I am amazed I have to answer the same questions every time – Wenger
Underperforming Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger has claimed he is “amazed” at fresh speculation regarding his future at the London club. The Emirates side was totally outplayed as they suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday in the Carabao Cup Final leading to fresh calls for Wenger’s head. He has been battling against a growing feeling from within the club faithful that he is no longer the man to guarantee success for the historical club. The Gunners are 27 points behind the Premier league leaders, City with three months still to go as they are currently languishing in the sixth position on the log. They were beaten to the Carabao title on Sunday by the same City, eliminated at the third round of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest and now hope to secure victory over Gattuso’s high flying Milan in the Europa League for a little hope of success this season. The team’s display on Sunday has led to intense criticism from pundits such as Gary Neville and former club legends, Ian Wright and Thierry Henry. However, Wenger insists he is stunned when asked if the terrible display bring thoughts of a possible end of his reign at the Emirates to his mind
“I am just amazed that I have to always answer things that are exactly the same,” he said. “I am here for 21 years, I turned the whole world down to respect my contracts. So, I am still amazed that I still have to answer these types of questions. “My position is my position. Honestly, that’s the last worry I have at the moment. My worry is to focus, to get the team ready for tomorrow’s game. “My job is to focus on performing and my job is to perform. It’s for other people to judge me, it isn’t for me to evaluate that.” Thursday’s game, rather disconcertingly for Wenger, sees leaders City visit the Emirates Stadium for a league clash. The Manager in his usual state defended many of his players that were labelled as “spineless” and a “disgrace” by pundits after the Sunday’s game. “You can always get out pictures from a game that justifies what you think, you find in every single game, on both sides, moments where a player doesn’t track,” he said. “After you have to analyze why has he made two runs before to go in behind and was exhausted, or did he not track because he didn’t want to? That is different. “I believe we have to live with that criticism and respond together like we always do. “We didn’t play against a poor team in the semi-final, we played against Chelsea and we have shown that we can fight. You have to acknowledge as well that Man City are a quality team.”
I cancelled my move to Chelsea because of the good life in Rome – Nainggolan
AS Roma midfielder, Radja Nainggolan who was on course to join Chelsea last summer has cancelled that he canceled the deal because he is fond of life in Rome. He has been courted by the Blues for a long time and it was beginning to look like the 29-year old will become a Chelsea player last season before he changed his mind. The Belgium International has since then decided to sign a new deal with Roma which is expected to run till 2021, he admits that even though he fancied playing in the Premier League when he was younger, he opted for Roma again because he is happy there. “I could have gone to Chelsea and many other clubs, but starting something new when you are 28, 29, in a new culture, another lifestyle, that’s not for me,” he told Belgium’s Sports Voetbal Magazine.
“I prefer to stay where I feel good. “If money were my only motivation, I would have changed clubs many times and my salary would have grown, but my first priority is to live well. “You need to live well and be happy playing where you are and I have both of those things here. Everything is perfect; my family is happy in Rome. “There are lots of good restaurants and it’s a good place to go shopping. When friends or family come to visit, you can send them almost anywhere. “I’m liked at the club and the supporters are behind me. I’ve given a lot on the field and I get a lot of respect for that. As a footballer, that’s one of the best things you can get. I grew up in Antwerp, but I became a man in Italy. As things stand, I can see myself living in Rome in later life.”
I want to win the Premier League with Chelsea – Giroud
Former Arsenal forward, Olivier Giroud has made clear his intention to claim the Premier League title before the end of his career as he admits that he left North London feeling there was an unfinished business for him. The France International swapped teams in January as he departed the Gunners to join Chelsea on deadline day in a triangle of transfers. He won three FA Cups with Arsenal but never won the Premier League. Chelsea which happens to be his current club only won the League last May although it is almost certain that they will be losing their title to leaders, Manchester City comes May. However, Giroud believes that with the quality of the Chelsea squad, they have all it takes to become Champions again next season.
While speaking to SFR Sport, the 31-year old spoke about his time at the Emirates Stadium: “I don’t know if we can really call it a regret but I have a little feeling of unfinished business because I would really have liked to have won the Premier League with Arsenal. “You don’t just wipe away five-and-a-half years like that. I have said it often enough – it was my ultimate goal. “Having said that, it’s not over, I’m still in the Premier League, now I’m at Chelsea. For this year, I think it’s over for the title, but next year, we’ll come to it with great ambitions. “I still want to win it before I end my career.”
It is not surprising that a lot of clubs want Kane – Raul
Real Madrid legend, Raul has stated that it isn’t a surprising thing to see that a lot of European big teams are interested in signing Tottenham’s super striker, Harry Kane. The England International has been linked with a transfer to Los Blancos all season as many reports have asserted that it will be one of the most expensive moves in the summer. Kane has been exceptionally consistent over the past few seasons as he has claimed the Premier League Golden Boot two seasons in a row now and has already scored 35 goals in all competitions this season. The 24-year old ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s dominance of the highest goal scorer in Europe in a calendar year after scoring 56 times in 2017. While discussing Kane’s future at the Laureus World Sports Awards, Raul told reporters: “You have to ask him. I imagine that he is very happy at Tottenham. I don’t know if he wants to change or if he has the opportunity to change, but I think he is doing well. “He is one of the best strikers in the world. Of course, I imagine a lot of teams would like to bring him to their team. Maybe [he’ll join Madrid]. Why not? I don’t know.”
