The Sports Matrix: Thursday 25 October 2012


Mancini's concerns grow with unrest in City ranks

Some of Roberto Mancini's most experienced Manchester City players are starting to question the defensive changes which have contributed to the club being on the verge of Champions League elimination.

A number of senior players are said to share Micah Richards' doubts about Mancini's decision to introduce a three-man defence, despite the club's four-man unit being the sternest defence in the Premier League in the past two seasons. City have kept a clean sheet only once in all competitions and conceded 20 goals in 12 games.

The frustrations shown by some players about the alterations to the style of play are made worse by the fact that Mancini's relationship with some of them is not the warmest. Richards, above, made the point after the 3-1 defeat to Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday that the side had twice conceded after going to a back three. "We are happy just to play, but I think the players prefer a back four. It is what the manager wants," said Richards. MORE

Liverpool top after Downing's strike

Liverpool went top of Group A last night after overcoming Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 at Anfield. Stewart Downing struck the only goal, a superb long-range effort in the 53rd minute, ensuring Brendan Rodgers' side earned their second group victory. MORE

Obertan secures Newcastle victory

Newcastle bolstered their hopes of reaching the knock-out round with a 1-0 Group D win over Bruges at St James' Park. Alan Pardew's team looked comfortable throughout and scored in the 48th minute, Gabriel Obertan's clinical finish ensuring the victory. MORE

Spurs stutter to draw at Maribor

Tottenham's hopes of progressing from Group J are in the balance after producing an insipid display to draw 1-1 at Maribor. The hosts led after Robert Beric's 42nd-minute goal before Gylfi Sigurdsson levelled in the 58th minute for Spurs, who sit third in the group. MORE

Arsenal fans angry with Kroenke

Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke insisted he was "ambitious for the club" after a caustic annual general meeting at which he was confronted by fans. They said Kroenke did not meet fan groups and criticised him for failing to rule out paying a dividend to investors. MORE

Rowntree predicts Vunipola impact

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree says Mako Vunipola will make an impact if selected for the autumn Tests. Rowntree said: "He carries the ball dynamically, but he still loves to scrummage – and you know that turns me on." MORE

Gloucester's Hazell given 14-week ban

Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell was handed a 14-week suspension for repeatedly punching Mont-de-Marsan prop Sebastien Ormaechea during their Amlin Challenge Cup pool match earlier this month. Hazell was given a red card at the game. MORE

Serbia suspends two U21 players

The Serbian football association has banned two Under-21 players, Nikola Ninkovic and Ognjen

Mudrinski, for a year for their involvement in the mass brawl at the end of England's 1-0 European Championship qualifier win in Krusevac. MORE

Wenger to consider recalling Wilshere

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger will decide whether to recall Jack Wilshere after a 16-month injury lay-off for the home game against QPR on Saturday. Wenger said yesterday: "I have to consider him. We'll make a decision tomorrow." MORE

UCI to decide on Armstrong titles

The International Cycling Union will meet today to discuss the consequences of the decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, amid calls for the president, Pat McQuaid, to resign. MORE

Interview: Eoin Morgan

Morgan was progressing well with England until he failed against Pakistan. But the batsman opens up to Kevin Garside about getting back to basics and being eager to flourish in India. MORE