List of Players Released By Arsenal

Standard annual footballer contracts run from July 1 to June 30 each year meaning that, come July 1 2018, all of the following players are going to be free agents:

Marc Bola

Santi Cazorla

Alex Crean

Vlad Dragomir

Aaron Eyoma

Yassin Fortune

Ryan Huddart

Chiori Johnson

Hugo Keto

Per Mertesacker

Tafari Moore

Jack Wilshere

The Gunners had earlier announced the departures of big names Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere, however seeing this made official on Sunday will bring tears to the eyes of some Arsenal fans. Cazorla has been at the club since 2012, Mertesacker since 2011 and Wilshere since 2001 – he joined at the age of nine.

2018 Russia World Cup Update – 5

The final round of group games began like this – Mohamed Salah scored his second goal of the World Cup but Egypt ended with defeat by Saudi Arabia at Volgograd Arena. The Liverpool forward gave Egypt the lead with a brilliant lob over keeper Yasser Al-Mosailem in the 22nd minute. Egypt’s Essam El Hadary, 45, became the oldest player to feature at a World Cup and saved Fahad Al Muwallad’s penalty. However, he could not stop Salman Al Faraj’s spot-kick and was beaten again by Salem Al Dawsari with seconds left.

Russia’s impressive start to the World Cup ended as they had a man sent off and were easily defeated by Uruguay, whose victory means they top Group A. Uruguay will go on to face Portugal in the last 16, while hosts Russia play Spain. They went behind in their final group match after only 10 minutes when Luis Suarez drilled in a clever low free-kick. It got worse for Stanislav Cherchesov’s side when a Diego Laxalt effort from 25 yards was deflected in by Denis Cheryshev, leaving his keeper Igor Akifneev stranded and in the position of having conceded three goals at the tournament without making a save. Akinfeev did then come out to block a Rodrigo Bentancur chance, with Roman Zobnin just scrambling the rebound clear of Edinson Cavani, before Igor Smolnikov picked up a second yellow card and was sent off 35 minutes into his World Cup debut.

Portugal progressed to the World Cup knockout stage after drawing with Iran in a game full of VAR controversy. Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty for Portugal and was shown a yellow card after a lengthy VAR review for a possible red card. Ricardo Quaresma had put Portugal in front with a sensational goal at the end of the first half. Iran scored a late penalty, given after another video review, and almost snatched a winner in stoppage time. Iago Aspas scored a stoppage-time equaliser – with the aid of VAR – as Spain scraped an unconvincing draw with Morocco to top Group B and secure a World Cup last-16 tie against hosts Russia.

Youssef En-Nesyri – who plays in Spain for Malaga – looked to have won it for Herve Renard’s side when he powered in a superb header from fellow substitute Faycal Fajr’s corner. But Aspas flicked in Dani Carvajal’s low cross to make it 2-2, with referee Ravshan Irmatov initially disallowing the goal before overturning the decision. Spain won the group on goals scored as Portugal were held to a 1-1 draw by Iran – but had a tough night as they extended their unbeaten run to 23 games. A dreadful mix-up between Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos had allowed Khalid Boutaib to stride through and give Morocco a surprise 14th-minute lead. Peru recorded their first win at a World Cup finals since 1978 as they beat Australia in the last match of the tournament for both sides. The South Americans went ahead with a fine, low 15-yard volley from Andre Carrillo & Peru captain Paolo Guerrero, sealed the victory when he spun and shot into the far corner.

Denmark joined France in the last 16 of the World Cup after playing out the first goalless draw of the tournament, which was greeted by boos at the final whistle. Iceland failed in their attempt to reach the World Cup knockout stage for the first time as Croatia secured a late win to top Group D on maximum points. Alfred Finnbogason and Birkir Bjarnason both went close before the interval in Rostov-on-Don but Milan Badelj stylishly slammed home for Croatia after the break. That forced Iceland to chase the game and, after Sverrir Ingason hit the bar, Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a penalty to level following Dejan Lovren’s handball. Marcos Rojo scored a fine late volley to send Argentina through to the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup with a dramatic victory over Nigeria in St Petersburg. It was a result they scarcely deserved after a poor second-half showing, epitomised by the Javier Mascherano error that allowed Victor Moses to equalise with a penalty.

