Monday, 13 November 2017

Mane sent back to Liverpool with hamstring concern attacker has missed a great deal of football this season and there will be no risks taken over his health
Sadio Mane has returned to Liverpool after complaining of a minor hamstring problem, the Senegal national team have confirmed.
The 25-year-old only made his comeback from injury in the 4-1 Premier League win over West Ham on November 4, but was called up for this month's international matches despite his lack of playing time.
Mane played in the win over South Africa on Friday, a result that secured Senegal's place at the World Cup, setting up Diafra Sakho's goal in the 2-0 victory in Polokwane.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had hoped Mane would be allowed to return to England if Senegal qualified for the finals in Russia before they meet South Africa again on Tuesday.
The Senegalese Football Federation have since confirmed the forward has been sent back to Liverpool for treatment on what they describe as "his old injury".
"Following the South Africa against Senegal match on Friday, November 10 in Polokwane, the player Sadio Mane slightly felt his old injury," a statement read.
"After consultations between the medical staff of the Senegal national team and Liverpool, it was decided by mutual agreement to make him available to his club with a view to continuing treatment until full recovery."

Drogba 'was like an animal’ – Lampard hails favourite teammates 39-year-old picked his former captain and the Ivorian marksman as players he enjoyed playing together with
Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has named John Terry and Didier Drogba as his favourite teammates.
Lampard, Terry and Drogba enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Stamford Bridge and led the side to their first Uefa Champions League triumph in 2012.
The former England international could not choose between the former Blues skipper and the ex-Cote d’Ivoire international, while praising the former's different approach to the big games.
“I always say Didier Drogba and John Terry [were my favourite to play alongside], for different reasons so it’s like a double-headed answer really,” Lampard told Copa90.
“John, I wouldn’t say he’s underrated because everyone appreciates how good he was but I think he’s underrated on the ball, how good he was.
“Didier for me was amazing, to have him in your team in a final, you felt Didier in the dressing room before a big game that it was a different Didier, he was like an animal.
“His preparation, the intensity in his eyes and then he always produced.”

Giggs takes academy role in Vietnam with Scholes to follow
The Old Trafford legend signed a two-year contract with the famous academy while his former team-mate is likely to come in as an advisor
Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has taken on a role as youth director with a Vietnamese football academy and Paul Scholes is set to join him.
The former Wales star will begin his new job as head of the academy at Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talents FC (PVF) from November 20, while his ex-Red Devils team-mate will reportedly come in as technical advisor.
PVF will welcome the United icons with the opening ceremony of their new training centre later this month.
Giggs is set to sign a two-year contract and "will be responsible for coaching players, training coaches and participating in building and developing PVF to become the leading youth football training centre in Vietnam, in line with the famous football academies across the world," PVF's website declared.
Giggs has been linked with several coaching jobs in the Premier League since his brief spell as interim United boss after the sacking of David Moyes in 2014, recording two wins from four games.
Man U 17/4 to beat Newcastle 2-0
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The 43-year-old showed an interest in taking over Leicester City and Everton after managerial changes, but has opted for a role far away from the English top-flight.
"I think you look at those two teams, Leicester being champions two seasons ago, Everton being a fantastic club with a fantastic history, for me these are clubs I would be interested in," he said.
"However, there are a lot of coaches out there who would be interested in those positions."

Operation Benzema: Man Utd only former England striker only moved to Old Trafford because Sir Alex Ferguson was unable to land the Frenchman, who has spent eight years in Spain
Michael Owen has revealed that Manchester United only signed him after they were thwarted in the race to sign Karim Benzema from Lyon.
Reds 4/5 to beat Newcastle -1 handicap
In the summer of 2009, the former Liverpool striker made a shock move to Old Trafford, but it would never have materialised if Sir Alex Ferguson had been successful in his attempt to swoop for Lyon forward Benzema, who switched instead to Real Madrid.

It took €35 million for the Bernabeu side to land the French striker from his hometown club, and he has remained there ever since.
Owen, though, has admitted that history could have been very different if Ferguson had had his way.
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“I thank Benzema because without him I would never have gone to Manchester United,” he admitted to Canal + . “Ferguson told me that I will only sign if he couldn’t get Benzema. And that's what happened.”
Owen spent three years at Old Trafford but enjoyed little personal success with the Red Devils, where he scored only five Premier League goals in 31 appearances.
Benzema, meanwhile, has found the net 123 times in 251 La Liga outings since moving to Spain and is closing in on the 200-goal mark in all competitions for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Rebel Rudiger's rise from teenage street striker to £34m Chelsea star of the German's meeting with former club Roma on Wednesday, Goal looks back at the defender's perilous journey to the top
Kind-hearted but with an appetite for mischief during his teenage years, Antonio Rudiger hasn't taken the simplest path to the Chelsea first team but it is a stage on which he undoubtedly belongs.
Blues 17/20 for CS v Watford
The 24-year-old now represents a team from west London's wealthiest suburb, but he was born and grew up in Neukolln, a tough area in Berlin where crime was rife. His parents, Matthias and Lily, met in the German capital after being forced to flee Sierra Leone in 1991 due to the civil war.

Rudiger made his first steps into professional football at the relatively late age of 15, having honed his skills in street football. He then left Berlin to build his career at Borussia Dortmund, but his route to the top would not be easy, after spending eight years in amateur football.
Dirk Jacob signed a nine-year-old Rudiger for his club, SV Tasmania Berlin, after taking him from another local side in VfB Sperber Neukolln. Jacob remembered how Rudiger's mentality used to change as soon as the whistle was blown for kick-off.
"I was the coach of the then-E1 juniors with players who were 9 or 10 and I brought Antonio to my team," Jacob told Sportmasta. "He stood out at that time because of his quiet and calm behaviour, but on the pitch he was the opposite of quiet and calm.
"Antonio was always looking for fun. He wanted to do everything right in games. He was at almost every training session no matter what the weather was like. Technically, as a runner and in footballing terms, he was very strong.
"Because of his endurance and his acceleration he was one of the best in his group. Antonio was very good at dribbling. He was physically strong and already tall for his age. Technically, his abilities were already very pronounced and he was good at shooting.
"In the two years Antonio played in my team he mostly played as a striker. But he was quite good in every other position too. I even used him as a goalkeeper from time to time."
Jacob, who has coached in Neukolln since 2002, then recalls his favourite story whilst training Rudiger, revealing just how big a heart the defender possesses.
"Antonio always stood for justice," he said. "During one match, he ran towards the empty goal of our opponents and could have scored. But Antonio waited instead for an eternity for one of his teammates, gave him the ball and the team-mate then scored the goal. This team-mate had never scored a goal until then. It is my favourite memory of him."
Rudiger played three seasons with Tasmania before moving on to Neukollner Sportfreunde 1907 for one season. He then went to Hertha Zehlendorf for two years before he was picked up by Dortmund.
Hertha Zehlendorf was a step up for Rudiger, who saw his half-brother Sahr Senesie — eight years his senior — signed by Dortmund while he was still in the amateur game. Markus Plog was coaching Antonio at that time and admitted that he had to manage the teenager’s attitude.
"I still remember that when he was playing for us, he sometimes showed a fiery temper," Plog told Goal. "There was a time when Toni wasn't allowed to play for a couple of games due to ill-discipline, like arriving late to training sessions and other things like that.
"But I think that was a very important lesson for him and from that point on he changed. He became a disciplined, hungry guy who always wanted to achieve more and more. From that point on it was a lot of fun working with him."
Rudiger needed that hunger as he was discarded after two-and-a-half years by Dortmund, who believed he wasn't good enough. But he got another big chance at Stuttgart. He made his debut in the bottom professional tier of German football for Stuttgart II at the age of 18 and maintained a place in the team until his Bundesliga debut just six months later.
Antonio Rudiger Germany Confederations Cup
Antonio Conte quickly became impressed with Rudiger during his first season at Roma in 2015-16. The Chelsea manager wanted to bring him to Stamford Bridge at the end of that campaign but Rudiger tore his anterior cruciate ligament at the worst possible time.
Not only did it delay his move to Chelsea for a whole year, it also denied him the chance to travel to Euro 2016 with Germany. But Rudiger was able to draw upon all the determination and spirit that had allowed him to make it in a ruthless profession by completing a full recovery and winning the Confederations Cup this summer with Germany.
After two excellent seasons at Roma — during which he displayed great class and dignity during the infamous Senad Lulic racism storm — he finally made a £34 million move to Chelsea, with £350,000 filtering back into his youth clubs. Plog summed up his pride at seeing what his protege had become.
"When I see Toni now in the shirt of Germany or Chelsea it makes me really proud," Plog gushed. "He was our player at under-16 level and now he plays in the Premier League in London.
"There are some days I still can't believe it when I watch him on television against Messi or Ronaldo in the Champions League."
Indeed, as Rudiger prepares to face former club Roma at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, he should serve as an example to every young footballer of just what can be achieved in adversity when you combine talent with belief and a big heart.

