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Hoping for a spike in success

The Chinese women's volleyball team posted two sixth-place finishes, respectively at the FIVB Women's World Championship and the Volleyball Nations League, last year. With the return of the team's star spiker Zhu Ting and the rise of a new generation of players, Team China is confident in producing

Winter World University Games: Team China claim three wins in a row in women's curling

China beat Sweden 6-4 on Saturday evening to clinch their third straight win in the womens curling during the 31st Winter World University Games, also known as the 2023 Winter Universiade, in Lake Placid in the United States.China defeated Spain 9-5 on Friday and collected a 9-2 victory against Switzerland on Saturday morning."Weve had a good start, but we can take nothing for granted," said China coach Yu Zuojun. "We will play some real tough opponents in the next few days, such as South Korea, Japan, the United States and Canada. We are going to take one game at a time and try to do as well as we can."Han Yu of China competes during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China, February 14, 2022. (Photo: CFP)The Winter World University Games is the largest winter multi-sport collegiate athletic event in the world. Over 1,600 athletes from 45 countries and regions participate in the games, which feature 86 events across 12 disciplines this year.The 2023 Winter Universiade runs from January 12 to 22 and comprises alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, Nordic combined, short-track speed skating, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating events.Flag bearer Chinese curler Han Yu during the opening ceremony of the 31st Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, U.S., January 12, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)The 25-member Chinese team will compete in 11 events in short-track speed skating, womens curling and snowboarding. Han Yu, a curler from Beijing Sport University, was Chinas flag bearer at the opening ceremony.Team China will participate in all nine events in the short-track speed skating competition, which begins on January 19. Meanwhile, Chinese snowboarders will participate in the parallel giant slalom on January 21.

Liu Yi removed from post of CFA Secretary General

Liu Yi has been removed from the post of Secretary General of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the CFA announced on Sunday.Photo: Xinhua(Compiled by Wang Chenning)

Gong Lijiao, Su Bingtian elected as CAA vice presidents

Gong Lijiao (left) and Su Bingtian (right) (Photo: Sina)Star sprinter Su Bingtian and Olympic shot put champion Gong Lijiao have been elected as vice presidents of the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA), the countrys governing body of the sport confirmed on Friday.Yu Hongchen was elected as the CAA president during the first session of its 10th Congress held last month. World Athletics council member Wang Nan was elected as first vice president, with Cai Yong as vice president and secretary general. Gong and Su are the only two active athletes among other 12 vice presidents.33-year-old Gong won the womens shot put gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and she also claimed titles at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships.Su, also 33, set a new Asian record of 9.83 seconds in the mens 100m en route to becoming the first Chinese to qualify for the final of the event in Olympic history at Tokyo 2020. He also led Chinas 4x100m relay team to earn a silver at the 2015 worlds and an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo.Meanwhile, womens javelin throw Olympic champion Liu Shiying, mens triple jump Olympic silver medalist Zhu Yaming, as well as retired race walk Olympic champions Chen Ding and Wang Liping were elected as executive committee members of the CAA.

World Cup-winning Messi headlines nominees for FIFA Best award, Ronaldo snubbed

After the only glaring omission on Lionel Messis illustrious CV was sensationally filled in at the end of last year when he led Argentina to the World Cup triumph, the debate about the 35-year-olds superiority over eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo is finally settled.An official poster for nominees for the Best FIFA Mens Player 2022. (Photo: FIFA)A nitpicker might insist that the Portuguese talisman still holds the lead over the Argentine maestro in some goal-scoring records and individual accolades. For instance, Ronaldo has been crowned the Best FIFA Mens Player twice, while Messi only won the award once in 2019.However, that slim advantage could evaporate in the coming months as Messi deservedly leads the nominees for FIFAs The Best award in 2023. In sharp contrast, Ronaldo did not make the cut following a dreadful 2022 that saw his Manchester United career come to a bitter end and a humiliating elimination from the World Cup in Qatar where he lost his place in the starting lineup.The shortlist was unveiled by FIFA on Thursday, and Messi is joined by World Cup Golden Boot winner Kylian Mbappe, Champions League-winning hero Karim Benzema, Premier League top-scorer Erling Haaland and last years winner Robert Lewandowski in the race for the Best Mens Player category.Messis Argentinian teammate Julian Alvarez, PSG superstar Neymar, Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior, Borussia Dortmund youngster Jude Bellingham, Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah and Bayern Munichs Sadio Mane are also named on the list, albeit as outsiders.Messi is the standout name. Argentinas World Cup-winning captain is the first footballer in history to win the Golden Ball twice at the World Cup, having netted seven goals in seven games in Qatar to clinch the ultimate glory. He is also the only player to register at least an assist in five World Cups.At club level, despite an underwhelming first se...

