About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Emery admits top-four finish ‘difficult’ for Arsenalby Freddie Taylor9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveUnai Emery admits consistency is jeopardising Arsenal’s top-four chances. The Gunners’ loss to West Ham United on Sunday saw them drop three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.And Emery thinks it will be difficult for his team to qualify for the Champions League if they continue to drop points.”Now it’s more difficult, it’s clear,” he told reporters. “I think the most important thing for us is to recover our confidence and be more competitive. We need consistency over 38 matches.”Now it isn’t enough at the moment. It’s a bad result. If we can win we are playing against Chelsea [on Saturday] with a three-point maximum distance.”The big opportunity for us is that we can take in our hands the possibility to be closer to them. This result makes that more difficult.”
Man Utd tell Solskjaer plans to bring in four new signingsby Paul Vegas15 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United have told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer they plan to bring in four new signings next year.United have struggled to score goals this season and The Times says the board is willing to remain patient with Solskjaer as they acknowledge the scale of the task at hand in rebuilding his squad.The Norwegian has held meetings with the club’s hierarchy and they will be looking to make four signings next year, including a centre forward.United made three signings this summer, with Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James heading to Old Trafford. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Watford ended West Ham’s winning streak with a 2-0 victory at London Stadium which saw Javi Gracia’s side climb to sixth in the Premier League.The hosts went into Saturday’s contest on the back of four wins on the bounce, but saw their momentum halted by Troy Deeney’s emphatic first-half penalty and a late Gerard Deulofeu goal.Manuel Pellegrini’s men were left to rue a number of near-misses as their search for a goal proved fruitless, Michail Antonio coming closest as he twice hit the woodwork in the second half. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? It represents the Hammers’ first loss since a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City last month, leaving them 12th in the table.| The skipper opens the scoring #watfordfc #WHUWAT [0-1]Listen live ⤵️https://t.co/mxkU36Cmjo pic.twitter.com/O4xpJMiObF— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) December 22, 2018West Ham threatened first and Christian Kabasele made a vital sliding interception to prevent Antonio’s dangerous delivery from reaching Javier Hernandez, while Fabian Balbuena was pressed into defensive action at the other end to thwart Deulofeu.The Hornets wasted a glorious chance to break the deadlock in the 24th minute as Jose Holebas miscontrolled when he had the freedom of the penalty area after West Ham’s plan to play him offside backfired. It did not take long for the visitors to shrug off that disappointment, Balbuena’s clumsy challenge on Roberto Pereyra allowing Deeney to open the scoring with a powerful finish from the spot.West Ham twice came close to an equaliser either side of the break, Ben Foster making a smart stop to keep out Hernandez’s volley and then Antonio’s header hitting the post. Andy Carroll’s introduction in the place of Mark Noble underlined West Ham’s attacking intent and the hosts continued to press, Hernandez fluffing his lines to shoot tamely at Foster from just eight yards out. It took a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski to push Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stinging drive over the crossbar in the 71st minute as Watford sought to put the game to bed. Doucoure then made a timely intervention to deny the lively Hernandez just as the Mexican was lining up the target. There were chances for both sides late on with Deeney shooting straight at Fabianski and Foster saving from Antonio before watching his follow-up effort hit the bar, but Deulofeu had the final say with a cool finish to settle matters after being played in by Pereyra. What does it mean? Hornets flying highWith back-to-back wins under their belt, Watford now sit in the top six heading into a busy run of fixtures that will shape their season. West Ham arguably deserved at least a point and must quickly pick themselves up from a first defeat of the month.Fostering defensive confidenceIn a game of fine margins, the calm presence of Foster was key in Watford’s triumph, the Englishman making seven saves in a display that frustrated West Ham.Balbuena pays the penaltyIt was a day to forget for Balbuena, who went off after injuring himself in conceding the penalty that ultimately cost West Ham the game. His passing accuracy of 54.4 per cent spoke volumesKey Opta Facts- Watford have won five of their last eight Premier League games against West Ham (D1 L2), winning three away from home in this run (1-0 in February 2007, 4-2 in September 2016 and 2-0 in December 2018).- West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 of their last 11 Premier League home games.- Deeney has scored in three of his last four league appearances against West Ham, with two of those goals coming at London Stadium.- Deulofeu scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career.- Watford ended a run of seven consecutive Premier League games in which they failed to keep a clean sheet. What’s next? Pellegrini takes his side to a resurgent Southampton on Thursday, while Watford host Chelsea on Boxing Day. read more
