The holiday season is upon us. Air Jordan 1 Retro . Its a time of year for family and friends, gifts and surprises, and a hectic Premier League holiday fixture list. As we approach the halfway point of the season, the table is as topsy-turvy as ever. The unpredictable nature doesnt stop with team performances. Individual contributions have been erratic and entirely volatile. There are players, however, who have been altogether consistent. Many who have come out of obscurity, and/or have performed above what was expected. Before the season they were overlooked or underestimated. They have answered the critics and become top Premier League players. Lets call these players true holiday surprises, or gifts to their teams and supporters. Here is the Premier Leagues ‘Surprise starting XI. Happy Holidays! Goalkeeper Tim Howard (Everton) – Inconsistent play has always been Howards Achilles heel. This year hes been the leagues best shot-stopper and has been a rock behind a team on the rise. Howard has a joint league best eight clean sheets and Everton have conceded the joint fewest goals (15 in 16 games). The American has never been on better form, boding well for club and country. Honourable Mention: Artur Boruc (Southampton) Defenders RB: Seamus Coleman (Everton) – It was rightfully questioned where best to play the Irishman. A midfield role seemed beyond him when deputized. Right back was always the most logical fit. The 25-year-old has grown leaps and bounds over last season, as comfortable in attack as defending. Three goals to his tally contribute to a more balanced team attack, providing an alternative to the reliance of attacking down the left. He is one of three players in the team to play every minute this season. The argument can be made he has been the top right back in the league thus far. CB: Dejan Lovren (Southampton) – The Croatian was a significant signing from Lyon last summer and an absolute bargain at £8.5 million. Lovren has only missed one game, a 2-0 loss at Arsenal, one of only three games the team has conceded more than one goal. His leadership has been an asset in a young team, and although still just 24, plays with much more maturity than his years. Lovren leads the spine of the team that is among the best in the league. CB: Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) – Another shrewd £8.5 million purchase, the 21-year-old represents the present and future for Cardiff City. Its puzzling why a club as steadfast on development as Spurs wouldnt give the player a longer look. Caulker needed opportunity and the move to Wales has revitalized his promising career. He has the faith of his teammates and the manager, serving as stand-in captain. Caulkers already one of the best defenders in the air and has also blocked the most shots in the Premier League. Hes played in all 16 games, with the highlight scoring the game winner in the South Wales derby. LB: Kieran Gibbs – Arsenals back four was in shambles a season ago. The entire back line has improved, but its Gibbs who has developed into an every match left back. The stats dont flatter, but his week-in, week-out influence is certainly felt. The wingback duo of Gibbs and Bacary Sagna down the right has contributed extensively to a fluid Arsenal attack. Gibbs has always had promise. But whether Arsene Wenger could rely upon him was debated. The acquisition of Nacho Monreal last season was a wake-up call. Gibbs has kept the Spaniard a peripheral player. Honourabe Mention: Curtis Davies (Hull City) Midfielders RM: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) – The much-maligned Henderson has puts his many critics behind him to become a lynchpin for Brendan Rodgers. The manager has branded Hendo the most improved player in the league, and the assessment isnt far off. Henderson still looks awkward at times, needs to get better in front of goal and may never live up to his £20 million dollar purchase price. But hes only 23, is the only Liverpool player to start every Premier League game, and has been a versatile player down the right side. His passing has also been top rate. He will continue to be relied upon with Steven Gerrard out through injury. CM: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) – The story has been well told. No player has shown improvement like the meteoric rise of the Welshman. A team-best eight goals and 21 shots on goal, an impressive six assists, and nefound poise on the ball, Ramsey has been the best player on the leagues top team. The potential has always been there. This season its been realized. Arsenal has a versatile, box-to-box midfielder to build around in the 22-year-old. The future is bright. CM: Ki Sung-Yeung (Sunderland) – Get to know this name. The 24-year-old South Korean International moved on loan from Swansea, bringing his composed, pass first approach into Gus Poyets team. He has become a consistent starter under Poyet and has been a real threat. A Capital One Cup game-winner