Day One at the 2004 Australia Cup was…very testing. An early start compounded by lightning, thunder, hail and driving rain and what I believe were gale-force winds was…interesting. While I normally enjoy a day of good solid winter weather with a bit of storm action, today was not really the ideal day for it. With the wind sending people running to stop team tents from blowing away and the photographer cringing when his camera crashed to the ground, the players took the fields for the first day of matches. A visit from ASDA (Australian Sports Drug Agency) to do some random testing, was a timely reminder for all players about the importance of returning the required ASDA forms and following the ASDA guidelines and requirements that apply to all players. While the weather cleared a little over lunchtime, the afternoon was twice as bad. Our afternoon stroll to the shops for some lunch turned more into a fight for survival against wind and rain threatening to send us flying across the fields and into the ocean. (okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but credit needs to be given to the players, coaches, selectors and referees braving the conditions.) Markers, jackets, tents, flags and hats were flying left, right and centre, but the competition went on (minus tournament director Jon Pratt who was last seen past the trees, down the creek, looking for those missing field markers.) Last year’s Men’s Champions, the ACT, fought out a tough 6-6 draw with Tasmania, signaling a tight tournament for the Men. They finished strongly with a 6-3 win over SA and an easy win over the Victorian 30’s. Tasmania also finished well after the first day, a 6-5 win The Victorian 23’s laid down the challenge to their Open Men before going down 6-3 in a good match. The SA Men started the tournament well with a 13-2 win over NSW Country and a 10-4 win over the Victorian 23’s. While the Senior teams will play all teams in the round matches, they will have their own finals series and it already looks as though it will be tightly fought between the Victoria, NSW Country and Elwood Park senior sides. In the Women’s division it was last year’s Champions, Victoria, who had a strong round one win, 10-0 over the Elwood Park Seniors (EPTA Seniors). They continued to establish themselves with another 9-2 win over the ACT. The NSW Women look like they will challenge the Victorian Women after a 7-4 win over SA. A bye on the first day meant not a lot was seen of the NSW Country Women. The NSW Country 23’s will no doubt be very tough to beat with their side including several past and present Australia representatives. They started the tournament with two easy wins 11-2 over Vic 23’s and 12-0 over the EPTA Seniors. Tomorrow certainly promises another day of great competition. The SportingPulse draw, results and statistics can be found using the following link: AUSTRALIA CUP DRAW AND RESULTS 2004 All Australia Cup stories can also be found on the ATA Australia Cup homepage. AUSTRALIA CUP HOMEPAGE 2004 By Rachel Moyle, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Young admits Manchester United have endured “a tough week”, but has called on those around him to “play for the badge” as a new era is opened at Cardiff.The Red Devils will take to the field in South Wales with a new manager at the helm, with Jose Mourinho having been relieved of his duties.Inconsistent displays from an underperforming squad spelled the end for the Portuguese, with a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool proving to be the final straw. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been drafted in as Mourinho’s successor and is being backed to bring a feel-good factor back to Old Trafford.Young concedes there have not been too many smiles on United faces of late, but told the club’s official website: “It’s been a tough week.“But we’ve got to move on now, move forward and concentrate on this game. We need to get ourselves back to winning ways.“You go out there as a player and you want to win, play for the badge, play for this fantastic club, the best club in the world and for us now it’s about looking ahead and looking at the next couple of games we’ve got coming up.“It’s a busy Christmas period and we want to get points on the board and start getting ourselves back up the table.”The Red Devils are looking for returning hero Solskjaer to make an immediate impact, with the presence of a 1999 Treble winner helping to raise spirits around the club.“I’m sure Ole is excited to be back, Mike Phelan as well,” added Young. “For Ole to walk back in here must feel unbelievable. The fans love him, he loves the club and it can only be a good thing for us.“With me being one of the older heads, I [previously] worked under Mike and it’s nice to see him back on the training pitch again.”Young has also hailed the impact of the backroom team at United, with Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez all having important roles to play in the present and future.“Carras, Kieran and Emilio have been fantastic,” he said. “The training sessions they’ve put on have been fantastic, top notch.“I can definitely see Carras being a manager one day and Kieran has been brilliant stepping up to the first team [from the Under-18s]. He’s taken to it like a duck to water and Emilio is a fantastic goalkeeping coach. It’s nice for them to be here and work under Mick and Ole as well.“The main thing for us has been not to be caught up in everything and instead just concentrate on our work on the pitch and get ourselves fully prepared for this weekend’s game. That’s all you can do as players; be prepared and be ready for the game that we’ve got coming up.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
It took just three minutes for Manchester United to take their first steps toward banishing the dark clouds of the end of the Jose Mourinho era as Marcus Rashford delivered a free-kick to put his side on top.After a sluggish start that saw the Red Devils mired on just 26 points, the club finally made the move to part ways with Mourinho after nearly two and half seasons.Former United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed to the interim role, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s old charge tasked with salvaging something from a campaign that appeared to drift dangerously off course. Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? United entered their match in Wales against Solskjaer’s former side 22 points behind table-topping Liverpool and 11 behind Chelsea in fourth place as the new boss made four changes to his lineup.One of those changes was Paul Pogba, who had been dropped by Mourinho for the club’s last three Premier League fixtures, and did not play at all in the last two, against Fulham and the defeat to Liverpool.But it was Pogba who earned the first opportunity, as he won a free-kick just outside the Cardiff area minutes into the contest.Pogba and Rashford lined up over the ball, with Pogba faking as if he was going to take it before letting the forward run up and hit it.Rashford hit a low drive that went through the Cardiff wall and left goalkeeper Neil Etheridge rooted to the spot.What a start to the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era! Get in Rashford! pic.twitter.com/b20Ct2jzaI— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 22, 2018GOALRashford’s free kick gives the new #MUFC boss the perfect start….Follow live: https://t.co/CNM3VdNsIT pic.twitter.com/PuHJTxku83— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 22, 2018The goal was Rashford’s fourth of the Premier League season and third in four games across all competitions, having scored against Fulham and Valencia in the past two weeks.The forward has now been involved in more Premier League goals than any of his team-mates this season, scoring four times and adding five assists.Pogba would later earn himself an assist as he found Ander Herrera in space with the Spanish midfielder then hitting a wicked strike from distance which deflected past Etheridge to double the United advantage.Rashford, however, would have his night dampened late in the first half as the forward was flagged for a handball in his area, giving Cardiff a penalty that was converted by Víctor Camarasa to make it 2-1. But moments later, Pogba was involved in the build-up with Jesse Lingard playing in Anthony Martial, who restored United’s two-goal advantage.
Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo as Ernesto Valverde’s side restored their three-point lead at the summit of LaLiga.With Atletico Madrid having won earlier in the day to move level at the top, Barca reasserted their authority as first-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Messi paved the way for a routine victory at Camp Nou.Messi was again at the heart of the hosts’ best play, his shot being parried to the feet of the grateful Dembele to apply the finish inside the opening 10 minutes. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? The Argentina star got in on the act himself in the final minute of the first half as Barca all but sealed the points before the interval.Barca quickly seized the initiative as Dembele pounced to nutmeg Ruben Blanco after the goalkeeper had kept out Messi’s low drive. The visitors narrowly escaped further punishment when Blanco rushed out to thwart Dembele, with Jordi Alba turning the loose ball towards goal where Nestor Araujo was on hand to intervene. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was finally called into action in the 24th minute and the Barca keeper proved equal to Maxi Gomez’s effort. Messi doubled Barca’s lead late in the half, calmly finishing from the edge of the box after Alba’s searching pass had left Celta exposed. Telepathy The Messi-Alba Connection!#BarçaCelta pic.twitter.com/uKYPPnN2WE— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) December 22, 2018Luis Suarez proved uncharacteristically wasteful when presented with a glorious chance to put the game to bed just past the hour mark, the forward shooting wide of the target with only Blanco to beat.Blanco had stay sharp to deny Messi a second in a brief goalmouth scramble while Celta, despite enjoying more of the ball, continued to struggle in the final third.Brais Mendez’s effort had Ter Stegen diving low to his left, but that save was as comfortable as Barca’s whole evening had been. What does it mean? Barca go clear againBarca did not seem to take too kindly to having company at the top of the table after being joined there by Atletico, but this win restored their cushion and provided a fitting end to the year. Celta, meanwhile, remain mid-table.Magnificent Messi does it againHaving played a significant role in the opener, Messi got himself on the scoresheet before the break in a display that highlighted just what a threat he is, cementing his spot at the top of the LaLiga scoring charts.Suarez outshoneSuarez was as industrious as he always is, but while Dembele and Messi both found the back of the net, the Uruguay international’s finishing was wayward, failing to find the target with two attempts at goal. Key Opta Facts:- Messi has reached 15+ goals in LaLiga for each of the last 11 seasons.- Barcelona have scored 102 league goals in 2018, more than any other team in the top five European leagues.- Messi has scored 47 goals in 49 games in 2018 in all competitions, more than any other player from those five divisions.- Barcelona have kept four consecutive clean sheets in LaLiga for the first time since January.- Valverde has not lost any of his 16 games as a head coach against Celta in LaLiga (W11 D5).What’s next?The two sides can enjoy a festive break now and will return to action in January, with Barca heading to Getafe in their first game of 2019, while Celta host Athletic Bilbao. read more
Manchester City’s commitment to pressing persuaded Andros Townsend to smash in his goal of the season contender.Crystal Palace claimed a shock 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium to land a telling blow against City’s Premier League title defence.Jeffrey Schlupp cancelled out Ilkay Gundogan’s opener and Luka Milivojevic’s penalty 10 minutes into the second half ultimately proved decisive after Kevin De Bruyne reduced the arrears late on. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But it is Townsend’s sumptuous volley from 30 yards after City only partially cleared a set-piece that will live long in the memory.”It sat up for me. I knew if I took a touch, the way Man City press the ball they would have been all over me,” the Eagles forward told Sky Sports.”I knew I had to take it first time and as soon as it left my foot I knew it had a chance.”Townsend conceded Palace had to dig in for victory against Pep Guardiola’s side, making his goal all the sweeter.”Having watched it back I think it was the best goal of my career, given the circumstances and given the opposition – probably the best side I’ve ever played against in my career,” he added.”They’re incredible. We couldn’t get near them at times. To score against these away from home makes it the best.”Palace are now six points clear of the relegation zone and manager Roy Hodgson wants to ensure they make the most of an unexpected win when they host struggling Cardiff City on Boxing Day.”It’s a good day’s work and three fantastic points that we need to make certain we don’t throw away by not doing the job we need to do against Cardiff,” he told Sky Sports.”We need three points from that game as well and not waste these three ‘bonus’ points that a lot of people didn’t expect us to get today.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford has told fans that there is more to come after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure on the bench started in style on Saturday.Solskjaer stepped into the breach this week on an interim basis after Jose Mourinho was sacked from his post as club manager.A cult hero during his playing days at Old Trafford, the Norwegian has been tasked with turning round a disappointing start to the Premier League season which has seen United lose touch with the first four. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And he enjoyed a dream start at the weekend, as his new charges romped to a 5-1 victory away to Cardiff City.Rashford netted the first goal of the Solskjaer era just three minutes in, while Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, who hit twice, completed the scoring.And the striker was delighted with the new boss’ impact.”He wants us to be positive on the ball and always look for the gaps. That was just the start. We’re going to improve and get better at it,” he signalled to BT Sport.”The Christmas period is very busy so it is about recovering and making sure we’re ready for the next games. We have to keep improving and go up another level.”Lingard was also pleased with what he saw from United, pointing to a more positive attitude on the pitch which paid dividends.”The lads played with a lot of energy, enjoyment and excitement. We scored five goals, which is good,” the winger stated.”When you’ve got confidence, you put yourselves in positions to score goals. That’s what we did.