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Oxlade-Chamberlain defends Gunners

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first_img Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “Ever since I have been at Arsenal, we have had numerous quality players and the whole squad had been very strong. It just seemed that in the big games we came up short sometimes and you wonder why. “The mentality going into those games was definitely a big thing. Since I have been here we’ve steadily got better at that, especially last year. “The addition of Petr Cech will certainly help us. He is a quality player but him as an individual and a character who won things, that’s another one with the winning mentality getting in our squad and can only help us going forward.” The midfielder added: “It does help the confidence and that belief and faith going into that next fixture against them. “It is a long season and it is very early doors. We can’t get too carried away but it is a good end to our pre-season which has gone really well.” Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a lively display against the Blues and hopes it can be the start of a positive campaign on the back of some frustrating injuries. “At the moment I feel good but you know what football is like. You can never speak too soon, so I take each game as it comes,” he said. “I am putting in the work off the pitch and fitness is one of the most important things in the game, it gives you the platform and allows you to do the things you want to do. “That is always important, so fingers crossed I have better luck this season.” Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has denied claims by Roy Keane the Arsenal players are obsessed with selfies and insists they are all deadly serious about winning trophies again next season. While 21-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain accepts the players are all fully immersed in the modern social media culture, he insists that does not make them any less determined to deliver on the pitch this season. When asked about Keane’s comments, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “It is a new era, isn’t it? Some people do it, some don’t. We are serious about winning trophies. “Personally, and I can speak for the rest of the squad, we have been serious every single year I have been at the club about winning trophies. “You can see that on the pitch when we are playing, through the season. “A lot of people don’t see when we lose and go through tough times how upset and disappointed we are. “We have always wanted to win trophies and in the last years we have won a few. This season we want to go that one better.” Arsenal’s victory over Chelsea was the first for manager Arsene Wenger against rival Jose Mourinho at the 14th attempt. There is a growing feeling this season could just develop into a vintage campaign for an Arsenal squad now bolstered by the summer signing of veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech from the Blues. The Gunners secured a long-overdue victory against Chelsea in the FA Community Shield on Sunday with a well-executed first-half goal by Oxlade-Chamberlain. Ahead of the Wembley showdown between the 2015 FA Cup winners and defending Barclays Premier League champions, former Manchester United captain Keane had labelled Arsene Wenger’s squad as “more interested in selfies and six-packs” than focusing on delivering a first championship since the Invincibles of 2003/04. Press Associationlast_img read more

From walk-on to staple of Badger offense, can Troy Fumagalli make it at next level?