Brazil avoided a shock result that had earlier seen Germany knocked out of the World Cup by defeating Serbia to finish top of Group E and book a last-16 tie against Mexico. Paulinho (36′minutes) & Thiago Silva (68′minutes) scored the goals. Switzerland set up a World Cup last-16 tie with Sweden after a draw with Costa Rica that featured a bizarre late penalty drama. Dzemaili (31′minutes) & Drmic (88′minutes) scores for Switzerland while Costa Rica saw goals from Waston (56′minutes) & Sommer (90’+3minutes og). Defending champions Germany have been eliminated from the World Cup at the group stage following defeat by South Korea, in one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history. The four-time winners crashed out in ignominious fashion – conceding twice in injury time as they pressed for the goal which would have sent them through.

In an astonishing and enthralling end to the match, Kim Young-gwon’s 92nd-minute goal – which was initially ruled out for offside before being awarded after a video assistant referee decision – left Germany on the brink of elimination. Worse was to come for the world’s number one ranked side, however, when deep into stoppage time and appearing increasingly desperate, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer lost possession in the opponents’ half. Ju Se-jong launched it forward where Son Heung-min tapped into an empty net to score the second. Sweden propelled themselves into the World Cup knockout stage with a handsome victory over Mexico that qualified them as Group F winners and condemned Germany to early elimination. Ludwig Augustinsson fired Sweden ahead five minutes after the break when a Viktor Claesson mis-hit inadvertently found him free at the far post, before Andreas Granqvist smashed home a penalty 12 minutes later following Hector Moreno’s trip on Marcus Berg.

England will face Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup after a spectacular strike by Adnan Januzaj ensured Belgium finished top of Group G. A second-half strike from Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri ensured Tunisia ended their World Cup Group G campaign with a victory, as Panama finished bottom. The north African side, who had 14 chances, fell a goal behind when Jose Luis Rodriguez’s effort deflected in off Yassine Meriah. Fakhreddine Ben Youssef equalised when he tapped home Khazri’s low ball. The provider of that goal then scored his second of the tournament when he fired home Oussama Haddadi’s cross.

Japan reached the last 16 of the World Cup by having a better disciplinary record than Senegal – after losing to Poland in their final Group H game. The match finished in farcical fashion, with both sides happy to play the ball around at the back for much of the final quarter. Akira Nishino’s side finished with the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded as Senegal, but were shown only four yellow cards during the group stage to the African side’s six. Yerry Mina’s second-half header sent Colombia into a last-16 tie with England at the World Cup at the expense of Senegal, who lost out to Japan having received more yellow cards.

Double Deal To Be Announced Next Week?

Arsenal will complete a £16million deal for Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos next week, according to The Star. The Gunners are also on the brink of completing the £26million signing of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, reports the Telepgraph. Arsenal boss Unai Emery is including Lucas Torreira in his plans for next season. The Telegraph say the new Gunners manager wants to build his midfield around Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. Emery then plans to add Torreira to the mix to bolster his midfield ranks at the Emirates. Torreira is currently at the World Cup with Uruguay but Sampdoria sporting director Carlo Osti has confirmed the 22-year-old had left the club.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is to complete a move to Fenerbahce on Monday, according to reports in Turkey. The England midfielder will be a free agent when his Gunners contract ends on Sunday, and confirmed his departure on social media. Moves to Spain and Italy had been mooted in recent weeks but it now appears the 26-year-old is on the brink of a move to the Turkish giants. Wilshere had a decent campaign with Arsenal last season having spent 2016/17 on loan at Bournemouth as he looked to get an injury plagued career back on track.

His performances, though, did not convince incoming Arsenal manager Unai Emery and he is now being released by the Gunners. Fenerbahce finished second in the Turkish Super Lig last season, challenging Galatasaray for the title. Wilshere is seen as an upgrade on 37-year-old ex-Newcastle star Emre Belozoglu.

Social Media Good Thangs

What is your favorite thing about social media?

My absolute favourite thing about social media is connecting with like minded people. Kindred spirits. People who have a taste for the same kind of silly humour I have and like and have the same interests like me – football, movies, atheism, scifi, horror, rock n roll and other stuff – and can appreciate a good joke or two.

