Monday, 25 September 2017

Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: Lacazette Double Fires Gunners to 3 Points Over Stubborn Baggies

Arsenal maintained their recent impressive form as they overcame a stubborn West Brom 2-0 at the Emirates on Monday night, courtesy of an Alexandre Lacazette double. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger made two changes from the 0-0 draw with Chelsea, with Mohamed Elneny and Alexis Sanchez coming in for the injured Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi,  who returned to the bench to leave Aaron Ramsey in a more advanced midfield role. West Brom manager Tony Pulis made three changes from the side that drew 0-0...

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Harry Kane narrows the gap with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

The Big Two may have rewritten the record books but the Spurs striker’s statistics show he is closing the gap and may even dream of winning the Ballon d’Or

To Harry Kane it is a numbers game and, like every football fan in Europe, the Tottenham Hotspur striker is in awe of those posted by two players in particular. You know who they are. There was a time when a goalscorer would be feted for getting 20 in a league season; for reaching a ratio of one in every two matches. That was in the era before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Related: Harry Kane is already one of best strikers in the world, says Pochettino

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Sadio Mané returns in Moscow but Klopp puts Liverpool balance before art

• Mané, Coutinho, Firmino and Salah all available for Spartak match
• Klopp says Moscow fixture is not the place for ‘all the artists’

Jürgen Klopp seemed genuinely excited by his first visit to Moscow and the formidable police presence that greeted Liverpool’s arrival at Sheremetyevo Airport. The prospect of finally unleashing his most talented attacking quartet provided another adrenalin-rush but Spartak Moscow away, he cautioned, might not be the place for “all the artists”.

Bans, Barcelona and back injuries have prevented the Liverpool manager fielding Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah from the start of a competitive fixture this season. They shared seven minutes on the pitch in the opening Champions League draw with Sevilla but not since the defeat of Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup on 1 August has the fluid foursome opened a contest for Klopp. That may change at the Otkrytie Arena, home of the struggling champions of Russia, although there was a pragmatism to the Liverpool manager as he considered his impressive options for the second game in Group E.

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Homeless Shakhtar Donetsk ready for another Champions League upset | Barry Glendenning

The Ukrainian side, who last played in their own stadium three years ago, shocked Napoli in the first round of games and now travel to Manchester City

Shakhtar Donetsk took little time to hurl the cat among the pigeons in a Champions League group most observers expected to be dominated by Napoli and Manchester City, with the Ukrainian side and Feyenoord making up the numbers. While the Dutch champions duly crumbled at home against City in the last round of fixtures, the Ukrainian side’s 2-1 victory against the Italian league leaders was one of few surprises across the competition.

Related: Shakhtar’s Darijo Srna: ‘We have lost our homes, our stadium and our fans’

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Napoli’s resilience impressing Sarri ahead of Feyenoord

Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Coach Maurizio Sarri believes Napoli have the resilience to bounce back from their damaging Champions League opening defeat on Tuesday against Dutch champions Feyenoord.

The Italians fell 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine in their Group F opener as Feyenoord suffered a 4-0 home defeat to Manchester City.

“The team has grown in personality,” said Sarri of his side whose only European trophy was the UEFA Cup back in the glory days of Diego Maradona in 1989.

“In the past we became discouraged when faced with difficulties, while now we react with determination.

“Psychologically we have something more and we hope to confirm this trend.”

Napoli are riding high in Serie A with a perfect record and 22 goals scored in their opening six games putting them ahead of champions Juventus on goal difference.

“Unconsciously it may be legitimate that we feel more competitive at national and international level,” continued Sarri. 

“Let’s see if we can have the same level of determination we show in the championship. “

Not even the news of Polish international striker Arkadiusz Milik’s expected four-month layoff with torn knee ligaments could dint Sarri’s enthusiasm on the eve of the match.

“Compared to the last year we are more ready to deal with any emergency, because we have more points of reference and a tested game.

“We are very sorry (about Milik) but we can’t complain and we must keep moving forward.”

And they can count on their vocal home fans in the San Paolo Stadium with travelling Dutch supporters banned from attending over fears of hooliganism.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) it will be an important and very tough match, the support of our fans will be decisive too,” said Sarri.

“We will play against a opponent with physical strength and quality.

“Feyenoord are very dynamic, we’ll have to rule the game and keep them far from our penalty area”.

“We are aware that a lot will depend on us. Against SPAL we showed improved personality and mentality too,” added Napoli midfielder Jorginho of their 3-2 comeback win at the weekend.

“Tomorrow San Paolo will push us like always and we hope to offer a superb match.” 

It will be the first meeting between the two sides and for Feyenoord a first Champions League away match in 15 years.

