Arsenal Wait On Aubameyang, Odegaard Ahead Of Slavia Tie

 

File Photo of Aubameyang and Odegard

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is still unsure if captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Martin Odegaard will be fit for Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final second leg away to Slavia Prague.

Aubameyang and Odegaard, who is on loan from Real Madrid, missed training Tuesday because of illness and an ankle injury respectively.

Arsenal were due to train Wednesday before travelling to the Czech Republic with the tie all-square at 1-1 and Arteta, asked if the duo would take part in the session, told reporters: “It depends how they wake up. (On Tuesday) none of them could train. Hopefully (on Wednesday) it is a sunnier day so maybe it is better.

“I don’t know, we have to see how they are. We still have a couple of other ones as well from the last few days, so we’ll have to see how everybody is and after training how they react for (Thursday’s) game.”

The Gunners, however, have been buoyed by the availability of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

Saka suffered a thigh injury during last weekend’s 3-0 win away to Sheffield United in the Premier League, while Smith Rowe missed the trip to Bramall Lane with an ankle problem.

But both players are now set to feature in Prague.

Arsenal, however, will definitely be without David Luiz and Kieran Tierney, who both have knee problems, on Thursday.

-AFP

Arsenal ‘Need Someone To Punch Them In The Face’ – Martin Keown

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta holds the ball on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg football match between Arsenal and Slavia Prague at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 8, 2021.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Former Arsenal player and sports pundit Martin Keown has suggested the Gunners side “need someone to punch them in the face” in order to get them back to their glory days after a lethargic performance in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.

Mikel Arteta’s men headed into their Europa tie against Slavia Prague with a much-needed win after being humbled by Liverpool over the weekend.

However, a couple of missed opportunities and shambolic defending cut shut a Nicholas Pepe 86th minute goal at the death to grant the visitors a much-deserved draw at the Emirates.

 

Arsenal players react after Slavia Prague equalised during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg football match between Arsenal and Slavia Prague at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 8, 2021
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Keown was unimpressed with the London club’s performance and expressed his frustration at their cautious approach to the game.

“For me it was about Arsenal tonight and the way they played. By sitting off they chose the wrong tactics,” a furious Keown said while being interviewed on  BT Sport.

 

READ ALSO: Slavia Prague Score Late To Peg Wasteful Arsenal In Europa League

 

“There was an opportunity to take the initiative and ask questions, can you play? But they were allowed to settle and build from the back,” he further added.

The first half for Arsenal was a tale of misplaced passes, overhit crosses, and missed chances from regular high fliers in the likes of Bukayo Saka and Lacazette, with the former EPL-winning player tearing into his former side after the break.

 

 

“It seems like Arsenal are not proactive in games, they need someone to slap them or punch them in the face before they wake up and start to play,”he remarked

“He (Arteta) did it in the second half with the substitutions but they couldn’t see it through.”

The 54-year-old pundit admitted Arteta was on the right path to changing the woes of the last season’s FA cup winners but was not getting the right reaction from his players.

“The result is hugely disappointing, it’s going to be difficult now for Arteta. He’s made a lot of changes within the club, a lot of people have been allowed to go.”

Arsenal next travel to Sheffield on Sunday with hopes of putting their barren run behind them as they plan to put pressure on 9th place Aston-Villa.

 

 

Arteta Doubtful Tierney Will Feature For Arsenal This Season

Arsenal’s Scottish defender Kieran Tierney (L) clears the ball in front of Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (C) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 3, 2021.
Julian Finney / POOL / AF

 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday he was uncertain whether Scotland international Kieran Tierney would play again for the club this season after he suffered knee ligament damage against Liverpool.

The 23-year-old full-back limped off before half-time in a 3-0 Premier League loss at home to Jurgen Klopp’s men on Saturday.

Arsenal confirmed on Wednesday that Tierney suffered knee ligament damage during the game and could be sidelined for the next six weeks.

If that is the case, he could return for the final league game of the season at home to Brighton on May 23 — with the Europa League final taking place three days later.

But Arteta, speaking ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie against Slavia Prague at the Emirates, was keen not to make promises over Tierney’s immediate future.