against Chelsea Tuesday was the icing on the cake on a run of form making onlookers believer Sunderland may find a way out of the relegation zone. Hes good with both feet and is passing accurately at a rate of 89 percent. LM: Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) – The 18-year-old was playing in the Dallas Cup last spring. Now, hes a Manchester United first-team regular. Januzaj introduced himself to the world scoring twice in a crucial come from behind victory at Sunderland in his first career start. The creative midfielder caught the eye of United supporters on the pre-season tour. Fellow youngsters Wilfried Zaha and Jesse Lingard seemed further along in their development. But its Januzajs maturity on the ball that has impressed most. Hes the best attacking option on the United flanks at present time. Honourable Mentions: Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City), Jonny Howson (Norwich City) Forwards Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) – Hype has always surrounded the England International, yet production hasnt always followed. Liverpools bright start to the campaign can rightfully be attributed to Sturridge holding down the fort while Luis Suarez missed the first five matches through suspension. Sturridge scored four goals over that span, including three match winners. Injury has setback Sturridges breakout campaign. A big second half for the striker will be essential towards a potential Liverpool return to the Champions League. Shola Amoebi (Newcastle) – The Nigerian International has yet to score this season, but his performance is better assessed on what he means for the team. Amoebis link-up play between the midfield and targetman Loic Remy has been instrumental in Newcastles recent turn-around. In eight games Amoebis started, Newcastle has picked up 17 points and only lost once. His movement off the ball, creation of space and use of his size has made the forgotten man at Newcastle now an important player in Alan Pardews revamped team selection. Honourable Mention: Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) Other Musings - The Champions League draw may have serious implications on the Premier League when all is said and done. Manchester Citys mouth-watering fixture with Barcelona will test Citys resolve. It has always been suggested Manuel Pellegrini was brought in for Champions League success. Navigating through both competitions is no easy task. Fortunate for City, the two games with Barcelona are sandwiched between ‘soft fixtures: Sunderland and Stoke City both at home, then Aston Villa at the Etihad and Hull City away. These games will allow Pellegrini to properly rotate his squad. Arsenal meanwhile plays tournament favourites Bayern Munich. Added to the distraction is a game against Manchester United before their first meeting, and rivals Spurs following the second game with Bayern Munich. - Citys depth has already been tested through the prolonged absence of captain Vincent Kompany. Squad depth will continue to be challenged with top goalscorer Sergio Aguero out up to two months with a calf injury and right-back Pablo Zabaleta suffering a hamstring injury. These are critical losses – Aguero, a true game-winner, and Zabaleta who is top class down the City right hand side without appropriate cover at the position. - Wayne Rooneys injured status is a massive blow to United. The nature and extent of his injury has yet to be revealed. With a soft holiday fixture list ahead, this was a key time for Manchester United to make up ground. No Rooney and Robin van Persie for extended periods could force Uniteds hand to act in the January transfer window. Title contention may be out of reach. But Champions Leaue qualification cannot be. - How much can Liverpool afford to pay Luis Suarez to keep him at Anfield? And is a blank check enough? Is Champions League mandatory for a Suarez stay? Whatever Liverpools next step may be, inherent risk is involved. This is Suarez, after all. This saga is the highest stakes game being played right now in the league. - Game of the Week ahead: Arsenal v Chelsea (Monday December 23, 2013): both teams will be eager to respond; Arsenal from a dismantling at the Etihad and Chelsea coming off a Capital One Cup defeat against Sunderland. Things are boiling over for Jose Mourinho. His defenders continue to struggle, conceding soft goals and hes not getting enough out of his collection of unconvincing strikers. Both teams have title aspirations. Both have much to prove. - Two more coaching casualties this week, taking the total of managers fired this season to five. Odds on favour to go next: Malky Mackay. Theres too much dysfunction at Cardiff City behind the scenes. Youd have to worry for the team on the field if they lose their glue in the manager, Mackay. Air Jordan 1 Outlet . Grimes signed a $32 million, four-year contract to remain with Miami. The deal, which includes $16 million guaranteed, rewards Grimes for