Categories
Soccer

Arsenal’s win over Dundalk gives Mikel Arteta exactly what he wanted from Mesut Ozil snub

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has faced his fair share of criticism after dropping Mesut Ozil from his Europa League and Premier League squads, but Thursday night’s win over Dundalk proved he made the right decision over the German playmaker.

Arteta named a completely different line-up on Thursday night by making ten changes for the Europa League tie.

Senior stars like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Partey were all left out in favour of younger players.

Nicolas Pepe, who has struggled for game time this season, was handed a start and repaid Arteta’s faith with a moment of magic in the second half.

With the Gunners 2-0 up, the Ivory Coast international was handed the ball on the edge of the area on his favoured left foot.

Pepe rolled his foot over the ball a few times before switching it to his weaker right foot and lashing his shot towards goal.

Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers was powerless to stop the ball soaring past him into the top corner of the net, giving Pepe his second goal of the season in all competitions.

His goal was a pure moment of magic, and seemed to come out of nowhere.

Moments of individual brilliance have been somewhat lacking at Arsenal recently, and that was one of the main criticisms Arteta faced when he axed Ozil, who is capable of producing such star quality.

But by producing something out of nothing, Pepe could well have eased the pressure on Arteta in that sense.

Arteta will have been desperate for his players to step up in the absence of Ozil and start creating chances for themselves, and Thursday night’s win was the perfect example of that coming into effect.

Something that was noticeable from Arsenal’s style of play against Dundalk was their desire to get the ball forward and test Rogers in the Dundalk goal.

Reiss Nelson in particular, who started on the right wing in a very attacking line-up, was a constant problem for the Irish side.

He was given the freedom to dribble with the ball and express his footwork in order to beat defenders, and was a nuisance throughout the game.

He was one of a number of youngsters brought into the side, as Arsenal’s young blood laid down a statement of intent amid a congested fixture calendar.

In the middle of the park, Joe Willock played on the right-hand-side of a midfield three – likely the position Ozil would have been played in had he been included.

The 21-year-old was always looking to get forward and join the attack, but refused to neglect his defensive responsibilities.

He rounded off a solid game with his first goal of the season for the Gunners, a fine finish after he pounced on a loose ball inside the area.

Because of his constant pressing and desire to be part of the attack, he was able to drift around to the back post and was in oceans of space as Pepe’s initial shot ricocheted into the air.

He had the time to bring the ball down before shimmying onto his right foot and blasting into the roof of the net.

Arteta should be delighted after Thursday night’s win, although Dundalk aren’t the most elite of opponents, he will know he has a comfortably strong squad capable of tackling the congested fixture calendar.

And thanks to Pepe and Willock, he might also be breathing a sigh of relief over his Ozil decision, too.

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Fighting

Usyk vs Chisora: Live stream of countdown show on Sky Sports News

Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight clash with Derek Chisora is edging closer – and you can watch a live stream of our ‘Countdown Show’ on Sky Sports News.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=KX-FfomYK9o%3Ffeature%3Doembed

The Ukrainian pound-for-pound star battles Chisora on Saturday night at Wembley Arena, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with the winner remaining firmly in contention for a world heavyweight title fight.

Catch up on all the latest news on our ‘Countdown Show’, which will be streamed on the Sky Sports website and app, Sky Sports Boxing Twitter, Sky Sports Boxing YouTube, and Sky Sports Boxing Facebook.

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Chisora took centre stage at Thursday’s press conference as he appealed for a ‘fair referee’ at the weekend, raising concerns that he would be denied the chance to engage Usyk in a brutal battle.

“I need a fair referee, and fair judges, that’s all I’m asking,” he said.

“They took points off me and I thought I was behind and I lost my shape, and my fight. Just be fair.

“I don’t want to be dancing in the ring, like wrestling, I want both of us to work. I want the fans to enjoy this fight, that’s what I want.

