Arsenal, Spurs Seek To Prove Title Credentials In North London Derby

Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes (2R) celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes (2R) celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Arsenal and Tottenham will be fighting for much more than local bragging rights on Saturday as the north London rivals aim to prove they are serious contenders for the Premier League title.

As top-flight action returns following the international break, Arsenal sit top of the table after an unexpectedly strong start, while unbeaten Tottenham are just one point behind in third place.

With Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United still recovering their equilibrium after turbulent starts to the season, a path has opened up for the north London clubs to gate-crash the title race.

If a title challenger was expected to emerge from either end of the Seven Sisters Road, it was Tottenham who were the more likely candidates after snatching a top-four finish from their bitter rivals and neighbours in dramatic fashion last term.

Arsenal were in pole position to qualify for the Champions League when they moved four points clear of Tottenham with just three games left.

But Mikel Arteta’s side blew their chance as a disastrous 3-0 defeat at Tottenham was followed by a devastating loss against Newcastle, ruining their hopes of returning to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 season.

Buoyed by pipping Arsenal, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy bowed to Antonio Conte’s demands, sanctioning a close-season spending spree that further enhanced the feelgood factor around the club.

With Conte refusing to let his players rest on their laurels, Tottenham have continued to progress in their second season under the demanding Italian.

Conte showed his ruthless side in Tottenham’s last game when he dropped Son Heung-min after his eight-match goalless run and was rewarded with a hat-trick from the South Korean after sending him on as a substitute in the 6-2 rout of Leicester.

While Tottenham’s rise underlines Conte’s managerial acumen, it is arguably Arteta who has done the more impressive work this term.

READ ALSOFIFA Ends Video Game Partnership With EA Sports After 30 Years

Title chance 

Arsenal's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) and Arsenal's Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (3rd R) celebrate with teammates after winning at the end of the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on August 20, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
In this file photo, Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) and Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (3rd R) celebrate with teammates after winning at the end of the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on August 20, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Arsenal’s implosion in the final week of last season could have been a hammer blow to Arteta’s gradual rebuild of a club mired in mediocrity since well before the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign.

The eccentric side to Arteta’s personality was on display during the “All or Nothing” television documentary that captured the Spaniard’s fight to steer the club through troubled waters last season.

But Arteta’s quirks should not obscure the astute way he has infused Arsenal with energy and enthusiasm by promoting a group of talented youngsters, while also shipping out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following disciplinary problems.

Revitalised by the recent signings of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, as well as the development of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal have enjoyed the benefits of a relatively benign fixture list so far.

Wenger, who led Arsenal to their most recent title in 2004, believes his former team should already be regarded as title contenders.

“I would say they have a good chance because I don’t see any super-dominating team,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “I believe it is a good opportunity to do it this season.”

However, Arsenal’s only match against a top-four rival this season ended in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United.

Arteta needs a statement victory to show there is substance to the surge that gave Arsenal their best start to a season since 2004, courtesy of a five-game winning run.

History is in Arsenal’s favour, with Tottenham on a run of 11 top-flight visits to the Emirates Stadium without a win since their last success in 2010.

Yet Arsenal, beaten only once in their past 29 home league games against Tottenham, must find a way to subdue long-time nemesis Harry Kane.

Tottenham striker Kane has scored a record 13 goals in 17 north London derby appearances, including two in their most recent meeting in May.

EPL Fixtures This Week:

Saturday (1400 GMT unless stated)

Arsenal v Tottenham (1130), Bournemouth v Brentford, Crystal Palace v Chelsea, Fulham v Newcastle, Liverpool v Brighton, Southampton v Everton, West Ham v Wolves (1630)

Sunday

Manchester City v Manchester Utd (1300), Leeds v Aston Villa (1530)

Monday

Leicester v Nottingham Forest (1900)

AFP

Arteta Wins Premier League Manager Of The Month Award For August

This is Arteta’s third time winning the prize. [email protected]

 

Mikel Arteta has clinched the Premier League Manager of the Month prize for August 2022.

The Arsenal gaffer led the North London side to a five-match winning start in the league in August.

He saw off competition from Tottenham’s Antonio Conte; Pep Guardiola of Manchester City, Everton’s Marco Silva, and new Chelsea boss Graham Potter who was formerly of Brighton and Hove Albion.


“We won all five of our August fixtures, scoring 13 goals and conceding only four in the process. Our manager led us to victory against Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth, Fulham, and Aston Villa, finishing the month top of the table,” the club wrote after the Spaniard scooped the prize.

“Mikel is our second manager to win his opening five games of a Premier League season. Arsene Wenger achieved this record in two successive seasons during our Invincibles era of 2003/04.”

Friday’s win is the third time Arteta will be claiming the prize. The former Everton midfielder got the award twice last season – September 2021 and March 2022.

Although the Emirates sides lost their last league encounter to Manchester United, the Gunners are first on the log with 15 points.

Meanwhile, Erling Haaland won the Player of the Month gong after an impressive start to life at the Etihad Stadium. The Norwegian was unstoppable in August, scoring nine times in five games as Guardiola’s men began their title defence.

Aside from Haaland, Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin took the Goal of the Month award for his 90th-minute effort against Wolves.

