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Every top-flight club’s biggest dilemma ahead of Premier League return

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After the final international break of 2021, Premier League football returns this weekend and there are a number of tantalising storylines that are set to continue.

The top flight returns with an intriguing clash between league leaders Chelsea and Leicester City, with the former knowing they could go six points clear at the top with a win.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have been glad for the respite, spending last week back in Norway, but the Manchester United boss knows without a result this weekend the pressure will be intensified even further.

read also:Super Eagles vow to improve at World Cup playoffs

Liverpool are coming off the back of their first defeat of the season just before the break and will need to overcome a resurgent Arsenal side to avoid back-to-back losses.

Elsewhere, West Ham will look to continue their blistering start to the season when they take on Wolves, while Steven Gerrard, Eddie Howe and Dean Smith will manage Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich for the first time respectively.

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Xmas Cracker: GOtv Boxing Night Returns Dec 24

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The event will stage one international and five domestic bouts across weight divisions and will be aired live on SuperSport Select 2 (GOtv Channel 34) and SuperSport Variety 4 (DStv Channel 209).

 

This was announced by Flykite Productions, organisers of the event, at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday 1 December 2021.

 

Speaking at the event, Public Relations Manager, GOtv Nigeria, Jennifer Ukoh-Osamwonyi, expressed delight at the progress recorded with the boxing event. She commended the promoters, Flykite Productions, Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C) and the media for their support.

 read also:Everton are not in a relegation battle and will improve – Benitez

“We are proud of how far we have come with the support of boxing fans, the NBB of C as well as members of the media, who have done commendable work in their role as advocates for not just the sport but the event,” she said. 

 

Ukoh-Osamwonyi added that GOtv Boxing Night has sparked a revival of Nigerian boxing by providing opportunities, which were once scarce, for boxers to exhibit their skills and get much better rewarded.

 

“It is truly gratifying to see that the objectives of this initiative, which was to revive a sport that had suffered decades of gross underfunding and poor organization, provide considerably better renumeration for the boxers and most importantly, produce Nigerian boxing champions are being met,” she added.

 

The bout card released indicates that Nigeria’s Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, reigning WBF International welterweight champion, will defend his title against Justice “Qwick Action” Addy of Ghana. Two other title bouts, both domestic, are also scheduled. One of the domestic title fights will see Segun “Success” Olanrewaju take on Adewale “Masevex” Masebinu for the national light heavyweight title, while the other will see Michael “Emirate” Godwin duel with Abiodun “Infiniti” Afinni for the national cruiserweight title.

 

The event will also feature two national welterweight challenge duels, with one pitting Semiu “Jagaban” Olapade against Taiwo “Gentle Boy” Olowu, while the other is a collision between Willian “Kaki” Amosu and Segun “War” Adeyemi. In the bantamweight category, Saheed “Eagle” Azeez will face Aminu “Lucky Boy” Akintayo.

 

The best boxer at the event will walk away with a cash prize of N1million attached to the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy. Last month, Flykite announced a new format for choosing the best boxer. The new format will see the winner of the award chosen by a nine-man panel, using weighted scores.

 

The panel, explained the organisers, will have three representatives from the sporting media, two coaches to be nominated by the Lagos State Boxing Association, one nominee of the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C), a representative of the sponsors and two persons from among the watching crowd.

 

The adoption of the more compact but diverse panel format replaces the media-only panel that has selected the best boxer since 2015. This, according to the organisers, is to make the process smoother and less cumbersome.

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Everton are not in a relegation battle and will improve – Benitez

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Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez was in defiant mood despite a painful 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool as Everton’s winless run extended to eight matches.

The club’s terrible form means they are just five points clear of the relegation zone, and while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still out with injury, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Richarlison returned to a line-up that was close to full-strength.

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But Liverpool proved far too good for their Merseyside rivals. However, Benitez insisted his side will not be drawn into a relegation battle.

“No. I still have confidence that the team will do well,” Benitez said.

“We need to bring players back and then we will be as strong as we were at the beginning [of the season].”

“We are talking about key players missing, and maybe these key players missing are also really important for the rest of the group to play at the level they can play.

“It’s always bad to lose. But when you lose to a team that has spent so much money, and they have so many good players, sometimes it’s because you make mistakes and the other team is quite good.”

Jordan Henderson and Mo Salah put Liverpool two goals up inside 20 minutes, before Demarai Gray halved the deficit.

But Salah caught Seamus Coleman out on the halfway line to run through and score, before Diogo Jota capped off the comprehensive display.

May be an image of 3 people, people playing sports and text that says 'NLAN Εχψα じ standard, chartered tered Everton 1 VS LIVERPOOL FULL TIME 4 Premier League'

Read Also: Salah brace sees Liverpool down Everton to keep pace with Chelsea, Man City

Benitez bemoaned the individual defensive errors that cost his side.

“We made too many mistakes,” the Everton manager said. “When you do that against a top side, you pay for it.

“The reaction of the team was very good, and the fans at the beginning were pushing us and as soon as we scored, the atmosphere was really good.

“The second half we started well and on top, but another mistake changed the game.”

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Yaya Toure takes coaching role at Tottenham academy

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Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is working with Tottenham’s academy as part of his coaching badges.

Toure had an induction day at Hotspur Way on Wednesday and is set to spend a couple of days at week at the club’s Enfield training base – although he is open to a more formal role with Spurs if the possibility arises.

The 38-year-old lives with his family in Hampstead and was keen to find a nearby club to continue working towards his UEFA A-Licence after a spell coaching in Russia.

The Ivorian, who retired from playing in 2020, has previously spent time working towards his badges with QPR, Blackburn and, most recently, the Welsh FA.

Whilst at Spurs, Toure will have no direct involvement with Antonio Conte’s first team, who train in a separate part of the complex, but will instead work with academy manager Dean Rastrick and head of youth coaching Chris Powell.

Speaking to The Coaches’ Voice earlier this year, Toure said: “I have started to realise how good it is to be a coach.

“But sitting in an office the whole time – that’s not me.

“I want to be out on the grass, interacting with other people, exchanging ideas.”

Read Also: EPL: Guardiola says Man City up for title scrap

Spurs’ academy boasts a number of promising talents, including teenagers Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine, and Dilan Markanday, who recently became the first British-Asian player to represent the first team.

Toure, who played 316 times for City and is considered one of the club’s great modern players, has held coaching positions at Ukrainian club Olimpik Donetsk and Russian side Akhmat Grozny, leaving the latter in June.

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