Wenger is mollycoddling the team, he has to leave – Wright
Arsenal legend, Ian Wright has called on Manager, Arsene Wenger to leave the club at the end of the season as he believes that the team has only retrogressed in the past few seasons. The Gunners are positioned sixth in the League as they stand 27 points behind leaders, Manchester City. They were well beaten by Guardiola’s City team at the Carabao Cup final on Sunday and now have to beat AC Milan over two legs in the UEFA Europa Cup Round of 16 to stand a chance to claim a trophy this season. The former Arsenal forward who played 213 matches for Arsenal says the team’s display at the final was disheartening although they have struggled all season. While speaking with BBC, Wright said: “There are excuses [from Wenger] and he is mollycoddling a team,” “Whether he stays at the end of this season, I could not make a case. I am not sure anyone can. This development of mediocrity has to be arrested.” Arsenal last claimed the Premier League title in 2004 and have not won the UEFA Champions League during Wenger’s 22-year reign with the FA Cup the club’s only silverware in recent years. Wright, who hanged his boot in 2000 insists that the club have to change the Manager as soon as possible to have a real chance of success again although it might take a few years. “I want Arsenal to challenge again, for them to sign players who will get you excited. I want someone in the boardroom who will lay it down…,” Wright added. “How long would it take Arsenal to get back? It will take them a few years. Everyone is progressing and moving forward in that top five. “Arsenal are going the other way… It is a long road.”
We have the quality to secure a top-four spot – Courtois
Chelsea goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois believes that his team has the required quality to claim a top-four spot so as to secure their qualification for the UEFA Champions League as the race intensifies. The Blues are currently positioned fifth on the League table after they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday although only six points separate second-placed United from Chelsea. Leaders, Manchester City are 13-points clear at the top of the summit having played a fewer game than the chasing pack that consist of Man United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arsenal. the Gunners are seven points beneath Chelsea in 6th place as it promises to be a captivating end to the season. “It stays the same, it is tough,” Courtois claimed. “City is obviously far away but for the second, third and fourth spot there are five teams so it will be hard until the last match of the season.” “But I think we have enough quality as we saw on Sunday and we showed it against Barcelona. I think we are a very good team but there are some other good teams around us as well.” Chelsea now hopes to pick vital points from crucial fixtures against City and Crystal Palace as they seek to get back on track in the league has suffered three losses in their last five matches. The reigning Premier League champions will travel to Nou Camp to face Barcelona for the second leg of their Round of 16 clashes on March 14.
Atletico Madrid forward, Antoine Griezmann has sounded a note of warning to their competitors that the squad is determined to win all their remaining games for the rest of the season. The French International was on hand to score a hat-trick in their Spanish La Liga 5-2 victory over woeful Sevilla on Sunday, as the Capital club maintained their momentum in their chase of League leaders, Barcelona who are only seven points ahead. “Our aim is to win all of our remaining matches,” Griezmann told reporters after the victory. “We want to continue on our current path, keeping up this level of performances and seeing where it takes us, but we want to win all of our remaining matches. “It is always nice to score goals but the most important thing is the level of the team performance which allowed us to push on to win three points. “Sevilla often goes into attacking situations with a lot of players, so it was important we combatted that.” Diego Simeone’s side has picked up a total of 22 points from a possible 24 in their previous eight matches.
Gattuso has proven himself as a talented Manager – Fassone
Milan Managing Director, Marco Fassone has showered a load of praises on former Milan midfielder turn Manager, Gennaro Gattuso, who has had an incredible impact on the team. The Rossoneri parted ways with their former Coach, Vincenzo Montella in November after a consecutive run of disheartening results. Sunday’s victory away at Roma has taken Milan’s winning run to five in all competitions as they are now back in pole position to compete for Champions League places. While speaking with Radio Anch’io Sport, the Football administrator said: “Gattuso has done the simple things that a Coach with more experience than him would have done.” “Maybe even we didn’t expect this and we can only take our hats off to his work. I also have to congratulate [sporting director Massimiliano] Mirabelli, who pushed me to make this choice. “Will Gattuso stay on? In the end, the results will take us forward. There’s an agreement with Rino and a very nice relationship, especially with Mirabelli. “At the moment, for superstitious reasons, we don’t want to talk about the future. We’ll focus on Lazio and then Inter. “He’s proven himself to be a talented coach, and to have the great technical features. That being the case, it would be very difficult to lose him. “We had been hoping to go ahead with Montella, but there was a moment in November when we realized the investments weren’t living up to what we expected. “We strongly believed in this squad though, and we didn’t intervene in January. After a long discussion with Mirabelli, we decided Gattuso could help us. “The most surprising thing, however, is the speed of Gattuso in making the team motivated and able to achieve results. The lads believe in him, things have changed, winning helps you win. “The top four? We must always believe because in football you can never say never. Fassone also spoke about the futures of Alessio Romagnoli and Gianluigi Donnarumma. “I think Donnarumma’s future is here. He loves Milan and he’s the future of Italian football. Yesterday he celebrated his 19th birthday with 100 Serie A appearances. “We want to keep him, we hope that’s what he wants too. “Romagnoli? In the coming weeks we’ll sit down with his agent, it’s not a priority but we’ll talk about it [a renewal] soon.”
