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Manchester City are thriving on title pressure – Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez has said Manchester City are keeping calm and enjoying the pressure of the Premier League title race.

Mahrez, who joined City in a club-record £60 million deal in the summer, was part of the Leicester side that won the 2016 title in one of the greatest shocks in English football history.

The Algeria international said City — bidding for a second successive title — were enjoying the battle with Liverpool, who are a point ahead of them.

“We live for this, to be honest, this type of pressure,” he told reporters. “It’s good pressure — it makes you try to achieve more and more.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“At Leicester we had a feeling where no one had won the league, but here everyone has won it so it’s not the same thing. Here, it’s more calm and composed. We know what to do.12

“At Leicester, everyone was like: ‘We have to win! We have to win! Quick!’ There is no comparison. Everyone here is good, everyone is focused and we will try to win every game.”

Mahrez struck to give City a 1-0 victory at Bournemouth on Saturday, and boss Pep Guardiola said the goal was “important for him” after he had struggled for a starting role.

“As an attacking player it’s always good to score and help the team to win,” Mahrez said. “I know I was a long time without playing, but I’ve always been focused.

“But scoring is not a final thing — I still have to work hard because everything you have done in football is forgotten and it’s about the future.

“You have to respect the choices of the manager. When he needs you, you have to give everything. Do that, and the goals and assists will come.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Mahrez saw his volley squirm past Bournemouth keeper Artur Bourc and said: “I was lucky, to be honest. Sometimes when it comes to my right I just close my eyes and shoot. I tried to shoot across but hit the floor at the same time, so it went inside the post.

“Sometimes it’s enough and you have to take it. We are not always going to win 3-0 or 4-0. I remember when I was at Leicester, around this time we were winning every game 1-0. It’s a win, very good.”

11

One year on, how the U.S. men’s national team missed the 2018 World Cup

In the bowels of Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad, champagne and beer sat chilled in the U.S. locker room. All the men’s national team had to do was tie Trinidad & Tobago on this humid October evening, and a trip to Russia for the 2018 World Cup was theirs.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

There was every reason to plan a celebration. The U.S. had taken part in the previous seven World Cups, qualifying six times and hosting the event in 1994. Of the 23 players on the roster that night, 16 hadn’t even been born when the U.S. last failed to qualify for a World Cup, in 1985. Plus, the U.S. was playing a T&T side that had already been eliminated, having lost eight of its nine matches in the final-round Hexagonal. In seven career road World Cup qualifiers against T&T, the U.S. had lost only once, and that was during the 2010 cycle, when its progression to the Hex had already been assured.

But then the first goal went in for T&T, another followed 20 minutes later and a furious second-half fight back from the U.S. fell short. Meanwhile, some 1,200 miles away in Panama, defender Roman Torres scored to put the Canaleros ahead against Costa Rica. When the final whistle blew in Couva, the U.S. staff hustled the champagne and beer out of the locker room. The celebration was not to be — and neither was the trip to Russia.11

In the bowels of Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad, champagne and beer sat chilled in the U.S. locker room. All the men’s national team had to do was tie Trinidad & Tobago on this humid October evening, and a trip to Russia for the 2018 World Cup was theirs.

There was every reason to plan a celebration. The U.S. had taken part in the previous seven World Cups, qualifying six times and hosting the event in 1994. Of the 23 players on the roster that night, 16 hadn’t even been born when the U.S. last failed to qualify for a World Cup, in 1985. Plus, the U.S. was playing a T&T side that had already been eliminated, having lost eight of its nine matches in the final-round Hexagonal. In seven career road World Cup qualifiers against T&T, the U.S. had lost only once, and that was during the 2010 cycle, when its progression to the Hex had already been assured.

But then the first goal went in for T&T, another followed 20 minutes later and a furious second-half fight back from the U.S. fell short. Meanwhile, some 1,200 miles away in Panama, defender Roman Torres scored to put the Canaleros ahead against Costa Rica. When the final whistle blew in Couva, the U.S. staff hustled the champagne and beer out of the locker room. The celebration was not to be — and neither was the trip to Russia.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The ensuing months have resulted in considerable soul-searching within the U.S. soccer community. ESPN FC spoke to 18 current and former players and staff associated with the program about what happened that night in Trinidad and how the past four years might have contributed to the breakdown. What has emerged from those conversations is a sense that the men’s program has lost its identity.

