The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 14 October 2014


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Strachan remains in pole position

Gordon Strachan says Poland’s win over world champions Germany did not detract from his pleasure at Scotland’s opening group stage over Georgia on Saturday, and does not believe the match will have a bearing on their meeting with the Poles tonight. “If we played badly and got beat, it might have made some difference,” the manager said. “But the positivity surrounding the camp [was not affected].”

Southgate: England will attack Croatia

Gareth Southgate insists his England under-21 side will not sit back on a 2-1 first-leg advantage when they travel to Croatia in their decisive European Championship play-off in Vinkovci tonight. “We are

looking to score goals,” the former defender said. “We might get a 0-0 but we’ve got goalscorers and we should play to our strengths.” Will Hughes and Michael Keane have both been passed fit.

Mercedes in record £325m title charge

A record £325m was put behind Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg last year by Mercedes as the constructor increased spending by 17 per cent. Company figures show spending of £133.9m in 2013, double the budget of three years earlier, while a further £190.7m was spent on running the team. Hamilton sits 17 points clear at the top of the drivers’ championship, while Mercedes have already won the constructor’s title.

Walcott near to timely return for Arsenal

Theo Walcott returned to full training with Arsenal yesterday following his lengthy absence with a knee injury.

England forward Walcott has not played since the 2-0 FA Cup defeat of Tottenham in January.

The 25-year-old was pictured in first-team training with the Gunners ahead of Saturday’s match against Hull.

“Good to have you back,  @theowalcott!” Arsenal wrote on Twitter. Walcott’s imminent return provides a boost for Arsenal, who lost Mesut Özil to a knee injury over the international break.

German winger Serge Gnabry, out since March with a knee problem, also trained yesterday.

Flower ban to be at least eight games

Ben Flower has been charged with the most serious Grade F offence for his attack on St Helens’ Lance Hohaia on Saturday – leaving the Wigan forward facing a minimum ban of eight matches if found guilty. Greater Manchester Police are continuing to look into the incident.