“We were playing higher and the full-backs were higher. We pinned them back and created a lot of chances.”United remain in sixth place after their victory, although they closed the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to eight points after the Blues came unstuck against Leicester City. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Paul Pogba has not “won a war” against Manchester United, according to Peter Schmeichel, who believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can help the France star reach his potential.Solskjaer’s temporary tenure at United got off to a flying start on Saturday, as the Red Devils hammered his former club Cardiff City 5-1.Pogba, left out against Liverpool as Jose Mourinho’s spell ended with a 3-1 defeat at Anfield, returned to the side for Solskjaer’s maiden game, and took a starring role with two assists. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Mourinho’s well-publicised issues with the midfielder added to the troubles at Old Trafford, but Schmeichel insists that the club must not allow Pogba to believe that he is bigger than the club.”Mourinho did put himself in the limelight, not in the correct way or the way that you want the United manager to be,” Schmeichel told BBC Radio 5 Live . “There were stories about the manager being at war with certain players. That’s happened many times, but the club has always been able to deal with that in the dressing room.”I want to see Pogba being a United player as good as everything else he does in life.”He’s absolutely brilliant on social media, and he’s projecting himself to be this incredibly important player.”We’ve seen it at Juventus, we’ve seen it with France, we haven’t seen it with Manchester United and what’s really important here is that no player, regardless of how much money they make, how much they’ve been bought for, has ever been bigger than the club or the manager.”This has been now portrayed like Pogba has won a war, this doesn’t work for me, that cannot happen for United.”It’s now really important that the club deal with this situation. Pogba, or any other player, cannot be bigger than the club.”Morning, Reds #MUFC pic.twitter.com/taTCUVKt0Q — Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 23, 2018 And Schmeichel believes that his former team-mate Solskjaer can use his experience as United’s reserve team coach to aid Pogba’s development.”Ole is definitely a different personality and a different direction,” Schmeichel added.”He’s stuck to the tradition and the history of the club, and respected it all the way, and had a great run as reserve coach for the club, and this is significant, because he was dealing with players like Pogba and Jesse Lingard, and these players that seem to be the players that Mourinho had problems with.”I think this is key, and the brief that Ole has got is to tame that situation, make someone like Pogba play to the potential that we know already that he has got.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must influence Manchester United’s future transfer dealings, according to former defender Gary Neville.The interim boss made the perfect start to life back at Old Trafford with a 5-1 win over Cardiff City, to end a week which included Jose Mourinho’s sacking.Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane are reportedly being lined up by the United hierarchy to take over on a long-term basis. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Solskjaer does have an agreement in place to stay on if his six-month spell in charge is a success but regardless of whether he remains, Neville says the Norwegian has a major role to play.”Ole’s job in the next six months is to be head coach, head scout, head of recruitment and making sure he feeds back really good information into the recruitment department of what the club needs,” he told Sky Sports’ Gary Neville Podcast of his former team-mate.”My concern over the last three to four years is who has been signing the players. “That needs cleaning up and I am certain the club in the next six months will appoint the right people who are best in class to run that side of things.”Manchester United have to start getting it right otherwise they will struggle, but it was a good start yesterday.”Having never managed to score five times in any of Mourinho’s 144 games in charge, United reached the landmark in the opening 90 minutes of Solskjaer’s tenure.Though United showed a greater amount of freedom in their first game since the exit of the Portuguese boss, Neville insists the 19-time English champions are far from out of the woods.He added: “The hard work starts now for United. Anybody who thinks sacking Jose Mourinho is the answer, it is not, the hard work starts now and I am sure the people in the club are wise enough and knowledgeable to know that.”There was an immediate bounce and impact from Ole, however it was Cardiff and we need to see if they can do it over six months.”If they can do that then they will get the opportunity to play for the club next season. “If they do it over six games and then drop back they won’t play for the club next season.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Mesut Ozil produced a performance worthy of silencing his critics in the 3-1 victory over Burnley according to Arsenal teammate Sead Kolasinac.The former Germany international returned to the Gunners first team against the Clarets and played a role in two of the hosts’ three goals.Unai Emery also entrusted Ozil with the captain’s armband for the fifth time in the top flight this season andafter the game insisted the 30-year-old had a long-term future at The Emirates Stadium . Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And Kolasinac says Ozil has had the full backing of the squad during the period of uncertainty.The Bosnian defender told Sky Sports : “That’s the case when you’re a big star, like Mesut is.”Of course there are always negative headlines but, as a team, we don’t pay attention to them and Mesut doesn’t either.”That’s what’s most important. We’re all behind Mesut – all the staff, all the players.”If negative things are written, then that’s just what happens. In life, not everything is positive – sometimes there are negatives written about you too, and he’s had that.”But with his performance [against Burnley] he’s quietened a few critics.”Kolasinac played a role in both of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal against Sean Dyche’s men, as Arsenal returned to winning ways after back-to-back defeats.The opening goal came via a wondrous Ozil pass which found Kolasinac in an advanced position, before Aubameyang converted.The ex-Germany youth international said of the pass: “It was unbelievable.”We all know Mesut’s qualities and I only actually made that run because I saw that he had the ball. Not many players would have been able to play that pass.”He can, and when I saw him get on the ball, I knew he was going to find me. It was a brilliant pass from him.”Emery has shared the captaincy between a clutch of senior players with Petr Cech, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey given the armband this term.And while each player has their own leadership style, Kolasinac has revealed Ozil has a passive approach.”Mesut’s not the sort of player who will scream at you in public just to show the people on the outside that he tries to push us on,” he added.”He’ll speak in the dressing room, he’ll go to every player individually. With his quality, he brings a lot to this team. He’s very important for us as a captain and as a player.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Manchester City will be hoping to recall some key players to the starting line-up as they look to get back to winning ways at Leicester City on Boxing Day.Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne were not fit enough to start the 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace, and David Silva had returned to training but was not ready to feature in the squad.MAN CITY INJURIES David Silva and Vincent Kompany have progressed well from their recent lay-offs but were not ready for Saturday’s game. Neither are likely to start in Leicester but Silva, at least, could make the bench. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Danilo was among the substitutes on Saturday and he could come into the line-up for Kyle Walker, who has struggled of late.Fernandinho was not fully fit on Saturday but could well feature on Boxing Day.Benjamin Mendy (knee) and Claudio Bravo (Achilles) are definitely out.MAN CITY SUSPENSIONS Neither side have any suspensions.MAN CITY POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP Danilo could come in at right-back for Walker, while John Stones could drop back into defence if Fernandinho is fit enough to return to the midfield.De Bruyne is likely to come back into the midfield, and he would be partnered by either Ilkay Gundogan or Bernardo Silva.Sergio Aguero is a candidate to replace Gabriel Jesus up front, while Riyad Mahrez may be selected to start at his former club. LEICESTER TEAM NEWS Under-fire Leicester boss Claude Puel, who eased some of the pressure on him with a shock win at Chelsea on Saturday, has no new injury worries for the game.Daniel Amartey and Matthew James are long-term absentees.OPTA MATCH FACTS Leicester are winless in their last four games in all competitions against Manchester City (D1 L3), with each of the three defeats coming in the Premier League. Manchester City are looking for their fourth consecutive win against Leicester in the Premier League – prior to this run, they had won just four of their first 11 games against the Foxes in the competition (D2 L5). Leicester have won just two of their last 15 games against Manchester City in all competitions (D5 L8), with both of those victories coming under Claudio Ranieri. Manchester City have lost just one of their seven away games against Leicester in the Premier League (W4 D2), with that defeat coming in December 2016 (4-2). Since they were promoted back to the top-flight in 2014-15, Leicester City have lost all four of their Premier League Boxing Day games. Manchester City have won eight of their last 10 Premier League Boxing Day games (D1 L1), winning the last four in a row. Their only defeat in that run came against Sunderland in 2012-13 (0-1).TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME Kick off is 15:00 GMT (10 ET) on Wednesday. The game will not be shown on TV in the United Kingdom. It will be shown on NBC in the United States, and on various channels around the world. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has joked that he is “getting bored of speaking about how good Virgil van Dijk is”.Plaudits have rained down on the Dutch centre-half since he completed a £75 million ($95m) move to Anfield in January.He has helped to turn Jurgen Klopp’s side into credible Premier League title contenders, with the Reds currently boasting a four-point lead over the chasing pack. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Robertson admits there is not much more to be said about the commanding Netherlands international, with his value to the cause speaking for itself.The Scottish full-back said of Van Dijk after seeing him find the target and help Liverpool to another clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Wolves: “I’m getting bored speaking about how good he is!“No, I’m only joking. He was fantastic.“We knew when we saw [Adama] Traore up top that he has got great pace. His pace and direction are a big threat and big Virgil did so well with him. We knew on the counter-attack they were dangerous.“I’m sure he will be disappointed he has not scored more goals but it was a clean sheet and his first Premier League goal – pretty much a perfect day for him.“He’s been brilliant [since joining Liverpool]. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside him for the majority of time on the left-hand side of the defence. He’s just a great lad to have next to you – I’m not sure he will say the same about me!