Morata is the toughest player I’ve played against – Kimmich
Bayern Munich defender, Joshua Kimmich has stated that Chelsea forward, Alvaro Morata is the toughest opponent he has faced so far. The defender has played against quite a number of fantastic attackers, it is rather surprising to hear him mention the Spain International’s name. Morata has faced severe criticisms for his performance lately for his London club, yet Kimmich believes that he was an unbelievable presence during his time at Juventus. The 23-year-old rates the 25-year-old Morata above the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, both of whom he has also played against in the Champions League. When questioned by fans through Goal.com, the Germany International said: “It was very tough to play against him because he has a very strong body, he is very fast and has a good technique, so it wasn’t easy to play against him.” Meanwhile, the young right-back found it complicated to pick the exceptional player of his generation. “I think there are a lot of good players,” he said. “Neymar is not that old but he’s not my age. Paul Pogba is two years older than me and Paulo Dybala I think is one year older than me. “For me, Kingsley Coman is a greater player, but he’s one year younger than me. “I think we have a good generation with a lot of very good players.”
Former Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho who was fired by the club he helped win the league three times in his two different stints with the club has insisted that he held no grudge whatsoever with the London club as they travel to face his current side, Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. A victory for Mourinho against his beloved “Chelsea” would take the Red Devils back to the second spot which is currently occupied by Liverpool on the League table. The Portuguese tactician admits that what is vital to him is picking all three points as he attaches no special significance to the encounter. While speaking with Sky Sports News, Mourinho stressed his consideration of the game as a usual Premier League match that teams play week in week out. He said: “When you leave a club, what keeps that extra feeling of playing against your previous club is when you leave with a negative feeling or have stones in your shoes. “I didn’t leave with negative feelings. As a professional, I always accept decisions from the club. “I gave everything I could to the club so no negative feelings. It’s just a very important match because we are separated by just a few points and we have similar ambitions.” When questioned about his opinion on the strength of the current Chelsea squad, the former Real Madrid Boss replied: “They are very strong defensively and showed that a few days ago against probably the most talented team [Barcelona]. “In attack they have individuality and I know them very well because I coached all of them – [Alvaro] Morata at Real Madrid, [Eden] Hazard, Pedro, and Willian at Chelsea. “Individually they can all resolve matches.”
Liverpool midfielder, Emre Can has showered praise on the club’s attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane as he described them as simply unbelievable. The in-form forwards were on target again against West Ham as Can alongside the trio scored to put four past the Hammers at Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool have now scored 100 times this season in all competition and the attacking trio also have 66 goals between them in the Premier League with Egyptian, Salah been the cheer-leader with 31 goals, Firmino has 22 and Mane has 13 with three months still to go. Can while speaking with the club’s official website said: “It’s amazing.” “The front three can score in every game at any minute. It’s unbelievable how good they are. They did it again. We are always happy if they can score and we win.” The biggest surprise, however, was that it was Can rather than Salah, Firmino, and Mane, who scored the club’s 100th goal of the season. The German midfielder was delighted that he can replicate what he has practised in training in the field of play. “I’m happy that I could score because we trained it and I scored like that,” he added. “It’s always good when you train something and score like that. I’m happy, of course, when I can score and help the team.”
I hope to stay but the decision isn’t mine, Pardew speaks after Huddersfield loss
Former Newcastle United Manager, Alan Pardew, whose job at West Bromwich Albion currently hangs in the balance after their embarrassing loss to Huddersfield Town on Saturday hopes to remain in charge as he believes he can still make the required difference although he acknowledged that the decision isn’t his to make. Having won only three games in the previous 37 encounters, the veteran Manager expects the fans to be furious after another disheartening display at home. He has already been under intense pressure but this last defeat has brought even more pressure upon him. The Manager while speaking in his post-match conference said: “I just think it’s frustrating – this team has won three in 37 games, which says everything really at the moment. “We have to find a way to win a game. My job is to try to get ourselves up as best we can for next week [when they face Watford away] and try to win, and that is what I’m going to try to do. “This was an opportunity today to get us rolling, and of course we’ve let that slip. “Unfortunately, we can’t wind the clock back. As much as I can say this or make excuses about that, we’ve lost the game against Huddersfield today and we need to go to the next game and stick our chest out and show a bit of pride and try to win a game of football. “We have to find some performances and stand up. There’s no point me defending myself or defending players. “I have to stand up and manage the team and they have to stand up and give us performances where we get seven, eight, nine out of 10 performances. We are not getting those at the moment. We didn’t have enough today, for sure.”
