Former Arsenal Player Reyes Buried In Spain

The coffin with the remains of Spanish football player Jose Antonio Reyes, covered with the flags of the village of Utrera and Sevilla FC football team, is carried on shoulders to the Santa Maria de Mesa church in Utrera, during the funeral for the footballer on June 3, 2019. PHOTO:
CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral in Spain on Monday of former Real Madrid and Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes, who was killed in a car crash.

Reyes’ coffin, drapped in the flag of his boyhood club Sevilla, was carried through the streets of his hometown of Utrera before the funeral service at a local church.

The 35-year-old former Spanish international died Saturday in an accident on the main road from Sevilla to Utrera. 

The crash and resultant fireball also claimed the life of one of his cousins while another passenger was still in hospital Monday, according to police. 

Images from the scene of the crash show the burnt-out car flipped on its roof.

Daily newspaper Diario de Sevilla reported Reyes was driving over 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour at the time of the accident while sports daily Mundo Deportivo, citing a police report, said he was going at 237 kilometres per hour.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Spain’s Guardia Civil police force which is investigating the accident declined to comment on the reports.

On the day of the crash former Spanish international Santiago Canizares criticised Reyes, who reportedly owned a fleet of high-powered cars, for driving at high speed.

“Speeding is a reprehensible attitude. There were victims in the accident aside from the driver. Reyes does not deserve a tribute like a hero. Nevertheless I regret what happened and that I pray for their souls,” tweeted Canizares, who was part of Spain’s national team at the same time as Reyes.

A minute’s silence was held for Reyes before Saturday’s Champions League final in Madrid between Liverpool and Tottenham.

Reyes shot to fame at Sevilla and was snapped up by Arsenal, where he was part of the unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ who won the 2003-2004 Premier League title. Reyes later had spells at Real and Atletico Madrid.

He won the Europa League five times, twice with Atletico Madrid and three times in his second spell at Sevilla.

Reyes played 21 times for Spain between 2003 and 2006, scoring four goals. He also won domestic league titles with Real Madrid and Benfica.

AFP

Petr Cech Named Czech Republic Player Of The Year

Petr CechArsenal goalkeeper, Petr Cech, has been named Czech player of the year for the eighth time.

The award was announced on Monday after votes by coaches, players and club officials. Football federation officials and journalists also participated in the poll.

Sparta Prague striker David Lafata, finished second while Hertha Berlin midfielder Vladimir Darida came third.

The 33-year-old Arsenal player has been capped 118 times since making his international debut in 2002.

Cech joined Arsenal from Premier League champions Chelsea last June after making over 400 appearances in 11 years at Stamford Bridge.

Petr Cech has helped Czech Republic qualify for Euro 2016 in France where they play Spain, Croatia and Turkey in Group D.

However, a calf muscle injury he sustained earlier in March has ruled him out of the forthcoming international matches against Scotland and Sweden.

National team coach Pavel Vrba was voted best coach for the sixth straight year.

Champions League: Arsenal Must Attack Barcelona – Mertesacker

ArsenalPer Mertesacker says Arsenal can rediscover their “killer instinct” by attacking Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

The Gunners head into the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie having lost 2-0 at Emirates Stadium in February.

Arsène Wenger’s side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford on Sunday, but Mertesacker believes a strong attacking performance in Barcelona can get their season back on track.

“You have to give us credit because we kept going against Watford and created chance after chance,” he said. “But at the moment we lack that killer instinct. We need to work on that if we want to be successful in the Premier League and the Champions League.

“We were not relaxed against Watford. Even in the box we played and always found good positions, with the man in the right position but we lacked that relaxation even to hit the target. We did not do that sometimes. We missed it too often.

“We cannot afford to concede against Barcelona. We have to go there and try to attack, no matter what, that is the only possibility we have. We can be fortunate to have such big game in front of us.

“They are the ultimate team at the minute, so we are straight away under pressure and we have to go away from home. I think the confidence is there, we are just missing something.

“The season is not over. We play in a confident way, we maybe lack that bit at the end. The desire to play together and to be good as a team is there, you can feel that.”

 

Arsenal Showed An Outstanding Spirit Against Spurs – Wenger

ArsenalArsène Wenger has praised his Arsenal team’s “outstanding performance, attitude and resolute spirit” in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.

Alexis Sanchez’ 76th-minute leveller ensured a point for 10-man Arsenal in a typically high octane North London derby.

Aaron Ramsey had given the Gunners the lead but Francis Coquelin’s red card and subsequent Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane goals had threatened to consign the Gunners to a fourth straight defeat before Alexis’ equaliser.