“We have to make sure first that he doesn’t need any surgery, which it doesn’t look like,” he said.

“If that’s the case, the timeframe will be around that (six weeks). It could have been worse because the action looks quite scary but he’s feeling better and the damage is not that bad.

“At the end of the day, it’s not the bad news that maybe we were expecting after the game.”

Arteta also stopped short of confirming whether he felt Tierney would be fit for Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign, adding: “Again, it will depend on how things evolve in the next few weeks.

“He’s so keen to play for us before the end of the season and he’s extremely keen to represent his country in the Euros.”

The Euro 2020 tournament, delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, starts on June 11.

-AFP

Man United Face Granada, Arsenal Draw Slavia In Europa Quarter-Finals

This handout picture taken and made available on March 19, 2021, by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) shows the quarter-final draw results as shown on a big screen following the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and semi-finals draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon. Valentin FLAURAUD / UEFA / AFP

 

Manchester United were paired with Spanish side Granada in Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League, while Arsenal will take on Slavia Prague.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who beat AC Milan in the last 16, are due to play away in the first leg on April 8 but it remains to be seen where that match will take place.

The Old Trafford club faced Spanish opponents in Real Sociedad in the last 32 but the first leg of that tie was moved to Turin in Italy because of restrictions on travel from the UK to Spain as a result of the pandemic.

Granada are in Europe for the first time after finishing seventh in La Liga last season. The team from southern Spain notably beat PSV Eindhoven away in the group stage and eliminated Napoli in the last 32 before defeating Solskjaer’s old club Molde of Norway in the Round of 16.

Granada coach Diego Martinez has won the Europa League before, during his time as an assistant coach at Sevilla.

Meanwhile, Ajax will face Roma with the winners of that quarter-final playing either United or Granada in the last four. United beat Ajax in the 2017 Europa League final.

Arsenal are set to host Slavia in the first leg of their quarter-final and will be wary of the runaway Czech league leaders who have eliminated Leicester City and Scottish champions Rangers in the last two rounds.

However, if the Gunners get through they could face their former coach Unai Emery in the semi-finals.

Emery’s Villarreal will take on Dinamo Zagreb, last-16 conquerors of Tottenham Hotspur, in the other quarter-final.

Emery took Arsenal to the final of the Europa League in 2019 when they lost to Chelsea in Baku.

The final of this season’s competition is set to be played in the Polish city of Gdansk on May 26.

AFP

Europa League: Arsenal Stagger Into Quarters As Tottenham Crash Out

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2R) and Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (R) react at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, 2nd leg football match between Arsenal and Olympiakos at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 18, 2021. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Arsenal on Thursday made it to the quarter-final of the Europa League despite losing 1-0 to Greek side Olympiacos in a second leg Round of 16 game. 

The Gunners had one week ago defeated them 1-3, giving Mikel Arteta’s side a 3-2 aggregate win. Today’s result means the North London side took a step closer to winning the competition they reached the final in 2019.

 

Jose Mourinho’s Spurs held a two-goal lead following last week’s first leg in London, but Orsic netted twice in the final half-hour as Croatian champions Dinamo levelled the tie at home.

Dinamo Zagreb’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League football match between Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspur at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, on March 18, 2021. Damir SENCAR / AFP

 

Dinamo coach Zoran Mamic resigned this week after being sentenced to four years and eight months in jail for multi-million euro fraud involving Luka Modric’s move to Tottenham and other transfers.

However, Orsic curled in a marvellous shot from the corner of the area to give Dinamo the lead on 62 minutes and then capped off a fine team move with a thumping finish to send the match to extra time.

Orsic completed his treble in style as he ran past three players and hammered a low drive beyond Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from the edge of area on 106 minutes.

Harry Kane nearly snatched a late goal that would have put Spurs through on away goals but his effort was clawed out by Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

READ ALSO: Paris Saint-Germain Beat Lille To Reach French Cup Quarters

Spanish side Granada extended their debut run in European competition, going through 3-2 overall, despite a 2-1 loss to Norway’s Molde in Budapest.

Roma also progressed as a 2-1 victory courtesy of two goals from Real Madrid loanee Borja Mayoral against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kiev wrapped up a 5-1 win on aggregate.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to face his former club as AC Milan host Manchester United at the San Siro following a 1-1 draw in England last week.