Chinese teenager Shang makes Australian Open main draw

ChineseteenagetennisplayerShangJunchengmadeittothemaindrawoftheAustralianOpenafterwinninghisfinalqualifyingroundmatchhereonThursday。

Djokovic to play 75th-ranked Spaniard on Australian Open return

Novak Djokovic was drawn Thursday to play Spains Roberto Carballes Baena on his return to the Australian Open and could meet Nick Kyrgios in the last eight.Serbias Novak Djokovic attends a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 12, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The Serbian star, who was deported a year ago, will kickstart his bid for a 10th Melbourne title and a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam crown against a player ranked 75th in the world.In the absence of injured world number one Carlos Alcaraz, defending champion Rafael Nadal takes the top seed and starts against Britains promising Jack Draper. On the womens side, top seed and world number one Iga Swiatek will meet Germanys Jule Niemeier as she targets a maiden Grand Slam title in Australia.There is an injury cloud hanging over Djokovic after he tweaked his hamstring on the way to winning the season-opening Adelaide International last week. He cut short a practice match on Wednesday to get more treatment.The 35-year-old was ejected from Australia on the eve of the 2022 tournament over his Covid vaccination stance after a legal battle. He also missed the US Open for similar reasons.The move divided opinion in Melbourne, a city that endured some of the longest lockdowns in the world at the height of the pandemic. How he is received remains to be seen.The fourth seed is due to play a charity match against Australian Kyrgios on Friday evening and could meet him in the quarter-finals if both get that far.Kyrgios would first potentially have to get past ninth seed Holger Rune and fifth seed Andrey Rublev.Second seed Casper Ruud, who suffered a shock loss in his first match at the Auckland Classic on Wednesday, was pitted first up against Czech player Tomas Machac.Daniil Medvedev, finalist at the last two Australian Opens, takes on American Marcos Giron. Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has a tough match against Frances Quentin Halys.Former Grand Slam win...

Tennis: China's Wang Xinyu reaches last 8 at Hobart International

Wang Xinyu of China competes in her first round match at the Hobart International in Hobart, Australia, January 9, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Chinas Wang Xinyu on Wednesday booked her slot in the Hobart International quarterfinals after edging out world No. 70 Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in Australia. Ranked world No. 89, the 21-year-old Chinese young gun fired three aces, won 69.4 percent of her first-serve points and saved four out of six break points through the 140-minute clash. The decider saw Wang run a three-game winning streak after Van Uytvanck tied the set at 2-2. Holding a 5-3 advantage, Wang only conceded one point to her Belgian opponent before sealing victory. After the victory, Wangs real time world ranking has climbed up to No. 78. Wang Xinyu of China competes in her first round match at the Hobart International in Hobart, Australia, January 9, 2023. (Photo: CFP)On Thursday, Wang will take on Lauren Davis of the United States at the center court. The 29-year-old American, currently ranked world No.84, toppled her compatriot, world No. 36 Sloane Stephens, in the opening round, and breezed to the quarterfinals with a 7-6(1), 6-3 victory over Belgiums Ysaline Bonaventure.Earlier, another Chinese player Zhu Lin suffered an early exit after losing 6-2, 6-2 to the 2020 Australian Open winner and 2019 Hobart International singles champion Sophia Kenin of the United States.The bowing-out of Zhu made Wang Chinas only hope in the womens singles of the tournament.Zheng Qinwen of China in action against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during her second round match at the 2023 Adelaide International in Australia, January 11, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Meanwhile, young Chinese sensation Zheng Qinwen, who participated in another warm-up event leading up to the Australian Open, withdrew from the Adelaide International. Zheng, 20, pulled out of the tournament in Adelaide on Wednesday after losing the first set of her second round match aga...