“I have to just keep moving my head, keeping my hands up, and just keep marching forward. He will try to wrong-foot me, as all southpaws do, but we’re ready for that. It’s going to be a big surprise when we’re in the ring.”

Watch Usyk vs Chisora on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber, you can book and watch it here.

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MLB

Tony La Russa, 76, named new Chicago White Sox manager

PHOENIX — The Chicago White Sox, who never seriously considered anyone else, and spent the past three weeks convincing him to come out of retirement, on Thursday named Hall of Famer and three-time World Series champion Tony La Russa as their new manager. 

La Russa, 76, last managed in 2011, and has declined several managerial opportunities since but could not resist the White Sox when they reached out earlier this month.

There was speculation in Chicago that former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch was the preferred candidate after his suspension was lifted following the World Series, but a high-ranking White Sox official told USA TODAY Sports he was never interviewed.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the hiring process.

The only question was whether La Russa, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, was interested to returning to the daily grind of managing.

Simply, the opportunity to come full circle, help White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf win another World Series title, while inheriting a championship-caliber ballclub, was too great for La Russa to pass up.

The hiring of La Russa will be criticized given his age (he'll be the oldest manager in baseball), time away from managing and the general shift toward younger, data-savvy managers. But those who have worked alongside him the past nine years in other baseball roles say his acumen hasn't faded.

“While I have had other inquiries about managing since retiring, this opportunity with the White Sox brings together a number of important factors that make this the right time and the right place,” La Russa said in a statement.

Tony La Russa, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, the third-winningest manager in baseball history, a three-time World Series champion and a four-time winner of the Manager of the Year Award, has been named the new manager of the Chicago White Sox. pic.twitter.com/RKP24rleHP

The White Sox were the team that provided La Russa with his first managerial job in 1979, and fired in 1986 by GM Ken “Hawk’’ Harrelson, with Reinsdorf later calling it the worst decision the White Sox ever made.

For firing La Russa?

“No, for hiring Hawk,’’ Reinsdorf would say, laughing, “because he’s the guy who fired Tony.’’

Reinsdorf, 84, and La Russa remained best of friends over the years, and when La Russa decided to retire late in the 2011 season, he had kept his decision a secret, letting few people in on his plans.

Well, on the night of Oct. 28, 2011 when La Russa's St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers to win Game 7 of the World Series, guess who was on the field soaking in the scene, celebrating La Russa’s glory.

Yep, Reinsdorf.

When the White Sox decided to fire Rick Renteria after making several bullpen blunders down the stretch, costing them the AL Central title and a first-round loss to the Oakland A’s, the White Sox immediately reached out to the Los Angeles Angels to gain formal permission to speak to La Russa, who was a senior advisor of baseball operations.

They made it clear to La Russa that it was his job if he wanted it, and it took several weeks for him to decide whether he was ready to jump back into the rigorous managerial lifestyle.

Besides, there is a legacy to protect.

La Russa has won the third-most games in history with 2,728, trailing only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763). The older managers in baseball history are Mack, 87, and Jack McKeon, 80.

This is the only job that would lure him out of retirement simply to help realize Reinsdorf’s dream of winning at least one more time.

Besides, to be honest, La Russa has been bored. He worked two years in the MLB office helping Joe Torre in on-field discipline. He was hired in May, 2014 with the Arizona Diamondbacks where he was the chief baseball baseball officer for three years. He spent three years as vice president of the Boston Red Sox, and the past year with the Angels.

Yet, he badly missed the competition on the playing field, and told friends in recent weeks that he feels rejuvenated.

"This hiring is not based on friendship or on what happened years ago," Reinsdorf said in a statement, "but on the fact that we have the opportunity to have one of the greatest managers in the game’s history in our dugout at a time when we believe our team is poised for great accomplishments.”

La Russa plans to keep the bulk of the current White Sox current coaching staff, although he is exploring the possibility of bringing on Hall of Famer Harold Baines. Baines, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019, was on the White Sox coaching staff in 2004-2015.