File photo: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gestures during the UEFA Europa League first round day three Group H football match between AC Milan and Lille (LOSC) at the Meazza stadium in Milan on November 5, 2020. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Rangers meanwhile are at home to Slavia Prague. Steven Gerrard’s side have already been crowned Scottish champions and drew 1-1 in the Czech Republic last week.

Four-time European champions Ajax are virtually assured of passage into the next round as they are 3-0 ahead in their tie with Young Boys, while Villarreal hold a two-goal lead over Dynamo Kiev.

 

Arteta Holds ‘Positive’ Aubameyang Talks, But Captain Not Certain To Return

arteta-aubameyang
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta hold the winner’s trophy as the team celebrates victory after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. Arsenal won the match 2-1. / AFP / POOL / Catherine Ivill /

 

 

Mikel Arteta has held “positive” talks with Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after dropping him for a breach of club discipline, but refused to guarantee the Gabon forward will get his place back against Olympiakos on Thursday.

Aubameyang was left on the bench after reportedly arriving late for a team meeting before Arsenal beat north London rivals Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday.

The 31-year-old left the Emirates Stadium instead of joining his fellow substitutes for a warm-down session on the pitch after the match.

Gunners boss Arteta said he had to take a strong approach with Aubameyang to sustain the club’s long-term foundation.

The Spaniard has cleared the air with Aubameyang but stopped short of saying the striker would be recalled for the Europa League last 16 second leg against Olympiakos.

“We talked. Everything has been resolved in a really positive way. So we move forward,” Arteta told reporters on Wednesday.

“Everybody has to obviously perform at the highest level to earn his place in the team and there is no exceptions there.

“We will try and put a really competitive team out to try and win the game.”

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny praised Aubameyang for the qualities he brings to the club both on and off the pitch.

“Auba is just one of the best players we have,” Elneny said.

“To me outside of the pitch he is an amazing person. Mikel has spoken about it and it has finished everything but as a team-mate he is one of the best.

“Auba is our captain and he always supports us on and off the pitch and he is an amazing person as well.”

Arsenal lead 3-1 from the first leg against Olympiakos as they bid to move a step closer to winning the Europa League, which would secure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

“It is a really important game for us, nothing has been decided. We know it is going to be tough and everyone has to be ready,” Arteta said.

Europa League: Egypt’s Elneny On Target As Arsenal Crush Olympiacos 

Arsenal’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny (C) celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first-leg football match between Olympiacos FC and Arsenal FC at the Karaiskakis Stadium, in Piraeus, near Athens on March 11, 2021. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

 

Substitute Mohamed Elneny scored a screamer for Arsenal in their 1-3 win over Olympiacos in a Europa League round of 16 first leg match on Thursday, taking the Gunners a step closer to winning the competition they reached the final in 2019.

It was a comprehensive win for Mikel Arteta’s men who have had it tough on the domestic front. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley in their last Premier League match.

Martin Odegaard’s first Arsenal goal was cancelled out by Youssef El-Arabi.

But two goals in six minutes from Gabriel Magalhaes and  Elneny earned victory.

Molde’s heartening European run looks to have come to an end after a 2-0 defeat at La Liga side Granada.

– Roma, Spurs, Cruise –
Milan’s domestic rivals Roma made sure it was a good night for Italian football with a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Lorenzo Pellegrini prodded home the opener in the 23rd minute after latching on to Pedro’s through ball.

Shakhtar pressed for a leveller after the break but quick-fire goals from Stephan El Shaarawy — his first for Roma since returning from China — and Gianluca Mancini gave Paulo Fonseca’s side a strong lead to defend in the second leg.

The win will have been particularly sweet for Fonseca, who came to Roma from Shakhtar in the summer of 2019.

A Harry Kane double helped Tottenham Hotspur ease to a 2-0 home win over Dinamo Zagreb that continues a good run of form for Jose Mourinho’s team.

Spurs have now won their last five matches in all competitions thanks to Thursday’s victory in London.

“We had some ups and downs in the season but we come into an important period now and it is good to feel the players are ready to help the team,” said Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.