“The Frenchman, who was nominated for the prize along with teammates Kieran Trippier and Fabian Schär, was shortlisted for his stunning volley against Wolves which rescued a point for the Magpies at Molineux,” Newcastle wrote about Saint-Maximin.

“Saint-Maximin’s first-time effort after a clearance dropped fortuitously into his path saw him pick up the first award of the new season, beating off competition from Trippier – for his free kick against Manchester City – and Schär, whose thumping strike in the opening-day win over Nottingham Forest earned him a nomination.”

Haaland’s Dortmund Winner Reminds Guardiola Of Cruyff

Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (2nd-L) celebrates his goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between England’s Manchester City and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Erling Haaland’s stunning acrobatic finish to beat his old club Borussia Dortmund 2-1 sparked comparisons from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with his mentor Johan Cruyff.

The Norwegian had been kept remarkably quiet, but only needed the slightest glimpse of goal to extend his scoring streak to six games as his telescopic left leg prodded home the winner six minutes from time.

Haaland has now scored 13 goals in nine games for City since they met his bargain 60 million euro ($60m, £52m) buyout clause from the German giants.

“Everyone knows how important a person Johan Cruyff was in my life. As a person, educator, mentor, everything,” said Guardiola. “He scored in Camp Nou an incredible goal against Atletico Madrid (in 1973) that was quite similar. The moment he (Haaland) scored, I thought of Cruyff.”

Haaland’s incredible flexibility despite his giant frame also drew comparisons from Guardiola to another former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic endured one unhappy season under Guardiola at the Camp Nou, but has used an upbringing in martial arts to devastating effect during his long and storied career.

“I remember my dear friend Ibrahimovic had this ability to put his leg on the roof,” added Guardiola.

“Erling is quite similar. He’s elastic, flexible and after has the ability to put it in the net. He’s so big, but has this natural flexibility.”

Jude Bellingham had given Dortmund the lead 11 minutes into the second half.

But a triple substitution awoke City from their slumber and two goals in four minutes turned the game around.

John Stones’ piledriver from outside the box levelled with the aid of some poor goalkeeping from Alexander Meyer.

Haaland then took centre stage by somehow stretching to meet Joao Cancelo’s cross and beat Meyer at his near post.

“In the end, we showed what we are. This is how we have to play. I’m proud of the last 20, 25 minutes,” said Haaland.

“Two wonderful goals today –- mine was a bit better, honestly! It was a nice cross from Cancelo and in the end a really important win.”

The victory sees City open up a three-point lead at the top of Group G, with Dortmund still in second after FC Copenhagen and Sevilla played out a 0-0 draw in the Danish capital.

READ ALSOHaaland Haunts Dortmund As Man City Come From Behind

Bellingham shines 

Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (2nd-L) celebrates his goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between England’s Manchester City and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Bellingham admitted on the eve of the game he had no idea how Haaland can be stopped.

But the Germans did a good job of suffocating the service to their former star striker as the first 45 minutes passed with barely any goalmouth action to note.

“I think we were brilliant for the majority of the game,” said Bellingham. “We gave them little to work with.

“Great teams, you give them a yard and they can deliver like that, they can hurt you and that’s what they did tonight.”

Bellingham has been strongly linked with a move back to the Premier League with City, Manchester United, and Liverpool reportedly interested.

The England international was quick to shut down speculation over his future on Tuesday and may have added a few more millions to his price tag as he timed his run perfectly to head in Reus’ cross.

Guardiola responded immediately with a triple substitution as Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez were called upon to add more guile in the final third.

When City’s equaliser did arrive, it came from an unlikely source as Stones blasted home his first Champions League goal since 2017 from outside the box.

Haaland was not to be denied the headlines, though, as Cancelo’s inventive cross with the outside of his right foot was pounced on by City’s giant number nine who raised his foot to head height to flick the ball home.

AFP

Haaland Alone Won’t Win Champions League For Man City – Guardiola

Haaland is one of the new signings expected to bring fireworks to the EPL. [email protected]

 

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said Monday the team cannot rely on Erling Haaland to single-handedly win them the Champions League this season following his remarkable start to life in England.

The Norway striker has scored 10 goals in his first six Premier League games since his £51 million ($58 million) move from Borussia Dortmund this summer.

“All the players who come here were brought here by the club to make us better, that makes sense,” said Guardiola ahead of Tuesday’s opening group game away to Sevilla.

“If we rely on Erling’s shoulders, we will not win the Champions League.”

City reached the semi-finals of last season’s competition before an astonishing comeback from Real Madrid cost them a shot at winning a first European title.

READ ALSOMan Utd Beat Arsenal At Old Trafford

The Premier League champions have brought in England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, Argentine striker Julian Alvarez and defenders Manuel Akanji and Sergio Gomez to strengthen the squad.

However the capture of Haaland was the headline deal, and one that Guardiola hopes can inspire City to the trophy in Istanbul next June.

“Hopefully, we can do it,” said Guardiola.

“He came here because we convinced him. We didn’t have strikers and he felt he could play with us.

“He has settled well, like with Julian and the other new players.

“I understand completely why everyone is talking about Erling but I have six new players and I want them to settle as quickly as possible.

“We won’t win just because of Erling but he has a special talent, and he can help us solve problems, definitely. But if we don’t play well, we will not win.”