La Russa also spoke to his long-time pitching coach Dave Duncan, 75, but Duncan plans to remain retired. The White Sox are expected to promote a pitching coach within the organization to replace Don Cooper, who was fired alongside Renteria.

Will it work? Will the dream come to fruition with Reinsdorf and La Russa riding off the sunset together?

Time will tell, but certainly, this will be worth watching.

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Categories
Soccer

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned two players might be ‘frustrated’ after decision

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been warned his two full-backs – Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw – might become frustrated if he continues to tinker with his formation.

United enjoyed a terrific result on Wednesday night as they smashed RB Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford bagged a hat-trick in the Champions League demolition, while Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood finished off the rout.

After a poor start to the season, United have now turned things around and have won three of their last four games.

Solskjaer changed his team around for the Leipzig game, and his line-up on Wednesday appeared significantly different to the team which faced Chelsea.

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The Norwegian boss played five at the back against Paris Saint-Germain, but opted for a four-man defence against Leipzig and Chelsea.

Shaw played as a central defender against PSG, before being put back at his normal position of left-back to face Leipzig.

And former Liverpool full-back Stephen Warnock believes he could become frustrated at being constantly asked to flip from the centre of defence to a full-back position.

Speaking to Express Sport, Warnock warned Solskjaer that he might need to find a consistent formation soon.

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“I think it can [be a problem],” he said of the formation changes.

“I think when you’re a player, you need to be able to adapt to formations but for me personally, if I was Wan-Bissaka or Luke Shaw playing in those full-back positions, you need to know if you’re playing as a wing-back, a full-back or a centre-half.

“They seem to be changing week-in and week-out.

“That could be very frustrating.

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“From a player’s point of view, I think you need consistency in the formation you’re playing in.

“Don’t get me wrong, you can adapt that within the game.

“It’s difficult, because if you look at it you think he did well at Paris Saint-Germain with the 3-5-2, then last night he’s played the diamond and he’s beaten the top of the Bundesliga team 5-0.

“It works to a certain degree, but players will get frustrated with it.”

Stephen Warnock spoke to Express Sport at the launch of 7 Elite Academy’s partnership with Coaching Connexions, which will give players from across the world the opportunity to study and train in Liverpool. For more information visit www.7eliteacademy.com.

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Categories
Rugby

Six Nations 2020: Super Saturday talking points

We look at the talking points ahead of 2020’s Six Nations Super Saturday, which could see England, Ireland or France take the title…

France vs Ireland (8.05pm)

Johnny Sexton has challenged Ireland to honour Cian Healy’s 100th cap by claiming a fourth Six Nations crown in seven years.

British and Irish Lions prop Healy will bring up his Test century in Saturday’s mouth-watering showdown against France in Paris.

Ireland can add another Six Nations crown to their 2014, 2015 and 2018 triumphs at the Stade de France – but must pull off an unprecedented bonus-point win in the French capital to be certain of holding off title rivals England.

Ireland are currently a point clear of both England, who face rock-bottom Italy in Rome, and France in the Six Nations table.

Captain Sexton believes Ireland can carve out the openings for four scores in Paris, but conceded converting them will be a different matter entirely against the resurgent hosts.

Asked to explain the size of the task, Sexton said: “I suppose we just have to wait and see, all we can control at the moment is our performance.

“So we’ve just had to emphasise to everyone that we need to get the performance right no matter what. We’re still going to have to play well no matter what, so let’s focus on that aspect.

“We know if we perform well we’ll create chances, so we’ll have to take them, we’ll need to be clinical.”

For France, lock Bernard Le Roux has been cleared to play after a hearing into an act of foul play against Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Second-row forward Le Roux was accused of striking Jones with a forearm during France’s 38-21 friendly win in Paris on Saturday.

Le Roux told an independent disciplinary committee on Tuesday that he had made contact with Jones but denied that it had been an act of foul play.

