International News - Issue 277

Diego Costa, Gabriel, Chelsea And Arsenal All Charged

The FA have charged Chelsea striker Diego Costa with violent conduct and Arsenal's Gabriel with improper conduct, it has been confirmed. Both clubs have also been charged with failing to control their players during Saturday's Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal have confirmed they will appeal against the red card shown to Gabriel during the game. An FA statement said: "Diego Costa has been charged for an alleged act of violent conduct which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video. "The Chelsea forward was involved in an incident with Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny in the 43rd minute of the game. He has until 6pm tomorrow [September 22] to reply. "Off the ball incidents which are not seen at the time by the match officials are referred to a panel of three former elite referees. "Each referee panel member will review the video footage independently of one another to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence. For retrospective action to be taken, and an FA charge to follow, the decision by the panel must be unanimous. "Arsenal defender Gabriel has been charged with improper conduct for his behaviour following his dismissal, whilst team-mate Santi Cazorla has been warned for his behaviour following his sending off. "Finally, both clubs have been charged for failing to control their players under FA Rule E20. "Both clubs and Gabriel have until 6pm on Thursday [September 24] to reply."

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique says Lionel Messi’s 86 percent success rate with penalty kicks does not make him seem more human. Messi missed his sixth penalty out of 44 in a Barca shirt in their 4-1 home victory over Levante last weekend, and has now missed the most penalties out of any player in La Liga in the last 10 years. But when posed the question of whether Messi’s spot-kick misses make him seem less alien to normal footballers, his coach dismissed the idea.“To miss penalties does not make Messi human,” Enrique said at the post-match press conference. “Then he scores two goals and gives an assist. There is very little human about Messi.” The 28-year-old’s contribution helped Barcelona maintain their 100 percent start to the La Liga season as they sit two points clear of Real Madrid.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says his side need to play with more bravery and confidence at Anfield. The Reds were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich last weekend, having been demolished 3-0 by West Ham their previous home game. When Liverpool finished in the top four two seasons ago, they made Anfield a fortress, but Rodgers admits his new-look side will have to do that all over again. "We have to build that confidence through training and games. It is just step by step," he said. "You have to have courage and bravery to play here. There is a great history but embrace it. You have to play positive football. "There was a feeling of anxiety when I came in but we made it a fortress. Now we are having to build it again." Liverpool have now failed to win in the Premier League in three games and they sit 13th in the table after eight matches, four points behind fourth-placed Leicester City. They welcomed back Daniel Sturridge for his first start since April after five months out following a hip operation; the striker playing 60 minutes against the Canaries. And Rodgers said: "He is a way off full fitness but his presence and stature will give us something."It is about building his fitness. There is no pressure on him to do that."

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes his team showed they are title contenders with their 3-2 win at Southampton last weekend. Anthony Martial struck twice on his first Premier League start to go with a strike from Juan Mata, as United rose within two points of leaders Manchester City after six games. "It's a fantastic result away at Southampton and I think we have made a statement that we shall compete for the title," Van Gaal told Sky Sports News. "What I am saying all the time is that we have to improve. We have to improve our team and when we improve our team... last season we were fourth so maybe we can be third now. "But last year we were close enough to be the champions. I have said that we were very close last year. When you remember the match against Chelsea away, it was very close but we did not score at the time. "Scoring is the most important thing, you have seen that today, Southampton could have scored to go 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes but they didn’t do it and then we scored. We were the better team after that."

