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Sports UK

Inside Arsenal’s toxic dressing room as players divide into factions amid slump

Mikel Arteta is facing a deepening Arsenal crisis because of a toxic dressing room.

Arsenal are determined to stick with under-pressure Arteta and give him time to turn the club’s fortunes around with the majority of players still onside.

But the backdrop is that there are factions within the squad which is making it difficult for Arteta to manage and is being seen as one of the reasons for the slump in form which has left Arsenal in fear of relegation trouble.

Arsenal have a large group of players, and some are unhappy at not playing with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sokratis, who are big characters and personalities but were not even included in the Premier League and Europa League squads.

Arteta’s Arsenal slipped to their eighth Premier League defeat of the season on Saturday

Ozil has been publicly supportive on social media but the club’s biggest star and earner is not even eligible to play, while injuries to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey have left the club facing major issues on and off the pitch.

Arsenal players – such as Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz – have all spoken out publicly in support of Arteta but it is more about the dynamic within the dressing room.

That is seen as one of the key issues because the dressing room has become difficult to manage while there are also glaring gaps in the squad.

Ozil is not a part of the current Premier League squad

They are almost certain to have a big clearout next summer when the likes of Ozil, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi become free agents.

But the Arsenal hierarchy are ready to back Arteta in January and are looking to add a creative midfield player even if it is a loan signing rather than another big deal.

Reports in Spain have linked Real Madrid ’s playmaker Isco for a loan move.

Arsenal always felt it would be a big job for Arteta to turn the club around and, less than a week after technical director Edu offered public support, that has not changed – even if their league position could get worse over Christmas.

The majority of players regard Arteta as a good coach even if they see him as very intense,and there has been disquiet in the way he has dealt with some players.

Leno has called for the Gunners to fight back

Willian keeping his place and public support for Granit Xhaka has been compared to damning comments about Nicolas Pepe’s red card at Leeds.

But Arteta still has the support of the hierarchy and majority of the dressing room – even if it has become difficult.

Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno has warned the club must be united to come through the crisis, starting with the Carabao Cup tie with Manchester City.

Leno said: “We have to stick together, we have to stay positive and this is the only way because on Tuesday we have another big game.

“We have to win games to come out of this situation and have a positive mood again.”

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Sports Canada

NHL: An Update for Players

The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) executive council will contact player representatives from each squad on Friday evening with an update on negotiations with the Bettman Circuit.

• Read also: Marner don’t give a fuck

• Read also: “CH will be the best team in Canada”

This is what the sports site learned The Athletic, in the morning.

However, there would not be a vote scheduled on this call. For their part, the owners of the 31 clubs in the National League have no plans to meet soon.

The circuit is still aiming for January 13 to start its next campaign, with training camps set to begin early in the first month of the year.

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Headlines UK

Football players ‘overwhelmingly’ back sticking with taking the knee

We DO want to keep taking the knee! Football players ‘overwhelmingly’ back sticking with the ‘act of solidarity’ despite fans’ booing after being quizzed by the PFA… who slam the EFL and clubs for a ‘lack of leadership’

  • A PFA survey shown huge support from players to continue taking a knee
  • The survey followed a series of incidents where fans booed the gesture 
  • Players ‘support continuing this act of solidarity despite any adverse responses

A survey carried out by the Professional Footballers’ Association has shown overwhelmingly support from players to continue taking a knee.

The questionnaire followed a series of incidents where fans booed the anti-racism gesture and aimed to find out how clubs, players and staff best wanted to spread the message of equality in the sport.

The results of the survey illustrated that players ‘support continuing this act of solidarity despite any adverse responses that may be received’. 

The gesture in support of Black Lives Matter was booed by Millwall fans before their home Championship game against Derby on December 5, and in their next match against QPR, players stood arm-in-arm instead.

During the match, QPR players Ilias Chair and Bright Osayi-Samuel took the knee to celebrate a goal against Millwall.  

A PFA survey has shown overwhelmingly support from players to continue taking a knee

Players 'support continuing this act of solidarity despite any adverse responses

Players ‘support continuing this act of solidarity despite any adverse responses

THE SURVEY QUESTIONS

Do you want to take the knee as a squad?

Do you want to take the knee individually?