We will maintain our concentration on all three fronts – Inzaghi
Lazio Manager, Simone Inzaghi is confident that his side has what it takes to succeed on all three fronts as they balance their competition in the League with the Coppa Italia and Europa League. He maintains that there is no sign of fatigue in his squad ahead of their clash with Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final on Wednesday, then Dinamo Kiev in the Europa League Round of 16. While speaking in his pre-match conference, he said: “I am convinced there is no physical fatigue, but there could be some mental strain. I like to think that is mainly for those who don’t have clear objectives in front of them.” “We have many objectives and can take it one game at a time.” After their 5-1 thrashing of FCSB in the Europa League on Thursday, Inzaghi mentioned his intention to rotate his squad to give some players rest “I intend to change a few things against Sassuolo. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Stefan Radu will definitely start because they didn’t play on Thursday. “Sassuolo has good individuals and a very smart Coach in Beppe Iachini, so we must be concentrated and precise. We’ve got to give 120 percent. “We are working to concede fewer goals, as we score a great deal, but also have a poor defensive record. Considering the quality of defenders in the team, we have to do better there, “Ciro Immobile is doing remarkable things, as in 18 months he has already surged into the top 10 all-time Lazio goal-scorers. I think he settled perfectly and he’ll keep on scoring for Lazio for many years. He is our leader.” On their pairing with Dinamo Kiev in the Europa League Round of 16, he added: “There were tougher teams on paper, but they are well-organized and are right up there with Shakhtar Donetsk. We’ll see in 15 days, we’ll have time to think about Dinamo.”
As a team, Man United is capable of achieving big things – Matic
Manchester United midfielder, Nemanja Matic is certain that they have a team that is capable of achieving big things regardless of the Premier League title that looks unattainable this season. The Red Devils are 16 points behind neighbours Manchester City as they will be hosting Matic’s former club, Chelsea on Sunday. With a win, United can reduce the gap to 13 points as City will be hopeful of claiming their first title of the season when they face the Gunners in Sunday’s EFL Cup final at Wembley. Aside from securing qualification to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last weekend, United are still in contention for the Champions League title as they will be deciding their own fate at Old Trafford in the return leg fixture after holding Sevilla to a 0-0 draw in Spain. The Serbia International while speaking with United Review is confident that United will finish the season successfully as he has no doubt at all about the quality. He said: “I think that we have improved. “Of course, in the Premier League, it is difficult to win every game, but I think step by step we have improved and in the future, I believe, as a team, we can do big things together. “I’m happy to be with the team and how we are working together. I’m sure we can do something this season and in the future for sure. “We have to be honest and say we have had some very good games, but we have also had some bad games. We have to improve together. We have the Champions League and the FA Cup still to play for. “To win the league is going to be very hard as we know because the gap is very big, but we have to fight until the end and we will see what we can do.”
Returning Dybala might step in to replace injured Higuain – Allegri
Juventus Manager, Massimiliano Allegri is considering playing returning Dybala in a striking role to replace the injured Gonzalo Higuain in Sunday’s clash with Atalanta. The Argentine prodigy only made his return in Juve’s 1-0 derby win over Torino having been absent for close to six weeks due to a hamstring problem. As his Countryman, Higuain is expected to be unavailable as a result of an ankle problem, Allegri is concerned with the prospect of Dybala starting the game having only recovered recently too. Juve will play against Atalanta again on Wednesday in the Coppa Italia before traveling to face Tottenham at Wembley in the return fixture of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, thus the Juventus Manager is extremely cautious about how to reintroduce his top talent. Columbian, Juan Cuadrado, and Mattia De Sciglio are both ruled out of this weekend match against Atalanta while Allegri also confirmed that Federico Bernardeschi may need surgery on a knee problem. However, French midfielder, Blaise Matuidi is available again after recovering from a thigh injury. “It will be difficult for Higuain to play tomorrow,” Allegri told reporters on Saturday. “Bernardeschi will be re-evaluated in the coming 20 days. If by that time the conservative treatment has not had the desired effect, we’ll see if he needs an operation. Unfortunately, that is the situation with Federico. Apart from De Sciglio and Cuadrado, everyone else is at my disposal. “Yesterday [in training] I tried Dybala in the striker role, but it’s unthinkable that after 40-45 days of not playing that he can play the full 90 minutes for the next three games, so we’ll have to manage him carefully. “He played around half an hour against Torino, so it’s about finding the right fitness levels in a decisive moment of the season. “Matuidi and [Miralem] Pjanic will play tomorrow, and then I’ll choose one of [Rodrigo] Bentancur, [Claudio] Marchisio or [Stefano] Sturaro to play with them. Bentancur has a great future ahead of him, he’s 20 years old and has a lot of great quality, he will be a major player for Juventus. “[Gianluigi] Buffon will play tomorrow, as will [Stephan] Lichtsteiner and I’ll choose one of [Mehdi] Benatia or [Daniele] Rugani.”
Chicharito’s play has improved tremendously – Moyes
When David Moyes is set to be announced as the new West Ham United Manager to replace ex-manager, Slaven Bilic back in November, a lot of fans and pundits have expected that there might be a reoccurrence of what transpired between David Moyes and Javier Hernandez at Old Trafford. The pair worked together unsuccessfully at Manchester United, Hernandez was later sent on-loan to Real Madrid and eventually sold to Bundesliga side, Bayer Leverkusen. Despite promising to start afresh, it seemed things were going the same way in east London and Chicharito himself admitted he wanted to leave West Ham in January. He didn’t get his wish although Andre Ayew and Diafra Sakho did leave Hernandez remained. Surprisingly, he has since found form, going on to score three goals and providing an assist in the past four games. The Mexico International was sidelined with a hamstring problem that he picked up while on international duty days before Moyes arrived, something the Hammers manager says didn’t help the stylish forward but paid tribute to him for turning his form around. Moyes said: “I think he has got himself in really good condition, he is in a good place. “Overall, his play has improved and we have as well where we are giving him a few more opportunities. There will be times for him, times for not, but recently he has done a great job. “He had to come through an injury when I first got here, he wasn’t in the best condition then but he has got himself into a much better condition now. “Going towards the World Cup, he knows what he is playing for as well.”
