Newcastle continue winning run with win over Chelsea

Swiss defender Fabian Schar (L) celebrates after the final whistle of the Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea. (AFP)
Swiss defender Fabian Schar (L) celebrates after the final whistle of the Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea. (AFP)
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Updated 12 November 2022

Newcastle continue winning run with win over Chelsea

Newcastle continue winning run with win over Chelsea
  • The Blues, who dominated United at St. James’ Park around 12 months ago, looked light years behind Eddie Howe’s side

NEWCASTLE: For the first time in 21 years Newcastle United find themselves in the top four of the Premier League at Christmas — and they ensured that statistic by out-classing, out-battling and out-scoring one of the so-called ‘big six’ elite.
A solitary Joe Willock strike in the second-half was enough to ensure three points remained on Tyneside — and send Chelsea home empty-handed — taking Newcastle’s total to 30 from 15 games.
Just two points separate United and Manchester City, Liverpool are eight behind the high-flying Magpies.
In a season where a lot has been made of Newcastle’s ‘ceiling’ as a football club, just ask Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp — but game-by-game it’s proving impossible to really know where this side maxes out.
Is Champions League football out of the question? Well, not on this evidence. It’s human nature to rule out a title tilt, but what have the Magpies got to fear? Only Liverpool, courtesy of a 98th minute winner, have handed the bitter taste of defeat to the black and whites.
The Blues, who dominated United at St. James’ Park around 12 months ago, looked light years behind Eddie Howe’s side, who were the outfit on the front foot, against a Chelsea side who looked content to contain. How the tables have turned.
On the team news from Howe made two changes to the team who beat Southampton last time out in the Premier League with Joelinton and Chris Wood selected ahead of Jacob Murphy and World Cup-bound Callum Wilson.
A cagey opening was sparked into life by the Magpies when midfielder Joe Willock turned Cesar Azpilicueta inside out before dinking toward the back post where Wood was beaten to the jump by Kalidou Koulibaly before man of the moment Miguel Almiron volleyed the clearance over the top.
At the other end, a goal-saving header from Sven Botman prevented Armando Broja from snatching an unlikely lead for the visitors.
The flashpoint in an otherwise dull half came as time ticked past 45 — and referee Robert Jones was at the center of controversy, as well as usual culprit VAR.
A six-yard box-bound cross from Dan Burn was stopped by the hand of Trevoh Chalobah, but nothing was given — no check, bizarrely, much to the dismay of the 52,000-strong crowd.
Just after the break it was United who remained on the front foot and dominant — and two quickfire chances almost saw them break the deadlock.
Kieran Trippier’s chip to the back post was nodded across goal by Joelinton and first Chris Wood then Bruno Guimaraes saw shots at goal blocked. Then immediately after recycling possession Trippier pulled back to Sean Longstaff who flipped the ball over from eight yards out.
United kept knocking but just couldn’t break down the door.
While the Magpies ramped up the pressure, it was their own errors in their defensive third that kept a fire burning for Graham Potter’s men. Conor Gallagher was almost a beneficiary of that when he curled a shot that looked destined for Nick Pope’s far left corner, however the England keeper signed off before heading to Qatar with one of his best saves of the season to turn around the post.
And this chance was the wake up call Howe’s Magpies needed as they netted the only goal of the game from the next attack.
A slick move that started with an instinctive Joelinton flick over the top, saw Miguel Almiron control with his head not once but twice and lay on a plate for Willock to smash home from the edge of the area.
The expected storm did not really materialize from Potter’s men, as they headed back down to the capital with their tail between their legs — and importantly, nine points behind Newcastle.
Not since the dizzying days of the late, great Sir Bobby Robson has this Geordie outfit been a real force in this division, but the feels of 20 years ago are flooding back to this northern outpost — and long may it continue for Howe’s top six-breakers.
It took United until March 10 this year to reach 30 points for the 2021/22 season. In 2022/23 they’ve done so by November 12. The rise of Howe’s Mags knows no bounds, and in a season that promised Premier League consolidation, United are making those who tried to monopolize success at the top of the division look like they’re on very unsteady ground.


