Arteta calls on Chelsea to keep faith in under-pressure Lampard

By Sports Desk January 22, 2021

Mikel Arteta hopes Frank Lampard is given time at Chelsea as Premier League managers continue to deal with the challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Chelsea went top of the table with a 3-1 triumph over Leeds United on December 5 but have collected just seven points in their eight games since then. 

The worrying run included a 3-1 defeat away to Arteta's Arsenal on Boxing Day, a result that ended a seven-match streak without a win for the Gunners in the top flight. 

Lampard insisted on Friday he does not pay any attention to speculation over his future at Stamford Bridge and has now received support from the man in charge of a rival club. 

"I've known Frank for a few years as well and I've spent some time with him," Arteta told the media. 

"I would like [Chelsea] to support him and give him a chance. He has huge experience as a player, he is an icon over there. 

"He's done some really good things, but you need time and if there's something we haven't had in this calendar year, it's time to work on anything."

Arteta, who found his own position in the spotlight during Arsenal's struggles earlier in the campaign, feels clubs will benefit in the long run if they show some patience. 

"Fortunately, if [clubs] see what you're trying to do is going to have rewards in the future and they are a little bit patient, most of the time it pays off, if everybody is convinced that we are doing things the right way," the Spaniard said. 

"I speak with a lot of managers and some of them have been in the game for over 30 years, and they said, 'I never experienced something like that'. This is a new game, new rules. There are so many things we cannot control. It's out of our hands in a lot of moments. 

"I listen a lot to that because we tend to put more and more pressure and demand a lot of ourselves. It's a very strange league this season, and you can see that in many teams."

Holders Arsenal continue their FA Cup defence on Saturday when they travel to Southampton.

All four previous meetings between the teams in the competition have ended with Arsenal victorious; they also went on to win the trophy on three occasions, in 1979, 2003 and 2017.

Southampton have won just one of their previous nine meetings with Arsenal in all competitions, a 3-2 league victory in December 2018.

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    Ash Barty will plot a path to victory over Danielle Collins in the Australian Open final with the coach she describes as "a magician" and "a massive part of my life".

    Australian home hero Barty has been a hot favourite for the title since before the first ball was struck in Melbourne, and to date she has justified all the hype and expectation.

    Barty has dropped only 21 games across six matches to reach the final. Since 2000, only Serena Williams (16 games at the 2013 US Open and 19 at the 2012 US Open) and Venus Williams (20 games at Wimbledon in 2009) have lost fewer games to reach a grand slam final.

    The last player to lose fewer games en route to the final in Australia was Monica Seles in 1993 (20 games), and she went on to beat Steffi Graf in a title match that went to three sets.

    This is the level Barty is at now, as an established world number one and reigning Wimbledon champion, and a Collins victory on Saturday would be a major upset.

    Yet Barty sees the 28-year-old American as a major threat, and the evidence of Collins' destructive performance against seventh seed Iga Swiatek in Thursday's second semi-final attests to that.

    Collins won 6-4 6-1 and hit 27 winners and only 13 unforced errors, securing a place in her first slam final.

    "She's an exceptional ball striker," said Barty. "She's someone who stands on the baseline and can hit all spots of the court from any position. I think the challenge is going to be trying to get her off balance.

    "We'll do our homework and try to figure out a plan, and come Saturday try and execute. Danielle's done incredibly well here in Australia before. The way she's able to control the baseline and really take the game on, she's one of the most fierce competitors out here.

    "She loves to get in your face and loves to take it on. It's going to be a challenge for me to try to neutralise as best as I can, but it's certainly nice to see her out here playing her best stuff."

    Working out a strategy for the match, alongside Barty, will be veteran coach Craig Tyzzer. Barty trusts him implicitly to get the plan right.

    "'Tyzze' is a magician; he's able to look at a lot of different matches, look at key matches, some recent and some old, and work our plan out in looking at different conditions and things like that," Barty said in a news conference after her thumping 6-1 6-3 semi-final win against Madison Keys.

    "He's the man that does all the work. I just get to go out there and have fun with it."

    Barty is understating her role there, but she has turned singles into a team game, relying on the likes of Tyzzer and mindset coach Ben Crowe to steer her on the right path.

    She is attempting to become the first Australian player to win this title since Chris O'Neil in 1978, so the pressure is on, and it helps that those around her help to relieve the stress.

    "Everyone is equally important. We're all equal, we all play our roles," Barty said. "The most amazing thing is we all communicate really well together and get along with each other and know when it's time to back off, relax, and then when it's time to switch on and really have a crack.