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first_imgWisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli went from coming on as a walk-on to being the most reliable receiver on a top 10 football team in the country.  Now, the battle-tested player is making his case to scouts and fans as to why he is the best tight end in this year’s draft.Though Fumagalli’s story of perseverance and hard work is impressive, it is hardly unique at Wisconsin.  The program is known for bringing in less than stellar high school prospects and transforming them into stars for the university. JJ Watt, Joe Schobert, and Ryan Ramczyk are all notable Wisconsin walk ons that are currently playing at a high level in the NFL.Despite the program’s successful track record in this regard, doubts still loom for some scouts. Many pundits have questioned Fumagalli’s athleticism, allowing him to succeed at the professional level, putting him as a day three (fourth round or later) prospect. Fumagalli’s tight end coach Mickey Turner, has no doubt about how the former walk-on will respond to this criticism.Graham Mertz: The answer at quarterback?Playing quarterback for the University of Wisconsin Badgers is a good gig. Fans will treat any completed pass like they Read…“I think whatever they say he’ll work to prove them wrong.  He’s got the combine coming up and some pro days after that.  We look at our weight room numbers here he’s doing a great job for us.  Working out, training, just beating everything.  And I think he’s feeling good right now,” Turner said. “He’s going to be 100 percent healthy going in for some of that stuff.  It’ll be interesting.  He’s always been more than athletic enough to get the job done with what we asked him to do here at Wisconsin so I’m confident in him.”Fumagalli is the first major tight end prospect Turner has worked with since assuming the position in 2015.  However, as a player at Wisconsin from 2007 to 2009 Turner got firsthand experience with former NFL-drafted tight ends Garrett Graham, Travis Beckham and Lance Kendricks.While there are differences in terms of all these tight ends’ play styles, Turner wanted to stress what aligns them is how they all produced at high levels for the university.Football: Wisconsin ends 2017 regular season undefeated, brings axe home to MadisonPaul Bunyan’s axe is returning to Madison after the University of Wisconsin football team trounced the Minnesota Golden Gophers during Read…However, what makes Fumagalli unique as a tight end prospect is his ability to be a 3-down tight end.  The Wisconsin star’s ability to perform in the receiving game, especially as a route runner. Blocking could set Fumagalli up to have a prominent role in the modern NFL lineup.Today’s NFL tight end looks much different than even a decade ago.  NFL stars Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce lead their position because of their skills as receivers and blockers.  Turner said this could open up the draft for a complete tight end like Fumagalli as most teams in the NFL are now looking for more versatility at the position.Turner echoed these sentiments when asked what Fumagalli needed to show scouts ahead of April’s draft.“I think one of his best assets as a college player was that he could be an every down tight end.  I think that’s what he’s got to show them. Cause they’re always going to have their guys that are very specific like: this is our deep ball guy, this is our goal line blocking guy and Troy is somewhere in the middle where he does a lot of things well.  I think that’s going to have be the big thing for certain teams is if he can be an every down tight end for them,” Turner said.Football: Wisconsin dominates Michigan, remains undefeated and best in Big TenThe University of Wisconsin football team came out on top at Camp Randall after a grueling game against the Michigan Read…Another fact that, at first, left some scratching their heads at his ability to catch the ball and block was that Fumagalli is missing his left index finger.  While you’d think this would hamper a tight end’s abilities, because Fumagalli suffered the injury as a young child his muscle memory is constructed to play with only 9 fingers.  When asked if this condition would hurt Fumagalli in the NFL, Turner immediately responded.“No, not at all.  In fact it might even be an asset for him,” Turner said.Fumagalli’s departure from the Badgers will undoubtedly leave a hole in the Wisconsin offense. Turner said he didn’t know if it would necessarily be a tight end who would replace Fumagalli’s receiving presence, noting that receivers or running backs may take on a larger role going forward.  However, Turner said despite a lot of players vying for the position, Kyle Penniston and Zander Neuville are getting the most reps at tight end for the team early on.Currently though, Troy is working at a combine training location off campus in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine, which goes from Feb. 27 to March 5 in Indianapolis.  After that, Fumagalli will likely host some pro days at UW Madison and await the NFL Draft that will last three days and begin April 26.last_img read more

Gallant amputees lose 1-2 to Russia

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first_imgThe Ghana National Amputee Football team, the Black Challenge, gallantly lost 1-2 to their Russian counterparts at the Amputee Football World Cup in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.The chilling weather had an effect on the Black Challenge who had to delve deep into their reserves to pull one goal back in the second half after a beautifully coordinated move initiated between Kofi Asare and Cephas Anum and perfectly finished by Collins Gyamfi.The two first half goals by the Russians came at a time the rains had set in, the second time in the Ghanaians three matches played so far but the shivering Ghanaians had no option than to keep their opponents at bay to avoid conceding more goals.In the second half, the Black Challenge changed the trend of the game with incisive moves into the half and the dee (penalty box) of the Russia who were eager to please their fans with tailor-measured passes and entertaining football.The match became a ding-dong affair as both sides tested their opposing goal keepers with some long-range shots matched by equally beautiful saves from the safe hands.The Russian keeper saved the day for his team with great saves that denied Collins Gyamfi, Africa’s Best scorer of the chance to bang in more goals; however, the goal poacher managed to increase his personal tally to three in three matches with the goal that reduced the deficit. Ghana still remain in second position on the league Group A table with six points behind Russia who have the maximum nine points from three matches. Ghana would have to win at least one match in the next game to keep the dream of winning gold alive.In another match, Africa’s other representative Liberia lost 2-8 to defending champions Uzbekistan, recording no point in three matches played in Group B.last_img read more