his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury that forced him to miss almost all of the 2012 season. Air Jordan 1 From China . Ferrer will play Mikhail Youzhny on Sunday after he defeated Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-4 in an all-Russian semifinal. "Youzhny is a good player," Ferrer said.ST. JOHNS, N.L. -- All Tyler Beskorowany had to do was be patient. Beskorowany made 29 saves Saturday as the St. Johns IceCaps edged the Portland Pirates 3-2 in American Hockey League action. Beskorowanys start made him the teams third starting goaltender of the season after Eddie Pasquales season-ending injury and Michael Hutchinsons callup Friday to the Winnipeg Jets. "I went through it one save at a time," said Beskorowany. "That was the mentality I had all night. These guys played well in front of me. Ive never seen a team block so many shots in my life. I made the saves I had to and gave them a chance to win." The 23-year-old goalie said he didnt feel nervous ahead of the home game. "The nerves werent too bad," Beskorowany said. "Just being at home maybe helps the nerves a little, having that home crowd behind you." Due to NHL callups the IceCaps are also without Eric ODell, Patrice Cormier and John Albert. Team leading scorer Kael Mouillierat is also out with injury. With that in mind, head coach Keith McCambridge said the IceCaps need to stay focused. "The mindset is keep pushing forwardd. Air Jordan 1 Discount. We still have a lot of really good pieces in that dressing room," he said. "Our depth is being tested right now but this is part of what happens, day in and day out. You never know what your lineup is going to be. Im proud of the guys for being able to push forward." Josh Lunden, Andrew Gordon and Carl Klingberg scored for the IceCaps (38-20-4). Brandon Yip and Jordan Szwarz replied for the Pirates (22-30-10). The IceCaps opened the scoring when Jerome Samson found Gordon in front of the net for an easy tap-in. The shot snuck in under the glove 11:36 into the first period. Portland equalized when Yip roofed a wrist shot at the 7:37 mark of the second on the power play. Just under a minute later a Mathieu Brodeur point shot found its way to the net, banking off Szwarz in the crease and in for Portlands second goal. Klingberg pounced on a loose puck in the slot and scored a high slapshot 4:58 into the third period, tying the game for the IceCaps. Lunden put the IceCaps ahead with 6:58 left in the game on a backhander from the slot coming through the zone. Mark Visentin stopped 31 for Portland. ' ' '
21 déc. 2019
OAKLAND – There has been a quiet, building frustration in the Blue Jays clubhouse with Major League Baseballs new replay and challenge system. San Francisco 49ers Store . After Saturday nights 5-1 loss to Oakland, Torontos third-straight defeat at O.co Coliseum, Jose Bautista blew the lid off the simmering pot. First, the situation: With the Jays trailing 3-1 in the eighth, Jose Bautista was at the plate with two outs and Melky Cabrera on first base. Bautista doubled down the leftfield line off As reliever Luke Gregerson. Third base coach Luis Rivera waved Cabrera around third. Shortstop Jed Lowries relay throw to catcher Derek Norris was on the money and Norris swiped a tag at a sliding Cabrera. Home plate umpire Bill Miller, the man involved in Brett Lawries infamous helmet spiking incident two years ago, called Cabrera out. Manager John Gibbons challenged the play. It was close. The call on the field stood after a two-and-a-half minute review. The inning was over; the Jays wouldnt recover. "I dont really know which replay they were looking at but clearly they must have had a different video feed than the one we had," said Bautista. "Its pretty frustrating for you to battle as a team, keep the game close, for our pitchers to be doing what theyre doing, for us to keep grinding through games and facing some touch pitching and somehow be able to tie the game in the eighth inning, it all goes down the drain because somebody first, initially, made a bad call to begin with and then it gets upheld by God knows who in some room in New York supposedly." Bautista, the gathered media were about to find out, was only getting warmed up. "This whole replay thing has become a joke in my eyes," said Bautista. "I think they should just ban it, they should just get rid of it. I dont really understand the purpose of it but getting the right call on the field is not the purpose. Thats pretty obvious and evident. I dont know what kind of agenda the people that are doing the replays are on, what their plan is, what their purpose is, who theyre looking after. But obviously getting the right call on the field is not what theyre doing." There are those in the organization whove expressed quiet frustration at other challenges and reviews that havent gone the Jays way. Another recent example: Last Wednesday against Milwaukee when Munenori Kawasaki was called out at first base on a groundball to Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. Seguras throw pulled first baseman Jonathan Lucroy off the bag. Lucroy spun and attempted a tag on Kawasaki. The call was upheld despite evidence to the contrary. Baseball is cycling umpires through the so-called replay war room in New York City. When a play is challenged, the on-field umpire is getting on the headset and talking to a colleague. Regardless of what is the reality, the perception is increasing that umpires are watching out for umpires. Count Bautista in that camp. "I feel like there was a chance for Adam Lind to tie the game in the eighth inning (that) was taken away from us," said Bautista. "Man on second, two outs, 3-2 ballgame, we were right in it. Unfortunately some people, I dont know what the right word is, lack of integrity, lack of accountability, or some really good camaraderie that are looking after each other, are not doing what theyre supposed to be doing. Because getting the right call on the field, which is why instant replay was instituted, is not the purpose of whats happening. The best evidence is what happened today." Bautista surely will be fined for his outburst and his comments reflect a growing frustration with the clubs play. The Jays are 9-18 since hitting their season high-water mark of 38-24 on June 6. A six game lead in the American League East has turned into a deficit. Following Saturdays loss, Toronto is a full game back of the Baltimore Orioles for first place. The team is dealing with injuries, the latest suffered by Edwin Encarnacion (story here: http://www.tsn.ca/mlb/story/?id=456550). Brett Lawrie has a fractured right index finger and likely wont be back until August. Bautista is playing with a sore hamstring and Adam Lind is playing with a bruised right foot. REYES ON TRADE MARKET Shortstop Jose Reyes weighed in to TSN.ca about Oaklands acquisition of pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in Fridays blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs. "Its good for Oakland," said Reyes. "They got very good two pitchers. Samardzija, hes been one of the best this year. To go along with what they have, I mean thats huge for them. That means theyre pushing and they want to go all the way." Judging by the package the Athletics sent to Chicago (2012 first round pick, SS Addison Russell; 2013 first round pick, OF Billy McKinney; P Dan Straily and a player to be named later) its clear the Blue Jays couldnt match unless they were willing to part with a young pitcher off their major league roster. Starting pitching may not be Torontos priority, anyway. The staff has held up well through more than a half the season. An infielder, a second baseman or a third baseman, and bullpen help are just as important. "I think he knows what we need," said Reyes. "As a player I need to worry about doing my job. Our GM, hes got a job to do so I dont want to get involved in that and get involved in his decisions. Of course, our front office knows what we need. Its no secret to no one." GIBBONS: BUEHRLES AN ALL-STAR Mark Buehrles skipper thinks his left-hander should be in Minneapolis on July 15 for the All-Star Game. "Yeah he should be an All-Star, no question. No doubt," said manager John Gibbons. Buehrle (10-6) often jokes about luck and how its the determining factor in whether hes successful. After a 10-1 start to his season, Buehrles dropped his last five decisions and is winless in six-straight starts. Look closer, though, and youll see hes still pitching well. Four of Buehrles last six starts, the winless span, have been quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs against). Buehrles ERA, in 121 1/3 innings this season, is a stellar 2.60. ITS A CRUEL BUSINESS How is Tommy Milone feeling right now? The As left-hander tossed six innings of shutout ball against the Blue Jays on Friday and had a record of 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA over his last 11 starts dating back to May 9. On Saturday, Milone was optioned to Oaklands Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento to make room on the active roster for newly-acquired starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Custom San Francisco 49ers Jerseys .Johnny there, who knew he had that speed? teammate Tommy Wingels said.Scott and Matt Irwin were unlikely goal-scorers Tuesday night as the previously stingy San Jose Sharks finally sprung a leak or two, blowing a pair of three-goal leads before coming away with a 6-5 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals. San Francisco 49ers Pro Shop . Bryce Harper? He also came into Wednesday without a long ball and hadnt driven in a run. He was hitting .160, had nearly three times as many strikeouts as hits and was dropped to seventh in the batting order.CALGARY - Elisabeth Vathjes strong start in World Cup skeleton turned torrid as she won her first gold medal in just her second race.The 20-year-old Calgarian was the fastest woman