    "'Tyzze' has been a massive part of my life since 2016. Before that, we'd done some work together, but the work he's done in setting up an amazing group of people around us has propelled my career for both of us. The experiences we've been able to share has been remarkable.

    "It starts with my family, my sisters, obviously my professional team who contribute as much time and energy into my career and help me try and live out my dreams. I cannot thank them enough for the time and effort they put in to someone else.

    "Being able to enjoy it all together and lighten up when we're not focused on the match is a really important part of that."

    Barty's first serve has been a huge weapon, while Collins' return of the second serve has been a significant factor behind her run. So if Barty can land enough first serves on Saturday, that could prove telling. It has helped her to save 13 of 14 break points so far in this tournament.

    Giving Collins a regular look at her second serve could be costly. Collins has won more points on the return of second serve (90) than any other woman in the tournament.

    Barty ranks ninth on that list but is the leader on winning points when landing a first serve, achieving an 83 per cent success rate.

  • Haaland reveals Vardy admiration: 'He's maybe the best in the world at what he does' Haaland reveals Vardy admiration: 'He's maybe the best in the world at what he does'

    Erling Haaland has revealed he studies Jamie Vardy's game closely as he believes the Leicester City striker is "maybe the best in the world" at running in behind defenders.

    Borussia Dortmund star Haaland has become one of the most sought-after players in world football after scoring 80 goals in 79 games during his two years at the Bundesliga club.

    That is a tally bettered only by Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (107) – who has played 11 more games – among players from teams in Europe's top five leagues.

    Haaland has been linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern, with reports suggesting he has a €75million release clause that will activate in July.

    Despite his impressive exploits, Haaland acknowledges there are still areas of his game he can improve, with an unlikely player proving to be a source of inspiration.

    "I've been watching a lot of players. Let's take for example the run in behind the centre-back when the number 10 has the ball," he told Sky Sports. 

    "You have maybe the best in the world at that, Jamie Vardy. I've been looking a lot at him on exactly this. I have always been watching a lot of football and I still do. 

    "When we play Saturday, I go home on Sunday and watch football all day."

    Vardy has scored 122 goals in 227 Premier League appearances since the start of the 2015-16 campaign, which famously ended with Leicester winning the title.

    The 35-year-old ranks 10th in terms of the most prolific strikers in Europe's top five leagues over that time, a metric that Lewandowski also leads with 209 goals in 208 games.

     

    Vardy has also spoken of his admiration for ex-Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie.

    "Van Persie I watched a lot because he was also left-footed," Haaland said. 

    "I watched him scoring a lot of goals and as a left-footer as well it was natural for me to watch him a lot. I've been watching a lot of players, especially strikers."

    Of the 80 goals scored by Haaland for Dortmund, 64 have come via his left foot, nine with his right and the other seven from headers.

    The former Salzburg striker has been likened to a number of iconic figures, Zlatan Ibrahimovic among them, but he is not interested in comparisons.

    "Ibrahimovic is a cool guy, and I think he is also himself 100 per cent on the pitch. He does everything he can to win," Haaland said.

    "I don't want to compare myself to anyone. I think I am a bit special, with my physical abilities. 

    "My mother was really quick, my grandmother was really quick, my father was really quick, but not so quick."

  • Manchester United youngster Amad Diallo joins Rangers on loan Manchester United youngster Amad Diallo joins Rangers on loan

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    The 19-year-old signed for United in January last year in a deal reportedly worth around £37million from Italian side Atalanta but has struggled for game time under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

    The loan move to the Scottish champions does not have a purchase option included, as the Old Trafford club still have big plans for the tricky winger, and Rangnick believes the move will be good for his development.

    Amad has a goal and an assist from his nine appearances in all competitions for United, though only three of those have been starts. His goal was a clever header in the 1-1 draw with Milan in the first leg of last season's Europa League round of 16.

    The Ivory Coast international also made five substitute appearances while at Atalanta, scoring once.

    Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst recently lost playmaker Ianis Hagi to a season-ending injury, meaning Amad has the opportunity to pick up some of the creative slack during his temporary stay in Scotland, and he goes straight into the squad for Saturday's game at Ross County.

    After the deal was confirmed, Amad expressed his happiness at the opportunity, telling the club's website: "I am delighted to join Rangers until the end of the season.

    "It is fantastic for me at this stage of my career to have the opportunity to come to such a big club that is challenging on a number of fronts and will give me some excellent opportunities to test myself in many environments."

    Rangers are top of the Scottish Premiership, four points ahead of rivals Celtic, after a 1-0 win against Livingston at Ibrox on Wednesday.

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