City will be without defensive pair Kyle Walker and John Stones against Sevilla.

Walker limped off towards the end of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, while Stones also picked up a minor knock.

“(They are) injured. John is not much. Kyle is not much too, but I don’t know if he will be ready for Saturday, or Dortmund or Wolves before the international break,” said Guardiola.

AFP

Man Utd Beat Arsenal At Old Trafford

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on September 4, 2022. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Antony scored on his dream debut for Manchester United as the Brazilian’s clinical strike and Marcus Rashford’s double inspired a 3-1 win that ended Arsenal’s perfect start to the Premier League season on Sunday.

Antony was making his first appearance after signing from United manager Erik ten Hag’s former club Ajax in an £82 million ($94 million) deal on Thursday.

Full of flicks, tricks and purposeful movement, the 22-year-old forward took just 35 minutes to get on the scoresheet in a dazzling introduction to his new fans at Old Trafford.

Arsenal hit back to equalise through Bukayo Saka, but Rashford blew the leaders away with two goals in the space of nine second-half minutes after Antony was replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Thanks to Antony and Rashford, United were able to celebrate a fourth successive victory that lifted them to fifth place.

Opening his reign with consecutive losses against Brighton and Brentford was a humbling experience for Ten Hag.

But since then, the Dutch coach has started to put his imprint on a United side that look far more organised than the shambolic unit that finished sixth in the Premier League last season.

Arsenal’s first defeat this term after five successive wins was cruel on Mikel Arteta’s men, who contributed plenty to an engrossing encounter but paid the price for some naive defending.

Arsenal thought they had snatched the lead in the 12th minute as Gabriel Martinelli raced away from Diogo Dalot to clip a fine finish over David de Gea.

But VAR intervened to ask Paul Tierney to check for a foul in the build-up and the referee ruled Martin Odegaard pushed Christian Eriksen to steal possession.

Antony put United ahead in the 35th minute when Rashford’s deft pass reached the forward, who took advantage of Arsenal’s sloppy marking to sweep a composed finish into the far corner from eight yards.

Antony kissed his badge and posed for the television cameras in a flamboyant celebration that sent Old Trafford into raptures, earning a ticking off from Tierney for sticking the ball up his shirt in front of the Arsenal fans.

Audacious Antony 

Confidence clearly was not a problem for Antony and he even tried an audacious lob that kept Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale on his toes.

Antony departed to a standing ovation after 58 minutes to be replaced by Ronaldo.

Saka silenced Old Trafford two minutes later as Arsenal grabbed a deserved equaliser.

Odegaard’s pass unhinged the United defence and when Dalot’s tackle on Gabriel Jesus diverted the ball to Saka, the England winger slotted home with ease.

But United caught Arsenal with a brilliant counter in the 66th minute.

Playing through the Arsenal press, Eriksen found Bruno Fernandes and his superb pass sent Rashford galloping clear to fire past Ramsdale.

United wrapped up the points with a replica of their second goal as Arsenal once again left themselves open at the back and this time Eriksen fed Rashford to slot home.

In Sunday’s early game, Brighton extended their superb start to the season with a 5-2 victory that left bottom of the table Leicester in turmoil.

Graham Potter’s fourth-placed side made it four wins from their first six games thanks to a second-half surge at the Amex Stadium.

Kelechi Iheanacho put Leicester ahead in the first minute, but a Luke Thomas own goal and Moises Caicedo’s strike gave Brighton the advantage.

Patson Daka equalised for Leicester, but the struggling visitors collapsed after half-time as Leandro Trossard put Brighton in front before Alexis Mac Allister’s double sealed the rout.

Leicester have taken just one point from their first six games, losing five in a row to leave boss Brendan Rodgers under severe pressure.

“The simplicity goes out of your game if you lack confidence,” Rodgers said.

“I don’t listen to the outside noise. You put the hard yards in and work, not shirk responsibility.

“The results are down to me. I’m the manager. We need to go away and work even harder to get that first win.”

AFP

FIRST 11: Recovered United Eye Arsenal’s Winning Run+The Week’s Big Sports Stories

first-eleven-top-sports-stories
The week’s top sports stories. Illustration. Benjamin Kehinde.

 

Transfer deadline deals dominated much of the conversations in the sporting cycle this week. From England to Spain, it was fever-pitch high as clubs battled to shore up their squads for the marathon football season.  

But away from the transfer madness, there was pretty much to talk about in sports this week. Actions have continued in the US Open; the race for elective posts in the Nigeria Football Football Federation (NFF) has also heightened. The home-based Super Eagles team will hope to revert a 2-0 first leg defeat to Ghana in the qualification race for the 2023 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN). 

These and several others are covered in this edition of First 11, the weekly recap of major sports stories around the world. 


Eagles Go For Broke

The Super Eagles Team B now have an uphill task in the second leg next weekend. [email protected]

 

Starting from the home front, the Super Eagles Team B will be doing all to reverse a 2-0 loss to Ghana earlier in the week. Coach Salisu Yusuf’s Eagles had their wings clipped by the Black Galaxies in Ghana during the first leg qualification game for CHAN. And in Abuja, the Nigerians will hope for redemption when the second leg kicks off this weekend. 

