Everton Shock Chelsea To Boost Premier League Survival Hopes


Everton’s Brazilian striker Richarlison (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on May 1, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Everton kept Premier League survival in their own hands as Richarlison scored the only goal of a vital 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Frank Lampard’s men remain in the bottom three, but narrow the gap on both Burnley and Leeds to two points with a game in hand to come.

Richarlison pounced on an error from Cesar Azpilicueta one minute into the second half to give the home side and an anxious crowd at Goodison Park something to cling onto.

But they needed Jordan Pickford to show why he is England number one with a series of stunning saves to get over the line.

Defeat leaves Chelsea still with work to do if they are to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.

The Blues’ advantage over fifth could be cut to five points by the end of the day if Arsenal avoid defeat at West Ham.

But Everton’s far greater need for the points shone through.

READ ALSO: Man City Thrash Leeds To Leapfrog Liverpool Into Top Spot


Chelsea’s US midfielder Christian Pulisic (L) vies with Everton’s Brazilian midfielder Allan (R) during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on May 1, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

The Toffees have not fallen out of the top flight since 1954 and could face financial ruin if they do not dig themselves out of trouble in their final five games of the campaign.

Burnley’s dramatic late win at Watford on Saturday had left Lampard’s men five points adrift.

But it is Leeds who may now be looking nervously over their shoulders as they have to face Arsenal and Chelsea in their final four matches.

After a tense first 45 minutes, Richarlison gave Everton the hope they needed with a cool finish after Azpilicueta slipped on the edge of his own box.

The Brazilian then teed up Vitaliy Mykolenko for what should have been a second moments later.

Instead, the home side had to withstand wave upon wave of Chelsea attack.

Mason Mount’s shot came back off the inside of one post onto another before Pickford sprinted across his line to repel Azpilcueta’s follow-up effort.

From the resulting corner, Pickford was brave to block Antonio Rudiger’s powerful strike with his face.

The nerves of the home support were shredded during seven minutes of added-on time, during which Pickford came to his side’s rescue again to deny Mateo Kovacic.

Everton, though, held out to given themselves life in the battle to beat the drop.

AFP

Lampard Breaks Hand While Celebrating Iwobi’s Winner Against Newcastle

Lampard was a former Chelsea coach. [email protected]

 

Everton coach Frank Lampard said he broke his hand while celebrating Alex Iwobi’s late winner for his side against Newcastle United. 

The Nigerian netted a 99th-minute goal as the Toffees sealed a 1-0 victory to lift Everton three points off the Premier League drop zone.

“I’ve broken my hand in the celebrations. My bones must be going soft, I don’t remember the moment,” joked Lampard after the match on Thursday.

“It was an amazing night and we need those nights. Spirit and togetherness, the players stood up tonight. It was not a night for quality or calm. It means so much to the stadium we all felt that. I wanted to use the atmosphere.”

The former Chelsea manager, who praised his boys for the victory, said the win is a testament to what the team can achieve especially playing with a man down.

‘We Proved What We Could Be’

READ ALSO: Everton Suspend Sponsorship Agreements With Russian Billionaire Usmanov

“Everton fans wanted to see passion. We proved what we could be tonight,” he added.

“Newcastle are a good team, they will be alright. From our point of view, it was can we dig in? And can we get one or two opportunities when down to 10 men.”

A second-half interruption caused by a protestor tying himself to a goal post and a VAR review which led to Allan seeing red meant there were 14 minutes of added time at Goodison Park.

And it was Lampard’s men who took advantage as Dominic Calvert-Lewin teed up Iwobi to score the biggest goal of his much-maligned Everton career since a £40 million ($52 million) move from Arsenal three years ago.

When this fixture was postponed in late December due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases, it was Newcastle who were rooted in the bottom three.

