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Yankees acquire Swisher from White Sox

The New York Yankees acquired outfielder Nick Swisher from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

The Yankees dealt infielder Wilson Betemit and minor-league pitchers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez to the White Sox, who also sent righthander Kaneoka Texeira to New York.

“We’re excited with the addition of Nick Swisher,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We feel he has a ton of upside. He’s a patient switch-hitter, adds versatility at a number of defensive positions, including first base and the outfield, and will be a positive presence inside the clubhouse.”

The White Sox picked up Swisher in a trade with the Oakland Athletics in January, but he struggled often during his one season in Chicago. He hit just .219 with 24 homers and 69 RBI, though he still finished eighth in the American League with 82 walks. By the time the playoffs came around, he was no longer a regular part of the starting lineup.

The Yankees acquired Betemit in a midseason trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007 and hit .253 in 124 games with the club, hitting 10 homers and driving in 49 runs. The versatile veteran can play all infield positions and has even found occasional spot duty in the outfield over the last few years.

Marquez, the 41st overall pick of the 2004 draft, went 6-7 with a 4.69 ERA for Class AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre of the International League last season, while Nunez spent most of 2008 with Class A Potomac of the Carolina League. He was just 2-8 with a 5.22 ERA while being used mostly as a starter. However, he spent parts of the season in the bullpen for Class AA Trenton and Harrisburg and performed markedly better, registering a combined 1.65 ERA over 27 1/3 innings between the two stints.

Texeira collected 20 saves for Class A Winston Salem last season, posting a 0.93 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. He also had 15 appearances for Class AA Birmingham, going 3-2 with a 2.01 ERA.


November 14, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Who is Vince DeMentri?

Vince DeMentri was an anchorman and reporter for the NBC owned-and-operated television station WCAU in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There he was the anchor of NBC 10 News at 4 and the weekday edition of MyPHL News at Ten Powered by NBC 10. He is married to Pat James DeMentri, a morning show hostess for QVC, and has one daughter. DeMentri appeared in the 1998 film U.S. Marshals as a reporter.

DeMentri graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism. He began his career as a sportscaster for WPVI-TV in Philadelphia and worked for WOI-TV as a weekend anchor in 1989. He was later an investigative reporter for WDIV-TV in Detroit, Michigan and WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island. DeMentri worked for WCBS-TV from 1993 to 2002. He joined WCAU in 2003. DeMentri has won several awards, including seven Emmys for investigative reporting and a National Edward R. Murrow Award for his reporting on the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

On September 13, 2001, while covering the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, DeMentri was arrested for impersonating an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in order to pass a police barricade while dressed in an ATF hat and jacket. The charge was later reduced to trespassing and later dismissed.

In July 2006, NBC10 suspended DeMentri, presumably for an incident between him and Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz. Schwartz had implored viewers not to act like Dementri in the wake of early July’s flooding: Dementri had waded into dangerously deep flood waters. According to witnesses, Dementri, apparently upset about the incident, arrived back at the station where he confronted Schwartz and an altercation occurred, necessitating intervention from Doug Kammerer.

Dementri was fired from NBC10 in August 2008 for alledgedly vandalizing a co-worker’s vehicle and stealing possessions from morning anchor Lori Delgado.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Entertaintment, News, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lavar Arrington Calls Gibbs ‘Coward’

Lavar Arrington had a nice little career with the Redskins. And by “nice,” I mean he made three Pro Bowls (although his selection to two of them is questionable), and by “little,” I mean he only played six seasons with the team, three of them for a full 16 games. All-in-all, Arrington was a bust considering he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2000.

Despite that, most Skins fans — myself included — have a special spot in their hearts still for Lavar. He was an absolute physical freak who played all-out, every down. He was able to make plays that other linebackers, or human beings in general, couldn’t dream of doing. Plus, Lavar ended Troy Aikman’s career. For that, we’re forever grateful. In the end though, an injured knee and fractured relationship with the organization did him in. We always took his side though. Partially because we loved him for the reasons explained, and mostly because we’d never take Dan Snyder’s side. On anything.

However, I have to imagine it’s going to be difficult for some fans to look past this comment he made to The Washington Times recently:

“I called Joe Gibbs a coward for leaving,” Arrington said. “You came in, you made some money for your NASCAR team. No one else is going to say that. I’m sure more people thought I was a [jerk] for saying that. Joe wouldn’t call me because he knows. There are a lot of people who know the truth about what went down with me and the Redskins.”