Already, Super Eagles Team A coach Jose Peseiro has linked up with the side as Nigeria plot Ghana’s downfall. When the game begins on Saturday, millions of Nigerians will expect the home-based side to revenge the Super Eagles Team A’s World Cup qualification ouster in the hands of their perennial rivals. 


Parker Gets The Boot

In this file photo, former Bournemouth’s English head coach Scott Parker reacts after they concede their ninth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on August 27, 2022. Liverpool won the game 9-0. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

Still on football but this time in the English Premier League where gaffer Scott Parker became the first casualty of the “sack race”. It took just four games into the new campaign for Bournemouth to dismiss Parker who led them back to the top flight.  A string of poor results (three losses and one win) in August including a 9-0 thumping against Liverpool, culminated in his sack. 

Former Bournemouth midfielder Gary O’Neil will take charge at the Vitality Stadium on an interim basis, the club said in a statement confirming Parker’s departure. 


EPL Catches Transfer Bug

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017 The Premier league trophy sits beside the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017, the Premier league trophy sits beside the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP

 

And as the action intensifies across Europe’s top leagues, English Premier League sides have beefed up their squads for the marathon games. The summer football transfer ended Thursday night but Premier League sides achieved a feat in spending. The gross spending by teams in the first division was pegged at £1.9 billion ($2.1 billion).

This eclipsed the 2017 record of £1.43 billion spent in that transfer window. Signings by Chelsea, Newcastle, Manchester United, and Arsenal among others, contributed largely to this. Deloitte’s Sports Business Group estimated the gross spending by the 20 English top-flight clubs during the transfer window that ended on Thursday was the highest in the history of the competition.


Arsenal on Cloud Nine

Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes (2R) celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes (2R) celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

One of the teams responsible for the transfer feat, Arsenal, have also got many people talking. The Gunners are a revitalised side this season, winning their first five league games.

Mikel Arteta’s are on cloud nine, topping the league standings, two points ahead of holders Manchester City, a reality that strikingly contrasts their start to life last term. Arsenal were rooted to the bottom of the league after losing their first three matches last season but bounced back to push for a Champions League spot which they narrowly lost to London rivals Tottenham. 

Against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, Arsenal will have their biggest test so far in the campaign. Their opponents, having recovered from a sloppy start to the season – they lost their first two matches – have a chance to make it four wins out of four. But how they will neutralise the bullets from Arsenal’s blazing cannons is yet to be seen!


Hard to Handle Haaland Scores for Fun!

Haaland is one of the new signings expected to bring fireworks to the EPL. [email protected]

 

Arsenal’s latest win over Fulham at the Emirates Stadium came on the same day Manchester City brushed aside Nottingham Forest in a league game. That day, Norwegian striker Erling Haaland’s first-half hat trick set the tone for a 6-0 thumping of Forest.

He proved unplayable and has silenced critics who called him “white Lukaku” after a poor outing in the Community Shield against Liverpool. The former Borrusia Dortmund forward also scored a treble in City’s 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace. In just five league games, Haaland has scored eight goals and there is no guessing that the striker, who has had rave reviews over his performances, will be a nightmare to defenders in the months to follow. 


France Launches Probe

Mathias Pogba is linked with blackmailing his younger brother , Paul
In this file photo taken on December 29, 2019, the Pogba brothers, Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba (C), Atlanta United defender Florentin Pogba (L), and CD Manchego midfielder Mathias Pogba (R), pose prior to a gala football match between All-Star France and Guinea at the Vallee du Cher Stadium in Tours, central France, as part of the “48h for Guinea” charity event. (Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP) /

 

Meanwhile, France on Friday launched a criminal investigation into claims by World Cup winner Paul Pogba that he is the victim of a multi-million euro blackmail plot by gangsters involving his brother, the Paris prosecutor said.

Two investigating magistrates have been appointed to lead the probe, prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement. Based on the findings of a preliminary investigation launched last month it will examine allegations — for now against persons unknown — including blackmail by an armed gang, kidnapping, and membership of a criminal conspiracy, she said, confirming a weekend statement from a judicial source.


D’Tigers Caged!

File photo of D’Tigers Roster at the 3rd qualification window for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Kigali.

 

Moving on to basketball! Nigeria’s D’Tigers failed to roar at the African qualification window for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. They were caged by Angola, 70-67, in the last game of the window on Sunday after winning and losing one game. Nigeria had beaten Guinea 89-70 after a first game loss, 78-66, to hosts Ivory Coast at the 3,500-capacity Palais des Sports Treichville. 

The results leave them in a tight corner ahead of the next qualification window. Four tickets are up for grabs for Africa after the Ivorians booked a slot for the basketball showpiece billed to run from August 25 to September 10, 2023, in Japan, Indonesia, and The Philippines.


Falcons Face US Test

Nigeria’s players pose for a group picture during the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Morocco and Nigeria at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on July 18, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

 

In football, the Super Falcons are up against the US in two international friendly games. They arrived in the US city of Kansas earlier in the week for matches which are part of preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. 

Coach Randy Waldrum invited four of the ladies that reached the quarter-finals of the just-concluded FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup to face the heavyweights. The first game of the two-match series is billed for Saturday at the Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. On Tuesday, the second tie of the clash with the World Cup champions holds at the Audi Field in Washington. 