I have a couple of friends on Twitter who seem to be very like minded. Also on Facebook, meeting the first time in a shared interest in atheism, scifi shows, movies, horror, music or football and then becoming friends on Facebook as well. That is the best outcome that can happen when you spend many an hour on social media.

Other than that, finding links to some good music or video clip is also an awesome thing. Dirty little jokes and memes too!

Prompt from 30 DAYS OF WRITING PROMPTS FOR JUNE at The SitsGirls

Pumpkinhead

Pumpkinhead is a 1988 American dark fantasy horror film. It was the directorial debut of special effects artist Stan Winston. The film has built up a cult following in the years since its release. The first in the Pumpkinhead franchise, it was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, two TV film sequels, and a comic book series. The movie stars Lance Henriksen, John D’Aquino and a very young Mayim Bialik in a small role.

Ed Harley as a child watched one night as his father refused to open the door to their farm house for a neighbour & friend who was being chased by a mysterious creature. From the window young Ed watches the creature, Pumpkinhead kill the man. Many years later, a grown up Ed runs a small store in the country, raising his young son Billy. One day, a bunch of young folk from the city comes in to do some dirt biking and to stay in a cabin in the woods. As Ed leaves to run an errand, two of the men start to ride their bikes and accidentally one of them, Joel, runs over Billy when the boy chases behind his dog. It was an accident but Joel has a prior record and leaves for the cabin with his girlfriend and the others go after them, leaving Steve to be with the injured boy.

Ed comes and is devastated and furious, unwilling to listen to Steve’s explanation. Not having a hospital or doctor nearby, Billy dies and Ed goes to see a supposed witch, who says she cannot bring his son back. Instead, Harley says that he wants revenge; the witch agrees to help Harley, but she warns him that vengeance comes with a terrible price. On her orders, Harley goes to an old graveyard in the mountains, digs up a disfigured corpse, and brings it back to the witch’s home. The witch uses blood from father and son to resurrect the corpse, which rises as a gigantic, spindly demonic monster named Pumpkinhead.

Well, Pumpkinhead goes after the young people and kills them off one by one, starting with Steve and then Maggie. Ed starts to experience the killings and is traumatized and begs the witch to stop the killings as he is now remorseful but she says that it can’t be stopped. A repentant Joel tried to attack the creature with a knife but is killed. A local boy named Bunt, who showed Ed the way to the witch’s house, joins the remaining group and is taken by Ed to the latter’s cabin. The creature’s face now starts to resemble Ed more and more and when it attacks Chris & Bunt, it is accidentally stabbed in the arm by a pitchfork both Harley and Pumpkinhead cry out in pain, and Pumpkinhead releases Bunt. Harley notices that Pumpkinhead’s head is turning more human, then realizes that he and Pumpkinhead are one: the only way to kill the monster is to die himself.

Before the creature can kill Tracey, Harley shoots himself in the head. Pumpkinhead momentarily collapses to the ground, then grabs Bunt again. Tracey takes the gun and Harley begs her to finish him off. Harley, now fully changed, tries to attack Tracey. She shoots him until both he and Pumpkinhead fall to the ground dead and the creature’s body bursts into flames. Later that night, back in the pumpkin patch, the witch buries Harley’s now-disfigured corpse in Pumpkinhead’s grave, ready for the next person seeking vengeance, and still wearing the necklace his son Billy made him.

Very atmospheric with the remote setting and country woods location and the night time scenes with winds and leaves falling over. This cult film is perfect for a Halloween night screening. Surprisingly good enough for a 7 outta 10!

2018 Russia World Cup Update – 4

Philippe Coutinho and Neymar bailed Brazil out with stoppage-time strikes against Costa Rica following another uninspiring display at the 2018 World Cup. Coach Tite’s team were heading for a second inglorious draw when Barcelona midfielder Coutinho popped up to poke home from Roberto Firmino’s nod down. And with seconds remaining Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, tapped in Douglas Costa’s cross to secure Brazil’s first win of the tournament. Ahmed Musa scored both goals as Nigeria swept aside World Cup debutants Iceland to leave Group D intriguingly poised with one round of games to go. The Super Eagles would have gone out with defeat but came good in Volgograd. Musa showed superb technique to fire Nigeria ahead on the half-volley before the Leicester player rounded keeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson to make it 2-0.

