Middlesbrough draw frustrates Arsenal

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 23, 2016 with No Comments
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Petr Cech saves from Gaston Ramirez

Arsenal’s Petr Cech made three goods saves against Middlesbrough

Arsenal’s six-match winning run in the Premier League came to an end against Middlesbrough but a point was enough to move them top of the table.

Manager Arsene Wenger – celebrating his 67th birthday – watched his side dominate possession but underwhelm in the final third.

The Gunners managed five efforts on target, but only one worried Boro keeper Victor Valdes when he pulled off a great one-handed stop to deny Alexis Sanchez.

Relive the action from Emirates Stadium

  • Reaction to Saturday’s other Premier League games
  • A birthday to forget

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    Wenger ‘needs birthday drink’ after 0-0 draw

    The invitations have been sent out, the hall is decorated and the party food is prepared – but then only a handful of guests turn up and music is barely audible.

    That is how birthday boy Wenger must have felt at the final whistle as his side, who have been in tremendous form, had their wings clipped by a resilient and disciplined Boro.

    Karanka’s side might have only had 25% of the possession but the gameplan was to set up a defensive wall across their area and hit the Gunners on the counter-attack.

    Wenger’s men tried almost everything.

    After failing to walk through the Boro defence they tried to play the ball over the top, but lacked accuracy. When they did have a sight of goal they lacked conviction.

    Sanchez tested former Barcelona team-mate Valdes from 20 yards but should have done much better with one from half that distance.

    They mustered a final set of attacks in the closing moments and had the ball in the net when Ozil poked in, but the German was clearly offside.

    Boro impress in north London

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    Karanka praises ‘amazing’ Middlesbrough

    Finding goals was Middlesbrough’s problem coming into this game having scored only seven in the league.

    Loan signing Negredo netted on the opening day of the season but has been off-key since. At the Emirates he should have beaten Cech with a low shot and then, with moments remaining, he allowed Laurent Koscielny to tackle him in the area.

    Both Gaston Ramirez and in particular Traore impressed in midfield, with Karanka’s counter-attacking plan suiting the pacy Spaniard, who twice threatened with runs from his own area.

    One of those ended with a shot that Cech had to push away and another saw him play in Negredo for that late chance. The 20-year-old also had another strike saved by the Gunners keeper in the first half.

    If Boro build on this display and start finding the net then they might avoid a relegation battle at the end of the season.

    Man of the match – Adama Traore (Middlesbrough)


    Chelsea v Man Utd: Jose Mourinho promises no ‘crazy kid’ celebrations

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 23, 2016 with No Comments
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    Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

    Mourinho had two successful spells as manager of Chelsea before his sacking in December 2015

    Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will not “celebrate like a crazy kid” if his new team score against his former club Chelsea.

    Sunday’s Premier League fixture is only Mourinho’s second trip to Stamford Bridge as an opposition boss.

    He won there with Inter Milan in 2010, before his second spell with the Blues in which he added a third league title to his trophy haul in west London.

    “I have the maturity to control the emotion,” said Mourinho.

    “If my team score a goal am I going to celebrate like a crazy kid? No.

    “Am I going to have a negative reaction if the crowd has something negative with me? No.”

    • Read more: Manchester United 4-1 Fenerbahce
    • Read more: Pogba needs time to settle – Mourinho
    • Watch: Mourinho mocks ‘Einsteins’ for Pogba criticism

    Sunday will be Mourinho’s first appearance at Stamford Bridge since he was sacked in December 2015, with the club 16th in the Premier League.

    It is also the first time he has been back since Mourinho settled a discrimination claim with former Chelsea physio Eva Carneiro, following the Portuguese’s furious reaction to her going on the pitch to treat Eden Hazard in a game against Swansea in August 2015.

    “When some managers leave clubs, they like to ‘wash the dirty clothes’, to go back and speak and speak and speak about what happened.

    “I leave clubs with a very good feeling. I gave everything to the club. I want to keep the good memories – and at Chelsea I had so many.