However, the Magpies’ defeat at Chelsea on Sunday was their first in 10 games as the investment of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has made an instant impact in their first transfer window.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, a boyhood Everton fan, described this game as the biggest for the Toffees in 20 years given the consequences of going down.

The club are in the process of building a £500 million new stadium, due to open in 2024, and have already lost the sponsorship of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov after he was hit by sanctions from the UK government.

Usmanov’s long-term business partner and Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has pumped in over £500 million in signings since taking charge in 2016.

The Blues have precious little to show for that investment as a succession of managers have struggled to match Moshiri’s expectations.

An intense start from the hosts quickly fizzled out as Newcastle had the better of the first-half without creating many good chances.

Chris Wood headed straight at Asmir Begovic, while Fabian Schar nearly caught out the Bosnian with a free-kick from inside his own half.

The flow of a scrappy game was further interrupted by it taking seven minutes to free the protestor against fossil fuels from the post.

“I don’t know whether that (stoppage) affected us, but we weren’t the same team second-half,” said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.

Once the action got back underway the introduction of England international Calvert-Lewin off the bench made a massive difference to the home side.

Calvert-Lewin has missed almost all of the season due to a variety of injuries and keeping him fit for the run-in is likely to play a huge part in Everton’s bid for survival.

Anthony Gordon forced Martin Dubravka into a stunning save with a fierce strike from outside the box before Calvert-Lewin just failed to connect with Richarlison’s dangerous low cross.

However, their momentum was cut short when Allan dived in on Allan Saint-Maximin to break up a counter-attack and was shown a straight red card after the intervention of VAR.

First 11: Nigeria’s AFCON Crash + This Week’s Biggest Sports Stories

First-Eleven

 

It’s been a week of drama at the Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria’s shocking loss to Tunisia, and the red cards that marred the competition, were major talking points in the last seven days. Heartbroken fans trolled Maduka Okoye and Alex Iwobi following the defeat which sent out one of the tournament favourites.

These stories, FIFA’s linking of plans for a biennial World Cup to migration tragedies in the Mediterranean and others, headline First Eleven which gives a recap of the biggest sports gist for the week.

Tunisia Clip Eagles’ Wings

Tunisia’s players celebrate after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 23, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

The week began on a sad note for football fans in Nigeria after the Super Eagles’ early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Nigeria, three-time continental champions, were stunned 0-1 by Tunisia in a Round of 16 game in Cameroon.

Austine Eguavoen’s men went into the game as favourites having won all three group stage matches, the only team to do so. But a 47th-minute strike was enough for the North Africans to break the hearts of millions of fans in Nigeria. Although Nigeria battled to get the equaliser, a red card for former Arsenal star, Alex Iwobi, compounded the Super Eagles’ woes.

Fans Troll Okoye, Iwobi

A photo combination of Maduka Okoye and Alex Iwobi.

 

Iwobi’s sending off triggered a barrage of cyberattacks, not just on the midfielder but goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye. The Sparta Rotterdam man was faulted for not doing enough to stop the 2004 champions from scoring the lone goal in the match. Both were subjects of hate messages from fans who blamed the duo for the Super Eagles’ exit. Their names trended for days on social media, prompting them to disable comments on their Instagram accounts. Okoye, some of the fans claimed, was distracted by praises from female admirers.

Following the defeat, President Muhammadu Buhari had told Nigerians not to write off the team. In a short message on Monday, he asked fans to encourage the side, believing that they can do better in subsequent games.

“They gave everyone the confidence that they were up to it, and I am sure it was something they could have achieved,” a statement from a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, read. “Nonetheless, we should not write them off”.

Red Cards Mar AFCON

The AFCON was tagged by many as a “tournament of red cards” following the number of players that were sent off in the competition.

 

Nigeria’s loss wasn’t the only thing that made headlines from the AFCON. In the first round of knockout fixtures, seven red cards were issued in eight games.  The development drew condemnation from several quarters. Fans on social media even dubbed the competition “AFCON of Red Cards”, throwing up further debates about the quality of officiating at Africa’s premier championship.