Don't stress it director Txiki Begiristain has spoken to the Belgium midfielder's agent regarding a new deal at the Etihad Stadium
Kevin De Bruyne is happy to focus on extending his fabulous form on the field, with preliminary talks over a new contract at Manchester City having already taken place.
KDB 11/10 to score v Burnley
The Belgium international impressed once more as Pep Guardiola's side made it three wins out of three in Champions League Group F on Tuesday, holding out for a pulsating 2-1 triumph over Napoli.
Ahead of the match, De Bruyne's agent Patrick De Koster stated he would seek to use the astronomical wages paid by Paris Saint-Germain to Neymar and Kylian Mbappe as benchmarks when discussing fresh terms with the Premier League leaders.
Neymar is reported to earn €600,000 per week at the Parc des Princes, while City are understood to have De Bruyne on a current weekly wage in the region of £115,000.
The 26-year-old is under contract at the Etihad Stadium until 2021 and, speaking after he set up Gabriel Jesus' decisive goal against Napoli, he confirmed De Koster has met with City's director of football Txiki Begiristain to set the wheels in motion on an extension.
"My agent went already one time to Txiki," he said. "Talks are coming.
"I'm patient anyway, I don't stress it. I think I read something in the press [about his contract] but I have time."
Pep Guardiola Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City
De Bruyne is similarly at ease when it comes to assessing the hype around a succession of acclaimed showings for City, which culminated in Guardiola fielding questions comparing his midfielder's talents to Lionel Messi before the Napoli match.
"I don't care," he said. "I have to do the things that I do.
"In football you are going to have highs and lows. In football you have to live in the middle.
"I come home and just do what I always do, no matter if it's a good game or a bad game. I just like to enjoy my football, that's a big part of me.
"I put a lot of passion in what I do and I like to win."
The precision low cross for Jesus in the 13th minute marked De Bruyne's seventh assist in all competitions this season.
His impeccable deliveries during last weekend's demolition of Stoke City were the talking point of a 7-2 win where the ex-Wolfsburg man did not actually get on the scoresheet himself.
Being cast as his team's chief provider is a role De Bruyne has long relished.
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City Champions League
"Obviously, the team knows better and better the way I play [but] I think if you check my assists, what I did before in Germany and Belgium, a lot of times it's the same," he said.
"The way I think is it's great to get a player in a scoring position. If I can give that ball I will give it because I think at that time in the game it’s the right pass for me."
De Bruyne clattered the crossbar with a fine strike against the Serie A pacesetters, part of an eventful outing that also featured him exchanging cross words with colleagues David Silva and Fernandinho.
A late first-half booking was the source of the playmaker's ire, with his senior team-mates bearing the brunt as he sought to remonstrate with the fourth official at half-time.
But De Bruyne was happy to report the trio's midfield marriage was quickly back on track.
"We had a little discussion at the time, it happens," he added. "There's nothing wrong. After one minute, it's over.
"At home I get some arguments with my wife. I think it's normal."

City boss Pepola happy over win

ManchesGabriel Jesus scores Manchester City's second goal against Napoli
 City boss Pepola felt his side's 2-1 Champions League win over Napoli was a "perfect" performance against a side he rates as one of the best he has ever faced.
Billed as an encounter between the two most scintillating attacking sides in Europe, the game lived up to the hype, with goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus earning an impressive City the victory.
Serie A leaders Napoli, who have won all eight of the games in the Italian top flight this season, were awarded two penalties in the game, with Ederson saving the first from Dries Mertens before Amadou Diawara scored the second.
"Today we won against an incredible team and to do that you have to make an incredible performance. If we hadn't played at a very high level, we wouldn't have won that game," said Guardiola.
"They are one of the best teams I have ever faced, which is why I am so proud. It was perfect. It is impossible to beat them if you don't make a good performance, and we did it, which is why I am so happy.
"I know before the game and now I know again, I am pretty sure they are one of the best teams in Europe at this moment."
City have now won 10 successive matches in all competitions, matching their previous best run under Guardiola at the start of last season.
Their desire to play out from the back almost cost them on a couple of occasions but they held out for a win that leaves them top of Group F, three points clear of Shakhtar Donetsk, who won 2-1 at Feyenoord.

City underline their improvement

Raheem Sterling has already scored 8 goals in 11 appearances for Manchester City this season; two fewer than he did in 47 appearances last term (10).
In his programme notes for Tuesday's game, City boss Pep Guardiola insisted that his job was to win games, not entertain. At the moment, he is doing both.
Few teams have been able to live with Guardiola's team this season, with only Everton denying them victory courtesy of a 1-1 Premier League draw back in August.
Since then, the Premier League leaders have netted 36 times over 10 straight wins in all competitions, scoring four at Feyenoord, five against Liverpool and Palace and six at Watford before putting seven past Stoke on Saturday in what Guardiola described as the finest display in his time at the club.
Tuesday's win may arguably be their most impressive result this campaign, coming against opponents who have won all eight of their league fixtures this season as part of a club record 13 successive league wins dating back to last campaign.
Some of their passing and attacking play was a joy to behold, resulting in the two early goals, with Sterling finishing into a largely unguarded net after Kyle Walker's shot had been blocked before Jesus tapped home from the brilliant De Bruyne's pinpoint low cross.
The second-half was more even, with Napoli demonstrating some of the attacking verve that has seen them dominate the Italian top-flight this season.
But despite occasionally over-playing at the back, City's late resilience matched their brilliance from earlier in the game.
Man City v Napoli records 2017-18

Manchester CityNapoli
Domestic league pos.1st1st

Napoli miss their chances

City goalkeepers have saved six of the last seven penalties that they have faced in the Champions League (three by Joe Hart, two by Willy Caballero and one by Ederson)
"Almost impossible to win" was how Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis described his club's game at City, suggesting that they rest players in order to focus on Saturday's opponents Inter Milan.
However, coach Maurizio Sarri fielded the starting XI largely responsible for their impressive start to this campaign, including Belgium striker Mertens, the scorer of nine of the 34 goals they had amassed in 12 fixtures prior to their trip to the Etihad.
Had Mertens opted for precision as opposed to power with his spot-kick, awarded for Walker's foul on Raul Albiol, he could well have provided the impetus for his side to battle back.
Equally, Marek Hamsik was presented with a golden chance of his own after a mis-placed pass gave him a near open goal, but a diving block from John Stones denied him amid howls of handball from Sarri on the touchline.
Diawara showed them the way by slotting in after Faouzi Ghoulam had been tripped by Fernandinho in the area with 17 minutes to go, but they were unable to capitalise on their momentum.

'They could go all the way' - what they said

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri, when asked if City can win the Champions League this season: "Yes, I think so.
"They are an extraordinary squad. They have tremendous physical, technical and tactical qualities and if they can maintain their physical shape they could go all the way.
"You have to divide the game into first 25 minutes and then the rest of the game. They deserve a lot of credit for how they started the game - their technique, speed and movement were outstanding - but also, we didn't apply enough pressure.
"But credit to the team for coming out of that situation against a team that is destroying everything that is put in front of it."
Manchester City defender John Stones: "They had a lot of runners in behind. We knew they played patient football and had attacking threat. We knew it would be tough but we wanted to play our football. At times it was great to watch. I am upset to concede the goal we did but overall it was a great team performance.
"We have put ourselves in a good position. There are a lot of games to play still. This was a good test to see where we are at."

