Andy Murray has been seeded second for this weeks Monte Carlo Masters and cannot face Novak Djokovic until the final - but his route looks anything but straightforward. Murray begins his clay court season in the principality and will be looking to return to the form that saw him reach the Australian Open final rather than the form of the US hard-court Masters swing.Murray has suffered shock defeats in recent weeks, losing to Federico Delbonis at Indian Wells, and labouring in defeat to Grigor Dimitrov in Miami. Next up for the world No 2 is Monte Carlo, a venue he has not played at since a third round exit in 2013, and he will be hoping to replicate the form which guided him to the semi-finals in 2009 and 2011.However, he has it all to do if he is to claim a first Masters title in Monte Carlo.... Second Round beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2 4-6 6-3 Last 16 beat Benoit Paire 2-6 7-5 7-5 Quarter-Final - Milos Raonic Milos Raonic has been one of the form players on tour this season Plenty of danger lurks in Murrays quarter with Pablo Cuevas, a two-time clay-court winner this season, posing a very real threat to the big serving of Tomas Berdych (runner-up in 2015) and Milos Raonic, but its the Canadian who is arguably the form man on the tour this year behind Novak Djokovic.A run to the semi-final at the Australian Open, where he was beaten in five sets by Murray, was followed by a lay-off before a return at Indian Wells where he made the final before losing to Djokovic. Raonic has reached at least the last eight in all four of his events this year, but Murray leads the head-to-head and won the pairs last meeting on clay - a straight sets success on his way to the Madrid Masters title last year.Semi-final - Rafa Nadal Rafael Nadal has won eight Monte Carlo titles - but none since 2012 Rafa Nadal or Stan Wawrinka are the big hitters likely to provide the semi-final opposition with Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem the danger-men lurking in that quarter.Wawrinka was champion in the principality in 2014 but by virtue of his reputation as the king of clay we will take Nadal, with eight successive Monte Carlo crowns under his belt to come through and provide Murrays semi-final challenge.The 29-year-old may be a fading force but his run to the semi-finals at Indian Wells hinted at a return to form before that shock second-round defeat to Damir Dzumhur in Miami.Nadal holds a dominant head-to-head record between the pair including their last meeting at the World Tour Finals in London last year - however Murray won the last meeting on clay.Murray claimed the Madrid Masters title last year with a dominant 6-3 6-2 victory over Nadal in the final and will hope for more of the same should the pair make it as far as the last four.Final - Roger Federer Master of his trade Novak Djokovic blazing a Masters trail Can it really be anyone other than the formidable world No 1 who faces Murray in the final? Djokovic has claimed the first two Masters events of the year (Indian Wells and Miami) which took his career tally to a record 28.He is the defending Monte Carlo champion, has reached the final of every Masters event he has entered since Shanghai in 2014 and has lost just once this year to go alongside his four titles (although that was an enforced withdrawal against Lopez following an eye problem).Well yes actually it can, Roger Federer has made serene progress in Monte Carlo and is chasing a first win in the principality having lost four finals. Gael Monfils is the most likely alternative, reveling in front of his home fans.You can watch the action from the Monte Carlo Masters on Sky Sports from 9.30am on Monday on Sky Sports 1 Federers Monte Carlo retrurn Details on the draw in Monte Carlo Also See: Federers Monte Carlo return Sky Live: Monte Carlo Masters Master of his trade Djokovic wins in Miami Eric Fisher Jersey
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. Anderson shook off some unusually poor shooting and hit two clutch 3-pointers in overtime that carried the New Orleans Pelicans to a 111-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.On paper it looked like an expected result. Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 2. Yes, it was yet another home loss for Aston Villa and they certainly have had far too many of those in recent years, yet there was something rather different going on at Villa Park on Saturday. The pulse was back. Ultimately, the team ended up with nothing; running out losers courtesy of goals from two world class stars, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, yet this was not a familiar story for Villa fans. They, more than most, know too well what woeful looks like. They have certainly sat through enough of it the last three campaigns. House of Horrors It has been three difficult seasons for the West Midlands club, both on and off the field. Massive financial cutbacks were required following the Martin ONeill era, a time many look back at as being a successful period for the club based on three straight 6th place finishes, yet it was a time of great turmoil financially. By the end of the 2009-10 season, the clubs turnover reached 90 million pounds, of which an incredible 88 per cent (80m) was being spent on players wages, an unsustainable figure for any business. It was time for them to pay for the relative success they achieved on the field. Villa plummeted from 9th to 15th in the 2011-12 season winning just four home matches, the lowest in club history. The crowds also dropped as the fans had no connection to manager Alex McLeish, a former Birmingham City boss who many in the area despised. 