Premier League Player of the Week – Aaron Ramsey

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The rejuvenation of Aaron Ramsey’s career is one of the more heartwarming stories emerging from the Barclays Premier League.

The Cardiff City youth product was a highly touted midfielder and in April 2007 became the youngest player ever to represent the Bluebirds at 16 years and 124 days. After making a total of 22 appearances for the Welsh side, Ramsey was signed by Arsenal after being flown to Switzerland for face-to-face talks with Arsene Wenger during Euro 2008.

Known as a player with fantastic stamina, technique and vision, Ramsey went on to play in 21 competitions for the Gunners in 2008-09. That year he became the fifth youngest scorer in Champions League history when his furious outside strike pinged the bar and went in during the 5-2 group stage win over Fenerbahce.

The following season Ramsey went on to make his first Premier League start in a 4-1 victory over Wolves in November. He would go on to find himself in the starting XI six more times before Ryan Shawcross’ horror tackle shattered his leg in February 2010.

The broken tibula and fibula required surgery and kept Ramsey out until November 2011 when he went on loan to Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City before returning to Arsenal the following March. In the two years since then Ramsey has gone on to become a regular in the Arsenal lineup, being used in the center of the park as well as on the wing.

During that time Ramsey enjoyed some decent performances but was understandably tentative and appeared a shadow of his former self. His deployment on the wing did little for his skills, let alone his confidence. Some wondered if Ramsey would ever become the world-class player that so many had pegged him to become.

Then this summer, things began to change. Returning to his favored holding roll, Ramsey’s passing and skills remained razor sharp but he gained an extra gear of speed and an edge of fearlessness to push through tackles.

Even more surprising, Ramsey developed a knack for scoring goals. After scoring three times in the two Champions League games against Fenerbahce, Ramsey went on to score for his national side against Macedonia. This past weekend, Ramsey struck again in the 3-1 victory over Sunderland – the first a sweetly struck side volley from 18 yards out and the second a careful placement off of a perfectly timed run.

For that amazing comeback and his sensational play this past weekend, we salute the man affectionately known as ‘Rambo’ as the Premier League Player of the Week.

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.

Villa: Seeing Pirlo retire showed me that I have to train harder

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New York City FC has quickly become one of Major League Soccer’s most exciting clubs in three short seasons, and a lot of its success can be attributed to be David Villa.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron named MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

The Spanish international has been with the club since completing a move to MLS in 2014, and has easily been NYCFC’s most important signing since the team’s inception.

Despite boasting an impressive 22 goals in 2017 for Patrick Vieira’s side, Villa knows that his days in MLS are starting to count down after one of the legends of the international game recently announced his retirement.

“[Seeing Andrea Pirlo retire showed me] that I have to train harder every day if I want to continue extending my career. Someday I will leave, as will everyone, it’s a fact of life. But I’m going to fight to make it as late as possible,” Villa told Marca.

Villa, 35, received a one-year extension to his contract in 2017, leaving his future with NYCFC up in the air beyond next season.

Additionally, the forward says that he constantly receives positive feedback about MLS and he knows that there is a lot of interest from players outside the United States in the developing league.

“Really, quite a few [have reached out],” he said. “The MLS is growing a lot and is having more and more global impact. Many have called me and are interested in what’s going on here.”