Osaka announces pregnancy and promises return in 2024

Former world number one Naomi Osaka announced on Wednesday that she is pregnant and will be taking a break from tennis until 2024."I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future, one thing Im looking forward to is for my kid to watch my matches and tell someone, Thats my mom haha," she wrote on Twitter, accompanied by an ultrasound picture of a pregnancy scan."2023 will be a year full of lessons for me, and I hope Ill see you guys at the start of the next one cause I will be back at the Australian Open 2024. Love you all infinitely," she added.The 25-year-old Osaka has not played a tennis match since September and her withdrawal from the Australian Open, which starts next week, had puzzled many observers. In this file photo taken on February 20, 2021, Japans Naomi Osaka poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup trophy after defeating Jennifer Brady of the US in their womens singles final match on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo: AFP)Her social media posts in recent months had shown her travelling in Europe with her boyfriend, American rapper Cordae.The two have been together since 2019.Osaka had not explained her absence until Wednesday, when she posted what she called "a little life update for 2023."Osakas last tournament appearance was at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September, where the home favourite withdrew before her second-round match, complaining of abdominal pain.The top ranked player in the world in 2019, the Japanese star -- who grew up in the United States -- is now ranked 47th in the world.Osaka has won four Grand Slam singles titles with triumphs in the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021 and the US Open in 2018 and 2020.She had been open about her struggles with mental health and depression in the past and took a break from the sport after the French Open in 2021 before returning to compete at the Tokyo Olympics later that y...

Messi guides PSG to victory on return after World Cup triumph

Paris Saint-Germains Argentine forward Lionel Messi (R) fights for the ball with Angers Ivorian defender Abdoulaye Bamba (C) and Angers Beninese defender Cedric Hountondji (L) during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SCO Angers at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on January 11, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Lionel Messi scored in Paris Saint-Germains 2-0 win over Angers in Ligue 1 on Wednesday on his first appearance since leading Argentina to victory in the World Cup in Qatar.Messi had been rested for PSGs first three matches following the long break in the season caused by the World Cup but he returned to training in Paris a week ago and was back in the starting line-up for this game against Ligue 1s bottom side.The win, which came three and a half weeks after he captained Argentina to their World Cup final triumph on penalties against France in Qatar, saw PSG move six points clear at the top of the French table.Neymar also started, having missed his teams last two matches due to suspension and to undergo treatment on the ankle injury he suffered playing for Brazil at the World Cup.Meanwhile Kylian Mbappe was rested for a second straight game having been afforded time off for a holiday in New York in the wake of his own World Cup campaign, which saw him score a hat-trick in the final but come out on the losing side.Mbappe and Messi are expected to be reunited this weekend in Sundays match away to Rennes.In the meantime the absence of the France star meant young striker Hugo Ekitike again started in the home attack at the Parc des Princes and he opened the scoring in the fifth minute from a Nordi Mukiele cross at the end of a move in which Messi also featured.PSG were not at their sparkling best but Messi swept in his 13th club goal of the season to make it 2-0 with 17 minutes left.Ekitike and Mukiele were again involved before Messi applied the finish. The goal was initially disallowed for offside b...