Man of the match - Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

Once again, De Bruyne was the driving force behind City's display. He set up Jesus for the second goal and was inches from scoring himself with a first-half shot that hit the bar

Ten on the trot - the stats you need to know

  • City have won their opening three games of a European tournament for the first time since 2008/09 (in the Uefa Cup), however this is the first time they've achieved it in the Champions League
  • The Citizens have also won three consecutive home games in the Champions League for the first time, and are now unbeaten in their last 11 overall (W8 D3)
  • Guardiola's side have the best goal difference of any team in the top five European leagues in all competitions this season (+33)
  • City's starting XI tonight was their youngest in the Champions League under Guardiola (26y 73d), and their youngest in the competition overall since October 2012 (25y 309d v Borussia Dortmund)

What next?

City host Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday. They resume Champions League action with the return game against Napoli on Wednesday, 1 November.

Bayern Munich vs Celtic: TV channel, stream putting themselves in the mix for qualification after winning in Anderlecht, the Scottish champions are aiming to cause a major upset
Bayern Munich host Celtic in Champions League Group B on Wednesday, with both sides boasting one victory each in their opening two matches.
The two champions of their domestic leagues have had similar results in the competition to date, easily seeing off Anderlecht but falling heavily against Paris Saint-Germain.
Since the Germans were thumped at Parc des Princes last month, they have replaced Carlo Ancelotti with Jupp Heynckes and need an instant reaction in Europe, with this double header set to be crucial.


Game Bayern Munich vs Celtic
Date Wednesday, October 18
Time 19:45 BST / 14:45 ET


Leigh Griffiths Kieran Tierney Celtic
In the UK, the game will be available to watch live on television on BT Sport ESPN, as well as being available to stream live on the BT Sport app.
UK TV channel Online stream
BT Sport ESPN BT Sport app
In the US, the game will not be broadcast live on television, but it will be available to stream online using WatchESPN, Fox Sports Go or the Fox Soccer Match Pass.
US TV channel Online stream
N/A WatchESPN / Fox Sports Go / Match Pass


Position Bayern players
Goalkeepers Starke, Ulreich, Fruchtl
Defenders Sule, Hummels, Martinez, Rafinha, Boateng, Rudy, Alaba
Midfielders Thiago, Ribery, Robben, James, Vidal, Tolisso, Kimmich
Forwards Lewandowski, Muller, Coman
Manuel Neuer and Franck Ribery are still missing for Bayern, while Javi Martinez's absence was also confirmed on Tuesday. He will be sidelined for a couple of games, the Munich side expect. 
Arturo Vidal's return to action does represent some consolation to the Spaniard's absence.
Heynckes will stick by a hugely experienced side, five of whom played in the 2013 final that Bayern won 2-1, albeit Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski were both on the losing Dortmund side that evening.
Potential Bayern starting XI:  Ulreich; Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng, Alaba; Thiago, Vidal; Robben, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
Position Celtic players
Goalkeepers Gordon, De Vries, Hazard
Defenders Simunovic, Gamba, Boyata, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Ajer, Duffy, McCart, McInroy, Ralston, Welsh, Tierney, Bell
Midfielders Bitton, Roberts, Brown, Sinclair, Armstrong, Rogic, Ntcham, Benyu, McGregor, Forrest, Henderson, McLaughlin, Hill, Hendry, Eboue
Forwards Griffiths, Dembele, Hayes, Edouard, Miller, Watson, Johnston, Aitchison 
Although Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong were absent at the weekend, both are expected back in the squad for the trip to the Allianz Arena, with the former almost certain to start. 
Erik Sviatchenko continues to sit out in the heart of the defence, while Leigh Griffiths will be back to lead the line ahead of Moussa Dembele, who is still searching for his best form this season.
Craig Gordon will return to play in goal after being left out at the weekend, despite Dorus de Vries' fine display against Dundee at the weekend.
Potential Celtic starting XI:  Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Armstrong, Brown, Rogic; Sinclair, Dembele, Griffiths.


Arjen Robben Bayern Munich
Bayern are strong favourites at 1/10 according to dabblebet, with Celtic priced at 20/1 to win in Germany. A draw is available at odds of 17/2.
Click here to get all the latest odds and markets for the Champions League clash between Bayern and Celtic.


Scott Brown Celtic
Bayern Munich hope to get back to winning ways in the Champions League after a difficult start to the season that has prompted them to welcome back coach Jupp Heynckes, who led the club to European glory in 2013 with a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
Carlo Ancelotti was sacked after the 3-0 reverse against Paris Saint-Germain last month and Heynckes' fourth spell in charge started with a 5-0 win over Freiburg at the weekend. Victory against the Scottish champions on Wednesday is expected to continue the side's resurgence.
Celtic, though, come into the game high on confidence after securing a rare away win in the group stages, having thumped Anderlecht in the last round of fixtures. Brendan Rodgers' side will believe that a point would be an excellent result in this clash as it would give them a genuine shot of second place before the return match in Glasgow on Hallowe'en.
They came through a tough test against Dundee 1-0 on Saturday, during which they heavily rotated their squad in preparation for this clash. Rodgers has achieved great things in little over a year in charge at Celtic Park, but a positive result in this encounter would surely be his greatest feat to date.

Ozil and Alexis committed to Arsenal, Mertesacker claims
The Gunners' star duo are out of contract at the end of the season, but that does not mean they do not give their all for the team, the defender says
Arsenal veteran Per Mertesacker claims Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez remain committed to the Premier League club despite being in the final year of their contracts.
Alexis 5/4 to score v Everton
Both star players have been tipped to leave the Emirates Stadium after the Gunners failed to qualify for the Champions League, and Sanchez close to a switch to Manchester City late in the recent transfer window.

Ozil and Sanchez remain first-team regulars despite their uncertain future, and Mertesacker insists the pair deserve to stay involved.
Asked if they are still giving their all for Arsene Wenger's team, he replied: "Yes. Everyone has to do his job 100 per cent otherwise they are not eligible to be on the pitch.
"As long as everyone understands that then we are fine and you won't get problems from me. If I have a different feeling then it would be addressed.
"I have no problems with players in their final year, that includes me as well," he added, referring to his imminent retirement and impending transition to the role of academy manager.
"The only issue I've got is if they're not fully committed to what we're doing here.
"Even if you're in your final year you have to prove yourself every single day, in order to stay here or to get another contract somewhere else.
"A lot of people focus on being on long-term contracts, but that's not needed. I don't feel a dip in commitment; we're in a good front with those who have their contracts expiring.
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"It's similar to me. I'm staying at the club definitely, which makes it a little bit different, but we want to be successful here and everyone is committed to that."
Arsenal are away to Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday.

I don't need to be friends with Neymar Uruguayan striker insists any rift between the duo is in the past and suggests that manager Unai Emery had not yet decided who will take penalties
Edinson Cavani has claimed that he does not have to be friends with Neymar for the duo to perform well in tandem with each other at Paris Saint-Germain.
There were murmurs of discontent between the team-mates at the start of the season, with the pair having clashed on the pitch over the taking of a penalty during a game against Lyon.
There was also a disagreement over a free-kick during the same match, with Dani Alves refusing to give the ball to Cavani to take the set-piece, handing it to Neymar instead.

The Uruguayan striker insists those issues are in the past but says that he does not need to be friends with his team-mate for them both to deliver in a PSG shirt.
Speaking ahead of the Ligue 1 side's Champions League meeting with Anderlecht, Cavani told SFR Sport: "The penalty case, that’s in the past. These are things that happen in football.  

"We must find the solution together and function as a team. We need to be a competitive team, but we do not need to be friends. You have to be professional, and afterwards everyone has their own life.

"To win is the most important thing so it is necessary to find the best solution for the team. That [who takes the penalties] is what the coach need to decide.
"I think the person in charge [Unai Emery] will find a solution. When he makes the decision, that will be that. Has he made his decision? I don’t think so [laughs]."