Peterside, Akinwunmi, Others Join NFF Race

Giwa Takes Control Of NFF As Dalung Asks Pinnick To Obey Court Order
A logo of the NFF.

 

As the Falcons battle the US, political activities are intensifying on the home front for elective posts in the NFF. President of the body Amaju Pinnick won’t be seeking re-election after two terms but the NFF first vice president Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi is among others contesting to replace him. 

Aside from Akinwunmi, a former international Peterside Idah has also joined the race alongside the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Head of Safety and Security Christian Emeruwa. A former NFF first vice president Amanze Uchegbulam has equally declared for the position. 

The presidential seat and other positions are up for grabs when the NFF congress holds later in the month in Benin City, Edo State.


Guinea Ready To Host Africa?

AFCON trophy.

 

On the continental scene, Guinea’s ruling junta has told a Confederation of African Football mission that it will meet the timetable for staging the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN).

CAF has sent a team to the poor and volatile West African state to assess its progress in hosting the tournament. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who appointed himself president after taking power in a coup in September 2021, met with the visiting experts on Wednesday.


No Farewell For Williams Sisters?

SA’s Serena Williams (R) and Venus Williams confer as they play against Czech Republic’s Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova during their 2022 US Open Tennis tournament women’s doubles first-round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, on September 1, 2022. (Photo by COREY SIPKIN / AFP)

 

Heading to the court, Serena and Venus Williams’ glittering Grand Slam doubles career ended abruptly at the US Open as the reunited sisters crashed out in the first round against Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova.

The Americans in what is almost certainly their final outing together as a Grand Slam doubles duo — slumped to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 loss at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday. The Williams sisters – winners of 14 Grand Slam crowns and three Olympic gold medals — had not played together in a doubles tournament since 2018.


FIRST 11 is a weekly recap of some of the big sports stories told in a condensed form.


 

Man Utd’s Antony Swoop, Chelsea Move For Aubameyang Headline Deadline Deals

A photo combination of Antony and Aubameyang.

 

Manchester United were the biggest spenders on the Premier League’s transfer deadline day as they splashed out £82 million ($94 million) on Ajax forward Antony, while Chelsea’s frenzied spree culminated with a swoop for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Against the background of Britain’s cost of living crisis, Premier League clubs showed no caution, reportedly breaking the all-time record spending total for an entire season with an incredible £2 billion changing hands in just one transfer window.

The previous £1.86 billion record from 2017-18 was surpassed because United and their domestic rivals found no outlandish fee or wage demands beyond them.

As of last Thursday, gross spending by the 20 Premier League teams stood at £1.5 billion, surpassing the 2017 record of £1.43 billion spent by English clubs in one close-season window.

United manager Erik ten Hag has been responsible for a large chunk of the spending after returning to his former club Ajax to sign Antony.

The 22-year-old Brazilian is the fourth-most-expensive player in Premier League history.

“This is an incredible moment in my career to be joining one of the most iconic clubs in the world,” Antony said.

United had a busy window, signing Casemiro for £60 million from Real Madrid and Lisandro Martinez from Ajax for £56 million.

Ten Hag sealed another less expensive deal on Thursday as Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka arrived on a season-long loan to serve as back-up to David de Gea.

Even United’s spending pales compared to Chelsea, who splashed out around £240 million as their new American owners made a significant statement in their first window.

Having finally landed Leicester defender Wesley Fofana for a reported £70 million on Wednesday, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel reunited with Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who thrived under the German during their time at Borussia Dortmund.

The 33-year-old cost £10.3 million as he returned to the Premier League nine months after leaving Arsenal following his rift with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

“I’m really happy. It’s an honour to be part of this team and I can’t wait to start. I have some unfinished business with the Premier League so it’s good to be back and really exciting,” Aubameyang said.

READ ALSOPremier League Clubs Shatter Spending Record In £1.9bn Spree

‘Best for the club’ 

Manchester City strengthened their injury-hit defence by signing Swiss international Manuel Akanji on a five-year deal from Dortmund.

Akanji will provide the Premier League champions with extra defensive depth after recent injuries to centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake.

“City have been one of the best teams in Europe over the last few seasons. Coming here feels like the perfect next step in my career,” said Akanji, who cost City a reported £17 million.

Akanji is City’s second raid on Dortmund this summer after their £50 million deal for Norway striker Erling Haaland.

With the window closing at 2200 GMT, Liverpool made a late move by signing Arthur Melo on a season-long loan from Juventus in response to their midfield injury problems.

The 26-year-old Brazilian said: “I’m really happy to be here wearing this great shirt with this famous badge that represents so much in world football. It’s a dream.”

Leicester moved quickly to replace Fofana by signing Belgian Wout Faes from Ligue 1 side Reims, their first major acquisition of the summer.

Fulham signed Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa on a season-long loan and took Wales winger Daniel James on loan from Leeds.

The Cottagers also brought Willian back to the Premier League after the Brazilian winger left Corinthians in August.

Willian, formerly of Chelsea and Arsenal, agreed a one-year contract, saying: “I’m happy to be back in the Premier League. Fulham is a club that wants to improve, that wants to fight for something bigger.”

Senegal midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye returned to Everton from PSG for a nominal fee on a two-year contract.

