Former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes believes failure in Europe has exposed declining standards in the Barclays Premier League. Moyes is manager of Spanish side Real Sociedad, a job he took up in November. He has been linked with a return to England with West Ham, where Sam Allardyce remains in charge, but appears comfortable in the Primera Division. Press Association While Spanish sides have flourished in Europe this season their Premier League counterparts have struggled, with none left in the Champions League or Europa League after Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton bowed out this month. Moyes said on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “It’s not been too long ago where we were looked at as probably having the best teams, and it does change. “Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal are all exceptional teams in their own right and they’ll be disappointed they went out, and maybe on another day they’d have gone through. “It’s just becoming a wee bit of a habit that we’re not getting our teams quite as close to the final as we had in the past. “I think this year you’d have to say it’s probably the poorest Premier League I’ve seen in a long, long time. “Maybe we do go over the top and recently we have maybe talked up the Premier League more than what it’s actually been. There’s other leagues which are certainly now comparable.” Moyes expects to return to the Premier League, but not in the near future. “I think someday I will,” he said. “I’ve left when I didn’t expect to be leaving but what I’ve taken on is a great job. “I love working in Spain.”
Junior wide receiver Michael Pittman recorded two touchdowns against Colorado on Oct. 13. (Josh Dunst | Daily Trojan)As the Trojans come off an ugly loss in Utah, they look to right the ship at home against Arizona State on Saturday after a performance that left unanswered questions. The team surrendered a two-touchdown lead, giving up 34 unanswered points as Utah stormed back to win the game in convincing fashion. The Trojans now stand at 4-3 with slim chances of making the Pac-12 Championship. They’ll have the perfect opportunity to get back on track this week, as they face a struggling 3-4 ASU team at the Coliseum, where the Trojans still hold the second longest home game win streak in college football. “This is a big Pac-12 game that keeps you tied up at the top [of the Pac-12 South], and it’s a game that we need,” head coach Clay Helton said.USC offense vs. ASU defenseUSC’s lack of offensive identity manifested against Utah when the defense failed to find a way to move the ball. The run game remained stagnant, just like it had the previous week, as they faced a dominant Utah rush defense. The team gained only 73 yards on 31 carries but most of that yardage came in garbage time. The offensive line has struggled to create any kind of consistent push off the ball in the run game for weeks, making it difficult for running backs senior Aca’Cedric Ware, sophomore Stephen Carr or redshirt sophomore Vavae Malepeai to get going in the past two contests. The passing game fared just as poorly against Utah which presented a major issue as that had been the Trojans’ only source of offense the previous week. The deep ball that had been so successful against Colorado vanished, as freshman quarterback JT Daniels went 6-of-16 for 89 yards and threw two interceptions. A hit late in the second half knocked him out of the game with a concussion. His status for the ASU game is still unclear. As of Thursday, Daniels had not cleared concussion protocol. If he isn’t able to play, sophomore quarterback Jack Sears will take his first game snaps as a Trojan after redshirt sophomore Matt Fink broke his ribs against Utah.“He was able to throw a few routes on air today, but he has not been cleared for contact,” Helton said after Thursday’s practice. “With it being late in the week and still not cleared, its 50/50 at best if he’s even cleared. It’s probably leaning more toward not.”The way the coaching staff approaches the offensive game plan will probably vary heavily based on which quarterback begins the game under center. If Daniels is the starter, expect the offense to try to replicate what worked for them against Colorado with an explosive deep passing game. “I think [head coach Tee Martin has] done a nice job of saying, ‘Hey we’re not going to reinvent the wheel, we’re going to do things that [Sears] can handle,’” Helton said. The one thing that has worked for the Trojans is junior receiver Michael Pittman — he’s been the only consistent bright spot on the offense, as he’s gone for 262 yards and three touchdowns in the last two contests.Luckily for the Trojans, they’ll face a Sun Devil defense that’s ranked No. 65 in pass defense and No. 66 in rushing defense, offering them the perfect opponent against which to find their groove.