Daniel Agger claims he isn’t leaving Liverpool

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Days after claiming he could leave Liverpool, Daniel Agger now claims, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Over the weekend Agger spoke with Danish television TV3 Sport about what it would take for him to leave Liverpool,  with the center-back claiming: “First of all, if I don’t play.

“If the manager doesn’t think I’m good enough that could make me leave Liverpool. I’m here to play football, nothing else. So if I don’t play football, then I don’t want to be here any more.”

Today, however, the Reds’ vice-captain insisted he has no plans to leave Anfield and is working hard to reclaim his spot as quickly as possible. “Please stop all the tweets about me leaving! I’m not going anywhere! Will be back in the team soon,” Agger tweeted.

Speculation arose after Agger lost his place in the side due to a rib injury. During that time Martin Skrtel’s strong form has impressed manager Brendan Rodgers, who added Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho to the ranks last summer.

The speed and size of Skrtel, Toure and Sakho has prompted the Liverpool manager to deploy a three man central defense, which has proved quite stingy, conceding eight goals in nine league matches. Skrtel, who struggled last season and was benched because of it, was recently complimented by Rodgers for his fine form.

“The three at the back plays to his strengths,” said Rodgers. “It allows him to defend and it allows him to simplify things when he has the ball. I think in the run of games he’s had he’s gained confidence and that’s meant I’ve acknowledged and recognized that he’s playing at a really good level.”

When questioned as to whether he dislikes certain players, Rodgers insisted that his choices are all about performance. “I’ve always tried to show my fairness with players,” Rodgers said. “People say ‘you don’t like this player’ or ‘you don’t like that player’ but it’s about performance level. If you are playing well, you’ll play. If you’re not, you’ll be in and out of the team.”

“I’ve got an international captain sitting on the bench but that’s because I like to think I’m fair and if people are playing well they play. [Skrtle] has been outstanding.”

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.