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s resuscitation of Southampton gathered momentum as they climbed three points clear of the Premier League drop zone with a 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town.The Saints led from the 15th minute through Nathan Redmond and navigated a nervy spell in the second half to deservedly prevail in a match with clear relegation implications.Danny Ings, twice on target in last weekend’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal, converted his side’s second from the spot before half-time and it proved a decisive buffer. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Philip Billing’s bamboozling of Alex McCarthy briefly offered the Terriers a lifeline in the 58th minute but, as is often the case, they failed to build on a positive period and were consigned to a fifth straight Premier League loss when teenager Michael Obafemi buried his first professional goal.The confidence Southampton gained from overcoming Arsenal was evident in Redmond’s emphatic finish for the opener, the winger punishing Terence Kongolo’s ungainly attempt at cutting out Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s pass.28 – Nathan Redmond has scored his first Premier League goal of the season with his 28th shot. Persistence. #HUDSOU pic.twitter.com/no0V8teC4V — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018 Huddersfield were struggling to exert any kind of attacking threat and another defensive blunder cost them three minutes before the break.Mathias Jorgensen miscontrolled Ings’ wayward pass and compounded his error by tripping the Saints striker, who coolly sent Jonas Lossl the wrong way from the spot.McCarthy made an instinctive save from Jorgensen’s close-range header soon after the interval but the goalkeeper was far less impressive in allowing Billing’s swerving shot to beat him.That instigated a period of Huddersfield pressure that was relieved through a third mistake at the back.Christopher Schindler was all too easily robbed of possession, Redmond selflessly squared and substitute Obafemi was on hand to tuck away a landmark goal, leaving the hapless hosts four points from safety.That first #PL goal feeling #HUDSOU pic.twitter.com/J3yVYJGXLc— Premier League (@premierleague) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Terriers in serious troubleSouthampton scoring three times for the second straight match made Huddersfield’s attacking woes all the more regrettable.Still, that concern will fade to minor irritation for manager David Wagner in comparison to the headaches served up by his defence, who could have prevented each goal.Hojbjerg at the heart of Saints’ successSouthampton were blessed with several impressive performers and chief among them was Hojbjerg.Wearing the captain’s armband, the former Bayern Munich man was a real leader in midfield as he got through a power of defensive work while registering an assist for Redmond’s opener.Jorgensen sets poor standardA defender of Jorgensen’s experience should have known better than to have been sucked into the challenge that allowed Ings to double the margin in the first half.The mistake plunged Huddersfield into a hole they were unable to escape from, and losing more than half of his duels did little to help.Key Opta Facts- Southampton have registered back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since April 2017, when they were managed by Claude Puel.- Huddersfield have lost nine of their last 12 home Premier League games (W1 D2), netting just four goals in that time.- Hasenhuttl has won two of his three Premier League matches in charge of Southampton (L1) – only one fewer than Mark Hughes managed in 22 attempts as Saints boss.- Since the start of last season, Huddersfield have had more different players booked for diving than any other Premier League team (4 – Rajiv van La Parra, Alex Pritchard, Laurent Depoitre and Chris Lowe).What’s next? Huddersfield must contend with a daunting trip to Old Trafford on Boxing Day, while Southampton will eye a result at home to West Ham the following day. read more