Dutch striker Robin van Persie admitted he is unhappy at being benched for new club Fenerbahce. Van Persie scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over struggling Bursaspor on Sunday after coming on in the 77th minute in Istanbul. However, the 32-year-old told Lig TV afterwards: "To be honest, I am not very happy at this moment. “I was not happy that I started on the bench. I am fully fit, physically very well and able to play for 90 minutes. "The only right answer I could give was with what I did: helping the team to get the victory." Coach Vitor Pereira defended his decision. "I would play more players if we were allowed to play 22 or 25 players," he said at a press conference. "The players can like or not like what I do, but I must take decisions. I am happy with Van Persie's performance after being brought on to the pitch. "It would be bad if he wasn't unhappy about being a substitute. This proves that he wants to play." Van Persie, who left Manchester United in August, has scored three goals in nine appearances (five starts) for the Turkish log leaders.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says he expects Anthony Martial's form to fluctuate given his age. Martial, 19, has made a fine start to his United career, scoring on debut and then bagging a brace in the 3-2 win at Southampton last weekend. Van Gaal, however, is mindful of managing expectations of the French forward, who became the world's most expensive teenager with his £36-million move from Monaco last month. "He cannot speak English, I speak French with him. I need help with that from Marouane Fellaini and Morgan Schneiderlin, it is very difficult but he is willing to speak English," Van Gaal said of Martial. "When you are 19 years old, you cannot expect consistency. Emotionally they shall have a lot of dips so that I expect also from him but that is not a big problem for me. "I'm very happy that he is in three matches and his talent is at a high level and he adapts to the system of how we want to play, that is also important, not every player can adapt in that system but he shows he wants to do that and he can do that. "He scores goals. That is the most important thing, that as a striker he scores goals. He can improve I think but he has a high level of talent. He shows it."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho insists John Terry is his go-to man despite benching the ageing Blues skipper for the 2-0 win over Arsenal. Mourinho dropped Terry for the mobile Kurt Zouma at Stamford Bridge and the Portuguese explained the move was made in view of Theo Walcott's pace in the Gunners frontline. "John Terry doesn't need me to speak with him because he knows what I feel, what I think," Mourinho told a news conference. "He knows the relationship, he knows that he's my man. He knows that if I need to choose one out of 25 to be my man, he's the first. "He knows that I care about him as a person, as a player." Mourinho continued: "He knows that nothing is a risk, he knows that my decision only had one intention, which was to help my team to win the match.”I thought that Arsenal was coming, playing a defensive game, with a very fast striker that gets behind people. "If we don't need to win the game so much, probably we would keep our block lower and more compact. "Because we desperately need a victory, we couldn't wait, we had to bring our defensive line up and to play against Theo Walcott the best player we have is Zouma. "And John knows the way I think and if he's always a fantastic captain, I think today he was even better.”If every player has lots of respect for him, the way he's reacted in the last days to this situation, he has even more respect from the players. "If you want to paint a dark picture, I ask you please don't do it because it's not the reality. He's in great condition and in a great situation with the manager and with the club."

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AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi feels Mario Balotelli is showing signs of maturity, while he says the ageing Zlatan Ibrahimovic wanted to return to the club in the past transfer window. Milan were strongly linked with a move for Ibrahimovic, 33, but Paris Saint-Germain were unwilling to sign the Swedish striker. The Rossoneri then brought in Balotelli on a one-year loan deal from Liverpool. 'Super Mario' disappointed in his only season at Anfield, however, Berlusconi has faith the 25-year-old can revive his career in the Italian capital. "Ibra wanted to come to Milan, but they wouldn’t let him go," Berlusconi told his club's website. "However we got Balotelli, who is younger. Ibra is like me and is getting older."Balotelli didn’t get a pass wrong against Palermo and God willing he really has changed, he appears to be more serious and pensive. "He made a series of runs and passes, linking up with the other players. I hope he can keep this going in the future. I talk with him on the phone from time to time and he seems calm, I think he has reached the maturity stage in a player’s career. "I can also see him playing behind the two strikers. Balo can play in any of the three positions in attack."

Ayanda Patosi was on target for club side Lokeren in their 2-1 Belgian Pro League defeat to Mouscron-Peruwelz last Saturday, while Andile Jali only played 10 minutes for Oostende. Bafana Bafana international Patosi brought his side back into the match at their home Daknam Stadion after they fell behind to a Sverrir Ingi Ingason own-goal after just five minutes. But Patosi levelled matters three minutes later as the scoreline read 1-1 after just eight minutes played. However, Noe Dussenne got a winner for Mouscron just before half-time. Patosi was later substituted in the 58th minute for 22-year-old Cameroonian player Lewis Enoh. Meanwhile, Jali and Knowledge Musona both came off the bench in the second half as Oostende beat Kortrijk 1-0. Goalkeeper Darren Keet started once again for Kortrijk but was unable to prevent Gohi Bi Cyriac from netting the winning goal in the 65th minute. Musona was brought on after the goal to inject some more attacking threat into Oostende’s game, while Jali came off the bench for the last 10 minutes, replacing the goalscorer. Jali missed the team's previous game due to the birth of his child and was not allowed straight back into the starting line-up. Oostende are top of the table with 19 points from eight games, while Kortrijk remain mid-table. In the Eredivisie, Kamohelo Mokotjo played the full 90 minutes as struggling FC Twente drew 0-0 at fellow relegation battlers Cambuur. Both sides remain winless after six matches.