And the Dutch have injury problems with Brazilian defender Eric Botteghin joining striker Nicolas Jorgenson and first-choice goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer on the sidelines for the Group F match.

Botteghin suffered a knee injury in the league game at home to NAC Breda on Saturday, which Feyenoord lost 2-0.

“It’ll be nice to play here, it’s just a pity our fans can’t be here too, but we understand and respect the decision,” said Feyenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

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Lacazette double takes spotlight from Barry milestone

London (AFP) – Alexandre Lacazette stole the spotlight from record breaker Gareth Barry as the Arsenal striker’s double clinched a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday.

Albion midfielder Barry broke Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record by playing in his 633rd game, but it was Lacazette who ended the night as the centre of attention at the Emirates Stadium.

The France forward opened the scoring with a first-half header and stroked home a penalty after the interval to give him four Arsenal goals since his club record £52 million ($70 million, 59 million euros) move from Lyon.

Lacazette is the first Arsenal player to score in his opening three home league appearances since Brian Marwood in 1988.

The Gunners are up to seventh in the Premier League after extending their unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions since their humiliating loss at Liverpool.

With Sanchez starting for just the second time this season in the Premier League, it was the first time the Chile forward had been on the pitch at the same time as Lacazette following the striker’s pre-season arrival.

It took only seconds for the pair to combine to good effect as Lacazette’s pass put Sanchez into a dangerous position just outside the Albion penalty area.

Craig Dawson responded by fouling Sanchez, who took the free-kick himself and fired just wide of Ben Foster’s goal.

Barry has never been much of a creative force, even in his heyday, but the 36-year-old almost ushered his side into a shock lead when his sumptuous pass sent Jay Rodriguez into the Arsenal area. 

Rodriguez cleverly cut back on Shkodran Mustafi and looked certain to win a penalty when he was up-ended by the Arsenal defender.

But Rodriguez clambered back to his feet and, with referee Bobby Madley not punishing the foul, the Albion forward unloaded a shot that Petr Cech pushed against the far post before Arsenal scrambled clear.

– Dominance –

Albion manager Tony Pulis was furious no penalty was given and his frustration only mounted as Arsenal took the lead in the 20th minute.

On his first league start since the collapse of his desired move to Manchester City, it felt inevitable Sanchez, making his 100th Premier League appearance, would be at the centre of Arsenal’s opener.

Jonny Evans conceded a free-kick right outside the area with a foul on Mohamed Elneny and Sanchez stepped up to curl the set-piece goalwards.

Foster managed to tip the shot against the crossbar, but Lacazette alertly followed up to head into the empty net from close-range.

The absence of Mesut Ozil, languishing on the bench after being ignored by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, was hardly noticed as Sanchez went close to doubling Arsenal’s lead with a low free-kick that flashed wide.

But Albion immediately raced down the other end and should have equalised.

Rodriguez met Grzegorz Krychowiak’s cross with a far post header that beat Cech, only for Nacho Monreal to scamper back just in time to acrobatically clear off the line.

Albion went close again before the interval when Barry’s shot was pushed out by Cech and Rodriguez scuffed wide.

Pressing for a killer second goal after the interval, Lacazette saw his shot deflected wide off former Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal’s dominance was rewarded in the 67th minute when Aaron Ramsey surged past Allan Nyom on the touchline and the Albion defender responded by barging over the Welshman.

Madley pointed to the spot and Lacazette clinically dispatched the penalty.

Lacazette could have bagged his hat-trick in the closing stages but, despite his wayward finish, Arsenal were already home and dry.

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Alexandre Lacazette double earns Arsenal nervy win against West Brom

With Romelu Lukaku and Álvaro Morata blazing attacking trails since their spotlight Premier League moves, Alexandre Lacazette has had to be more patient, more steady, in his adaptation to the stage occupied by elite strikers. Having scored with his first meaningful touch as an Arsenal player on the opening day of the season, it has been a slower burn introduction. He excelled here against a dogged and robust West Brom. His two goals – one poached on the rebound and the other cracked in from the penalty spot, turned a potentially sticky encounter into a useful three points.

Lacazette has developed a handy penchant for scoring at home and in flashes his approach play is as impressive as his ruthlessness. There still looks like more to come from him in terms of combination play, and often he and Alexis Sánchez looked for each other but there is still work to do on the blend. All that was with Olivier Giroud in reserve and Danny Welbeck absent. It’s not the worst position for Arsène Wenger to be in regarding his front options. The win takes Arsenal a point behind Tottenham in fourth place. West Brom had to nurse their frustrations on a night when they did not feel decisions went their way.