“I think we have had a good relationship, we work together. The whole back four does, whoever plays, his impact on the club has been good. I look forward to it continuing.”Van Dijk is not the only Reds player inspiring a title tilt, though, with Robertson eager to point out that Klopp has a squad full of leaders.He added: “We have a fantastic captain in Hendo [Jordan Henderson]. This [Wolves] was his 300th game for the club and that’s a great achievement.“We’ve got Milly [James Milner] behind him as well and he’s a top pro, everyone looks up to him. Virgil is captain for his country so there are plenty of leaders on the park.“I’m including Dejan [Lovren] in that as well. The more leaders we have got on the park the better as far as I’m concerned. There were a couple of arguments out there against Wolves – a couple of things that needed to be said and they were said.“We all have the attitude that if someone says something to you, you have to take it on the chin. If you don’t agree with it, you deal with it at full-time or half-time and speak to one another.“We have spoken together as a team. We do discuss things [and] have said that’s it’s about having that honesty between us.“I think that’s something the lads have done really well since the start of the season. It shows the respect between us.” Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
Arsenal will be looking to give their supporters a belated Christmas present when they travel to Brighton on Boxing Day.The Gunners won their previous league match against Burnley after two consecutive defeats to Southampton, in the league, and Tottenham, in the Carabao Cup, but got themselves back on track with an important victory at the weekend.Unai Emery’s men have scored a total of 40 goals this season, which is only bettered by Manchester City’s incredible tally of 50, but have suffered defensively in recent games due to a number of injuries at the back. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Arsenal Injuries Rob Holding will miss the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate ligament knee injury.Danny Welbeck is ruled out with a broken ankle following his shocking injury against Sporting CP, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has now sustained an ankle injury that keeps him out until the turn of the year.Hector Bellerin has been ruled out for at least another two weeks with a calf problem, with Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi likely to be unavailable again after thigh and hamstring problems, respectively.Emile Smith Rowe is back in training following his minor groin strain and Dinos Mavropanos is back in light training and expected to be in contention in the coming weeks. Arsenal Suspensions Arsenal have no suspended players for this match. Possible Arsenal Starting Line-UpEmery’s defensive headache means that Stephan Lichtsteiner should start at right-back in place of the injured Bellerin.Aaron Ramsey could start despite reports linking him with a move to Juventus this week, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to continue in attack following his two goals against Burnley.Laurent Koscielny is expected to captain the side and start alongside Sokratis in defence.Brighton Team News Lewis Dunk is suspended after his red card at Bournemouth on Saturday but Shane Duffy returns after his ban.Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jose Izquierdo are both likely to miss out through hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.TV Coverage & Kick-Off Time Kick-off is 17:15pm GMT (12:15am ET) on Wednesday, and the game will be broadcast live on Sky One in the United Kingdom. It will be shown on NBCSN in the United States, and on various channels around the world. Best Opta Match Facts Brighton have lost five of their last six games against Arsenal in all competitions, however did win the most recent meeting between the two (2-1 in March 2018). Arsenal have scored at least two goals in five of their last six games against Brighton in all competitions (W5 L1), netting 14 goals in total. Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in six of their 10 games against Brighton in the top-flight, conceding just six goals in total in this run. Brighton striker Glenn Murray has scored two goals in 125 minutes played against Arsenal in all competitions (four appearances), including the winner for the Seagulls in this fixture last season (2-1). Since his debut in February, Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored at least twice in six different Premier League games, twice as many as any other player. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Arsenal, and any other suitor of Nicolas Pepe, have been made aware that it will cost €80 million (£72m/$91m) to secure the Lille winger’s signature.The talented 23-year-old has emerged as a target for leading sides across Europe.The Emirates Stadium has been mooted as one possible landing spot for the Ivory Coast international. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Lille, though, are aware that they have a prized asset on their hands and will not be parting with him unless a hefty price tag is met.The Ligue 1 club’s sporting director, Luis Campos, told Telefoot of Pepe: “I hope he will stay this winter. We’ll do everything to keep him.“All the top clubs in the world have their eyes on him, and that’s normal, but the president has been clear.“The idea is for him to continue at the club.“In contrast, with my experience in football, I would say that if a club arrives with a big number and can convince the player… I would sell him for €80 million.“That’s the price tag, but you’d have to convince the player and he’s been a big part of us being in second place.”Pepe has certainly enjoyed a productive opening to the 2018-19 campaign.In just 19 Ligue 1 appearances this term, he has contributed 12 goals and five assists.It is that productivity which has him attracting admiring glances from afar.Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who got a good look at Pepe during his time in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, is said to be a big fan.The Gunners already have plenty of creativity on their books, but the opportunity to bolster those ranks will not be passed up if an opportunity presents itself.