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

How Neymar and Brazil could ruin Messi and Argentina's World Cup dreams the Selecao already comfortably qualified for Russia, they may play a weakened side against Chile and make life difficult for their rivals
Lionel Messi and Argentina's hopes of reaching the World Cup automatically could depend on Neymar's Brazil defeating Chile in their final qualifer on Tuesday night.
Brazil became the second team to qualify for the World Cup in March, joining hosts Russia in the 2018 tournament with four matches to spare.
Since then, Selecao boss Tite has used the remaining games to test out the depth of his squad, handing a debut to Monaco's Jemerson and giving Manchester City's Ederson a chance to stay with the panel. With qualification secure, Brazil have taken the foot off the pedal, drawing with both Colombia and Bolivia.
In their last qualifier on Tuesday, Brazil host Chile in Sao Paulo with Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar looking to add to his 52 international goals in 80 appearances.
Tite's men have only bragging rights to play for, but a win would guarantee automatic qualification for Chile. However, a Chile win could also have ramifications for Neymar's former team-mate Lionel Messi and Argentina.
Chile have been poor in the qualifying campaign, and are on the brink of elimination heading into their final game. Jorge Sampaoli's side know a win will guarantee them at least a spot in the playoffs, due to the fact the two teams just above them face off in their last match.
At the moment, Colombia sit on 26 points with Peru on 25 points, while Argentina's 25 points but worse goals scored statistic sees them sit in sixth, where they would miss out on a play-off spot against the winners of Oceania: New Zealand.
Conmebol table GFX
Argentina have scored 10 goals fewer than Peru in qualifying thanks to their inability to find the net from open play. It is now 456 minutes since any Albiceleste player found the net from open play, and despite being heavy favourites against Peru in their last game, they were inept in attack, even with five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi pulling the strings.
Sampaoli's side are favourites again as they take on Ecuador, but may struggle once again, especially at altitude in Quito. Even if they do turn things around and defeat Ecuador, victory may not be enough to guarantee them a spot in Russia. Old enemies Brazil could do Chile a favour in Sao Paulo and send them into that play-off with New Zealand.
Brazil and Argentina have had a long-standing hatred of each other on the football field, which FIFA has called 'the essence of football rivalry'. This has included abandoned matches, fan trouble, sendings off and the historic Pele-Diego Maradona competition for world's best player.
With Pele naming Neymar as his successor and Maradona doing the same for Messi, the rivalry continues on and off the field today. Neymar left Barcelona to get out of Messi's shadow and become the best player in the world.
The 25-year-old is Brazil's top scorer in qualifying and will surely be one of the stars of the tournament next summer. Should Brazil lose to Chile, they could do Neymar a favour and ensure his biggest continental rival does not have the same safe passage to Russia.

Ronaldo partners Kane in Alli's best XI in FIFA 18 Squad Battle selection Spurs attacker has included some current and former team-mates alongside many of the world's biggest and best players in his specially chosen team
England attacker Dele Alli his chosen his perfect XI in FIFA 18, including Cristiano Ronaldo in attack alongside his Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane.
Lionel Messi plays just behind Ballon d'Or rival Ronaldo, with Alli supporting Kane on the other side of the pitch. The 21-year-old received a special 99-rated version of his player card, making him the highest-rated player in the squad.
There is talent throughout the starting XI with Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Arturo Vidal included from Bayern Munich, while Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric form a strong Real Madrid contingent.
Despite leaving Tottenham for Manchester City, Alli has selected his former team-mate Kyle Walker in the right-back slot of his best XI, which he has called "Delstroyers."
FIFA 18 Ultimate Team Dele Alli Squad
Spurs trio Hugo Lloris, Danny Rose and Eric Dier are included on a very strong substitutes' bench, alongside FIFA ICON players Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, as well as PSG winger Neymar and Chelsea's David Luiz.
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Alli's own 99-rated version has very impressive stats, including 99 shooting and 99 dribbling, as well as 98 physical, meaning he will be difficult to knock off the ball and will be a threat in front of goal.
FIFA 18 Ultimate Team Dele Alli 99 Card
FIFA 18 players can take on Alli's special team in the Squad Battles mode of Ultimate Team for one week until Sunday, October 15.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Barcelona & Man Utd interested in Ozil German playmaker is weighing up his options and could still remain at Emirates Stadium, while Sanchez has made it clear he wants out
Barcelona and Manchester United are keen on signing Mesut Ozil, while Alexis Sanchez has no intention of remaining at Emirates Stadium, Sportmasta understands.
Ozil would be interested in potentially joining the Liga giants or Jose Mourinho's side, with the Germany international's contract with the Gunners due to expire in summer 2018. 
Arsenal 8/13 to beat Watford
There is, however, still a chance Ozil could remain with Arsenal, despite no offer over a contract extension having yet arrived after talks over a renewal were put on hold back in February.
Ozil, who recently bought a new house in London, is able to sign a pre-contract with a foreign club in January, although it is understood he remains happy living in the capital city where he is settled and has made many close friends.
Mesut Ozil Arsenal
Reports claiming that the former Real Madrid star has rejected a contract offer in the region of £275,000-a-week are completely false, although both Barca and United are realistic options for the German.
Indeed, both clubs are among the three sides Ozil would be willing to play for aside from Arsenal, with Madrid completing the trio of superclubs.
United have Jose Mourinho at the helm and he knows Ozil well from their time together at Madrid, although a major sticking point in any deal would be the player’s reluctance to move to Manchester.
Barcelona are on the lookout for a new playmaker and, after being rebuffed in attempts to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool, the considerably more affordable option of Ozil presents itself as an attractive proposition.
Real Madrid are unlikely to come back in for their former star but Ozil still has many friends in the Spanish capital and enjoyed the most successful years of his career playing under Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Inter, meanwhile, are not on Ozil’s list of potential destinations if he were to leave Arsenal, regardless of the Serie A side’s public shows of affection in recent weeks.
Ozil has come under criticism from ex-players and pundits recently, including former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, who said that Ozil didn’t fancy the Europa League trip to BATE Borisov and that he’s "psychologically already left the football club".
However, Ozil's absence from the team has been due to a knee inflammation problem which is why Germany national team coach Joachim Low decided to let him recuperate at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground instead of including him in the squad for their World Cup qualifying matches.

Contract negotiations between Arsenal and Ozil resumed at the start of the season and it is understood that chief transfer negotiator Dick Law, who helped bring the German from Madrid to north London in 2013, is still running several errands for the club despite leaving his post at the end of September.
Meanwhile, talks with Alexis Sanchez have come to a complete halt as the Chile international has made it clear he has no intention of signing a new deal.

Alexis Sanchez Arsenal 2017

Alexis came close to leaving the Gunners for Manchester City on transfer deadline day, with both clubs even having a verbal agreement, but the deal was dependent on Arsenal securing a world-class replacement in the form of Thomas Lemar.

That move for the Monaco winger fell through, however, after the player opted to stay at Monaco and that meant Alexis was denied his dream move of linking up with former manager Pep Guardiola.

The Chilean is able to sign a pre-contract with a foreign club in January and, while Paris Saint-Germain remain interested in the 28-year-old, City are still the favourites to secure his signature.

Brazil stars take in oxygen's side are already through to the World Cup finals in Russia, but had to cope with the altitude in La Paz in their penultimate qualifier
Brazil star Neymar has complained that it was “inhumane” to play against Bolivia in La Paz.
The highest capital city in the world at an elevation of over 3,650 metres, it is regarded as one of the toughest away trips in world football as the lack of oxygen complicates matters for visiting players, whereas the hosts are used to the gruelling conditions and their bodies have become accustomed to them.
As such, it was little surprise that Brazil, who have already booked their ticket to World Cup 2018, were held to a scoreless draw there on Thursday.
Neymar has posted a picture on his Instagram feed that underlines just how tough his colleagues found it.
Several players, including the Paris Saint-Germain star, are pictured after the game taking on oxygen.
“Inhumane to play in such conditions,” Neymar said. “Field, altitude, ball… everything was bad! But we were happy for the performance of the team even in these conditions.”
Brazil complete their qualifying calendar with a home fixture against Chile next Tuesday, although it looks doubtful that Neymar’s PSG colleague Thiago Silva will be available after he was withdrawn injured on Thursday.

