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Premier League on Boxing Day: 10 things we learned as the pressure mounted on Louis van Gaal

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Premier League on Boxing Day: 10 things we learned as the pressure mounted on Louis van Gaal

The Dutchman hinted he could resign after Manchester United slipped to their fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of Stoke

It’s a knockout: Boxing Day brought entertainment aplenty

What a day in the Premier League!

While most of us were still recovering from a turkey overdose, top-flight footballers up and down the country were back to the day job with a bumper 10 games all taking place on Boxing Day.

There wasn’t much festive cheer for Louis van Gaal as Manchester United lost again at Stoke, while Leicester lost for just the second time this season at the hands of Liverpool.

Southampton then rounded the day off with a stunning 4-0 win over Arsenal.

We had a reporter at every ground, but what did they learn on a frantic day of action?

Look no further…

1) Surely no way back for Van Gaal now

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Four straight defeats, no wins in seven, and a team that has been drained of any confidence and belief, there is surely now no way back for Louis van Gaal at Manchester United.

Van Gaal took on the media on Wednesday, bristling with indignation that his job was on the line, but his position is even more precarious after this abject loss.

There is nothing to suggest Van Gaal can turn this crisis around, and the time has come for him to be replaced, before United’s miserabke season, already in freefall, sinks without trace.

2) Klopp still needs to go shopping

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Liverpool still need a centre half in the January window – they are down to the bare bones with injuries, and Mamadou Sakho still looks a long way from full fitness.

He had the Reds fans’ nerves shredded with his ‘accident waiting to happen’ clumsiness on the ball, though Dejan Lovren is looking more solid under Klopp.

The German manager will surely want to find a physical, dominating partner for Lovren, and if he does then his side can challenge for the top four this season.

3) Chelsea a long way from regaining aura

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Chelsea have changed manager but still look as vulnerable and nervous as they did under Jose Mourinho. Teams simply don’t fear facing them at the moment.

They didn’t get an early goal against Watford and the tension quickly rose around Stamford Bridge. Watford took control of the game, exposing Chelsea’s soft centre under the slightest pressure and you could soon feel the unease among a crowd that have grown accustomed to suffering this season.

Watford continued to give as good as they got for the rest of the game and were full value for their point.

4) Vincent Kompany will be a big miss

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The roars that greeted the City skipper’s arrival as a substitute against Sunderland after a seven-week lay-off and the groans which greeted his swift departure said a lot.

Kompany is City’s single most important player and despite a comfortable win, his latest setback is a major blow, for a side who struggle to keep clean sheets without their long-serving Belgian.

5) If anything, Harry Kane is getting even better

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The debate over whether or not he is the real deal is, thankfully, over. He has now scored 13 times this season with two of those goals in an England shirt.

His first against Norwich came from the spot while his second was a classy diagonal finish just before half time.

He has been driven by a desire to prove those claiming he is/was a one-season wonder wrong. It is safe to say that he has done so already.

6) Garde should recall Agbonlahor

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Villa’s attendance of 38,193 was their second highest of the season and this was one of their better displays against West Ham but they need points not performances right now.

Perhaps boss Garde will consider recalling frozen out club captain Gabby Agbonlahor who was again absent and did not even make the bench. In his absence Gestede was a handful but lacked quality

7) Swansea are far from out of the woods

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There was a palpable sense of relief around the Liberty Stadium at full-time after the Swans beat West Brom. This was just a second win in 14 games and the first three points picked up on home turf in four months, but Swansea are a long way from being out of the mire.

This was a win, but the difficulty with which it was obtained against a limited Baggies side will give cause for concern

8) Everton pretty and EVENTUALLY effective….

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Everton are now ninth, but play football worthy of the top six.

They dominated the start of the game against Newcastle. Stats showed they had 75pc-plus possession until they eased off slightly after 35 minutes.

At that point Everton had completed a mighty 200 passes, and Newcastle just 50. They are a lovely team to watch.

Loads of clever movement from Ross Barkley, and power up front. Tom Cleverly ran the game.

But there was no killer instinct to match the superiority, until the last kick of the game – the 94 minute!

9) Palace need a striker

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Connor Wickham, Marouane Chamakh, Dwight Gayle and Patrick Bamford are not the answer.

And neither is Fraizer Campbell, who looked like he was making his first appearance for two months against Bournemouth. Pardew’s process of upgrading his team must see a 15-goal striker his next target.

10) Arsenal…

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Arsenal’s win over Manchester City on Monday night was a big statement. Maybe too big. Because it suddenly made Arsenal title favourites. Certainly with the bookmakers.

But while it’s fun to be challengers, chasers and underdogs, being favourites brings a very different set of expectations and pressure.

And from Arsenal’s rather limp performance at St Mary’s, it would appear that Arsene Wenger’s men struggle under the spotlight. In fact, worse than that, it would suggest they cannot handle the pressure and don’t have the bottle.