If the knee is shown resistance by fans do you think it should be reconsidered?

Would you welcome an alternative to taking a knee?

If so, please give details?

On Tuesday Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner hit out at the ‘disgusting’ behaviour of fans who booed as the players took the knee before their League Two win over Colchester at the Abbey Stadium. 

There have been similar incidents at Colchester United and Exeter City’s home grounds since the return of fans to stadiums over the last few weeks.  

A PFA statement said: ‘Throughout 2020, PFA members have demonstrated a strong understanding of the societal issues raised across the world and have used their platform to highlight the impact racism has on both individuals and wider communities.

‘The decision to take the knee before matches was initially made by Premier League captains during Project Restart, to show solidarity with Black people facing discrimination globally.

‘This powerful symbol of solidarity represents the players’ commitment to anti-racism and is not an endorsement of any political position. It is a peaceful act of unity that highlights a persistent and systemic issue.’

The PFA did take a swipe at the EFL for a ‘lack of leadership’ over the issue and explained that they had made it difficult for players across the three leagues. 

‘While the Premier League has already committed to teams taking the knee for the duration of the season, players across the EFL have been left in a difficult position following a lack of leadership on the issue,’ the PFA statement continued.

‘The survey conducted by the PFA has shown overwhelming support for continuing to take a knee, and we hope this gives the EFL and the clubs involved the information needed to support the players.’

PFA slated EFL for 'lack of leadership' as the Premier League committed to gesture for a season

PFA slated EFL for ‘lack of leadership’ as the Premier League committed to gesture for a season

The gesture of taking the knee before matches became widespread when football returned following the spring coronavirus lockdown, during which Black Lives Matter protests spread around the world, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US.

While many see the act of taking the knee as a symbol of anti-racism, some football fans have questioned its links to BLM, which in the UK has become associated with the toppling of statues and far-left political beliefs.

In the wake of the backlash against the Millwall booing, Environment Secretary George Eustice called BLM a ‘political movement,’ that doesn’t reflect ‘what most of us believe’.

Categories
Sports Canada

Return to the game in the NHL: it will be up to the players to be disciplined

Two weeks ago, I said it was illogical for the National Hockey League to try to present a season in the midst of a health crisis. Now, Prime Minister François Legault is giving his blessing to the NHL plan.

• Read also: Health restrictions will not prevent CH return, says Legault

The Canadiens will be able to hold training camp and play their home games at their facilities, once a return-to-play protocol agreement between the NHL and the Players’ Association is reached.

For those who could interpret Mr. Legault’s decision as favoritism towards the Canadian, remember that his government, with the approval of Public Health, had allowed the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to start its season. , last October.

COVID-19 quickly caught up with teams established in Quebec. The formations in the Maritimes were more fortunate, but when the first cases emerged at the end of November, a general hiatus was declared.

The management of the QMJHL is planning to relaunch its season in January. Simultaneous bubbles will be deployed in Quebec. Nothing has been determined yet for the Atlantic Provinces teams.

Total success

When it comes to the NHL, Gary Bettman says he’s open to all scenarios at this point. He does not rule out the possibility that matches will be presented in protected environments.

Not sure, however, that the players who had this experience in Toronto and Edmonton last summer are infatuated by the prospect.

Some of them have said, on condition of anonymity, that the league failed to live up to its commitments in several respects during the Stanley Cup tournament. They literally felt sequestered.

Still, the NHL won its bet. No case of COVID has been diagnosed.

The key to success

The players must observe the same rigor when resuming activities. It is through them that the success of the season will pass.

It will be up to them to be disciplined and avoid contact with people other than their teammates, their spouses and their children, for those who have families.

Nothing says the recipe will be foolproof, but it will significantly reduce the risk of contagion.

A balm for amateurs

Finally, if the ratings weren’t soaring last summer, you’d think the interest would be higher this time around.

This is the time of the year when it is a habit to watch hockey. It would help pass the time and, let’s face it bluntly, we’re having our fill broken !

Hockey is not an essential service, we get along, but we need distractions.

Jagr joins Howe

Jaromir Jagr is a phenomenon!

Aged 48, yesterday he undertook a 33e season in the professional ranks, in the Czech Republic.