Why are Italy not using the best midfielder in Serie A? amidst a midfield injury crisis there is no room for Napoli's metronome, Jorginho, who could now decide to play for Brazil instead
On Monday, Daniele De Rossi and Roma team-mate Lorenzo Pellegrini pulled out of the Italy squad due to injuries sustained during the weekend win at AC Milan.
They joined Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti on the Azzurri midfield scrapheap for the World Cup qualification double-header against Macedonia and Albania, while longer-term casualty Claudio Marchisio is also absent.
Finally, there appeared to be no reason for the Italian coach Gian Piero Ventura to ignore the most important component in Serie A’s best team. Apparently not.
Instead of Napoli’s Jorginho, in came Bryan Cristante of Atalanta and Inter’s Roberto Gagliardini.
That Ventura continues to overlook the league’s most influential player is a source of unending frustration for Italian fans, not to mention the player himself.
That the coach could move so far down Italy’s list of eligible midfielders and still fail to find space for Jorginho is not only surprising, it’s downright ignorant.
In case you’d missed it, Napoli are leading the Scudetto race after seven matches. They’ve won all seven and scored 25 goals in the process.
Jorginho Napoli
While top scorer Dries Mertens and striking partners Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon tend to hog the headlines, there is a substantial and growing realisation that Jorginho is the man holding it all together.
Maurizio Sarri’s side are winning admirers all over the continent for their brand of football, perfected over the past couple of seasons. Their total dominance of the ball and their relentless commitment to positive attacking play has marked them out as Serie A winners-in-waiting this season – at a time when champions Juventus do not appear to be at their best.
Most of it would be impossible without Jorginho, the 25-year-old signed from Verona in 2014. He fulfils much the same role in this team as Xavi did for Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.
Since Opta started gathering data for Serie A in time for the 2004-05 season, Jorginho occupies all nine of the top spots for most touches in any match.
He also holds nine of the top 10 places for most successful passes played in any given match, with the 160 he hit against Benevuto this season ranking third on the list.
Jorginho Napoli
Following his latest international snub, Jorginho was reported to be ready to throw his lot back in with his native Brazil, with coach Tite considering adding the midfielder to his World Cup plans.
He has been capped twice for Italy under Antonio Conte – playing a measly 24 minutes in total – but remains eligible for his homeland as he is yet to feature in a competitive fixture.
“If he doesn't need a playmaker, he won't call him up,” Jorginho’s agent, Joao Santos, said a couple of weeks ago when the Italy squad first convened.
“I always hope that something will change. I think like the coach, that in this period there's no reason to call him up. If that should change, then he'll take him into consideration.
“As a Brazilian, I hope that he will play for Brazil. If Italy do not call him up, I hope that my national team will. Should a call arrive, it will be the player who decides.”
Indeed there is an argument that the system currently favoured by Ventura – namely a 4-2-4 – does not suit the strengths of Jorginho, who excels in a three-man midfield for his club alongside Marek Hamsik and Allan.
Jorginho GFX Passes Jorginho GFX Touches
The Ventura formation, however, has its limitations. Even accounting for a poor generation, Italy are always going to have enough power to overcome qualification also-rans like Macedonia, Albania and Liechtenstein. But against bigger teams – and particularly in the defeat against Spain – Italy simply get overrun.
There is no great willingness on the part of the coach to get his team on the ball and compete against the top countries, preferring to sit back and perform a rear-guard action instead.
That might well have worked when Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta were around but Italy are simply not in possession of the same kind of individual defensive talent these days.
An alteration to the way they play – utilising Jorginho, Marco Verratti and a screener such as De Rossi might help Italy get on the front foot possession-wise and create more chances through attackers Insigne and – when fit – Andrea Belotti.
Besides, there is simply no excuse for failing to incorporate a talent as red-hot as Jorginho.
Jorginho Italy Spain
Napoli are by far the most exciting, most intrepid Italian team this season and Jorginho is fundamental to the way they play. If there’s no way he can play in a system – especially one so lacklustre – then it should be changed to accommodate him.

Nigeria vs Zambia: TV channel, stream, kick-off time Super Eagles are inching closer to the 2018 World Cup and they will hope to ensure their place with a win in front of home fans
Nigeria can secure their place in next year’s Fifa World Cup when they take on Zambia at Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Saturday.
Gernot Rohr’s men are three points clear at the summit of Group B with two games left to go, indicating that victory or at least a draw would push them over the line with a game to spare.
For the Chipolopolo – who are Super Eagles’ nearest rival – a shock win at the ‘Nest of Champions’ would offer them a lifeline to qualify for their maiden World Cup.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Paying €150m for Dembele proves desperate Barca still counting French forward becomes the world's second-most expensive player in an outlay that could have been avoided with better planning by the Catalan club

An opportunity missed. In April last year, Barcelona were watching Ousmane Dembele and his release clause was, reportedly at least, just €5 million. A few months later, he left Rennes to join Borussia Dortmund for €15m. Now, he is set to become a Barca player for a fee that could reach 10 times that amount.
The information was revealed by L'Equipe and published by Catalan daily Sport under the headline "Barca can sign Dembele for €5m". And even though the Rennes president and the player's agent both denied the reports, the French forward did depart Ligue 1 to join BVB for just €15m last summer.
At that time, of course, Barcelona were not particularly concerned with bringing in a forward. The trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, described by coach Luis Enrique as the finest in football history, was still at the peak of its powers and there appeared little sign that would change.
In fact, Barca had trouble bringing in forwards in the summer of 2016 because their targets were wary of a probable lack of first-team opportunities. Kevin Gameiro and Luciano Vietto chose Atletico and Sevilla, respectively, while Nolito moved to Manchester City. Barca eventually brought in Paco Alcacer from Valencia.
Dembele move graphic
But a 19-year-old Dembele would have jumped at the chance of joining Barca and, after deliberately missing training at Dortmund recently in order to force through a move, his wish has now been granted. It has come, however, at a significant price.
That was always going to happen after Paris Saint-Germain paid Neymar's €222 million release clause to take the Brazil forward to the Parc des Princes earlier this month. Suddenly, the Blaugrana were left needing a replacement with less than a month left in the transfer window - and everybody knew exactly what they had to spend.
The Catalans had hoped to bring in both Dembele and Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, but a move for the latter now looks out of the question as the Reds stand firm in their refusal to sell the Brazilian - once tipped as a potential team-mate for Neymar at Camp Nou.
Liverpool have told Barca not to bother coming back with a fresh offer for the 25-year-old and a bid in the region of €150m also now seems unlikely, with Dembele set to cost an initial €120m plus around €30m in variables that will make the 20-year-old the world's second-most expensive player.
Neymar PSG Paris Saint-Germain
Josep Maria Bartomeu Barcelona
And an outstanding player he is too, but better planning could have seen the French forward arrive for a much lower fee. Because earlier this summer, prior to Neymar's move to PSG, it was reported in Germany by Bild that the 20-year-old could be available for around €50m.
From €5m, to €15m, €50m and then €70m as the summer wore on, Barca have ended up paying what could amount to €150m for a player who is extremely talented, yet has only two years at an elite level.
Will it work out? Who knows? Dembele is, without doubt, one of most exciting prospects in world football at this point and he can cover all of the positions across the forward line, be it Neymar's role out on the left, a central striker position or a right-wing slot where he operated most often at Dortmund.
So, it seems to be a strong signing and the switch should be met with a more positive reaction at Barca than the critical response to the €40m arrival of Paulinho. Dembele is the real deal and he does look like a good buy, even though more new players are surely needed for the Blaugrana to compete with Real Madrid this season.
However, there is plenty of pressure on the youngster's shoulders - and also on the directors at the Catalan club - following this transfer. And amid these desperate times, Dembele was also outrageously overpriced as Barca desperately sought a successor for Neymar.
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Now it is down to the player to prove one of Florentino Perez's favourite sayings. "The best players," the Madrid president often says, "are not expensive at all." How the under-fire Barca board will hope they can say something similar about Dembele in a few years' time.

Everton Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Chelsea you need to know ahead of the Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon
Having qualified for the group stages of the Europa League and taken a point at Manchester City, Everton are in buoyant mood.
The Toffees remain unbeaten in six competitive matches this season, but face a tough task on Sunday as they travel to Stamford Bridge.
But can they do enough to shock the Premier League champions and continue their fine start to the campaign?