“I thought we paid ultra attention to detail this week on trying to get fundamental technique things fixed, so we’re not losing those one on one battles that we lost last week,” Helton said.ASU offense vs. USC defenseThe ASU offense is a three-headed monster, led by redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins. Wilkins has played at a high level this year, completing about 63 percent of his passes for nearly 1,800 yards and 11 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions. He benefits from having one of the best receivers in the country to throw to in junior N’Keal Harry, who will likely be the first receiver to have his name called in next year’s NFL Draft. Harry is a dynamic force on the outside, with tremendous size at 6-foot-4 and special explosiveness. He’s accumulated 572 yards and six touchdowns on the year. The duo will be a tough challenge for a USC secondary that was shredded last weekend, as Utah junior quarterback Tyler Huntley torched them for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Both USC safeties struggled mightily against Utah. Senior Marvell Tell and freshman Talanoa Hufanga both found themselves lost in coverage and missing tackles badly throughout the night. One of the few bright spots for the Trojan pass defense from last week was the performance of the pass rush, which collected five sacks despite having been subpar throughout the year and losing their best player in senior linebacker Porter Gustin due to injury. However, the tackling defense displayed will be a serious problem if it carries into this matchup. Sun Devils sophomore running back Eno Benjamin is a playmaker in the backfield, with 753 yards and seven touchdowns. His ability to make defenders miss in open space could be a serious issue for the Trojan defense if they play like they did last week.“They’ve had a good week of preparation and now it’s time to go play the game,” Helton said. “It’s going to be fun to play in the daylight and be back in the Coliseum.” Prediction: USC 24, ASU 20Though in their current condition it’s not a stretch to think USC could lose to any team, especially if Daniels can’t play, expect them to find a way to keep their home win streak alive. The ASU defense shouldn’t be too tough of a challenge, allowing the offense to find a bit of a groove and for Daniels to regain some confidence. Though the ASU offense features serious playmakers across the board, the USC defense will likely continue to bring a solid pass rush and improve their tackling. Expect them to pull this one out — although it might not be in impressive fashion.
“I’m not positive what we’ll do,” Friedman said. “We’ll take these six weeks to figure it out.”Ellis re-framing skillsCatcher A.J. Ellis said he worked specifically with a Milwaukee-area catching coach, Marcus Hanel, to improve his pitch-framing skills over the winter. According to one list, Ellis ranked 99th out of 104 major league catchers last year in gaining or losing strike calls via pitch framing.“I worked on stances, different ways to set up,” he said. “It’s no secret somewhere I’ve struggled, based on the statistical information, is framing metrics. … Hopefully I can turn that from a weakness into a strength.” Of course, the pressure on Ellis to maintain a spot in the lineup goes beyond framing pitches. He slashed .191/.323./.254 last season and missed significant time with an injury to the meniscus of his left knee. Ellis said that staying healthy and maintaining his focus at the plate are just as important as improving his pitch-framing skills. But considering that new teammate Yasmani Grandal ranked sixth out of 104 catchers on the same list, Ellis realizes he has some catching up to do.“We have to accept it,” he said of the framing statistics, “because baseball people are making decisions about which guys they want to target, which guys they want to have.”Greinke mum on contractPitcher Zack Greinke said he doesn’t plan to announce whether or not he’ll opt out of his contract before the end of this season. Greinke is owed a base salary of $24 million in 2015, $23 million in 2017 and $24 million in 2018 — likely below market value if Greinke has another standout season. The veteran says he’s open to re-negotiating a multiyear extension before the end of the season, but the team hasn’t broached that possibility yet.“Everyone’s always open to signing a contract if the contract is right,” he said.AlsoFriedman said that he’ll leave the daily lineup decisions to Mattingly. “Obviously the lineup is Donnie’s call,” Friedman said. “It should be.” … Brett Anderson, who finished last season on the disabled list following back surgery, is on track to have a healthy spring. The left-hander said he’s thrown off a mound “four or five” times already and used all his pitches. … Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Scott Schebler, O’Koyea Dickson and non-roster invitee Matt Carson were among the position players who reported to camp early. GLENDALE, Ariz. — All of the Dodgers’ pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on time Thursday with one big exception: a 6-foot-5 pitcher who used to be a catcher.Kenley Jansen had surgery to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot Tuesday in Los Angeles. He is expected to begin the season on the disabled list and miss up to the first month. Jansen certainly wasn’t going to be walking much this week; apparently he isn’t ready to fly, either.In Jansen’s absence, a question lingered: Who will begin the season as the Dodgers’ closer?