2010-11 attendance - 706,685 at an average of 37,194 (8th highest in the PL) 2011-12 attendance - 643, 590 at an average of 33,873 (9th highest in the PL). Paul Lambert arrived as manager in June of 2012 and with it came a new direction as many young, cheaper players from the lower leagues in England were signed. Lambert gambled on youth and it almost cost Villa their Premier League status. Home form wasnt much better than the previous year as they won just five matches, yet the fans returned coming closer to the figures in 2010-11 than in 2011-12. 2012-13 attendance - 666,135 at an average of 35,060 (10th highest in the PL). Villa were equally poor at home last season. Under Lambert they showed no progress in taking over games, struggling to keep the ball and being forced into a counter-attacking side that many said they were better suited to play away from home. Although that was true it was actually an indictment on the team rather than it being a positive system by design. Far too often they simply couldnt control games against inferior teams. They managed to reach six home wins last season but for the third successive season they were in a relegation fight into the last month. Still the crowds came, remarkably improving on the year previous. 2013-14 attendance - 685,535 at an average of 36,081 (9th highest in the PL). Of the 14 teams who played in each of the three seasons (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14) Villa were last in terms of league home wins (57 games played): Man City 49 Man Utd 40 Chelsea 39 Arsenal 36 Everton 35 Tottenham 35 Liverpool 31 Stoke City 24 Fulham 22 Norwich 21 Swansea 20 West Brom 19 Sunderland 17 Aston Villa 15 Results and poor performances at Villa Park alone were not the reason for Villas struggles but they were one of the main reasons why many of the loyal fan base had grown tired of Paul Lambert as manager. He certainly didnt help his case losing cup matches to lower league opposition at Villa Park, also. Lambert, however, was rewarded with a four year extension last month after the club raced to 10pts through the first four games. Predictably, they have now lost three straight matches to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City as they continue on a run where they play five successive matches against thee teams that finished in the top five last season.dddddddddddd They were already behind in the first halves against Arsenal and Chelsea but it took Man City 82 patient minutes before they tipped the balance at Villa Park. Yet, this was not a game where Villa simply sat deep and invited pressure on. Naturally Citys talent shone and they were able to dictate much of the possession but Villa showed real signs of progression that will certainly help them improve against much weaker teams than Man City this season. An English Triangle Lambert deserves credit for addressing an alarming lack of experience (and quality) in his squad this summer and bringing in (and back) some senior players, but one area he didnt need to make many adjustments to was central midfield. Many young players simply didnt progress under Lamberts tutelage but two that did were midfielders Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph. Both were excellent for much of the last two seasons but the Scots insistence to often play them in a 4-2-3-1 very often left them exposed. At the end of the transfer window in August, he added a third English midfielder, signing Tom Cleverley on loan from Manchester United. When healthy, the three have played every minute together since and already have a tremendous understanding of their roles. Westwood, who captained the team against Manchester City with Ron Vlaar and Gabriel Agbonlahor unavailable, sits slightly deeper of the three, centrally, but is far from a midfield destroyer. He presses well and reads the game well but his greatest assets are his passing and ability to find space. These are crucial when Villa start transitions. Delph, rightfully rewarded with an England call-up last month, covers much more ground than Westwood, is more comfortable on the ball and can penetrate into the final third with his endless amount of energy. He doesnt have Westwoods passing but he is much more dangerous when in possession. Cleverley has been a superb addition that the pair needed. He operates to the right of Westwood, is a good passer but, like Delph, is intelligent in pressing and can make runs in behind defenders. The trio had an excellent match against a Man City team that once again experimented in midfield and still didnt get their balance right as they flipped from Toure and Fernandinho to Toure and Frank Lampard and eventually settled on Toure, Lampard and Fernando, a combination that was on the field for their goals but is still far from their best. Pass Completion Rate vs City Ashley Westwood 41/47 - 87 per cent Fabian Delph 40/45 - 89 per cent Tom Cleverley 53/56 - 95 per cent Total - 134/148 - 91 per cent Westwood to Delph (14) was the top pass combination for Villa in the game with Cleverley to Westwood (11) and Westwood to Cleverley (10) not far behind. The trio also combined for 10 interceptions. Statistics tell only part of the story. Their collective pressing was intelligent and rarely did they allow creators like David Silva and Toure in behind them. It was no coincidence that both City goals came from when they finally found the key to the space vacated behind the trio. In possession they switch the play well while Delph and Cleverley can break away on the break and create overlaps out wide with full backs or wingers. Star striker Christian Benteke returned for 30 minutes against Man City and linked up well with the three Englishmen in behind him. Results may have not gone their way lately but there is certainly many reasons for the Villa Park faithful to be optimistic once the team returns following the international break. With three rare intelligent English midfielders together there should be no reason why they cant finally dictate home matches against teams not challenging for the top six. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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