                                                          EVERTON INJURIES
Seamus Coleman is unlikely to feature until around Christmas after the broken leg he suffered playing for the Republic of Ireland against Wales in March while fellow defender Ramiro Funes Mori is set for nine months on the sidelines with a knee problem.
Yannick Bolasie will also not feature until the new year at the very earliest as he continues to build up his fitness following two operations on a cruciate ligament injury.
Ross Barkley has suffered a further injury setback after picking up a hamstring problem that could sideline him for around a month, though with the England international keen on leaving Goodison Park, he may have already played his final match for the Toffees.
Summer signings Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen both missed Thursday's clash with Hajduk Split and face a race against time to be fit for Sunday's game.
Ross Barkley Everton


Morgan Schneiderlin is banned following his red card against Manchester City while for Chelsea Gary Cahill remains suspended after being sent off on the opening day of the season against Burnley.
Dabblebet odds for Chelsea Everton GFX


After marking his full debut with a stunning strike against Hajduk Split, Gylfi Sigurdsson will likely make his first Premier League start for the Toffees.
Mo Besic could deputise for Schneiderlin in midfield while Dominic Calvert-Lewin will likely lead the line again after impressing against Manchester City.
DCL 7/2 with dabblebet to score anytime
Everton XI GFX


Eden Hazard is moving ever closer to full fitness and could feature within the matchday squad following the ankle injury picked up early in pre-season.
Cesc Fabregas will return having been suspended against Tottenham while Pedro could start after coming off the bench to lay on the winner for Marcos Alonso at Wembley.
Fabregas's availability means David Luiz could drop back into defence, with Andreas Christensen likely to make way should that come to pass.
Diego Costa remains in Brazil as a move to Atletico Madrid continues to stall, with Alvaro Morata set to again lead the line.
Marcos Alonso Chelsea


  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 22 home Premier League games against Everton since a 0-1 loss in November 1994 (W12 D10). Only against Tottenham (25) are they on a longer unbeaten Premier League run at Stamford Bridge.
  • Chelsea haven’t lost back to back home Premier League games since November 2011 when they were managed by Andre Villas-Boas.
  • The Toffees have only lost one of their last 11 Premier League games against the reigning champions (W6 D4); a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in December 2014.
  • Wayne Rooney scored his 200th Premier League goal in Everton’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City on Monday night. He managed this feat in his 462nd game, while the only other player to reach 200; Alan Shearer (260), did this in 306 matches.
  • Everton had eight English players in their starting XI for their last Premier League game at Manchester City. One of the eight players in their last match was Tom Davies, who wasn’t born when Everton last did this on Boxing Day 1997.


The match kicks off at 13:30 BST but it is not due to be shown live in the UK. The game's highlights will be first televised on BBC's Match of the Day 2, which airs at 22:35. 

Ronaldo sees Mbappe, Neymar and Rashford among his potential successors Real Madrid star has tipped stars from the likes of Monaco, PSG and Manchester United to follow in his illustrious footsteps and land top awards
Cristiano Ronaldo believes Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Marcus Rashford are among those who can follow in his illustrious footsteps and dominate world football.
The Real Madrid superstar is current celebrating the landing of another top personal prize, with the 32-year-old named the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2016-17.
That gong has been added to an enviable collection which already sees Ronaldo as the current holder of the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s Best award.
The Portugal international has been locked in competition with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for such prizes over the past decade, but he acknowledges that there is plenty of potential within the game ready to inherit the most prestigious of crowns.
Asked by reporters to name his possible successors after picking up his latest award, Ronaldo said: “That is a very good question. I see some with great potential: Asensio, Mbappé, Neymar, Dembele, Hazard, Rashford ... and some others. In the next generation there are at least 10 players with very, very great potential.”
Marco Asensio has established himself as a player of great promise alongside Ronaldo at Real Madrid, while Chelsea star Eden Hazard is among those to have been heavily linked with a move to Santiago Bernabeu for some time.
Manchester United forward Rashford has also drawn links to Real, with the teenager’s potential having been noted both inside and outside of Old Trafford.
Kylian Mbappe Monaco 2017
Monaco sensation Mbappe could also end up in the Spanish capital at some stage, amid talk of record-breaking transfer deals, while Ousmane Dembele will soon be turning out in La Liga as Barcelona close on a move to make him the successor at Camp Nou to Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.
The current market movement, along with that still to come, is making the European game ever more competitive at the very highest level.
Ronaldo, though, does not believe that there will be any surprises in the 2017-18 Champions League as Real once again seek to fend off the competition and secure a third successive crown.
He added: “The teams are the same every year - Real, Barca, Bayern, Paris, Juve.
“I do not expect any surprise this year. Four of these teams will be in the semi-finals.”
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A strong Premier League contingent will hope to have something to say about that, with Hazard and Rashford among those who will be hoping to lead an English charge which also includes Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Benitez confirms interest in want-away Arsenal striker Lucas Spanish striker is looking for a way out of Emirates Stadium and could be offered an escape route by another Premier League manager
Lucas Perez wants out of Arsenal and Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez admits that he would welcome a deal for the striker.
Sportmasta revealed last week that the Spaniard has handed in a formal transfer request after growing disillusioned with life at Emirates Stadium.
Despite being snapped up for a fee of over £17 million, Lucas was restricted to just 21 appearances in his debut campaign with the Gunners – with only two of those outings being Premier League starts.
He did manage seven goals in his sporadic showings, though, and Magpies boss Benitez has confirmed that he is keeping a close eye on a proven frontman.
Merson's savage Arsenal prediction
“I like the player because I have good friends in A Coruña,” told reporters after a friendly victory over Verona.
“I know that he did really well. He’s come here and not played in many games, but I like the player.”
Lucas Perez Arsenal
He added: “We know what we need and will try to do it until the end of the transfer window.
“We are now trying to work in different directions.”
While Newcastle are eager to keep Lucas in the Premier League, he has also been heavily linked with a return to Deportivo La Coruna just 12 months after leaving their books.
Wenger: Arsenal will sell this summer
It is understood that Arsenal are looking to recoup around £13 million from any deal, with Arsene Wenger having previously admitted that the forward could be moved on – and revealed after a Community Shield success on Sunday that further sales are set to be sanctioned in the coming weeks.
Arsenal have bolstered their attacking ranks with the signing of Alexandre Lacazette this summer, with that big-money deal nudging Lucas even further down the pecking order and closer to the Emirates exit door.

Ronaldo & Bale in Real Madrid Super Cup squad to face Man Utd Portugal international could return to action against his former club following a summer overshadowed by a tax trial
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have been included in Real Madrid's squad to face Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup.
The Portuguese has not played in pre-season thus far, but could feature against his former club, though he only returned to training last weekend.
Ronaldo's summer has been overshadowed by a trial in Spain, after allegations of tax evasion.
The 32-year-old even told the court that he wishes to return to England due to the amount of "problems" he faces in Madrid.