It took just three minutes for Manchester United to take their first steps toward banishing the dark clouds of the end of the Jose Mourinho era as Marcus Rashford delivered a free-kick to put his side on top.After a sluggish start that saw the Red Devils mired on just 26 points, the club finally made the move to part ways with Mourinho after nearly two and half seasons.Former United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed to the interim role, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s old charge tasked with salvaging something from a campaign that appeared to drift dangerously off course. Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? United entered their match in Wales against Solskjaer’s former side 22 points behind table-topping Liverpool and 11 behind Chelsea in fourth place as the new boss made four changes to his lineup.One of those changes was Paul Pogba, who had been dropped by Mourinho for the club’s last three Premier League fixtures, and did not play at all in the last two, against Fulham and the defeat to Liverpool.But it was Pogba who earned the first opportunity, as he won a free-kick just outside the Cardiff area minutes into the contest.Pogba and Rashford lined up over the ball, with Pogba faking as if he was going to take it before letting the forward run up and hit it.Rashford hit a low drive that went through the Cardiff wall and left goalkeeper Neil Etheridge rooted to the spot.What a start to the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era! Get in Rashford! pic.twitter.com/b20Ct2jzaI— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 22, 2018GOALRashford’s free kick gives the new #MUFC boss the perfect start….Follow live: https://t.co/CNM3VdNsIT pic.twitter.com/PuHJTxku83— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 22, 2018The goal was Rashford’s fourth of the Premier League season and third in four games across all competitions, having scored against Fulham and Valencia in the past two weeks.The forward has now been involved in more Premier League goals than any of his team-mates this season, scoring four times and adding five assists.Pogba would later earn himself an assist as he found Ander Herrera in space with the Spanish midfielder then hitting a wicked strike from distance which deflected past Etheridge to double the United advantage.Rashford, however, would have his night dampened late in the first half as the forward was flagged for a handball in his area, giving Cardiff a penalty that was converted by Víctor Camarasa to make it 2-1. But moments later, Pogba was involved in the build-up with Jesse Lingard playing in Anthony Martial, who restored United’s two-goal advantage.
Franck Ribery scored twice as Bayern Munich ended 2018 by moving into second place in the Bundesliga with a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.On Niko Kovac’s return to his former club, Bayern took the lead midway through the first half when Ribery swept in at the culmination of a slick counter-attack.Bayern could have been ahead earlier on, had Kevin Trapp not pulled off a superb double save to deny Javi Martinez and Thomas Muller, who later hit the woodwork. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Robert Lewandowski should have wrapped up the win early in the second half, but his blushes were spared when Ribery scuffed in a second, with Rafinha’s fortuitous effort adding further gloss to a victory that takes Bayern back to within six points of leaders Borussia Dortmund.Danny da Costa and Luka Jovic both went close as Eintracht started well, but the hosts would have been behind had Trapp not followed up a fantastic save from Martinez’s diving header by denying Muller on the rebound.Trapp was beaten in the 35th minute, though. Muller played in Lewandowski, who squared a wonderful reverse pass into the centre of the box, with Ribery on hand to tuck home.3 – @FranckRibery scores in 3 consecutive games in the Bundesliga for the first time since February 2015, after not scoring in his first 11 games in the Bundesliga in this season. Form. @FCBayernEN #SGEFCB — OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 22, 2018 Lewandowski almost turned provider again on the stroke of half-time, but Muller could only direct his header onto the bar.Ribery should have had an assist when he teed up Lewandowski, though the striker’s first touch let him down, and that profligacy might have proved costly had Jovic connected with Da Costa’s cross.But any lingering hopes of an Eintracht comeback were ended when Ribery’s mishit clipped in off the woodwork, with Rafinha’s cross-shot then getting the better of Trapp as Bayern cruised to a fifth successive Bundesliga win. What does it mean? Kovac keeps the bragging rights Kovac has now come out as the winning manager in the last three meetings between these sides, once as Eintracht boss in the DFB-Pokal final, and now twice during his time in charge of Bayern.It also means that Bayern ensure that they stay within touching distance of Dortmund heading into the winter break, while Eintracht sit in fifth.Ribery’s scoring run rolls on It took until December 8 for Ribery to open his account for the season, but the winger has not looked back since then, and has now netted four times in his last three Bundesliga appearances.Haller, Jovic left isolated After initially struggling to cope with Eintracht’s high press, Bayern managed to stem the service into the hosts’ forward pair, and neither Sebastien Haller or Jovic had much to go off.Key Opta facts: – Thomas Muller played his 50th competitive game for Bayern in 2018 – no other player made so many appearances for Bayern in all competitions this year.