I don’t know the finances of Joe Gibbs Racing, but I believe Gibbs returned to the Skins because he loves the team, football, coaching and wanted to return Washington to the glory he once knew. He gave it all he had for four years, and then knew it was time to walk away after last season. It was an admirable, two-playoff-berth effort that brought the team back to some level of respectability.

Aside from that, we’re talking about Joe Gibbs, Hall of Famer, Super Bowl champion thrice over and the next in line to Jesus himself. You do not say such things about that man while in the D.C.-area. Especially when you own a new sports bar in said area, which Arrington does in nearby Largo, MD. It’s not good for business.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manning, Giants lead Eagles 20-17 at halftime

Eli Manning threw two TD passes and John Carney kicked two field goals to give the NFC East-leading New York Giants a 20-17 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles at halftime on Sunday night.

Trying to slice a game off New York’s lead, Philadelphia scored two touchdowns off Giants’ turnovers. Donovan McNabb threw a TD pass and lined up as a wideout on a trick play score that gave the Eagles their first touchdown. David Akers kicked a 29-yard field goal as the first half expired to make it 20-17.

The Giants and Eagles played in front of a special guest. Vice President-elect Joe Biden watched the game in a luxury suite with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. Biden was booed when he was showed on the video screen.

Manning finished a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard TD pass to Kevin Boss on the first play of the second quarter for a 17-7 lead.

Manning, who has a 3-0 career regular-season record in Philadelphia, helped drive the Giants to their 35 when Brandon Jacobs lost a fumble. Jacobs hurdled over Asante Samuel and was hit in the air by Eagles linebacker Chris Gocong. The ball popped loose and was recovered by linebacker Mike Patterson, who also had a first-quarter interception.

McNabb capitalized on the turnover, throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jason Avant to make it 17-14 with 4:01 left in the half.

McNabb, though, badly underthrew wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his pass was intercepted by Sam Madison. Madison returned the ball to the 14, and Carney (20-for-21 on the season) kicked a 26-yarder for a 20-14 lead.

The defending Super Bowl champions have opened some daylight with a two-game lead in the division over the Eagles (5-3) and 1 1/2 games over the Redskins.

Manning threw an early interception that Philadelphia converted into a touchdown, but came right back to throw the tying TD to Plaxico Burress in the first quarter.

New York’s special teams came up with a huge turnover to set up the go-ahead score.

Philadelphia’s Quintin Demps had the ball stripped away by Ahmad Bradshaw on a kickoff return and New York’s Chase Blackburn recovered and returned the ball to the 13. That helped Carney kick a 27-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.

Manning threw for more than 100 yards in the quarter and looked sharp after his early interception.

Manning was under pressure when he dropped back on the third play of the game and his pass was intercepted by Patterson. The ball went straight into the 292-pound Patterson’s hands, bounced off his helmet and back into his hands for his first career interception and a 21-yard return to the 9.

Then the Eagles, who had a guard catch a TD last week, went for some more trickery on second down. McNabb split to the far left side and the ball was snapped directly to Jackson in a shotgun formation. Jackson, Philadelphia’s leading receiver, ran to his right and reached across the goal line with his arms extended for a 7-0 lead.

Left guard Todd Herremans was surprisingly not in the starting lineup one week after he scored his first career TD. Nick Cole started in his place. The move was a “coaching decision,” said an Eagles spokesman.

Herremans returned in the second quarter.

Giants linebacker Jonathan Goff left the game in the second quarter with a head injury. Cornerback Corey Webster also left with a groin injury.

Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell and World Series MVP Cole Hamels served as the honorary captains and walked out with Philadelphia’s captains for the pregame coin toss. Burrell wore McNabb’s No. 5 jersey and Hamels wore backup QB A.J. Feeley’s No. 14.

The Eagles later congratulated the Phillies on the big screen for their World Series championship.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Johnson wins in Arizona, closes in on NASCAR title

Jimmie Johnson bounced back from a poor finish in Texas last week to win the NASCAR race in Arizona on Sunday and move within sight of his third successive title.