His longevity puts him on a par with the legendary Gordie Howe, whose professional career spanned from 1945 to 1971, and then from 1973 to 1980.

I see again Mini mario when he started with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991. He spoke little English, but he was quite friendly. He still had a smile cut out from ear to ear.

When asked who was the best between him and Mario Lemieux, he answered Mario with an amused look.

Jagr was the fifth draft pick that year, after Owen Nolan (Quebec), Petr Nedved (Vancouver), Keith Primeau (Detroit) and Mike Ricci (Philadelphia).

His 1921 points put him in second place, behind Wayne Gretzky of course, among all-time scorers in the NHL.

Two other players from the 1991 draft collected more than 1000 points. Keith Tkachuk (1065), who was chosen at 19e ranked by the Winnipeg Jets, and Doug Weight (1033), selected in 34e place by the New York Rangers.

The generosity of Pierre Lacroix

Claude A. Vincent, a reader, sent me a message testifying to the generosity of Pierre Lacroix, who passed away last Sunday.

Mr. Vincent got to know Lacroix during his short stay behind the bench of the Saints in Laval in the late 1960s. He was, for his part, a player conditioning coach.

Thirty years later, Mr. Vincent approached Lacroix to obtain Avalanche equipment for a ball hockey team bearing that name. Lacroix sent him about ten autographed sticks, five goalie equipment, caps, pucks, notebooks and pencils.

Mr. Vincent received as a bonus two VIP tickets to an Avalanche game at the Bell Center. It was his last meeting with Lacroix, an evening he will remember forever, it goes without saying.

Categories
Sports UK

Man Utd’s January transfer plan as four players targeted in summer window

Manchester United have identified four players they want to add in the summer – but will not be entering the market in January.

The Red Devils endured a frustrating summer window that saw them miss out on several of their top targets.

That led to suggestions they would make up for lost time midseason, but that is not going to be the case.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led a vigorous overhaul of players since arriving as he aims to follow a recruit policy rather than signing big names.

United are still after a ready-made winger, a centre-back, a right-back and a defensive midfielder.

But they will wait until the summer to conduct their business, reports the MEN.

The Man Utd boss still has several positions he wants filled

They want to have a squad containing two quality players per position by the start of next season.

United want to identify their shortlist by the New Year, but will hold off conducting any business unless their targets are readily available.

Jadon Sancho has been their most publicised target and he could fill the winger role.

At right-back doubts have continued to surround Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s ability going forward and the likes of Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey have been linked.

Senior United sources believe the January window lends itself to “fool’s gold” and is “driven by the desperation of the buyer more than the motivation of the seller”.

The majority of Solskjaer’s summer additions came late in the day and had an element of panic about them following their poor start to the season.

They missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer

But even £40m man Donny van de Beek is yet to get the opportunities many feel he warrants.

United’s haphazard season, that has seen results cover cracks in performances, hasn’t helped their cause.

And former player Gary Neville recently claimed it was the club’s responsibility to give Solskjaer the players that will lead them to success.

He said: “I still have it at the back of my mind with this club that to allow a manager to win the title you have to arm him with the players to do so.

“He needed another centre-back, he needed another winger.”

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Sports UK

Ronaldo names the best he has played with and four players who inspired him

Brazilian legend Ronaldo has named the best he has player he has ever played with, as well as four idols he had growing up.

Former striker Ronaldo won almost everything there is to claim in both club and international football.

The 44-year-old, who is now president of La Liga club Real Valladolid, is widely regarded as one of the best forwards of all-time.

So perhaps unsurprisingly, when asked who the best player he has ever played with, Ronaldo pointed the finger at a midfielder in Zinedine Zidane, who of course has become one of the most decorated managers of all-time too at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo won almost everything there is to claim in both club and international football

“Zizou has been the best player I have trained and played with,” he told France Football. “And now he has become a coach and won three Champions Leagues in a row.

“That is why today I ask myself: ‘Who is better, Zidane the player or Zidane the coach? But I can’t answer”.

Many recent strikers have revealed that Ronaldo was their inspiration growing up.

And the two-time Ballon d’Or winner has revealed the range of players he looked up to as a child, growing up in the 1980’s.

Ronaldo says former Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane is the best player he has ever played with

“Marco Van Basten for sure,” Ronaldo went on. “From a very young age I watched Italian football and paid special attention to this player.