11

Altuve set for return to 2B; Bregman ready, too

Jose Altuve struck out three times in his second game since offseason knee surgery and will return to second base for the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Altuve had surgery just after last season ended to repair a broken right kneecap and had two plate appearances in his spring training debut Monday.

“He wasn’t too far off,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said after a 7-5 win over the Marlins on Thursday. “It’s very rare for him to swing and miss on the strike threes. But he’s in a really good place physically and even timing-wise, right on time.”

The 2017 American League MVP and six-time All-Star will play the field for the first time this year when the Astros visit the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie.

“I have no concerns with him, it’s just a matter of repetition,” Hinch said. “It’s the first time post-surgery but I’m not apprehensive about putting him out there … based on how he’s worked on the back fields with the defensive work we’ve done he’s more than ready.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman will play for the first time this year on Saturday, starting at third. Bregman was limited after minor elbow surgery in January.11

Hinch is also encouraged by the progress of shortstop Carlos Correa, who is looking to bounce back after an ailing back led to a tough 2018. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year got his first hit of spring training — an RBI double — in the first inning Thursday.

“Both swings were really good and more so because his body was under control, it was in a good posture,” Hinch said.

This veteran team has very few questions to answer this spring, but is working to determine who will be the fifth starter, behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley and Collin McHugh. On Thursday the Astros got a look at one of the players vying for the position when Brad Peacock made his first start.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

The 31-year-old struck out two in two perfect innings, making a good early impression as he looks to outdo rookie Framber Valdez and return to the rotation after pitching almost exclusively in relief last season.

Hinch said the performance was “exactly” what the team wanted to see. And though the easygoing Peacock insists he’ll be ready for whatever role he gets, he admitted that he does prefer being in the rotation.

“I do like starting,” he said. “I did it my whole career pretty much and I’m just more comfortable starting. So we’ll see. I love the bullpen, too.”

11

These step-back 3s are sent from another planet

James Harden is dribbling up to the left wing, and the Houston Rockets are down three with 48 seconds left. Kevin Durant calls off Andre Iguodala. He wants to guard his former teammate in one of the most intense moments of the 2018-19 regular season.

Durant, one of the longest wing defenders this league has ever seen, picks up Harden about 35 feet from the rim. His arms are already raised to prevent even the longest 3s Harden might consider.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

But it’s not Durant’s arms that Harden is focused on — it’s his Nikes. As the pair arrives at the 3-point line, Harden invites his old friend to dance. Harden crouches into his coil and begins to break down Durant. It won’t take long. He’s about to tie the game with the definitive move of the year.11

Harden uses a left-handed dribble to edge toward the 3-point line. With exactly 46.0 seconds remaining, the ball has bounced back up into Harden’s hand. He’s done dribbling, but his unhurried demeanor still gives no hint that a split-second later he’s going to bury the game-tying 3 in KD’s face.

On average the Harden step-back creates about 6 feet of shooting space, per Second Spectrum data. By the time Harden brings the ball through his shot pocket, the defender attempting to close the gap is always too late.

Check out that last still. It looks like a teammate set up Harden for a standard catch-and-shoot 3. But this space was created by the shooter himself, and that’s what makes it so damn dangerous: Harden can create clean 3-point looks at will.

Depending on what you consider to be the beginning of the act, Harden’s step-back jumper takes about one second. In that second, he breaks his defender’s balance, creates the shooting space, brings the ball through his shot pocket and releases it. It’s the most dangerous second in the NBA, and although defenders know it’s coming, they don’t know exactly when. At T-minus-1 they’re still clueless that liftoff is already happening.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Despite the fact that Durant’s wingspan is enormous, despite the fact that he was Harden’s teammate for years in OKC, despite the fact that the stakes were so high, and despite the fact that we all knew what Harden wanted to do — it didn’t matter. He did it anyway. He tied this Jan. 3 game with the step-back 3. The Rockets ended up winning in overtime.

