The Sports Matrix: Thursday 25 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Liverpool on cruise control on coast

Goals from Luis Suarez, Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll helped Liverpool ease to a 3-1 win at Exeter in the second round. Everton, Blackburn and Bolton alsowon through, while Aldershot shocked West Ham 2-1 in a delayed first round tie. MORE

Wigglesworth out to stake his claim

Richard Wigglesworth could be a beneficiary of the injury problems besetting England coach Martin Johnson’s World Cup preparations. The scrum-half has impressed at club level and has another chance to shine against Ireland this weekend. MORE

Jones-Bishop out to turn heads in final

Ben Jones-Bishop is relishing the prospect of a Challenge Cup final after an injury-plagued spell. The Leeds winger fractured his skull against Wigan earlier this year. “Lee Mossop’s head must be harder then mine,” he joked. MORE

Barton closes on Loftus Road move

Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton is close to agreeing a move to promoted Queen’s Park Rangers. The 28-year-old, made available on a free transfer by Newcastle last month, has also interested Tottenham, Everton, Stoke and Sunderland. MORE

Murray: top three will hit form in NYC

Andy Murray says the world’s top players – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – will hit form once the US Open starts on Monday. “If all of them lose early, my chances would go up,” he said. “But I’m sure come the start, all of them will be fine.” MORE

English sides to find out opposition

Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United will this afternoon discover their group stage opponents for the Champions League. Arsenal join Chelsea and United in the top pot, while debutants City take their place in Pot 3.

Morgan unworried by homecoming

Eoin Morgan has insisted his captaincy will not be affected by any sledging as he leads England out to play Ireland today. “There will be some banter as there has been in the past,” the Dublin-born player said. “I’m not bothered so much by it now.” MORE

What’s wrong with the Scottish game?

As Hearts travel to Spurs seeking to overturn a five-goal first-leg deficit, Glenn Moore examines the problems facing the game north of the border. MORE

Arsenal come from behind to make group stages

Arsenal put their troubles behind them last night to stage a superb comeback to win 2-1 at Udinese, making the group stages 3-1 on aggregate. Trailing 1-0 at the break to a looping header from Antonio di Natale – which left the aggregate score level at 1-1 – Arsène Wenger’s side improved to turn the match around. Robin van Persie levelled the tie on the night following a fine run from Gervinho on 55 minutes, before Wojciech Szczesny saved a Di Natale penalty. Theo Walcott then burst clear on to a Bacary Sagna pass, outpaced the home defence and slotted home. Wenger has now led his side to the group stages for 14 successive seasons. MORE

Idowu’s sole focus is to strike gold

Phillips Idowu will put his public spat with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee to one side as he focuses on the World Championships. “I should keep my head straight and focus on the competition in hand,” the triple-jumper said. MORE