- Franck Ribery scored in his third consecutive Bundesliga game – the last time he achieved this was in February 2015.- Robert Lewandowski had a hand in a goal for Bayern for the 50th time in all competitions in 2018 – tying his personal record for a single calendar year (50 goals scored/assisted in 2017).- Ribery (35 years, 259 days) became the oldest Bayern player ever to score at least two goals in a single Bundesliga game.- Niko Kovac has won five consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time as a coach – he also did not achieved this in his career as a Bayern player.2 – @FranckRibery is the oldest player of @FCBayernEN (35 years, 259 days) to score more than one goal in a Bundesliga game. Grandseigneur. #SGEFCB pic.twitter.com/g2zyFpL2O7— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 22, 2018What’s next? With the Bundesliga taking a winter break, Bayern face Fortuna Dusseldorf in a friendly before restarting league duties away at Hoffenheim on January 18. read more
Kylian Mbappe made the difference in the absence of Neymar, scoring the only goal of the game as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nantes 1-0 to end 2018 in victorious fashion.Brazil star Neymar had been allowed to travel back to his home country to rest following recent struggles with a groin injury, and while PSG missed his craft, they scraped the win nonetheless.Angel Di Maria looked PSG’s biggest threat in the first half, though his two best strikes did not quite hit the target as the hosts failed to make the most of their superiority. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? PSG remained the controlling force after the interval and finally broke the deadlock through Mbappe in the 68th minute, and that proved to be enough as the hosts’ first Ligue 1 game since December 5 – due to the ‘gilet jaunes’ demonstrations – ended with a triumph.FULL TIME: PSG end the year on a winning note, beating Nantes 1-0 on @KMbappe’s lone goal! #AllesParis #PSGFCN pic.twitter.com/kn6DKKRaUR— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 22, 2018It took less than a minute for PSG to threaten, as Di Maria saw a controlled volley go agonisingly over Ciprian Tatarusanu’s crossbar.But that failed to usher in a period of PSG bombardment, with their next opportunity not presenting itself until the 25th minute, when Julian Draxler shot over from 20 yards after Mbappe’s cut-back.Di Maria went close again a few moments later, his 25-yard strike flying past the right-hand post with Tatarusanu looking beaten.PSG continued to threaten from distance after the break, with Di Maria – again – and Mbappe shooting just off target in the first 12 minutes.Draxler thought he opened the scoring after an hour, but VAR proved the ball went out of play in the build-up, despite Marco Verratti’s best efforts.There was no denying Mbappe 22 minutes from time, though, as he turned in – via the crossbar – from close range after Marquinhos flicked on Di Maria’s corner.Di Maria saw another effort thud against the crossbar but it mattered little as PSG secured victory to open up a 13-point lead over Lille – beaten 2-1 by Toulouse – at the top of the table.He’s not a teenager anymore #AllezParis #PSGFCN pic.twitter.com/r5zSMzNEjH— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 22, 2018What does it mean? PSG lacking sharpnessIt is fair to say PSG looked a little off the pace on Saturday, and it is easy to understand why, given the only teams they have faced since December 5 were Red Star Belgrade and Orleans. Considering the circumstances and the absence of Neymar, they will surely be happy to get this one out of the way.Di Maria provides PSG’s sparkWith Neymar not featuring, Di Maria took on the mantle of PSG’s creative hub and he was certainly lively, seeing several shots go close. He was unable to get a deserved goal, but there is no doubt about the quality he showed.Cavani blends into the backgroundPerhaps the service to him was lacking, but Edinson Cavani did little to make any openings for himself and rarely featured in build-up play before being hooked towards the end.Key Opta Facts- PSG have won their last 14 games against Nantes in Ligue 1, and become the first ever top-flight team to win 14 consecutive games against the same opponent.- Nantes have failed to score in eight of their last 10 away games against PSG in Ligue 1 (2 goals).- Thomas Tuchel’s side have picked up 47 points after 17 games in Ligue 1, the highest tally in the history of the top-flight at this stage.- PSG are the only team to have scored in all of their Ligue 1 games this season (17/17).- Mbappé’s goal in the 68th minute was PSG’s first shot on target.- The 20-year-old has scored 13 goals in Ligue 1 this season, only Lionel Messi (15) has scored more in the top 5 leagues.What’s next?After the winter break, PSG have games against Pontivy and Guingamp in the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, respectively, before then returning to Ligue 1 action on January 11 at Amiens. Nantes will host Chateauroux in the Coupe de France, then Montpellier in the league four days later on January 8. read more