Johnson only needs to finish 36th or better in the final race of the season next week in Miami to clinch the title and join Carl Yarborough (1976-78) as the only drivers to win three successive championships.
In a race slowed by two red flags and 10 cautions, Johnson took advantage from pole to lead for 217 of the 313 laps of the race and beat Kyle Busch to the finish. Jamie McMurray was third.
The victory, after a disappointing 15th last week in Texas, stretched Johnson’s lead to 141 points in the standings.
Carl Edwards, who had won the two previous races and had hopes of narrowing the gap finished fourth on Sunday.
“I can’t tell you how last week’s been. I worked my life for this,” Johnson told reporters of his thoughts of last week’s performance.
Johnson said the restarts had caused him some concerns.
“I didn’t want to do anything stupid, Kurt was hungry (for a win),” he added.
Busch, a former NASCAR champion, said he was pleased with the second-place finish.
“It’s really a privilege to finish second to them today, we feel like we’re building momentum.
“It’s something special to watch Jimmie. “
A dejected Edwards all but conceded the championship.
“Jimmie’s doing his thing, we’ll keep our heads high,” Edwards said.
“A championship is possible, it’s just not probable.”

November 10, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Hawkeyes get their kicks late against Penn State

Penn State might have made Iowa’s offense play left-handed, but it couldn’t make it play left-footed.

A 31-yard field goal off the right foot of sophomore kicker Daniel Murray with 1 second remaining gave the Hawkeyes a 24-23 victory over No. 3 Penn State in a game when Iowa overcame two nine-point deficits.

“The decision-point of the week was today,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said on when he decided to send Murray out for the final field goal, rather than freshman Trent Mossbrucker. “We favored experience in that situation.”

The winning drive was set up after safety Tyler Sash interecepted a pass with 3:46 left in the game, returning it 14 yards to the Iowa 29.

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Nov. 5, Ferentz said he thought the Nittany Lion defense would try to make Iowa play `left-handed,’ or away from its powerful Shonn Greene-led running game. On paper, that didn’t happen, although this was a day when you could rip up the stat sheet and let it sail away into a 25-mile an hour cross wind and into the 35-degree night. Greene sprinted and bulled his way to 117 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns as the Hawkeyes improved to 6-4 overall, 3-3 in the Big Ten. Iowa has now become bowl-eligible for the eighth consecutive season. Penn State is 9-1, 5-1. This is the first win for the Hawkeyes over a top 5 team since a 54-28 win at No. 5 Illinois on Nov. 3, 1990 and the first win over a top 10 team since a 30-7 against Wisconsin on Nov. 20, 2004.

“I’m very, very happy for our football team,” Ferentz said. “It was a very hard-fought game. Penn State is an outstanding football team and it took everything we had today to get the win. At the end of the day, the credit goes to our players. I was proud of their effort and proud of the staff.”

Iowa has played five games decided by five points or less this season and now has a 1-4 record in those games. The four losses have come by a combined 12 points.

By the end of the game, the figures were nearly as even as the final score. But that wasn’t the case after the first 30 minutes. The statistical deception was most glaring in the first half when the scoreboard and the halftime stat sheet hinted at two totally different games. Although the Hawkeyes trailed by just six points at the break, it was Penn State that ruled the numbers. The Nittany Lions ran 21 more plays (32-11), had 13 more first downs (18-5), gained 133 more yards (203-70) and chewed up 17 more minutes of clock (23:34-6:26). And still, thanks to a huge initial defensive series, Iowa was in fairly sound position prior to the second-half kickoff. By the time Murray’s field goal zipped through the center of the goal posts, the Hawkeyes crept close to Penn State in first downs (24-19) and total yards (289-272). Iowa converted 7 of 10 times on third down and controlled 17:42 of the final 30 minutes.

“I’m very, very happy for our football team. It was a very hard-fought game. Penn State is an outstanding football team and it took everything we had today to get the win. At the end of the day, the credit goes to our players. I was proud of their effort and proud of the staff.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz

Quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 15 of 25 passes for 171 yards, a touchdown and an intercetion. Derrell Johnson-Kouloianos caught seven passes for 89 yards and a score and Brandon Myers hauled in four passes for 42 yards. Three Hawkeye defenders — Jeremiha Hunter, Pat Angerer and Brett Greenwood had 12 tackles apiece. A.J. Edds added 11. Adrian Clayborn had six stops, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

First it was the defense that sparked the Hawkeyes, then Greene and the offensive line put a brief and bold exclamation point to the first 66 seconds of the contest. The first series by Penn State included two incomplete passes by Daryll Clark and a sack and lost fumble on third-and-10. Christian Ballard and Matt Kroul had quarterback hurries on the first two plays and Clayborn was credited with a sack and forced fumble on third down. It appeared that Ballard came up with the fumble for a touchdown, but officials said Clark recovered the fumble at the Penn State 1. Andy Brodell returned the ensuing punt 10 yards to the Nittany Lion 25 and then Greene and the O-line took over. On first down, Greene ran off left tackle for 11 yards. On second down he again darted off the left side and didn’t stop until he found the end zone 14 yards away. The PAT kick by Mossbrucker gave Iowa a 7-0 lead with 13:54 left in the first quarter.