Kingdom’s Diriyah E Prix hailed as ‘best production in the history’ of Formula E by co-founder Alberto Longo

Kingdom’s Diriyah E Prix hailed as ‘best production in the history’ of Formula E by co-founder Alberto Longo
Updated 33 sec ago

Kingdom’s Diriyah E Prix hailed as ‘best production in the history’ of Formula E by co-founder Alberto Longo

Kingdom’s Diriyah E Prix hailed as ‘best production in the history’ of Formula E by co-founder Alberto Longo
  • Rounds 2 and 3 of season 9 were won by Pascal Wehrlein of TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team

RIYADH: Alberto Longo, co-founder and chief championship officer at Formula E, has hailed last weekend’s Diriyah E-Prix double-header as “the best production that we have ever done in the history of Formula E.”

Longo spoke during a press conference on the sidelines of the two-day event in Riyadh, which represented rounds two and three of Season 9 of the FIA Formula E World Championship.

Both night races were won by Pascal Wehrlein of TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.

Longo told Arab News: “I can tell you that after 102 races that we have done in the history of Formula E that this is by far the best production that we have ever done.”

“You can see it on the garages, it is something that has never been done before in the history of motorsport and those garages are full of LEDs that are by itself entertainment,” he said.

Adding to the spectacle of the races were the fan village and concert lineup hosted in the Kingdom’s birthplace, said Longo.

Carlo Boutagy, founder and CEO of CBX, the exclusive promoter of the Formula E World Championship in the Middle East, added that “this is the first time in the history of motorsports that the garages have been full of LED(s), even the race control which is really nice.”

“In Saudi every year we have been improving this race,” Boutagy added. “In the first year we had one race and then we moved it to a double-header, then we made it into a night race, which is the only race in the calendar that is a night race.”

Boutagy said this year’s Formula E was a big upgrade compared to previous editions with new headlining artists and areas for people to watch the contest, including at the fan village.

The fan village boasted several tents and booths offering interactive experiences and activities such as live gaming simulators.

“We have put a lot of effort and a lot of time and investment into it and we just try to push the bar year (after) year to give more to the people when they come and give them a better experience,” Boutagy said.

The 2023 Diriyah E-Prix saw 11 teams and 22 drivers take to the race grid for the fifth time in the Kingdom since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the event in December 2018.


Still time for Newcastle to strike January deals, says Howe

Still time for Newcastle to strike January deals, says Howe
Updated 30 January 2023

Still time for Newcastle to strike January deals, says Howe

Still time for Newcastle to strike January deals, says Howe
  • The Magpies have already signed Anthony Gordon from Everton for $55m
  • Signing of Gordon has divided fans, as the player is one who polarizes with his on-field antics

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe admits it could be a busy end to the January transfer window for Newcastle United although he accepts incomings are far from guaranteed.

The Magpies have completed the $55 million signing of England under-21 forward Anthony Gordon from Everton but face a race against time to bring in the two further players Howe has set his sights on.

They have agreed on a nominal fee to take youngster Harrison Ashby from West Ham United but are set to lose both Jonjo Shelvey and Karl Darlow to Nottingham Forest and Hull City respectively.

That leaves a two-player gap in the Magpies’ 25-man Premier League squad, with Ashby and Gordon both sitting outside of the group.

Howe is keen to make sure he replaces Shelvey at least, although he is far from certain the right player will be available to plug the gap.

Speaking ahead of the second leg of the club’s Carabao Cup semifinal with Southampton, Howe said: “From a football decision perspective, we will see what we can do in the market to try to bring a player. There’s no guarantee on that. With other transfers, we will try and see what we can do. In terms of permanent signings, that will be very difficult. We will look at a loan situation, but it has to be the right player.”

Howe also revealed that he did not want to lose Shelvey despite some persistent injuries this season.

“It will be very difficult to keep Jonjo currently, with where he wants his career to go,” said Howe. “We can keep players who want to leave. There is nothing to say that every player that wants to leave you have to let go. But you have to take every situation independently and try to judge everything, judge what is best for him and the club.”