12

Bills release tight end Charles Clay

The Buffalo Bills have released tight end Charles Clay, the team announced Friday.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Clay, 30, was scheduled to count $9 million against the Bills’ salary cap in the final season of a five-year, $38 million contract. He finished last season with a career-low 184 receiving yards while averaging a career-low 8.8 yards per catch. Despite playing in 13 games and making 12 starts, his 21 catches were his fewest since 2012.12

Former Bills general manager Doug Whaley made signing the transition-tagged Clay away from the division-rival Miami Dolphins one of his signature moves of the 2015 offseason. The Bills guaranteed $24.5 million of Clay’s deal, but his production in Buffalo never matched what remain his two best seasons — for Miami in 2013 and 2014.

Clay’s most recent touchdown came in Week 3 of the 2017 season. He surpassed 30 receiving yards in only two games during the 2018 season and was made a healthy scratch for a Week 16 contest at New England.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

In eight NFL seasons, Clay has caught 339 passes for 3,631 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for a score in 2013.

11

Cohen says Trump inflated his wealth in Bills bid

Michael Cohen said during his congressional testimony Wednesday that Donald Trump grossly overstated his wealth before becoming president, including inflating his assets during a failed bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

The claim raises questions about whether Trump could face even more legal trouble if, as Cohen said, he misrepresented his worth in applying for a loan to buy the NFL team.

Experts said a criminal case against Trump appears unlikely for several reasons. But Cohen’s latest assertions could affect the court of public opinion at a time when lawmakers are discussing the possibility of impeachment.

Trump was one of three known finalists in the bid to purchase the Bills in the summer of 2014 following the death of franchise founder and Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson. He lost out to the owners of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the Bills for $1.4 billion. The third group was led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Cohen, once Trump’s lawyer and one of his closest advisers before he pleaded guilty to tax crimes, fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations, testified for hours Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee.11

As part of the effort to buy the Bills, Cohen said, Trump gave financial statements to Deutsche Bank in hopes of getting a loan.

The documents, which Cohen provided to the committee, said Trump’s net worth was $4.55 billion in 2012 and soared to $8.66 billion in 2013 because of the addition of a line item for $4 billion worth of “brand value” — essentially the value Trump placed on his name.

Cohen told lawmakers Trump inflated his wealth “when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes,” even as he deflated assets to reduce his real estate taxes.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

He didn’t go into specifics as to how the financial statements provided to Deutsche Bank were inaccurate or offer evidence backing his assertion they were inflated.

Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor, said Cohen is accusing Trump of a crime similar to mortgage fraud, a common offense in which a homebuyer lies about his assets to get a loan.

“What he is laying out is something that is not only criminal but the type of behavior that authorities investigate and prosecute every day,” Levin said. “It’s a bread-and-butter offense.”

If what Cohen said is true, he added, the president could be charged under federal law for wire and mail fraud or under New York state law for what is called “causing a false filing.” Such cases usually involve instances where the borrower gets the loan, but that isn’t required for all prosecutions.

12

Exclusive: The real reason Man United’s James Wilson is ready to quit his boyhood club

“It was a surprise,” Wilson told ESPN FC by telephone of his debut call. “I’d only been training with the first team for two weeks. I’d had a good season prior to that, scoring for the Under-18s, the U-19s in the Champions League and I’d scored for the U-23s, so I had made all the steps in one year.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“I was surprised to get the nod but I stepped up to the plate and did my bit for the team on the night.”

A few months later, Wilson signed a four-year contract, with new manager Louis van Gaal branding the striker “one of the brightest young English prospects.” That contract is due to expire on June 30, 2019 and after a series of injuries and loan moves, Wilson, now 23, is set to leave the club he joined at the age of seven.

“I think I’ve come to terms with it,” says Wilson, on the prospect of finding a new home in the summer. “I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent certain I’m going to leave. There’s still a slight chance I might get a contract but I think I’m edging towards leaving in the summer.12

The bright side for Wilson, looking forward, is that he is enjoying his football again. On loan at Aberdeen since August, he has scored three times — including a stunning 30-yard strike in a 3-0 win over Hamilton in October — and played in a narrow Scottish League Cup final defeat to Celtic in December. He’d chosen Aberdeen, currently third in the Scottish Premiership behind Celtic and Rangers, to “get out of his comfort zone” and put himself in the shop window ahead of a possible permanent move in the summer.

