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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 21 February 2013


Vermaelen insists Wenger retains support of players

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has insisted the players remain behind manager Arsène Wenger, despite growing pressure on the Frenchman after consecutive home defeats.

Arsenal travel to Munich for next month's Champions League round-of-16 second leg seeking to overturn a 3-1 deficit. "He's done a lot for this club," the Belgian international, above, said of Wenger's impact at the Emirates. "He is the right man for the job. We have to look at ourselves and stick together in difficult times.

"Don't look at each other, don't blame each other, work hard every day to get the results back." MORE

Milan leave Barça with uphill task

Goals from former Portsmouth midfielders Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari helped Milan shock Barcelona 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie last night. Elsewhere, Galatasaray were held to a 1-1 draw at home to German side Schalke. MORE

Ince begins reign with loss at Leeds

Paul Ince began his Blackpool managerial reign with a defeat as Leeds beat his new side 2-0 at Elland Road. David Norris and Steve Morison scored either side of the hour mark to give Leeds a first win in five matches and ease the pressure on under-fire manager Neil Warnock. MORE

Villas-Boas: I want Arsenal to win

The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Andre Villas-Boas, feels Arsenal's looming Champions League exit could play against his side. "It doesn't help the challenge [for fourth place in the Premier League]," he said. "They will put even more focus on the league." MORE

Gill to leave Old Trafford position

David Gill is to step down as Manchester United chief executive at the end of the season. The 55-year-old, who has been in place since 2003 and will remain on the board, will be replaced by Ed Woodward. "David has been magnificent," manager Sir Alex Ferguson said. MORE

Rampant Root guides England

Joe Root continued his fine start to his England one-day career, hitting 79 to help the tourists beat New Zealand by eight wickets. The hosts were bowled out for 269 as James Anderson took 5 for 34. England surpassed that total with 14 balls to spare. MORE

Snowstorm stops play… in the desert

Play on the opening day of the Match Play Championship was ended early as heavy snow blanketed the Arizona course. Less than four hours of play was possible at Dove Mountain before officials halted the action as ice formed on the greens. MORE

France walk into player crisis

France coach Philippe Saint-André faces a number of problems before Saturday's Six Nations trip to England, with concerns over the conditioning of his squad added to a lack of home-grown players to pick from in the French league. MORE

GB miss out on opening-day gold

Great Britain took silver and bronze medals on the opening day of the World Championships in Belarus. Australia edged GB into second in the men's team pursuit, while Becky James helped the women to bronze in the team sprint. MORE

Nicholls relishes underdog tag

Paul Nicholls is preparing for a role of underdog at the Cheltenham Festival. "We're in a different place," he said. "We probably are underdogs this year. At the same time, we have horses that could win races." MORE

James Lawton

Arsenal are going nowhere and Arsène Wenger, for so long a by-word for brilliant reading and marshalling of young and sublime talent, appears to be as lost as some of his most hapless players. MORE