Coach Eguavoen was critical of centre referee, Maguette Ndiaye’s dismissal of the Everton star, describing the officiating as unfair. Aside from the former defender, Ghanaian ex-international, Mikel Essien, also questioned the number of red cards in the tournament. The former Chelsea player while lamenting the situation said it was “shocking” and wondered if the game had become soft.

Tragedy Rocks Tournament 

Supporters of the Comoros national soccer team celebrate their team goal during the match Cameroon vs Comoros in Moroni on Jan 24, 2022. Ibrahim YOUSSOUF / AFP

 

The red car controversy came amid a stampede that killed eight persons and wounded dozens of others before a match between the host nation, Cameroon, and Comoros.  The incident took place at the gates where final tickets checks are made. This prompted an investigation by Cameroonian authorities. The health ministry said the victims were immediately transported in ambulances but traffic slowed down their movement.

In a swift response to the tragedy, CAF blamed the incident on the closure of an entry gate at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

“If that gate was open as it was supposed to, we wouldn’t have had this problem we have now, this loss of life,” African football supremo, Patrice Motsepe, said during a press conference on Tuesday. “Who closed that gate? Who is responsible for that gate?”

A Case For Biennial World Cup

File photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks during the inauguration of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) new headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on October 30, 2018. Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

The stampede happened days before FIFA tried to link migration tragedies in the Mediterranean to plans for a World Cup every two years.  Head of the football governing body, Gianni Infantino, said the move can give hope to migrants.

“I understand in Europe the World Cup takes place twice per week because the best players are playing in Europe,” he told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

“But if we think about the rest of the world… which doesn’t see the best players, which doesn’t participate in the top competitions, then we have to think about what football brings, which goes beyond the sport.”

Nadal Chases Record In Australia

 

Just as FIFA continues to make a case for a biennial World Cup, tennis stars are in Australia battling for one of the game’s biggest prizes. In a tempestuous match on Friday, Daniil Medvedev powered to a win over Stefanos Tsitsipas to book a date with Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open.  The world number two beat Tsitsipas 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, the same day Nadal defeated Matteo Berrettini to reach his sixth Australian Open final in Melbourne. The Spaniard, pushing to become the all-all time men’s Grand Slam leader – 21 titles – claimed a 3-6 2-6 6-3 3-6 win.

The women’s category saw a ruthless Ashleigh Barty book a spot in the final. She won in straight-sets, demolishing Madison Keys, and will now face hard-hitting Danielle Collins in Sunday’s game.

Djokovic Still In The Court

In this file photo, Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2022. Mike FREY / AFP

 

Although he is not in Australia, a leaked entry list, which made its way to social media, has indicated that Novak Djokovic would be playing at next month’s ATP Dubai tennis tournament. The Serb was in the news weeks ago after a COVID-19 vaccination row. But the list shared by tennis journalists showed that Djokovic was named as the top seed for the event.

This is coming weeks after he was deported by Australian authorities following a legal tussle. The unvaccinated player’s next move had become a subject of speculation since he landed at home in Belgrade, via Dubai. He was initially given an exemption to play at the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated but the Australian government later revoked his visa, a move upheld by the Federal Court.

Ranieri Fired 

In this file photo taken on April 01, 2018, ex-Nantes’ Italian head coach Claudio Ranieri attends the French L1 football match between Nantes and Saint-Etienne at The La Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Earlier in the week, the English Premier League “sack race” continued. This time, Italian manager, Claudio Ranieri, was the latest casualty following his dismissal by Watford. He was sacked just after 14 games in charge as the Hornets’ boss, the club said in a statement earlier in the week. Ranieri was dismissed, just about three months after he got the job.

“The Hornets’ Board recognises Claudio as a man of great integrity and honour, who will always be respected here at Vicarage Road for his efforts in leading the team with dignity,” Watford said about the Italian.

