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Foxes still under pressure - Pearson

BBC Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:32
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson says his side's work is far from over despite exiting the Premier League bottom three.

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud has grown into an animal for Arsène Wenger

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:30
• Striker has improved all-round game, says Arsenal manager
• Frenchman more physical but has never scored against Chelsea
• Olivier Giroud says he is in form of his life

Arsène Wenger has praised Olivier Giroud for channelling his inner Diego Costa. The Arsenal coaching staff had encouraged the French forward to use his power in a more focused way, making him much more of a challenge for defenders as Chelsea’s Brazilian has done so determinedly this season. Wenger is delighted with the transformation in Giroud. “Sometimes he needed to be challenged physically to become really that animal he can be,” the Arsenal manager said.

Having cut out some of the complaining about the knocks a lone forward inevitably takes, Wenger also points out the improvement in Giroud’s all-round play - protecting the ball, releasing team-mates and in finishing.

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Van Gaal’s gravitas shines light on Manchester United’s Moyes gap year | Paul Wilson

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:30
With Van Gaal at the helm United are an attractive proposition again whereas, when Moyes claimed leading players were interested in joining, it sounded more as if he was reassuring himself that the brand still meant something
Giggs is Van Gaal’s choice to be next United manager
De Gea is the boss, not me, over signing new deal, says Van Gaal

The grim reaper will not be necessary at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon. Louis van Gaal visits the venue where David Moyes was poignantly reminded of his disposability in his final game as Manchester United manager with his new-look team higher in the table than Everton, on course for a Champions League place and with Roberto Martínez predicting the trophies will start to roll into Old Trafford next season.

After an unpromising start Van Gaal has managed what Moyes could not and produced a side that plays as a United team should. The arguments will rage about whether some sort of sacrificial interim was necessary to act as a buffer after the Sir Alex Ferguson years or whether United should have gone straight down the supercoach route and made an approach to José Mourinho, but the issue has been resolved now. Van Gaal looks like delivering on the target he was set at the start of the season, a top-four finish, even if he sets himself slightly higher standards than that. “The club set Europe as the goal for me to achieve but that is not my only aim,” Van Gaal said. “I am here to win championships, not to finish third or fourth. Maybe next year.”

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Eden Hazard will cost £100m each leg, José Mourinho warns Real Madrid

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:30
• Hazard is going nowhere, insists Chelsea manager
• ‘He’s a fantastic boy. He doesn’t cheat or dive. Nothing’
• Eden Hazard’s bloodyminded beauty triumphs
• Hazard signs new five-and-a-half-year contract with Chelsea

It took José Mourinho a couple of attempts to settle upon a package whose value could, hypothetically, tempt Chelsea into negotiating with Real Madrid for Eden Hazard. “£100m each leg, because he’s very young,” said Mourinho. Whether or not this was an advance on the £100m “plus one of their best three players” suggested a few moments previously is moot, but the point was clear enough.

Executives from Spain’s top two clubs are not known for making casual asides, so when Zinedine Zidane – who now manages Real’s B team, Castilla – dropped his admiration for Hazard into an interview there was cause to wonder whether he was the advance party for a summer of attempts to unsettle the player.

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Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil combine to develop Arsenal’s evolution

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:29
Arsène Wenger excited by how pair have gelled, with Sánchez scoring 22 goals and Özil finding his form in second half of season
• Arsenal confirm signing of Alexis Sánchez
• Mourinho: Fàbregas joined Chelsea to win titles

It was not quite as simple as a straight choice between Cesc Fàbregas and Alexis Sánchez – the curiously shady inferences that Arsène Wenger dangles about Fàbregas’s move to Chelsea do a fine job of obfuscating matters. But in the Arsenal manager’s mind, the situation last summer became crystal clear.

With around £35m reserved for a marquee signing, Wenger prioritised logic over sentiment. He could not afford two of the talents Barcelona were seeking to offload from their collection and Sánchez offered a dynamic Arsenal did not possess. In theory, they already had their Fàbregas-type in Mesut Özil, even if it required a substantial show of faith for Wenger to express that after an inhibited first season.

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Marquez has surgery on finger injury

BBC Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:18
MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez is a doubt for next weekend's Spanish GP after breaking his little finger in a training crash.