This was their big opportunity because leaders Leicester lost and Arsenal had chance to regain top spot. They couldn’t grasp it. That perhaps says as much about Arsenal’s mental strength and their ability to maintain a title challenge.

Far too many big players under performed in one of – if not the worst – Arsenal’s worst performances of the season.

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Keystone Bank partners Nilayo Sports to host Valuejet Remo Ultra Racetrack

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As a way of demonstrating its commitment to promoting fitness and healthy living amongst Nigerians, Keystone Bank Limited, recently partnered with Nilayo Sports Management Limited (NSML), to host the maiden edition of the Valuejet IAU African Championship, Remo 2019 competition.

The 50km ultra-distance race event held on Saturday December 7, 2019 at Sagamu, Ogun State, was the first African championship in IAU’s 35-year history. The three-in-one championship had about 4000 athletes from across 35 IAU member countries.

The race which took off at the Gateway International Stadium had in attendance dignitaries including the governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, president of IAU in Africa, Solomon Ogba, executive director, Keystone Bank, Yemi Odusoya, ex- Nigeria athlete, Falilat Ogunkoya amongst others.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Bukola Olopade, the managing director of NSML said the race is one of the company’s numerous ways to create bond among Nigerians and the world at large.

“The ultra-marathon is first of its kind in Africa and we are elated that our company is responsible for bringing youths together to harness their talents. “Valuejet IAU African Championships is a trendsetter. The ultra-race has set an excellent example for ultra-running on the continent”, he concluded.Commenting on the bank’s involvement in the event, executive director of Keystone Bank Limited, Mr. Yemi Odusanya said the lender recognises the importance of health to nation building, stating, “A healthy workforce is considered the most productive workforce. Good health is critical to economic development and therefore, health remains one of our core CSR pillars in the bank.

Mr. Yemi Odusanya, Executive Director, Keystone Bank Limited; a guest and Prince Dapo Abiodun, Executive Governor, Ogun State at the maiden edition of the Valuejet IAU African Championship, Remo 2019 competition, held at Shagamu, Ogun State, recently.

Keystone Bank will continually strive to promote advanced healthcare in Nigeria.“The competition showcases the bank’s commitment to community investment and project financing.

“Therefore, sponsoring the Valuejet IAU African Championship, Remo 2019 competition is in line with our vision to promote a healthier nation as a whole.”At the event, winners of the 50-kilometre ultra-race in both foreign and local categories pocketed $2,000, while the second and the third placed runners received $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.For the Nigerian local five-kilometre run, the winner received N500, 000, runner-up N300, 000, while the second runner-up went home with N150, 000.

Nigerian musical artistes, CDQ, Slimcase and Naira Marley were also on ground to add glamour to the event.While Nilayo Sports Management is a sports management and marketing company, working with some of the biggest names in the world of sports like IAAF, CAA and AFN aimed at promoting sporting activities from grassroots level to international level in Africa, Keystone Bank is a technology and service-driven commercial bank offering convenient and reliable solutions to its customers.

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AJ To Defend His WBO Title Against Mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk

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The president of the World Boxing Organisation has forced Anthony Joshua into defending his WBO title after winning his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jnr.

Francisco Varcarcel, the president of the organisation said in a statement that Joshua will have to defend his WBO title against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk within 180 days of Saturday’s win.

That means that Joshua will now have to face the prospect of defending his WBO title before June 4th, and If he does not agree to meet the Ukrainian former cruiserweight king before then, he will be forced to vacate his belt, according to Mail Online Sport. 

Anthony Joshua

The publication also added that If Joshua does vacate his belt, Usyk could face either Dereck Chisora or Joseph Parker for the strap, which would divide the belts further across the division.

 On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz Jr in their world heavyweight title rematch in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The British-Nigerian boxer who suffered a shocking defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr back in June in New York City, regained his IBF, WBA and WBO titles as he defeated the Mexican-American boxer by unanimous decision.

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Anthony Joshua has made us proud by exhibiting the I-can-do spirit of Ogun people – Governor Abiodun

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Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State on Sunday, December 11th felicitated with the world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua for displaying “Ogun standard of excellence” by reclaiming all titles in a re-match with his opponent, Andy Ruiz Jr.  

Governor Abiodun said that the State-born Joshua made Nigerians proud and restored confidence that the nation would be great again.  “I congratulate Anthony on this successful outing. May he, continue with the winning streak ad infinitum,” Abiodun prayed.  

“God still answers prayers. We return all glory to God Almighty for granting our heart desires and ceaseless prayers for our brother, Anthony Joshua, to regain the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.”  

“All of us in the state, irrespective of our religious affiliations prayed for his success, That the feat happened in Saudi Arabia doubly excites me. God answered us”, an excited Abiodun said.

He also lauded Joshua for his determination, hard work, resilience and focus which he described as virtues ingrained in the DNA of Ogun people. “He has made us proud by exhibiting these traits and the I-can-do spirit of Ogun people”, Abiodun added.

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