“The disciplinary committee found that Mr Le Roux had committed an act of foul play (an infringement of Law 9.12) but that it had not warranted a red card, and that Mr Le Roux is therefore free to resume playing immediately.”

France’s only hope of the title is to beat Ireland by a better margin than England manage against Italy – or hope England lose to Italy for the first time.

  • France team news
  • Ireland team news

Italy vs England (4.45pm)

England forwards coach John Mitchell believes Billy Vunipola is ready to answer the call in Saturday’s Six Nations finale in Italy.

Saracens No 8 Vunipola has not played since his club’s final Premiership match against Bath on October 4, and not for England since the 2019 World Cup final on November 2.

England can lift the Six Nations trophy if they secure a bonus-point win in Rome and other results go their way.

Mitchell said: “Billy has a huge capacity for work. He’s a guy that has regularly played 80 minutes in his Test career.

“It’s phenomenal how he’s able to keep pushing on to the ball and contribute in the way that he does.”

England head coach Eddie Jones has always maintained Vunipola needs to be play regularly to be at his best, but Mitchell suggested the back-row could have a big part to play.

“It’s just a unique quality that he has,” Mitchell added. “You never judge the book by its cover I guess, it’s what’s inside.

“He’s highly motivated and he’s proved that in the past as well.”

England are expected to beat Italy handsomely, but as mentioned above, both France and Ireland can still win the Championship.

It promises to be a thrilling last round of matches, but Mitchell would not be drawn on whether England will start the weekend as favourites.

“Firstly our goal is to win the Six Nations and we’ll need to set the tone right from the start,” he said. “We’ll also need to be at our best.

“We keep that focus and we maintain our intent and if we’re very good we’ll give ourselves every opportunity.

“We’ve got an opportunity to demonstrate our pride and also the privilege which comes with being back playing for England.

“It’s an opportunity for us to put smiles on people’s faces during a really tough time and I know it might sound generic because you’re probably hearing that from all sportsmen, but that time has arrived for us.

“That’s really important to us. Preparation is extremely important but there comes a time when you’ve got to deliver and make sure you wholeheartedly create a smile and give the country something to look forward to.”

In terms of team news, Exeter’s Jonny Hill will make his England debut after coach Eddie Jones named him as lock partner to Maro Itoje for the game in Rome.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs will win his 100th cap, while there are three uncapped players on the bench – hooker Tom Dunn, powerful centre Ollie Lawrence and winger Ollie Thorley, while Dan Robson is the backup scrum-half.

To finish top England would need to secure their bonus point, make up the 23-point deficit on Ireland, and then better any further points difference advantage Ireland might gain with a non-bonus point win.

Jones said he would approach the game the same way as usual, despite the need for tries. “We’ve just been focussed on maximising our performance,” he said. “We have to be disciplined and focussed on playing to our absolute best, and every minute presents an opportunity.”

  • England team news

Wales vs Scotland (2.15pm)

Stephen Jones says Wales are under no illusions about the importance of Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Scotland.

Wales might be comfortably out of title contention when the tournament reaches its climax, but last season’s Grand Slam champions are on the back of four successive defeats under head coach Wayne Pivac – Wales’ worst results sequence since 2016 – which underlines their Six Nations finale’s significance in Llanelli.

“Pressure is an interesting word, isn’t it? It depends how you see that as an individual,” Jones said.

“We are under no illusions. This is must-win for us, and we are really excited by that challenge.

“As a group, we want closure on the Six Nations campaign, and we have got to do it in a positive manner and we have got to get the result.”

Wales have not won a game since beating Italy 42-0 in their opening Six Nations fixture almost nine months ago.

Subsequent losses to Ireland, France and England – then France again in Paris three days ago – also saw them concede 15 tries.