Romelu Lukaku might be dropped to the bench soon – Neville
Manchester United legend Gary Neville has predicted that United forward, Romelu Lukaku will be dropped to the bench soon for a reason. The former Everton forward started the season in flying form following his initial £75million move. However, he has been struggling for consistency over the past few months even with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez to take the burden off him in the United attack. A lot of criticism from the club fans as well as general football fans have been piled on the Belgian International many of whom think he’s simply not good enough. To add to that, Manchester United legend Gary Neville has predicted that the player will soon be dropped as the legendary defender believes that in a matter of time, Jose Mourinho might try Alexis Sanchez in the main striker’s position. The former Barcelona forward played as the central marksman at Arsenal on numerous occasions last season and did impress at the same time. Now, Gary Neville would like to see the January signing tested. “I think Lukaku has done well but there comes a point where you’d think Sanchez would go up top and you’ll see Lukaku come out the team,” said Neville while speaking on Sky Sports Super Six. He later talked about another Manchester United player who has been struggling for form recently too, coincidentally he is Lukaku’s best pal. Paul Pogba has struggled even more than Lukaku in recent weeks and has already been benched. Now, Neville has explained that Mourinho has to play the Frenchman to his strengths. “I think he is better in a three in midfield,” said Neville. “My view is United knew what they were getting when they signed him, and ultimately you have to play him to his strengths.”
Salah is one of the best players in the world – Totti
AS Roma legend, Francesco Totti has described his former teammate, Mohamed Salah, who departed Roma for Liverpool in 2017 as one of the best players in the world. The Egyptian was in a fine form during his time at the Italian club but only few will expect him to be firing on all cylinders like he is doing currently with the Anfield club. The former Roma skipper has however stated that he expects the forward to get even better having made a fantastic start to his Liverpool career by scoring 30 goals in 36 appearances. He said: “The level he is playing at the moment, he is one of the best players in the world — and I think he can and will get even better.” “I know him well, he is a good friend and wants to keep improving, to keep getting better as a player. “He does all the right things, he trains hard, he works hard, he listens to the coaches – that’s why, as good as he is playing at the moment, I think maybe there is even one more level in him.” Salah’s brilliance this season has positioned the Reds among the major contenders to finish in the top four in the Premier League and they also have a commanding 5-0 advantage over FC Porto ahead of the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. The 2006 World Cup Winner believes the 25-year old could be the man to inspire the Reds to another continental crown, as Jurgen Klopp boasts of one of the best-attacking firepowers in Europe. “He is one of those players who can make the difference in the big games,” added Totti. “That is why Liverpool cannot be ruled out of winning the Champions League. “There are more complete teams in the competition – but when you have a player like him, you start to believe anything is possible.”
Firmino speaks after been cleared of alleged racial abuse
Mason Holgate had accused Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino of using discriminatory words towards him during their heated conversation in their Merseyside derby clash in January. The players clashed as a result of Holgate’s hard tackling of Firmino which saw the Brazilian crashing over the advertising hoardings and into the crowd. The 21-year old later alleged that he was racially abused during the encounter. The English FA immediately started an investigation to ascertain the abuse before taking necessary action but after about a month, they have confirmed that Firmino is clear of any wrong-doing. In a statement that the player released after getting FA’s clearance, he insisted that the claims were untrue because he clearly understands the severity of racial abuse as he has been a victim in the past himself. He said: “As difficult as it has been to remain publicly silent, given the serious and damaging nature of what it was claimed I said during the game, I did so to demonstrate my respect for the process and to allow the issue to be investigated in the most thorough way. “It is critical for football that tackling racism and all forms of discrimination is taken extremely seriously. As someone who has experienced racist abuse during my life, I know how damaging and hurtful it can be. “Now the process is concluded, I would like to place on record, for the avoidance of any doubt, I did not say the word, or a variation of the word, that was claimed and subsequently reported in the media. I did not use any language that referenced race. I did not – and would never – reference a person’s skin colour or culture, by means of insult, during a dispute or an argument. “There is no place for discrimination on a football pitch, or anywhere else in life for that matter. “I am pleased after exhaustive reviews of all the evidence, in this specific incident, the matter is resolved.”
Pogba is nowhere close to a world-class player – Duff
Former Chelsea midfielder, Damien Duff has insisted that former world most expensive player, Paul Pogba is nowhere close to a world-class player yet as he still has a lot to learn. The Premier League-winning midfielder believes that even though the French International has the potential to become, he makes too many mistakes. The former Juventus player has been severely criticized by several pundits as many believe that he has not lived up to his £89 million price tag at Old Trafford, he has even been left on the bench by Jose Mourinho in the last two consecutive games. As a result of an early injury to Ander Herrera, he came off the bench after just 17 minutes to play most of United‘s 0-0 boring draw with Sevilla on Wednesday, although Duff was still unimpressed with his performance and has lashed out at the Frenchman. “He doesn’t have that defensive mindset, he doesn’t smell danger and he gives away goals,” Duff told TV3. “An alarming thing for me is top players, if they make a mistake, they won’t make it again, probably in their career. “The goals he gives away, people always running off him, he hasn’t grasped it. He’s had Massimiliano Allegri, he’s had Antonio Conte, he’s had Mourinho, three amazing, top coaches and if he hasn’t grasped that by now… I think he’s 25 in a couple of weeks. That’s worrying for me. “I think he has the world-class ability, but he is not a world-class player because he’ll let you down.”