Penn State’s second drive of the game was a study in contrast to its first. The Nittany Lions controlled 9:43 of the clock while driving 71 yards on 19 plays. Iowa retained a 7-3 lead by holding Penn State to a 24-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly with 4:11 left in the first quarter. The Hawkeye defense came up big after the Nittany Lions were faced with first-and-goal from the Iowa 2. Evan Royster was stopped for no gain, Clark threw an incomplete pass (hurry by Broderick Binns) and Royster was stopped for a 5-yard loss by Karl Klug and Mitch King.

The Hawkeyes ran just five offensive plays in the first quarter (Penn State had 26) and still managed two first downs and a four-point lead. The Nittany Lions had possession 12:48 during the first quarter.

Penn State continued to control the clock and the Kinnick turf during an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Royster scoring on a 2-yard run. The Nittany Lions ran 5:02 off the clock and took a 10-7 edge.

Kelly’s second field goal of the half — this one from 31 yards with 55 seconds left before halftime — gave Penn State a 13-7 lead. It capped the Nittany Lion’s longest scoring drive of the season (16 plays, 78 yards, 8:18).

Penn State linebacker Tyrell Sales set the tone early in the second half by intercepting a Stanzi pass and returning it to the Hawkeye 29. Again Iowa’s defense stiffened and limited the Nittany Lions to a 25-yard field goal by Kelly, making the score 16-7. The interception came on first down, one play after the Hawkeyes converted on third down for the first time with a 6-yard pass from Stanzi to Greene. It marked the first of two nine-point deficits the Hawkeyes erased.

Stanzi and Johnson-Koulianos hooked up on three pass completions for 47 yards on the second Iowa drive of the second half, including a 27-yard touchdown with 4:43 left in the third quarter, reducing Penn State’s lead to 16-14. It was the longest drive of the day for the Hawkeyes — 73 yards on 10 plays.

The Nittany Lions scored 10 points in the third quarter off two Iowa turnovers to take a 23-14 lead heading into the final quarter. With the Hawkeyes down by 2 and following back-to-back strong runs by Greene (for 12 yards), a snap didn’t reach Stanzi’s hands and Penn State linebacker Josh Hull recovered at the Iowa 28. Four plays late Derrick Williams took a direct snap and ran 9 yards for a touchdown with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.

Greene topped 100 rushing yards for the 10th consecutive game bringing the Hawkeyes back to within two points at 23-21 with 9:20 remaining. A 6-play, 44-yard scoring drive by Iowa included four rushes by Greene (for 19 yards) and two pass completions from Stanzi to Myers (for 18 yards and seven yards).

Iowa concludes the home portion of its season Saturday, Nov. 15, against Purdue (3-7, 1-5). The game begins at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast by the Big Ten Network. Last season the Boilermakers defeated Iowa 31-6 in West Lafayette.

“We have two more games to play and both are going to be tough,” Ferentz said.

November 9, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

What we learned: We’re not seeing the high Tide

Alabama yanked off an early lead in Baton Rouge on a sneak from John Parker Wilson. To “celebrate” the score, Wilson played charades with the LSU crowd, holding up a mock cell phone to his ear. It’s a clear signal to the world that those scurrilous Tigers fans haven’t gotten to the QB’s cell phone, just as they did with Tim Tebow last fall.

For his trouble, J.P.W. earned a 15-yard penalty tacked on to the kickoff return. So in the end, the prank worked to LSU’s benefit. We can be assured the plot will continue to haunt SEC QBs in the years to come.

Parker’s LSU counterpart, Jarrett Lee, has been off and on. He sent a beautiful honing pigeon to Demetrius Bryd to even the score, and his blemish — an early interception which set up Wilson’s TD — might have been his sharpest pass. But on a few other occasions, he has missed his receivers by car lengths.

‘Bama is in danger, though. One fumble erased a sure score, and another gave the Tigers the ball at the Crimson Tide 30; Charles Scott promptly darted in for the LSU score to put the Tigers up 14-

November 9, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , | 1 Comment

Odd man out: Hackett or Jarrett?

It was one play, but it might make a decision Carolina Panthers coach John Fox must soon confront a bit easier.

The play came late in the Panthers’ 27-23 victory Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Carolina, leading by those four points, faced a third-and-10 at the Panthers 37 with less than 3 minutes remaining.

