Giroud: We can mount title fight

first_img Giroud joined Arsenal from Montpellier last summer and took some time to settle in before going on to become a focal point of the attack, finishing the season with 17 goals. The 26-year-old feels next season can be even better on a personal level, and he added: “It was not easy at all. It was a massive challenge. I hope that as early as my second season, I can play week in week out and keep scoring regularly because it’s key for a striker.” Giroud, who missed three of the Gunners’ final four matches after his red card at Fulham, added: “I have scored fewer compared to last season in Montpellier but the ratio, minutes played to goals scored, is good. “I scored 17 goals in all competitions and gave 10 assists which, for a first season in England, is good. I am happy with the stats. However, you can always do better and I know I can do better and there is a lot of room for improvement. That is why I am already looking forward to next season.” Arsenal are determined to strengthen over the summer, with additional funds of some £70million available to the manager. France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo is set to arrive on a free from Auxerre, with the Gunners also tracking several high-calibre reinforcements both from the Premier League and across Europe. There are also set to be wage savings next season with the confirmed departures of Andrey Arshavin, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci. Other surplus players like strikers Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-young are all also expected to leave before the squad head out to Asia for a pre-season tour. Olivier Giroud is convinced Arsenal can last the distance in the Barclays Premier League title fight next season providing they get off to a flying start. Press Associationcenter_img The Gunners ended a poor campaign on a high last season, finishing strongly to secure fourth place ahead of Tottenham and with it another shot at the Champions League. Giroud believes if Arsene Wenger’s men can hit the ground running in August they will be able to take the challenge to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. “If we start better than we did this season, I know that we will compete for the title next year because we are used to playing together now and have improved as a team,” Giroud told the Arsenal magazine. “We have also improved as individuals throughout the season, especially the newcomers like Santi (Cazorla), Lukas (Podolski) and me.” last_img read more

Afterthoughts: Even after respite of hope, Syracuse’s point guard play remains an issue

first_img Published on January 12, 2017 at 11:40 am Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds BLACKSBURG, Va. — John Gillon stood on the Syracuse sideline hunched over in ready position expecting to enter the game. He wanted to be the one to guide the Orange’s offense and lead SU to what could have been its best win of the year.Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim didn’t adhere. He remained with Frank Howard at point guard in the final minute of the game. But regardless of whom Boeheim went with, coming back from a 15-point second-half deficit was improbable. Even if Gillon did return to provide a spark, it likely would have been too late.At the beginning of the year, figuring out the point guard spot was one of the Orange’s (10-7, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) primary objectives. And after John Gillon averaged 14 points and 11 assists in his last two games, it seemed as though SU had finally solved the puzzle. But an 83-73 loss to Virginia Tech (13-3, 2-2) on Tuesday night illuminated more struggles.“Our point guard play has been really good and was as bad as it’s ever been tonight,” Boeheim said. “I don’t have an explanation for that. We have two really good games and the first half, John was 0-for-3 with no assists and two turnovers. Can’t play that way. Can’t play that way.”Frank Howard came off the bench to relieve Gillon for 13 minutes and was equally as ineffective. The duo combined to shoot 3-for-14 from the field with seven assists and two turnovers. By going with Gillon for all but one minute in the previous two games, the Orange received its best point guard production of the season. And just two days after guard output headed in the right direction, it came to a halt.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat’s not to say that Gillon and Howard can’t bounce back, because they certainly can. But as SU’s NCAA Tournament hopes dwindle with each loss, every regression is magnified.“I let us down. I didn’t play how I needed to play,” Gillon said. “I didn’t play to the standard that we need to win and just do whatever I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again, just play with the same aggression and that hurt us.”Gillon had been at his best when driving strong to the basket. That’s what freed him up for open shots on the perimeter and forced defenses to collapse, leading to more open shots from teammates.Except against Virginia Tech, Gillon’s drives didn’t kick start the offense how it usually had. Within a five-minute span at the end of the first half, Gillon shot a layup that didn’t even touch the rim, had a shot blocked under the basket and, with a chance to cut the game to four points before halftime, committed a travel. Howard, meanwhile, went 1-for-5 from the field and didn’t bring the stability SU was looking for.“He was trying to prove he can’t shoot jump shots,” Boeheim said of Howard. “And he did, he did that.”All of this leaves Syracuse right back where it sat 10 days ago, coming off a humiliating loss to Boston College. That was before Gillon played 79 of 80 minutes in a two-game stretch, back when SU hadn’t found the right formula it had been searching for since November.Last week, that changed. Gillon is its best option, but only when he can get to the rim, set up teammates and command the offense. The Orange has an answer — but that doesn’t matter if he’s inconsistent.“I just don’t think he made any positive plays in 13 or 14 minutes,” Boeheim said of Gillon.After a brief glimmer of hope, Syracuse can’t afford that.—Asst. Photo Editor Colin Davy, cpdavy@syr.edu, contributed reporting to this article. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

