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Golf

Webb Simpson in share of lead at Rocket Mortgage Classic

Webb Simpson continued his good form to grab a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The American carded an eight-under 64 in the second round at Detroit Golf Club in Michigan on Friday to climb to 12 under at the PGA Tour event.

Simpson already has two wins in 2020 — including at the RBC Heritage in his last start — and shares a one-stroke lead with Chris Kirk (65).

The 2012 U.S. Open champion, Simpson produced a bogey-free second round that included eight birdies.

Kirk was on track to do likewise before a bogey at the par-four 18th.

It remains a packed leaderboard, with Seamus Power (66), Matthew Wolff (64), Bryson DeChambeau (67), Mark Hubbard (66), Ryan Armour (64) and Richy Werenski (66) a shot back.

The in-form DeChambeau has top-10 finishes in each of his past six starts and backed up his 66 with a 67.

Kevin Kisner (69) and Sepp Straka (66) are in a tie for ninth at 10 under.

Last year’s runner-up, Doc Redman, shared the overnight lead but fell back into a tie for 11th after a two-under 70.

Despite a promising start, Rickie Fowler slipped down the leaderboard after a 71, now sitting at six under.

Jason Day’s struggles since the PGA Tour resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic continued, with the Australian missing the cut for the third time in four events.

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Soccer

Jurgen Klopp defends tetchy interview after Liverpool's defeat at City

‘I was not in a good mood after the game, or when I went to bed or woke up’: Jurgen Klopp defends tetchy interview in which he hit back at questions over Liverpool’s attitude during 4-0 defeat at Manchester City

  • Jurgen Klopp was unhappy with questions from Sky Sports on Thursday night
  • Liverpool boss said his squad had a ‘brilliant attitude’ despite defeat at Man City
  • Klopp has defended his comments and admitted he ‘was not in a good mood’
  • German says the post-match interview with Sky was too soon after the game 

Jurgen Klopp has defended the bad-tempered interview he gave to Sky Sports in the wake of Liverpool’s humbling 4-0 defeat against Manchester City.

The Reds boss appeared irritable as he answered questions after watching his side lose their first game since being crowned champions.

Klopp claimed his side had showed a ‘brilliant attitude’ despite the result, but took issue with Sky’s reporter when the focus of his players was questioned again.  

Jurgen Klopp has defended his mood after Liverpool’s 4-0 defeat against Manchester City

The Liverpool boss gave a tetchy interview to Sky Sports after watching his side get beaten 

Liverpool equalled the record for heaviest defeat as Premier League champions at the Etihad

‘That’s the second time you ask about attitude,’ Klopp said during a tetchy exchange on the touchline at the Etihad.

‘If you want to lead this story that we are not focused in this game then do it, but I am pleased with the attitude of our team.’

Klopp was asked about his reaction during his press conference on Friday and defended his response, insisting the chat with Sky Sports came too soon for him to relax after the final whistle. 

‘I was not in a good mood after the game,’ he said. ‘I was not in a good mood when I went to bed or when I woke up and then at Melwood I said “I’m in a really good mood”. 

The defeat surpassed the 3-0 loss at Watford which had ended their Invincibles dream

It came after a stunning City performance in which they scored three times in 20 minutes

‘Why? Because we changed things. If you lose a game, you lose a game. You never take it easy but we’ve had a bit more time to think about it. 

‘The problem with post-match interviews it that you have a minute go inside and then you have all the interviews. 

‘This game we lost in the key moments. In these moments City was better than us. 

‘We gave a penalty away, we conceded after a throw in, we left Joe [Gomez] alone in a situation that no player should be alone in against [Raheem] Sterling. 

‘We were good apart from that – good situations but we didn’t finish them off.’ 

Phil Foden added a third right on half-time in a brilliant performance from the hosts

Raheem Sterling’s shot went in off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for an own goal in the second half

Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden scored to put City into a commanding lead at the break, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s own goal saw Liverpool fall to their heaviest defeat of the season. 

Klopp continued: ‘Was it Sadio’s [Mane] big chance? We had more chances but we didn’t play the final pass. 

‘This game we had more chances than when we won 3-1, but we gave four goals away so one thing is the feeling and one thing is the facts, both things are important and we will use both.’




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Soccer

Xherdan Shaqiri slammed in Switzerland after Liverpool title triumph

‘He is not a champion’: Xherdan Shaqiri slammed in homeland of Switzerland after making just six appearances in Liverpool’s title triumph with boss Arno Rossini saying he has been ‘paid millions’ to be a spectator

  • Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri has been criticised by manager Arno Rossini 
  • The 28-year-old has seen his game time limited in Reds’ title triumph this season
  • Shaqiri has been slammed in his homeland of Switzerland by the Swiss boss

Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri has been criticised by Swiss manager Arno Rossini following his Premier League title triumph.

The 28-year-old has seen his game time limited at Anfield this season, making just six appearances in the club’s first league title success in 30 years.

Shaqiri’s 2019-20 season has been disrupted by injury but he has not been in Jurgen Klopp’s squad since their 1-0 win at Tottenham on January 11 and he has been slammed in his homeland of Switzerland.

Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri (above) has been criticised by Swiss manager Arno Rossini

Shaqiri pumped his fists upon his arrival at Liverpool’s training ground following title triumph

Shaqiri has been criticised by former FC Sion boss Rossini after Premier League title triumph

‘Xherdan is not a champion,’ former FC Sion manager Rossini told Tio.

‘We certainly cannot say that he left his mark with the teams with which he won. Not with the big guys at least. He was the protagonist in Basle, certainly not at Bayern or Liverpool. 

‘Let’s say that over the years he has often followed the games of his teams as a spectator, sitting in the best places. And millions have also been paid for it.

Shaqiri has made just six appearances in Liverpool’s title-winning season, scoring one goal

Shaqiri has added the Premier League title to three Bundesliga titles he won at Bayern Munich

XHERDAN SHAQIRI HONOURS 

Basle (2009-2012): Swiss league title x3 and Swiss Cup x2

Bayern Munich (2012-2015): Bundesliga title x3, German Cup x2, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup

Liverpool (2018-present): Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup 

‘This, taking everything into account, makes me think that the Swiss is not one who always gives his best.

‘If not as owner, at least one important reserve role, from first choice on the bench, (he) would otherwise have managed to carve it (a place in the team) out. Instead nothing. Only the crumbs, for a disheartening situation.’

Shaqiri has added the Premier League title to his long list of honours following spells at Basle, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. 

He has won two Champions Leagues, three Bundesliga titles, two German Cups as well as three Swiss league titles.  

‘Of course, Xherdan is filling the bulletin board and seeing his bank account grow dramatically; I don’t know how many, in 10 years, will remember him thinking about the great teams in which he has played,’ Rossini added.

Shaqiri’s only goal of Liverpool’s title-winning campaign so far came in their 5-2 win over Merseyside rivals Everton in December. 

The winger has a contract at the champions until the summer of 2023 but has been linked with a summer move away from the club.

The 28-year-old also won three domestic titles with Swiss outfit Basle between 2009 and 2012




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Sports News

Mark Wood column: Life in England’s ‘sci-fi movie’

The bio-secure environment in Southampton, where we are preparing for the Test series against West Indies, feels a bit like a sci-fi movie.

When we first turned up, there was a huge tent outside the hotel, where we had to pass through to get our temperature scanned. We dropped our bags off so they could be sprayed before they were taken in.

Inside, there are no room keys – you open doors with an app on your phone. There is hand sanitiser at every turn, and on the floor there are arrows, lines and footprints to show the way to go. We fill in a health questionnaire each morning and take our own temperature before we go to breakfast.

When we use the lift, we press buttons with our elbows, and only four people can get in at once. In the lift, everyone turns out to face a different wall, which makes it quite difficult to have a conversation.

We have to wear our accreditation any time we are not in our rooms or on the training pitch. The accreditation has a chip that tracks your movements, so if anyone does get ill, we will know who they have been in contact with. Similarly, we wear face masks any time we are not in our rooms or outdoors.

At meal times, it is just like being back at school. We queue up (socially distanced, of course), and take a tray and cutlery that is wrapped in a bag. You move around and ask to be served the food you would like, then take it to sit at your own individual desk, looking at the back of the person in front.

  • Stokes to captain England in first Test
  • Captaincy won’t affect how I play – Stokes
  • England v West Indies – schedule

If it sounds like I am painting a grim picture, that is not the intention, because I know we are very lucky to be here and we have all been looking forward to the chance to play cricket again.

To me, all the procedures we are going through are an extension to two of three pillars that the England team is built on: unity and respect.

Unity because we are all in this together, and respect because we take the precautions not just to keep ourselves safe, but also everyone else in the bubble.

Stokes loses his Formula 1 crown

Training days, which come two or three at a time, are busy. One half of the day is spent in the nets or on cricket skills, while the other half is in the gym.

It is the days off, or the evenings, that can be tough to fill. For that reason, we are lucky enough to have been given plenty of options for keeping entertained.

The nearby golf course is taking a battering. I am not much of a golfer – I usually only play once a year – but I have played three times in the past week alone.

I have tried to get the golf bug, but I think I am getting worse. I went for a ramble with Ben Stokes, and he gave me some tips that I was pleased with, only for my next round to be terrible. I just can’t get my head around how a professional athlete can hit one decent shot, then follow it with one that scuttles along the ground.