Howe acknowledged that Shelvey has had talks with Premier League rivals Nottingham Forest.

“Jonjo has been a huge player for this football club over the last seven years. He has been an important part of my squad since I have been here,” he said.

The transfer window in England closes at 11 p.m. GMT on Tuesday.

The signing of Gordon has divided fan opinion, especially as the player is one who polarizes with his on-field aggression and antics.

He also went on strike to force the move through — and Howe has addressed the player’s mental state ahead of a potential first appearance in the Premier League at the weekend.

“For someone of his age, we’re going to need to really support him and guide him through this move,” said Howe, who will not be able to play Gordon against Saints as he is cup-tied.

“Certainly, from the person that I met yesterday, I was hugely impressed by how he handled it. It’s a big day. I’ve been there as a player,” the Newcastle coach added. “You go to a new club, and it can be daunting. I thought he was excellent in everything that he had to encounter, meeting new teammates, meeting new coaching staff, getting a lot of information, trying to settle in.”

Gordon, who was also interested in Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, said Newcastle were the only club for him.

“Since I heard of the interest, I was always convinced Newcastle were for me,” he said. “I think the fan base and the city really suits me as a person, the way the team are playing under the gaffer at the minute really suits me, and the club just look like they're heading in the right direction.

“I feel like it’s a really big step,” Gordon added. “People haven’t seen what I’m capable of yet. I think under the gaffer, and the way the club’s going, I can really excel here.”


Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi

Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi
Updated 30 January 2023

Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi

Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi
  • Multi-category event takes place in Hail on Feb. 2-4
  • Mohammed Al-Balooshi of the MX Ride Dubai team heads the field on his TM 450

HAIL: Thirty-one motorcycles, five quads and competitors from 12 nations have entered this weekend’s Saudi Baja-Hail, the opening round of the 2023 FIM Bajas World Cup, in addition to four riders taking part in a national event running behind.

While two-time event winner Mohammed Al-Balooshi of the MX Ride Dubai team heads the field on his TM 450, two other former Hail winners feature on the international entry.

Al-Balooshi’s brother, Sultan, also represents the MX Ride Dubai team and is a two-time former winner of the longer Hail International Rally (2018 and 2019), while Saudi rider Mishal Al-Ghuneim reached the top step of the podium on a Husqvarna in 2021.

There is strength in depth across the entry, with several riders more than capable of challenging for victory, while others will be hopeful of scoring points in the FIM Womens’ and FIM Veterans’ categories.

Young Jordanian rider Abdullah Abu Aishah (KTM) has pushed Al-Balooshi close on several occasions in the past and will be hopeful of starting his FIM challenge in winning style. He finished fifth on the 2022 Saudi Baja last November, behind the triumphant Al-Balooshi, Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti (Kawasaki), Al-Ghuneim and fellow Saudi Anass Al-Reheyani. All three of those rivals will challenge for top honors again this weekend.

FIM Junior hopeful Alex McInnes is seeded at four and the Briton is more than capable of finishing on the podium, while Qatar-based Australian was sixth last year and will be aiming for a top three finish. Other international riders likely to challenge for top honors are Kiwi Philip Wilson, Australia’s Andrew Houlihan and the British duo of Barry Howe and Brett Hunt.

The neighboring State of Qatar will be represented by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani (Gas-Gas), Mohammed Al-Kaabi (KTM), Mahanna Rashid Al-Naimi (Honda) and Abdulrahman Al-Sheeb (KTM). Yaghoob Azadi will ride a Rasen Racing Team Husqvarna in the national category.

Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet (Duust Rally Team Husqvarna) and Indian rider Sarah Kashyap (Beta) will decide the outcome of the Womens’ category.

Last year’s quad winner Haitham Al-Tuwaijri faces Saudi rivals Hani Al-Noumesi, Abdulaziz Al-Atawi and Sultan Al-Masoud, as well as the UAE’s Abdulaziz Ahli, to decide the honors on four wheels.

The Baja is being managed by the Saudi Motorsport Company in conjunction with the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and the Ministry of Sport. The event is running under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, the president of the SAMF, and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Motors.