“Maradona and Cruyff, too. And Zico, of course, because he played for Flamengo and I was a fan of that team.

“I tried to take something from all of them and ultimately I can say that I am proud of the career I have had.”

Ronaldo was speaking to France Football after being nominated as the Ballon d’Or Dream Team’s centre-forward.

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And he admits that while he could have had a career playing second fiddle in attack, he always saw himself as the main man up front.

Ronaldo added: “Sometimes I played as a second striker, but I always saw myself up top in the centre. It was like that.

“Maybe I could have played in the ‘10’ position, but I always preferred to be close to the box, where I knew I was the most dangerous. I was so in love with my position as a number 9.”

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Sports UK

Arteta answers questions on dressing room unrest and if Arsenal players back him

Mikel Arteta has responded to questions of dressing room unrest after reports that Arsenal players had turned on him.

The Gunners are going through a rough patch of form this season after seven defeats out of 12 in the Premier League.

Arsenal have made their worst start to a season since 1974/75 following their 1-0 loss to Burnley.

That was also their fourth home defeat in a row and the pressure is ramping up on Arteta.

Reports have emerged that the Spaniard has lost the dressing room.

With a number of crunch fixtures coming up over the next few weeks, Arsenal have simply got to start putting some points on the board or potentially face a shock relegation battle.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are under pressure

And Arteta has responded to the claims that there is civil unrest behind closed doors by admitting no club has a full squad of happy campers.

He said: “Well I said it many times when you have the squad that we have at the moment, for different circumstances it’s impossible to have 31 happy players in the camp.

“It’s absolutely impossible. I don’t know any club in the world who has that.

“But obviously when you lose again these things are going to come out again to put more pressure or be disruptive.

“I’m not interested in any of that.”

When asked if the players still support him, Arteta responded: “My feeling is yes but this is a question for them obviously.

David Luiz is one of the players Mikel Arteta has reportedly fallen out with

“Again, when I see the reaction and the way they try there’s not one bit that worries me that they’re not trying their best, that’s for sure.”

Arteta continued: “When you’re not getting results at the end of the day it’s the manager who has the maximum responsibility to get them.

“This football club is too big to accept this many losses in the past few weeks. My chest is here so hit me guys!”

Arsenal face high-flying Southampton next in the Premier League – who are 10 points ahead of them.

The Saints find themselves in a surprise top-four battle in a topsy-turvy season in the top-flight.

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Technology US

Cyberpunk 2077 developer says disappointed players can ask for refunds

Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red has acknowledged the performance issues plaguing the game on base last-gen consoles, and has apologized for not showing the game running on the original PS4 and Xbox One prior to its release. “We should have paid more attention to making it play better on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One,” it said in a notice published on Twitter. The developer said it is hoping to fix the “most prominent problems” with a series of patches to be released over the coming months, but added that anyone who doesn’t want to wait will be able to return their copy of the game.

The statement follows numerous ports about how poorly the game runs on the older machines. Players have reported choppy frame rates, weird physics, texture pop-in, and screen tearing. Its performance has quickly become an online meme, Polygon reports, and videos and screenshots of the issues have been going viral on Twitter.

CD Projekt Red gave the PC version of the game to most reviewers, and seemingly did not provide console versions of the game, meaning these performance issues have only received widespread attention after the game’s release. In an investor call last month, CD Projekt Red joint-CEO Adam Kaciński even said the game runs “surprisingly well” on last-gen’s base hardware. We reviewed the game on PC, and although we found it was buggy, we didn’t see any of the more serious issues that players are reporting on the base PS4 and Xbox One. CD Projekt Red apologized for not showing the game on base last-gen consoles before its release “and, in consequence, not allowing you to make a more informed decision about your purchase.”

The developer promises that a host of fixes are coming to fix the performance problems, starting with another round of updates that’ll be released in the next seven days. In January and February, CD Projekt Red plans on releasing a pair of large patches that it says “should fix the most prominent problems gamers are facing on last-gen consoles.” However it cautions that “they won’t make the game on last-gen look like it’s running on a high-spec PC or next-gen console, but it will be closer to that experience than it is now.”

