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Author: editor

Denis Zakaria claims familial Juventus support after a late arrival

Speak to any Juventus fan about the teams biggest issues this year, and they will point to two things: scoring goals, and stopping counter-attacks. For a club that has invested so much in recent years in marquee hires, Juventus have been left – with the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo, and now the injury to Federico Chiesa – with a rather powderpuff forward line. The lack of goals coming from Alvaro Morata is a problem, but the Bianconeri have also suffered from being scored against on the counter-attack one time too many. Most point to a passive, weak midfield for the reason.

The arrivals of Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria, then, change everything. These are both players in their early-to-mid 20s who provide exactly the profile that Juve need to get back on track as a genuinely elite club. Vlahovic arrived to much fanfare from rivals Juventus, so much so that the smart signing of Zakaria appears to have gone under the radar.

The 25-year-old Swiss international was set to be out of contract in the summer, and was linked with a host of clubs from across Europe. However, Juve moved quickly to agree a deal with now-former club Borussia Monchengladbach. The arrival of Zakaria in Turin provides a new midfield engine that can work alongside Manuel Locatelli and the likes of Arthur Melo. Providing a defensive stability and a mind-set that should suit Bianconeri fans, Zakaria also confessed two things. One, that his idol is Patrick Vieira, the former Juve midfielder who moved to Internazionale following the Calciopoli scandal. Two, that his father supported Juventus.

What did Denis Zakaria say at his unveiling?

Speaking about the chance to play for Juventus, Zakaria admitted that it was a move he could not turn by saying: “I chose Juve because it is one of the clubs that has always made me dream. I decided that it would be the right way to continue my career,

“I expected to leave Borussia but not soo son. Juventus don’t call every day, it’s a dream for me and I hope I can help. I am proud to be here, Juventus were the favourite team of my father, so I know a lot about this club. I’ll try to give my all, trying to help my teammates as much as I can.

When asked about what he thought of the club after his initial arrival, Zakaria noted: “The level is very high, the atmosphere is good. I feel well and I’ve already trained twice. If the coach needs I can play already. He [Allegri] has told me what he expects from me, but we haven’t discussed the details.”

Quizzed about what he would bring to the team, too, Zakaria noted his idolisation of Vieira, saying: “If I think about someone, I would say Patrick Vieira, I’ve always liked him. However, I am Zakaria and I try to have my style without following an exact model. I am an aggressive midfielder, I like to help the team recover the ball, but I also like to attack. I can describe myself as a complete player.”

Juve fans, then, can look forward to a more exciting end to what has so far been a trying season for all involved at the club.

Jack Eichel confident on career upturn after injury woes

The NHL can be one of the most physically demanding sports leagues in the world to play in. Those who have enjoyed long careers on the ice tend to find themselves facing all manner of physical maladies as they age and grow. However, one player who has seen more injuries than most is Jack Eichel. The current Vegas Golden Knights player has been through injury hell, currently recovering from a neck surgery process that was needed.

However, as is typical with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel is confident of not only returning, but improving upon his game. At only 25, there is clearly room for development on the ice and Eichel looks set to get that improvement out of himself. Having missed out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs when he was part of the Buffalo Sabres, Eichel was clear he wanted to finally experience postseason hockey.

The move to a team that has been part of the playoff picture since 2018, then, seems like a logical move. Knights fans are obviously excited about landing the talented center, who is recovering from a herniated disk. However, with his injury issues building up and often focused on the kind of long-term injuries that can hurt a players development, some fans are worried. Have the Knights overcommitted in this deal?

However, a player who has consistently reached high scoring and assist numbers feels more is set to come. At a press conference discussing his recovery and future, Eichel was very positive about what the future is going to hold.

What did Jack Eichel say about his injury issues?

Eichel was present on Monday to speak about his physical condition and also his game development. With so many injuries, and such a serious injury in particular, fans were eager to know what the next step in development is. When quizzed about if there was more to come, Eichel said: “I think I’ve got a lot more. I think I’m only scratching the surface.

“Yeah, I think the season a couple years ago, I think that that was sort of the start of the way that I want to make an impact. Coming in here there’s some really good hockey players, and I think this kind of environment, the culture here, is only going to push me to become better.”

He was also asked about what his motivation levels were like given his injuries. On that, he noted: “I think there’s a lot more in me, and this is about as motivated as I’ve been. I think there’s a lot of people out there that may be doubting me or don’t think I’m going to get back to the form I was in, so look forward to putting all the doubts to rest and getting back to the level that I believe I can play.”