The 32-year-old played for Everton from 2016 to 2019 before moving to PSG.

Brighton signed Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour from Chelsea for £7.5 million.

Wolves let Leander Dendoncker leave, with the Belgian midfielder joining Aston Villa for £13 million.

Southampton signed Manchester City’s teenagers Samuel Edozie and Juan Larios for a combined £16 million, landed Croatia centre-back Duje Caleta-Car from Marseille, and took Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal.

AFP

Liverpool Eye Derby Delight, Arsenal Aim To Extend Perfect Start

Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes (2R) celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes (2R) celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Bolstered by one of their “best nights”, Liverpool will look to pile fresh misery on Merseyside rivals Everton this weekend.

Surprise leaders Arsenal travel to Manchester United aiming to extend the only perfect record in the Premier League this season, while Thomas Tuchel searches for answers to Chelsea’s struggles.

Liverpool Revival Gathers Pace

What a difference a week has made for Liverpool as the angst sparked by their three-match winless run has been replaced by the more familiar sight of Jurgen Klopp punching the air in front of a jubilant Kop.

When a pair of lacklustre draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace were followed by a dismal defeat at Manchester United, Liverpool boss Klopp faced some difficult questions about his injury-hit side’s struggles.

But the critics have been silenced over the last seven days as Liverpool hammered Bournemouth 9-0 to equal the Premier League’s record win, then stole a 2-1 victory against Newcastle thanks to Fabio Carvalho’s opportunistic strike with virtually the last kick of the game.

Releasing the pent-up frustration of Liverpool’s shaky start, Klopp celebrated wildly on the pitch after Carvalho’s goal, to the delight of fans all around Anfield.

Now Klopp wants Liverpool to channel that emotion into another winning performance on Saturday at Goodison Park against an Everton side still waiting for their first league victory this season.

“It’s a massive boost from a frustrating night,” Klopp said. “One of the best nights we ever had, that’s how football is.

“But we have to make sure we use these two days really well. The last two games we got six points, but we have to improve.

“It will not be that Everton open up for us now. We know it will be tough so we have to be ready.”

READ ALSO: Premier League Clubs Shatter Spending Record In £1.9bn Spree

Arsenal Must Find Killer Instinct

Granit Xhaka has urged his Arsenal teammates to show the killer instinct required to maintain their blistering form.

Ahead of Sunday’s intriguing test at Manchester United, Mikel Arteta’s side sit two points clear at the top after five successive wins.

But their last two matches — a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday and a gritty success by the same score against Fulham four days earlier — have left Xhaka concerned about Arsenal’s ability to turn territorial dominance into easy wins.

Swiss midfielder Xhaka is impressed by Arsenal’s spirit but wants them to show a ruthless edge to avoid the need for more late drama.

“We have to learn, you can’t always concede and come back like against Fulham or Villa, we have to try to finish and to kill the game before that,” Xhaka said.

‘No Excuses’ For Chelsea Slump

Thomas Tuchel insists there are no excuses for big-spending Chelsea’s troubled start to the season.

Tuchel’s men suffered their second defeat in five league games as they blew the lead in a 2-1 loss at Southampton on Tuesday.

Coming so soon after a wretched 3-0 reverse at Leeds, Tuchel felt compelled to question his players’ mental toughness following the Southampton debacle.

Chelsea are already eight points off the top and, aware his summer spending spree on new signings could have unsettled the squad, Tuchel called for renewed focus ahead of Sunday’s London derby against West Ham.

Asked if the change of ownership from Roman Abramovich to the Todd Boehly-led consortium could still be having a lingering effect, Tuchel said: “Yeah maybe, but we know the line is so thin between excuses and explanations.

“So I better not go down this road, because I don’t want to give anybody any chance, myself, players, staff, any room for excuses.

“We need to find solutions, I think what will help is the closing of the transfer window. Then we will know who has a full commitment and what role does everybody need to play.”

Fixtures

Saturday (1400 GMT unless stated)

Everton v Liverpool (1130), Brentford v Leeds, Newcastle v Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest v Bournemouth, Tottenham v Fulham, Wolves v Southampton, Aston Villa v Manchester City (1630)

Sunday (1400 unless stated)

Brighton v Leicester, Chelsea v West Ham, Manchester United v Arsenal (1530)

AFP

Premier League Clubs Shatter Spending Record In £1.9bn Spree

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017 The Premier league trophy sits beside the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017, The Premier League trophy sits beside the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP
 

Premier League clubs shattered their single-season spending record during an incredible £1.9 billion ($2.1 billion) spree during the summer window.

Deloitte’s Sports Business Group estimated the gross spending by the 20 English top-flight clubs during the transfer window that ended on Thursday was the highest in the history of the competition.

Despite the cost-of-living crisis gripping Britain, Premier League teams needed just one window to break the £1.86 billion mark set in the summer and winter transfer periods combined during the 2017-18 season.

According to Deloitte, the gross spend on a total of 169 players was also 34 percent higher than the previous record for a single window of £1.4 billion in the summer of 2017.

It was 67 percent higher than last year’s total Premier League summer window spend of £1.1 billion.

“Gross spend was so high among Premier League clubs this summer that, before this season’s January transfer window had taken place, the 2022/23 season already has the highest transfer spend since the two-window season began, exceeding the previous record by 3 percent (2017/18’s £1.86 billion),” Deloitte said.