“I wanted a little bit of a change,” says the former England Under-21 international. “Scottish football has been getting a lot more coverage over the last few seasons as the quality has improved. I wanted to move away from home. I’m originally from Stoke and Aberdeen is 400 miles away from there.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“My first loan move was to Brighton, which was kind of the same thing. The last few loan moves have been closer to home: Derby and Sheffield United. I thought the most successful loan was the Brighton one and I was trying to get as many similarities with this move. Being so far away from home, I have to think more about what I’m going to eat and the rest time I get between training and games. All things considered, I think it’s been a good move.”

11

Jose Martinez can earn $1 million in bonuses with Cardinals

Jose Martinez can earn $1 million in performance bonuses for plate appearances in the second season of his contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Martinez agreed Saturday to a $3.25 million, two-year deal that calls for a $250,000 signing bonus within 30 days of the contract’s approval by the commissioner’s office and salaries of $1 million this year and $2 million in 2020.11

The 30-year-old first baseman and outfielder would get $100,000 each in 2020 for 250, 300, 350 and 400 plate appearances, and $200,000 apiece for 450, 500 and 550.

He would have been eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after next season.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Martinez led the Cardinals with a .305 average last year and had 17 homers and 83 RBI. He played 887 games in the minors before reaching the big leagues, and has since hit .309 over parts of three seasons.

11

Steelers GM: Ben Roethlisberger ‘unquestioned leader’ of locker room

The Pittsburgh Steelers are unquestionably quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s team, according to general manager Kevin Colbert.

Colbert called Roethlisberger the “unquestioned leader” of the locker room who has the freedom to publicly criticize teammates if he sees fit.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

After a Week 12 loss to Denver, Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show that Antonio Brown — who’s now on the trading block — should have run a flatter route at the goal line. He added he wished he had thrown to JuJu Smith-Schuster instead.

Privately, Brown took exception to that. And publicly, Brown tweeted Saturday that Roethlisberger had an “owner mentality” because of his willingness to call out players and coaches.11

Roethlisberger says his role as a team captain and 15-year veteran gives him credibility to criticize when warranted but that he won’t abuse that privilege and criticizes himself as well.

Colbert points out Roethlisberger is the only Steeler left from the Super Bowl XLIII team.

“I honestly believe that that can be a burden on him more often than he may like to admit, because he has to … he’s got 52 kids under him quite honestly,” Colbert said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I want them to step up and say, ‘Hey Ben, what do I have to do? Can I do this better? What do we have to do to win a Super Bowl?’ I think that once you win it, you’ve got 53 guys who can say what it took. Right now, he’s the only one, so I have no problem with him. He can call me out and that’s fine. What he does, I totally respect because I see him too many times win games for us and come through in situations.”

The Steelers are working on a contract extension for Roethlisberger, whose deal expires after the 2019 season and who led the NFL in passing yards in 2018 with 5,129. He also logged a career-high 34 touchdowns.

Colbert cited Roethlisberger’s fiery halftime speech in a come-from-behind win in Jacksonville last season as an example of Roethlisberger’s leadership.

12

Andre Iguodala voted VP of National Basketball Players Association

The National Basketball Players Association elected Golden State’s Andre Iguodala as first vice president during its Board of Player Representatives meeting on Monday.

Iguodala has served as vice president of the Executive Committee since 2013. He will replace LeBron James in his new role. James’ four-year term has expired.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I am honored to be chosen by my peers to step into this position and take on a larger responsibility within the NBPA,” Iguodala said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work with (NBPA executive director) Michele (Roberts), Chris Paul and the Executive Committee to accomplish the best possible outcomes for the union and our future members.”12

In other elections, Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Charlotte’s Bismack Biyombo were elected to serve as vice presidents on the Executive Committee. Brogdon, Brown and Biyombo have all previously served as NBPA team representatives; they will replace Carmelo Anthony, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Iguodala, whose three-year terms have expired.

“Malcolm, Jaylen and Bismack have all shown a great commitment to the union since they arrived in the league,” NBPA president Chris Paul said in a statement. “I have no doubt they will bring a fresh perspective and passion to the Executive Committee and I am excited to start working with them.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Other members of the Executive Committee include Minnesota’s Anthony Tolliver (secretary-treasurer), San Antonio’s Pau Gasol, Portland’s CJ McCollum and Los Angeles Clippers veteran Garrett Temple (vice presidents).

The Committee will help guide the union in policy-making and decision-making with regard to the current collective bargaining agreement. Each side can opt out of the current agreement in 2022.