How position players pitching became baseball’s new market inefficiency

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first_img“I think it comes about because of the specialization,” Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said, “and you go through your seven or eight relief pitchers quicker than you used to.”According to research by the website FiveThirtyEight, teams used approximately 1.5 relief pitchers per game on average until about 1980. By the late 2000s, complete games were nearly extinct and teams were using three relievers per game. Meanwhile, roster limits did not change. Managers were still limited to 25 active players prior to Sept. 1 each year, but the demand for relief pitchers was never higher. Something had to give.Every team had between seven and nine relief pitchers on its roster as of Wednesday, according to Roster Resource. Each bullpen featured the kind of specialists Zaidi had in mind – a left-hander who only pitches to left-handed hitters, for example.“You might burn through those guys in eight innings and suddenly you need somebody else for the ninth,” Zaidi said.Some teams are better at rationing relief innings than others. The Angels are one of eight teams who have not sent a position player to the mound – other than Ohtani, of course. The Dodgers avoided using a position player until last Tuesday in Philadelphia when Kiké Hernandez took the mound in the 16th inning of a tie game. New York Mets pitcher Jose Reyes released the ball at an ungraceful sidearm angle. The 54-mph tumbler was recorded as a curveball, but it’s tough to say for sure. The baseball hit the batter, Ryan Zimmerman, with so little force that Zimmerman could actually smile and pretend to charge the mound before jogging to first base.Reyes threw three more pitches Tuesday night, all strikes. It was the first, and hopefully last, pitching appearance in the long career of a 35-year-old infielder. The Mets lost to the Washington Nationals 25-4, and Reyes was stuck with a 54.00 earned-run average.Excluding the Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani, position players have made a record 46 appearances this season through Tuesday, according to Baseball Reference. Last year produced 36 such appearances, up from 26 in 2016. The reason behind the trend isn’t obvious because, naturally, position players are not very good at pitching. After Reyes’ gem, and excluding the nine starts by Ohtani, position players this year have a cumulative ERA of 6.00.So why do they keep getting the ball? Hernandez’s teammates swear he could pitch a baseball 93 or 94 mph if he wanted to, but his fastball averaged 77 mph that night. Manager Dave Roberts said he told Hernandez to “just throw strikes” and Hernandez acceded, apparently ot knowing his own control.Hernandez induced a flyout on his first pitch, walked the next two batters, then surrendered the game-winning home run to Trevor Plouffe. He is now 0-1 with a career ERA of 81.00. Roberts knew the risk – Hernandez had never pitched in a professional game – but he also had a new game to prepare for less than 12 hours later.When a manager runs out of pitchers or is on the losing end of a lopsided game, does the risk of sending a position player to the mound outweigh the risk of taxing his actual pitching staff further?“Part of baseball is you have to live to fight the next day,” Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “You really do. When we’re making that decision, that’s really what it’s about.”Counsell sent two position players to the mound in an 11-2 loss to the Dodgers on July 22 in Milwaukee: Hernan Perez pitched the seventh and eighth innings, and Erik Kratz pitched the ninth. Neither allowed a run.To the Dodgers hitters who had to face Perez and Kratz that day, it strained the definition of fun.“It’s completely different from what you’ve been seeing for years,” said Cody Bellinger, who lined out to left field against Perez.“It’s never really fun facing a position player,” Max Muncy said, “because you never know: are they just going to lob it over the plate? Once they get a strike on you, are they going to suddenly start – because every position player has a good arm – you never know if they’re going to rear back and throw it 90, start breaking off curveballs on you.”Sidearm curveballs at 54 mph, perhaps.That game in Milwaukee wasn’t even the most prolific for position players on a mound. Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon used three position players to finish an 18-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 20: Tommy La Stella, Victor Caratini and Ian Happ.Three position players had not pitched in the same game since 1979. Is there a tipping point in sight?“I think maybe this is a trend that we’ll see more two-way players,” Zaidi said. “You have obviously the high-end two-way player, like an Ohtani and like the kid (minor leaguer Brendan) McKay with Tampa. There are guys kind of on the bubble of major league rosters around baseball who have really strong two-way abilities.”The Dodgers tried to create a two-way player of their own. Outfielder Brett Eibner appeared in 17 major league games last year. He then returned to Triple-A and tried his hand as a pitcher, a role he thrived in at the University of Arkansas. Before he could even get into a game, Eibner suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and had Tommy John surgery, ending his season.Eibner only resurfaced last month in the Texas Rangers’ system – as a pitcher.“Unfortunately that didn’t work out with Brett,” Zaidi said, “but I would’ve liked to have had him on the bench in the 16th inning in Philly.”The Dodgers already have one of baseball’s most capable two-way players in their organization. As a pitcher, his career ERA is 3.56. As a batter, his average is .271. He even spent a full season as an outfielder in Japan. However, there are no plans for him to get in a game anytime soon. At 92 years old, special advisor Don Newcombe might not even get to pitch the 17th inning.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more