  • Wales team news
  • Scotland team news

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Categories
Rugby

Six Nations: Finn Russell set to start for Scotland against Wales

Finn Russell will start for Scotland in their final Six Nations contest against Wales on Saturday.

Adam Hastings drops to the bench to make way for the fly-half, who will make his first Six Nations appearance this year.

Captain Stuart Hogg and second-row forward Jonny Gray return to the side in the wake of their double-winning exploits with Exeter.

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Duhan van der Merwe drops to the bench following his try-scoring debut against Georgia, with Blair Kinghorn taking his place on the wing after vacating Hogg’s full-back position.

Scarlets No 8 Blade Thomson also comes in to start on his home ground in Llanelli in place of the injured Matt Fagerson, while Ben Toolis also drops to the bench.

Racing 92 stand-off Russell fell out of the equation following a disciplinary issue ahead of the Six Nations in January but has repaired his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend and made an impact off the bench in Friday’s 48-7 win over Georgia.

Townsend said: “It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks.

“We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.”

Townsend, whose side beat Italy and France after narrow defeats by Ireland and England, added: “As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Six Nations rugby again.

“We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.

“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli.

“Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14. Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 James Lang, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 Fraser Brown, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Scott Cummings, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Blade Thomson.

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duhan van der Merwe.

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Categories
Soccer

Liverpool star Jordan Henderson has already given Klopp clear answer on replacing Van Dijk

Jordan Henderson has already made it clear in the past that he is willing to fill in at centre-back for Liverpool. The Reds skipper has previously stepped up to the plate in the past and now his comments on changing position to help the Reds have resurfaced.

Back in December 2019, Liverpool headed to the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar ahead of a gruelling festive Premier League schedule.

Jurgen Klopp was already struggling at the heart of defence with Dejan Lovren ruled out of the tournament.

Joel Matip also stayed at home to recover from a knee injury that kept him out until the new year.

Virgil van Dijk was forced to sit out of the clash with Mexican side Monterrey and Henderson was summoned alongside Joe Gomez.

JUST IN: Liverpool tipped to drop second midfielder in at centre-back after Fabinho injury

Liverpool ran out 2-1 winner courtesy of goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino, as the Brazilian netted a late winner.

Speaking after the game, Henderson praised his team-mates for helping with the transition.

“That was different,” Henderson joked. “I had fantastic players around me, and they helped me out. It was different to anything that I have been used to. I’ve played at full-back, but I’ve never played there before.”

Henderson admitted he would be willing to drop in at centre-back again, if Van Dijk was not available because he would always put the team first.

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“I just tried to do my best for the team and thankfully we got the win,” added.

“I don’t know what will happen with Virgil on Saturday. Fingers crossed he will be okay.

“Of course, if the manager needed me to go there again, I would do it. It is anything to help the team.”

Henderson’s attitude is an example to all and he has made it clear he would get on with business if his manager needed him to do a job.

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Adam Lallana was rather impressed by Henderson’s performance as a makeshift centre-back.

“We had Hendo [Jordan Henderson] at centre-half and I thought he was magnificent,” Lallana told The Guardian.

“That is all part of the character and the mentality and why we keep churning out late winners. It’s as simple as that.”

Liverpool will be hoping to welcome back Matip ahead of the weekend’s clash with West Ham and the Cameroonian could help solve their problems.

Klopp looks increasingly likely to throw Rhys Williams in at the deep end after two Champions League appearances against Ajax and FC Midtjylland from the bench.

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Soccer

Fantasy Premier League tips: Who should I captain in GW7 – Kane, Son, Salah?

Tottenham duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were involved in more goalscoring returns last week. The stars have now registered 13 goals and 10 assists between them. Many FPL managers were also left disappointed last weekend after handing the armband to Mohamed Salah for Liverpool’s home match against Sheffield United as the Egyptian suffered a rare blank. Selecting a captain is always a crucial part of the FPL process and with Friday’s 6.30pm GMT deadline drawing closer, Express Sport takes a look at the top captaincy picks and differential options.