“We’ve shown an outstanding performance, attitude and resolute spirit,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“Our spirit was questioned, our attitude was questioned and I think we gave the right response, which was not easy today.

“We have been questioned to the extreme because from being 1-0 up and feeling comfortable in the game, we were suddenly 2-1 down and down to 10 men. We came back to 2-2 and in the end I think we could have won 3-2.

“That’s the regret of the day but overall I’m very proud of the players and of their performance.

“The team needs to take encouragement from today and reproduce that kind of attitude in every single game.”

Arsenal Can Do ‘Great Things’ Against Barcelona – Coquelin

ArsenalFrancis Coquelin says Arsenal can do “great things” against Barcelona if they maintain their self-belief.

The Gunners host the Champions League holders – who are unbeaten in their last 32 games – on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Coquelin could potentially line up against Andres Iniesta and the Frenchman says he would relish the challenge.

“He is a player I really like,” he told Arsenal Player. “Every player they have got is almost the best in every position. Playing Iniesta is going to be tough, but I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.

“Any player wants to play players at this level and I’m ready for it if I’m involved. Everyone wants to play these types of games. We are really looking forward to it.

“Barcelona are probably the best team in the world at the moment. We are obviously looking forward to it even if it is really tough. Hopefully we can do something against such a massive team.

“Everyone needs to be at 100 per cent and I don’t think we need to play with fear. We need to be ready and believe we can do something.

“If we have that belief, we can do great things. We showed that in the past against Bayern Munich a few months ago. Not many people said we could win this game and we showed we can compete with great teams as well.”

Mohamed Elneny Joins Arsenal From FC Basel

elnenyArsenal have completed the signing of Egyptian midfielder, Mohamed Elneny, from FC Basel.

The central midfielder became the first Egyptian to join the club when his transfer was completed on Thursday morning.

Elneny is delighted to be an Arsenal player and the 23-year-old has promised the fans that he will make a positive contribution in North London.

“I am very keen to participate positively with my new team, God willing, indescribable feeling, I am really glad of course,” he told Arsenal Player.

“Arsenal is one of those teams that everyone enjoys watching and of course I would love to play for such a great team.

“Mr Wenger is a highly respected manager and one of the world’s best managers. It is my honour to be trained under his management.

“It is one of the biggest clubs in the world, I know everything about it and its players.

“I would like to tell [the fans] that, although you have not seen much of me, I promise I will contribute positively with the team. I am hoping that we win the Premier League and cup this season, and the Champions League as well.”

The Arsenal manager also believes that “intermediate stay in Europe” will help Elneny to acclimatise to life in London.

“Overall I believe he will be a good addition to the squad,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“First he has not come in straight to a big club, he had an intermediate stay in Europe so the adaptation is less of a question mark.

“He is 23 years old and has already got Champions League, Europa League and Swiss League experience. He is a player who is adaptable in midfield.

“He can be box to box and be a holding midfielder so that is for us very promising. We wanted a versatile player and I wanted a player who can play defensive but can as well play to box to box.

“His strengths are his technical level, his vision, his intelligence, his disciplined attitude and his physical attitude to compete at a high level. I think he has the physical qualities to play at the top level.

“Where he needs to adapt is to the challenges, the force needed in the Premier League to survive. I think that could demand a little bit of adaptation. But overall I think he has all the attributes to do well.”

Arsenal Beat Bournemouth 2-0, Go Top Of Premier League

arsenalArsenal beat Bournemouth 2-0 at Emirates Stadium on Monday night to move to the top of the Premier League table.

However, their position is only secured going into the New Year if Leicester fail to win against Manchester City on Tuesday.

Gabriel’s header and Mesut Ozil’s strike sealed the points for the Gunners with Ozil adding to his assist tally for the defender’s goal.

Asides the 2-0 win pushing Arsenal to the top of the log, the win also meant a personal milestone for goalkeeper Petr Cech who broke the Premier League clean-sheet record.

The legendary goalkeeper secured his 170th shut-out to move past David James’ long-standing record.

Arsène Wenger described the win as a nervy one considering how badly they needed to recover from the humiliation at Southampton.

“It was nervy at the start because we had to swallow the 4-0 [at Southampton] and it didn’t go well and I think we were focused at the start not to concede a stupid goal and got slowly into the game.

“I changed a few players and put Calum Chambers at the centre of the park so it took us a while to get going but I think in the last 70 minutes we were in control of the game and did very well,” he said.

The manager believes his boys have moved on from the disappointment as the victory meant they responded well. “You can’t go from the start of the season to the end of the season without disappointment at some stage,” he said demanding more consistence from his players.