McIlroy comes out on top of bitter rival Reed in Dubai

McIlroy comes out on top of bitter rival Reed in Dubai
Updated 30 January 2023

McIlroy comes out on top of bitter rival Reed in Dubai

McIlroy comes out on top of bitter rival Reed in Dubai
  • McIlroy had fallen behind arch-rival Reed after a bogey on the 15th hole
  • The Northern Irishman bounced back with birdies on the 17th and 18th to prevail over Reed by a single shot

DUBAI: Rory McIlroy prevailed in a nail-biting finish over Patrick Reed, the man he “prefers not to acknowledge” after a spat between the two, in the rain-delayed $9 million Dubai Desert Classic on Monday.
It was the first time McIlroy has won the first start of his new season and is his 15th DP World Tour victory in 231 starts.
It was also his third Dubai Desert Classic victory in 13 appearances.
He will remain world number one, after Spaniard Jon Rahm failed to win the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour on Saturday.
McIlroy and Reed went into the tournament after a row when Reed reportedly threw a tee toward McIlroy on the practice range in Dubai.
The two have been at odds since McIlroy criticized players, including Reed, who joined the rival Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit.
McIlroy, who lost this tournament last year on the final hole when his second shot found the water and he ended up making a bogey, had fallen behind Reed after a bogey on the 15th hole.
However, the Northern Irishman made amends with birdies on the 17th and 18th in a round of four-under par 68.
McIlroy finished on 19-under par, while Reed, starting the day four shots behind the Northern Irishman, made a crucial bogey on the 16th and a par on the drivable par-4 17th hole in his round of 65.
Australian Lucas Herbert, champion in 2019, closed with a six-under par 66 to take solo third place at 16-under par 272.
England’s Callum Shinkwin, who started with three bogies in his first six holes playing in the lead group with McIlroy, made six birdies after that to shoot a 69 and take solo fourth place at 273.
The DP World Tour stays in the UAE for a fourth consecutive week and will head to the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah this week for the $2 million RAK Championship.


Women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia motivates Pakistani player to strive for more

Women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia motivates Pakistani player to strive for more
Updated 30 January 2023

Women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia motivates Pakistani player to strive for more

Women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia motivates Pakistani player to strive for more
  • Saudi Arabia won the 4-nation friendly tournament, while Pakistan finished second
  • Sardil said she faced many difficulties to become a defender of the Pakistani national team

KARACHI: When Sahiba Sardil returned from playing the first women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia last week, an experience she says has motivated her to strive for more, she received a hero’s welcome at home.

Sardil, a defender of the Pakistani team, was in the Kingdom for a four-nation friendly tournament held from Jan. 11 to 19 featuring Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Comoros and Mauritius. The South Asian country finished the competition as a runner-up, with the host coming out as champion.

When she arrived home in Mauripur, a small fishing town near the seaside metropolis Karachi, she was greeted with much fanfare. People from the community gathered and adorned her with garlands, while others played drums and waved the Pakistani flag as they marched alongside the football player.

“It was a great experience. I will always remember those 10 days,” Sardil told Arab News on Sunday.

“Saudi Arabia and the welcome I have received here at home have motivated me to work harder and go further.”

Sardil said she faced many difficulties before making it to the national team. 

The 21-year-old had started her football journey playing with male cousins in a dusty space, where there was only one goalpost and another one had to be marked with stones placed on the ground.

She also grew up in a conservative area, where it was common for young girls to stay within the confines of their homes. Her father initially had “strict rules” for the women in their household but eventually gave in and allowed Sardil to join a football academy three years ago.

“I didn’t reach the national team and this position so easily…I had to bear so much,” she said.

Sardil’s father, a fisherman who would often be away for months at a time, is now her biggest supporter.

“The respect that I have received today, the support I have received, is because of my father,” she said.

Now that she is home after her first international competition, Sardil recalls the games in the Kingdom with fondness and said she had adored the Saudi team the most. 

“To go to Saudi Arabia, to play outside of Pakistan was a huge honor for me,” Sardil said. “We felt really good playing against them. It felt as if we were playing football properly.”