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Alexandre Lacazette double earns Arsenal nervy win against West Brom

With Romelu Lukaku and Álvaro Morata blazing attacking trails since their spotlight Premier League moves, Alexandre Lacazette has had to be more patient, more steady, in his adaptation to the stage occupied by elite strikers. Having scored with his first meaningful touch as an Arsenal player on the opening day of the season, it has been a slower burn introduction. He excelled here against a dogged and robust West Brom. His two goals – one poached on the rebound and the other cracked in from the penalty spot, turned a potentially sticky encounter into a useful three points.

Lacazette has developed a handy penchant for scoring at home and in flashes his approach play is as impressive as his ruthlessness. There still looks like more to come from him in terms of combination play, and often he and Alexis Sánchez looked for each other but there is still work to do on the blend. All that was with Olivier Giroud in reserve and Danny Welbeck absent. It’s not the worst position for Arsène Wenger to be in regarding his front options. The win takes Arsenal a point behind Tottenham in fourth place. West Brom had to nurse their frustrations on a night when they did not feel decisions went their way.

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Barry breaks record for Premier League appearances

London (AFP) – Gareth Barry broke Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record as the West Bromwich Albion midfielder played his 633rd game in Monday’s clash against Arsenal.

Barry was named Albion captain at the Emirates Stadium in honour of his milestone moment and received a warm reception from both Arsenal and West Brom fans before kick-off.

The 36-year-old, who drew level with former Manchester United star Giggs when he played in West Brom’s goalless draw against West Ham last weekend, was making his 601st start in the top-flight.

Barry made his debut for Aston Villa at the age of 17, appearing as a substitute in a 3-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday on May 2, 1998.

It was fitting that his landmark appearance came against the Gunners as their manager Arsene Wenger twice tried to sign him during his long career.

Instead, Barry went on to play for Manchester City, with whom he won the title in 2012, and Everton before joining West Brom on a free transfer this summer.

Now in his 21st season as a professional, Barry, who also has 53 England caps, this week admitted he could carry on playing until he is 40.

That could take him past Giggs again as the Welshman, who played 40 times in the old First Division before the Premier League was introduced in 1992, made 672 top-flight appearances.

England manager Gareth Southgate played alongside Barry at Villa and he led the tributes to his former team-mate.

“It’s been a great honour to watch you both winning titles with your club, and go on to over 50 caps with England, playing in the biggest of games,” Southgate said of Barry.

“I think back to watching for the first time as a young kid at Villa and realising straight away that I was in trouble for my place.

“Thankfully we played three at the back and you were able to play alongside me.

“I wanted to congratulate you on a fantastic achievement. You’ve become a role model on being able to keep playing for so long at such a high level.

“You’re now in the history books and deservedly so. You’ve been undervalued by many for the way that you’ve played.

“Congratulations, enjoy it, and I dare say there’s a few more games in the bag yet.”

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Suso extends AC Milan contract until 2022

Milan (AFP) – Spanish international Suso has extended his contract with AC Milan until June 30, 2022, the Serie A club confirmed on Monday.

“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, all agreeing on the outcome. Now the contract has been signed, it’s official,” the team said in a statement.

“Great news for all the Red and Black fans, for one of the best players in the past season.”

Suso joined the club from Liverpool in January 2015 going on loan to Genoa early in 2016 where he had a successful spell scoring his first hat-trick.

The attacking midfielder returned to Milan for the start of the 2016-17 season and was a key player under coach Vincenzo Montella, earning a call up to the Spain squad.

“This will always remain one of the most important days of my life,” said Suso.

“I’ve extended my bond with Milan until 2022, and to do it with my family, my partner and my agent and my partner by my side filled me with emotion.

“A particular, special thank you to the Milan directors. I’ll do everything for this shirt, as I’ve always done. Forza Milan, always.”

Suso has made 50 appearances for Milan, scoring 10 goals. He also set up Milan’s equaliser in the Italian Super Cup victory against Juventus in Doha before converting his penalty in the shootout.

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Croatia Goalkeeper Reveals Surprise Summer Transfer Interest From Everton and Watford

​Croatian goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic has claimed that Everton wanted to sign him during the summer transfer window. The club had previously been linked with signing the 27-year-old before they then turned their attention to Jordan Pickford, who they eventually signed for £30m from Sunderland. Kalinic currently plays for Belgian side Gent, however despite only joining them in January, a number of impressive displays got clubs around Europe interested, with Everton reportedly being one of them....

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Albion’s Barry breaks record for Premier League appearances

London (AFP) – Gareth Barry broke Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record as the West Bromwich Albion midfielder played his 633rd game in Monday’s clash against Arsenal.

Barry was named Albion captain at the Emirates Stadium in honour of his milestone moment and received a warm reception from both Arsenal and West Brom fans before kick-off.

The 36-year-old, who drew level with former Manchester United star Giggs when he played in West Brom’s goalless draw against West Ham last weekend, was making his 601st start in the top-flight.