Iceland missed a late penalty – awarded after a video assistant referee review – when Gylfi Sigurdsson fired over. Switzerland took a huge step towards the last 16 of the World Cup as Xherdan Shaqiri scored a brilliant solo 90th-minute winner against Serbia. The Stoke City player collected the ball near the halfway line before dribbling away from the defence and slotting past Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Granit Xhaka had scored a superb equaliser for Switzerland after Aleksandar Mitrovic put Serbia in front with a header in the fifth minute. Javier Hernandez scored his 50th international goal to help Mexico take a big step towards the last 16 of the World Cup with an impressive win over South Korea, despite Son Heung-min’s stunning late strike.

Having upset defending champions Germany in their opening game in Group F, Mexico proved again they will be a test for any side should they reach the knockout stages. They took the lead in Rostov-on-Don through Carlos Vela’s penalty – the 14th of the tournament already – on 26 minutes after Jang Hyun-soo’s handball. Toni Kroos’ injury-time winner against Sweden revived defending champions Germany’s hopes of becoming the first side to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962. Ola Toivonen’s deft first-half lob had left Joachim Low’s side facing elimination but Marco Reus, starting in place of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, prodded in an equaliser as Germany assumed control after the interval. The champions then had Jerome Boateng sent off late on for a second yellow card but continued to chase the game knowing a draw left their fate in others’ hands.

And they were rewarded in the final minute of five added on when Kroos tapped a free-kick short to Reus before sweeping the return pass into the top right corner from left of the penalty area. Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored twice as Belgium strengthened their lead above England at the top of World Cup Group G by crushing Tunisia with a devastating attacking display. While Roberto Martinez’s side are not through to the last 16 yet, a win for England over Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday will see the Red Devils and Three Lions progress. That would leave their meeting in Kaliningrad on Thursday to decide who tops the group and it is Belgium who hold the upper hand there, with their sparkling finishing in the sunshine at the Spartak Stadium leaving their goal difference significantly better off.

England recorded their biggest win at a World Cup to overwhelm Panama and secure a place in the last 16 before their final Group G game with Belgium. Harry Kane played a captain’s role once more with a hat-trick to become the tournament’s leading scorer, as England built on their opening victory against Tunisia with an impressive show of ruthlessness and quality. John Stones opened the scoring with an early header before Kane added the second with a thunderous penalty after Jesse Lingard had been fouled. Lingard added the third in the 36th minute with a brilliant curling effort from 25 yards and, as Panama crumbled, Stones crowned a slick set-piece routine by heading his second and Kane made it 5-0 before half-time with another penalty after he was wrestled to the ground.

Japan and Senegal remain well placed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup – and a last-16 date with England or Belgium – after an entertaining draw in Ekaterinburg. Sadio Mane put Senegal ahead from close range after an awful mistake by Eiji Kawashima, the ball flying past the Japan keeper after his attempted punched clearance hit the Liverpool forward. Japan were level before half-time through Takashi Inui’s lovely curling finish, before Yuya Osako hit the crossbar. Nineteen-year-old defender Moussa Wague thought he had sealed Senegal’s second straight Group H win with a fine finish from an angle but substitute Keisuke Honda salvaged a point for Japan moments after coming on. Radamel Falcao scored his first World Cup goal as Colombia got their tournament in Russia up and running with an impressive victory that ended a lacklustre Poland side’s hopes of reaching the last 16.

Yerry Mina nodded in James Rodriguez’s cross shortly before half-time to put the South Americans ahead. Falcao, who missed the finals four years ago with injury, then broke through in the second half before driving a low strike into the far corner and Juan Cuadrado capped off a fine team performance with an accomplished finish after racing on to Rodriguez’s sublime ball behind the Poland defence.

Deals In The Pipeline For Emery?