down her home track Friday at Canada Olympic Park. She earned a silver medal last week in her World Cup debut in Lake Placid, N.Y.Vathje stood up in the tracks outrun, danced a little jig and hugged her boyfriend Donovan Klassen after completing her second run Friday.She posted a two-run time of one minute 55.31 seconds to beat runner-up Laura Deas of Britain by just over three-tenths of a second.Vathjes parents Jeff and Rita, her brother Brandon and friends from her church were also trackside to celebrate.Its incredible, Vathje said. To be home, to be around these people who have seen me grow up . . . its truly amazing.There was a huge group of people and they were excited to see this in real life, to see what I do and see such great results.Tina Hermann of Germany was third in 1:55.64. Vathje led after the first heat and a quick start time in her second run helped seal the victory.Vathje (pronounced VAT-chee) leads the overall World Cup standings with two medals in as many races. The next stop on the circuit is Jan. 5-11 in Altenberg, Germany,Reigning Olympic womens champion Elizabeth Yarnold of Britain beat Vathje for gold in Lake Placid, but Yarnold didnt race in Calgary because of dizziness she experienced in those first races.Concussions are an issue in skeleton because athletes heads can make hard contact with the track and also because of the constant shaking of their heads on the way down.The Dukurs brothers from Latvia duked it out for gold and silver in the mens race Friday. Olympic silver medallist Martins Dukurs prevailed in one minute 51.06 seconds for his second straight win. Tomass Dukurs was second in 1:51.96Sungbin Yun of South Korea earned bronze for his countrys first World Cup medal in a sliding sport.This is good for the sport, getting more and more countries on the podium, Tomass Dukurs said.Vathje took up skeleton at the relatively young age of 14. Shes a seasoned rookie after seven years of sliding on the developmental circuits.She says a combination of factors contributed to her hot start, but the key components are a new sled designed by Richard Bromley of Britain and finding corporate sponsors to help her pursue her dreams.Her $10,000 sled is almost a full second faster than her former model.Its really cool to have that technology and be able to race on it, Vathje said. Its a fast sled and Im excited to see whatt it can do the rest of the year. 49ers Jerseys 2021 . .Its pretty too. Thats what I tell everybody. Theyre like really, out of everything you say, its pretty? Im like yeah, its pretty.Look good, feel good, race good.Vathje recalled finishing dead last at her first world junior championships at age 16 in Park City, Utah.It was pretty devastating, she said. Its like are you kidding me? Why am I in this sport? Why am I doing it?My ultimate goal is to stand atop the podium in Pyeongchang, to represent Canada.I want to be able to show these girls who are watching me that they have worth, to show them theres something more than getting their worth from boys, or worth from things that arent valuable. Show them theres more to them than what they see.Lanette Prediger of Calgary was seventh and Madison Charney of Brooks, Alta., placed 10th in the womens race.Dave Greszczyszyn of Brampton, Ont., tied for eighth among the men. Calgarians Barrett Martineau and Greg Rafter didnt qualify for the second mens heat.The skeleton teams Own The Podium funding dropped from an annual average of $876,250 from 2010 to 2014 to $20,000 for 2014-15. Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton pays for athletes travel, accommodation and meals at competitions and also the salary of one coach Ivo Pakalns.Vathje bears the cost of her other coaches Bromley and Charles Wlodarczak, her strength and conditioning coach Rob Gray and her equipment. So corporate sponsorship has been another major piece in her early success this winter.Its kind of difficult but because of these people who were able to step up into my life and say we are going to support you, we are Team Vathje, we want to see you succeed it allows me to not have to work in the summer, she said.When you work in the summer, its not conducive to good training, its not conducive to good working. It allows that freedom be compete at my best.Vathjes runs werent entirely smooth. Her experience on the Calgary track may have helped her compensate for bumping the side walls, according to Mellisa Hollingsworth, the 2006 Olympic bronze medallist who provided television commentary Friday.Shes fast at the top, Hollingsworth said. Shes new to the World Cup, but shes been here for six years. Lake Placid, Calgary, the tracks shes travelled to, shes got a good amount of experience. This is just a little bit different experience.Mens two-man bobsled was scheduled for later Friday at COP. Olympic womens bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries will race Saturday and will also make her World Cup debut piloting a four-man sled. ' ' '