Chelsea goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois has refused to commit his future to the Blues as he insists that his agent can listen to offers especially from Real Madrid. The London Club Management has been trying to convince the Belgian to a long-term deal as he has only 18 months left on his deal alongside his countryman Eden Hazard. While speaking after their impressive 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 at Stamford Bridge. The former Atletico Madrid stopper tried to modulate the rumours linking him with a move away although he was still open. “I’m not clear about my future,” he said. “What I said that my heart is in Madrid was misunderstood. “I have two children in Spain, in Madrid, and that’s not easy. I have one year left [here] and I’m happy and talking to Chelsea. “They have bet on me from the first moment and that is not forgotten. I do not think Florentino Perez calls me, he will call my agent and he will listen to him.” The Blues almost secured what would have been a famous win against Barcelona after Brazilian, Willian gave the London club the lead before Lionel Messi capitalized on an error from Chelsea’s defence to pull the game level. Antonio Conte was pleased with his side’s display and he is positive ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou. “I think we were close to playing the perfect performance,” he said. “We did one mistake but we know very well against these opponents and players like Messi, Iniesta, and Suarez if you make a mistake you pay. “It is a pity and we are disappointed with the final result. I think we played a really good game and I must be pleased because my players gave a great effort and they followed the plan we prepared. “In Barcelona, we must be prepared to suffer together but at the same time when we suffer we must continue to try and get the chances to score.”
Tottenham Hotspurs are believed to be interested in a summer move for Crystal Palace forward, Wilfried Zaha, but they have to look away from such move now having signed Lucas Moura from PSG in January. According to reports from The Times, Spurs are considering a move for long-term target Zaha at the end of this season, who is currently on a £100,000-a-week deal at Selhurst Park. The report confirmed that the 25-year-old could cost more than £50million to sign given the crucial role he plays for Palace. The North London side have been recurrently linked with the Ivorian and Manager, Mauricio Pochettino who believes Zaha offers pace on the wings is a long-term admirer of the player. Zaha has also proven his talent and brilliance beyond any doubt as he has repeatedly caused pains for Palace’s opponents. However, the Ivory Coast international is injury prone and to pay nearly £50million would be an absurd deal for Spurs having landed Brazilian, Lucas Moura last month. The pace and industry needed on the wings could have been solved in January as a result of Moura’s acquisition as the 25-year-old offers the club a wealth of experience from his time with the French giants aside his blistering speed. Spurs already have players like Heung-Min Son, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in the attacking positions and Moura will definitely be a fantastic addition to this amazing set-up. It is very unlikely that Zaha could get ahead of these types of players in the pecking order and at a massive eight-figure transfer fee, the deal is simply worth looking away from. And Moura who offer the magic that the team craves for on the wings and at an unbelievable price of only £23million, he is surely a prized asset for Spurs who is capable of ripping a lot of Premier League’s back-line apart.
Ospina to be preferred in goal ahead of Cech in Europa League and at Wembley
Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger has revealed that Columbian stopper, David Ospina will be in goal at the Emirates tomorrow in the Europa League return leg against Ostersund and in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday. Even though the manager insisted that it was a tough decision to make for him, he stated that the club has to stick with their policy of starting Ospina in Cup matches. The Columbia International, who has 18-months left in his contract has featured in all of the Gunners’ cup matches this season except the Europa League group stage tie with Red Star Belgrade and the Carabao Cup victory over Norwich City which he missed due to injury. While speaking in his pre-match conference, Wenger said: “They are always difficult decisions but we have been clear since the start of the season that he [Ospina] plays in the whole Cup competitions, I have two world-class goalkeepers and I decided to have clarity in the games they play and we maintain that.” The North Londoners have a 3-0 advantage over Ostersund after winning the first leg away at Sweden which will leave Wenger with the option of resting some first-team players although Mesut Ozil is unavailable due to illness, he should, however, be back in time for Sunday. Aaron Ramsey returned to training on Wednesday and although he will not be available for the Europa League clash, the Manager has refused to rule him out from playing at Wembley; “Ideally, you want to have the choice but our job is about adaptation,” Wenger said, with regard to Ramsey’s cup final prospects. “Rarely in life do you have ideal situations, with the luxury to choose from all the players.” January signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan who can only watch the final from the stands as he is cup-tied is expected to start on Thursday alongside forward, Danny Welbeck.
