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The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 1 January 2013

FOOTBALL: Pardew asks Ba to ignore overtures and stay at club

The Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew, has called on Demba Ba to ignore the "sharks" around him and agree to stay on at the club. The Senegalese forward's future has been the subject of much debate since it was revealed his contract had a £7.5m release fee, with the 13-goal striker, above, linked with moves to Arsenal, Liverpool and Galatasaray among others. Chelsea yesterday withdrew from talks.

"It's difficult for fans to feel Demba is solid with the team and everything else that's going on," Pardew said. "Our fans want loyalty. He needs to make a statement at some point. He needs to make a decision early, for everyone's sake."

Football: Lambert retains Lerner's backing

Paul Lambert has insisted he retains the backing of chairman Randy Lerner, despite the club's horrendous run over Christmas. "I have a good relationship with the chairman," the Scot said ahead of today's trip to Swansea City. "You try to do your job the best you can."

Football: Arsenal on to Shaw thing at St Mary's

Southampton's Luke Shaw is likely to take centre stage when Arsenal visit tonight, with Arsène Wenger's side having admitted interest. "He is still learning but nothing fazes him," said Saints executive director Les Reed of the left-back.

Darts: Taylor wary of Van Gerwen threat

Phil Taylor is aware of the threat posed by Michael van Gerwen in tonight's World Championship final. "He's brilliant. It's going to take every little ounce of energy and concentration," he said ahead of the Alexandra Palace showdown. "He's the next one, without a shadow of a doubt."

Football: United not getting carried away

Ryan Giggs says Manchester United are not getting carried away with their league position. "We were this many points ahead with fewer games last season and it wasn't enough," he said ahead of today's trip to Wigan. "We are only halfway there."

Boxing: Khan and Pacquiao set for 2013 bout

Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao once shared a gym and trainer and now they share a fondness for canvas. They provide "don't blink TV". I would slip a few quid on the pair meeting at some point. That's a safe prediction.

Football: Mancini: RVP may win United the title

Manchester City manager Roberto Manicni has admitted Robin van Persie's decision to join neighbours United may have decided the destination of the title. "It is clear he has changed their situation," Mancini said. "At the moment, he is the difference between us."

Tennis: Murray relaxed after US victory

Andy Murray admits last year's debut major win at the US Open will ease the pressure on him ahead of the Australian Open. "In the last three, four or five years there has been significant pressure in my mind," the Scot said. "Now I feel more relaxed and relieved."

Rugby Union: Mallinder: Saints in with title chance

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder has refused to rule his club out of the title race. "There's not a lot in the top teams," he said. "Even though we're in mid-table, we're not out of the running. We know that we're a good side."

Racing: Bog Warrior sets marathon standard

Despite the absence of Big Buck's, the marathon crown at Cheltenham is shaping up nicely. The latest contender to present his credentials is Bog Warrior, an impressive winner at Punchestown yesterday.

Opinion: James Lawton

While Fernando Torres has given us an open-ended saga of mislaid horizons, Luis Suarez, left, has produced a stunning body of consistently effective work in the most difficult area of the field.

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