Bayern Munich are leading the race to sign Chelsea attacker Callum Hudson-Odoi, but Goal understands the Bundesliga champions could face competition from Borussia Dortmund, who have also shown an interest in the 18-year-old.Hudson-Odoi is a valued asset at Stamford Bridge, but the youngster is questioning his long-term future at the club despite his age, having earned only two competitive starts under Maurizio Sarri this season.Chelsea are still hopeful that they can tie down the forward to a new five-year contract, as previously revealed by Goal, but a serious offer from a big overseas club could tempt the Blues to cash in on a player who is eager for playing time and out of contract in 18 months.Dortmund’s approach for Hudson-Odoi came during Chelsea’s talks with the club over Christian Pulisic’s availability, with the German side’s offer of a swap deal rejected by the Blues as they aim to tempt the player to put pen to paper on a new deal in January. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? It is understood that Bayern have a clear plan set out to bring the England youth to the Allianz Arena, the Bavarians eager to add some youth to their forward line as veteran wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben enter the final years of their career.Juventus and Real Madrid also retain an interest in Hudson-Odoi, who brought himself to the attention of clubs all around Europe since helping Chelsea’s academy team to a stunning quadruple in the 2017-18 season.The Blues are also keen to hold on to goalkeeper Marcin Bulka, who is regarded as the best young shot-stopper currently on the London club’s books.They have, however, already cemented deals for fellow keepers Nathan Baxter and Jamie Cumming to ensure talent continues to come through between the sticks.
Bayer Leverkusen have confirmed that former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund boss Peter Bosz has been appointed as the Bundesliga club’s next coach.Leverkusen sit ninth in the Bundesliga table heading into the winter break and, despite securing a third win in four league games by beating Hertha Berlin on Saturday, Heiko Herrlich has been relieved of his duties.And the club have revealed that Bosz, whose successful 2016-17 campaign with Ajax led to a short-lived stint at Dortmund, which came to an end in December 2017, will take over in the new year, having signed a contract until 2020. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? “Heiko Herrlich gave our team an important boost last year after a very difficult season,” Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller said in a statement.”Until the end we had the conviction and the will to make it with him as head coach. Unfortunately, a stagnation in the development of the team is no longer deniable.”Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes added: “Bosz stands for offensive, fast-paced and inspiring football.”He has always shown a special passion for working with young players, that’s why he fits in very well with us.”Heiko Herrlich has been relieved of his coaching duties at #Bayer04.Peter Bosz will take over in January. pic.twitter.com/Hrtoy8CJ9J— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) December 23, 2018Bosz took charge of Ajax in July 2016, and guided the Eredivisie club to the Europa League final – where they were beaten 2-0 by Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United – and a second-placed finish in the Dutch top flight, before taking over at Dortmund.A seven-match unbeaten run in the league saw Dortmund flying at the start of the campaign, but an eight-game winless streak and no victories in the Champions League group stage resulted in Bosz losing his job at Signal Iduna Park.
Samuel Umtiti will return to Barcelona on December 30 for further “conservative treatment” on his knee after undergoing therapy in Qatar.The France international last featured for Barca almost a month ago in Barca’s 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid on November 24, but a persistent knee issue has troubled him ever since.Umtiti had been having treatment with specialists in Qatar ever since the end of November. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? He has played just seven times in La Liga this term, having also missed two months when the knee injury first flared up in September.Barca have been severely impacted by injuries at centre-back this term, with Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique the only fit senior players for the position in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Celta Vigo.The club are yet to give a return date for Umtiti, though they will be helped by the loan signing of Jeison Murillo in January.A club statement on Umtiti’s return to Spain read: “Samuel Umtiti was evaluated by the club’s medical services staff at the team’s training centre this morning due to the discomfort in his left knee.”Samuel Umtiti will return on December 30 to continue undergoing conservative treatment on his knee.”This conservative treatment plan was announced on December 2, with the goal of allowing him to heal his left knee discomfort.”The player was in Doha, Qatar in recent weeks for physical therapy treatment under the supervision of the club’s medical services staff.”