And Ronaldo could return to action against the club where he made his name in Macedonia this week.
Bale, meanwhile, has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League, as the Spanish giants attempt to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco.
Rooney: CR7 would break my record
The Welshman struggled with injury last season, appearing just 19 times in La Liga, but he scored seven goals.
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Bale has subsequently been mooted as a potential target for United, though Jose Mourinho has attempted to distance himself from any bid.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley shout down

    1           VS        1                    
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be five minutes of added time. Can either side find a late winner?
89' A thumping free-kick from inside the Chelsea half of the pitch picks out Morata on the edge of the Arsenal box. The striker rises high and then nods the ball down into the path of Azpilicueta, but Cech is there to cut out the danger at the vital moment.
88' Musonda, who hasn't been able to see much of the ball so far, is finally presented with a chance to break away quickly. He can't make it count, though, as he's almost immediately closed down by blue shirts and is dispossessed just outside of the Arsenal penalty area.
R. Nelson
D. Welbeck
Arsenal FC
87' Arsenal have made a substitution, with Reiss Nelson coming on to take the place of Welbeck.
86' Arsenal quickly win the ball back from the under-pressure opponents before pushing forward downt he right flank, but a pass into the path of Bellerin is poorly hit and rolls out for a goal-kick.
84' It's all Arsenal now as they continue to fly forward. Bellerin twists and turns deep down the right flank before the ball is eventually worked over to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who swings in a slightly overhit cross that is easily collected by Courtois.
G. Xhaka
Arsenal FC
82' That was a great ball into the box from Xhaka, but Chelsea should have done much better defensively. Like Arsenal for the earlier goal, they switched off when it mattered, with Fabregas playing everyone onside.
S. Kolašinac
Arsenal FC
82' GOAL! Kolasinac equalises for Arsenal! The new boy rises high from the resulting free-kick and reaches Xhaka's cross, and he then nods a lovely header down past Courtois and into the bottom corner of the net.
C. Musonda
Chelsea FC
81' Chelsea have made another late alteration, with Willian making way for Charly Musonda.
Red Card
Chelsea FC
80' RED CARD! Pedro flies into the back of Elneny and catches the Egyptian on the heel with a late, dangerous sliding challenge that leaves the midfielder in a lot of pain. The referee isn't at all happy with the Spaniard's tackle, and he doesn't hesitate in giving him his marching orders.
A. Rüdiger
Marcos Alonso
Chelsea FC
79' Another debutant has come on for Chelsea, as Alonso has departed for Antonio Rudiger.
78' Space opens up for Chelsea as they push forward on the break, allowing Willian to get himself into a promising position. He then swings a cross into the box and over to the far post, where Morata sticks out a leg but can't hit the target with his hopeful effort.
76' The resulting corner is fired into the heart of the penalty area and picks out Holding, but the young defender is unable to keep his headed effort down and sends it sailing over the top of the crossbar.
75' What a save by Courtois! Xhaka unleashes an almighty strike from 30 yards out that looks set to find the top left-hand corner of the net, but Courtois does brilliantly well to parry the shot wide of the goal with a great one-handed stop.
Álvaro Morata
M. Batshuayi
Chelsea FC
74' A huge roar erupts from the Chelsea end of the stadium as new signing Alvaro Morata comes on to replace Batshuayi up front.
73' Arsenal are knocking on the door, but Chelsea are doing well not to let them in. The Blues have looked much more defensively solid since the break, and they now look content to sit deep and defend before hitting their opponents on quick counter-attacks.
71' Welbeck and Giroud initially link up well deep down the left flank, but neither are able to find a way into the Chelsea penalty area and lose out to Moses. The wing-back then tries to kick-start a counter-attack, but he's clattered into by Kolasinac and wins a free-kick for his side.
69' A determined Chelsea attack results in a free-kick for Chelsea in a promising position, and it's one that David Luiz is eyeing up. The Brazilian steps up and instead chips a pass into the box, where it's well dealt with by Arsenal and fails to result in a chance on goal.
67' Welbeck muscles his way down the left wing as he tries to find a way into the box. He beats two players and then takes on Azpilicueta on the edge of the penalty area, but it's the Spaniard who comes out on top with a clever interception.
T. Walcott
A. Iwobi
Arsenal FC
66' And the second is Theo Walcott, who takes the place of Iwobi.
O. Giroud
A. Lacazette
Arsenal FC
66' Arsenal have decided to make a double substitution as they try to get back into the game. The first player to come on is Olivier Giroud, who replaces Lacazette.
64' Lovely play by Bellerin sets up Iwobi to fire in a low cross from the right wing. It rolls into the Chelsea penalty area and looks set to pick out Lacazette, but Azpilicueta is there to knock the ball back to Courtois, who then blasts it back up the pitch.
62' Vital interception by Holding! Willian charges down the right flank on a wonderful run and then fires a low cross into the middle of the box, where it almost finds Pedro but is well dealt with by Holding at the vital moment.
61' Almost another chance for Arsenal! The Gunners move the ball around patiently on the edge of the penalty area before Elneny eventually sets up Lacazette in front of goal, but the striker isn't able to control the ball and knocks it out of play before eventually being flagged offside.
59' Elneny goes close to equalising! Space opens up for the Egyptian deep down the right wing, allowing him to swing in a cross. His pass ends up looking more like a shot, and it forces Courtois into making a smart diving save at the near post.
57' After a couple of minutes receiving medical treatment, Cahill and David Luiz are able to get back to their feet and the game gets underway once again. Chelsea try to quickly break down the right wing, but Kolasinac is there to out-muscle and dispossess Willian.
55' The corner is swung into the middle of the box and finds Holding, who manages to get a head on the ball but can't control it fully. Arsenal are able to keep the move alive, however, before a chipped cross is sent in by Monreal, but Cahill and David Luiz clash heads nastily and force the referee into temporarily pausing the game.
54' Iwobi sends a lovely pass into the penalty area and towards Lacazette, who just about manages to get a toe on the ball to keep the danger alive. Bellerin is then set up over on the right flank, where, under pressure from Alonso, he does well to win Arsenal a corner.
52' Pedro slides into Xhaka from behind and brings the midfielder crashing to the ground, resulting in a free-kick for Arsenal on the halfway line. It's sent short and quickly worked down the left wing, where the ball is almost immediately picked up by a blue shirt.
50' Arsenal break away on their first attacking move of the second half as they try to find a quick equaliser. The ball eventually falls to Elneny just outside of the box, but he scuffs his first-time strike and sends it high over the top of the crossbar.
48' Chelsea quickly push forward once again and win themselves another corner. This one is sent short before Fabregas whips a lovely cross into the box that's only just dealt with by Holding. Batshuayi then manages to get a shot away, but it's easily stopped by Cech in the middle of the goal.
G. Cahill
Chelsea FC
46' Cahill did well to set up Moses with a strong, looping header back into the penalty area, but Arsenal really should have done better defensively. Everyone seemed to fall asleep and left the Nigeria international all alone in front of goal.
V. Moses
Chelsea FC
46' GOAL! What a start to the second half for Chelsea! An early corner isn't dealt with at all well enough by Arsenal, allowing the Blues to come back once again. A header from Cahill beats all the defenders and finds Moses, who takes on Cech and gets the better of the goalkeeper from close range.
46' We're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out on to the pitch ahead of the start of the second half. Neither side have made any substitutions during the half-time break.
It's been a relatively even game so far, although Arsenal have arguably been the better of the two sides and should head down the tunnel happiest. They started particularly well and caused plenty of problems for a Chelsea back line that looked slightly off the pace, resulting in Lacazette hitting the post with a wonderful curling effort. At the other end, the reigning league champions have created little, with Batshuayi struggling to get into the game despite some good play by Pedro and Willian on a few occasions.
45' + 3' A chipped cross in from Oxlade-Chamberlain is met by Azpilicueta, who can only head it behind for a corner. Xhaka steps up and curls a deep ball into the box, but it's slightly too heavy and fails to find a team-mate.
45' + 1' Chelsea are unable to fully clear the danger over on the left flank and gift the ball to Bellerin. The wing-back quickly moves it over to Welbeck just outside of the penalty area, but the forward brings a promising attacking move to a disappointing end with a wild shot that flies well wide of its intended target.
45' The fourth official has indicated that there will be three minutes of added time.
44' Space opens up in the middle of the pitch, allowing Iwobi to burst forward. He plays a quick one-two with Oxlade-Chamberlain and then manages to get a shot away from inside the box, but it lacks the power needed to trouble Courtois in the middle of the goal.
42' Beautiful defending by David Luiz! A bouncing pass flies into the Chelsea penalty area and towards the Brazilian, who is immediately put under pressure by Welbeck. He does really well to knock the ball over the forward and up into the air, and he then coolly and calmly pulls off a backwards header that sends the ball into the hands of Courtois. The crowd loved that!
