PFA Awards: Hazard, Kante Among Nominees

Courtsey: thesun.co.uk

Eden Hazard and N’golo Kante have been named among the six nominees for the men’s PFA Players’ Player of the year award.

The Chelsea duo are joined by Manchester United Forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Tottenham Striker, Harry Kane, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez on the full shortlist.

Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez scooped the prize in 2016, while Hazard won the award during the 2014/15 campaign.

The 44th PFA Awards will be hold in London on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

Mahrez, Vardy Dedicate PFA Awards To Teammates

Jarmie Vardy Riyad Mahrez PFA AwardsLeicester City players, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have dedicated their English football’s PFA awards to their teammates.

Mahrez, who is an Algerian, becomes the first African player to win a Professional Footballers Association (PFA) players award.

The Leicester City winger beat teammate, Vardy, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil to clinch the award.

Scoring 17 goals with 11 assists, Mahrez has been one of the main reasons behind Leicester’s phenomenal rise to the top of the English Premier League, sitting eight points clear with three games remaining.

Vardy, who has 22 goals for the league leaders was also honoured by the PFA for becoming the first player to score in 11 consecutive premier league matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Leicester City fans in Thailand are confident the team would lift their first league title this season.

Hundreds of blue-shirted Thai fans watched the league leaders’ 4-0 win over Swansea City on live screens in Bangkok.

The fans believed it was time to do the unthinkable in their club history.

Mertesacker, Coquelin Believe Retaining FA Cup Will Be Tough For Arsenal

FA CupArsenal Captain, Per Mertesacker, says the squad is approaching Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading with vivid memories of last year’s tough semifinal against Wigan Athletic.

Mertesacker said that the Gunners have learnt lessons from their exit from the UEFA Champions League and cannot afford to make mistakes

The German defender believes the game will be tough but expects his team to win the encounter.

“It is going to be their biggest game of the season so to mentally prepare that is going to be difficult, not just to match their physicality and mental strength but to do more, to be on the ball from the start,” Mertesacker said.

“[We need] to show them respect but no fear for the pressure. The winning streak helps us a bit but this competition is completely different.

“It is the best competition I have ever played in because so many big teams struggle. But I don’t want to struggle.

“I want to repeat the success. That is my real target so let’s make sure that we are on the same level and do more than our opponent.

“The mental side of that [Wigan] game was really tough and we need to repeat that to show that we’re good enough and mentally good enough to repeat that.

“On the football side we’re good enough but sometimes you need to put in some different qualities nobody expects from you.

“We had some different games when you think of Manchester City away – nobody expected us to play like that, focusing on our own defence and then getting them on the break. That was something new for us as a team.

“We need a special performance on Saturday as well to release that pressure.”

The Gunners have won 16 of their past 18 matches and are heavy favourites to progress against Championship side Reading.

However, Francis Coquelin – who played against the Royals earlier this season while on loan at Charlton – says they will have to make a fast start to the match.

“You know the FA Cup, you don’t know what to expect – any team is ready for it and it is always a tough game at any stage,” he told Arsenal Player.

“A semi-final at Wembley will be even tougher. We need to be ready and start on the front foot. Hopefully we can do that and win the game.

“I remember a tough game [against them for Charlton]. We won 1-0, but to be honest I don’t think we really deserved it.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, they have Pogrebnyak up front who is a big threat, and on the wings they have great players as well. We know it will be a tough game, it is a semi-final and the league you play in doesn’t matter.

“Whether you are in the Championship or the Premier League, in a game like this the team who puts the most pressure on and creates the most chances will win. If everyone is focused, we know we can get a good result.”

Showing Racism The Red Card

Before the start of the new English Premier League and Football League season, players will receive guidance from the Professional Footballers’ Association about tackling racist language.

According to a release by the PFA, managers of all 92 clubs have been contacted by the Association asking them to ensure the players attend the sessions that will focus on what is considered banter or acceptable jibes towards opponents and what is not.

PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor confirmed the decision to educate players: “Racism is still a significant problem in football; we need to avoid any embarrassment again after recent cases.”

In the interactive sessions, players will be given scenarios where abuses can occur; either from fans or from other players and be guided on the correct response to give.  They will also be warned not to use discriminatory language referring to religion or disability.

The new FA sanctions carry a minimum five-match ban for a first offence of racist or homophobic abuse. In the last two seasons, Chelsea’s defender John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez have both received bans for racial abuse.

The letter from the PFA to the managers states that “We are looking to arrange this session in the near future and would appreciate you ensuring players attend as a matter of priority.”

Portsmouth to punish Kanu for his absence in club

Portsmouth is considering punishing former Super Eagles captain Nwankwo Kanu for his continued absence from club activities while he stays in Nigeria.

The veteran striker missed training for a second day on Tuesday as his teammates took part in a double session at Fratton Park.

The reason for Kanu’s action is yet unclear to the club which he led to an FA Cup victory in 2008.

Administrator Trevor Birch said, “Kanu is back in Nigeria, that is the understanding from his legal adviser, who I have been speaking to. I don’t actually know why he hasn’t come back. You will have to phone him and ask him.

“What I do know, though, is we have not reached a compromise and he was due back on Monday along with the rest of the contracted players. Then he just didn’t turn up.

“Kanu must turn up for training, or this is a breach of contract.

“Whether it is sufficient enough to terminate his contract I don’t know at this stage, we will have to wait and see.

“He will have to be disciplined, though. What we intend to do is an internal matter. I cannot talk about that.

“However, if it is a continued absence we will have to bring in the PFA.”