Xhaka Shocker Costs Arsenal, Southampton Halt Slump

Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka reacts during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on March 6, 2021. (Photo by PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP) 

 

Arsenal’s chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League look forlorn after Granit Xhaka’s error gifted Burnley a 1-1 draw on Saturday, while Southampton ended a nine-game winless run by beating Sheffield United 2-0.

The Gunners’ best hope of a return to the Champions League for the first time in five years now lies in winning the Europa League after letting two more points slip away at Turf Moor.

Mikel Arteta’s men remain in 10th, nine points adrift of the top four and with that gap certain to grow on Sunday when fourth plays fifth as Chelsea take on Everton.

“It is really complicated. I have a feeling with the way that we are playing at the moment that we can win any game,” Arteta said.

“But if you are giving something to the opponent anything can happen. This is where we have the biggest margin for improvement.”

Arsenal could not have asked for a better start as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took advantage of some sluggish defending and a slow reaction from England goalkeeper Nick Pope to squeeze home his 14th goal of the season after just six minutes.

Xhaka was stupidly sent-off when the sides last met in December in the midst of a run of one win in 10 games that gave Arsenal a mountain to climb to get back in the race for a European place.

The Swiss midfielder had another afternoon to forget as six minutes before half-time he inexplicably fired the ball into the midriff of Chris Wood and the ball ricocheted into the net off the New Zealand striker.

Arsenal should still have won the game after the break as Erik Pieters escaped one strong penalty shout for handball and then saw a red card and a penalty rescinded by a VAR review for another shot that came back off the Dutchman’s shoulder.

Dani Ceballos also hit the post in a frantic finale, but Burnley held on for a point to edge seven clear of the bottom three.

– Saints sigh of relief -Southampton are now 10 points clear of the relegation zone after easing fears they could be dragged into a battle for survival.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men topped the table in November, but a run of one point from a possible 27 had them looking over their shoulders.

However, the Championship-bound Blades proved the perfect opponents for Southampton despite losing top scorer Danny Ings to an early injury.

James Ward-Prowse’s penalty opened the scoring just after the half hour mark before Che Adams registered his first goal in 17 games with a blistering strike into the top corner on 49 minutes.

Sheffield United remain 12 points adrift of safety with just 10 more games to save themselves.

Arsenal Boss Arteta Dismisses Barcelona Speculation

File photo: Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta reacts during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 29, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta says he is fully focused on doing “much better” at Arsenal after he was linked with the Barcelona manager’s job.

Reports surfaced in Spain this week claiming presidential candidate Joan Laporta was eyeing a move for Gunners boss Arteta if he won the race to return to Barca.

It was during his previous spell in the role that Laporta appointed Pep Guardiola as the head coach and ushered in an era of sustained success.

Arteta went on to work under Guardiola at Manchester City and took over as Arsenal manager in December 2019.

Having come through the famed La Masia academy at Barca, Arteta is now said to be on a managerial shortlist for Laporta, should he be elected on March 7, although sources close to the campaign have reportedly distanced themselves from a move for the 38-year-old.

“There is always going to be speculation when there are elections in Barcelona, it’s a huge team,” Arteta said on Wednesday when asked about being linked to the job, currently occupied by Ronald Koeman.

“Obviously I was raised there as a player and there are always going to be links. But I am fully focused on the job that I have to do here, which we have a lot to do, and I am really enjoying it.

“What I can tell you is I feel privileged to manage this football club and that I’m extremely happy.”

Arteta won the FA Cup during his first year in charge at the Emirates Stadium and his job title changed from head coach to manager during a reshuffle of the executive team in September.

READ ALSO: Burkina Road Bomb Kills Six In Ambulance

The positional change did not include a new contract for Arteta, with his current deal running until 2023.

Asked if he had had talks over fresh terms recently, the Spaniard, whose team are 10th in the Premier League, replied: “No.

“We are in the middle of the season. We have a lot to play for and at the moment it is not a priority.

“I think that’s OK. I still have a contract here. I am happy here and I don’t think it is something urgent.

“Today and tomorrow I am the manager of Arsenal football club and I am really enjoying it. And I want to do much better than what we have done.”