Away from the golf course, we have a pool table, a dart board and table tennis. We play a lot of cards, which gets quite competitive. Joe Denly is the scorer and usually the winner. Work that one out.

The thing attracting the most attention is the Formula 1 simulator, which is lifelike down to the seat, steering wheel and pedals.

You might remember that Stokesy was involved in a race during lockdown, so he knows how to set it up to make the car go faster. He put his lap time up as the one to beat, but he has now been topped by the Overton brothers. From my experience, driving an F1 car in a face mask can get a bit heated.

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Bowling bouncers at my team-mates

On the field, we have gradually built up the intensity towards the three-day practice match, which starts on Wednesday.

On the one hand, it will be strange trying to get up for an internal match in an empty ground, but, on the other, there are 30 players vying for a spot in that Test side.

As a fast bowler, part of my armoury is being aggressive, trying to rough up the opposition. Would I be comfortable trying to do that to my England team-mates in this situation? Probably not, but if the captain or coach asks me to, then that is what I will have to do.

I would rather look at it as an opportunity to experiment with the skills that I have been learning during lockdown, but I have also got to remember that there are Test spots up for grabs and I want to give the best account of myself. If I get hit for a couple of fours, I am sure the competitive juices will flow.

There has been a lot of talk about Stokesy being captain in the first Test, with Joe Root missing out to be at the birth of his second child.

I am one of the few people who have actually played under Stokesy, back in our days on the Durham academy.

He was a good skipper back then, leading from the front, just like he does now. As the years have gone on, he has matured into a senior player, setting the example and dragging people along with him.

He has a good cricket brain and, even though he does not have much captaincy experience, he will have seasoned players like James Anderson and Stuart Broad around to bounce ideas off.

Stokesy won’t not just tell people what to do. He knows that players are individuals, so he will treat them as such. That said, he is also very honest, so he won’t be afraid to tell it straight if someone is not pulling their weight or sticking to a plan.

He will do a brilliant job.

Mark Wood was talking to BBC Sport’s Stephan Shemilt.

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Soccer

Mikel Arteta is still in close contact with former boss Pep Guardiola

‘When I need advice or I want him to support me he’s always there’: Mikel Arteta reveals he’s still in close contact with Pep Guardiola, despite leaving him at Manchester City to take over as Arsenal manager

  • Mikel Arteta is still in close contact with Pep Guardiola despite leaving Man City
  • Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant coach from July 2016 until December 2019
  • Arteta says he has ‘huge respect and admiration’ for his former boss Guardiola
  • He says Guardiola still advises and supports him despite their managerial rivalry

Mikel Arteta is still in close contact with Pep Guardiola despite walking out on Manchester City to take over as Arsenal manager last year.

Arteta was Guardiola’s right-hand man at Manchester City, working as his assistant coach from July 2016 until December 2019 when he left the Etihad to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal.

Arteta, who was beaten 3-0 by City during their most recent clash, insists his relationship with Guardiola remains as strong as ever despite their new managerial rivalry.

Mikel Arteta is still in close contact with Pep Guardiola despite leaving Manchester City

Arteta even admitted to asking the 49-year-old for his advice as he reflected on the influence Guardiola has had on his career.

‘He’s a person that I have huge respect and admiration [for], and we talk about a lot of things,’ Arteta told Goal.

‘When I need advice or I want him to support me he’s always there and willing to help me. For me it’s great to have someone like him around.’

Arteta was Guardiola’s right-hand man as assistant coach from July 2016 until December 2019 

Arteta does say that Guardiola still advises and supports him despite their managerial rivalry

Arteta recently lost 3-0 with Arsenal on his return to the Etihad Stadium for the first time since being prised away from Guardiola’s side.

Arsenal will, however, have the chance to go head-to-head with City once again as the pair are set to face each other in the FA Cup semi-finals. 

Arteta recognises the importance of the game and insists his side must beat the best to become to best.

He said: ‘Facing them again in the semi-final is a tricky one but look at the level of the teams who are involved in the competition.

‘If you want to win the title, you have to beat the best teams and if we want to do that we have to beat City.’




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Sports News

Joe Root to miss first West Indies Test; Ben Stokes to captain England

England have confirmed Test captain Joe Root will miss the series opener against West Indies to attend the birth of his second child.

Root has been based at the Ageas Bowl with the rest of England’s 30-man training group ahead of the first Test against Windies which starts at that same venue on July 8.

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Tuesday that Root would leave the group on Wednesday to be with his wife, Carrie, who is expecting their second child.

Root, 29, will therefore miss England’s three-day intra-squad warm-up match which begins on Wednesday and the first Test against West Indies.

In Root’s absence, vice-captain Ben Stokes will captain his country for the first time.