So, this sounds like a player who is almost certain he will be back as good as new – if not better – in the near future. Given the sheer level of physicality in the league, body confidence is essential. Eichel, then, sounds ready to move on from his injury hell and to find a new level of performance.

Nuno Espirito Santo needs a result against West Ham United

Hired in the summer as one of several choices look at by Tottenham, Nuno Espirito Santo is clearly a good man. In his time at Wolverhampton, the Portuguese built up a strong reputation at the club and was also a force in the local community. Having arrived at Wolves as a project builder who was arguably out of their usual catchment, though, he had time to build something genuine at Molineux.

Fans were keen to see something come to life that would be impressive and were thus patient. Tottenham fans, though, have seen a golden era slip through their fingers with Mauricio Pochettino.

The wasted time with Jose Mourinho is one thing, but some fans worry a second season is being wasted with Nuno. The coach is clearly a poor fit for the playing staff he has, and his attitude so far has bordered on moody at times. Clearly, the Portuguese feels the pressure and the relative lack of warmth that his appointment was greeted with. The fact his contract comes with a break clause after one year says a lot more than perhaps the club thought it would.

This is clearly a project that is not working at the moment, and the coach could already be moving towards the sack. Dreadful results have come in bunches, and a shock loss to Vitesse in the UEFA Conference League was only overshadowed by ex-coach Mourinho being thumped 6-1 in the same competition.

Nuno, then, needs a win this weekend. It does not matter how it arrives, but beating old rival West Ham United is absolutely essential. The Hammers beat a good Genk side 3-0 in the UEFA Europa League, and also won at Everton in their previous match.

Can Tottenham and Nuno turn things around?

A win against the Hammers would at least be a big name scalp to add to the list. West Ham have become a really successful team and unit under David Moyes, and it appears that they are in a far more harmonious place than Spurs are. Derailing that feel-good factor and taking points off a likely rival for European qualification would be a huge step forward for a team that appears to be going in the wrong direction.

Though he was never the #1 choice for anyone, the mood music around Nuno’s arrival set in tone a fatalistic feel that has bled into the season. The coach clearly feels the pressure and the lack of respect for his previous work, and lacks the same comfort he had at Wolves. Spurs fans are sick of seeing seasons wasted, though, with every season since the 2018-19 season a major letdown so far.

Therefore, expect to see Spurs make a quick decision if things keep going wrong. Another poor result at the weekend, though, could already derail the Nuno project before it even has a chance to grow to anything like the size his Wolves project was allowed to.

Eberechi Eze opens up injury progress and future plans at Crystal Palace

As a South Londoner himself, Eberechi Eze will be under no illusions about the quality of Crystal Palace. A community club with a strong connection to the local area, there are many players who have worn the blue and red of Palace who are from the area. Eze, then, joins a long list of players who have done a fantastic job representing the community and the area of the city. At only 23, he has the world at his feet: struggles to make it in the senior game eventually changed when Queens Park Rangers offered him a chance.

Ben Chilwell set for Chelsea return after draining season

Signed as one of the many young players brought in by Frank Lampard as part of his UK revolution at Chelsea, Ben Chilwell enjoyed a tough first season at Chelsea. The player started well under Frank Lampard, before enduring a tough drop-off in form prior to the former Blues manager being sacked. The arrival of Thomas Tuchel seen Chilwell adopt his spot as a left-sided wing-back, but the player has not been seen a single time so far this season.

Atalanta set to keep hold of Slovenian playmaker Josip Ilicic

As one of the most underrated players in Europe, Josip Ilicic is a player with a growing fanbase. The player has played for various clubs in Serie A, but has shone spectacularly for both Fiorentina and Atalanta. His time in Bergamo, though, is arguably the most impressive peak of his career. The Slovene has been one of the best playmakers in the Italian game for several years, and dovetailed perfectly with Alejandro Gomez and Duvan Zapata. However, for much of the last year, there has been talk that Ilicic would leave.

Cristiano Ronaldo linked with fairytale Sporting return

Having achieved everything in the game that he can bar a FIFA World Cup win, Cristiano Ronaldo has nothing left to prove. However, for many in Portugal, his limited time spent in the domestic league means there is something missing from his career. Ronaldo came to prominence at the Sporting academy, playing for one of the largest clubs in the country. However, he moved on as a teenager to Manchester United before he really established himself in the Liga. Now, though, that might chance – there is talk that Ronaldo would accept a move back to Portugal to escape his Juventus nightmare.

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