AFP

Willian Gets Two Assists In Arsenal’s Win Over Leicester City

Pepe taps in from a Willian cross to score Arsenal’s third goal against Leicester City. Photo: [email protected] FC.

 

Brazilian midfielder, Willian provided two assists on Sunday in Arsenal’s 1-3 victory over Leicester City, rekindling the Gunners’ quest for European football. 

 

Mikel Arteta’s side fell behind to Youri Tielemans’ early goal at the King Power Stadium.

They had lost nine of 11 league games when they conceded the opening goal this term.

But David Luiz equalised and Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty gave the Gunners the lead just before half-time.

Nicolas Pepe’s second-half goal sealed Arsenal’s second win in their last six league games.

READ ALSO: Bundesliga Club Schalke Sack Coach Christian Gross In Major Clear Out

The north Londoners’ stirring escape act left Leicester in third place, trailing leaders Manchester City by 13 points with 12 games remaining.

After Thursday’s shock Europa League exit against Slavia Prague, it was a week to forget for Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers.

Arsenal have virtually no chance of finishing in the top four, but this was still a significant result as it underlined the potential in Arteta’s team.

With Arsenal languishing in mid-table, Arteta has prioritised winning the Europa League as his side’s only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Having picked his best team for the dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win against Benfica in the last 32 second leg on Thursday, Arteta made six changes.

He left Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka on the bench after the long trip back from the neutral venue in Greece.

Arsenal’s reshuffled line-up initially lacked cohesion and Leicester took advantage to open the scoring in the seventh minute.

Tielemans was gifted time and space by the lumbering Granit Xhaka to break into the Arsenal area.

Pablo Mari was slow to react to the danger, allowing the Belgian midfielder to advance unchecked before drilling a low strike into the far corner.

Arteta’s men thought they had earned a penalty when referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot after Pepe’s run was ended by a combined challenge from Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi.

But VAR checked the incident and changed the decision to a free-kick as Ndidi made the first contact with Pepe just outside the area.

– Willian redemption –
Willian has endured a difficult first season at Arsenal after his move from Chelsea.

The Brazilian winger finally enjoyed a moment to savour as Arsenal drew level in the 39th minute.

Willian’s out-swinging free-kick arrowed towards Luiz and the defender stooped to direct a powerful header past Kasper Schmeichel from 10 yards.

Arsenal had barely finished celebrating when promising midfielder Emile Smith Rowe limped off injured.

 

Arsenal’s players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Arsenal at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on February 28, 2021. Arsenal won the game 3-1. Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP

 

They ignored that setback to take the lead in first half stoppage-time.

Pepe’s cross hit Ndidi’s out-stretched arm and VAR ruled the block had taken place just inside the area.

Lacazette stepped up to slam the penalty past Schmeichel for his 11th goal of the season.

There was another blow for Leicester — already without the injured James Maddison — when Harvey Barnes was stretchered off with his left knee heavily wrapped early in the second half.

Leicester were on the ropes and Arsenal landed the knockout punch in the 52nd minute with a superb counter-attack.

Xhaka found Pepe wide on the right and the Ivorian picked out Martin Odegaard on the edge of the area.

Odegaard clipped a deft pass to Willian and his cutback was perfectly placed for Pepe to tap into the empty net.

It was Pepe’s fourth goal in his last seven league starts, underlining a long-awaited improvement from the winger.

In Sunday’s other early match, Fulham had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace.

Third bottom Fulham are three points behind fourth bottom Newcastle in the fight to avoid relegation.

Later, Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start as Chelsea boss will be under threat against second placed Manchester United.

Troubled Liverpool travel to bottom of the table Sheffield United and Tottenham host Burnley.

AFP

Aubameyang’s Brace Sends Arsenal Into Europa League Last 16

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Europa League 32 Second Leg football match between Arsenal and Benfica at the Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens, on February 25, 2021. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice including a late winner as Arsenal qualified for the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Benfica in the home leg of their relocated tie in Greece.

The Gabon striker put Arsenal ahead at the Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus following a 1-1 draw in the first leg, which was played in Rome due to Covid-19 travel restrictions between Portugal and the United Kingdom.