African Games: Ghana finishes 8th in women’s 4 x 100m relay final after baton drop

first_imgGhana’s campaign in the women’s  4 x 100m relay competition at the African Games came to a disappointing end on Wednesday as they finished in eighth place in the final.Deborah Acquah, originally a long jumper, came in as a replacement for Persis William-Mensah after the latter suffered an injury during the competition.She, however, dropped the baton as the women’s team sputtered to a last-place finish.Nigeria finished in first place, South Africa in second and Kenya in third.This was not the way the team would have wanted their competition to end having done brilliantly to reach the final.It was a different story in the men’s race as the sprint relay team won the country’s second gold medal at the African Games.The quartet of Sean Safo-Antwi, Josep Paul Amoah, Martin Owusu-Antwi, and Benjamin Azamati finished the 4 x 100m final in a time of 38.30s ahead of Nigeria  (38.59s) and South Africa (38.80s)The time is just 0.18s shy of the national record, of 38.12s set at the Athens World Championships on 9 August 1997.last_img read more

Despite losing Chris Paul, Doc Rivers optimistic about Clippers’ future

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LAS VEGAS >> The Clippers lost Chris Paul, an All-Star player who helped the franchise morph from a punch line into a playoff-caliber team and converted at least some previously indifferent Angelenos into fervent followers of “Lob City.”Thanks to a variety of injuries and hiccups once the playoffs started, the Clippers could never advance past the Western Conference semifinals, even with Paul leading the way for six seasons. Nonetheless, the Clippers still considered retaining the 32-year-old the key to their offseason. The nine-time All-Star is still one of the league’s top point guards with his scoring, passing, defense and competitive nature.Paul was not as eager to extend the relationship. So the Clippers traded Paul to the Houston Rockets for seven players and a 2018 first-round draft pick. Afterward, Clippers coach Doc Rivers disagreed with any assertion the Clippers will fare worse in the 2017-18 season after finishing 51-31 last year before a seven-game first-round flameout against the Jazz.“I don’t think so; I think we’ve added talent,” Rivers said. “Losing Chris is hard. But I think the Houston part of our deal really helped us get us a couple of pieces.” Rivers groaned when he recapped a frenetic free agency period that resulted in a stacked Western Conference becoming even deeper.“I’m shocked,” Rivers said. “I was hoping all these free agents went east.”Instead, the opposite happened. Jimmy Butler left Chicago for Minnesota. The Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to Oklahoma City. Denver convinced Paul Millsap to leave Atlanta.“Everybody is coming West. I don’t get it. If I was a free agent, other than Gallo …” Rivers said before trailing off and laughing at his obvious self-interest. “I think Gordon Hayward is the smartest one. He got the (heck) out of town (by leaving Utah for Boston). He went to the East. I don’t really understand the logic of this.”Rivers understood the logic behind Western Conference teams loading up, though. No one has had an answer for Golden State, which has won two of the last three NBA titles and made three consecutive Finals appearances.“I wish we could say we’re the only team that can do that,” Rivers said of adding versatile players. “I also believe in size, but it has to be versatile size. If you’re going to beat some of these other teams, you’re going to have to stand out some way. The fact we have versatility but size, it creates a lot of matchup problems for people.”But can they cause enough problems?Though he lamented Paul’s departure, Rivers believes the team’s success in recent years was perhaps too tied to Paul’s health. Then again, Griffin has appeared in just 163 of 246 regular-season games in the past three seasons. The timetable for his return is unclear as he recovers from surgery to treat a right big toe that sidelined him in the middle of the Clippers’ first-round series loss to Utah.“Everyone has to be healthy on every team,” Rivers said. “The teams that are healthy will have a great record. If someone gets injured on another team, they’re going to lose ground. That’s going to be the West.”center_img Those pieces do not match Paul’s talent. Those pieces, though, give the Clippers the kind of depth and positional versatility Rivers believes is necessary in today’s NBA.The Clippers acquired former Lakers reserve Lou Williams, small forward Sam Dekker, big man Montrezl Harrell and point guard Patrick Beverley, whom Rivers affectionately called “an instigator.” The Clippers also received three players with non-guaranteed contracts: Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins and Kyle Wiltjer.After failing to convince Paul to stay, the Clippers did persuade All-Star forward Blake Griffin to commit long term. He canceled free-agent meetings with Denver and Phoenix and agreed to re-sign upon receiving a maximum deal for five years and $173 million. The Clippers later acquired veteran forward Danilo Gallinari in a three-team sign-and-trade with Atlanta and Denver at the cost of veteran reserve Jamal Crawford, last year’s 40th pick (Diamond Stone) and the first-round pick acquired from Houston as part of the Chris Paul deal.“We just kind of saw it coming,” Rivers said of Paul’s eventual departure. “We felt contractually we knew where we wanted to go. You go into free agency, you have to have a plan. We had one.”Will that plan be enough?last_img read more