Olympic champ Ma Long confirms China's full singles quota in WTTC Finals

DOHA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- China has ensured its full participation in the World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals later this year as Olympic gold medalist Ma Long won his position game in the WTTC Asia Continental Stage here on Wednesday.(Photo: World Table Tennis) After losing to Maharu Yoshimura in full sets on Tuesday, the 34-year-old Ma withstood a comeback from another Japanese paddler Shunsuke Togami to emerge victorious 4-2."My training in recent days was not quite systematic. I had some unforced errors in these games, which left the door open for my opponents. Even with a 3-0 lead today, I felt that I was not in a stable mindset," admitted Ma."From the standpoint of technique, I did better in rallies today than yesterday," he added.Ma pocketed the first three sets with the same score of 11-6, only to see his rival pull within a striking distance by winning 11-3 and 11-6. Ma, who achieved a Grand Slam winning feat in his glorious career, held his nerves to nail an 11-9 victory in the sixth set."It was not a tight schedule in this tournament, so physically I was fine, but I lost a little bit patience when the game didnt go as I had expected," Ma noted.On Tuesday, Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin, Liang Jingkun and Xiang Peng won their second round group matches to secure the WTTC Finals mens singles berths for China, while Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng, Wang Manyu, Wang Yidi and Chen Xingtong triumphed in the womens singles category.China also secured full quota in the mens, womens and mixed doubles events of the worlds on Monday.The 2023 WTTC Finals will take place in Durban, South Africa from May 20 to 28.

China's Zheng Qinwen withdraws from Australian Open warm-up event

Chinas Zheng Qinwen hits a return to Belarus Victoria Azarenka during their womens singles match at the WTA Adelaide International tennis tournament in Adelaide on January 5, 2023. (Photo: AFP)CANBERRA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinas Zheng Qinwen has withdrawn from the Adelaide International in order to prepare for the Australian Open.Zheng pulled out of the second tournament in Adelaide on Wednesday after losing the first set of her second round match against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6 (6).The 20-year-old Chinese appeared to pull her left thigh in her 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Shelby Rogers of the United States in the first round and showed up in Wednesdays second round match with bandages wrapped around her thigh.It was the rising Chinese stars sixth match in eight days ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.Kvitova saved three set points in the tie break before winning the opener.The walkover means the Czech, currently ranked 16th in the world, remains undefeated in four matches in 2023 - her most successful start to a year since 2011."Of course, this gives me some good confidence," Kvitova said."Im happy that my wrist is much better than this time last year. Thats great news. I hope Im going to stay healthy, but so far its okay."The match was followed on center court by eight seed Belinda Bencics 6-3, 6-3 win against Anna Kalinskaya.Bencic, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, broke serve five times in the victory and has lost only two sets in her last eight matches."Im really strong in the most important matches and in tight moments, so I definitely feel very confident about that. Its just really something about when you have a lot of matches you also feel better, and you have to believe in yourself in the tight moments," she said on Wednesday.The Swiss will play either world number four Caroline Garcia or Katerina Siniakova in the quarter-fin...

Djokovic return, Nadal form: Australian Open talking points

The Australian Open, the first tennis Grand Slam of the year, will kick off at Melbourne Park next Monday.Here are five talking points, from Novak Djokovics return following his dramatic deportation last year to the battle to deny Iga Swiatek:What reception will Djokovic get?The nine-time Australian Open champion is back in Melbourne having been deported on the eve of last years tournament because of his Covid vaccination status.Novak Djokovic of Serbia attends a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2022. (Photo: AFP)He has admitted to feeling nervous about what sort of reception he may get from spectators, but early signs suggest it will be positive.When he played a doubles match in Adelaide at the start of this month -- his first match in Australia in almost two years -- he was given a raucous welcome.His rivals also appear to be happy for him to be back at the Australian Open, with Rafael Nadal saying: "Novak is here, good for tennis, good for probably the fans."Is Nadal on the slide?Rafael Nadals breathtaking career has been defined by an unrivalled fighting spirit, with the Spanish great finding a way back from regular injuries to reclaim his spot at the top of mens tennis.Spains Rafael Nadal hits a return during a training session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 7, 2023. (Photo: AFP)His victory at the Australia Open last year was a record 21st Grand Slam title and he also went on to win the French Open title.But now 36, Nadal has lost six of his past seven matches stretching back to his last-16 defeat at the US Open, casting fresh debate about whether he is on a downward spiral.An early exit in his title defence would raise more questions.Who can challenge Swiatek?Swiatek dominated womens tennis in 2022, winning the French and US Opens and topping the rankings following the retirement of 2021 Melbourne Park champion Ashleigh Bar...