It says the PC version of the game will also be receiving regular updates and fixes. There’s also an upgraded next-gen console version of the game on the way, though there’s no word on when exactly that’s arriving.

Although fixes are on the way, the developer says that players are free to request refunds if they don’t want to wait. Digital purchases can be returned via Sony and Microsoft’s respective refund systems (IGN notes many buyers have already reported successfully claiming refunds via these methods, which isn’t usually possible in cases like this), and it says players should attempt to return boxed versions of the game to wherever they bought it. It has set up a dedicated email address for players to contact over the next week if they have trouble returning their copies.

Categories
Tech News

Cyberpunk 2077 Players Getting Refunds Due to Bug-Infested Gameplay: Report


Cyberpunk 2077 players are reportedly getting refunds for digital copies on PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam platforms. Launched globally on December 10, Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most-awaited game releases this year, thanks to developer CD Projekt Red’s stellar record with the critically acclaimed 2015 action-RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. However, upon game launch, players were plagued with disappointing bugs that severely undermined the graphics and gameplay across all platforms. Now, players have taken to Reddit to share that PlayStation is issuing refunds for the game’s digital copies following complaints.

According to a report by VGC, a Reddit user shared details of receiving full refunds for his PlayStation 4 copy of Cyberpunk 2077. The user pointed out that the game was played for over 10 hours, well exceeding the typical two-hour playtime window that is usually enforced for a successful refund. It should be kept in mind that Sony doesn’t have a set return policy for games. However, given the increasing uproar from fans regarding the game, Sony doesn’t appear to hold back to keep its customers satisfied.

In the Reddit post, the user said that he had to get on a support chat with PlayStation via the company’s US customer care line. So, it could be possible that the refunds are only made available by Sony in the United States. According to a report by GameSpot, customers can avail a refund from Microsoft for the Xbox digital editions, as well as Steam for PC editions.

To vent their frustration around the multitudes of bugs in the game, gamers took to Twitter to post several instances of annoying, and at times hilarious, bugs using #CyberBug2077. While some posts showed immensely poor graphics quality on consoles, others showed cases where NPCs walked through walls and floors, or where the player simply got stuck in the middle of the game.

Despite the reported bugs and Twitter uproar, CD Projekt recently announced that the company would take full responsibility of the release and that employees will get full bonuses no matter how the game is reviewed. “We initially had a bonus system that was focused on the game’s ratings and the release date, but after consideration, we believe that measure is simply not fair under the circumstances,” wrote Adam Badowski, studio head and creative director for Cyberpunk 2077, in an email to staff. “We underestimated the lengths and complexity involved to make this a reality, and still you did everything you could to deliver an ambitious, special game.”


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Sports UK

Wright tells Arteta it’s over for three Arsenal players who have “let him down”

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has called on Mikel Arteta to dispense with three of his senior players and give the youngsters “a blast at it” after the Gunners’ latest embarrassment.

Arteta saw his side slump to their fourth straight home defeat of the season, and a seventh overall in the Premier League, as they went down 1-0 at home to Burnley on Sunday night.

The hosts had appeared to be on top on the game until Granit Xhaka was sent off just before the hour mark, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang putting through his own net to gift Sean Dyche’s side the win.

With Arsenal stuck down in 15th, Wright says that the time has come to move some of the senior players aside.

“The manager has stuck with him [Xhaka] for a while,” Wright told Premier League Productions.

Xhaka was sent off for the Gunners

“He has shown a lot of faith in him. I think he has done the same with Willian. He has done the same with (Alexandre) Lacazette.

“There are players now that should be getting a blast at it now.

“Throw in Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe coming back on-loan and doing well at Huddersfield last season. Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

“You need to do something different because if it carries on like this and he continues to have faith in these players, and they are not delivering, then I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Wright says Xhaka, Willian and Lacazette should be dropped

Wright says that shile in most cases you would hope to rely on your senior players getting you out of trouble, the Gunners’ current crop simply aren’t delivering.

“It’s a time when you need experienced players the most,” he added.

“I feel like at this particular moment, he has had a lot of faith in them and they have kind of let him down up to this point.

“I think Arsenal are at a real crisis point in terms of confidence. It’s going to be even lower now and it’s going to take something to build them up.

“This is why it needs some freshness. Just blood some fresh impetus.”

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