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is ready to make a move in the January transfer market if opportunities present themselves.The Reds are four points clear of champions Manchester City at the top of the table and remain unbeaten after 18 Premier League games this term.Nevertheless, with the FA Cup to add to their schedule next month and a blockbuster Champions League showdown against Bayern Munich to come in February, Klopp thinks it would be foolhardy to rule out doing business when the window opens. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? “I’m very happy with what I have got and what I have but we don’t know,” he told a news conference ahead of Newcastle United’s Boxing Day visit to Anfield.”That’s the only little bit where I keep the door open. If something happens we need to have a look”There are a monstrous number of game coming and it’s really important that we can react.”A long as we can react, then all good. If something dramatically changes we need to have a look”If nothing happens we will not do anything.”Klopp’s most recent example of January business certainly adds weight to the argument of strengthening mid-season.Virgil van Dijk has performed superbly since joining for £75 million ($95m) from Southampton a year ago, marshalling a defence that has only been breached seven times in the Premier League this season.”He’s very, very, very influential. I’m happy,” said Klopp.”When I met him first I thought I knew about his personality, you feel something about that. I was pretty sure he would be like he is.”On the pitch after the Tottenham game last October [a 4-1 defeat at Wembley] – after that [and] before Virg came in, we started already defending much better.”Then Virg came in on top and that helped, of course.”I have no problem with giving all the compliments and all the credit to the boys.”I know the game doesn’t work like that – you bring in one player, it doesn’t improve unless the rest do as well.” Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves the chance to force himself ahead of Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane on Manchester United’s managerial wish list, says Wes Brown.The Norwegian, who formed part of a Treble-winning squad back in 1999, has returned to Old Trafford on an interim basis in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s dismissal.His reign got off to a perfect start with a 5-1 victory over Cardiff, with a side considered to have been released from their shackles now being tipped to push themselves into top-four contention. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Were they able to end the season inside that Premier League pack, then Brown sees no reason why the Red Devils would want to look anywhere else for a permanent appointment.The former United defender told talkSPORT as various names continue to be linked with a high-profile post: “I haven’t seen Man United play like that in a long time.“You could see everyone was enjoying it [against Cardiff] and obviously for the previous manager they weren’t doing that, so there was something wrong.“Ole has gone in there, got the smiles back on and just said ‘go and play’.“If Ole can keep this going then I can’t see a reason why we can’t make the top four. The lads will scare a few teams if they keep playing like that.“Personally, I think it would be great if Ole gets the job full-time. I would like to see him stay if he did well.“Obviously he’s been told it’s until the end of the season, but that could always change, you know how football is.“If he can start producing, keep winning and playing like that, anything can happen.“It’s nice saying we would like Pochettino and Zidane, but it’s not as easily done. If Ole did okay I don’t see a reason why he couldn’t stay on.”Were United to express an interest in keeping Solskjaer on, then a compensation package would need to be agreed with his current employers at Molde.A similar deal would need to be done in order to lure Pochettino away from domestic rivals Tottenham, and breaking him from a long-term contract would not come cheap.No settlement would be required to land former Real Madrid boss Zidane, but he has no previous experience of English football from a glittering playing and coaching career. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
13GlobalTHE BLACKLIST1.52 million 1CTVTHE BIG BANG THEORY1.08 million 1CTVTHE BIG BANG THEORY551,000 10CTVTHIS IS US – New679,000 6CTVTHE FLASH807,000 9CTVTHIS IS US – New 364,000 LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment 15CTVGOTHAM581,000 9CTVLUCIFER1.68 million 18CBCHOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA534,000 17GlobalMAN WITH A PLAN – New254,000 13CTVCRIMINAL MINDS302,000 14SportsnetTORONTO BLUE JAYS1.493 million 15GlobalKEVIN CAN WAIT – New572,000 3GlobalSURVIVOR: MILLENNIALS VS. GEN X452,000 11GlobalBULL – New337,000 8GlobalMACGYVER – New1.69 million 10GlobalHAWAII FIVE-O1.64 million Twitter 16CTVBLINDSPOT555,000 16CTVHOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER283,000 8CTVCRIMINAL MINDS741,000 8CTVLUCIFER784,000 19GlobalTHE BLACKLIST248,000 19CTVMARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.1.407 million 7CTVCRIMINAL MINDS1.87 million 20CBCHOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA538,000 RankNetworkProgramA18-34 10CTVTHE FLASH738,000 4CTVDESIGNATED SURVIVOR – New893,000 6CTVLUCIFER822,000 13CTVGOTHAM593,000 7GlobalBULL – New819,000 9GlobalBULL – New734,000 15CTVBLINDSPOT291,000 12GlobalNCIS594,000 2CTVGREY’S ANATOMY485,000 20SportsnetMLB PLAYOFFS511,000 17AMCTHE WALKING DEAD1.447 million 9CTVMARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.739,000 Advertisement 5GlobalSURVIVOR: MILLENNIALS VS. GEN X2.14 million 3CTVGREY’S ANATOMY887,000 17GlobalTHE BLACKLIST542,000 Advertisement 17GlobalKEVIN CAN WAIT – New561,000 14CTVQUANTICO588,000 Canada’s Most-Watched Programs, A25-54, Season-to-Date: 4CTVTHE FLASH447,000 Source : Numeris, Fall 2016 (Sept. 19 to Oct. 30, 2016) vs. same period Fall 2015, final data. 1CTVTHE BIG BANG THEORY1.17 million 7CTVDESIGNATED SURVIVOR – New 391,000 20SportsnetMLB PLAYOFFS239,000 5AMCTHE WALKING DEAD828,000 16GlobalTHE BLACKLIST576,000 2GlobalSURVIVOR: MILLENNIALS VS. GEN X994,000 17GlobalCHICAGO FIRE254,000 Advertisement 