Petrov leukaemia in remission

2 August 2012 18:33

Aston Villa have confirmed that club captain Stiliyan Petrov’s acute leukaemia is in remission.

Petrov was diagnosed with the condition just over four months ago, after which followed his immediate withdrawal from first-team duties.

And, despite him being unable to play any part in the past few months, new manager Paul Lambert has insisted that Petrov will continue as official club captain, with Darren Bent filling in as his deputy.

A statement on the club’s official website declared that Petrov ‘would like to express his deep gratitude to the medical staff who have looked after him so well since his condition was diagnosed just over four months ago’.

The statement continued: “He also wishes to place on record again his profound sense of appreciation for the incredible outpouring of love and support he has received from Villa fans, his team-mates and colleagues at the club, as well as football fans and many more people around the world during this period.

“He and his family have been moved by the depth of feeling stirred in so many people and he has taken great strength from it, too.

“Stan’s fight is not over. There will be further battles to overcome in the days, weeks and months ahead.

“But he would like to share with you this tremendous news now and, in time, deliver his own personal message to you.

“On Stan’s behalf, the club would like to thank everybody for continuing to respect Stan’s privacy and his family’s throughout his ongoing battle against acute leukaemia and for those who have raised awareness of the condition.

“Stan remains very committed to this crusade going forward.”

Giroud tips Arsenal trophy drought to end

2 August 2012 17:50

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is confident that his new team can break a seven-year trophy drought and win silverware this season.

The 25-year-old joined Arsenal from Montpellier in June for a fee reported to be just under 10 million pounds.

Giroud finished with 21 goals in Ligue 1 last season as Montpellier pipped PSG for the title while he also added nine assists, helping him win a place in France’s Euro 2012 squad.

And Giroud revealed that the similarities between Arsenal and Montpellier was one of the reasons he chose to join the North London club, before predicting the club to ‘do something big’ this season.

“It’s true that it was an extraordinary season with Montpellier,” Giroud told the club’s official website.

“I won’t ever forget that season because in a footballer’s career, winning the title isn’t forgotten so fast.

“There was a good mentality in the team, good quality, with some good players, and I look forward to finding that quality and spirit with Arsenal – that’s why I chose Arsenal.

“With Montpellier, it wasn’t written that we were going to be champions, so that’s what made it more beautiful.

“With Arsenal, we might not be favourites, like the Manchester clubs, to be champions. We’re outsiders, but I’m convinced that we can do something big. That’s what we did with Montpellier, and I’m proud with what I accomplished there.”

Ramires: Expectations will be high

2 August 2012 17:25

Chelsea midfielder Ramires knows achieving improvement will not be easy for the Stamford Bridge outfit this season.

Despite Andre Villas-Boas being sacked from his position as Chelsea manager in March, the club won the Champions League and FA Cup under caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo.

The Brazilian – who won the player’s player of the year award at the club last season – is aware that improving on their success will be difficult but is hopeful that the squad will be buoyed by last season’s achievements.

“It will be a long, hard season, and after everything we achieved last year expectations will understandably be high,” Ramires told the club’s official website.

“I will try to repeat my performances of last season, or even better them if possible, but it’s not just about me, it’s important we improve as a team.

“It will be nice to play as European champions. However, this is a new season, the Champions League is in the past and we need to focus on our new targets.”

The 25-year-old midfielder described the club’s pre-season tour of the United States as a ‘good test’, with Di Matteo’s men losing matches to AC Milan and the MLS All Stars.

He also insisted that fitness was the main priority from the matches and that at this stage of the campaign, results were not that important.

“It’s a bit soon to worry too much about performances. This is pre-season so the main focus is on fitness,” he said.

Ramires was recently recalled into the Brazilian national team for their upcoming friendly against Sweden as a reward for his terrific 2011-12 season.

Chelsea loan De Bruyne to Bremen

2 August 2012 15:43

Werder Bremen have announced the signing of attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne on loan from Chelsea.

The Belgium international’s move to Stamford Bridge was confirmed during the January transfer window but he was left at Genk for the remainder of the season and only linked up with the Blues earlier this month.

However, the intention was always to loan De Bruyne out for a year and Bremen have now confirmed the 21-year-old’s arrival at Weserstadion, while at the same time specifying that there is no option for a permanent transfer next summer.

“We have been monitoring Kevin closely for several months have enjoyed a number of positive conversations with him and those in charge at Chelsea,” CEO Klaus Allofs told the Bundesliga outfit’s official website.

“We are pleased that we have been able to increase the quality in our squad with this deal.”

Meanwhile, the versatile De Bruyne, who can also play out wide, is looking forward to playing regular first-team football with Thomas Schaaf’s side.

“The move is perfect for me because Bremen has a great tradition and I’ll be playing in full stadiums in one of the best leagues in Europe,” he said.

“Now I just want to show what I can do and be successful with my new team-mates.”

De Bruyne, who has been capped twice by his country, came through the youth team ranks at Genk after being prised away from Gent as a teenager.

Deschamps hints at fresh France faces

2 August 2012 15:31

Didier Deschamps has revealed that he is likely to make a number of changes to his France squad for the upcoming friendly against Uruguay.

Deschamps replaced Laurent Blanc as national team coach after this year’s European Championship, and will be in charge of Les Bleus for the first time against the South Americans on August 15.

“Some of those who went to the Euros will not be there (against Uruguay). There will possibly be a few new faces,” the 43-year-old told AFP.

“France are a work in progress. We have to create a group again. There is a need for some fresh blood. People always want new and young players introduced.

“We need experience as well, though. Players who are used to playing at the highest level. We’ll have to find the right balance.”

After a number of players were hauled before a French Football Federation (FFF) hearing over their conduct at Euro 2012, the former Marseille boss warned his charges that they will be dropped if they misbehave in future.

“I really want everyone to have the right attitude and behave properly. If anyone doesn’t do that, they’ll be condemning themselves, not me. Being picked or not picked is a form of sporting sanction,” he said.

Samir Nasri was recently handed a three-match ban by the FFF following his behaviour in Poland and Ukraine when he unleashed a verbal tirade at reporters after the quarter-final defeat to Spain.