a player Washington has worked with while in preparation for the new role.“We’ve had a lot of dialogue with me and Barnwell, (sophomore catcher Andrew) Fishel a little bit,” Washington said. “Just how to get comfortable, how to handle the pitchers. Majority of the game is understanding the pitchers, making the pitchers comfortable, making their job as easy as possible.”The remainder of the infield appears penciled in with a pair of junior college transfers likely to start on the right side of the infield, and one returning player. Beals said junior transfers Bo Coolen and Noah McGowan are favorites to start at first and second base, respectively, while sophomore Brady Cherry looks to start at the hot corner for the ball club.The outfield, however, is much more in question. Gantt, the primary right fielder last season, will be shifting over to center field to man his natural position. But he is the only player with a potentially guaranteed spot.One outfielder Beals has his eye on is freshman Dominic Canzone, a Louisville Slugger High School All-American praised for his promising hitting ability.“Dom Canzone — just a knack for hitting,” Beals said. “He’s got a hit tool that’s hard to teach. He puts barrel on ball at a high rate.”The pitching staff will see changes occurring within the rotation, but the bullpen figures to remain roughly the same as last season. Junior Seth Kinker, who led the team in appearances, returns to the club as will senior left-hander Joe Stoll, redshirt junior Kyle Michalik and redshirt junior Austin Woodby, who served as a spot starter and reliever.An interesting case is redshirt junior Yianni Pavlopoulos, who served as closer in 2016. He might be headed towards a role as a starting pitcher in 2017.“Yianni Pavlopoulos, we moved out of the closer’s spot into starting rotation potential,” Beals said. “The potential exists for him to be in the rotation, the potential exists for him to go back in the closer’s spot. But we’re training him with an increased pitch count so that he is ready to be a starter if need be.”Though Pavlopoulos will be competing for a spot in the rotation, the only known weekend starters are Niemeyer and Feltner, while the Sunday night starter and weekday starter remain unknown.“I think right now, all the positions are pretty open from a pitching standpoint,” Niemeyer said. “It’s kind of an open competition right now, so we’ll see how all the pieces fit in these next few weeks before the season starts.”The team still has some positions left to fill, but the ball club is optimistic about its chances in 2017. The team is young and lacks experience, but Niemeyer believes this is a club that can compete now.“We want to keep building on that culture we created last year,” Niemeyer said. “I think everyone in this locker room, the coaching staff, everyone expects us to be in the hunt for another Big Ten Championship and we all believe we can accomplish that goal.”
Eventhough Everton is not having the greatest season Sam Allardyce believes Jordan Pickford should be England no. 1 in RussiaSam Allardyce har picked. And the one is Jordan Pickford.The Everton keeper played against Holland in a friendly and the Everton boss wants his guy to be the England no. 1 when Three Lions play in the World Cup:Allardyce tells Arsenal to stop ‘messing around’ & pay for Zaha Andrew Smyth – July 25, 2019 Sam Allardyce has told Arsenal to “messing around” and pay up the £80m Crystal Palace are asking for Wilfried Zaha.““He’s given Gareth a lot to think about with his performance the other night and his performances for us. People go on about him conceding a lot of goals for Everton but that is not the statistic you look at. You look at the saves he makes. He’s been far too busy on too many occasions for us but we have managed to reduce that during my time here from over two goals per game to 1.2 per game. He’s there when needed, he’s always been there when needed. All players make mistakes but his are few and far between, ” he said according to The Guardian.Pickford has to compete with Joe Hart, Nick Pope and Jack Butland.
Former Arsenal star Robert Pires insists Celtic Football Club is still a good club for young players to develop as their players.French youngsters, Olivier Ntcham and £9million striker Odsonne Edouard have followed the path taken by new Olympique Lyon striker Moussa Dembele.Dembele’s £20m exit from Celtic may have been shrouded in acrimony, Pires points to it as evidence that Parkhead can be a profitable place for youngsters to develop.“For these guys it’s a good opportunity to play for Celtic because they can play in the Europa League and fight for the title with Rangers,” Pires said, according to Daily Mail.“It is an opportunity to play with a great club such as Celtic, everyone in Europe knows them. Then, for the future, if you play very well you can join the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A.”Merson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.“Dembele played very well when he was at Celtic. But, for any French player, an opportunity to sign for Lyon is very tempting because they are a very good club in France.”“I think he can help Lyon. He is fast, has very good skills and can score goals. He looks like he will be very important to that team.”“But when a player changes the country, they always need to adapt to this new life. Some fans and media tell you that playing football is the same everywhere. It’s not.”“When you change country it is totally different. In Scotland it might be more physical than France, so you need that period to adapt. But I think he has started well at Lyon, showing why they spent that money.”
Borussia Dortmund youngster Jadon Sancho has discussed speculation over his future after rumors of a potential sale to Paris Saint-Germain surfaced in the press.The 18-year-old says he owes the Germans too much to consider leaving.The former Manchester City trainee has been linked with a move away from the Dortmund but has distanced himself from a switch to France or anywhere else for that matter.Speaking to Bild, as quoted by Mirror Football, the England international has five goals and eight assists already this season, says his only focus is on the title race in Germany.He said: “I’m not wasting any thoughts on a change, I owe a lot to BVB and I have a lot in mind with this team. I’m happy here and did not sign for so long for anything.”“By giving everything and giving our fans full throttle, we know how strong the Bavarians are but we also know that can beat them if we have a good day, especially at home.”Merson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.“We have respect for them but also a lot of self-confidence and we all stick together.”Meanwhile, England manager Gareth Southgate has again called Sancho up and could feature against Croatia and the USA.“Jadon has tremendous belief in himself,” said the Three Lions boss. “He’s physically ready. I think with some of these younger players, going abroad isn’t such a big deal these days.”“The world is a small place. They know they can fly home in a couple of hours. So they kind of just go for it. Youngsters view it all a bit differently.”