Nine Premier League clubs spent over £100 million each as expenditure recovered dramatically after two seasons of decline caused by the financial fall-out from the coronavirus.

In total, the Premier League spent more than Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga combined.

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “The record level of spending during this transfer window is a clear indication of Premier League clubs’ confidence, as fans return to stadia and a new broadcast cycle begins.

“It’s now become part and parcel of the Premier League that clubs are willing to pay significant sums to maximise performance.

“This season, the desire to acquire playing talent has reached new levels as the pressure for clubs to stay in the competition is higher than ever.”

READ ALSO: Super Eagles Striker Sadiq Joins Real Sociedad For 20m Euros

Chelsea Splurge

New ownership at Chelsea, with Todd Boehly’s consortium taking over from Roman Abramovich, acted as a catalyst for the increased spending.

With a £255 million splurge, Chelsea spent more in one window than any team in Premier League history.

Their spending was £53 million more than Manchester United, who were the next biggest in this window at £202 million.

United’s £82 million signing of Ajax forward Antony on deadline day was the fourth biggest transfer in Premier League history.

Liverpool’s move for Benfica forward Darwin Nunez could eventually beat that fee, with the initial £67 million outlay potentially rising to £85 million depending on contract clauses and add-ons.

Chelsea’s biggest deal during the window was the £70 million purchase of French defender Wesley Fofana from Leicester.

Boehly also funded moves for Marc Cucurella (£60 million), Raheem Sterling (£50 million), Kalidou Koulibaly (£33 million) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.3 million)

At Old Trafford, Casemiro (£60 million) and Lisandro Martinez (£51 million) joined Antony in United’s top 10 most expensive signings of all time.

Champions Manchester City strengthened their squad with the £50 million move for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, who has already started to repay that fee with nine goals in five games.

Newcastle striker Alexander Isak and West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta were among seven players to be signed for over £50 million this summer, while 19 players were signed for £30 million or more.

Even Nottingham Forest, back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, recorded a gross spend of £126 million on an astonishing 21 players.

That was only the third time Deloitte has reported any club spending over £100 million immediately after promotion to the Premier League.

AFP

Arsenal Defeat Aston Villa, Maintain Premier League Winning Streak

Arsenal’s Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Martinelli celebrates scoring the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 31, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

 

Arsenal defeated Aston Villa 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday to maintain their perfect record in the Premier League. 

Mikel Arteta’s side once again showed a tenacity so often missing from Gunners teams in recent seasons.

Arsenal struck in the 30th minute thanks to a gift from their former keeper Emiliano Martinez, who pushed a tame Gabriel Martinelli cross straight to Gabriel Jesus for a simple finish.

Second bottom Villa were level when Douglas Luiz’s corner flew straight past Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale in the 74th minute despite the hosts’ appeal for a foul.

But Arsenal, who came from behind to beat Fulham on Saturday, responded impressively as Martinelli restored their lead three minutes later from Bukayo Saka’s cross.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard, jeered off after losing at home to West Ham on Sunday, will come under renewed pressure following his side’s fourth defeat in five games this season.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Boss Tuchel Fined For Referee Criticism

 

At Anfield, Liverpool left it late to secure a second win this season as Fabio Carvalho’s 98th-minute goal saw off Newcastle.

Away striker Alexander Isak rocked Liverpool in the 38th minute of his debut following his £60 million move from Real Sociedad, netting with a composed finish from Sean Longstaff’s pass.

But, building on the momentum from Saturday’s 9-0 rout of Bournemouth — which equalled the record for the Premier League’s biggest win — Liverpool equalised when Roberto Firmino slotted in Mohamed Salah’s 61st-minute pass.

And, well past the original five minutes of stoppage time, Carvalho — a day after his 20th birthday — fired home to spark wild celebrations.

Third-placed Tottenham had to settle for a 1-1 draw at London rivals West Ham.

Antonio Conte’s side took the lead in the 34th minute when Harry Kane’s cross was diverted for an own goal by Hammers defender Thilo Kehrer.

But West Ham levelled 10 minutes into the second half when Tomas Soucek rifled home from Michail Antonio’s assist.

Managerless Bournemouth drew 0-0 with Wolves at Dean Court in their first game following Scott Parker’s sacking after the humiliation at Liverpool.

Third-bottom Wolves are now without a win in their last 12 league games dating back to April.

AFP

EPL: Troubled Liverpool Look To End Dismal Start, Arsenal On The Up

Arsenal's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) and Arsenal's Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (3rd R) celebrate with teammates after winning at the end of the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on August 20, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
In this file photo, Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) and Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (3rd R) celebrate with teammates after winning at the end of the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on August 20, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Troubled Liverpool will be desperate to get their first win of the Premier League season when they face Bournemouth on Saturday.

As the Reds splutter, leaders Arsenal, who host Fulham this weekend, have emerged as the Premier League’s only team with a 100 percent winning record after three games.