41' Another attempted Chelsea attack breaks down, allowing Arsenal to fly forward over on the left flank. Kolasinac charges deep into the Chelsea half of the pitch on a wonderful run and then sets up Oxlade-Chamberlain, who fires a low cross into the box that fails to find a red and white shirt in front of goal.
40' N'Golo Kante and Willian link up really well on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area before the latter tees up Batshuayi. The striker initially holds off his marker before spinning and getting a shot away, but, under pressure, he can only fire it straight into the chest of Holding.
39' Poor play by Chelsea gifts the ball to Xhaka, who then quickly works it forward and out to the left wing. Oxlade-Chamberlain is unable to take advantage of the error, however, as a loose pass can only find a blue shirt in the middle of the park.
Yellow Card
Chelsea FC
37' Big call by the referee! Willian skips into the Arsenal box and takes on Bellerin before throwing himself to the ground. He immediately screams for a penalty, but the referee isn't at all impressed with the Brazilian's antics and shows him a yellow card for diving.
Marcos Alonso
Yellow Card
Chelsea FC
35' After Arsenal's attempted attacking move fails to come to an end, Chelsea counter quickly. Willian fires a wonderful cross-field pass over to Pedro, who controls it well and unleashes a thumping strike that Cech comfortably saves. Arsenal then try to break forward on a counter-attack of their own, but they're unable to do so due to a crunching challenge from Alonso on Bellerin.
34' Arsenal are able to get back on the ball as they patiently work their way from one flank to another. Oxlade-Chamberlai is eventually set up just outside of the Chelsea box, but he's quickly outnumbered and fails to get a shot away before being dispossessed.
S. Kolašinac
P. Mertesacker
Arsenal FC
32' Kolasinac has indeed come on to replace Mertesacker in what is his official debut for Arsenal.
31' The game gets underway once again after a groggy looking Mertesacker departs the field. Chelsea try to make their numerical advantage count as they pile forward, but Moses' thumping low cross in from the right is deflected away by the outstretched limbs of Petr Cech.
30' This doesn't look good for Mertesacker, who is losing a lot of blood as he receives medical treatment inside the Arsenal penalty area. Sead Kolasinac is getting ready on the substitutes' bench, and it looks as if he's going to have to come on and take the German's place.
28' Victor Moses gets the better of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain deep down the right flank before trying to skip past Welbeck, who pokes the ball behind for a corner with an excellent sliding tackle. The set-piece is swung into the box and almost finds Cahill, but he ends up smashing into the nose of Mertesacker as the two battle for the ball, leaving the Arsenal defender in a heap on the floor and covered in blood.
26' Holding charges deep into the Chelsea half of the pitch and does well to carve out a pocket of space for himself just outside of the box. He looks set to pull the trigger, but just as he's about to, Pedro dispossesses him with a well-timed tackle.
24' Azpilicueta tries to pick out Alonso with a lofted pass over the top of the Arsenal back line and into the penalty area, but it's overhit and fails to pick out the wing-back near to the byline.
23' Lacazette hits the post! Another swift counter-attack causes all sorts of problems for the Chelsea back line. Welbeck does really well on the left-hand side of the penalty area before setting up Lacazette, and the Frenchman then beats Courtois with a wonderful curling strike that smashes off the woodwork.
21' Pedro embarks on a wonderful run as he darts through a sea of Arsenal shirts and into the penalty area. He heads towards the byline and then tees up Alonso, who tries to fire a cross into the box but sends it sailing out for a throw-in on the opposite flank.
20' Fabregas knocks a lovely pass into the box and towards Willian, who is quickly closed down by Rob Holding and has to settle for a corner. It's sent short before Fabregas eventually unleashes a cross, but it's poorly hit and easily defended.
18' Michy Batshuayi, who has been quiet so far, is eventually brought into the game after a deflected shot from Fabregas loops into his path. The Belgian is able to control the ball under pressure from Per Mertesacker but does so with his hand, resulting in Arsenal being awarded a free-kick.
17' Slightly sloppy play by Chelsea deep inside their own half of the pitch almost results in David Luiz being closed down by Lacazette, but just as the Frenchman's about to poke the ball away from him, the defender is able to knock it back to Courtois.
Yellow Card
Arsenal FC
15' Ouch! Bellerin quickly becomes the second player to enter the referee's book after catching Alonso with a late sliding challenge as the Chelsea wing-back tried to break down the left flank.
14' The resulting free-kick is sent short before Monreal fires a great cross into the heart of the penalty area, where it looks set to find Lacazette but is well dealt with by Gary Cahill under pressure.
Yellow Card
Chelsea FC
13' Victor Moses cuts inside and tries to take on a group of Arsenal players, but he loses out and allows the Gunners to counter quickly. Lacazette bursts through the middle of the pitch on a great run before being closed down by Cesar Azpilicueta, who cynically drags down the Frenchman and gives away a free-kick before being booked.
12' After a tough opening 12 minutes, Chelsea are finally able to string together a decent string of passes. Cesc Fabregas then fires a long ball forward and into the path of Pedro, who manages to get a boot on the pass but can't control it fully before being flagged offside.
10' It's been a really good start to the game by Arsenal, who are comfortably bossing possession. Once again, they move the ball around quickly before Iwobi skips towards goal, but he's closed down by both Courtois and Marcos Alonso before he can get a shot away.
8' And now Danny Welbeck goes close! A lovely lofted pass from Granit Xhaka flies over the top of the Chelsea defence and into the penalty area. It picks out Welbeck, who had made a great run forward, but his header lacks the power needed to beat Courtois.
7' Alexandre Lacazette goes close! Alex Iwobi dances his way into the left-hand side of the Chelsea box on a wonderful run as he easily gets the better of David Luiz. He heads towards the byline and then fizzes a pass across the face of goal, where it deflects off Courtois and just behind Lacazette.
5' Good play by Mohamed Elneny sees him muscle his way down the left wing and into a promising position. He then does well to work the ball over to the right wing and into the feet of Hector Bellerin, who swings in a low, bouncing cross that's easily collected by Thibaut Courtois.
3' After a patient start to the game by Chelsea, it's Arsenal who push forward on the first real attacking move of the game. They work the ball around nicely before Oxlade-Chamberlain tries to pick out Nacho Monreal deep down the left flank, but his chipped pass is overhit and bounces behind for a goal-kick.
1' We're off! Chelsea get us underway, attacking from left to right.
The two sides are making their way out onto the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off.
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has made just one alteration to the team that featured in their final pre-season friendly, with new signing Alvaro Morata making way for Pedro, who has recently returned from injury.
Arsene Wenger has decided to make four changes to the Arsenal side that started the 2-1 defeat against Sevilla last weekend, with Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker, Granit Xhaka and Alex Iwobi coming into the starting line-up to replace Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Joseph Willock and Mesut Ozil, respectively.
Chelsea substitutes: Caballero, Christensen, Rudiger, Scott, Musonda, Boga, Morata.
Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Pedro.
Arsenal substitutes: Ospina, Kolasinac, Willock, Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Walcott, Giroud.
Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Cech; Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Welbeck, Lacazette, Iwobi.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up this afternoon…
Games between these two sides have always been exciting affairs, but they took on a new meaning last season. Arsenal’s 3-0 win in September was the catalyst for Chelsea’s switch to the three-man defence that brought them so much joy, whilst the Gunners’ victory in the FA Cup final denied Conte an even better start to his time in England. Which way will it go today?
Both sides have spent handsomely in an attempt to strengthen their squads ahead of the new season, and some new faces are set to be on show today. Almost £150m has brought Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata to the club, whilst Arsenal most notably splashed £46.5m on Alexandre Lacazette, who starts up front in his first competitive game in English football.
As for Chelsea, they now face the tough task of improving on what was an excellent debut season for Antonio Conte. The Italian guided his side to the Premier League title with a record-breaking 30 victories, but he’ll be well aware how badly the Blues’ last title defence went. That started with a defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield, and it’s something Conte will want to avoid as his team go in search of their seventh top-flight crown.
The FA Cup triumph was the only bright moment in an otherwise deeply disappointing season for the Gunners, who have to head into the new campaign without Champions League football for the first time since 1996. A fifth-place finish means they’ll be featuring in the Europa League instead, and they’ll be desperate to hit the ground running with a win here today.
The traditional curtain-raiser for the new Premier League season brings together the two sides that did battle in the final game of the last campaign, and what a fascinating encounter it’s set to be. Despite most of the bookies favouring a second Double for league champions Chelsea, it was Arsenal who came away with a record-breaking 13th FA Cup victory, making Arsene Wenger the most successful manager in the tournament’s history.
Good afternoon and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s Community Shield clash between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley.