Happy Potter! Bojan Krkic is loving life at Stoke City

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first_img3 3 This interview appears in the current edition of Sport magazine. Download the free iPad app here, and follow on twitter @sportmaguk“I value playing in a league with plenty of fixtures and for a club that trains hard,” says Bojan Krkic of his 18 months in the Premier League. When the diminutive forward signed for Stoke in the summer of 2014, it seemed an unlikely marriage. How did a precocious talent good enough to become Barcelona’s youngest ever player – breaking a record, in 2007, previously held by Lionel Messi – find himself, seven years later, in the Potteries?If eyebrows were raised – and they were – then they soon dropped. Manager Mark Hughes eased his illustrious new signing – picked up after spells with Roma, Milan and Ajax – in gently, but Bojan soon found his match-winning stride. His first four Premier League strikes all contributed to one-goal victories – at home to Arsenal and away at Tottenham, Everton and Leicester.But a fifth goal in 18 appearances last season, in a 4-1 FA Cup win at Rochdale, came at a price. A serious cruciate knee injury sustained in the tie kept him out for the remainder of his debut season. Now he has returned for the new campaign, and duly picked up where he left off. A goal in a 2-2 draw with Leicester in September, and the only goal of the game in victory at Swansea last month, means Stoke are yet to lose a match when their little talisman finds the net.Former Swansea striker Michu once said he was exhausted as never before during his first weeks in the Premier League. Is it such a physically demanding league?“It is demanding at both physical and mental levels. It’s really hard mentally because you have to stay focused for 90 minutes – there’s no time for relaxation. On the other hand, you cannot ration out your energy because any team demands your absolute best.”What has surprised you most about the Premier League?“I would underline the respect for the player and for the sport that this country has. First of all, we can train in a calm environment during the week, which is already a great thing. Stadia are full no matter who you face. Home fans don’t take it too badly if the team loses. That is very important for the player.” 3 How would you describe the days after an injury?“You are shocked because you are not sure what’s waiting for you. The first step is an acceptance of your new reality. Afterwards you have to focus on your job even more than when you are fit – it demands a lot of attention and daily commitment. I tend to find positives in negative situations, but I remember I cried once. It was my mother on the phone when I burst into tears. It was a momentary thing, and anger rather than any other emotion that drove me into sobbing. In fact, I was not sad or self-pitying. I refused to give the injury a bigger importance than it actually had. I set a list of to-do things and focused my attention on what to do to recover from it.”Are you a stronger player now than you were before the injury?“I am more aware of the good things I have. I am very proud for having overcome an injury and, looking back, I value what I have done. Nowadays, my hard work is fuelled by fixtures happiness.”What are Stoke City´s goals for this season?“We work in order to help the team to do well. If the team does well, we all are strengthened individually. A team like us shouldn’t target a certain spot in the table; we should target and focus solely on the next game. Doing well week after week will have a reflection at the end of the season. We don’t take victories for granted.”How do you you feel when you see your team-mates heading off for international duty? “Every player wants to be back in the national team, but I have to be realistic. If I want to have a chance to play for Spain [for whom he has one senior appearance] again, I need to play really well regularly. Playing for the national team is a reward, and there’s no other way of getting there than improving, which is what I am currently doing.”It’s hard to imagine a calm life being a Barcelona player. Are you enjoying another side of football at Stoke?“English culture is different to Spain. Every country’s people have a different way of being, but English people certainly respect players a lot.”In your last press conference at Barcelona, you said: “My goal is to reach happiness in football.” Have you found that happiness?“Yes, I definitely have. Having experienced unpleasant things makes me rate higher the things I didn’t value before. I value playing in a league with plenty of fixtures and for a club that trains hard. That is exactly what I need now, and I feel proud of what I am doing.” Bojan Krkic How did Spanish, Italian and Dutch football shape your style of play?“You absorb positive aspects from each league. I would say that playing in different leagues made my adaptation to the Premier League smoother and quicker than in my previous experiences abroad.”At Roma, it seemed the likes of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi ran the dressing room. Who fills that role at Stoke?“I don’t think there’s such a thing as ruling at Stoke City. Each player has an important role and we must stay united so we can win games. Obviously, some players have certain experience and influence, and we respect them for that. But we are a hard-working group always ready to help a teammate.”And you have an excellent squad this year.“We are a very competitive team. Last season we were competitive too, but we have brought in some good additions this summer. It is time now to assemble all the newcomers in the team and begin a good dynamic.”Last season you picked up an injury when you were hitting your best form…“I was playing well when that happened. But injuries are part of football and you have to be ready for such setbacks. When it happens, you cannot make a drama out of it – you must find the right solution and focus your attempts on enjoying football again.”last_img read more

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool confirmed line-ups

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first_imgEddie Howe’s Bournemouth host a Liverpool side looking to keep up with the Champions League spots in the Premier League’s 4:30pm kick off. In the fixture last season, the home side miraculously overturned a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 in what was one of the most entertaining games of the 2016/17 season. Another win would be greatly welcomed for the Cherries as they lie just a point above the relegation zone, while the visitors will be looking to bounce back from two disappointing draws against Everton and West Brom respectively. So how do the teams line-up? Scroll down to see the confirmed teams. Bournemouth XI: Begovic, Adam Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels, Ibe, Lewis Cook, Surman, Pugh, King, DefoeSubstitutes: Boruc, Steve Cook, Gosling, Arter, Afobe, Stanislas, Fraser Liverpool XI: Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Coutinho, Firmino Substitutes: Karius, Milner, Mane, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold 1 Bournemouth have won two of their four league games at home this campaign last_img read more