Root will commence a seven-day self-isolation period at home once he and his family leave hospital and rejoin his England team-mates ahead of the second Test at Old Trafford on July 13.

The ECB have also confirmed that wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler will play in the series opener despite speculation over his place in the side and act as Stokes’ vice-captain.

Earlier this week, Stokes insisted he would not alter his style of play if he was confirmed as England captain for the first Test of the summer.

‘I hope that I always try to set the example in terms of attitude and commitment,’ the 29-year-old said.

‘If I am in charge that’s not going to change the way that I go about things. In terms of how I want to influence the game, I try to have a positive effect with the ball or bat in my hand.

‘No matter what I do in terms of choosing what to do in a situation, it will always be the positive route.’

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Basketball

High school vs. now: see Steph Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns and others

Everyone likely has that awkward photo from high school, even top athletes.

“High school vs. now” was trending on Twitter on Monday, and some teams dusted off the digital scrapbooks to show old photos of their stars.

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Soccer

Inter Milan are in 'advanced negotiations' to sign Achraf Hakimi

Inter Milan are in ‘advanced negotiations’ to sign Real Madrid defender Achraf Hakimi with Italian giants ready to splash £36m on Borussia Dortmund loan star

  • Achraf Hakimi has been a hit during his two-year loan at Borussia Dortmund 
  • Inter Milan look to have won the race to sign the versatile Moroccan full-back
  • Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were also interested in his services

Inter Milan are in ‘advanced negotiations’ over the signing of Real Madrid defender Achraf Hakimi, club CEO Guiseppe Marotta has confirmed.

The Moroccan full-back has impressed on loan at Borussia Dortmund for the past two seasons and Inter are ready to pay £36m to bring him to the San Siro.

And Marotta is confident that a deal will be completed in the near future.

Inter Milan are close to completing the signing of Real Madrid defender Achraf Hakimi

‘The will of our owners, the Zhung family, is to continue buying important players,’ he told Sky Sports.

‘I can confirm we are in advanced negotiations over Hakimi. Tomorrow will be an important day, but I am optimistic.

‘Our sporting director Piero Ausilio has done a good job with this in the last few months, but it is important we conclude the negotiation.’

Inter manager Antonio Conte is said to be a huge admirer of Hakimi – who can play at right and left-back as well as on either flank as a winger.

The Madrid-born Hakimi joined Real in 2006, progressing through the youth ranks before making his LaLiga debut in October 2017 against Espanyol.

Hakimi played just 17 times for Madrid that season, and scored twice including a first in December 2017 against Sevilla.

A period of two years out on loan at Dortmund followed in July 2018, in which he has scored seven goals in 53 league appearances for the Bundesliga side. 

Reports last week suggested Manchester City were ready to splash the cash on the Moroccan, with Chelsea and Arsenal also interested. 

Dortmund were also keen to extend his stay in the Bundesliga for at least another season after becoming a key component of their attacking play. 

But it now appears as if Inter – third in Serie A with 11 games remaining – have won the race for the versatile full-back. 

Bundesliga outfit Dortmund were also keen on extending Hakimi’s stay at Signal Iduna Park


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Sports News

Speak In Colours lands Greenlands Stakes

Shane Crosse rode the biggest winner of his career to date when Speak In Colours gamely held on in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh.

Turned out again quickly by Joseph O’Brien having run respectably when fifth to Hello Youmzain at Royal Ascot, he extended his good record at the track having never finished outside the first two in six races.

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Soccer

Why Mesut Ozil is not in Arsenal's squad for FA Cup clash with Sheffield United

Mesut Ozil has not been included in Arsenal’s squad for their FA Cup quarter-final clash with Sheffield United due to a slight back injury.

The Gunners have made five changes from the team that beat Southampton 2-0 on Thursday evening, with David Luiz back in the side and Joe Willock and Alexandre Lacazette both handed starts.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has come in for Hector Bellerin at right-back, while Kieran Tierney returns following his cramp problem which saw him substituted at St Mary’s in midweek.

Guendouzi’s future has been the subject of much speculation following his altercation with Neal Maupay at Brighton earlier this month and the French midfielder misses out altogether this afternoon.

Ozil also plays no part due to a minor back injury which kept him out of training on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta has named Lacazette as his captain for the match at Bramall Lane and the Frenchman is joined in attack by Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka.

Asked about his decision to start Luiz for the first time since his sending off at Manchester City, Arteta told BT Sport: ‘He’s been training really well.

‘He’s able to play again and he has his opportunity again.’

Sheffield United, meanwhile, have made three changes to the side that lost to Manchester United on Wednesday evening, with Dean Henderson returning between the sticks and John Egan and Oli McBurnie back in the team.

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