Lambert: Saints targeting top four

first_img Press Association Rickie Lambert expects Southampton to be a top-four side sooner rather than later. The Saints’ blend of home-grown talent, long-serving players and big-money additions has seen them enjoy a fine second season back in the Barclays Premier League. Their players publicly spoke of their European ambitions earlier in the season – talk which gained credence when they moved within a victory of topping the table in November. center_img Mauricio Pochettino’s side have tailed off since then but are looking to end the season strongly and can move back into eighth with victory against Newcastle on Saturday – a minimum requirement for frontman Lambert. “We aimed for fourth this season and people laughed at us, but they didn’t laugh at us straight away when we were second, they waited until we dropped off a bit,” he told www.saintsfc.co.uk. “Our desire is to get into the top four and that’s the way the club has been run in the past four years and that’s the vision the players have and it’s the one the club has, so for me it’s what the players still want going forward and it’s what we’re expecting to be honest. “We definitely believe that we can finish above teams like Newcastle. “I think we adapted to the Premier League last year so we stopped thinking about things in terms of what clubs are bigger than us. “We’re Southampton, we get on with our own stuff, and really you’re only as big a club as you want to be in your own head, so if you want to think you won’t be bigger than Newcastle then you never will be, but it’s up to us to push on.” last_img read more

Solochek: Officials wrong on ‘Brady Rule’

first_imgThey are calling it the “Brady Rule.”According to new NFL guidelines, defensive linemen, linebackers or whoever else may be in the backfield are not allowed to hit the quarterback below the knees once they have hit the ground. That means once a 300-plus pound man throws you to the ground, you must have the strength to get up, then hit the quarterback.They say this rule is meant to protect quarterbacks. They say it will prevent yearlong injuries like the one which occurred to Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady week one against the Chiefs. They say it will help teams survive longer if their quarterback goes down.What they aren’t saying is what it is taking away from the game.By creating a virtual strike zone from the knees to the shoulders, they are removing what is most interesting about football and what captivates us — the physicality. Rule makers have already enacted enough rules to protect the quarterback. You can’t touch his head. He is allowed the slide to avoid the tackle. Basically, these rules allow time for the quarterback to sit back in the pocket, have a smoke then figure out who he is going to throw the ball to.Were there other motives to creating the rule? Who knows. Maybe it was because the NFL missed their favorite poster boy. Maybe they didn’t like it when the ratings dropped because the high-flying Patriots were missing their field general.Whatever the reason may be for making the rule, the problem is they are over-protecting the quarterback position. It seems like the days of bone-jarring tackles on quarterbacks are gone. Now, defenders have to not only be concerned with getting past the offensive line, but also if they have the right angle on the quarterback.While I do think the new Brady Rule is over the top, I do understand there needs to be some rules protecting players. I find it heart wrenching to hear stories of former greats such as Dick Butkis or the late Gene Upshaw needing canes or other materials to help them walk because, after years of their bodies taking abuse, they are unable to walk. The rule against horse collar tackling, which came into effect after Cowboys safety Roy Williams caused then Eagles receiver Terrell Owens to break his leg right before the playoffs, seems justified.But adding rules to help protect the quarterback, the most guarded position in the game, not only takes away from the guts needed to be a quarterback, but could also make the game a higher scoring affair. By putting rules into effect further preventing any type of injury to the quarterback, it could also limit what a defense can do. By not allowing a lineman or linebacker to hit the quarterback from the ground, it will inevitably give him more time in the pocket to find the open receiver. This could cause a rise in scoring and a proliferation of the passing game to near collegiate proportions.While I do not agree with the rule, I do understand why the owners would push for a rule such as this. If a starting quarterback gets injured, there is generally a large drop off in talent from the starter to the backup. Most teams were not as lucky as the Patriots, who had Matt Cassel and were able to have a somewhat-successful season despite the loss of Brady. In most instances, teams are left with the likes of career journeyman Brooks Bollinger or Oakland’s Marques Tuiasosopo to head the offense. Naturally, they will be given an abridged playbook, cutting down on the team’s potential.But, injuries are what football is all about. It’s about hitting and finding a way to demolish your opponent. The Brady Rule takes away from the aggressiveness of the game we all love.With this new rule, like always, defenders will have to adapt. Brian Urlacher will have to do his best impression of Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Kampman will have to do his best Yovani Gallardo to hit the quarterback strike zone faster than a 98 mph fastball. Anything higher or lower, however, could prevent the quarterback from walking.Ben Solochek is a senior majoring in journalism and history. Think the NFL protects quarterbacks too much? Email Ben at [email protected]last_img read more

England beat Australia in second ODI

first_img“I thought our bowlers were exceptional,” England captain Eoin Morgan said.“On a really hot day they coped very well.”All of England’s batsmen contributed to the run chase, which was always in control following a 117-run second wicket partnership between Jonny Bairstow (60) and Alex Hales (57).Joss Buttler (42), Morgan (21) and Chris Woakes (39 not out) all made handy contributions, while Joe Root held the innings together with a measured 46 not out.“We did enough to win,” Morgan said, adding: “It’s far from our best performance with the bat.“I suppose that’s exciting in a way. We’re two-nil up in the series and we’re still looking for a complete performance as a batting unit.“Hopefully that comes in Sydney in Sunday.”Jonny Bairstow (60, pictured) and Alex Hales (57) put on a 117-run second wicket partnership © AFP / Jason O’BRIENThe Australians went into the match without leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who proved expensive in the opening ODI in Melbourne on Sunday, opting for batsman Cameron White instead.They also handed debuts to paceman Jhye Richardson and wicketkeeper Alex Carey.However, the decision to go into the match without a recognised spinner proved costly on a pitch that helped the slow bowlers.Finch, who blasted his 106 from 114 balls, helped Australia get away to a quick start alongside David Warner.The burly opener looked like he was leading Australia to a score well past 300 but his dismissal, soon after that of Mitchell Marsh, ensured England were able to keep the Australian scoring under control.Finch and Warner both dominated the English fast bowlers, who pitched too short on the Gabba wicket.England captain Morgan turned to his spinners with immediate effect.Moeen Ali had Warner caught at slip for 35, bringing Steve Smith to the crease.The Australian captain struggled to 18 from 25 balls before part-time off-spinner Root trapped him lbw.Root then enticed Travis Head into charging down the wicket, only to chip a return catch to the bowler to leave the Australians on 124 for three.Marsh and Finch consolidated but the scoring rate slowed as they struggled to get Ali, Root and leg-spinner Adil Rashid away.The Australians then lost three wickets for nine runs to allow the English to take control.Debutant Carey made a quickfire 27 before he was brilliantly run out by Woakes, who used his football skills to kick the ball into the stumps as the batsman attempted a quick single.Woakes then had Mitchell Starc caught in the deep before running out Andrew Tye on the last ball of the innings.Smith conceded Australia were well beaten.“We’re not playing good enough one day cricket at the moment,” he said.“We were in a good position at 3-209 with 11 overs to go and we only scored 60 with seven wickets in hand,” he added.“That’s not enough against a quality English batting line up.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000England’s Joe Root (L) and Chris Woakes (C) celebrate the team’s victory as Australia’s Marcus Stoinis looks on during the second one-day international in Brisbane on January 19, 2018 © AFP / Jason O’BRIENBRISBANE, Australia, Jan 19 – England turned in an impressive all-round team performance to beat Australia by four wickets in the second one-day international at the Gabba on Friday.After restricting Australia to 270 for nine from their 50 overs, the English cruised past the total with 5.4 overs to spare.last_img read more