The 70-year-old was brought on to stabilise the team which is battling relegation. But a string of poor results have left them in the murky waters of England’s elite league. The Hornets have only managed seven points since he arrived at the Vicarage Road. Ranieri’s last game in charge was a 3-0 loss to relegation rivals, Norwich, just last week. They are second bottom on the league log, following a loss of seven out of their last eight domestic matches.

Joshua Denies Pay Off Claims

In this file photo, Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk (L) fights British heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua at the end of their heavyweight boxing match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London on September 25, 2021. Usyk defeated Joshua on points. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

In boxing, Anthony Joshua has refuted reports claiming he agreed to a ($20 million deal to step aside from his heavyweight title re-match with Oleksandr Usyk. The reports had suggested that the Nigerian was ready to let the Ukrainian fight Tyson Fury in the unification title bout. But Joshua insisted the stories were false.

“I’m hearing people saying: ‘AJ accepts £15million to step aside’. I ain’t signed no contract; I ain’t seen no contract,” he was quoted as saying in a Talksport online video posted on Twitter. “So, as it stands, stop listening to the bullshit until it comes from me. I’m the man in control of my own destiny; I’m the man that handles my business.”

Usyk had defeated Joshua in September to deprive the 32-year-old of his World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Organization (WBO) belts.

Buhari’s Message To Olympians

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

And as the Winter Olympics inches closer, President Buhari has urged Nigerian athletes to make the country proud in the games. A statement from the presidency on Tuesday quoted Buhari as telling the nation’s representatives of his trust in their ability to deliver.

“The President trusts that Nigerian athletes participating in different events will excel at the competition, surpassing the previous record in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018, when the nation competed for the first time,”  the Nigerian leader told the athletes, according to a statement from Femi Adesina.

Buhari said the Olympic Games is an avenue to foster friendship among countries. This is as he hoped that athletes will put the core values of the event –  excellence, friendship, and respect – on display.

Maduka Okoye, Iwobi Disable Social Media Comments Over Threats After AFCON Ouster

A photo combination of Maduka Okoye and Alex Iwobi.

 

Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, has deactivated the comment section of his Instagram page following the deaths threats he received after Nigeria’s ouster from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Okoye played the full 90 minutes and conceded the lone goal against Tunisia that sent the North African team to the quarter-final of the competition.

A visit to his Instagram page showed that users of the social media platform could not comment on any of his posts, hours after some of them blamed him for conceding the goal in the last 16 clash on Sunday.

The Sparta Rotterdam player was among the top trends on Twitter after the match with many blaming him for being distracted due to the praises he got from female admirers.


RELATED

Comoros To Have Outfield Player In Goal For AFCON Knockout Tie

Nigeria Crash Out Of 2021 AFCON After Loss To Tunisia


 

Senegalese referee Maguette N’Diaye (C) gives a red card to Nigeria’s forward Alex Iwobi (unseen) during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 23, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

He was not the only Super Eagle player who was threatened following the defeat. Former Arsenal star, Alex Iwobi, also faced similar treatment.

Midway through the second half, Iwobi was initially yellow-carded for a stamp on Msakni and sent off after the referee checked the VAR monitor.

The Everton player deactivated the comment section of his Instagram page and trended on social media after the match ended.

Before Okoye and Iwobi’s move, Sierra Leonean forward Kei Kamara’s home was almost burnt down in the wake of his country’s exit from the competition.

Kamara failed to convert a late penalty in the game against Equatorial Guinea a few days back. His miss led to his country’s ouster from Africa’s premier football fiesta holding in Cameroon as the clash ended 1-0.

Angered by the miss, fans marched to the footballer’s house in an attempt to burn it. But security agencies quickly intervened and thwarted the move.