Brian O’Driscoll lines up with Gay Byrne to support same-sex marriage in Ireland

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:17
The police say yes, the priests say no – but the campaign for change still has the edge in Ireland’s gay marriage referendum

They were singing Motown soul classics, reciting rap-style poems and reading passages of prose in honour of Roddy Doyle’s The Barrytown Trilogy in the new €40m Dun Laoghaire library on Thursday night.

A gathering of younger poets and novelists, described as “an apocalyptic amount of Dublin accents”, also read out chunks of expletive-flecked dialogue from Doyle’s characters to mark the Irish capital’s One City, One Book event, which this year is dedicated to the author of The Snapper, The Van and the Booker prizewinning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

The no campaign has concentrated its fire on the implications of gay marriage for adopted children

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England led home by Cook after Jimmy Anderson rips up West Indies

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:12
• West Indies 299 & 307; England 464 and 144-1
• England win by nine wickets and lead series 1-0 with one Test to play

A Test match that had seemed dead and buried after four days came to life on the final day as England secured their first win in the Caribbean for more than 11 years. Back then in Bridgetown, it was Andrew Flintoff’s five first-innings wickets, Graham Thorpe’s hundred and Matthew Hoggard’s hat-trick that sealed an eight-wicket win.

This time it was a victory founded on an innings of youthful brilliance from Joe Root and an inspirational performance on the final morning from Jimmy Anderson, who tore the heart out of the West Indies innings by taking the wickets of the overnight centurion Kraigg Brathwaite, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels, with the second new ball; took a brace of well-judged catches at mid-off; and, just for good measure, ran out Jason Holder, also from mid-off, with a direct hit at the non-striker’s end. Cometh the hour, and all that.

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Floyd Mayweather eyes Las Vegas jackpot against Manny Pacquiao | Kevin Mitchell

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00

The long-awaited unification bout in Las Vegas next Saturday will bring untold riches for all, not just the two men in the ring
• Tickets sell out in less than one minute
• Fans charged to attend weigh-in

Floyd Mayweather is not often called Junior these days, which is a pleasing development for a 38-year-old father of four who is responsible for the financial well-being of an entire sport as well as his adopted city. (Even his publicist calls him “Mister” in public.)

From the garden of his echoing mansion beside the 13th fairway of a members’ only golf club – which he has never used – 12 miles south of Las Vegas, Mr Mayweather has a panoramic view of the city that he and Manny Pacquiao will enrich by hundreds of millions of dollars when they fight at the MGM Grand Arena on Saturday night.

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Toulon and Clermont Auvergne old hands in European Champions Cup duel

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00
Bakkies Botha and Jamie Cudmore – second-row beasts who sometimes took the law into their own giant hands – face each other in Twickenham final

Bakkies Botha and Jamie Cudmore are two of a dying breed, second-row forwards known for their appreciation of the dark arts who have not always relied on referees to uphold the law. With a combined age of 71, they will face each other in Saturday’s European Champions Cup final with both acknowledging that their like is unlikely to be seen again in an age of cameras, television match officials and citing officers.

Cudmore, the Canada international who has spent 10 years with Clermont Auvergne after a stint with Llanelli and hopes to play in the World Cup this autumn, and Botha, who joined Toulon in 2011 and will retire from playing at the end of the season even though he is a year younger than his rival, will be at the heart of a repeat of the 2013 final, which Toulon won by a point.

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Arsène Wenger wants to show José Mourinho the way to go next season | Paul Wilson

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00
Arsenal, on a hot winning streak, have opportunity to demonstrate to champions-elect Chelsea they can mount a serious challenge
Mourinho defends ‘less artistic’ Chelsea against Wenger jibes

Watching Luis Suárez score that marvellous pair of goals for Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain it was easy to see what had moved David Moyes to dismiss this season’s Premier League as the poorest he has seen “for a long, long time”.

The former Everton manager said English clubs’ early dismissal from Europe confirmed a decline in Premier League standards, which it probably did, but also that the very best players no longer plied their trade in England so you no longer felt you were watching artists right at the top of their game, Suárez being a prime example. This time last year he was winning an unlikely Footballer of the Year award as the race for the Premier League title went down to the wire in the most exciting fashion; now he is sparkling in Spain while the English season limps to a predictable and somewhat pedestrian conclusion.