With two confirmed deals and 1 to be confirmed on July 1st Arsenal are now looking at midfielders. Unai Emery is adamant that his new club sign his former player Ever Banega, yet today it is reported that Sevilla will do everything in their power to hold on to midfielder Ever Banega amid interest from Arsenal, insisting that he is “not for sale” and doubling down on their ability to talk the player into staying. The Argentina midfielder is considering his options this summer after some behind-the-scenes changes at the club and has an achievable release clause understood to be in the region of €20m (£17.6m) this summer.

Unai Emery is very familiar with the player from his own time in Seville and is well aware of the qualities and experience that the 29-year-old playmaker could bring in a time of rebuilding at the Emirates. It is also thought that the signing of another South American player is a done deal.  Arsenal have already signed Lucas Torreira, according to the agent of ANOTHER player. Torreira’s move has been in the pipeline for a matter of weeks after the midfielder’s impressive performances in Serie A.

But the Gunners have also been linked with Celta Vigo man Stanislav Lobotka in recent times. However, his agent Branislav Jasurek rubbished those reports, while simultaneously confirming that Torreira will be an Arsenal player next term. “Arsenal have bought Torreira to play six, so I do not think it’s going to happen,” he told La Voz de Galicia. “We only had a few words about feelings about the club, about what we think about Stanko’s future, but nothing in particular.”

Sunday Letdown

When it doesn’t rain it actually gets back to be hot and sweaty again. Yesterday, as it was the second of two days without rain, it was hot and muggy in the evenings and ofcourse with the mosquitoes out in force, it was not how I wanted it to be! Atleast there aren’t as many mosquitoes as there usually is. There are smaller and fewer and for some reason they are only biting me below the ankle.

Yesterday I went out for a while and I had a few things on my agenda – cut my hair, buy some cloth and maybe a couple of shirts, burgers at Burger Junction and buy groceries at Big Bazaar. Well, it didn’t work out. My usual barber shop was closed – they only close on Tuesdays but why on a Sunday? – and it was hot. So I went to TBJ for a burger, a shake and some wings and then I went to get groceries. I was feeling a bit drained and tired that I came home immediately after that.

No cloth shopping or buying shirts, which will have to wait till next week. Oh yeah, back to work after three days off.

2018 Russia World Cup Update – 3

Japan profited from Colombia’s nightmare start to the World Cup as they secured a victory against 10 men in their Group H opener in Saransk, despite James Rodriguez’s late introduction. Colombia conceded a penalty and had a man sent off inside three minutes, with Carlos Sanchez dismissed for handling Shinji Kagawa’s shot at a goal left exposed by terrible defending. After the first red card shown at this World Cup – and the second fastest in history at two minutes 56 seconds – Kagawa scored the spot-kick.

Senegal deservedly defeated Poland in a game of few chances to claim the first win by an African team at the World Cup – although there was a hint of controversy about their second goal. M’Baye Niang sprinted back on to the field of play after injury and immediately intercepted a backpass from midfield, beating former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Southampton defender Jan Bednarek to the ball. He then slotted into an empty net – to the confusion and disgust of several Poland players, who protested in vain to referee Nawaf Shukralla. The Lions of Teranga had taken the lead shortly before the break when a shot from Everton’s Idrissa Gueye took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Thiago Cionek.

Russia moved to the brink of qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup after the host nation beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in St Petersburg. Russia, who beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opening game, took the lead thanks to a bizarre 47th-minute own goal from Ahmed Fathi, who diverted Roman Zobnin’s shot into his own net. Denis Cheryshev doubled Russia’s advantage after he finished from Mario Fernandes’ pull-back, before Artem Dzyuba sealed the victory with a fine individual goal. Liverpool forward Salah, playing for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury in the Champions League final, converted a penalty after he had been fouled – but it was not enough to mount an Egypt fightback.

Uruguay’s slender victory over Saudi Arabia ensured that they and host nation Russia reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Luis Suarez scored the only goal at the Rostov Arena, sweeping in from close range on his 100th international appearance. It was hard on the Green Falcons, who were knocked out despite a vast improvement from their 5-0 defeat by Russia in the tournament’s opening game. Cristiano Ronaldo continued his sensational start to the World Cup with the winner as Portugal knocked Morocco out of the tournament. All eyes at the Luzhniki Stadium were on the Real Madrid star after his hat-trick in Portugal’s opening game with Spain and, typically, he did not disappoint. It took the captain only four minutes to make his mark in the way Morocco had feared, diving to get on the end of a Joao Moutinho cross and planting an unstoppable header into the net.