Musa, Iwobi, Ighalo Nominated For CAF Award

Musa, Iwobi, Ighalo Nominated For CAF Award
Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring Nigeria’s opener during the game. His strike also represents Nigeria’s first goal at Russia 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

 

Three Super Eagles players – Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo have been nominated for the 2018 African Footballer of the Year award.

The trio were among the preliminary 34-man list released by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after an impressive performance for both their clubs and country.

Ahead of the award, the list will eventually be cut to just three before a Technical and Development Committee by the continental body.

Also, media experts, legends, coaches of the quarter-finalists of the CAF Champions League, and as well as coaches and captains of the national teams will decide the winner.

The awards gala will hold on January 8, 2019, in Dakar, Senegal.

Iwobi Set For Arsenal Contract Extension Talks

Kelechi Iheanacho, Arsenal, Alex Iwobi, Arsene Wenger
Alex Iwobi

Arsenal are in talks with Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi about a new contract despite him only signing a deal last year.

The Gunners are desperate to agree a new deal with the Nigerian international before he jets off to the World Cup next summer.

The 21-year-old will have another three years left on his current deal at the end of the campaign.

According to SunSport, Iwobi signed a five-year deal worth £30,000-a-week in October 2016, but any fresh terms have to reflect his progress made in the last 12 months.

David Moyes Charged With Misconduct In Southampton Clash

David Moyes, Southampton Sunderland manager, David Moyes, has been charged with misconduct after being sent off at Southampton on Wednesday.

The Football Association said it is alleged “Moyes used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official”.

He has been given until 18:00 BST on Tuesday to respond to the allegation.

The incident took place when Referee Chris Kavanagh waved away appeals for a foul on Sunderland striker Victor Anichebe in the penalty area.

Sunderland lost 1-0 to their hosts as they crashed out of the EFL Cup.

Manchester United also edged past Manchester City with a 1-0 victory while West Ham United beat Chelsea 2 – 1 on Wednesday night.

Arsenal and Liverpool had earlier through to the fifth round as they defeated Reading and Tottenham respectively on Tuesday night.

Ferguson Says Liverpool Are Strong League Title Contenders

Liverpool, Alex FergusonFormer Manchester United Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, says Liverpool are serious Premier League title contenders this season.

Ferguson said Jurgen Klopp had “revived Liverpool’s enthusiasm” since taking over as manager in October 2015.

“For two decades, Liverpool changed managers without building their own identity.

“You can now sense you truly have to count them in this year,” he told German magazine Kicker.

Liverpool are third in on the league table, sharing points with leaders Manchester City.

In their nine league matches in the present season, they have played four of the current top seven – Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and defending champions, Leicester City.

The Reds have also made it through to the fifth round of the EFL and will face Leeds United in the quarterfinal.

Arsenal, Liverpool Through To Last Eight Of EFL Cup

EFL cup, Arsenal, LiverpoolAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored two goals as Arsenal booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 win over Reading.

The Championship side went into the match looking for their first ever win over the Gunners, but it was an easy win for Arsenal in the end, thanks to a double by the Ox, who seemed to be overcoming his difficult start to the season.

The brace takes his tally to five for the season – which is his best return in a season for the Gunners.

Except for Elneny and Iwobi who kept their places, Arsenal fielded a new team, including Lucas Perez, who came off the bench against Boro at the weekend.

Olivier Giroud made his return to the first-team fold as a second half substitute.

Arsenal have not won the League Cup since 1993.

Liverpool are also through to the fifth round courtesy of a brace from another England striker, Daniel Sturridge as they defeated Tottenham 2-1.

The striker opened the scoring early at Anfield after exploiting a Spurs mistake. He doubled the lead in the 60th minute

Liverpool were forced to endure a nervy end to the evening, however, as Vincent Janssen pulled one back for Tottenham with his penalty after Lucas Leiva fouled Erik Lamela in the area.