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Ben Stokes needs to learn that keeping quiet is often the smart option

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00
Some players are best left well alone rather than roused and a clever cricketer chooses shrewdly which opponent to engage in a verbal battle

A slow-burning Test match was enlivened by the jousting between Marlon Samuels and Ben Stokes. The surface was not so dissimilar to the one that England encountered in the Test against India at Trent Bridge last summer, which was roundly castigated – with some justification. This being Grenada’s third Test everyone is more polite but this kind of sluggish surface ultimately does no favours to the reputation of Test cricket.

Then along came Stokes and Samuels on the first evening and the entertainment was suddenly enhanced. Stokes had a word or two, industrial ones in all probability, and Samuels responded. The temperature rose, so, too, did the run-rate. Any dozing spectators woke up. On the third evening Stokes holed out when mishitting a long hop from Devendra Bishoo to deep midwicket. This tickled old Marlon who stood silently to attention and saluted the departing batsman. Everyone was amused except perhaps Stokes.

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Paula Radcliffe eyes only a personal victory in final London Marathon

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00

• World record holder will start race alongside the club runners
• Achilles injury means she cannot compete with favourites

Paula Radcliffe admits she will be annoyed by the slowness of her time in her farewell marathon – but is grateful that she can even run at all. The 41-year-old, who set the world record of 2hr 15min 25sec in London in 2003, was hoping to go under two hours and 30 minutes on Sunday but has revised that after injuries to her achilles tendon left her struggling to make the start line.

“It will annoy me that my time is slow, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s been a bigger battle for me to actually be able to be here,” she said. “But just to have the chance and the honour to take part in this race again has been a carrot to keep going. That’s why I was more pig-headed through my latest injury.”

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Chelsea’s José Mourinho has nothing left to prove except his staying power

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00
José Mourinho has won it all as a club manager but if he can add the patience needed for long-term success then his rivals should be fearful

On the strip of the Côte d’Azur where Roman Abramovich spends parts of his year, where the yachts are super-sized, the neighbours include Bill Gates and Baron Saatchi and, to quote one of the local estate agents, calling it upmarket is a bit like saying New York has some “fairly high buildings”, they tell a story about Chelsea’s owner that goes to show even the wealthiest of men sometimes cannot get things just as they want them.

It goes back to his arrival on the pine-covered promontory known as the Peninsula of Billionaires. Abramovich had added one of its mansions to his extensive property portfolio but apparently wasn’t entirely happy with the pebbled beach and one day two large boats pitched up to dump a cargo of white sand over the stones. For a few days, Abramovich had the look he wanted. But only a few days. When a gale whipped off the sea it turned out his very own Grand Designs had one flaw. His new creation was blown away and, if we can be excused a brief moment of schadenfreude, there is something vaguely amusing about one of the world’s richest oligarchs with a beach-towel in his hand and the expression on his face wondering where all his sand had gone.

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Champions Cup final moved to mid-May next season due to unsold tickets

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 17:00
• A crowd of 50,000 is expected for Clermont v Toulon at Twickenham
• Challenge Cup winners will qualify for the Champions Cup next season
• European Champions Cup organisers fear half-empty Twickenham final

Tens of thousands of unsold tickets for Saturday’s European Champions Cup showpiece at Twickenham between Toulon and Clermont Auvergne have helped persuade organisers to shift the final to the middle of May from next season.

The final was traditionally held on the penultimate weekend of the season. But when the tournament was revamped last year it was moved to the beginning of May, before the end of the regular season in the three leagues that feed the tournament, with the French clubs most vociferous in demanding the change.

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Bloody riots mar Belgrade derby

BBC Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 16:50
The start of the Belgrade derby between Red Star and Partizan was delayed for 45 minutes following serious crowd trouble.

VIDEO: 'Chelsea face biggest task against Arsenal'

BBC Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 16:46
Dan Walker is joined by Phil Neville and Jermaine Jenas as they look ahead to Sunday's top-of-the-table clash between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates.

Anderson leads England to victory

BBC Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 16:33
James Anderson inspires England to a nine-wicket win over West Indies on the final day of the second Test.

Anderson leads England to victory

BBC - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 16:33
James Anderson inspires England to a nine-wicket win over West Indies on the final day of the second Test.

Sale 23-25 Harlequins | Premiership match report

Guardian Sport - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 16:30
Sale 23-25 Harlequins

The Harlequins director of rugby, Conor O’Shea, announced Joe Marler has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a shoulder injury but his World Cup aspirations are not in doubt.

Marler was initially named to start against Sale, a game Harlequins won 25-23, but was pulled out of the squad and O’Shea admitted that he could need an operation.

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