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The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 21 August 2013

Wenger defends record ahead of crucial tie

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has defended his club’s record in the transfer market as they prepare to take on Fenerbahce in the first leg of the Champions League play-off.

“I would like to reiterate that in the last 16 years we have been very successful with transfers,” the Frenchman, above, said. “If you look at the players who play [tonight], they are top-quality players. It is not always to think what is outside is better than what you have.”

Wenger also confirmed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will only be out for six weeks. “We don’t think it will need surgery,” Wenger said of the midfielder’s knee complaint.

Celtic enjoyed a miserable evening in their play-off first leg yesterday, losing 2-0 at Shakhter Karagandy. Andrei Finonchenko put the Kazakh side ahead with a close-range finish on the artificial Astana Arena surface after 12 minutes before some concerted Celtic pressure.

They were unable to find an equaliser, leaving Sergei Khizhnichenko to double Shakhter’s lead ahead of next Wednesday’s second leg. MORE

Familiar collapse causes Ashes woe

An England collapse gave Australia the initiative in the Ashes series as they overcame the hosts by 27 runs to win the first One-Day International at Lord’s. Chasing 204, England fell from 142 for 3 to 176 all out, with only captain Charlotte Edwards making a half-century. MORE

Ramps surprised at Aussies’ decline

Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash has admitted his bewilderment at the present state of the Australian cricket side. “I am very surprised,” he said. “They seemed to have such strength in depth in the Nineties and early 2000s.” MORE

Al Kazeem’s long, slow climb to top

Without hype or fanfare, and against an assortment of odds, five-year-old Al Kazeem has emerged as the horse to beat, the only one in Europe with three top-level victories on his CV this season. MORE

England deserve 3-0 lead, says Cook

England captain Alastair Cook has insisted his side merit their winning of an Ashes series they hope to cement at The Oval this weekend. “We’ve won critical moments and won those moments well,” he said. “That’s why we’re 3-0 up and I think we’re good value for it.” MORE

Panesar starts bid to save his career

As his erstwhile England team-mates prepared for the final Ashes Test, troubled Monty Panesar began the attempt to save his career after an array of recent troubles, taking just one wicket in 34 overs on his Essex debut yesterday. MORE

Spurs go for Willian as Bale moves on

Tottenham expect Real Madrid to return with an improved bid for Gareth Bale as they prepare to announce his replacement, Shakhtar Donetsk’s midfielder Willian. The Brazilian’s proposed move will be funded by the sale of Bale, whom Spurs have accepted will depart. MORE

Holdsworth hungry for debut Cup final

Daniel Holdsworth is looking forward to his first appearance in a Challenge Cup final this weekend. “In the last few years I’ve watched the final, [and] always thought it would be amazing,” Hull’s Aussie stand-off said. “Now it’s happening.”

Opinion: Glenn Moore

Hope Powell had been at the FA for 15 years and totally transformed its approach to the women’s game. Proud, feisty and determined, she was effectively coach and technical director. MORE

Lambert: We learnt from 8-0 thrashing

Paul Lambert believes his Aston Villa youngsters benefited from the experience of losing 8-0 at Chelsea last season, as they prepare to return tonight. “You get a spirit through adversity,” the manager said. “Sometimes you have to go through that. It showed great character.” MORE

Barnett rescues point for Wigan

A late goal by Leon Barnett capped a fine Wigan comeback last night as they recovered from two down at the interval to draw 2-2 with Doncaster in the Championship. Theo Robinson and Chris Brown put the visitors ahead before Shaun Maloney halved the deficit.

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