Jose Mourinho has taken yet another stab at Arsene Wenger after Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 last weekend. Kurt Zouma and Eden Hazard scored the goals, but the big talking point was the red card shown to Gunners defender Gabriel, who fell for Diego Costa’s provocations and was sent off. Mourinho has previously called Wenger ‘an expert in failure’, and after the game he claimed the Frenchman always moans. “Where is the controversy? For me, no controversy. The game is about many different aspects, technical, tactical, emotional, physical. Normally the best team wins – we were the best team. "We were dominant, we were controlled. Obviously let's not be hypocritical and deny, but playing with one man more is easier. "I think I played against Arsenal 15, 16 times and only once they didn't moan. Maybe it was because they won that game. All the other matches, they have reasons for that.”

Liverpool have been handed more bad news after captain Jordan Henderson was ruled out for a further two months. The England midfielder looked set to return to first team action last weekend against Norwich City after missing the last three games with a heel injury. However, Henderson broke a bone in his foot at training on Friday and will have minor surgery on Monday. “Very disappointed and frustrated with the injury setback but will work hard to be back as quickly as possible,” he wrote on Twitter. “Will be supporting the team in every way I can while I'm unable to play. Thanks for all of your support.” Liverpool are in desperate need of a win tomorrow, having taken just one point from their last three League matches.

Juventus striker Alvaro Morata says he is not interested in returning to Real Madrid, and says he is happy and fully focussed in Turin. Morata joined the Italian champions at the beginning of last season, following the arrival of Gareth Bale, but Madrid have an option to buy the 22-year-old back at the end of the 2015/16 campaign. The Spanish international scored 15 goals last season to help Juve to the league title as well as the UEFA Champions League Final, which they lost to Barcelona. Asked whether he would consider a return to the Bernabeu, Morata said 'no way' and insisted he is fully focussed on his current team. "No way, Juventus is my team and I'm okay here. “I'm not thinking about other clubs," he told Sport Mediaset. "I appreciate Madrid's high regard for me, but right now I'm working on scoring and winning everything I possibly can with Juventus," Morata, who scored in their 2-1 win over Man City in the Champions League, added in a Sky Sports Italia interview.

Bafana Bafana midfielder Thulani Serero insists he has not given serious thought to leaving Ajax Amsterdam. Serero has struggled for game-time this season despite being a key performer for the Dutch giants last term. “I love challenges that bring the best out of me,” he is quoted as saying by Ajax Showtime. “I therefore have not really thought of a departure from the club. “When I wake up, I want to play and nothing else. “I do not ask questions to the coach.” He added of the recent transfer speculation:  “I did not sit and stress, I always laugh. I know what I can do. “People can talk, but I know what I can do. “I just do my job. It's all about teamwork. I have to keep working and show that I belong to the first eleven.”

Mesut Ozil could leave Arsenal for Fenerbahce at the end of the season, according to the playmaker's agent Erkut Sogut. Ozil, who is of Turkish descent but represents Germany, is growing in confidence in north London since his £42.5 million signing from Real Madrid in 2013. However, Sogut has suggested his client is intrigued by enquiries from the Yellow Canaries. "At Arsenal, Mesut is very successful in his performances,” he told Tavkim. “It’s too early to talk right now. But you cannot know the conditions. Fenerbahce seem serious about Mesut.” Sogut added: "It is difficult to predict in advance how Arsenal would respond. At the end of the season, we'll see. “However, leaving Arsenal for Fenerbahce could be a serious choice for him. “They are one of Turkey's biggest clubs.” The 26-year-old has scored 12 goals and provided 25 assists in 78 appearances for the Gunners.

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has stressed that he does not feel any extra responsibility following the departures of Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo during the offseason. The France international is arguably the Serie A champion's star player after the exit of the aforementioned trio, yet he feels it is not up to him individually to show Juventus the way, insisting it is a team effort more than anything else. Pogba had been struggling to find his best form in the opening weeks of the season, but had a hand in both of Juventus' goals as they beat Genoa 2-0 last Sunday. "With Carlos, Arturo and Andrea we could rely on individual moments of brilliance. Now we play more as a team," Pogba was quoted as saying on the club's official website. The 22-year-old took over the number 10 shirt from Tevez following the latter's return to Boca Juniors, thus following in the footsteps of compatriot Michel Platini, and he is determined to honor the jersey. "Taking on the number 10 is to follow in the footsteps of Michel Platini and several other Juventus greats. It's very important that I honour the shirt on the pitch, the club has shown a lot of faith in me," he added. "I need to keep working on my game, both in terms of build-up play and my runs off the ball. I need to put in strong performances both for the benefit of myself and that of the side." Juventus' win over Genoa was their first in Serie A this campaign and Pogba has urged his teammates to keep it up in the weeks to come. "We haven't achieved anything yet," he said. "Until today we had just one point in the table, now we've four. We're happy with the win, but we need to keep picking up results. "We're just concentrating on ourselves right now. There's a long way to go between now and May."