Aguero considers legal action about disgusting pitch invader
Wigan Athletic FC has launched a formal investigation to get a detailed information about the incidents that occurred after the League one side eliminated Manchester City in the FA Cup on Monday, a victory that saw thousands of the club supporters invading the field after the final whistle. City forward, Sergio Aguero was a victim of the chaotic scene as he was targeted by a Wigan fan whom the player claimed spat on him having screamed “suck my d**k” TV replays have shown that the Argentine appeared to raise his arm to push the fan after the provocation and was later prevented from descending on him [the fan]. Thus, it is yet to be seen if City and Aguero will be interested in pursuing the matter further although the club and player asserted that they will seek legal advice first. Aside from this incident, a number of the League one side fans also celebrated at the City fans’ end of the field, a display that led to further brouhaha between to two sets of fans. They were seen to be throwing objects and bottles onto the pitch as they also clashed with the stewards as well as some police. The Police later restored calm but two arrests were made. Chief Superintendent Stuart Ellison of Greater Manchester Police said: “Football is a family event and the disruption that players and fans alike faced last night will not be tolerated. “As soon as people were on the pitch, we immediately deployed our resources to the front of the stands, where they were able to keep the two groups of supporters apart and prevent any further disruption. “Emotions always run high at football matches, and sometimes, this means that officers have to intervene to ensure the safety of the fans.” The Premier League leaders are still silent about the issue even as they believe that the stewarding levels for a game of such magnitude, more so between local rivals was inadequate. They saw the incidence as intolerable as players’ safety could easily have been endangered. Chief Executive of Wigan has quickly released a statement after the incidence as he said: “Whilst we appreciate that the vast majority of supporters who ran on to the pitch did so spontaneously to celebrate a famous victory, we were disappointed with the action of a minority of supporters who acted in an inappropriate manner. “Player and staff safety is of paramount importance and we will conduct a full investigation.” Meanwhile, the Football Association is evaluating events and will grossly consider the report of referee Anthony Taylor and video footage before deciding whether to launch its own investigation.
We might have to tie Sanchez with a rope to stop him – Montella
Alexis Sanchez has seen the back of the net once in five games since completing his move to United from Arsenal last month. Notwithstanding, he has transformed the face of Man United attack with his dynamism and that can be exemplified with his pin-point pass to Romelu Lukaku for United’s second goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup. “How do we stop Sanchez? I don’t know, we’ll have to block him in some way, maybe tie him up with a rope,” Montella told a news conference on Tuesday. “He’s a fantastic player, I saw him play in Italy. He has improved so much as his career has progressed, he’s very fast, he leads counter-attacks, he’s very strong.” The former Milan Boss was a surprise choice to take over at Sevilla after Eduardo Berizzo was fired in December. However, if he can mastermind a huge upset by eliminating the Red Devils at this stage of the competition and guide his side to the quarter-finals for the first time, the decision will be greatly justified. Sevilla has failed to reach the last eight in three attempts, after falling to Fenerbahce on penalties in 2008, CSKA Moscow in 2010 and Leicester City last season. Montella’s experience in Europe hasn’t been spectacular as well as his Fiorentina side was knocked out of Europa League semi-final by Sevilla in 2015, while his previous ride in the Champions League was caught short at the last-16 stage by Shakhtar Donetsk in 2011 while he was with AS Roma. He was in total admiration of the United Manager, Jose Mourinho who is clearly more experienced having overseen 139 UEFA Champions League games and lifted the trophy twice. “I am very excited to be facing Mourinho, he was a pioneer in football tactics and I studied him a lot when I was starting out as a coach,” Montella added. “He has a lot more games than me in the Champions League. Experience is very important, but so is enthusiasm and we will try and play with a lot of it tomorrow.”
AS Roma defender, Alessandro Florenzi is a major doubt for Roma’s clash with Shakhtar Donetsk as the player is reportedly down with a stomach bug. The Italy International has been a regular in Di Francesco’s side as he has made the starting X1 in the Serie A 20 times this season. However, with the fact that he is ill at the moment while Rick Karsdrop is also unavailable, Roma might have to do with Bruno Peres who was sent off in the clash with Atletico Madrid during the group stage. Manager, Eusebio Di Francesco while speaking at the pre-match news conference stated that although Florenzi travelled to Ukraine with the rest of the squad, it is uncertain if he will be a part of the matchday squad. “Alessandro has stayed in the hotel because he’s not well, hopefully, he’ll be available for selection but we’ll have to see how he is tomorrow morning.” “If the game was today he wouldn’t play and he won’t train later either.” A change in the team set-up has helped Turkish forward, Cengiz Under to flourish as he has scored four goals in three matches in Roma’s three consecutive victories in the league. In spite of his league’s exploits, Di Francesco will prefer to focus on the team rather than individuals as he is unsure if the youngster will start the game yet. “Cengiz has been sensational lately – he’s really come on in leaps and bounds,” Di Francesco added. “He’s been key for us but I prefer to focus on the team rather than individuals. “It’s Roma who are going out there to play tomorrow, not Cengiz. We’re delighted to have him here and we’ll try to exploit his talent as best we can. “I’m not going to tell you who will play tomorrow. I want to keep all the lads on their toes and I want everyone to feel important and involved. “We’ve significantly upped the intensity of our training sessions. It adds a small element of risk but the idea is to fill up the tank for the business end of the campaign and I hope to see the benefits on the pitch. “We must play with grit, determination, and belief – they’re all things that can make a difference out there.”
