Aston Villa boss Remi Garde has paid tribute to Arsene Wenger for the way he has managed to remain at the top of club football for almost two decades. It will be the apprentice against the master on Sunday when Villa host Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League – 19 years on from Garde becoming Wenger’s first signing as Gunners manager. During a week in which Garry Monk became the latest managerial casualty following his sacking by Swansea, Garde believes Wenger’s reign deserves huge credit. Press Association On Wednesday Arsenal qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the 16th successive season and they will arrive at Villa Park with the opportunity to go top of the Premier League, and Garde believes Wenger is as hungry for success now as he was when he played under his fellow Frenchman. “I’ve got a lot of admiration because I realise how tough this job is in the Premier League, how difficult it is to keep a job and get results,”said Garde. “This is the first side (of the job) and then I remember the club at Arsenal 20 years ago without training facilities without a modern stadium like they have today. All this has to be credited to Arsene. “A football club is not only the results you get today but also how you will build for the future for yourself or for another manager for or another chairman or owner. “It’s part of the credit you have to be given to see where was the club when you got the job and where is it now. Not only in terms of trophies. Of course trophies are the main target all the managers have but also to get trophies in the long term and to build a solid club you have to build other stuff. For that Arsene has done brilliantly. “I think you have to dedicate all your life to football and I’m not sure that Arsene had long holidays or many days off since he took the job at Arsenal. And then you have to be completely focused and more than focused, you have to live for football and your football club. “For some characters and personalities it is more difficult than for others. Arsene has always lived for football and he has been rewarded for that. “For me he still has the spirit to get trophies and he probably still feels strong enough to get trophies.” Jack Grealish will be back in the Villa squad against Arsenal after t he 20-year-old midfielder was overlooked for first-team duty against Watford and Southampton following a breach of club discipline. Leandro Bacuna and Rudy Gestede came off injured against Saints but will be fit for Sunday, although captain Micah Richards is still struggling with the knee problem which ruled him out at St Mary’s.
On Sunday, Gabriela Knutson was in a familiar place. Tied at six apiece in the third set against Wake Forest’s No. 36 Emma Davis, No. 11 Knutson was entering her seventh tiebreaker in as many matches.Most tennis players feel anxious or stressed out during tiebreaks, Knutson said. But she feels “at ease.”Knutson took the first point of the tiebreaker on a forehand slice against Davis and didn’t relent, winning the tiebreak 7-5 and the match 6-0, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5).“I wish I had a recipe (to win tiebreaks),” Knutson said, “I just have a lot of confidence down the stretch.”After facing five-straight ranked opponents and posting a 4-1 record during that time, Knutson has relied on tiebreakers to help lead her to an 11-1 season record in singles, the best mark on SU (11-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast). She’s won six of the seven tiebreaks she’s played this season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textKnutson’s knack for controlling tiebreakers first showed itself on Feb. 24 against Brown’s Alyza Benotto. After dropping the first set against Benotto, 2-6, Knutson fought off a 5-6 deficit to force her first tiebreaker of the season. The junior, who had only dropped two sets at the time, was entering uncharted territory for the season.Despite the early setbacks in the match, Knutson took the set on a 7-4 tiebreak and swept the third set to remain perfect on the season.“If you know you are the better player,” Knutson said the week after defeating Benotto, “you’re going to get it done.”A week after a first set tiebreak helped lead Knutson to a 7-6 (7-6), 6-1 victory at Harvard, Knutson split two tiebreakers against Virginia Tech’s then-No. 61 Natalie Novotna to help lead her to a win in three sets.Against North Carolina’s then-No. 8 Alle Sanford, Knutson faced first and second set tiebreakers and eased through both of them. After it was announced that Knutson was ranked No. 11 in the nation on March 6, the highest ranking in SU women’s tennis history, she gave some credit to her play in tiebreakers as a factor for the rise.Though Knutson prefers to not trail in a match, she said she “knows she can win any match” the moment it enters into a tiebreak.“It’s a lot of pressure,” Knutson said, “You have to focus on every single shot and everything you do. You just have to lock in and assert your dominance from the start.”Syracuse has eight matches remaining this season, all in conference. Six of its eight opponents are ranked in the top-50 in the country, and as Syracuse faces one of the toughest stretches of its season, Knutson knows her consistency at first singles will be key. Five of the upcoming opponents feature a singles player in the top 54 in the country — probable opponents for Knutson.“The ACC is one of the best conferences for tennis,” head coach Younes Limam said on Feb. 15. “When we play in conference, we know we’re facing the best.”As competitiveness rises in conference play during the final month of the season, tiebreakers will be key to Knutson’s success against ranked opponents, she said.“I have won all the tiebreaks before,” Knutson said, “so I just have to be like, ‘You know what, I got this.’” Comments Published on March 20, 2018 at 9:44 am Contact KJ: [email protected] | @KJEdelman Facebook Twitter Google+