Malouda, Gallas, Bentley released

first_img Defender Gallas leaves White Hart Lane on a free transfer after three seasons since joining Spurs from north London rivals Arsenal, and midfielder Bentley, who spent time on loan in Russia with FK Rostov and at former side Blackburn last season, is another set to move on. Santa Cruz, 31, was loaned out to Malaga last season, where he played under Manuel Pellegrini, who is reported to be in line to take over at Manchester City. Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure, meanwhile, will not feature in City’s future plans for their new manager and his move to Liverpool at the end of his contract was confirmed last month. Full-back Wayne Bridge is to join Reading. Schwarzer, who had been linked with a switch to Arsenal in the past, turned down the offer of a new deal at Fulham, and so will move on. Arsenal announced earlier this week that Andrey Arshavin, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci would all be leaving this summer, which was confirmed on the Premier League list. Israel midfielder Yossi Benayoun and Portugal defender Paulo Ferreira have both been released by Chelsea. Long-throw specialist Rory Delap departs Stoke along with retiring ex-England striker Michael Owen, Jermaine Pennant, Matthew Upson and Dean Whitehead. Relegated Wigan, QPR and Reading, meanwhile, all announced the expected several free transfers as they prepare for life in the npower Championship. France international Malouda, 32, last played for Chelsea in their 2012 Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, but has since been frozen out of the first-team picture and so saw out the remaining season of his £80,000-a-week contract training with the under-21s. Former club Lyon, who sold him to Chelsea for £13million in 2007, looks the most likely destination. Chelsea winger Florent Malouda, Tottenham duo William Gallas and David Bentley, Manchester City forward Roque Santa Cruz and Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer all featured on the Premier League free transfer list, which was released on Friday.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Deshaun Watson proves Texans’ NFL divisional playoff chances against Chiefs depend on him

first_imgMORE 2020 NFL PLAYOFFS:Full schedule | Predictions through Super BowlSure, there were other key players who helped the Texans complete a comeback from a 16-0 third-quarter deficit. It wouldn’t have been possible without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus making big plays in the pass rush to cool off Watson’s counterpart, Josh Allen.But after the struggles of a scoreless first half, Watson’s final numbers (20-of-25 passing, 247 yards, TD, 9.9 yards per attempt, 121.2 rating, 14 rushes, 55 yards, TD) will go down as a legendary playoff performance, regardless of round. He somehow overcame 7 sacks and constant pressure from a swarming Bills front seven, down to the great escape that led to the game-winning field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn.DESHAUN WATSON. MAGICAL. #WeAreTexans #NFLPlayoffs📺: #BUFvsHOU on ESPN/ABC📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports appWatch free on mobile:— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2020Watson avoided an eighth sack despite being cornered by several Bills behind the line of scrimmage, and five long seconds later, he dumped a pass off to running back Taiwan Jones that turned into a 34-yard gain to the 10-yard line. Only four plays prior, just getting up from his seventh sack, Watson had converted a third-and-18 from the Texans’ 19 with a short pass to running back Duke Johnson Jr.The Texans had no business winning the game. Their pass protection was bad. Their run blocking was bad. Their pass defense, despite sacking Allen three times, allowed the Bills to spread the ball around through tough situations throughout the game. They couldn’t stop Allen or rookie running back Devin Singletary from getting chunk plays on the ground.Before the second-half rally, Bill O’Brien was coaching poorly in every aspect. The Texans came out of the gate slowly, shell-shocked by a creative and aggressive Bills offense and having no clue how to solve a fundamentally sound defense.MORE: Takeaways from Texans’ win over billsThe Bills handed the Texans opportunities with penalties and other self-inflicted wounds. Houston needed every bit of Watson’s off-script running and passing, including two key two-point conversions to take advantage of those chances.O’Brien also made a bad decision late in the fourth quarter by running Watson up the middle on a fourth-and-1 at the Bills’ 30 instead of taking a field goal to extend the lead to a likely unsurmountable 22-16 lead late in regulation. That forced the Texans to try to salvage a victory they should have preserved before OT. Watson and the Texans were able to beat the Chiefs in the regular season, and yes, Watson did everything he needed to do, passing and rushing, for Houston to earn that victory.We get it: Football is a total team game, and all the Texans contributed in some way to outlasting the Bills on Saturday. But Watson both buried and masked the messes by taking over the game with his special individual playmaking and championship pedigree.For the Texans to take two more steps and get to Super Bowl 54, it’s elementary that Watson must keep doing it. Lamar Jackson will win NFL MVP for the 2019 season, and Russell Wilson will likely be the runner-up. But both those quarterbacks clearly have more help from their respective playoff teams.Watson is on an island with little reliability beyond go-to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins offensively, plus only a little more support defensively with Watt back. At this point, Watson is doing more to boost O’Brien’s offense than the other way around. Watson also is the Texans’ sole workaround for O’Brien’s lack of good situational coaching.VIDEO: Watson’s best plays against Bills Almost everything about the Texans’ 22-19 overtime win over the Bills on Saturday night in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs painted an ugly picture — for both teams on both sides of the ball. That made Deshaun Watson’s dazzling effort an absolute masterpiece.Houston’s quarterback was by far the best player on the field, and he was fully rewarded with his team advancing to the divisional round to play at Kansas City next Sunday. (Getty Images) read more