Foden rescues Manchester City in West Ham draw

Foden rescues Manchester City in West Ham draw
West Ham United’s midfielder Michail Antonio scores the opening goal during Saturday’s English Premier League football match against Manchester City in London. (AFP)
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Updated 25 October 2020

Foden rescues Manchester City in West Ham draw

Foden rescues Manchester City in West Ham draw
  • I’m not a guy who can predict the future. We’ve already dropped seven points, which is a lot: Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City

LONDON: Pep Guardiola admitted he cannot guarantee Manchester City will emerge from their slump after Phil Foden came off the bench to rescue a 1-1 draw against West Ham on Saturday.

Guardiola’s side fell behind to Michail Antonio’s superb overhead kick in the first half at the London Stadium.

Foden came on at half-time and produced an instant equalizer, but City couldn’t deliver the knockout blow and have now won just one of their last four Premier League games.

Injury-hit City, without Fernandinho, Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Gabriel Jesus, rarely reached peak form in the latest of a growing list of inconsistent displays.

While Arsenal and Porto were beaten in their previous two matches, City still don’t seem to have completely recovered from their 5-2 thrashing by Leicester in September.

They are already five points behind leaders Everton, who play Southampton on Sunday, and look more vulnerable than at any time since Guardiola’s first season in charge.

“I’m not a guy who can predict the future. We’ve already dropped seven points, which is a lot,” Guardiola said.

“We suffered in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first half. In the second half we were better and scored early.

“We had the chances we needed to win the game, but unfortunately we couldn’t score again.

“We’ve struggled a lot for many reasons. We have to take things game by game and see what happens.”

Adding to Guardiola’s problems, Sergio Aguero suffered a “muscular injury” according to the City boss, who did not know how long his star striker would be sidelined for.

Aguero hasn’t scored in the top flight since January and is notoriously slow to return to his best after injuries.

Just back after several months out following knee surgery, the Argentine was replaced by Foden at the interval.

Tricky trips to Marseille and Sheffield United next week will provide a further test of just how determined City are to recover the all-conquering form that swept them to the title in 2018 and 2019.

After fighting back from 3-0 down at Tottenham with three goals in the last 10 minutes in their previous match, this was another encouraging result for West Ham.

Raheem Sterling scored a hat trick in City’s 5-0 win at West Ham last season and his penetrating run laid on an early chance for Aguero, whose shot was deflected wide.

Guardiola named an unchanged lineup in consecutive games for the first time since October 2017, but City still lacked rhythm and they fell behind to Antonio’s moment of magic in the 18th minute.

Vladimir Coufal swung a cross into the City area and Antonio showed his strength and agility as he held off Ruben Dias before smashing a superb overhead kick past Ederson for his third goal of the season.

Foden made an immediate impact as the 20-year-old grabbed his third goal of the season in the 51st minute.

Joao Cancelo made an incisive burst down the left and aimed his cross into the West Ham area, where Foden controlled and turned in one motion before driving his low shot past Lukasz Fabianski.

With 22 minutes left, Guardiola introduced Kevin De Bruyne, who missed the wins over Arsenal and Porto with a muscle problem.

De Bruyne’s pinpoint pass gave Sterling a golden opportunity to win it for City in the 86th minute, but the forward’s poor touch and hesitant shot allowed Fabianski to save.

Guardiola shook his head and there was more frustration in stoppage-time when Riyad Mahrez’s shot was pushed onto the post by Fabianski.


Saudi golfer Alsharif says game in the Kingdom ‘better than ever’

Saud Alsharif has called on more young potential golf stars to make the most of what is available to them throughout Saudi Arabia and the wider region. (Golf Saudi/File Photo)
Saud Alsharif has called on more young potential golf stars to make the most of what is available to them throughout Saudi Arabia and the wider region. (Golf Saudi/File Photo)
Updated 58 min 40 sec ago

Saudi golfer Alsharif says game in the Kingdom ‘better than ever’

Saud Alsharif has called on more young potential golf stars to make the most of what is available to them throughout Saudi Arabia and the wider region. (Golf Saudi/File Photo)
  • World’s best players preparing for Saudi International this February
  • Alsharif said no excuse for more Arab talent not to take up golf

RIYADH: Saudi golfer Saud Alsharif believes having the sport's best players competing in Saudi Arabia is key to the development and growth of the game in the Kingdom. 

World number one Dustin Johnson will be joined by the likes of US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau as well as European superstars Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia at the Saudi International in February.

Royal Greens Golf Club will host the third edition of the event, which is once again one of the opening events on the European Tour calendar.

Johnson won the first Saudi International in 2019, recording an impressive 19 under par, whilst Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell secured victory at last year’s tournament.

“Players like Dustin (Johnson) and Brooks (Koepka) coming to Saudi is a real honour and I really do wish I can play with any of these guys – they are massive stars in world golf. For golf fans in Saudi to see Dustin Johnson and others is incredible – they are some of the best sportsmen in the world, Alsharif said.

“Three years ago we didn’t have any big, global event in Saudi and right now we have the biggest golf event in the Middle East with the biggest field so it really is booming. It really does help the golf community in Saudi Arabia and encourage more people to take this up.”

Growing up in the region, Saud didn’t have anywhere near the same accessibility to coaches or facilities as today’s young hopefuls – and he has called on more young potential stars to make the most of what is available to them throughout Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

“Right now golf in Saudi Arabia is better than I could have ever imagined it. We have everything we need to go out and play the best golf we can. We’ve got coaching throughout the game, including on the mental side of the game,” he said. 

“We’ve also got great facilities too and its exciting that there is young talent coming through.

“Previously it used to be travelling to play in local events with a lot less coaching and a team gathering every three or four months in Riyadh – that was pretty much it. Now we have good relationships with our coaches where we can see them more and the team can sign us up to compete in more events too.

Whatever you wish for, it is there, so there is no excuse for us not to go out there and play well,” he added.

Tournament preparations have been different this time around due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on competitions and travel, but Alsharif said that has had limited impact on his own confidence as he looks to improve on previous years in the competition.

“It’s been very quiet with COVID and travel so we haven’t been able to play. I played an event in Bahrain last month which was nice to get into. Unfortunately, I lost in the play-off but I keep working very hard with Jamie (McDonnell, coach and caddy). I can’t see him at the moment, but we communicate a lot,” he said.

“I’m very excited but I’m also really relaxed going into this event. I know I haven’t played a lot of events recently but I have so much confidence in my game right now because of the practice over the year.

“One thing that stood out last year was my decision making on the course and the caddy/player relationship and how we talked on the course.

“It’s a big part of the game and its important. You need a good caddy and Jamie was there for me and he did such a great job for me last year on this course.

“I went from shooting 85 to 75,and that is all down to decision making. I was going into the first round very excited, taking on shots and not really taking on the game plan and managing it as we discussed.

“That really affected me on the first day but on the second day it was the complete opposite, I was completely relaxed and I listened to my caddy and the results showed that,” he added.

Saud will be joined by fellow Saudi Othman Almulla as the two local representatives competing at the tournament, which runs Feb. 4-7.

For more information visit www.saudiinternational.com