Fantasy Premier League captain tips

Harry Kane (TOT) vs Brighton

Kane (£10.9) has been sparkling form, scoring five goals in six games.

But helping out his team-mates is where he’s really impressed, with eight assists to his name already.

The Spurs striker has racked up a total of 65 points this season, just four shy of team-mate Son.

Son Heung-min (TOT) vs Brighton

Son (£9.5m) is the main player benefitting from Kane’s brilliant assist record this term.

The South Korean has provided two of his own, while also scoring eight times.

As an FPL midfielder, Son also has the potential to pick up some clean sheet points.

Mohamed Salah (LIV) vs West Ham

Liverpool have endured a mixed start to the season but Salah (£12.4m) has still been on top form.

The Egyptian has scored six goals and provided one assist, with only Kane and Son above him in the FPL points chart.

And although he blanked against Sheffield United last time out, those who captained Salah can feel a bit hard done by.

The Liverpool star hit the post and had a brilliant goal ruled out for a marginal offside by VAR – so on another day he could’ve easily walked away with a brace.

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Kevin De Bruyne (MCI) vs Sheffield United

De Bruyne’s (£11.5m) return from injury also brings him back into the captaincy discussion.

He was unlucky not to get an assist when he played Raheem Sterling through late on against West Ham, but he did register two assists in City’s midweek win over Marseille in the Champions League.

De Bruyne also has a good record against the Blades, scoring once and bagging two assists across both fixtures last season.

Fantasy Premier League differential captains

Danny Ings (SOU) vs Aston Villa

Ings has been in fine form once again this term with four goals in six games.

He also registered his first two assists of the season against in-form Everton last time out.

Patrick Bamford (LEE) vs Leicester

Bamford is the most-signed player ahead of GW7 following his hat-trick against Villa last time out.

That took him to six goals for the season, plus two assists, and he could be a intriguing differential captaincy choice at home to the Foxes.

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Categories
Golf

New Zealand Open cancelled over coronavirus uncertainty

Organisers of next year’s New Zealand Open have cancelled the event because of uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament was scheduled to be held on two courses in the South Island town of Queenstown in February.

“We are extremely disappointed to have had to come to this decision,” organising committee chairman John Hart said in a statement on Thursday.

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“But the effects of the pandemic, borders being closed, and the financial risk associated with a potential later cancellation due to any further Covid-19 outbreaks means we have no other alternative other than to cancel this event now.”

Hart said they had expected up to 300 people from overseas to attend the tournament.

New Zealand has closed its borders to anyone but returning citizens or permanent residents and while overseas visitors can apply for an exemption, they must meet stringent conditions and are rarely granted.

All arrivals must also still undergo 14-days isolation with short-term visitors charged for their stay in government-run facilities.

The cancellation of the New Zealand Open follows that of Australia’s four major golf tournaments, all of which were also scheduled for February.

Gleneagles to host 2022 Senior Open

Gleneagles has been announced as the venue for The Senior Open presented by Rolex in 2022, the first time the Scottish course has hosted a senior major.

Gleneagles hosted Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at 2014 and Europe’s dramatic Solheim Cup success in 2019, with the iconic venue also previously playing host to 26 European Tour events since 1974.

The event will be one of three majors in Scotland that summer, with The 150th Open scheduled to be held at St Andrews a week earlier and the AIG Women’s Open that year taking place at Muirfield.

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Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director – Championships at The R&A, said: “This is another great ‘first’ in the history of The Senior Open and we could not be more thrilled to be staging the championship on The King’s Course at Gleneagles.

“With such a strong pedigree in hosting championships, The King’s is a fine test of golf and we know the players will relish the opportunity to play there.

“Adding another renowned venue to the roster is a clear indication of the continuing development of The Senior Open and I’m sure there will be a real sense of anticipation among the players and fans for our first visit to Gleneagles in two years’ time.”