USO shocks undefeated Clearfield to move on in States, Young passes for 5 TDs, 353 yards

first_img“I felt like I was the reason we lost,” Young said. “The decisions that I made and things that I did really hurt us.”Redemption is an understatement to describe his play, since.In their first PIAA Class AAA subregional game last week against Somerset, Young threw for a record-setting 462 yards on 30 of 46 passing.On Nov 17, he tossed five touchdowns while gaining 353 yards on 23 completions of 36 attempts against previously undefeated Clearfield in a 36-22 victory in the PIAA Class AAA districts 5-6-8-9 subregional championship at Clarion University.“He’s done a really good job putting these guys on his shoulders and carrying the load,” U.S.O. coach Lou Berry said. “He’d expressed to me after the city title game that he blamed himself for the loss, which was completely not the case, but he saw otherwise.”As the City League’s runner-up, U.S.O. represented the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association)’s district 8.Clearfield’s junior quarterback Christian Lezzer put up similar numbers to Young this season. Prior to their game against U,S.O., he’d completed 47 of 82 passes for 1,210 yards with 17 touchdowns against just five interceptions.Beyond what he did with his arm, he lead the team in rushing with over 1,400 tallies.In addition to Lezzer, undefeated Clearfield featured an 1,000 yard rusher at the running back position in Tyler Stratton– 1,134 in total– to go with 15 touchdowns.Offensively, the Bison maintained their success. Senior receiver Trey Jordan went over 1,000 tallies on the year with his six catches and a game-high 180 yards, receiving.Lezzer finished with 235 yards on 8 of 20 passes with three touchdowns.But, U.S.O.’s defense rose to the occasion and created six turnovers.“We got off to a great start defensively,” Berry said. “We forced their quarterback, who is very good, into some key mistakes. Making him nearly match his season interception total in one game made us feel like we were successful on that side of the ball.”U.S.O. running back Clay Moorefield made eight grabs for 95 yards and a touchdown to assist Young in leading the Wildcats’ passing attack.Young also hooked up with senior H-back Myles Catlin for a 15-yard score in the first quarter. The pass and catch duo did it again from 40-away in the second and finally in the final stanza for 19 yards.Mike Wright was on the receiving end of an eight yard strike from Young to round out the scoring for the Wildcats.They will move to the PIAA Class AAA first round in which they’ll take on Selimsburg (9-3) who is the winner of District 4. The game will take place at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona, which was the site where they suffered their most recent loss in the State playoffs, last season, against State College.“I’m extremely proud to be moving on and representing the city in the next round,” Berry said. “Everyone knows what happened last season, but I’m kind of excited about going back there to play this one. We certainly are not expecting the same outcome, however.”(Follow our continuing coverage of City League football and add your comments to our website at www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com.) (Malik Vincent can be reached at mvincent@newpittsburghcourier.com or on Twitter @malikvincent.) AKIL YOUNG The quarterback position is one of the most delicate in the game of football. Ask senior hurler Akil Young how he feels about his performance in U.S.O. (University Prep, Sci-Tech, and Obama)’s 9-6 overtime loss to Perry on Nov 3rd.He blames the loss on himself.last_img read more