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Omeruo eyes Chelsea return

Nigeria international defender, Kenneth Omeruo has exclusively told supersport.com that he will not be playing for English championship club, Middlesbrough next season.
The 22-year-old currently on loan at the Smoggies says he will return to his parent club, Chelsea at the end of the 2014/15 season.
Omeruo has made 24 league appearances for Middlesbrough since he joined them last season but is keen to prove his worth at Stamford Bridge.
“I love Middlesbrough. Everything is going well for me and I have a great relationship with the players, manager and fans but I will be leaving at the end of the current season,” Omeruo told supersport.com.
The former ADO Den Haag man further revealed that “fruitful” discussions have been ongoing with Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho and the club’s sporting director, Michael Emenalo over a return to the Blues next term.
“I have been having fruitful discussions with the (Boss), Mourinho and Michael Emenalo and they have both told me that they have been very impressed with my performances for Middlesbrough this season.
“All things been equal, I will be returning to Chelsea next season,” he said.
Omeruo has been capped 14 times by Nigeria at senior level. (supersport.com)
Moses out for 6 weeks due to injury
Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses will not play competitively till 2015 after sustaining a thigh injury that blights his impressive start to the 2014/15 season.
Moses currently on a season-long loan deal from Barclays English Premier League club, Chelsea faces at least six weeks on the sidelines with what has been described by officials of Stoke City as ‘significant’ thigh injury.
The former Wigan Athletic man has been in fine form in recent weeks but was injured in the 2-1 Premier League defeat by Burnley on Saturday.
Stoke City’s assistant manager, Mark Bowen described the situation as “bad news”.
“It’s bad news on Victor Moses, a problem with his thigh,” Bowen said.
Moses has made 10 league appearances for the Potters this season scoring once and providing three assists.
The winger who has also created 20 chances for Stoke this season is not expected to be back in action for another “six to eight weeks” according to Bowen.
“He will be out with anything up to six to eight weeks. It’s a big hit. He had a scan and it’s not good.
“At the moment we’re deciding with Chelsea whether to go back and have the rehab there or stay with our team,” he said.   (supersport.com)

Arsenal is victim of its generous attitude – Wenger

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger has defended his side’s style of play in the face of recent criticism, insisting they have been a victim of their “generous attitude”.

Wenger came under fire after his men were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United on Saturday, with Louis van Gaal’s men playing on the counter-attack and exploiting the Gunners’ desire to attack in large numbers.

It has been a familiar problem for Wenger in recent years, but after overseeing the 2-0 win against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday he showed no signs that he was about to change his outlook, suggesting there were similarities between the two Champions League win and the Premier League defeat.

“We had a good start and I believe overall it was a very intense game between two very good teams,” he told reporters. “We were highly focused to defend well together from the first to the last minute. We always looked dangerous and defensively we were very good.

“We were more under pressure because we felt on Saturday we played well but we were a victim of our generous attitude.

“We had a similar game to Saturday, we had to focus really well not to give any chances away and overall it was a committed game and maybe we were defensively better tonight.

“We are a team who likes to go forward and sometimes when you feel you dominate completely the game you are maybe a victim of that, and forget to take precautions to defend well, but I think you learn from the games and we have done a lot better tonight.”

Wenger has now guided Arsenal to the knockout stages of the Champions League in each of the last 15 seasons, but hinted that although things could be worse, he knows it is not quite good enough.

“I think when you work in a football club you realise it’s not easy to have continuity and be consistent,” he added. “I’m very proud of that and I think the club deserves a lot of credit. It’s not enough but we are consistent.”  (goal.com)

Rodgers delighted with Liverpool’s performance

Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers says he is delighted his side remain in control of their Champions League destiny going into their final group game.
The Reds conceded a late equaliser at Bulgarian champions Ludogorets, but will still reach the last 16 if they beat Basel at Anfield next month.
“It is all in our hands going into last game – I can’t ask any more than that,” said Rodgers after the 2-2 draw.
“I’m happy to rely on us playing in front of our fans in the final game.”
Liverpool are playing in the Champions League for the first time in five seasons after Rodgers led them to second place in the Premier League last term.
The Reds have earned just one win from their five matches in Group B, which also contains reigning European champions Real Madrid, but know they will join the Spanish side in the knockout phase with three points against Swiss champions Basel.
Even if Ludogorets had not scored their late equaliser on Wednesday, Liverpool’s task would have been exactly the same.
However, the draw extended their winless run to five matches in all competitions.
A poor start to the Premier League season has left Rodgers’s team in 12th position after six defeats in their opening 12 games – the same number they lost in the whole of last season.
“In the Premier League we have not been good enough in our performances or consistency – that’s my responsibility,” said Rodgers.
“In the Champions League, it was always going to be a very close group and all the teams in there have showed they are good teams.
“Thankfully we’ve had a good result against Ludogorets. We would have liked to win, we should have won, but didn’t.”
The Bulgarians led in the third minute after Reds keeper Simon Mignolet gifted an opener to Dani Abalo, before Rickie Lambert equalised with his first Champions League goal.
Jordan Henderson put the away side ahead before half-time, but they were denied victory when Georgi Terziev headed in with two minutes left.
“We showed wonderful character,” said Rodgers. “If you go a goal behind in this competition you need great spirit and character of team.
“We were disappointed with the goal at the end but that’s irrelevant.” (BBC Sport)