Diogo Goncalves levelled the tie with a magnificent curling free-kick and Rafa Silva gave Benfica a 2-1 lead on the night when he took advantage of an error from Dani Ceballos on the hour.

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League 32 Second Leg football match between Arsenal and Benfica at the Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens, on February 25, 2021. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

 

Kieran Tierney rifled in an equaliser and Aubameyang headed in the decisive goal from Bukayo Saka’s cross on 87 minutes, earning the Gunners a 4-3 aggregate victory and saving them from an unusual away goals exit.

Rangers Progress

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers progressed following their 5-2 win over Belgian side Antwerp at Ibrox, with five different players on target for the Scottish league leaders.

After a dramatic 4-3 win in the first leg last week, goals from Alfredo Morelos, Nathan Patterson and Ryan Kent put Rangers in control before late penalties from Borna Barisic and Cedric Itten wrapped up the tie 9-5 on aggregate.

 

Rangers’ Swiss striker Cedric Itten (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their fifth goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, 2nd leg football match between Rangers and Royal Antwerp at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on February 25, 2021.  RUSSELL CHEYNE / POOL / AFP

 

Napoli’s dismal run continued as they were knocked out 3-2 on aggregate by Granada despite winning 2-1 in the return leg in Italy.

Ajax eliminated French Ligue 1 leaders Lille with a 2-1 victory in Amsterdam to complete a 4-2 overall win, while Gerard Moreno netted both goals as Villarreal dumped out Salzburg 4-1 on aggregate.

Former winners Shakhtar Donetsk completed a 3-0 aggregate victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, while Norwegians Molde dumped out Hoffenheim 5-3 on aggregate following a 2-0 win in Germany.

READ ALSO: EU Chief Seeks ‘Amicable’ Solution As AstraZeneca Admits New Delays

Manchester United already have one foot in the last 16 after an emphatic 4-0 win over Real Sociedad last week, making the most of the fact the first leg of that tie was switched from Spain to Italy after the Spanish government introduced a ban on arrivals by air from the UK.

Meanwhile, Leicester City, who are behind second-placed United in the Premier League only on goal difference, do have work still to do in the return leg at home against Czech champions Slavia Prague after a 0-0 draw last week.

AC Milan take on Red Star Belgrade in a clash of former European champions with their tie in the balance after a 2-2 draw in Serbia.

The draw for the last 16 takes place on Friday, with Tottenham Hotspur in the mix too, having dispatched Wolfsberg of Austria by aggregate score of 8-1.

 

Arsenal Boss Arteta Hails Man City As ‘Best In Europe’

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta applauds during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 14, 2021.
PHOTO: Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

 

Mikel Arteta believes his Arsenal team will be facing the best side in Europe when they take on Premier League leaders Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

City have won a club-record 17 successive games across all competitions and are 10 points ahead of local rivals Manchester United at the summit of the English top-flight heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Arteta knows City well after working under manager Pep Guardiola in Manchester for three years before returning to manage Arsenal, having previously played for the Gunners.

“I think they are the best team in Europe at the moment,” Arteta said of City. “The way they are performing, the football they are playing and the consistency of the results, take all that it and it makes them the best team.

“So we have a big but, as well, a very exciting challenge ahead of us on Sunday.”

City made an uncertain start to the season but are now hot favourites to win a third Premier League title in four years

Arteta said he was impressed by how they had regained their form.

READ ALSO; Turkish Cup: Super Falcons Defeat CSKA Moscow In Opening Game

“What they have done is react to a difficult moment,” the Spanish boss explained. “They reacted in a really convincing way, all united and doing what they do best — being very consistent and winning games very comfortably.”

The former Everton and Arsenal midfielder added: “They have weaknesses like every team but at the moment teams have struggled a lot to find any of that because I think first of all defensively they have been really, really strong.”

Arsenal head into the match after a 1-1 draw against Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 clash in Rome on Thursday.

Next week’s second leg, being played in Athens because of coronavirus restrictions, is followed by a daunting run of fixtures that includes matches against Leicester, Tottenham, West Ham and Liverpool, all above Arsenal in the Premier League.

“We know the margin for error is minimal with the season that we have had in previous months, so we need to kick on,” he said.

AFP