Saturday 18 November 2017

In Brief:Torres backed to find form

Yossi Benayoun believes "the real Fernando Torres" will emerge once the misfiring Chelsea striker puts his recent dry run in front of goal behind him.

Torres has just one goal in 13 matches after Thursday night's Europa League last-32 first-leg 1-0 win at Sparta Prague – a match during which he missed opportunities and was subjected to the anger of visiting fans.

While many Chelsea supporters have lost faith in Torres, Benayoun has backed his former Liverpool colleague to recover his best form – starting with today's FA Cup replay clash with Brentford.

"For me, he is still one of the best strikers in the world," he said. "You do not change from being one of the best players in the world, to a player that some people say is not good enough for Chelsea."

Suarez fired up by failure

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique believes striker Luis Suarez will be even more fired up by his failure to find the net in the past three matches.

Suarez was most culpable in the Reds' 2-0 Europa League last-32 first-leg defeat to Zenit St Petersburg. Manager Brendan Rodgers felt he could have had a hat-trick but the Uruguayan was not at his sharpest.

"Luis Suarez is a winner, but like everyone, he is still a person who makes mistakes and Thursday was not his day," said Enrique.

The striker has now gone three matches without scoring, his second-longest run without a goal in what has been his best season for Liverpool so far.

Sky Blues rent row drags on

Coventry have confirmed that they remain committed to reaching an agreement with the management company behind the Ricoh Arena as their rent row rumbles on.

Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the stadium, announced that talks with owners Sisu had "collapsed". A statutory demand for £1.1million in unpaid rent was issued to the Sky Blues – and ACL chairman Nicholas Carter warned "now is the time for Sisu to pay up or sell up and get out of Coventry".

Maestro Messi saves Barca

Lionel Messi was the man of the moment yet again for Barcelona as his brace of goals helped the Catalan giants come back from a goal down against lowly Granada to win 2-1 in last night's La Liga action.

The home side took the lead in the 26th minute through a goal from Odion Jude Ighalo – only for the Argentinian maestro to hit back in the 50th and 73rd minutes, to take his tally of league goals to 37 and extend Barca's lead at the top of the table to 15 points.

Clark stands by axing Zigic

Lee Clark does not regret dropping Nikola Zigic from Birmingham's squad despite their humbling 4-0 defeat at home to Watford.

Clark grabbed the headlines on Thursday when he angrily hit out at the Serbian striker's work-rate and attitude, insisting Zigic put in "possibly the worst training session in terms of a professional footballer I have ever come across".

Asked whether Zigic could have made a difference, Clark responded: "Who knows? I've not changed my opinion one little bit."

Chopra eases Ipswich fears

Michael Chopra struck the only goal of the game as Ipswich gave their survival hopes a boost by clinching their second win of the year against Blackpool.

The striker turned home his fifth goal of the season to lift his team four points clear of the relegation zone.

Mick McCarthy's Ipswich, who had won only one of their previous six league games, secured back-to-back victories at Portman Road.

McCarthy saluted his players and said there was never any chance of Chopra leaving on loan, despite approaches from rival clubs.

"Some clubs asked about him but we need his goals. His winner was the one bit of real quality in the whole game, from the time he made his run until he finished with his weaker left foot," McCarthy said.

It's Ibrox with another name

Rangers fans' representatives have given chief executive Charles Green their backing to push ahead with the sale of naming rights for their stadium – as long as Ibrox remains in the title.

Ince heading to Blackpool

Paul Ince is set to be unveiled as Blackpool manager tomorrow after he watched the Tangerines slip to a 1-0 defeat at Ipswich.

Ince sat in the directors' box at Portman Road as Michael Chopra's 50th-minute strike settled the contest. While Blackpool are yet to confirm Ince's arrival, caretaker boss Steve Thompson revealed that the 45-year-old was on the brink of agreeing a deal. "The deal is very close to being done," he said.

Irish Independent

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