Gareth Bale ends playing career, Hugo Lloris announces international retirement

Gareth Bale gestures to fans during the Qatar World Cup. (Photo: CFP)Gareth Bale announced his retirement from club and international football at the age of 33 on Monday, bringing to an end one of the most decorated careers in British football history.Bale, who made a record 111 appearances for Wales, led his country from the international football wilderness to two European Championships – reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and a first World Cup since 1958.The Los Angeles FC forward, who previously played for Southampton, Tottenham and Real Madrid, made his final competitive appearance during Wales World Cup group-stage fixture with England on November 29."After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football," Bale wrote on his social media accounts."I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love."It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons, that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me."Bale made his name in the Premier League at Tottenham, before moving, in 2013, to Real Madrid, where he won five Champions League titles.The forward joined Los Angeles FC in June 2022 and went onto win the MLS Cup in his short stint in the United States."From my very first touch at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, shaped a club career that I have an immense pride and gratitude for."He added: "To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey, feels like an impossibility. I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in a way I couldnt have ever dreamed of when I first started out at nine years old."LAFC paid tribute to their star forward."We want to thank Gareth for everything he brought to our club," LAFC co-president and general...

Roberto Martinez named as Portugal coach

Roberto Martinez, manager of Belgium, looks on after the 0-0 draw against Croatia in the FIFA World Cup game at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar, December 1, 2022. (Photo: CFP)Roberto Martinez was named as the new coach of Portugal on Monday, having stepped down as Belgium coach after their elimination from the World Cup in Qatar in the group stage.The 49-year-old Spaniard takes over from Fernando Santos and the most pressing issue in his in-tray will be to clarify the situation of skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, who has just signed for Saudi club Al Nassr.

US becomes 1st United Cup champion with 3 straight-set wins over Italy

SYDNEY, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The United States was crowned the champion of the first edition of the United Cup mixed team tennis event on Sunday after clinching three straight-set wins over Italy in the final.United States Taylor Fritz, left, is congratulated by Italys Matteo Berrettini following their match in the final of the United Cup tennis event in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)The decisive mens singles rubber between world No. 16 Matteo Berrettini of Italy and world No. 9 Taylor Fritz of the United States lasted two hours and 16 minutes, with both sets dragged into nerve-racking tie-breaks.Leading 2-0 in their previous head-to-head series, the 25-year-old Fritz took his second championship point and elicited an unforced error from his Italian opponent in a rally, which sealed his 7-6(4), 7-6 (6) victory on the scoreboard and extended the advantage of the United States to an insurmountable 3-0."Its great. Its amazing for the team to win this event. We came in with really high hopes, or at least I did, for the event," Fritz said in a post-game interview on court. "I was really happy to be in that position to clinch the match."Earlier, world No. 3 Jessica Pegula made a good start for the United States by easing past Italys Martina Trevisan 6-4, 6-2 in 90 minutes. Following Pegulas step, Frances Tiafoe added another point to his country after a 35-minute encounter against Lorenzo Musetti.Dropping the opening set 6-2, the world No. 23 Italian retired from the game due to an injury."I thought I was playing at a really high level. Obviously, at the end, I can see that he has started to tug his shoulder a lot and stay locked in. I dont want to win this way, especially for my team and myself," said Tiafoe."I hope Lorenzo feels better," he added.