11GlobalNCIS714,000 5AMCTHE WALKING DEAD429,000 2GlobalSURVIVOR: MILLENNIALS VS. GEN X1.09 million 13CTVQUANTICO623,000 14GlobalMACGYVER – New602,000 2GlobalBULL – New2.43 million 11CTVCRIMINAL MINDS674,000 14GlobalKEVIN CAN WAIT – New299,000 4GlobalNCIS2.27 million 18CTVTHE FLASH1.410 million 3CTVGREY’S ANATOMY894,000 Canada’s Most-Watched Programs, Total Viewers, Season-to-Date: RankNetworkProgramTotal Viewers 12CTVTHIS IS US – New705,000 Login/Register With: 3CTVDESIGNATED SURVIVOR – New2.38 million 6CTVMARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.398,000 19CTVBLINDSPOT553,000 6CTVGREY’S ANATOMY2.13 million 10CTVGOTHAM342,000 12CTVQUANTICO315,000 Canada’s Most-Watched Programs, A18-49, Season-to-Date: 8CTVLUCIFER388,000 11CTVTHIS IS US – New1.60 million 12CTVBLUE BLOODS1.55 million Halfway through the Fall TV season, and with six weeks of final data now available from Numeris, the acclaimed new Kiefer Sutherland-led drama DESIGNATED SURVIVOR is the #1 new series in Canada in all key demos. DESIGNATED SURVIVOR ranks as the Top 3 program overall among total viewers with an average audience of 2.4 million viewers.CTV’s diverse fall schedule is #1 not only with total viewers but also in all key demos. Home to more Top 10 and Top 20 series in the key demos than all other networks combined, CTV also continues a strong lead over Global in primetime by double-digits among total viewers (+10%) and in all key demos (+47% A18-34; +30% A18-49; and +21% A25-54).“The continued strong performances by our returning hits, and the addition of new buzz-worthy series, have proven yet again that CTV’s schedule resonates with viewers across the country,” said Mike Cosentino, Senior Vice-President, CTV and Specialty, Bell Media. “With our successful fall now halfway through the season, CTV’s schedule is primed for an equally solid midseason.” 20GlobalTIMELESS – New1.38 million 5CTVDESIGNATED SURVIVOR – New882,000 16SportsnetMLB PLAYOFFS1.449 million 3AMCTHE WALKING DEAD887,000 RankNetworkProgramA25-54 RankNetworkProgramA18-49 Other highlights from this fall on Canadian TV:Millennials Love CTVDESIGNATED SURVIVOR, along with freshman drama THIS IS US, helped CTV increase its count of Top 10 series among millennials aged 18-34, now landing eight of the Top 10 and 12 of the Top 20, more than all other networks combined.CTV wins five out of seven nights with young Canadian viewers, leading Global by 47% in primetime.CTV’s hit Tuesday night lineup including THE FLASH and THIS IS US rank in the Top 10 for A18-34, and Thursday night’s THE BIG BANG THEORY is the top program among the demo.Returning Hits Remain Strong on CTVPerennial favourite THE BIG BANG THEORY has returned for its tenth season as the most-watched series in Canada with total viewers and in all key demos.THE FLASH ranks in the Top 10 in all key demos, and delivers a Top 20 audience with total viewers along with CRIMINAL MINDS (#7).Sophomore hits LUCIFER and BLINDSPOT both land in the Top 20 in the key demos, with LUCIFER a Top 10 program overall.Canada’s Most-Watched Programs, A18-34, Season-to-Date:CTV is the network for millennials, with eight of the Top 10 programs, including the Top 2 new series DESIGNATED SURVIVOR and THIS IS US. 18GlobalHAWAII FIVE-O558,000 19GlobalMAN WITH A PLAN – New514,000 15GlobalCHICAGO FIRE1.492 million 1CTVTHE BIG BANG THEORY2.53 million Facebook 7CTVMARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.797,000
GENEVA – The UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will on Saturday visit Egypt as he kicks off a regional tour to prepare for peace talks on Syria dubbed Geneva 2, his spokesman said.Brahimi will meet Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy as well as the Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi, spokesman Khawla Mattar said in Geneva on Friday.The rest of his schedule is uncertain due to various governments being on holiday because of the main Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, but Mattar said “the tour will cover several countries of the region”. This will include visits to Damascus and Tehran.The international community has for months been pushing Syria’s rebels and the regime to participate in talks on a negotiated solution to the conflict, which has killed an estimated 115,000 people since March 2011.Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said proposed peace talks in Geneva could take place on November 23-24.However Mattar said the date for the long awaited peace conference will be announced by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “in due time”.She said the meeting was likely to place in the “second half of November”.Prospects for the Geneva 2 conference remain unclear, with the Syrian opposition divided and due to vote next week on whether to take part.
The AC Milan Brazilian legend has said his fellow countryman will have a “bright future” in the Italian Lega Serie ACampeonato Brasileiro club Flamengo and Italian Lega Serie A side AC Milan are currently negotiating for Lucas Paqueta.The footballer will be transferred to the Rossoneri in the January transfer window.And many have compared Paqueta with former AC Milan Kaka.“He’s a player who has a bright future ahead of him,” the former midfielder was quoted by Football Italia.“He’s already been called up to the Brazilian national team, but it’s better for him that we don’t make comparisons.”Serie A Betting: Match-day 3 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Considering there is a number of perfect starts so early in the Serie A season, as well as a few surprisingly not-so perfect ones….“I’ve seen so many of them in recent days, with me, with [Alexandre] Pato, with Ronaldinho, Cafu, Rivaldo… with all the Brazilians who have been part of Milan’s history,” he added.“We need to avoid these comparisons so he can come here and play calmly and peacefully. I’m confident.”Would Kaka ever return to AC Milan? This is what he said:“I spoke with Leo[nardo] and Paolo [Maldini]. Right now I’m closest to Milan but that’s all it is, my priority is still to be close to my family, Luca, and Isabella, who are 10 and 7-years-old.”“I’ve spoken a lot with Leo, to try and understand how to become a director, and I’m doing a sports management course in Brazil,” he commented.