He also had kind words for midfield maestro, Mesut Ozil.

“Mesut was the focal point of our team because we had a new midfield today and he gives reassurance with his technical security and ability. When we had problems in the first part of the game it went always through him and it gives you confidence and security.

“I have seen a few good games from Ozil but what is important is that he convinces everybody that he is not only a talented player but a player that is always willing to work for the team and work hard. He has added scoring goals to his assists and overall he is a complete player.

Knockout: Southampton Humiliate Arsenal On Boxing Day

SouthamptonSouthampton humiliated Arsenal 4-0 on Boxing Day as the gunners missed a chance to go top of the English Premier League.

The title favourites had gone into the match needing a win to top the log, with Liverpool having defeated Leicester City 1-0 earlier in the day.

The Gunners, however, started badly with the saints ensuring that Wenger’s men were not allowed space for their style of football.

Southampton showed better coordination as they mounted pressure on Arsenal and deservedly went into half time leading 1-0.

Backup right back, Cuco Martina, chose the right match to show his quality with a spectacular low volley in the 19th minute.

The goal came after a long spell of pressure on a shaky Arsenal defence, marshaled by Laurent Koscielny and Par Matersacker.

In the second half, Southampton continued from where they left off and quickly put the ball in Arsenal’s net but was rightly ruled out for offside. They, however, made it 2-0 in the 50th minute through Shane Long to further darken Arsenal’s Christmas.

Wenger introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Joel Campbell in the 64th minute and it appeared the players suddenly realised what was at stake as they tried to get back in the game.

The night got worse instead. It was 3-0 in the 69th minute courtesy Jose Miguel Fonte and Shane Long completed a brace in the 90th minute as the hosts refused to be intimidated by Arsenal’s stars and pre-match rating.

The Saints held on for a famous 4-0 victory over the London giants as Arsene Wenger’s men missed a glorious chance to become league leaders after trailing Leicester for weeks.

Wenger Warns Arsenal Ahead of Southampton Trip

ArsenalArsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger has warned his players not to slip when they visit out-of-form Southampton in the Barclays Premier League on Boxing Day.

Wenger’s side travel to St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday looking for a fourth successive league victory as they look to keep pace with leaders Leicester City.

Arsenal trail Claudio Ranieri’s men by two points, but enjoy a four-point cushion to third-placed Manchester City.

To maintain that difference, they need to remain focused against Ronald Koeman’s side, who have just one point from their last five matches, a 1-1 home draw with bottom club Aston Villa.

“For us the most important thing is to focus on ourselves, and not to speculate too much on any weakness of Southampton,” Wenger said.

“When you look at their team they have the potential to be a very strong team. We have to convince ourselves that again we need a top-level performance.

“Football is pragmatic. No one can predict what will happen in the next 17 games. So we want to go in with same attitude, spirit, and earn the right to win the games.”

Santi Cazorla (knee), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (calf), remain sidelined for Arsenal although Sanchez is closer to return than others.

Southampton also welcome their goalkeeper, Maarten Stekelenburg, back after missing two matches with a toe injury.

Facing Arsenal will be a daunting task for the hosts given the impressive recent displays by Wenger’s side, the visitors having beaten title rivals Manchester City 2-1 last time out.

“We know we’re in a difficult situation,” said Koeman, whose side won the fixture 2-0 last season. “We had a bad run last year, but not like this one.

“It is always difficult, it means maybe a lack in confidence and belief, but the best medicine is to win the game. The team is changing a bit, the team is doubting their qualities and not playing as they can, and that’s all about confidence.

“But they have to realise we can play good football, but we need to score when we have chances.”

Ozil Shines As Arsenal Beat Manchester City 2-1

ArsenalArsenal defeated Manchester City 2-1 on Monday night to secure second place in the English Premier League going into Christmas.

Theo Walcott opened scoring in the 33rd minute with a special goal. Feeding off a perfect pass from Mesut Ozil near the corner of the box on the left side, he cut in onto his favoured right foot and curled a shot into the bottom corner.

Olivier Giroud scored the second goal late to ensure the Gunners were comfortable going into the half time break.

Some great hustle by Walcott gave the Gunners an attack in the City half, and they wasted no time.

Ozil turned the provider again spraying another perfect pass down the left for Giroud. It looked like Otamenti was set to block the Frenchman, but he let the ball run across to his left foot and lashed a powerful finish between the keeper’s legs.

Man City turned on the heat in the second half and the Arsenal players stood firm but there appeared to be no danger in the 82nd minute when Toure picked up the ball on the edge of the box and lifted a magnificent first-time effort into the far corner, with Cech and everyone else rooted to the spot.