The Panthers needed to hang on to the ball: Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who had been moving his team up and down the field nearly at will all day, lurked on the sideline, hoping for one final chance.

Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme called the play, then, as the huddle broke, told second-year receiver Dwayne Jarrett to be ready.

“Dwayne’s route was going to give him a chance to make a play,” Delhomme would say later.

Coming from the right side, Jarrett ran a slant route over the middle. Delhomme found him, throwing a pass that nearly flew over the head of Jarrett, who is 6-foot-4. Jarrett, with Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson zeroing in on him, went up and caught it. Wilson crunched him. But Jarrett held on for a 17-yard gain and a first down.

It was a key moment for the Panthers, who were able to retain possession and ultimately run out the clock.

It might have been equally crucial for Jarrett, who has struggled in his short time as a pro but might now be finding his footing.

His performance against the Cardinals – he had another catch for 8 yards – might have moved him ahead of oft-injured D.J. Hackett as the Panthers’ third receiver behind Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad.

Not so fast, though, said Fox, who will likely have to choose again between Jarrett and Hackett for an active roster spot for the Panthers’ next game, Nov.9 in Oakland. Hackett has 10 catches for 131 yards; Jarrett has six for 78. Neither has scored a touchdown.

“They’ve both performed when called upon,” said Fox, whose team has a bye this weekend.

“We’ll evaluate where we are (next Wednesday). I don’t want to commit to anything yet, so I don’t want to answer that. We’ll come out and compete with the best 53 players on the roster and the best 46 on game day.”

Hackett and Jarrett have moved in and out of the lineup for a variety of reasons. Both were active for the season’s first two games while Smith served a suspension. When Smith returned, Jarrett was moved to the inactive list until Hackett hurt his knee against Kansas City in the fifth game.

That moved Jarrett back to the active list against Tampa Bay and New Orleans. He played again against the Cardinals while Hackett, by then recovered from his injury, was inactive.

The Panthers signed Hackett, who had four injury-plagued seasons with Seattle, as a free agent in the offseason. He didn’t play as a rookie in 2004 because of a hip injury, missed three games in 2005 with a sprained left knee and sat out 10 games last season with an ankle injury.

He was effective when he did play last season, however, catching 32 passes in six starts for 384 yards and three touchdowns.

The injury problems followed him to Charlotte. Hackett didn’t play in the Panthers’ four exhibitions after injuring his toe in training camp in early August. He hurt his knee without it being hit against the Chiefs.

That left the door open for Jarrett, the Panthers’ second-round draft pick in 2007 out of Southern California. His rookie season (six catches for 73 yards in seven games) was a disappointment.

But Jarrett, who admitted he had a difficult time adapting to the NFL, seems close to fitting in.

“He’s definitely gotten better,” said Fox. “Dwayne Jarrett needs to be concerned with Dwayne Jarrett, which is how I like it and is what’s best for him. We see him practice and we saw some signs (Sunday), when he made two very, very big plays and big catches.”

After his key fourth-quarter catch against the Cardinals, Jarrett lay briefly on the field in pain after Wilson’s direct hit to one of his hips. Looking up, he saw Smith – his mentor and giver of some very tough love over the past two seasons – leaning over him.

“Steve was yelling at me to get up, get up, get up,” Jarrett said. “I heard him like I was walking into the light.

“And I got up.”

November 9, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , | Leave a comment

Huskers still smarting from last meeting

There is something oddly fascinating about a team scoring 70 points in a single college football game. Something intriguing.

A 40- or 50-point performance, especially in the world of today’s high powered offenses, can be explained away as a sign of the times. Even the occasional 60-point performance, in most cases, will go laregly overlooked by the majority of the population.

But 70 points — a total reached just twice during Big 12 conference games last season? That’s something else altogether.

When a team reaches the 70-point mark, as Kansas University did against Nebraska in a 76-39 victory in Lawrence last season, people are going to hear about it. And if you are a member of the team that happened to give up said number of points, as Nebraska senior linebacker Cody Glenn is, it is not something that easily can be pushed from memory.

“We understand what happened last year,” said Glenn, whose team no doubt will be looking for revenge when the Jayhawks and Huskers match up at 1:30 p.m. today in Lincoln, Neb. “We’re not going to let it happen again. Coming off a loss like that, we really want to come out and make a statement.”

In surrending their most points in school history, the Huskers allowed Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing to throw for 354 yards and a school-record six touchdowns in 2007, as the Jayhawks rattled off 48 first-half points. After going three-and-out on its first offensive series of the game, Kansas scored on 10 of its next 11 possessions, and, during one second-half stretch, scored 28 consecutive points.