READ ALSO[FULL LIST] Bayern To Play Barcelona In Champions League, Liverpool Face Ajax

Liverpool must stop the rot

Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez reacts as he leaves the pitch after being sent off by the referee during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield stadium, in Liverpool, north west England on August 15, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)
Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez reacts as he leaves the pitch after being sent off by the referee during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield stadium, in Liverpool, north west England on August 15, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Just months after coming within two games of an unprecedented quadruple, Liverpool suddenly look vulnerable after making their worst start for 10 years.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were denied the Premier League title by Manchester City on the last day, then lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid, leaving them with the FA and League Cups as consolation prizes for their tilt at football immortality.

At present, Liverpool, beset by injuries, are suffering a heavy hangover from their nearly-historic season.

Unusually error-strewn draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace were followed by Monday’s shock 2-1 defeat at Manchester United, who ended their own spluttering start with a dynamic display that exposed the fault-lines in Klopp’s team.

The sight of James Milner giving Virgil van Dijk a tongue-lashing after Jadon Sancho scored United’s opener was a jarring insight into the stresses of Liverpool’s current predicament.

Toothless in attack without Sadio Mane, now at Bayern Munich, and the suspended Darwin Nunez, Liverpool were out-fought in midfield and creaky at the back.

Facing promoted Bournemouth at Anfield offers an opportunity for Liverpool to get back on track, one they must take to avoid falling even further behind in the nascent title race.

Arsenal urged to keep calm

Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Martinelli (centre right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal in the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park in south London on August 5, 2022. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Martinelli (centre right) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal in the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park in south London on August 5, 2022. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

As optimism grows in north London, Oleksandr Zinchenko has warned Arsenal not to get carried away by their surprising surge into pole position.

Ukraine left-back Zinchenko knows exactly what it takes to thrive in the Premier League after his successful spell with champions Manchester City.

Having made the switch to Arsenal in the close-season, Zinchenko and fellow former City star Gabriel Jesus have made an immediate impact on Mikel Arteta’s side with their wealth of title-winning experience.

Arsenal have won their opening three matches for the first time in 18 years.

But after last weekend’s eye-catching 3-0 win at Bournemouth extended Arsenal’s perfect opening, Zinchenko was at pains to urge his team-mates to keep their feet on the ground.

“It’s just the beginning of the season. There’s a lot of games ahead of us, there’s a lot of things to improve,” Zinchenko said ahead of Fulham’s visit to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

“We need to analyse what we have done well, what we should improve, what we should change and we know the manager is going to tell us. We need to show our best performance every single week.”

Tuchel’s Chelsea feeling the strain
From touchline rows with rival managers to blaming buses for defeats, Thomas Tuchel has cut an agitated figure during Chelsea’s chaotic start to the season.

Frustrated by Chelsea’s failure to kill off Tottenham in a stormy draw, Tuchel earned a one-game ban after twice clashing with Antonio Conte.

A week later, Tuchel was hot under the collar again as the German made the bizarre claim that a travel snafu that forced his coaching staff to travel to Leeds by bus was partially to blame for a dismal 3-0 defeat.

With only one win from their first three games — and that a narrow 1-0 success at struggling Everton — Tuchel is showing signs of cracking under the strain.

He risked dressing room discontent with a critical assessment of his team’s defending and keeper Edouard Mendy’s costly blunder against Leeds.

In the circumstances, Leicester’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday could be perfectly timed as the Foxes have endured an even worse start.

Brendan Rodgers’ winless team are second bottom, with Wesley Fofana left out amid Chelsea’s attempts to buy the centre-back and James Maddison linked with a move to Newcastle.

EPL Fixtures This Weekend

Saturday (1400 unless stated)

Southampton v Manchester United (1130), Brentford v Everton, Brighton v Leeds, Chelsea v Leicester, Liverpool v Bournemouth, Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Arsenal v Fulham (1630)

Sunday (1300 unless stated)

Aston Villa v West Ham, Wolves v Newcastle, Nottingham Forest v Tottenham (1530)

AFP

Conte Should Have Been Banned As Well, Says Tuchel

Tottenham Hotspur’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte (R) and Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (L) shake hands then clash after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on August 14, 2022. The game finished 2-2. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Thomas Tuchel has claimed Tottenham boss Antonio Conte should have been banned for his part in the touchline clashes that saw the Chelsea manager handed a one-game suspension.

Tuchel has appealed against the ban, but he expects to be missing from the bench when Chelsea host Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday.

The German was also hit with a £35,000 ($41,000) fine after twice rowing with Conte during the stormy 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier in August.

Despite his provocative goal celebration near the Chelsea technical area and his part in the second incident after the final whistle, Conte was only fined £15,000 and avoided a ban.

READ ALSO[FULL LIST] Bayern To Play Barcelona In Champions League, Liverpool Face Ajax

Disciplinary chiefs branded Tuchel’s full-time extended handshake with Conte as “highly provocative”, but the former Paris Saint Germain boss disagreed.

“I think there are two sides to it, the one side is that I got a red card and I behaved in a way that is not appropriate and I regret it,” Tuchel told reporters on Friday.

“But it was out of passion and I don’t think it was aggressive. But I can accept if I get a red card that there is a touchline ban.

“What is hard to accept is the context, that I don’t think I started the aggression, and that it started earlier. And we both got a red card.

“And for a firm handshake at the end of the match one coach is banned, this is very hard to accept, but I have to accept it.

“In future, you will just hear a no comment from me on referees. No matter how big it is this is obviously what they want.”

AFP