Sunningdale Golf Club hosts the 2021 contest, a year on from the Championship being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the 35th edition then taking place on the King’s Course at Gleneagles from July 21-24, 2022.

LISTEN: Sky Sports Golf podcast

Ross McGowan’s Italian Open success, Bryson DeChambeau’s added distance and golf’s accessibility issues all feature in the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast.

McGowan joins Mark Roe, Zane Scotland and host Josh Antmann to reflect on his one-shot victory in Italy and discuss how he celebrated ending an 11-year winless run on the European Tour.

The 38-year-old goes through the key shots from his final round at Chervo Golf Club and talks about some of the tougher times he has experienced in his career before his return to the winner’s circle.

The rest of the panel look back at Patrick Cantlay’s win at the Zozo Championship and throw plenty of praise in the direction on Bianca Pagdanganan, who impressed during the LPGA Drive On Championship.

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The guests look at DeChambeau’s social media post of him hitting a 403-yard carry and try to work out how his added distance could benefit him at the Masters next month, with plenty of debate about what can be done to limit the increasing hitting distances within the sport.

Scotland opens up about his experiences of discrimination in golf and offers plenty of solutions and ideas on how to make the game accessible for everybody, while the guests also offer their predictions for this week’s Cyprus Open and Bermuda Championship.

Download and listen to the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast and don’t forget to subscribe via Spotify or Apple Podcasts!

The Vodcast version is out now on Sky Sports On Demand, with the show also on Sky Sports Golf this Wednesday from 7pm and 10pm.

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Categories
Soccer

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has shown he can navigate Van Dijk crisis with surprise change

If history is anything to go by, Jurgen Klopp has proved he can navigate a crisis at centre-back in an unlikely manner. The Liverpool boss is now tasked with coping without star man Virgil van Dijk, who could miss the entire 2020/21 season through injury.

The Dutchman is set for surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament, which was ruptured by Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby earlier this month.

Fabinho has since slotted in to fill the void but he pulled up with a hamstring problem in the 2-0 win over Midtjylland in the Champions League.

That means Liverpool are down to bare bones, with Joel Matip still yet to prove his fitness.

Joe Gomez remains the only available centre-back and there could be more opportunities for the likes of Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips.

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Prior to Van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield, Klopp found himself in a similar position back in December 2017 as his side prepared to visit Brighton in the Premier League.

Matip and Gomez were unfit while Ragnar Klavan was only available from the bench after illness.

Dejan Lovren was the only Liverpool centre-back fit to play and Klopp made a late decision to try something extraordinary.

He fielded a back-three, with Lovren in the middle and Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can either side.

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Can had played the role under Brendan Rodgers but it was uncharted territory for Wijnaldum, who has never played in defence.

The Reds ended up winning 5-1 on the South Coast and after the game, Wijnaldum admitted he struggled to get to grips with what was expected of him.

“It was difficult, really difficult,” he said. “You could see in the first half how difficult it was for me to play there. But I felt that in the second half things went better for me.

“I’ve never played there before. When the manager picked the team and put players in certain positions, then I knew I was playing in that position.

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“It is really different from what I am used to because normally I am one line in front or in the attacking line.

“The manager was running out of options back there. Emre had to play there too, but he’s quite used to that. You always need defenders, but this was a game when we didn’t have to defend that much.”

It just goes to show that Klopp may be prepared to roll the dice and try something unexpected between now and January when Liverpool will have the chance to bring in reinforcements.

He has the versatile James Milner at his disposal, who has previously filled in at left and right-back for the Reds.

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Jordan Henderson has also dropped in at centre-back at the Club World Cup for Liverpool in Qatar.

Liverpool’s flying full-back duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson also bring so much to the table.

Their flexibility, workload and effectiveness on the pitch opens the door to a change of formation, if required.

Klopp will be quietly confident he has the quality and strength in depth to find solutions within his squad between the turn of the year.

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