“I don’t feel it needs to be one guy,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It could be a number of guys. I think each situation you come into in the eighth, the seventh, the ninth, who’s coming up to bat really a lot of times makes the decision who’s best for that spot.” Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said that the team’s active trade talks are currently focused exclusively on relief pitching. With every team scattered predictably across Arizona and Florida, Friedman said his scouts will be “out smothering the other 29 teams and figuring out what the best configuration is as we break camp.”That attitude suggests the Dodgers are more likely to obtain a reliever via the trade market than free agency — if they obtain someone at all. Veteran right-handers Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano, both of whom closed for playoff-contending teams last year, are still available to sign.But signing an established — and likely expensive — pitcher to close for only one month doesn’t jell with Friedman’s philosophy on relief pitchers. To him, Rodriguez and Soriano’s combined 555 career saves are about as revealing as a 555 area code.“Most guys, what they’ve done last year and the previous few years is pretty indicative of what they’ll do in the next year,” Friedman said. “Relievers, it’s certainly not the case.”Friedman portrayed no sense of urgency to bring someone into camp, a bluff, perhaps, but maybe an eagerness to see the fruits of his labor building a roster the last four months. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
“There are things that have been said, but we have always had a relationship based on honesty and admiration,” said Mbappe.The last time Mbappe and Neymar had appeared together was in the French Cup final last April, a match which ended in defeat.As Bordeaux pressed, Mbappe and PSG began to carve open the home defence.He burst through on his own, but goalkeeper Benoit Costil anticipated the chip.Then Costil again reacted quickly, diving at Angel Di Maria’s feet as the Argentine ran onto Mbappe’s angled through ball.PSG, who had suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Reims on Wednesday, survived a late video review for a potential Bordeaux penalty to recapture first place.Angers are second in the table after a 1-1 draw with Amiens.Nantes, also two points off the pace, had briefly moved to the top when they won 1-0 win at Lyon earlier in the day.Lyon had the best of the chances but conceded the only goal in freakish fashion just before the hour.As Samuel Moutoussamy broke into the home area, left-back Fernando Marcal slid in and attempted to poke the ball out for a corner. Instead, it struck his other leg and looped over goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and into the goal.As the home fans whistled their team, the Lyon players appeared increasingly lost, although the brilliance of Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont was a major factor in their failure.For Nantes, it was a first win at Lyon since December 1996.Monaco’s revival continued when a 4-1 home win over Brest allowed them to move into 12th spot.Monaco have now taken seven points from their last three league games.Share on: WhatsApp Neymar’s goal secures win for PSG. Paris, France | AFP | Brazilian superstar Neymar pledged Saturday to “give my life to PSG” after his goal kept the French giants top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win at Bordeaux.Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, had been strongly linked to a return to Barcelona over a tumultuous summer.However, in an attempt to win over PSG fans, many of whom have become unconvinced by the player’s attachment to the French capital, Neymar has looked a rejuvenated figure, scoring for a third time this season.“I’m very happy to be able to help PSG, it’s better with the fans,” he said.“It’s like with your girlfriend, one moment you’re bad, but with hugs and a lot of love, it’s better.“I am here to give my life to PSG. They are my team, my goal is to help my club, to continue to score goals.”On Saturday, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar played together for the first time this season and combined for the only goal in Bordeaux.Mbappe, who had been out injured since August 25, started on the bench but, with PSG struggling for a breakthrough, came on after an hour.The Parisian attack immediately gained a more menacing edge.Both Mbappe, with a shot, and Neymar, with a header, went close before combining to open the scoring for the game’s only goal in the 70th minute.Mbappe outpaced the Bordeaux defence on the right. His precise low cross presented Neymar with a tap in at the far post.“The most important thing is that these goals are decisive, in tight matches, that’s why I’m here,” added Neymar.“It’s obviously a pleasure to link up with Kylian again. He came back with his smile and with his football talent,” he added.– Mbappe’s Neymar ‘admiration’ –French World Cup winner Mbappe said he was delighted to link-up again with Neymar although he admits their partnership remains a work in progress.