The Gunners held on nervously in the final minutes for a hard fought 2-1 victory to the relief of fans at the Emirates.

Arsenal Stars, Manager Confident After Norwich Draw

Arsenal Mesut Ozil had given the Gunners an early lead but Lewis Grabban swept past Petr Cech on the stroke of half-time to hold Arsène Wenger’s side to a point at Carrow Road on Sunday.

Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League exploits seemed to have taken their toll on their Premier League performance as they sometimes appeared tired.

Laurent Koscielny and Alexis both suffered injuries during a physical encounter, but the players and their manager are confident Arsenal have enough strength in depth to maintain their Premier League title challenge.

Arsene Wenger admitted after the match that it was a difficult game.

“We played against a Norwich side that was at the top level physically and focused. They were well organised and they played every time with 10 players in their own half, and we were not incisive enough.

“Maybe the turning point of the game was maybe we dropped a little bit after scoring straight away and allowed them back into the game. In the second half I felt we had to dig deep to get though as we were a bit jaded and we lost players.

“Cazorla played on one leg and of course we played Kosicelny at the start of the game so it was, I would say, a fair point for Norwich and it was on the injury front a bad afternoon for us.”

On moving forward after the disappointment, he said, “We have to go through that spell. We had a bad spell of a few games now with Tottenham, West Brom and today we only have taken two points but we are still not far and going through a bad spell and not being far. It is not enough but at least we had an opportunity to come back.”

Ready To Step Up

One of Arsenal’s most improved players in recent months, Hector Bellerin, insists Arsenal’s players are “ready to step up” after Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Norwich City.

“I have said it before, there is great depth in the team,” he told Arsenal Player. “There are a lot of young players in the team waiting to come through, and we have a lot of quality training with us every day.

“They are ready to step up so obviously every single player on the bench can do the same job as every single player in the starting 11. We don’t need to worry about (the injuries to Alexis and Koscielny). The only thing we need to do is go out onto the pitch with the right mentality, it does not matter who we play.

“The conditions weren’t the best but Norwich are a well-organised team who were very solid at the back and dangerous on the counter. We should have played our game better than we did.

“We made some mistakes that cost us the game and we need to look at ourselves and realise that this is not the way. We need to push ourselves a bit more and play better football if we want to be at the top. What happened on the pitch was not a great experience but we need to try and bounce back so we are ready for the next game.”

Good To Be Back 

In spite of the disappointing draw, Aaron Ramsey felt good to get more minutes under his belt.

The Wales midfielder had been sidelined since October, but returned as a substitute in the Gunners’ convincing midweek win against Dinamo Zagreb.

Sunday was Ramsey’s first start since making his comeback from injury, and the 24-year-old was delighted to secure another valuable 72 minutes against Norwich.

“It was good to be back out here and to get some minutes under my belt,” he said. “Hopefully I can get a few more games under my belt to get my fitness levels back up.

“It was obviously a bit disappointing to go a goal up and to concede that goal was a bit disappointing from our view, but to be fair they did well and they deserved to get a point out of the game. We just will have to up our game in our next match.

“They didn’t make it easy for us. They played a few long balls at times and it was difficult to get he ball down and get our pressing on but they did really well and probably a draw was a fair result.

“Every game is important at the moment, it is so tight so we don’t want to drop any points. We don’t want to have to play catch up but we will see at the end of the season and we will want to bounce back and get back to winning ways on Saturday.”

Arsenal Are More Of A Unit Now – Monreal

ArsenalDefender, Nacho Monreal believes Arsenal are in a better position to challenge for the Premier League title than in 2013/14 because the team are playing “like a unit”.

Arsène Wenger’s side have started this season encouragingly. They are level on points with leaders Manchester City after 12 matches and possess the joint second best defensive record in the league.

Monreal says “everything is right” at the moment, but feels his team-mates must learn from two seasons ago, when they led the Premier League on New Year’s Day but finished seven points behind the eventual champions.

“We need to learn from that,” he told Arsenal Player. “I remember it very well because we finished the first half of the season (near the top).

“In the second half, we lost a lot of games so we need to learn about that.

“I think the team is different now. We have different players, and are more competitive.

“I think the level of the team is better now and I hope we can do something special this season. At the moment, everything is right so we need to carry on.

“The secret? I will say that we are playing more compact, like a unit.

“The players are playing with more solidarity, all players try to defend. I think this is the (reason for) that.

“We have won the Community Shield, we are second in the Premier League with the same points as Manchester City.”