Spain edged out a gallant Iran in an absorbing contest to ensure they will reach the World Cup knockout stage with a draw in their final group game. The 2010 champions needed a fortuitous Diego Costa goal after half-time, having been frustrated in an opening period in which they had 81% of possession. Iran, who defended admirably until the ball ricocheted in off Costa, instantly showed more intent and thought they had levelled, only for Saeid Ezatolahi’s strike to be ruled out for offside. Denmark manager Age Hareide said video assistant referees are taking the “charm” out of the World Cup after Australia scored a debatable penalty to keep their last-16 hopes alive. Australia cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s fine opener when Mile Jedinak converted from the spot after Yussuf Poulsen’s handball in the area was penalised by VAR. The ball struck Poulsen on his trailing arm as he contested a header with Mathew Leckie.

Kylian Mbappe’s first-half strike helped France overcome – and eliminate – a resilient Peru to earn a spot in the knockout round of the World Cup. Ricardo Gareca’s side, buoyed on by their passionate support inside the Ekaterinburg Arena, came alive in the second half after falling behind in the 34th minute but ultimately could not find the equaliser that would have prevented their exit. Monaco’s Mbappe was the player to punish the Peruvians when he tapped in Olivier Giroud’s deflected shot, coming after a period of France dominance. Argentina are facing the prospect of an early World Cup exit after a dreadful error from goalkeeper Willy Caballero set Croatia on their way to victory and a place in the last 16. It was a dogged defensive second-half display from Croatia, illuminated by a moment of magic from their own masterful number 10, Luka Modric. His curled shot from range drifted beautifully beyond Caballero’s dive to put his side two ahead, before Rakitic’s injury-time tap-in sealed a victory that moves the Europeans through to the knockout stage and also leaves them in a strong position to win the group.

Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow is a 2018 American spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons. It tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer who is sent to make contact with a CIA agent in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole.

Set in modern times, Dominika Egorova is a famed Russian ballerina who supports her ill mother. Following a career-ending injury, she finds out that the injury was perhaps forced by her male partner, who is sleeping with her understudy and in a fit of rage she beats them both badly. Faced with the possibility of losing their apartment, Dominika is approached by her uncle, Ivan, who works in Russian intelligence. She is tasked with seducing Dimitry Ustinov, a Russian gangster, in exchange for her mother’s continued medical care. As Ustinov rapes her, he is killed by Matorin, a Russian operative authorized by Ivan. Ivan offers Dominika a choice to begin working for Russian intelligence, or be executed so there are no witnesses. She is instead sent to train to become a Russian operative, known as a ‘Sparrow’, capable of seducing her targets.

Dominika excels in her training, despite some friction with her trainers, and an attempted rape by a male operative in training who she beats up, she is assigned to Budapest. Meanwhile Nate Nash, a CIA operative working in Moscow. While meeting with an asset in Gorky Park, they are confronted by the police. Nash creates a diversion to ensure his asset, a mole in Russian ranks code-named Marble, escapes detection. Nash is reassigned back to the U.S. but insists that he is the only individual whom Marble will work with. Since he cannot return to Russia, he is assigned to Budapest, where he will regain contact with Marble. Russian SVR has been tracking Nash, and hopes to find out the identity of Marble. Dominika’s assignment is to gain the trust of Nash, and reveal his contact.

Dominika stays with another operative named Marta in Budapest and reports to her lecherous boss Maxim Volontov. Dominika makes contact with Nash and he realizes that she is a Russian spy to which she readily admits and says that her intention is to find out Marble’s identity. However they hit it off. Marta’s was working with Stephanie Boucher, chief of staff for a U.S. Senator to gather information but that goes wrong and Stephanie is killed in an accident when she panics upon seeing US agents. Matorin kills Marta as a warning. Russian agents observing Boucher realize that the mission had been compromised. Dominika and Volontov are required to immediately return to Moscow. She is tortured and interrogated for days but does not break even as her boss Volontov was apparently executed. She convinces Ivan that she is now credible to the Americans, as she has been tortured by her own people and did not reveal information. Dominika returns to Budapest, and informs Nash that she wishes to defect with her mother to America.