    “The other things – I don’t forget, I keep. But I keep it to myself.”

    ‘Roman’s not my friend – I have a job to do’

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    ‘Roman Abramovich is not my friend’ – best of Jose Mourinho’s news conference

    Twice Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich appointed Mourinho as his manager. On both occasions he was rewarded with Premier League titles.

    Yet twice the mega-rich Russian sacked him.

    The United boss says the pair were never close. “We always had the relationship of owner-manager,” said Mourinho.

    “It was a very respectful relationship but he was never my friend. We were never close to each other.”


    Liverpool beat West Brom to move second

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 23, 2016 with No Comments
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    Philippe Coutinho

    Philippe Coutinho’s goal was his fifth of the season in all competitions for Liverpool

    Liverpool secured a deserved victory over West Brom but conceded a late goal to miss out on going top of the Premier League.

    Jurgen Klopp’s team dominated at Anfield and took the lead as Sadio Mane steered in Roberto Firmino’s dinked cross.

    Philippe Coutinho added a second when he picked up the ball from Mane, cut inside Baggies defender Gareth McAuley and shot into the bottom corner.

    A two-goal victory would have taken Liverpool top, but McAuley denied them first place when he smashed in a late goal after the hosts failed to clear a corner.

    Nevertheless, the victory extended their unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions to leave them second in the Premier League table, behind leaders Arsenal on goal difference.

    • Relive the Liverpool v West Brom match as it happened

    Liverpool do not miss dropped Sturridge

    Liverpool have scored 20 times in the Premier League this season – more than anyone else – despite England international Daniel Sturridge failing to score in his seven league outings.

    He did not feature as he was dropped to the substitutes’ bench at Anfield, but was not missed as his side dominated, having 21 shots on goal and 68% of possession.

    Liverpool had further chances but Adam Lallana, recalled in place of Sturridge, curled over the bar and James Milner also headed off target.

    The Baggies had goalkeeper Ben Foster to thank for keeping them in the game in the second half as he acrobatically pushed away Dejan Lovren’s header and also did well to save a Roberto Firmino effort.


    Analysis: Why Wenger is right, Walcott is a different player

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 21, 2016 with No Comments
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    Match of the Day

    You can see highlights of Arsenal v Middlesbrough on Match of the Day at 22:20 BST on Saturday on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

    Theo Walcott has improved so much this season, it is as if he has flicked a switch in his head.

    Walcott now sees himself as a winger, not a striker, but his turnaround is not just because he is now focusing on succeeding in one position for Arsenal.

    It is down to a change in his attitude and application, which has brought him a greater end product – he has already scored more Premier League and Champions League goals than he did in the whole of last season.


    ‘Pogba can’t adjust in a click of fingers

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 21, 2016 with No Comments
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    Jose Mourinho mocks ‘Einsteins’ for Paul Pogba criticism

    World-record signing Paul Pogba needs time to find his feet at Manchester United, says manager Jose Mourinho.

    The 23-year-old France midfielder, who joined for £89m in August, scored twice in Thursday’s 4-1 Europa League win over Fenerbahce after a subdued display in Monday’s 0-0 draw at Liverpool.

    “Two days ago he was the worst player in the Premier League and 48 hours later he’s phenomenal,” said Mourinho.

    “He needs time. I’m happy with his performance. He has what we need.”

    Mourinho, who spent two seasons in charge of Inter Milan and led them to the Champions League as part of a treble in 2010, believes Pogba is getting used to a different style of football to that at former club Juventus.

    “I was in Italy and I know the characteristics, the pace and intensity,” the 53-year-old Portuguese added.

    “To be in Italy for four or five years and then come back to the Premier League, I was not expecting him to adjust in a click of fingers.”

    Pogba, who said after the match that he felt “comfortable with all the team”, now has three goals in 10 games for United.

    Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial also scored for United, with former Red Devils striker Robin van Persie applauded warmly after scoring a late consolation

    Mkhitaryan goes missing


    Aguero & Kompany have Man City future

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 21, 2016 with No Comments
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    Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany

    Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany won last season’s League Cup together in victory over Liverpool

    Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says striker Sergio Aguero and defender Vincent Kompany both “have a future” at the Premier League club.

    Neither started the Champions League defeat at Barcelona, with Kompany not even on the bench, leading to reports they are not in Guardiola’s plans.

    But the Spaniard said: “Vincent was not perfectly fit. Sergio, I said after the game, was a tactical decision.

    “If Sergio decides to leave it will be his decision.”

    Guardiola confirmed Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna will both miss Sunday’s Premier League game with Southampton at Etihad Stadium due to injury.

    Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37731741

    Celtic beaten at home after Toure errors

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 20, 2016 with No Comments
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    Kolo Toure (left) and Craig Gordon

    Kolo Toure (left) was at fault for both Borussia Monchengladbach goals

    Two second-half mistakes from Kolo Toure gifted Borussia Monchengladbach a Champions League victory at Celtic.

    The visitors dominated the first half but Celtic held firm, and even passed up a good chance when Scott Sinclair sliced over from close range.

    However, Lars Stindl drove in the visitors’ first goal after Andre Hahn robbed Toure of possession.

    Hahn made it two when he raced past Toure to score following the Ivory Coast defender’s poor pass.

    The Germans came here without some stellar names, most notably chief goalscorer Raffael and one of their most creative players, Thorgan Hazard. Both missed out through injury, a bout of misfortune Celtic would have hoped to exploit.

    • Rodgers backs ‘warrior’ Toure to bounce back

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    Brendan Rodgers says Borussia Monchengladbach were worth their 2-0 Champions League win.

    They were unable to. Too many Celtic players were out of sorts, in their passing, their concentration, their aggression. They were out-played and out-fought. Celtic were lucky to lose by only two goals.

    Gladbach did something Manchester City could not when they were here a few weeks back – they kept Celtic down and kept their vast support largely hushed. If two of their most dangerous players were absent, they had others.

    Ibrahima Traore, Tobias Strobl and, most tellingly, the excellent double act of Stindl and Hahn, moved it quickly and found space time and again. They got in behind their hosts and asked all sorts of questions.

    Traore had a shot saved wonderfully by Craig Gordon, then Jonas Hofmann forced another stop from the Celtic goalkeeper. Just after, Hahn had a decent effort, then Strobl caused some bother.

    Celtic could not hold on to the ball and could not do anything with the ball they kept. This was the polar opposite of the thrill-fest against Manchester City.


    Ozil scores hat-trick as Arsenal put six past Ludogorets

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 20, 2016 with No Comments
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    Alexis Sanchez

    Alexis Sanchez has been involved in four of Arsenal’s Champions League goals this season, scoring twice and assisting twice

    Mesut Ozil scored a hat-trick after stunning goals from Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott as Arsenal dismantled Ludogorets Razgrad in a ruthless Champions League display.

    Sanchez got the first with a masterful chip from just inside the box.

    Walcott powered a curling shot home after Ludogorets’ Wanderson hit a post.

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed a loose ball into the corner for the third, before Ozil scored three times in a game for the first time in his career.

    The Gunners have won seven games in a row in all competitions – scoring 23 goals – and are undefeated in 11 matches.

    Their last defeat was at home to Liverpool on the opening day of the Premier League season.

    Victory over Bulgarian champions Ludogorets means Arsenal top Group A ahead of Paris St-Germain, who beat Basel 3-0, on goal difference.

    Relive Arsenal v Ludogorets

    Wenger is smiling…

    As Sanchez’s drifting lob settled in the Ludogorets net, gleeful manager Arsene Wenger leapt from the bench in celebration. It was just the beginning.

    The Frenchman’s side were so dominant and so full of confidence they perhaps should even have won by a greater margin.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly might have provided a better finish to Sanchez’s beautifully disguised chipped through pass – the Chilean’s second moment of genius on a night his hard running and quick mind came to the fore.