But asked whether last year’s outcome will have any bearing on this year’s game, coaches and players on both teams seem confident that it won’t.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who is in his first season with the Huskers and wasn’t present for last year’s blowout, said earlier this week that while the 2007 game might provide a little motivation heading into this weekend, his players haven’t wasted much time dwelling on it over the past 12 months.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, Huskers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh told the Omaha World-Herald that any extra motivation for this week’s game stems simply from wanting to beat a fellow Big 12 North team.

“It’s not because of what happened last year, although some people maybe do have some revenge they want to get,” Suh said. “But we play them every single year. If you want to say there’s vengeance, we have vengeance for them every single year.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine that no thought whatsoever has been devoted to the shellacking Nebraska players suffered last season.

And on the eve of today’s encore, at least one person isn’t buying the idea that last year’s game will provide no extra incentive for the Huskers.

“There was a rumor, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I heard that they got a sign up in the locker room with the score because they felt it was something that they wanted to correct,” Kansas cornerback Justin Thornton said. “So you know they’re going to show up ready to play. A lot of those guys are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder for the simple fact that they came down here and played the way they did.”

November 8, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Manchester United not taking wounded Arsenal for granted

The past few weeks have not been kind to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side, with the Gunners losing to promoted Stoke City and being held to draws against Tottenham and Fenerbahce.

To make matter worse, the London side will be entering Saturday’s contest against Manchester United without the services of Emmanuel Adebayor (ankle) and Emmanuel Eboue (knee), while Robin van Persie is out through suspension and Mikael Silvestre (nose), William Gallas (hamstring), Bacary Sagna (ankle) and Theo Walcott (shoulder) are each struggling with injuries and will be late fitness checks.

Wenger has started to feel a little bit of heat around the Emirates Stadium with his team’s recent lack of form, but the boss does not believe that his team enters Saturday’s encounter as underdogs.

“I don’t feel we are underdogs at all,” Wenger said at a pre-match press conference on Friday. “I go into this game with the desire to win it and that’s all the belief I have.”

The Gunners currently sit six points behind joint-leaders Chelsea and Liverpool, and one point back of United, but Wenger refuses to label the game as a “must-win” and thinks that his club has the potential to climb right back into the race.

“It depends how many games the other contenders lose,” said Wenger. “I believe in my team and I’m very proud of the job I’m doing as well even if at the moment we are not as good as I want them to be. There is no alarming sign of the team not having the potential.”

United will be without defender Wes Brown (ankle), but Gary Neville is expected to take his place, while midfielder Darren Fletcher (knee) is doubtful to take part in the game.

However, the team is more focused on leaving the Emirates with three points after conceding late goals to Arsenal in the past two years.

The Red Devils yielded two goals in the final 10 minutes two years ago to lose 2-1, while they conceded a goal to William Gallas in the dying seconds last year that forced the team to settle for a 2-2 draw.

“We’ve thrown away some points there in the last two seasons, despite them being really good games,” United striker Wayne Rooney told the club’s official website. “I think we should have maybe won at least one of them.”

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson is also a bit irritated at the two late goals in the team’s loss two years ago.

“We’ve thrown points away,” Ferguson said. “We were 1-0 up with six minutes to go and ended up losing it two years ago. That’s crazy.”

Ferguson is fully aware of Arsenal’s struggles in recent matches, but he has seen too many United-Arsenal games to think this one will be easy.

“If you think we’re going there thinking it will be easy because they have players out, you’re wrong,” said Ferguson. “This will be as tough as it always is. Look at United-Arsenal games, they’re always very competitive, played at great speed and high on emotion.”

Chelsea leads the league on goal difference ahead of Liverpool and the Blues travel to Ewood Park to meet Blackburn on Sunday, while Rafael Benitez and his Liverpool side host relegation-battling West Bromwich.

Stoke City has moved two points clear of the drop zone after their win over Arsenal, and they meet a Wigan side that is clear of relegation on just goal difference.

Bolton is third from the bottom and travels to surprising Hull City, Sunderland hosts Portsmouth, Everton invades West Ham, Aston Villa tries to rebound from a defeat to Newcastle when the Villains host Middlesbrough, Tottenham sits on the bottom of the table but the team has earned seven points from its last three games and visits Manchester City, while Newcastle travels to Fulham having won two straight.

November 8, 2008 Posted by | News, Sports | , , | Leave a comment