She and Nash spend the night in bed but when she wakes up she finds him being tortured by Matorin. She pretends to join the torture (including a scene in which Nash’s skin is being peeled) but then turns on the Russian assassin and is able to kill him with Nash’s help. She wakes up in a hospital where she is met by

General Vladimir Korchnoi reveals that he is Marble. He explains that he was initially patriotic, but grew to feel that Russia was corrupt. He fears he will be caught soon, and instead of dying in vain, instructs Dominika to reveal his identity to Ivan. She could then replace him as a mole and further their work by passing information to the CIA. But when Dominika contacts her superiors to reveal the identity of the mole, she frames her uncle Ivan rather than betray Korchnoi. Ivan is killed by the Russian side during a spy swap, and Dominika is congratulated for her work by her Russian superiors. Back home in Russia, Dominika lives with her mother, and receives a phone call from an unknown person who plays Grieg’s piano concerto that she had listened to during her affair with Nash.

I usually love spy films but the pace of this film kinda lets it down. It feels kinda drab in places and not at all like the exciting and entertaining spy films I have seen in the past. Laurence seems forced at times and I wasn’t buying her half-baked attempt at a Russian accent. The cliche of having the main female character being ogled, desired, sexualized and pawned at by the majority of the men in the main cast. I give it a 7 outta 10!

RIP Vinnie Paul

Drummer Vinnie Paul, co-founder of metal band Pantera, has died. Currently a member of Hellyeah, Paul was 54. His representative confirmed the legendary drummer’s death to Billboard, but added that no further details are available at this time. “Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away,” reads a statement on the Pantera Facebook page. “Paul is best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah. No further details are available at this time. The family requests you please respect their privacy during this time.”

Along with his brother, Dimebag Darrell, Paul (born Vincent Paul Abbott) formed Pantera in 1981. The group found mainstream success with second lead singer Phil Anselmo. Throughout its career, Pantera earned four Grammy nominations and charted nine albums on the Billboard 200, including its 1994 album Far Beyond Driven, which debuted at No. 1 on the chart. Following Pantera’s demise, the Abbott brothers formed Damageplan in 2003. The band was performing on Dec. 8, 2004, when Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed onstage during a concert in Columbus, Ohio.

Since 2006, Paul was the drummer for Hellyeah, a heavy metal supergroup that also includes Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray and  Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell. Born in Texas, Paul credited his Lone Star roots for his powerful groove. “The Texas thing is part of it, growing up on a healthy dose of ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan, but I also was a metal-head from day one. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Van Halen, all my favorite bands had really great grooves to their music,” he told OnlineDrummer.com a few years ago. His parents are Jerry, a country music songwriter and producer, and Carolyn Abbott.

2018 Russia World Cup Update – 2

Aziz Behich’s late own goal broke Australian resistance as France started with a win in Group C and history was made with the World Cup’s first VAR goal. The video assistant referee penalised Australia’s Josh Risdon for a sliding challenge on Antoine Griezmann, allowing the Atletico Madrid forward to dispatch a penalty, the first World Cup goal influenced by VAR. However, after French defender Samuel Umtiti handled Aaron Mooy’s free-kick, Australia equalised through Mile Jedinak’s penalty in Kazan. Kylian Mbappe sparkled early on, racing beyond the Australia backline to test goalkeeper Mat Ryan after 93 seconds.

Lionel Messi’s bid to win the World Cup got off to a nightmare start as he missed a penalty and his Argentina side were surprisingly held by debutants Iceland. Messi was looking to match the impact his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo has made on the tournament – a sensational hat-trick against Spain on Friday night. But instead of being the hero, Messi was the villain as his second-half spot-kick was easily saved by Hannes Halldorsson with the score at 1-1. Denmark began their World Cup campaign with a hard-fought victory against a Peru side that had earlier missed a penalty. The Danes hit Peru on the counter-attack in the second half with Christian Eriksen releasing Yussuf Poulsen, who had conceded the penalty, and he fired past Pedro Gallese.