Super Eagles Beat Plateau United 3-0 In Test Match

Super Eagles, Plateau UnitedThe Super Eagles on Wednesday defeated local league side, Plateau United, 3 – 0 in a test match at the National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Anderson Esiti’s goal and Alex Iwobi’s brace gave the Eagles a whopping victory over the Nigerian Premier League club.

Coach Gernot Rohr lined up his players for the practice game as he intensifies Nigeria’s preparations for Sunday’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia in Ndola.

The coach reportedly made wholesome changes to the playing personnel at half time after struggling in the first half.

The move paid off as the Eagles became more dangerous, confining their opponents to their half of the field.

The starting 11 had Ezenwa, Musa Muhammed, Madu, Jamiu, Agbo, Esiti, Shehu, Ahmed Musa, Chisom Egbuchulam, Nosa and Obaje.

While the second half featured Ikeme, Echiejile, Omeruo, Ekong, Onazi, Mikel, Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Iwobi, Ndidi and Ideye.

Iheanacho, Iwobi Nominated For Golden Boy Award

iheanacho, Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Arsenal, Alex Iwobi, Arsene Wenger, Golden BoyNigeria internationals Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi have been shortlisted for the 2016 edition of the Golden Boy Award.

Iheanacho who recently became the first Nigerian to score in the Manchester derby made the list having scored 10 goals in the 2015/2016 season and has three so far in the ongoing 2016/17 season.

Iwobi got into the Arsenal first team last season, scoring two goals and has become a regular for the Gunners this season.

The Golden Boy Award is meant for the best player under the age of 21 who play in a European nation’s top division.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford also made the cut.

The 18-year-old talent has enjoyed a stellar 2016 since making his Manchester United debut in February, including becoming an England international.

Tottenham also have a representative in England international Dele Alli. The 20-year-old scored 11 goals last season as Spurs finished third in the Premier League.

There are three representatives from Chelsea (Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christensen and Nathan), while Manchester City have two (Kelechi Iheanacho and Leroy Sane).

Leicester City’s Demarai Gray and Liverpool’s Marko Grujic complete the list of 10 Premier League-based players on the 40-man shortlist.

Arsenal Win 2015 Community Shield At Wembley

Arsenal-Wins-Community-ShieldArsenal on Sunday defeated Chelsea 1-0 to retain the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium.

At the end of the regulation time, Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, had a reason to celebrate against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, having failed to win in any of his previous 13 attempts.

In February 2014 the Chelsea boss called Wenger a “specialist in failure”, and then in October the Gunners boss shoved his rival during a heated touchline quarrel.

Alex Oxlade-chamberlain scored the winner with a powerful drive into the top corner with his weaker left foot.

The Gunners named goalkeeper Petr Cech in their starting line-up following his summer move across London while Theo Walcott, who has just signed a lucrative new deal, led the arsenal attack.

It is the first time that Arsenal is beating a Mourinho-led Chelsea side since 2011.

“Will Not Be A Friendly”

Before the match, Arsene Wenger said that the Community Shield against Chelsea “will not be a friendly”.

According to arsenal.com, Wenger admited that a victory in the match, which would be his first against Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, is capable of shaping his team’s confidence for the 2015/16 season.

Having enjoyed a perfect pre-season performance, Wenger hopes his side would maintain their momentum against the champions, but warned against reading too much into the result.

“We have to accept that every game is decided and judged as definite,” he said. “But you know that in real life it is not like that. The tribunal is out there and will draw conclusions from Sunday.

“But no matter, positive or negative (result), we have to continue our way and focus on ourselves.

“It’s a game that is important but it is still preparation. We want to win it and overall it can just give us that little bit more confidence before we go into the season.

“You know, it will not be a friendly as it is like that and it is good like that.”

The Gunners go into the match on a run of four successive victories at Wembley, and having scored 14 goals during pre-season.

The morale of the team would have been boosted by the duo of Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, who have both agreed contract extensions with the English giants.

The victory will be a boosted for the team, as they prepare for the commencement of a new Premiership season.