Ronaldo not obsessed with Champions League record – Benzema

Karim Benzema has dismissed the suggestion that Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo is obsessed with the Champions League goalscoring record after Wednesday night’s 1-0 win at Basel.
The Portuguese star and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi were in a race to take over as the tournament’s all-time leading marksman as they closed in on Raul’s tally of 71 goals around the same time.
The Argentine broke the former Spain striker’s record by bagging a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-0 victory at APOEL on Tuesday, taking his overall tally to 74 goals.
Ronaldo moved level with Raul on 71 goals by netting the only goal at St. Jakob-Park, but Benzema denied that his colleague is determined to overhaul Messi at the top of the standings.
“Cristiano doesn’t ask me to pass him the ball in order for him to break the record,” Benzema told beIN Sports after teeing up the Portuguese for the winner in Switzerland.
“Frankly, he doesn’t ask for anything. But when he’s well positioned on the pitch, I offer him the ball.”
Madrid’s victory not only sealed top spot in Group B for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, it also saw the club from the Spanish capital complete a home-and-away double over Basel.
However, while the Blancos cruised to a 5-1 victory in their first meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu on matchday one, the reigning European champions were made to work harder for all three points in Switzerland.
“It was not an easy game,” Benzema acknowledged. “It wasn’t the same side as the first game. It was much more complicated.”
Meanwhile, Keylor Navas was a happy man after keeping a clean sheet in a rare start in goal for the Costa Rica international at the expensie of regular No.1 Iker Casillas.
“It’s a tournament that everyone loves to play in so I’m happy that we won and that I was able to contribute a bit to the victory,” the shot-stopper stated.
“I am calm, working hard. Little by little I’m getting more opportunities.
“Everyone wants to play some more, but we must go step by step.”  (goal.com)
Dortmund’s coach insists on result not ‘perfect football’
Borussia Dortmund can play far better than they did in their 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Wednesday and the team needs to learn that results are more important than “perfect football”, coach Juergen Klopp said.
The Germans squandered their first chance to secure top spot in Champions League Group D when they lost in London – their first defeat in the tournament this season – but are still in the driving seat on 12 points after five matches.
A win against Anderlecht on the last matchday next month will ensure that the 2013 losing finalists advance as group winners, avoiding some of the major title contenders in the Round of 16.
“We can play better than that,” Klopp told reporters after his team went behind after only 73 seconds when 21-year-old French striker Yaya Sanogo scored his first goal for the club.
“We have to improve in order to change the situation now. We have to get hungrier.”
The Gunners sealed victory when Alexis Sanchez curled in a wonderful strike from 20 metres to consign Dortmund to a first European loss of the season.
“This was the worst possible start to a game. We were not courageous enough, we did not close down the spaces,” Klopp added. “We need results, not perfect football. We had our good phases but they did not last.
“We played a good penultimate pass but if the final pass was better, we could have caused Arsenal problems.”
Dortmund had won all four previous group games but their fine European run has not spilled over into the league where the 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga champions languish in 16th place after 12 matches.
Plagued by injuries to key players, including a recurrence of an ankle problem for winger Marco Reus, Dortmund have banked on a good Champions League run to balance out their poor domestic form.
“We did not play how we could have done,” holding midfielder Sven Bender said. “Now Anderlecht is not yet in our sights with the Eintracht Frankfurt game (in the league on Sunday) extremely important for us.”
“We have a lot to win and lose there and we have to start showing our good side domestically as well.”  (supersport.com)
Simeone hails team’s advancement                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Atletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone hailed his players for turning round a poor start to their Champions League campaign to qualify for the last 16 with a game to spare.
Last season’s beaten finalists smashed Olympiakos 4-0 on Wednesday thanks to a Mario Mandzukic hat-trick to gain revenge for their 3-2 defeat to the Greek champions on matchday one.
A run of four consecutive wins in Group A without so much as conceding a goal has put the Spanish champions in pole position to top the group as they just need to avoid defeat to Juventus by two goals or more in their final game to go through as group winners.
And Simeone insisted the pressure has been released now that they have achieved the minimum goal of making the knockout stages.
“We knew we needed to win to obtain the objective of the club which was to get to the last 16 from a very difficult group and we had to respond against very good opponents,” said the Argentine.
“It is true that we very ruthless, we generated a lot of chances, but the most important thing is to score because if you create chances without scoring it doesn’t mean anything.”
Mandzukic was the star of the show as he registered his first hat-trick for the club since his summer move from Bayern Munich.
And the Croatian’s feats were even more remarkable given Simeone admitted he was a major doubt before the game due to a shoulder injury.
“We were thinking yesterday before the game that he wasn’t going to play,” added Simeone.
“He played very well. He scored, which is always important for a striker, but the most important thing is the team.”
Atletico still have work to do in Turin in two weeks’ time to ensure they avoid the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the next round. Right-back Juanfran is determined to round off the group in style.
“I am very happy for the team to have qualified,” said the Spanish international.
“We want to win in Turin, we need to go through as group winners. We don’t want to lose any game.”
By contrast, it was an unhappy return to the Spanish capital for Real Madrid legend Michel as he saw his Olympiakos side torn apart for the first time in five group games.
The Greek champions now need to beat Malmo at home on matchday six and hope Atletico beat Juventus to qualify for the last 16 for the second consecutive year.
“It was a very hard defeat to take. We had a bad night and the responsibility for that is mine.
“The result and what Atletico showed is a reminder of how difficult the group is and the merits of what we have done so far.
“We can aspire to many things, but Juventus and Atletico are on another level.” (supersport.com)
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