Croatia made a winning World Cup start against Nigeria, as Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal and a Luka Modric penalty decided a poor Group D match in Kaliningrad. Etebo, who joined Stoke City from Portuguese club Feirense for £6.35m on Monday, turned Modric’s first-half corner into his own net after Ante Rebic and Mario Mandzukic had both got touches. Modric then converted a 71st-minute penalty – Croatia’s first shot on target – after William Troost-Ekong had manhandled Mandzukic at a corner. Aleksandar Kolarov scored a spectacular free-kick to give Serbia a deserved victory in their opening World Cup Group E match against Costa Rica. Serbia captain Kolarov – the former Manchester City defender – scored from 25 yards when he curled the ball over the Costa Rica wall.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil failed to win their opening game of a World Cup for the first time since 1978 as Switzerland earned a valuable draw in Rostov-on-Don. The five-time champions, so often lauded for their flair, failed to sparkle after Philippe Coutinho’s superbly curled opener on 20 minutes. Tite’s side – with Gabriel Jesus and Willian alongside Neymar in a front three – could offer only fleeting moments of fluid play and Steven Zuber’s header from a corner earned the Swiss a deserved point. Defending champions Germany made a disastrous start to their bid to win back-to-back World Cups with a shock defeat by Mexico.

Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal was the difference between the two sides in an enthralling encounter in Moscow, but the surprising result was not the only concern for Germany coach Joachim Low. His disjointed side looked extraordinarily vulnerable on the break even before Javier Hernandez punished them with the pass that set up Lozano to cut inside and fire home. Sweden marked their first appearance in the World Cup for 12 years by beating South Korea thanks to a penalty from captain Andreas Granqvist that was awarded after a video assistant referee (VAR) review. There was a short delay for Kim Min-woo’s foul on Viktor Claesson to be analysed on video and for the referee to point to the spot but it did not affect Granqvist, who sent goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo the wrong way.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium proved too good for World Cup debutants Panama in the opening match in England’s Group G. After a goalless first half, Belgium, ranked third in the world, finally broke Panama’s resistance when Dries Mertens steered in a spectacular volley. Panama, 55th in the rankings, had a chance to snatch an equaliser but Thibaut Courtois was quick off his line to save Michael Murillo’s shot with his legs. Manchester United striker Lukaku made certain of the victory as he scored with a diving header after an exquisite pass from Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne with the outside of his boot. Lukaku then added a third with a chipped finish after a fine through ball from Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner ensured England started their World Cup campaign with victory after Tunisia threatened to snatch a point in Volgograd. Kane scored his second goal of the game with a clever header as Gareth Southgate’s side recorded England’s first win in the opening game of a major tournament since they beat Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup. England’s captain gave them the reward they deserved for a brilliant start by turning in the opener in the 11th minute after Tunisia keeper Mouez Hassen, who went off injured in the first half, clawed out John Stones’ header.

Midfielder Deal Done?

Here is another deal that seems to be almost all wrapped up. Arsenal have been looking out for a defensive minded midfielder and we may have that player within our graps, if news reports are accurate – this one quotes the president of Sampdoria, where the player in question is currently signed onto, hence it is mostly legitamate.

Arsenal are seemingly on the verge of signing midfielder Lucas Torreira after Sampdoria president Massimo Ferrero confirmed the player had “left” the Seria A side. Torreira, 22, is seen as one of Serie A’s most talented young midfielders, a modern playmaker who can win the ball back as well as distribute it, something missing from Arsenal’s play in recent seasons as Granit Xhaka continues to flatter to deceive. He will be the latest signing that recruitment czar Sven Mislintat has been charged with revamping Unai Emery’s first Arsenal squad ready for the new season, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno joining on Tuesday from Bayer Leverkusen.

Now a Uruguayan international, Torreira is part of an exciting midfield revolution under Oscar Washington Tabarez as the World Cup dark horses look to squeeze the last out of their prolific generation of strikers in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Speaking on Italian television, Ferrero said: “Torreira left for 30m euro. I bought him from Pescara when no one believed in him. We placed a bet and we won, paying just 3m euro. Torreira, originally a striker before moving backwards into midfield, is did not start Uruguay’s opener against Egypt on Friday but made a second-half appearance from the bench.