    But the player who most obviously embodies Arsenal’s new dynamic mood is Walcott. He impressively put two earlier missed chances out of mind when doubling the lead with a powerful strike that signalled the away side’s slide towards heavy defeat.

    It was the 27-year-old’s seventh goal in his past six Arsenal games, having scored the same amount in his previous 42.

    For 60 minutes, he and Sanchez terrified the opposition backline with their pace, and when he was replaced by Lucas Perez he went off to huge round of applause.

    There were big smiles as he took up a seat on the bench – from both Walcott and Wenger.

    … But there’s still much to do

    In each of the past six seasons, Arsenal have fallen at the first knockout stage, the last 16. In all but one of those seasons, they finished second in their group.

    With Swiss club Basel and Ludogorets six points adrift with three matches to play, Group A will surely be won by Arsenal or French champions PSG.

    The Gunners began their Champions League campaign with a battling point in Paris, and the two teams meet in north London on 23 November.

    Wenger, though clearly delighted with his side’s performance, was at pains to stress his players have work to do.

    “Let’s qualify first,” he told BT Sport. “We go to Ludogorets in two weeks and they will want to show us they are better than 6-0, but if we win there it would come down to the game against PSG.”

    Man of the match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)


    Messi hat-trick ruins Guardiola’s Barca return

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 20, 2016 with No Comments
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    Lionel Messi scores

    Messi has scored more Champions League goals against English clubs than against sides from any other country

    Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona punished 10-man Manchester City in the Champions League on Pep Guardiola’s return to his old club.

    City were competitive in the first half, but made far too many errors against a ruthless Barcelona revelling in Messi’s return from injury.

    A Fernandinho slip inside his own box put Messi clear for his first, then Kevin de Bruyne lost possession allowing Andres Iniesta to set up the Argentine for a left-footed strike into the bottom corner.

    The evening got worse for the visitors when goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was sent off for handling outside the box and minutes later Messi struck again.

    Barcelona were also reduced to 10 men in the last 15 minutes as substitute Jeremy Mathieu was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Raheem Sterling, but by then the damage had been done.

    Willy Caballero saved a late Neymar penalty – but the Brazilian scored from open play minutes later to complete a comprehensive win for the La Liga side.

    The victory maintained Barcelona’s 100% start in Group C and extended their lead over City to five points.

    It was the first time City had conceded four times in the competition and another miserable return to the Nou Camp for Guardiola. During his celebrated four-year tenure as Barcelona manager the Catalan won 14 trophies, but he has now twice lost heavily to the Spaniards – the other being a 3-0 first-leg semi-final defeat with Bayern Munich.


    Alli rescues point for Spurs at West Brom

    Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 15, 2016 with No Comments
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    Dele Alli scores

    Dele Alli has netted three goals in his last five Premier League games

    Dele Alli’s equaliser a minute from time ensured Tottenham maintained their unbeaten start to the season and remained within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

    Nacer Chadli’s late goal for West Brom seemed set to inflict an unlikely first defeat of the season on in-form Spurs.

    But Mauricio Pochettino’s men fought back as substitute Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen combined to create the opportunity for England international Alli to prod the ball home with the outside of his boot.

    It was thanks to a series of fine first-half saves from Ben Foster, 33, that the hosts were still in contention at the break, with Alli admitting his team could have scored “three or four” were it not for the former England goalkeeper.

    But despite enjoying less than 30% of possession, West Brom were worthy of a draw, improving considerably as an attacking force after the interval.

    Eriksen could have snatched victory with a free-kick aimed towards the top-right corner in the last action of the match but, once again, the outstretched Foster kept out the Dane’s curling effort.

    The draw ensures Tottenham are unbeaten in the opening eight league matches of the season for the first time since 1990, but it also allowed north London rivals Arsenal to leapfrog them into second in the table with victory over Swansea.