West Ham United have officially signed Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia from Mexican side Pachuca, after the 25-year-old was granted a work permit.
Valencia scored three times for Ecuador at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, promoting clubs across Europe to chase his signature but the Hammers have batted away the competition to finally land their man.
Andy Carroll was West Ham’s main attacking weapon last season but the towering England forward failed to find form and fitness as the East London side scored just 40 goals during the entire 2013-14 Premier League season.
The Hammers badly needed offensive reinforcements and Valencia is delighted to have signed on at Upton Park to provide that.
“I really appreciate the welcome I’ve been given and I’m excited to be here,” Valencia said. “I’ve already watched and read a lot about the club to learn about it – I know the fans are really passionate and I’m really glad to have signed. The World Cup was a good tournament for me personally, I scored three times and for my first World Cup it was a good experience, but I hope my next one is better for me and the team. Of course, the World Cup gives me confidence to come to Europe and I want to take and advance with this opportunity that West Ham have given to me.”
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has already stated on the clubs preseason tour of Australasia that a new attacking philosophy is trying to be ushered in next season after home fans grew restless of their sides direct approach last term. Valencia will be a key component in this new style and his pace feeding off of Carroll’s flick-ons make them the perfect forward partnership, on paper. Valencia only arrived at Liga MX side Pachuca in January from Emelec but bagged 18 goals in 23 appearances and is the kind of predator Allardyce was looking for.
Valencia’s pedigree at the World Cup proved he can score goals at the highest level. Can he now take West Ham where they want to go by adding the goals they crave?
Sir Rod Stewart knows how to play to a crowd.
This proves it.
[ MORE: Wenger charged after push ]
And no, 72-year-old Stewart was not performing on stage at one of the world’s biggest venues on Sunday but he was instead conducting the draw for the fifth round of the Scottish FA Cup.
Live on Sky Sports in the UK, he was given the task of drawing out the home teams and Stewart did so in flamboyant and phenomenal fashion, especially when drawing out his beloved Glasgow Celtic.
Click play on the video below to be mesmerized by Stewart’s energy and excitement. This is brilliant.
There are some suggestions out there that he may have had a small alcoholic beverage before taking part in the draw…
Personally, I think there should be a new rule which sees Rod Stewart involved in every single cup draw from here on out.
Agree? I think you will.
Arsene Wenger has been charged with misconduct by the English Football Association.
[ MORE: New PL title odds released ]
Wenger, 66, reacted angrily to Arsenal conceding a penalty kick in second half stoppage time against Burnley on Sunday — the 10-man Gunners would go on to get a contentious spot kick off their own in the 98th minute to win 2-1 — and was sent to the stands by the officials.
He then appeared to push the fourth official and afterwards admitted he “regrets everything” and he should have “shut up and gone home” after the incident.
The FA released the following statement regarding Wenger’s charge.
Arsene Wenger has been charged for misconduct following Arsenal’s game against Burnley on Sunday [22 January 2017].
It is alleged that in or around the 92nd minute, he used abusive and/or insulting words towards the fourth official. It is further alleged that following his dismissal from the technical area, his behaviour in remaining in the tunnel area and making physical contact with the fourth official amounted to improper conduct.
He has until 6pm on 26 January 2017 to respond to the charge.
Many are calling for Wenger to be handed a very long ban for his actions.
He pushed fourth official Anthony Taylor and although it wasn’t hard enough for Taylor to fall over, it was in an aggressive manner and Wenger and the fourth official were separated by security guards in the tunnel area.
It was not the Frenchman’s finest moment and he is sure to pay a heavy price both in a fine and a potential touchline ban.
If Jose Mourinho received a one-game touchline ban for kicking a battle earlier this season, then surely Wenger has to get at least two or three games for physical contact with a match official.
The stress of a title race does funny things to even the coolest of characters.
D.C. United have completed the deal to bring Ian Harkes back to RFK Stadium.
[ MORE: Title odds in PL ]
Harkes, 21, signed for the Major League Soccer franchise Monday as a Homegrown player, fresh from winning the MAC Hermann Trophy earlier this month as the best collegiate player in the U.S. following his heroics with Wake Forest University over the past four years.
Son of former D.C. United and U.S. national team captain John Harkes, it is believed the two-way midfielder had plenty of options in Europe due to his dual nationality after he was born in England duringJohn’s playing days with Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, West Ham United and Nottingham Forest.
However, the younger Harkes has instead decided to sign for United and head coach Ben Olsen was delighted to add arguably the most talented up and coming midfielder in U.S soccer.
“I’ve known Ian nearly his entire life and have watched him develop into one of the nation’s best young talents.” Olsen said. “He has all the tools to succeed at the next level and I look forward to being a part of his pro career.”
Harkes starred for DCU’s Academy as captain of both the U-16 and U-18 level before heading to Wake Forest for his storied four-year college career and now he will return home to try and lead a D.C. side back to the latter stages of the postseason.
Olsen has endured an up and down time with United over the past seven years, but has reached the MLS Cup playoffs in four of the last five campaigns.
Adding Harkes will no doubt increase DCU’s chances of making a deep run at the postseason in 2017. He also increase their number of Homegrown players to four in their current squad.
The bookies aren’t quite calling it yet, but it’s getting to that stage…
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
After a tumultuous weekend in the Premier League the odds on Chelsea winning the title were slashed to 2/5 odds-on by some bookmakers. Chelsea’s 15th win in their last 16 games, coupled with a draw for Manchester United, a draw between Manchester City and Tottenham, a defeat to Liverpool and a late win for Arsenal, saw things continue to stack in Antonio Conte‘s favor.
With all that in mind, below is a list of the title odds for the current top six teams in the Premier League via SkyBet in the UK.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
I don’t know about you guys but Arsenal at 9/1 seem like a very decent price considering the games they have coming up and their star players pretty much all in-form and, for now, fully fit. Maybe that’s where the value is in this market.
Would be intrigued to see who you guys would bet on, aside from Chelsea…
Chelsea – 2/5
Tottenham – 7/1
Arsenal – 9/1
Liverpool – 12/1
Manchester City – 22/1
Manchester United – 40/1