I have a better record than Neymar and De Bruyne – Milner
Liverpool midfielder, James Milner has been setting the standard in Europe this season, with his creativity bettering that of star turns at PSG and Man City. James Milner is taking every opportunity to remind his Liverpool team-mates that he is currently more productive in the Champions League than Neymar and Kevin De Bruyne. The Reds midfielder has starred in Europe this season, giving seven assists for grateful team-mates. He added the latest of that tally in a 5-0 thrashing of FC Porto in the first leg of the last-16 affair, as he teed up Roberto Firmino, while it was also his effort which cannoned off the woodwork and allowed Mohamed Salah to produce a classy juggled finish. Milner now sits three clear at the top of the continental creativity chart, with star turns at heavyweight rivals such as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City trailing in his wake. The 32-year-old is eager to make everybody aware of that record, with Reds skipper Jordan Henderson telling the club’s website during a warm-weather training break in Marbella: “He has told a few of us that over the last couple of hours, to be fair! “He is a fantastic player. It doesn’t really matter how old he is, he is as fit as anyone and you can see that on the pitch in how much he contributes to the team. “He was brilliant again at Porto. He’s got a lot of assists in the Champions League, so hopefully, he can continue it.” Milner has had to scrap for regular minutes this season, with just 10 Premier League starts handed to him. He has, however, appeared in 31 fixtures across all competitions and remains an important part of Jurgen Klopp’s squad. His vast experience and willingness to work hard for the collective cause have sparked talk that he could be offered an extension at Anfield to a contract set to expire in the summer of 2019.
I have the energy required to manage this club – Zidane
Despite coming under serious pressure during a difficult season, the French Manager asserts he is at the required level to continue to manage Real Madrid. The former Ballon d’Or winner steered the La Liga Champions to back-to-back UEFA Champions league title having won eight titles in 24 months. However, Los Blancos domestic struggles this season has altered the course of a sweet adventure as they are 17 points behind leaders, Barca in the league and also, they suffered a shock exit at the hands of Leganes in the Copa del Rey which has caused serious questions to be asked of the French Boss. The 45-year-old acknowledges there will come a time when the club will want to make a change but does not see that happening anytime soon. While speaking to reporters ahead of the weekend’s trip to Real Betis, Zidane said: “It is very tiring, and more so at Real Madrid,” “Clearly you can reach a point when a change is needed and that goes for everyone and not just the coach. It is not the moment right now but it will happen. “This profession is tiring and here more than anywhere else. “For me what is important is what I am doing right now, the day today, I want to finish this season with things in play and that is all I am thinking about.” The pressure on Zidane was relieved in midweek’s 3-1 victory over Paris Saint Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. With Europe offering Madrid their only genuine chance of picking up a trophy this season, Zidane has hinted he plans to rotate his squad in the upcoming weeks, starting this weekend against Betis. “They are decisions, what I want is to have all the players available and the other day that was the case,” added Zidane. “I wanted to play in a diamond formation against PSG and now with a lot of games coming up I will be counting on all the players.”
We will finish in top-four and also win the Europa League – Iwobi
Arsenal star, Alex Iwobi has stated that the Gunners will finish among the premier league top-four and also claim the Europa League trophy this season. Arsenal was the better side against Ostersund in Sweden on Thursday as they secured a 3-0 win to have their first foot in the round of 16. They are among the favourites to be Europa League Champions come May which will see them follow in their Premier League rivals, Manchester United’s footsteps as that will guarantee their place in the Champions League next season. Manager, Arsene Wenger is keen on securing their Champions League qualification through the league and Iwobi, too, believes they can break into the top-four and also be Europa League Champions. He said: “We have to do our best in both competitions,” “That’s what we are trying to do: get top four and also win this competition. That’s the aim.” The 21-year old Nigerian has started seven of eight games since his picture got released online after a late-night party which preceded their FA Cup defeat. When questioned about his good run of games in the side, Iwobi replied: “I’m still learning, I’m still young. “I’m still learning from the lads like Mesut Ozil and (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan. Every time I play, I am grateful.”
Barcelona Manager, Ernesto Valverde has stated that his side is only focused on their match with Eibar in La Liga rather than their UEFA Champions League affair with Chelsea. The League leaders visit Eibar this weekend having dropped points in their two previous La Liga games although they remain unbeaten in the league and they stand seven points clear ahead of Atletico Madrid in second-place. However, they have shown that they can be tired and ineffective in the two recent draws with Espanyol and Getafe as Tuesday’s trip to Stamford Bridge looms. While speaking with reporters ahead of their weekend league action, Valverde said: “It is more mental than physical, the weeks when you have four days rest you can manage better than three.” “We will have three before we take on Chelsea and Chelsea will have four. That day extra, to have a break from the pressure of staying in the cup is good to have. But in terms of important games, the one tomorrow is also and we are not thinking about Chelsea.” “The week was free and now we have games again after each other. We need to get going again and after the Getafe game this is now even more important.” Barcelona have an enviable record against Eibar, having scored 26 goals in their prior seven meetings. Five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi has scored 12 goals in six matches against them as he boasts of the best scoring average when playing the Basques than any other opposition. Second-placed Atletico have reduced the Catalan’s lead as they have won their last two encounters. Valverde continued: “When you start thinking about margins for error then it is the first step towards losing it.” “I like the spirit in this team, how they overcome problems and the way they don’t look too far ahead.”