Tags Share your voice Now playing: Watch this: Read more: The best universal remotes for 2019 Four stupid-good TV dealsWhile we’re on the subject of TV, the deals just keep coming out of the woodwork. Really, it’s an embarrassment of cheap riches. I’ll start with the smallest: The Insignia 24-inch 720p Fire TV for $90.See it at AmazonNext up: Best Buy has the TCL Series 4 49-inch Roku TV for $249.99. If you’re thinking, “wait a sec, wasn’t this $200 back in January?” you’ve got a great memory. But that was the Series 3. This is the newer and better Series 4.See it at Best BuyFor $30 more, you can bump up another inch (though to be honest, I think the TCL is the better value of the two): The Insignia 50-inch 4K Ultra-HD Fire TV for $279.99.See it at AmazonFinally, tied with its lowest price ever (at Amazon, anyway), the Insignia 55-inch 4K Ultra-HD Fire TV with HDR is $329.99.See it at AmazonSo whatever size you need and whatever budget you have, you’ve got options. Oh, and be sure to check out new sales on bigger TCL models as well!CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter! Comments Amazon Best Buy Logitech Monoprice 4:11 Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate: Some flaws but still very… TV Accessories TVs The Logitech Harmony Ultimate: An oldie but goodie, especially at this price. Sarah Tew/CNET How many steps does it take for you to cue up Netflix? Find the remote. Turn on the TV. Turn on the sound bar. Switch the input to Roku. Navigate to the Netflix channel. Sheesh, I could binge watch a season of Travelers by the time all that’s done! Maybe that’s an exaggeration (though you should definitely binge watch Travelers), but this is 2019. The era of automation. From now on, I just want to plunk down on my couch and say, “Alexa, turn on Netflix!”With the right universal remote (and a hub to go with it), you can do exactly that. Here you go: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Monoprice has the refurbished Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home universal remote for just $75. It originally sold for $350, and the last time I ran a deal on it, it was $170. Update: Oof… sold out already. And the Harmony Touch, below, is back up to $80.See it at MonopriceIf you don’t need or want the hub (more on that in a bit), Monoprice also has the refurbished Logitech Harmony Touch for $30. Both products have been discontinued, but both are manufacturer-refurbished, which means there should be some kind of warranty. Unfortunately, Monoprice doesn’t specify what it is.The Ultimate and Touch are just about identical, with a color touchscreen and handy charging dock. They can control up to 15 devices, and you program them using a companion smartphone app.If you opt for the Ultimate Home, you also get Logitech’s Hub, which adds support for Bluetooth, IR and Wi-Fi devices and integration with the likes of Amazon’s Echo.You may want to check out CNET’s Harmony Ultimate review, keeping in mind it dates back to 2013. I believe this “Home” variant came out a year later, but I’m not sure what’s different about it. I’ll simply say that $75 is a great price for a universal remote like this, and $30 is even better if you can live without the hub.Your thoughts? The Cheapskate 24 Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR.
India, which imports about 80 percent of its crude oil requirements and has benefited from falling prices in the past two years, will be keenly watching the November 30 meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) countries in Vienna. A planned meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC on Monday that was cancelled off due to Saudi Arabia’s insistence on a consensus within the 14-nation cartel, dampened hopes of a price rise and spooked stock markets.On Sunday, Iranian official Mehr News had accused the world’s largest crude oil producer (Saudi Arabia) of playing spoilsport by deciding to stay away from the Monday meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members, saying a consensus among OPEC producers on output was a pre-requisite to implementable decisions.”Accordingly Saudi Arabia, in an official letter to OPEC, has announced that it will not take part at the lower-tier talks on Nov. 28 in Vienna ahead of the OPEC ministerial meeting on Nov. 30 since ‘OPEC ministers first need to agree on cutting output and inform non-member countries about their agreement,'” the Mehr News reported.Iran said even if OPEC decides on limiting production, it won’t help much as Saudi Arabia “seems to be applying new tactics to disturb convergence of OPEC in achieving a comprehensive agreement on oil production.”The country said Saudi Arabia and Iraq have exploited several factors, such as sanctions on the Persian Gulf nation, internal strife in Libya to strengthen their market share over the past 12 years. “Saudi Arabia’s production share in OPEC has risen from 29.1% in 2004 to 31.5% in 2016 and the figure for Iraq increased from 6.5 to 13.2 per cent in the same period,” the Mehr News, citing secondary sources.In September this year, Khalid al-Falih Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, had said that crude oil prices are “nearing” their downward trend.”The current down cycle is nearing an end. Market fundamentals, in terms of supply and demand, have begun to improve. We are optimistic that oil prices will continue to improve in the future,” Khalid al-Falih told a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak on Sunday after a Gulf ministerial meeting in Riyadh, AFP had reported.The provisional oil import bill for 2015-2016 was Rs. 4,18,931 crore ($64.4 billion) for importing 202.5 milliom metric tonnes (mmt) of crude, down from Rs. 6,87,416 crore ($112.74 billion) paid to import 189.43 mmt.