United States beat Italy to win inaugural United Cup

World number nine Taylor Fritz battled past Italian Matteo Berrettini with a powerhouse performance to steer the United States to the inaugural mixed teams United Cup title in Sydney on Sunday.Frances Tiafoe and Jessica Pegula both won their singles rubbers to give their country a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five tie with Fritz delivering victory by winning 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (8/6).United States Taylor Fritz is embraced by teammates after defeating Italys Matteo Berrettini during the final of the United Cup tennis event in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)

Injured Venus Williams out of Australian Open

US player Venus Williams (Photo: AFP)Venus Williams has pulled out of the Australian Open after picking up at injury at the Auckland Classic, organisers said.The 42-year-old American had accepted a wildcard to compete in the opening Grand Slam of the year at Melbourne Park, a tournament she first played in 1998 and in which she is a two-time finalist, losing both times to sister Serena."Venus Williams has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to an injury sustained at the ASB (Auckland) Classic in New Zealand," the Australian Open tweeted late Saturday.Australias Kim Birrell will take her place.Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams produced a vintage performance in the opening round at Auckland last week, beating fellow American Katie Volynets 7-6 (7/4), 6-2. But she exited in the last 16 to Chinas Zhu Lin.The Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on January 16, will also be without mens world number one Carlos Alcaraz who pulled out on Friday with a right leg injury.

China's UFC Champion Zhang Weili: 'Growth' is the word for 2022

Zhang Weili (C) of China celebrates with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Womens Strawweight title belt after defeating Carla Esparza of the U.S. at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, November 12, 2022. (Photo: CFP)Zhang Weili, the current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Womens Strawweight Champion of China, wrapped up her 2022 in one word, "growth," at a UFC fans event in Beijing on Friday.2022 was a very successful year for Zhang, who first beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland in the rematch at UFC 275 on June 11, 2022, to earn the right to challenge Carla Esparza of the U.S. for the Strawweight belt. Then Zhang defeated Esparza with a rear-naked choke submission in the second round at UFC 281 on November 12, 2022 to regain the title."If I have to pick one word to describe 2022, I want to say growth," Zhang said. "Because I have grown a lot in both skills and mindset. So has my team."Zhang Weili (L) of China kicks Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland at UFC 275 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore, June 11, 2022. (Photo: CFP)The victory in 2022 made Zhang the Strawweight champion again after winning it in 2019 for the first time. She felt in different ways on the two occasions: The first time was a dream come true; the second time was surpassing herself."Regaining the belt means so much to me. It feels too good to surpass myself," Zhang told Xinhua News Agency. "No matter how long it takes, no matter whom I have to fight, my goal last year was to gain the belt back. Thats what everyone on my team wanted, and I did it."Zhang believes that keeping a calm and peaceful mindset was key to her performance in 2022. "No matter what business you are in, the closer you are to the top, the more important for you to remain calm and collected," she said. "I have been adjusting my mindset to stay calm and peaceful, to avoid attaching too much importance to many things...

Grealish admits playing for City is 'more difficult' than he expected

Jack Grealish (#10) of Manchester City applauds the fans after 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League game at Samford Bridge in London, England, January 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Jack Grealish of Manchester City admitted that the clubs style of play is "so much more difficult" than he expected in an interview with Sky Sports on Thursday.City edged Chelsea 1-0 at Samford Bridge on Thursday night after Grealish assisted Riyad Mahrez to score the game-winning goal in the 63rd minute. Both players came off the bench. The victory enabled City to cut their deficit behind the leader Arsenal to five points on the Premier Leagues standings table.Back in August 2021, City paid Aston Villa 117.5 million euros (about $125.3 million) to land Grealish. However, he has scored only seven goals and seven assists in 59 games for City since then, not to mention that he often came off the bench. Its good for the club to have a player like him who is always ready to go to the field and contribute, but fans usually expect more from a winger whose transfer fee set a new record in franchise history."When I came here, Ill be honest, it was so much more difficult than I thought," Grealish told Sky Sports. "In my head I thought I was going to the team sitting top of the league and I was going to get so many goals and assists and obviously it isnt the case."Riyad Mahrez (#26) of Manchester City shoots to score in the Premier League game against Chelsea at Samford Bridge in London, England, January 5, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Fairly speaking, Grealish was not a productive scorer or orchestrator when he played a bigger role in Villa, where he had 32 goals and 43 assists in 213 appearances. City, under manager Pep Guardiola, dont encourage anyone to dribble too much and already have Kevin De Bruyne to shoulder the orchestrating duty. Thats why Grealish often played as a substitute. His penetration can be a pace-changer for City.There are ot...

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