Barry made his debut for Aston Villa at the age of 17, appearing as a substitute in a 3-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday on May 2, 1998.

It was fitting that his landmark appearance came against the Gunners as their manager Arsene Wenger twice tried to sign him during his long career.

Instead, Barry went on to play for Manchester City, with whom he won the title in 2012, and Everton before joining West Brom on a free transfer this summer.

Now in his 21st season as a professional, Barry, who also has 53 England caps, this week admitted he could carry on playing until he is 40.

That could take him past Giggs again as the Welshman, who played 40 times in the old First Division before the Premier League was introduced in 1992, made 672 top-flight appearances.

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Jordan Pickford Hails Bournemouth Star as 'One of the Best in the League' After Saturday's Clash

​Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford admitted his save from Jermaine Defoe's shot gave his side a boost to go on and complete a comeback against Bournemouth on Saturday, however was still full of praise for the England international. Heading into the match at Goodison park, both the Toffees and Bournemouth had only won one of their first five Premier League games, with both sides were looking to kickstart their seasons. It was Bournemouth's Joshua King who broke the deadlock just after half...

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Jurgen Klopp Left Bemused After Bizarre Harry Kane Questions in Pre-Match Press Conference

​Jurgen Klopp has labelled his recent pre-match press conference as a 'waste of time' after he was asked a number of question that he deemed unrelated to his side's upcoming game. Liverpool face Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday evening and with all four teams in Group E drawing their first game, both teams will be hoping to gain which could be a big advantage tomorrow night. However ahead of the key encounter, reporters seemed to veer away from the match in hand and instead...

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Dortmund out to ruin Ronaldo milestone

Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund will aim to maintain their unbeaten record at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday and spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s 150th European appearance.

Dortmund and title holders Real meet in the group stage for the second year running.

The teams drew both games 2-2 last season as the Germans topped the section before bowing out in the last eight while Real went on to win a record 12th title.

Dortmund have won three and drawn three of their meetings at Signal Iduna Park, including their dazzling 4-1 first-leg win in the 2013 Champions League semi-final when Robert Lewandowski scored all four goals.

“There were always great games against Real Madrid,” said Dortmund’s Germany midfielder Mario Goetze on Monday.

“With Madrid having won the last two Champions League seasons, we of course have a lot of respect, but we are also in very good shape and full of confidence.”

Defending champions Real opened their group campaign with a 3-0 win at home to APOEL while Dortmund suffered a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago.

– ‘Philameyang’ –

The Germans’ main task may be containing four-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, who has scored 110 goals in European competition but failed to find the net in his last two league outings.

The Portuguese superstar is among the final three nominees for the Best FIFA Men’s Player 2017 award and the winner will be announced on October 23.

“Ronaldo hasn’t played much of late, but I expect him to be in top form against us,” said Dortmund coach Peter Bosz.

“I don’t believe that Real will be any worse off just because they have a few injured players.”

Real boss Zinedine Zidane is without a left-back as Marcelo (hamstring) and Theo Hernandez (shoulder) are both out, so Nacho is set to fill in.

Karim Benzema is missing with a hamstring injury, but Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were both rested at the weekend and Toni Kroos is expected to return after injury.

Dortmund flexed their muscles ahead of the heavyweight showdown with a 6-1 home drubbing of Borussia Moenchengladbach in the German league on Saturday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted a hat-trick.

The Gabon striker has now scored eight goals in six league games.

He has forged a partnership — dubbed ‘Philameyang’ by the German media — with left-winger Maximilian Philipp, who has scored four goals in his last three games.

Dortmund’s big win over Gladbach came with forwards Marco Reus, Andre Schuerrle and Raphael Guerreiro injured while new signing Andriy Yarmolenko, Nuri Sahin and Gonzalo Castro were not used.

– Zidane’s worries  –

While Dortmund shone in attack, they struggled at the back against Gladbach, who had half a dozen clear chances to score which went begging.

Real are unlikely to be as forgiving, but they have struggled to create chances of late, which worries their French coach.

Madrid’s run of scoring in 73 successive matches in all competitions ended when they lost 1-0 at home to Real Betis last Wednesday.

But they rebounded with a 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday as Dani Ceballos scored his first goals for Madrid on his first competitive start.

“We cannot be pleased with the amount of opportunities we have created lately, but I believe in my players,” said Zidane.

“I hope our strikers will score again, but I have always maintained that it is the most important thing to create chances.”

Real traditionally have a terrible record in Germany with 19 defeats, seven draws and only five wins.

However, four of those victories have come in their last seven visits and they enjoyed a 2-1 win at Bayern Munich in last season’s quarter-finals.

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